Friday, December 31, 2010

with Tina Pinson

Welcome to the Book Loft, Tina!
What started you on your writing journey?

I tell people I started writing because I wanted to extent my existence here on earth. Which is somewhat true. You see, my parents probably wanted to kill me because I was a very gifted liar. So, writing gave me an outlet to use my imagination and not get in trouble. I started writing in elementary school, so I've had a healthy imagination for some time.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
I would say busyness in life distract me. And then, maybe discouragement can zap the desire to get any writing done. But I've gone through vast dry spells of writing, (well, little writing) where all I can do is get a paragraph down in a day. It can be kind of disheartening. Especially when the words and scenes are locked in my head and I can't get them down

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I am a pretty eclectic reader. As long as the story holds my interest I'll read a lot of things. Following are a few authors I like; Ted Dekker, John Saul, Francine Rivers, Shawna Williams, Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman. But there are several more. Mary's Latest Series, Sophie's Daughters, is pretty funny and filled with strong women who helped tame the west and the men in it. Julie's Latest, a Hope Undaunted, was pretty good. I'd say it was my most favorite yet. It's set in the early 1900's, with another strong independent thinking female lead.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I like my leads, of course, Allan, Preston and Samantha. But I would have to say Grimes, who he was and the textures of his life and what made him who he was were interesting to me.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Probably Rhythm and Blues. Easy to listen to and a bit soulful.

What is the strangest habit or quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don't know that I have any strange habits, I'd have to ask my family. But for quirky…Well, before we were married, my hubby who was in the Navy at the time, left on an eight month cruise-- which was extended to nine and then 10. Setting our wedding back three times. I would send him letters daily, numbering them so he could read them in order, and I would send him several goody packages. One such package, I decided to give him a special Christmas Treat since he wouldn't be home. So I made up my usual variety of cookies and home-baked sweets to send, only in this box I added some extra loving… in the form of pumpkin cookies. If anyone has ever sent goody boxes to the troops you know that it takes several weeks to get to their destination. So by the time my hubby got the package the special pumpkin cookie treat looked like a science experiment. Yep, it got a pack of mold. At least the cookies were still good.

Maybe one of my quirks is have to know the Why of everything. To understand. Which isn't always a good thing. Back in third grade, we were learning about how ammonia turned the paper in the jar blue. The teacher told us to slip our papers in, but not to breath too much of the ammonia, it could hurt us. I, curiosity getting the better of me, wanted to know why smelling ammonia was so awful. So, while everyone was out on the playground I thought to give it a try. I slipped into the room, opened up the jar, stuck my face over the opening and took a deep breath. Let's just say I'd never do it again, I literally stumbled my way to the door, and walked around the yard gasping for air. I didn't want to ask for help cause I didn't want to get in trouble or look stupid. And I probably could have used some help. Duh. I learned a very good lesson about how sometimes we are told don't do something for a reason.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I enjoy writing about God's love and grace for us. I enjoy taking people along with my characters as they see how God transforms them and holds them in his care. And hopefully my readers enjoy the story and learn to trust just a bit more. Who knows?

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11. It is nice to know that someone holds my future and has a wonderful plan for me. Sometimes I wished he'd let me in some of it, but then I wonder if I could handle seeing all he's see. As you can see, I still have a bit of that curious nature in me. Have to understand. Have to have answers. But more and more, I'm finding it's better to not to open the jar and take that breath, it's better to let God deal with things and rely on him to know what's best.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Like a lot of people, I dread confrontation. I'll put it off as long as I can or try to skirt the issue forever. But I'd probably have to say, I'm not big on having to clean all the time either. It seems like a never ending battle. I'll get it done, but sometimes I wished I was Mary Poppins or a Genie.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I liked to say the holidays, but while I enjoy them some, they can be rather hectic. There's so much preparation and then eating and cleaning… It leaves a body tired. So, I'm more partial to the get togethers, the potlucks, where we all bring a dish. We pick a theme for the meal or just have finger food, then we sit around and play games. Those are fun and relaxing.

Tina Pinson - Pumpkin Cookies


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I don't have any books coming out soon. I sure wished I did. I have a couple with an editor and I'm waiting to hear back on them. But right now, I'm working on writing some new material and doing some revising on other stories.

I've finished the first book, Counting Tessa, in a Sci-fi Time-travel series. And have been trying to finish a couple other stories. But I'm at one of those places where I've been so busy with life in general, I haven't gotten as much accomplished as I'd like. I hope this next year is more relaxed and my brain and fingers connect to get more written down.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to come to your site and share a bit about me. I hope you all have a blessed new year.


You can purchase Touched by Mercy from Amazon.


Tina is holding a contest to celebrate the release of Touched By Mercy. She's giving away a Nook Color ereader and two gift certificates. Just go to her blog site, www.tinapinson.blogspot.com and under the Touched By Mercy Contest tab you will find the details.
Contest entries have to be in by December 31, 2010. That's TOMORROW, folks, so head over now.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

meet Tina Pinson

I live in Grand Junction, Colorado with, Danny, my high school sweetheart. We've been married 30+ years. We own and operate Omega Avionics and our newest venture, F & S Tire. We have three grown sons, two beautiful daughter-in-laws and 5 grand children.

You can find her online at her website: www.tinapinson.blogspot.com
Twitter: @Tina_Pinson
and Facebook.

Touched by Mercy
The west seemed to hold all of Samantha's dreams, but was it far enough away to save her from her nightmares?

Angelina!

She wasn’t Samantha’s daughter, but she should have been. Sam mothered her with love like she was her own. The child became heaven in her world.

Now the child was gone. Samantha felt her world slipping away. She had to find Angelina. She prayed. But doubted God would hear her. How could he when she was so dirty? And how could she trust a God who she believed abandoned her? Hopefully this God wouldn’t abandon Angelina.

God uses the gentle hands of another carpenter to strip back the layers of abuse that have tarnished her faith and worth to teach Sam there is mercy instead of shame, and love. And though it seems out of reach, she always had freedom in Christ.

Here's an excerpt of Touched by Mercy:

Lorena wadded the dress into a ball, crammed it into the worn carpetbag, and looked up. "Don't wrap her legs. You might wake her."

"It's cold outside," her accomplice declared.

She lifted the floppy-eared bunny with the purple bow from the pillow, gave a it shrewd once-over, then threw it across the bed before she turned her gaze to the idiot before her. "She won't freeze to death from the door to the carriage."

"Yes, ma'am." He winced. His Adam's apple bucked as he pulled the girl into his arms. Her bare legs dangled from beneath the blanket. He tugged the cloth down.

"I said not to worry about her legs. Just bring her along," Lorena spit through her teeth. The child started to whimper. "Good heavens, why couldn't you listen?"

"I--" he started.

"Mommy?" The child pushed the blanket from her head and twisted in the servant's arms.

"Cover her mouth and bring her."

The servant did as bade and headed for the door.

Picking up the bag, Lorena followed him out of the room and to the stairs.

"Ow." He stopped quickly on the landing. His hand flew into the air with his whispered curse.

Lorena back peddled her steps before she found herself planted against him. "Now what?"

"She bit me."

The child whimpered and stuck her head out of the covers again. "Mommy?"

Lorena dropped the carpetbag and clamped her hand over the girl's mouth. "Can't you handle a two-year-old?"

"She bit me." He studied his wound. "She drew blood."

"Imbecile." She drew a long breath and using her free hand worked the kinks from her left brow. The child squirmed beneath her hand. The girl's tongue touched her palm. "Bite me, and so help me I'll slap you."

The child's blue eyes turned glassy.

Lorena met her stare. "That's right, I'll slap you. Now be a good girl for once in your life."

