Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roxanne Rustand's Murder at Granite Falls

Roxanne Rustand has sold over thirty secular and inspirational novels, and will have six books out in 2011.

She was nominated for an RT Bookclub Magazine Career Achievement Award in 2005, and one of her books won a RT Reviewers Choice Award for Best Superromance of the year. One of her 2010 inspirationals has been nominated for an RT Reviewers Choice award.

Murder at Granite Falls, a Love Inspired Suspense out this April, received a Top Pick rating and 4 ½ stars.

You can find Roxanne online at her

Murder at Granite Falls

Everyone in Granite Falls tells Carrie Randall the same thing. Is it a threat, or a warning? Yet even if it endangers her fresh start, Carrie needs to know what secret the town’s hiding. There’s her troubled student and his disturbing drawings. His fiercely protective father, and the mysterious death of his mother. And Carrie definitely has to find out more about the bad reputation of her standoffish new landlord, Logan Bradley. She wants to trust him, but she’s been fooled by charm before. Is the town wrong about him—or is she?

In Montana’s wide-open spaces, danger and love are waiting.

Here's an excerpt of Murder at Granite Falls:


Tightening her grip on the steering wheel, Carrie Randall glanced again in her rear view mirror.

The vehicle was still behind her. Billy? It couldn't be. She'd been so very, very careful.

She'd caught a better glimpse of the car while negotiating a set of hairpin turns at a higher elevation. Not close enough to identify the make and model. But close enough to be fairly certain it was the same one that had tailed her for the last two hours...dropping back when she'd stopped for gas before starting over the mountain pass.

Creeping closer again after that.

She palmed her cell phone, checking the number of reception bars on the screen. Zero. No surprise, in this isolated part of the Montana Rockies, where bears probably outnumbered the two-footed residents, three-to-one.

She glanced again at the odometer. Ten miles to the town of Granite Falls. The lane leading to her new home should be coming up in less than a mile. But if her ex-husband was following her, the last thing she wanted was to lead him right to her door.

An ear-splitting yowl erupted from the cage on the seat behind her, followed by the frantic scrabbling of paws. "It's okay, Harley. Just hang on."

She stepped on the gas. Rocketed past the little gravel lane that wound into the pines off to the left. And then she headed straight for town.


Granite Falls was as picturesque as its tourism website claimed.

The mountain highway widened into a charming six-block long main street flanked on both sides by historic storefronts, boardwalks and hitching rails straight out of an old western movie. The center of town was filled with upscale shops and quaint restaurants geared to the tourist trade, while the dusty pickups nosed up to the feed store and cafe on the far edge of town revealed where the locals gathered. Would that be a safe place to stop?

A maroon Lawler County Sheriff's Deputy patrol car parked face-out in front of the café made her decision easy.

She glanced in her rearview mirror once more, turned sharply into the parking lot and pulled up along the cruiser. Over her shoulder, she saw the dark sedan slow down, then speed past. Good riddance.

If she lingered in town long enough, the driver might give up, or get careless and not see her leave. Though if it was Billy, he'd be back, restraining order or not.

"Howdy, Ma'am."

She turned to find a burly deputy behind her, a foam coffee cup in his hand, waiting to get into his car. The silver name badge pinned to his khaki uniform breast pocket identified him as Vance Munson.

Perhaps in his late thirties, he'd probably been hot stuff in high school in an Elvis sort of way, until he'd put on some years and packed on an extra fifty pounds. With the affable smile on his face, a rumpled uniform and a cellophane bag of cookies in his hand, he reminded her of a genial teddy bear.

"Sorry." She stepped back to give him space. "I...was a little distracted. I thought someone was following me on the highway."

The deputy's full lips quirked into a smile