The child studied Lorena, her gaze disconnected when she laid her head against the servant's shoulder.

"See how simple it is?" Lorena lifted her hand from the girl's mouth and reached for the carpetbag. "Cover her mouth and let's go before we wake the house."

Wake, Samantha.

Thank heaven her father had locked Samantha in the attic for being disagreeable at dinner. Otherwise, she'd never get the child out of the house without a fight. Tonight, though, things seemed to be in her favor.

You can purchase Touched by Mercy from Amazon.

Instead of giving a book away, Tina is holding a contest to celebrate the release of Touched By Mercy. She's giving away a Nook Color ereader and two gift certificates. Just go to her blog site, www.tinapinson.blogspot.com and under the Touched By Mercy Contest tab you will find the details.
Contest entries have to be in by December 31, 2010. That's TOMORROW, folks, so head over now.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

with Jim Rubart

Welcome to The Book Loft, Jim!
What started you on your writing journey?

My mom. She forced me to read (I was one of those boys who lived for sports and being outside) and once I started I was hooked. (Thanks, Mom!) I devoured books from the time I was eight and have never stopped. I knew I wanted to try to do for others what authors had done for me—sweep people into others worlds that captured their minds and hearts.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
It's probably easier to describe what doesn't distract me. Um, nothing. I love writing more than anything else once I sit down with my laptop and start, but it's often a challenge to quiet that voice that says, "What do you think you're doing? You're not fooling anyone, you can't write."

I think that's true of most things in life. And it's a clue as to what we should be doing. The thing that puts up the most resistance? That's likely what we should be pressing into.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Everything. Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, I enjoy it all. But lately I've had little time to read for pleasure between reading other author's books for endorsement, and working on my own stories. Yes, I have a plan to change that!

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Taylor Stone, one of my main secondary characters. Why? Because he's a fascinating mixture of kindness and gruffness. And I slowly came to find out (as readers will) the reason he's gruff is because of a very old, very dark secret hidden deep inside him. I wanted to know that secret.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Bright, energetic rock and roll.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet even though I'm terrified of heights. I figured do what you fear and you conquer the fear. Didn't work. It was a rush, but I'm not ready to do it again quite yet.


Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Yes. But it fascinates me that those are often the things that once we push through and do them give us the greatest sense of accomplishment. I truly believe our wrestle is not against flesh and blood but principalities that want to thwart us from our destiny. In His strength we can push through.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Artichokes dipped in butter, crab legs, sourdough bread and an apple, pear, and walnut salad. Simple and delicious.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I think freedom is the greatest longing of our hearts so I like to write about issues that keep people from living lives of freedom and write about ways people can step into more freedom.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Matt 6:19 – 21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
This visit on earth is short. As the character Maximus says in the movie Gladiator, "What we do in life, echoes in eternity." I think it more than echoes. When we arrive I think we'll see it was and is more real than anything we did on earth.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
It's called The Chair and will release in October 2011. It's about a young antiques store owner who is forced to confront his greatest fears and greatest failure
when he’s given an artifact that might be a legendary healing chair made by Jesus Christ.

Thanks so much for having me, Patty!



Thanks for being with us, Jim!
You can purchase Book of Days from Amazon.

Jim is giving away a copy of Book of Days AND his first novel, Rooms. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

meet Jim Rubart


James L. Rubart is the best-selling author of ROOMS and BOOK OF DAYS, married to the love of his life, and extremely proud of his two teenage sons. When he’s not dirt biking, water skiing or playing guitar, he helps people with their marketing through his company Barefoot Marketing. He lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest.

You can find Jim online at www.jimrubart.com and www.jameslrubart.com.
Facebook: James L. Rubart
Twitter: @jimrubart

Book of Days

God’s Book of Days. A record of the past, present, and future of every soul. Some say it’s fable. Others are sure it’s real, hidden somewhere on Earth...

If Cameron Vaux can’t find it, he will lose everything.

“You will lose your mind. When it starts happening … you must find the Book of Days.”
When Cameron’s dying father delivers this message, he brushes it off. Lose his memory? He’s only twenty-five. Find a book that doesn’t even exist. Foolishness. Nothing more than the product of his father’s dementia.

But now, eight years after his father’s death, it’s happening. Chunks of Cameron’s life are just--gone. Even memories of his wife, killed two years ago, have slipped away. Could it be…? Is his father’s eerie prediction coming true?

Desperate, Cameron determines to fulfill his father’s last wish. He will find the Book of Days. But when a lead takes him to the small town of Three Peaks, Oregon, Cameron realizes dark secrets are at work. The townspeople, warm as apple pie at first, turn cold as liquid nitrogen when Cameron mentions the Book. As his mind works against him, Cameron discovers that friends may be enemies.

And the one person Cameron can’t stand? She might well be his strongest ally.

But there are others seeking the Book. Others who will stop at nothing to get it. And they’re closer than Cameron ever imagined…




Here's an excerpt of Book of Days:

Prologue
Summer 1853
A stone slammed into the side of Hassun’s head, sending him to his knees. Pain exploded like lightning and streaked down his back as he slumped forward onto his hands. Careless. His moccasins must have left a trail. Foolish. How could he have let that happen?

Have to move!

His assailant’s next attack would most likely be to his ribs. Hassun spun to his left, sending up a thin curtain of dust from the ledge overlooking the cliff, and caught the man’s dark leather moccasin as it flashed toward his face. Hassun twisted his attacker’s leg and the man sprawled on the ground, his head inches from striking a rock.

Not close enough.

The man leaped to his feet, stepped back five paces, and snatched a bow and a pine shaft with a brilliant black arrowhead off the ground. By the time Hassun staggered to his feet and shook his head, the man had nocked the arrow.

“Nukpana? Why?”

“You are surprised?”

“You were my friend.”

“I am still your friend and ever will be.” Nukpana drew back slightly on the bowstring, the arrow pointed at Hassun’s chest, and laughed. “Do not worry, I am not going to kill you. I could have done that easily with a larger rock a moment ago.” He released the pressure on the bowstring and stroked the arrow’s white feathers.

“You never could hide your tracks. I only need to know where the Stories are and I will leave you.”

Hassun should have seen it. The rage two summers past when he was chosen guardian instead of Nukpana, then the false praise for having been given the honor. Being badgered almost daily ever
since in a half-joking, half-serious manner about the location.

“And if I do not tell you where they are?”

“I will see how much pain you can endure before you die. But know before you join our ancestors, you will tell me.”

“The Stories are not for your eyes.”

“But they are for yours?”

“I am not the one who made that choice.”

“And who is?” Nukpana pierced the tip of his forefinger with the point of the arrowhead and a drop of blood seeped out.

“You know.”

“But those who chose you are gone, and the understanding now only remains with you.”

Hassun nodded, his long black braids hanging over his muscled shoulders.

“What if something happens to you? Another must retain the knowledge.”

“That is not for any man alone to decide. You know this also.”

“Think, Hassun. We could use its power for so much good. Together. You and I. Blood brothers since our youth. We could wield the insights and foretelling it offers to—”

“No. That is not its purpose.”

“If you will not tell, then give me the stone.” Nukpana spread his feet wider, one in front of the other, renocked the arrow and drew it back.

“I cannot. Even if you do not yet know how to decipher the markings, it would be the same as telling you.” Hassun massaged the small stone that hung from his neck on a thin leather cord under his buckskin shirt. “You know this.”

“Enough. Give me the stone.” Nukpana drew the bowstring back further, his first two fingers turning a deep red where the string bit into them.

Hassun stared into Nukpana’s eyes as he lifted the stone from around his neck and let it hang from his upturned palm.

“Yes, throw it to me and there will be peace between us.”

“No.” Hassun wrapped the cord around the stone and closed his fist around it.

“One more chance. Tell me where the Stories are or give me the stone. Either one and you will live. Now.”

Hassun closed his eyes. “For You, I choose.” He opened his eyes and gauged the distance between Nukpana and the edge of the cliff. Three paces, maybe four. The distance might be short enough.
Nukpana would not shoot to kill, only to maim. “As I have told you already, it is not possible.”

“Is it worth your life?” Hassun drew in a deep breath and whispered, “Yes.”

“So be it.”

Nukpana drew back fully on the bow at the moment Hassun lunged forward and sprinted toward his friend, little puffs of dust rising from where his feet dug into the ledge above the cliff.

Nukpana’s fingers loosed the arrow and time slowed. As Hassun hurtled toward the arrowhead streaking toward him, he hurled the stone over the edge of the cliff. Nukpana’s head snapped to the left to follow the arc of the stone against the blue sky, shock splashed across his sun-browned skin. “No!”

The arrow entered Hassun’s chest just above his heart, making him stagger, the darkness of unconsciousness rushing into his mind. No, he wouldn’t give in.

Two paces to go. Yes. He would make it.

Nukpana turned back the moment Hassun slammed into the bigger man, driving him back, then over the edge of the cliff.

Sound vanished as Hassun wrapped his arms around his friend and the forest floor spread out below him.
“I have protected that which was entrusted to me. Now I come.”





Chapter 1
Cameron Vaux stepped into his dad’s room and tried to push the regrets into a dark corner of his mind.

They’d never go on the backpacking trip he’d planned for his dad’s fiftieth birthday. Never take the sailing trip from Seattle to Alaska. The cruise around Italy would be a grand intention never fulfilled.

The what-should-have-beens had vanished.

Just like his dad’s mind.

It had been a year since his dad knew who Cameron was. The doctors said the grains of sand still in the top of the hourglass were few, which made the call he’d received that morning from one of the nurses surprising.

“Your dad is more coherent than we’ve seen him in a long time. He keeps saying, ‘I need to see him now. Right away. I must tell him.’ But when we ask who ‘him’ is, he says he doesn’t know. We’re guessing it’s you.”

Cameron stood just inside the door, stared at the back of his dad’s graying head, and watched him study the business section of the paper as he’d done his whole life. Pouring over the stock charts to see who was up and who was crashing. Ready to steer Cameron’s economic choices down the straight and financially rewarding. His house and his healthy IRA were due to his father’s fiscal acuity and passion to share what he’d learned with Cameron.

He sighed. There would be no more lessons on navigating the investment waters.

“Hey, Dad, how are you?” Cameron eased over to the windows and pulled open the beige curtains. Early May sunshine filtered through the emerald leaves on the maple tree outside and filled the room.

His dad sat next to the window in his dark blue leather chair, feet propped up and covered with the Washington Huskies slippers Cameron bought him last Christmas.

“Well, I’m still alive. It’s so good to have you here.” His dad adjusted his glasses and squinted. “Now tell me again who you are . . . ?”

“It’s me, Cameron. Your son. You asked for me?” He couldn’t help hoping the tumblers inside his dad’s mind had magically clicked back into place, and he could have one last conversation where his dad knew him. Please?

His dad set aside the business section he’d probably read twenty times already that day and stuck out his hand. “Put ’er in the vise, pal.”

Cameron took his dad’s hand and cried out in mock pain. “Ahh, wow, you haven’t lost your strength, Dad.”

His dad smiled, a hint of water in his eyes. “You know, sometimes I look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you
old buzzard, what are you still doing here?’” His dad’s eyes lit up and he laughed like stones skipping on a pond.

“You’re not old.” Forty-nine was not old. Certainly not old enough to have a disease that made Swiss cheese of his dad’s memories.

“We’ll be home before dinner at this pace.” His dad nodded.

“Yep, we’re making good time.”

The familiar sadness tried to rise from Cameron’s heart and
smother his mind, but he blocked it. He didn’t need the emotion.

He didn’t need tears right now. There had been enough of those
over the past six years to fill Puget Sound.

“The nurses said you needed to see me.”

“Well, it is so very good to see you.”

“They said you needed to tell me something, Dad.”

His father lifted his glass of orange juice and toasted Cameron.

“Have I told you how proud I am of you?”

Cameron smiled, closed his eyes, and let the words sink in. His dad used to say those words ten times an hour two years back, but the frequency had dwindled to almost nothing. It was a gift to hear the phrase again.

Cameron glanced at the pictures on the walls. Of family. Of friends. Of his mom and dad playing tennis when they were first married. Cameron picked up a photo sitting on the coffee table of his mom and dad swimming across the Smith River in the redwoods and drew his finger across the surface of the glass.

“I miss her so much.”

“Who?”

“Mom.” He held out the frame for his dad to see.

His dad took the picture and stared at it. “That’s me! Isn’t it?

And who is that with me?”

Cameron closed his eyes and sighed. Not mom, he couldn’t let his dad forget her.

“It’s mom. You have to remember her. You loved her very much.”

“I did? And what did you say her name was?”

How could he forget the woman he’d been married to for twenty-seven years? Yes, the disease, but their passion for each other was the type that nothing should ever be allowed to steal. There had to be something he could say to trigger his dad’s memories of their love.

“Camping in the redwoods. The Big Rock. We went there every year till I was ten. You can lose all the other memories, but not of her. You have to remember Mom. You always said living without each other would be a Siberian existence.”

“Okay, and I’m living here with you right now, pal.”

Cameron slumped into a chair next to his dad and dragged his teeth over his lower lip. “Where have your memories gone, Dad?”

“Well, I don’t know, but you’re here and I’m so glad you stopped by.”

Cameron stared into his dad’s eyes until his father looked away.

“Are they lost forever? Maybe when this life is through you’ll get them back. Maybe you’ll find them in whatever comes next.”

His dad smiled, the hint of laughter playing at the corners of his mouth. “Heaven is coming, you know.”

“You looking forward to heaven, Dad?”

“Oh yes, indeed. He’s coming for me.” His dad glanced around the room until his gaze settled on Cameron. “Well, I’m glad you’vecome by, but remind me again, how are we acquainted?”

Cameron’s chest tightened and he tried to smile. “I’m just a kid who loves his dad with all his heart.”

“That’s good. Very good.”

Cameron scooted his chair closer to his dad and leaned forward.

“I’m sorry, Dad. Sorry you have to go through this. I don’t think I could handle getting this disease of yours. I’d be tempted to end things early, you know? Did you ever consider it?”

Not a chance. His dad would have obliterated the thought the instant it appeared. “At least you have your God-thing going on, so you feel like you know where you’re headed.”

“God is so good.”

“Yeah.” If only God was real. Maybe He was, maybe He wasn’t. It took a leap of faith to believe, his dad always said. But how could you know for sure before leaping? And Cameron wanted to know.

A never-ending circle.

Cameron picked up the myrtlewood cribbage board that sat on the coffee table next to his dad’s chair. “We played a few hundred on this board, didn’t we? Or was it a few thousand? I’d love to play one more game. Wouldn’t you?”

“We could play now if you like.”

“Should I set up the board?”

His dad grabbed Cameron’s hand and smiled wide. “Tell me exactly what are we doing here today.”

“Talking. Just two guys hanging out together talking.”

“And you are?”

Cameron set down the board, rubbed its smooth surface with his finger, and circled the word Finish carved into the end of the wood. “The product of an awesome father.”

Outside his dad’s room an orderly’s tennis shoe squeaked on the linoleum as she passed the door. At the sound his dad jerked his head up and his eyes cleared.

“When it starts happening to you, you must find the book with all your days in it, Cameron. It might cure you. Do you understand?”

Cameron raised his head. “What did you say?”

“When you start losing your memories, you must find the book. Everything will make sense to you then. Find it for me, will you? Promise me you’ll find it.”

“Are you with me here, Dad?” Cameron’s mind reeled. He couldn’t tell if his father was lucid, but his eyes were clearer than he’d seen them in ages, and the countenance of his face said he knew exactly what he was saying.

“Did you know you can see the future? I saw it once. It’s not a real book, of course. I even touched it, when I was a kid. Did you know that?” His dad rubbed his hands together and chuckled.

“Of course you didn’t. I never told you that. I never told anyone except one person right after it happened. People would have thought I was crazy. But that doesn’t matter now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you understand? Find the book, Cameron.” His dad took Cameron’s face in his hands. “Did you hear me? The book of all days. Find it for me. Find it for you.” He released Cameron’s face and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hand.

Cameron shook his head, as if it would cause his dad’s words to make sense. Was this real? Did Dad have any idea what he was saying? “Why do you think it will happen to me?”

“Not a question. It will happen; it will. I’ve seen it.” His father patted Cameron’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”

Cameron blinked and a trickle of fear wound through his mind. He wasn’t ready for a conversation out of Alice in Wonderland. “What is this book? Where would I find it?”

His dad grasped Cameron by both hands and nodded once.

“You know what I love about us? We both have beautiful blue eyes.”

Cameron leaned in. “Why do I need to find this book?”

“You know what I love about us?” A smile lit up his dad’s face as he squeezed Cameron’s hands. “Both of us have beautiful blue eyes.”

“Stay with me, Dad. You just told me I’m going to start losing my memories like you and about a book I have to find. Where is the book?”

“Well, I’m very proud of you, you know.”


Cameron let his head fall back and he closed his eyes. It was over. No matter how hard he tried to massage the conversation back to whatever this book was, and why his dad thought Cameron would get the disease, it wouldn’t happen. He wanted to have one last conversation with his dad about the important things in life, so why did he end up with his dad rambling about nonsensical things instead?

A few minutes later Cameron let it go and told the story about the two of them skiing from nine in the morning till ten at night up at Stevens Pass without a break.

“Do you remember the next day? We couldn’t move!”
For the next half hour Cameron didn’t stop the tears when they
pushed out and didn’t stop the laughter when his dad talked about
some random comical event from decades back.

After the light outside his dad’s room had grown black, Cameron slid his arms around his father and whispered in his ear, “I love you, Dad. Always have. Always.”

His dad held him for a moment, then patted Cameron on the back and took him by the shoulders, a wide grin on Dad’s face, moisture in his eyes.

A week later his dad was gone.



You can purchase Book of Days from Amazon.

Jim is giving away a copy of Book of Days AND his first novel, Rooms. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Monday, December 27, 2010

with Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Jenness and Tracy!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

Tracy: I have always known that I wanted to write a book. Wanting and doing are two different things. When Jenness approached me and asked if I was interested in co-authoring, I knew that it was something that I was going to go for.
Jenness: There really was no epiphany. As a preteen, I told my dad I’d be in the CBD catalog someday. In my eighth grade yearbook, “author” is listed as my choice career. But it wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I really buckled down to see if I was capable of writing an entire novel. That was a little scary. It’s a great thing to know what you want to do…but if that’s the main thing you’ve ever wanted to do, that’s quite a bit of pressure to see if you can actually pull it off.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Jenness: I can’t choose. Both of my published books are so different. I loved interacting with a co-author on Bliss (Tracy is SO much fun to work with), and all of the characters in the story were quirky and fun. I think Granny may have been my favorite, depending on the day. But I also loved Double Take and the intensity of some of the scenes. It was a challenge in many ways, and I loved writing it.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Tracy: Time. My life is full with a husband, four sons, college courses, a care-giving job, and multiple writing projects. To get writing done I have to let some things go, and realize that for certain stretches of time there is just no way that I can do it all. In other words, please do not look under my couch…a dust bunny the size of Texas may attack you.
Jenness: I have to agree. Finding the time, and then making that time count.


Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Tracy: I loved the main character, Indie. She is just so quirky and fun.
Jenness: It was an eye-opener for me to see horoscopes through Indie’s eyes—to realize why she thought she needed them and then to show her journey toward finding all she really needed in the Maker of the Stars.

What is your strangest habit?
Tracy: I am OCD about checking the doors at night to make sure that they are locked. I do it several times. Yes, I realize how weird that sounds.
Jenness: Strange? Me? :)


Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Tracy: I usually like to get things that I dread out of the way first so that I can get it over with and move on to something more enjoyable.
Jenness: And I, of course, have to do things the hard way and put off those things. Then I dread them more.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Tracy: A book and the beach.
Jenness: I’d say a shopping day, but, not wanting Tracy to turn up her nose at my perfect day, I’ll stick with a comfy couch, loud music, a fantastic book, a notebook and my favorite pen which miraculously doesn’t bleed all over me or the furniture, and a Sobe Energy. That should about cover it.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Tracy: I really could read anything. I can even find things I like in a Popular Mechanics magazine.
Jenness: Just about anything but Amish/prairie-type romances or end times stuff.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Tracy: Water and cranberry juice are my drinks of choice. And I love chocolate.
Jenness: My indulgence is a Sobe Citrus Energy. Or a fountain root beer. Or a cold Mountain Dew in a can. Or sweet tea. Or… I don’t snack much while writing, but bring on the sugared drinks!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Jenness: I find myself coming back to the themes of forgiveness and redemption. Especially that grace is nothing we can ever deserve, but it’s a gift freely given.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Tracy: This entire past year has been a huge learning experience for me in so many ways. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that we never truly know what is going on underneath the surface in people’s lives. We are all so good at perfecting a façade, but God is sensitive to what lies beneath. He is teaching me to look beyond the surface. I realize that I have so far to go, but I am grateful that He is patient.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Jenness: We haven’t signed a new contract yet, but we have a few projects that are under consideration. We hope to have good news to share soon!


You can purchase Bliss from Amazon.

Jenness and Tracy are giving away a copy of Bliss. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

meet Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen

Tracy is a transplanted Southern gal who started writing women's fiction to counter-balance all the testosterone that surrounds her in the form of a husband and four sons.

Jenness, married to her website-designing high school sweetheart, is a suspense writer whose fictitious world has become a lot funnier since Tracy's arrival. Her debut novel, Double Take, was a Carol Award finalist and a RT Reviews Top Pick.

You can find Tracy online at www.tandjbooks.com and Jenness at www.jennesswalker.com

Bliss

When the universe lets you down, it's time to go over its head.

Following the stars, Indie Moore sets off to find ultimate happiness in South Florida. But in her quest for comfort and fortune, she encounters mishap and mayhem. She finds a home in a trailer park, a job scrubbing toilets, and a moody roommate—not quite the glamorous world she’d envisioned for herself. But maybe bliss looks a little different than she’d thought.

Laugh and cry with Indie, the Miss Adventure of misadventure, as she blunders on land, by sea, and in church, seeking love and a sense of belonging...seeking true Bliss.

Here's an excerpt of Bliss:

Perhaps if I had tripped over the heels of my chunky sandals the first day I came to Rabbit Hole, Kansas, I wouldn’t hate it here so much. Flat on your back, you at least get a break from the ever-present wind, and instead of never-ending plains of nothingness you can see…hmm, yes. That cloud looks just like an ice cream cone.

“Indie, babe, are you okay?”

My vision of calories is obstructed by masses of red curls and large, colored stones. Healing stones, to be exact. My mom thinks if one necklace can provide health for the body, then four should keep you in tip-top shape until the day you die—of old age, of course. They have yet to find a stone to cure that.

“I’m fine, Mom. Just couldn’t see over Miss Matilda.”

I’d rather blame the stuffed hippo sticking out of the box I carried than confess I tripped over my own shoes. Again. This is the fourth time they’ve landed me on my back. At least this time only two people—Mom and her main squeeze, Steve Gaines—witnessed my current disgrace. As opposed to an entire movie theater audience, like last year in Chicago.

I have a long list of similar humiliating events, and a corresponding list of the places I’ve lived. A few perks come with moving every year, like you don’t have to worry about running into someone who has watched you make an idiot out of yourself. New location, new audience.

“Maybe this is a sign.” Mom tucks a strand of that crazy hair—I can say that because she passed it down to me—behind her ear, and the strand of wooden beads on her arm becomes entangled in a dozen or so curls. While her hands flail as she attempts to extricate her hair from the beads, she says, “I think you still need me.”

Who needs who? With a deft twist of a curl, I set her free. “I have a sign, Mom. Pisces. And I am following it.”

“How do you know your horoscope meant for you to move to Florida? It’s so far away!”

Everything is far away from Rabbit Hole.” But it’s a good question. It’s a shame I don’t have a good answer. I’m not going to tell her that the same day my horoscope told me to follow my sign, I learned Celine Dion had a home in South Florida.

Pisces is a water sign. Its symbol is fish. Water, fish. Together, those two practically scream South Florida. I’m not picky; if it’s good enough for Celine, it’s good enough for me.

I’m desperate to get out of Rabbit Hole, with its tornadoes, dusty roads, and, of course, my free spirit mother flitting from store to store—all three of them.

Horoscopes don’t come with specific instructions. Each reader must interpret the meaning. To give myself some credit, my reasoning has to be more sound than my mother’s—like the morning we picked up and left Dayton, Ohio to move to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina because Mom’s daily horoscope stated, “Find the right path.” Right. Wright. Wright brothers. Why not? They ended up in Kitty Hawk, and so did we for ten whole months.


You can purchase Bliss from Amazon.

Jenness and Tracy are giving away a copy of Bliss. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

with Vickie McDonough

Welcome to The Book Loft, Vickie!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

I never planned to become a writer, although I have long been a reader. One day, a story started running through my mind and wouldn’t go away. It was affecting my sleep, so I thought I’d try writing it down, just to get it out of my head. Well, I wrote the whole book, and as soon as I was done, another story came. I wrote it down too, and started wondering if God was trying to get my attention. I talked to my husband, and we both felt I should take some writing classes and attend a conference and see where it would lead.

I suppose my epiphany moment was when I got a call from Cathy Marie Hake, telling me that our novella collection was being bought. That was a very exciting day.

I will have been writing ten years this coming January and have sold 26 books. I never could have dreamed things would turn out like they have.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I would have to say The Anonymous Bride. I caused so much trouble for poor Luke and for the three mail-order brides who came to marry him, but my favorite character was probably Jack, the tomboy daughter of Rachel Hamilton, the boardinghouse owner. Jack is a tough ten-year-old girl, who gets into all kinds of trouble. She hates dresses, wishes she was a boy, and defies her frazzled single mother at every turn. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Jack is a whole lot like I was when I was young. She was a really fun character to write, and readers of the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series will be happy to know that Jack gets her own book, in Finally A Bride, the third book in the series, which releases in April, 2011. (And Vickie will be here at The Book Loft with Finally A Bride on April 18th and 19th. Don't miss it!)

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
The actual writing part. Why? Because it’s often hard and time-consuming. Days when I should be writing are the ones I tend to do the oddest chores at home. I was on a very tight deadline last week, and just couldn’t get the story to work. So, what do I do? Take all the coats out of the coat closet, sort them according to how they could be washed or if they had to be dry-cleaned, and then proceeded to clean them. I washed all my husband’s stinky baseball caps and cleaned out the whole closets. The spiders are gone. But I didn’t get a lot of writing done that day.

The only way to overcome a writing funk is to just sit down and write. Eventually, I’ll get past that point, and will do well until I get to the next hard part. I just might clean the attic out then.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh, man. I don’t know. I bought a motorcycle when I was 14, using money I’d made babysitting. Does that count?

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Yes. Did you know that writing a book can be scary? There are so many things that can go wrong. Do I have enough romantic tension between hero & heroine? Is my humor funny to the reader—or just to me? Did I develop the plot logically and at a good pace? I tend to put off starting a book at first, but once I jump into the story, it starts to flow and I get caught up in it.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
A Sonic breakfast croissant with bacon & a Coke. Very few emails that need my attention. Then finishing my word count for the day by noon and getting to have the rest of the day free. But, I know that’s not too likely to happen.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
From 1880 to 1890. :0)
Oh, wait, that’s not what you meant, is it? I will read just about any book, but my favorite ones have a late 19th century time period with a western setting. I also enjoy Irish and Scottish historicals, contemporaries with a western setting, and they all must have a romance. I tend to shy away from a book written in first person, because I love seeing inside the hero’s head.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
No, not really. I’ve been dieting all this year and had to cut out sweets and fun foods. Hmm…maybe that’s why I’ve had so much writer’s block this year. Somebody please send me a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger. I’m sugar-deprived!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I tend to write a lot about forgiveness. Also about trusting God when your situation seems completely impossible to overcome.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
That I can do all things in Christ. I had a quickly approaching deadline, and I ended up writing a whole different story than I’d originally pitched. I didn’t see how I would get it done, but I did.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have a South Carolina historical called Mutiny of the Heart, which releases in December. It’s a Heartsong Presents book and the first in a new series. The story is set in 1788 in Charleston. It’s the story of a Canadian woman who travels to America, a country she feels is responsible for her father’s death, to bring her young ward to his father. But when she finally arrives, the man is adamant the boy couldn’t possibly be his. The last thing she wants to do is leave the boy she has come to love with his wealthy father, but she can’t provide for him. Will the letter she bears make Lucas Reed realize the truth?

Thanks so much for being with us here at The Book Loft, Vickie!


You can purchase Second Chance Brides from Amazon.

Vickie is giving away a copy of Second Chance Brides . To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

meet Vickie McDonough

Award-winning author Vickie McDonough has lived in Oklahoma all her life, except for a year when she and her husband lived on a kibbutz in Israel.

Vickie is the author of 20 books and novellas, including the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. Historical Christian romance is her favorite genre to read and write. Vickie is currently the ACFW treasurer and a founding member of WIN, an ACFW chapter in Tulsa, OK. She is a member of RWA, CAN, Women Writing the West, OKRWA, and OWFI.

Vickie’s books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, and the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY contest. This year she is a triple finalist in the ACFW’s Carol Awards(formerly BOTY)

She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty four-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

To learn more about Vickie’s books, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com and www.bustlesandspurs.com where she contributes monthly.

 

Second Chance Brides

Rejected mail-order brides, Shannon O’Neil and Leah Bennett, are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women’s lodging at the boardinghouse, since they were the ones who brought the women to town in the first place. Now the brothers are searching for a way to marry off the women and be free of their financial burden. Getting into the matchmaking business doesn’t sound as far-fetched as it once did. Will the Corbett brothers’ idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Or will their plans backfire?


Here's an excerpt of Second Chance Brides:


Mark shrugged, wishing he’d never allowed himself to get caught up in his brother’s scheme to marry off their cousin. If he hadn’t, he never would have written to Miss O’Neil on his cousin’s behalf, and she wouldn’t be stranded in Lookout right now, stirring up rotten memories. “I reckon the Lord wanted Luke and Rachel together. Our messing with things just made them worse. Kind of like when Sarah in the Bible gave Abraham her maidservant.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Garrett rubbed his chin with his forefinger and thumb. “We’ve got two more pretty women of marrying age in Lookout than we had before. That can’t be a bad thing.”

Mark shook his head. From the tone of his voice, Garrett was scheming again, and this time Mark wanted nothing to do with it. They’d be out plenty of money before Miss O’Neil and Miss Bennett found a way to support themselves or got husbands since the marshal had ordered them to pay Miss Bennett’s and Miss O’Neil’s room and board. Never again would he let his brother sway him into one of his schemes. Pranks were meant to be fun, but people kept getting upset at them.

The fiddler tuned up again. Men separated from their groups, seeking out their wives. Mark’s gaze sought out Miss O’Neil again, and he found her standing at the edge of the crowd. She put him in mind of a frightened bird that desperately wanted to join the flock but was afraid of being pecked by the bigger birds. She looked as if she might flit away without a soul noticing.

But he noticed—and the fact irritated him.

“You gonna ask her to dance?”

“What?” Mark frowned at his brother. Had he seen him watching the Irish girl? Garrett would misinterpret his stare.

Downing the last of his punch, Garrett seemed to be studying Miss O’Neil himself. “She’s a fetching thing and free to marry now. Reckon we’ll have to find her and that blond a husband soon or we could be paying their room and board for a long while.”

“Guess you should have thought of that before dreaming up that confounded plan to find Luke a bride. You’ll remember that I warned you this could come back to bite you.”

Garrett grinned. “Yeah, and I also remember you writing to one pretty Irish gal, pretending to be the marshal. If you were so opposed to my idea, why did you join in?”

Mark kicked a rock that skittered across the dirt. “Guess I just got caught up in your excitement. I wanted to see Luke settled and happy, too. He’d been through so much.”

“Well, if you’re not going to ask a certain redhead to dance, I reckon I will.” Garrett set his punch glass on the church sign.

Mark grabbed for his brother’s arm as he strode off, but he clutched air instead. Why couldn’t Garrett let things be? He always had to meddle. But he had no way of knowing how Miss O’Neil set off all kinds of warning clangs in Mark’s mind. He was wrong to compare the two women, but Shannon reminded him so much of Annabelle.

He clamped down his jaw. He wouldn’t let another woman close like he had Annabelle. Not that Miss O’Neil was any threat of doing that. He just had to stay away from her. Not let his guard down around her. He’d fallen for a woman once, and it had been the worst mistake he’d ever made. If anyone found out, his reputation would be ruined.

The Irish girl shook her head at Garrett, and Mark smirked. So, she was immune to his brother’s charms. Good for her. A stiff breeze nearly stole his hat away, but he grabbed hold and pressed it down tighter. His gaze lifted to the sky, and shivers of alarm skittered down his spine. He didn’t like the looks of those yellow-green clouds. Could be just a bad thunderstorm brewing, but they had an ominous look about them.

He searched for his brother and straightened when he found him waltzing with Miss O’Neil. His hand tightened into a ball. Why should he care? But knowing Garrett was just trying to raise his hackles—and doing a decent job of it—irritated Mark. He had half a mind to march over there and cut in, but that was probably exactly what his brother expected him to do.

The song ended. Garrett leaned toward Miss O’Neil and said something. She shook her head then tilted it to the side. Mark read her lips. “Thank you.”

She drifted through the crowd, looked over her shoulder, and then headed across the churchyard. She was trying to run away, he knew that. Things must be terribly awkward for her here. He watched her stop and talk with Leah Bennett for a moment until Homer Jones asked Miss Bennett to dance. Shannon watched the two walk toward the group of waltzing townsfolk.

If not for him and his brother, neither woman would be stuck in Lookout. He felt bad about that, but when he and Garrett had offered to pay their passage back home or somewhere else, both had refused. Maybe they liked it here.

He gazed at the town, trying to see it from their viewpoint. Lookout was small as towns went. The layout resembled a capital E, with Bluebonnet Lane the spine and Apple, Main, and Oak Streets the arms. Most of the buildings were well kept, but a few of them were weathered and unpainted and had seen better days. Yeah, they had a small bank, a store, marshal’s office, livery, café, a church and even a newspaper office, but that was about all. Why would a woman with no means of support want to stay here if she had family to return to?

Suddenly screams rose from the crowd, yanking Mark’s attention toward the ruckus behind him.

“Tornado!” frantic voices lifted in a chaotic chorus, joining with frightened wails.

Men grabbed their women and children and raced to find shelter. Mark shoved away from the tree he’d been leaning on. He looked back at Miss O’Neil. She stood on Bluebonnet Lane, her wide eyes captivated. Mouth open. Didn’t she know the danger she was in?

Foolish woman. He quickened his steps. People scattered in all directions, and yet she didn’t move. He may not want to dance with her, but he sure didn’t want her to come to any harm.

A flying tree branch snatched his hat off like a thief, almost knocking him in the head. He galloped faster, dodging men. Dodging women dragging their stunned children. “Run,” he yelled.

But she couldn’t hear him.


You can purchase Second Chance Brides from Amazon.

Vickie is giving away a copy of Second Chance Brides . To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Introducing Clash of the Titles

Clash of the Titles is honored to be a new, regular feature of The Book Loft. We’re proud of all our contestants and pleased The Book Loft has chosen to highlight them. Thank you!

Before the party begins, we’d like to introduce ourselves. Clash of the Titles (COTT) is a fab new literary site where authors submit short excerpts of their novels and readers vote on their favorite.

Here’s a quick look back at Clash of the Title's first two months of life.

  • On October 18th, COTT launched it's first Clash featuring Susanne Lakin's Someone To Blame and Shannon Vannater's White Doves, with Susanne's excerpt taking the crown for Best Hook, Contemporary. And our first two drawing winners were Katie Johnson and Beth Farley.
Reader Quote of the Week: "Both are well written excerpts! I'd love to read both books. I can see that I'm going to be hitting Amazon a LOT because of COTT"
  • Queen of Hearts by K Dawn Byrd, and The Stones by Eleanor K. Gustafson sparred in round 2 of Best Weather Description during week 4. One for the memory books, COTT had it's first TIE with both books declared victorious! Our drawing winners were Mary T Williams and Joanne Sher.
  • November 15th ushered in a special double-feature week of Blurb Battles. Janalyn Voigt and JoAnn Durgin went head-to-head, with JoAnne's Awakening crowned the conqueror. Margaret Brownley and Jody Hedlund also climbed into the ring with Margaret's A Suitor For Jenny declared victorious. Readers Edwina Cowgill, Deb Haggerty, Jill Fortner, and Dan Smith all won free books!
  • Thanksgiving week gave us the chance to highlight a couple of honorable mentions. Erin Rainwater's The Arrow that Flieth by Day went up against Deb Kinnard's Seasons in the Mist and won. Ashley Mott was also a winner- she won the drawing for a copy of Deb's book.
  • December turned our thoughts toward the holidays and we went looking for the Most Touching Christmas/Winter Scene. Rachael Phillips' Ride Me into Christmas, and Shawna K. Williams' Orphaned Hearts gave us the warm fuzzies. Orphaned Hearts won the match, and Clare Revell and Linda won the drawing this week.

In all, we featured 20 authors and gave away 19 free books! Wow!

We’ll be taking a brief respite over Christmas, but we’ll be back in 2011. So put us on your crisp, new calendar for Monday, January 3rd when we’ll feature two Conversion Scenes that will touch your heart.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of our exciting Clashes! Then each Wednesday following, you can get to know our talented contestants just a little better. Right here at The Book Loft!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

with Margaret Daley

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Margaret!
What verse is special to you right now?

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

This illustrates the importance of prayer in our lives coupled with the need for thanksgiving. How fitting for this time of year.

What do you do in your free time?
Spend time with my family, go to lunch and a movie with my friends or read.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to lose some weight and keep it off. I’d settle for twenty pounds.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Elizabeth is a bodyguard who usually guards women or children. She had a tough past and had to overcome a lot. She’s afraid to love because of her past. She holds her emotions in and is very professional.

If this book is part of a series, tell us about the series.
Christmas Bodyguard is the first in the Guardians, Inc. Series about an agency of female bodyguards.

What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
Coming up with the plot and seeing it come together.

What sparks a story for you?
A lot of different things can spark a story for me. A setting (Heart of the Amazon), a occupation (Gold in the Fire and Hearts on the Line) or an issue (Fostered by Love series).

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Christmas Bodyguard will be out in December 2010. It is a Love Inspired Suspense.

Here's an excerpt of Christmas Bodyguard:

"Watch out!" Slade Caulder said through clenched teeth, gripping the door handle on his SUV. Why had he allowed a sixteen-year-old with a permit to drive? Only a few more miles to the ranch-thankfully.

"Dad, I saw him coming out. I've got everything under control."

When he noticed Abbey sliding a glance toward him, his heart rate shot up even further. "Keep your eyes on the road."

"I'm gonna ask Gram to take me driving next time."

"No." Although he wished he could let his mother-in-law take over teaching his daughter to drive around Dallas, he wouldn't. It was his job.

The car gained speed. "Don't go over sixty."

"I'm not. I have to practice going highway speed. Quit worrying about me."

Yeah, sure. She might as well ask him to quit breathing. It wasn't going to happen. Abbey was all he had. At least this was an almost-deserted stretch of road.

Thud! Bam!

A blowout?

Suddenly the car swerved to the right toward the ditch along the highway. He lurched around and glimpsed the color leaching from Abbey's face. Her knuckles whitened as she fought the shimmying steering wheel.

"Daddy!" she screamed above the thumping sound followed by a whomp. "I can't control…"

"Take your foot off the gas. Put the brakes on. Get off the road." He schooled his voice into the calmest level he could manage. He desperately wanted to change places with his daughter, but knew he couldn't.

The rougher terrain along the shoulder alerted him right before the car plunged into the ditch, heading toward a tree growing in it. Slade twisted toward Abbey, but the seatbelt retracted, immobilizing him like a prisoner. The air bags exploded outward, slamming into him. His breath whooshed from his lungs.

Blackness swirled before him. He fought to stay conscious, but his eyelids slid closed as the darkness rushed at him.

Pain jolted Slade back from the void. He opened his eyes to a fine powder dancing in the air about him, choking him. He coughed but his body protested the sudden movement- a deep, throbbing ache spread out from his chest. As he raised his hand to his head, a hissing filled the air, vying with the sound of the engine running. Pushing the deflated air bag back, he tried to straighten but couldn't. The seat belt trapped him. His heartbeat thundered in his ears.

Suddenly, a thought drove the daze from his mind. "Abbey!" he called out, but she didn't answer.

Adrenaline pumped through him. He jerked his head toward his daughter. The action sent the world before him spinning and forced him to close his eyes for a few seconds. But the need to make sure his daughter was all right overrode everything. Alert, totally focused on Abbey, he squashed his own pain.

A tree limb, having smashed through her side window, pinned her against her seat. Her head tilted to the side, blood streaming down her face from multiple cuts. Panic battled to take over Slade. He tried to thrust the limb out the hole in the window so he could get to his daughter better. The branch refused to dislodge.

Think! He couldn't lose his daughter, too.

His hand shaking, he reached across and felt for her pulse at the side of her neck. Strong. But she hadn't moved. He quickly dug into his pocket for his cell and called 911. Once he knew help was on the way, he allowed a second of relief to flutter through him.

The vibration and sound of the motor grabbed his attention. He snaked his hand through the limb's small branches and managed to turn his SUV off. Then he rummaged in the compartment between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat for the first aid kit, tore into it and unwound some gauze. He needed to get closer to her to bandage her head. When he tried to unclasp his seatbelt, it wouldn't budge. Panic attacked him from all sides. He clawed at the strap as though he could pry loose the metal clamp that held him captive.

He looked over at his daughter, her eyes still closed, her blood soaking her. "I won't let anything happen to you," he whispered. Taking in a deep breath, he composed himself. He couldn't lose control. Another fortifying gulp of air, then he pulled on the strap and finally disconnected it. Able to move more freely, he braced himself with one foot against the door and the other under the dashboard to compensate for the way the car leaned forward in the ditch. He angled toward his daughter and wrapped the gauze around the worst of her cuts to stem the blood flow. But when he drew his fingers away they were sticky and covered in Abbey's blood. The sight sent terror straight to his heart.

Abbey moaned and stirred. Her eyes popped open, wide with fear as they linked with his. "Daddy?" She licked her lips, her face screwing up into a panicky look as her tongue ran over some blood. "I'm bleeding."

"Help is coming, honey."

He wanted to go around to her side to take a closer look at her injuries. When he shoved at the door, it creaked open, water gushing inside from the ditch. An earthy stench accosted him.

"Don't leave me, Daddy." Hysteria coated each word.

He twisted back toward his daughter, the cold water swirling about his feet. A shudder shivered up his body. "I won't." In the distance, the sound of the sirens blared. "It won't be long now," he said as calmly as possible, while inside the same helplessness he'd experienced when his wife had died five years ago washed over him. Suddenly, a sense of foreboding dominated all senses. Sweat popped out on his forehead. His hands shook.

Why did he feel like someone was watching?

Elizabeth Walker parked her red Trans Am in a space next to the Dallas office building where Guardians, Inc. was located. She'd hoped her boss, Kyra Morgan, wouldn't have anything for her yet. Although Elizabeth had been home almost a week since her last assignment, she could use another few days for rest and relaxation. Her last job in Phoenix had been a long one-ten weeks. But the call that morning asking her to come in to the office could only mean one thing.

She loved working as a bodyguard with the all-female agency, but some assignments required longer to bounce back from. The job demanded a lot of mental energy, and sometimes physical energy, too. The stress from always being on guard, always scanning the perimeter for trouble and never getting to enjoy the beauty of the moment heightened the importance of her downtime between missions. Kyra knew that well. So the fact that her boss called her in a little early meant this job was important-not something she would want to turn down. Entering the suite on the second floor, Elizabeth greeted Kyra's secretary with a smile. "Is she in there?" Elizabeth tossed her head toward the closed door.

Carrie, her expression solemn, nodded. "She has a client with her, but she wanted you to go on in when you arrived."

"Who's the new client?"

"I gather someone Kyra knows."

That might explain why she was here earlier than usual after a taxing assignment. Her specialty was guarding children. She couldn't see Kyra turning down a friend, and from what her boss had said a couple of days ago, the other four employees who specialized in children were all still on assignments.

She pushed open the door to her employer's office and stepped into the room. A large man, over six feet, was pacing before Kyra's desk. As Elizabeth entered, he came to a stop and swiveled toward her. The most piercing gray gaze she'd ever seen homed in on her. For a second she glimpsed surprise in his expression from the slight widening of his eyes to the flare of his nostrils.

"This is Elizabeth Walker." Kyra came around from behind her desk and gestured toward a seating arrangement consisting of a couch and two wing chairs. "Elizabeth, this is Slade Caulder." Kyra, long legged and nearly six feet in height, moved toward the seats and took a chair.

Slade tipped his head toward Elizabeth and fit his tall frame into the other wing chair, leaving Elizabeth to take the couch. The intensity pouring off the man charged the air. The hair on her arms stood up.

Poised and professional, Kyra set a pad on her lap and wrote something down on it. "Slade has a problem that needs your expertise. His sixteen-year-old daughter has been threatened, and he needs the services of a bodyguard to protect her. I'll let him tell you what he's looking for."

His body held rigidly, he gripped the arms of the chair and turned his assessing gaze on her. Silence ruled for a long moment as Elizabeth felt catalogued and evaluated. A flicker in his eyes gave her the impression that she fell short. She lifted her chin a notch and focused her attention totally on him. Some people took her petite stature to mean she wasn't capable of defending someone. They were mistaken.

That sharp gaze switched to her employer. "Kyra, she can't be more than a few years or so out of high school herself. How can she guard my daughter effectively?"

Elizabeth stiffened and, before Kyra could answer said, "I'm flattered you think I look so young, but I'm nearly thirty." She bit back the words. "And I can show you my birth certificate if you need proof."

This time he didn't try to disguise his surprise as his look locked on hers.

"I assure you, Slade, Elizabeth is highly qualified and has been working for me for three years. She usually handles cases where a child is involved and has been successful in all her assignments. You wanted someone who could blend in with your daughter and her friends, especially at school. As you can see, she'll be able to."

"What kind of skills do you have?"

Elizabeth relaxed back on the couch, smoothing her straight black skirt as she crossed her legs. Slade's glance flicked to her four-inch heels, and she could imagine what he was thinking. She only indulged in wearing heels when she wasn't working and when she met prospective clients. It added to her height, giving the illusion she was taller than five feet three inches.



You can purchase Christmas Bodyguard from Amazon:



Margaret is giving away a copy of Christmas Bodyguard . To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Monday, December 20, 2010

meet Margaret Daley

Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest.

She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold seventy-five books to date.

Margaret is currently the Volunteer Officer for ACFW. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She served as vice-president for two years in WIN-ACFW and is still on its board as an advisor.

She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired a few years ago, she was a teacher of students with special needs for twenty-seven years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community.

You can visit her web site at www.margaretdaley.com and read excerpts from her books and learn about the ones recently released and soon to be released.


Christmas Bodyguard

Someone's after wealthy Texan Slade Caulder's daughter. Desperate to keep her safe while he determines the motive, the widowed father hires a bodyguard for Abbey. A female bodyguard, with the training to protect the girl--and an understanding of a willful teenager who keeps trying to outsmart her. Elizabeth Walker is the perfect combination of caring and toughness for her job. But as the holidays approach, the stalker's threats escalate. And Slade finds himself willing to risk everything to keep his Christmas bodyguard by his side...forever.

Guardians, Inc.: Born to protect, bound to fall in love.


You can purchase Christmas Bodyguard from Amazon:


Margaret is giving away a copy of Christmas Bodyguard . To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

with Diane and David Munson

What verse is special to you right now?
In John 15:1 Jesus says: “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while very branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful.” He goes on to tell us that we are the branches and that no branch can bear fruit by itself: It must remain in the vine. That’s what we are trying to do with our writing and with our lives as we search for ways to glorify God each day. Redeeming Liberty is our fifth novel and a labor of love. When situations are difficult or people fail us, we are comforted to know God may be at work pruning us to be more fruitful. We have also been praying about and considering what it means to be a branch of God. In His creation, branches bear flowers and fruit, provide shade, and stir the wind. Branches of many trees lose their leaves in winter and are God’s true creation. Do you ever wonder how creation mirrors the gospel?

What do you do in your free time?
Writing, then releasing a new thriller each year means lots of focused time researching. As we travel in support of our writing, we stop for a hike in God’s creation, snapping photos of soaring eagles, black bear, majestic moose or gentle manatees. We love good movies, such as those made from Jane Austen novels. Robert Whitlow’s newest movie, “The Trial” from his second novel is superb. Besides Whitlow, Diane loves to read George MacDonald, Grace Livingston Hill, and biographies. David likes Brock and Bodie Thoene’s Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series. We are both involved in music ministry at our church and are always interested in missions.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Diane - Do I have to love chocolate so much? I also want to be more tech savvy as we have launched a fan page on Facebook and have gone live on Twitter.
David – Having to correct so many other drivers out there. Driving in the passing lane, passing on the right, etc. Whew, it’s exhausting.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Diane – I learned a lot from Dawn Ahern, the federal probation officer who appeared in an earlier novel, about how to strengthen my faith during trying times. In Redeeming Liberty, we explore how Dawn responds to difficult circumstances. Will her faith get her through or will she overcome with worry? She goes on her first mission trip to Sudan and is thrilled to meet Liberty in her village. It’s a beautiful trip until something horrible happens before Dawn’s eyes, changing her life forever. She reaches deep into her spirit to find courage for her quest in redeeming Liberty, though at times she is stymied and must ask others for help. Life comes at us so fast and furious. We are not islands and need friends to help us accomplish our goals.
David – It was a challenge for me to reveal more about Wally, a lost boy from Sudan. He was first introduced in two of our earlier novels where he works as a waiter and attends college. He is actually inspired by four young lost “youth” (two boys and two girls) who we’ve met since they arrived in the U.S. as refugees from rebel militias. Even after living in America for fifteen years, studying business, buying and insuring cars, and being exposed to nice Christian women, Wally chooses to buy cows as a bride price so he can marry a woman from his village in Sudan that he hasn’t seen in all those years. I find most interesting Wally’s connection to two cultures and his rejection of some of our American culture in favor of what many of us consider much less desirable.

If this book is part of a series, tell us about the series.
Our five novels are “companions” to each other as two federal agents, Eva Montanna and Griff Topping, appear in each one. However, each thriller begins and ends a particular storyline. They can be read in any order. In our High-Velocity suspense, we give readers a glimpse into tomorrow’s headlines and how federal agents, some of whom are believers and others who are not, put their lives on the line to fight our enemies. We sprinkle in doses of romance, humor, and snappy dialogue to give readers a fun adventure in these perilous times.

What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
Hands down, working together! When one of us is down, the other is usually up. It helps make what some call a “gorilla” business, light and easy.

What sparks a story for you?
Great question! It’s one many readers ask because much of what we write pops up on the news. Many of our ideas come from our past careers in the law and law enforcement. The sinful nature of humankind is forever revealed in the criminal mind and provides endless fodder for our thrillers. We see such issues in the world all around us and it’s a matter of connecting the dots. Our novels are based on real events. In Redeeming Liberty, we write about the conflict in Sudan between the north and south. Please pray for the upcoming election (January 2011) in Sudan. The Christians in Southern Sudan want freedom from the Arab north.

Who buys your books?
From our informal surveys at book signings and according to Amazon people who buy our thrillers also buy from the following authors: James Scott Bell, Terri Blackstock, Don Brown, Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson, Karen Kingsbury, DiAnn Mills, Joel Rosenberg, Randy Singer and Robert Whitlow. We write so our titles are family friendly and appropriate for teens on up. Some homeschoolers buy our first three titles (Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, and The Camelot Conspiracy) for their high school students, as they present the justice system, governmental operations, and the JFK assassination in an accurate and enjoyable way to learn. Facing Justice and Confirming Justice are available as eBooks.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
We’ve started on Rider’s Storm (working title) which may be out in the summer or fall of 2012. It features CIA agent Bo Rider and a television evangelist who get caught up in an international as well as a personal storm of epic proportions. Readers who have finished Redeeming Liberty are already asking us about the next thriller. Stay tuned!

Patty here, and I can tell you from experience that teens love these books. LoL, and so did my 80-something year old friend, Betty. I had to hide Redeeming Liberty from my daughter (the teen, not the 80+ year old) so she could study for finals without distraction. Her first day at home was spent gripping Redeeming Liberty while sitting on the edge of the seat. No exaggeration, either! =]

Diane and David are giving away a copy of Redeeming Liberty. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

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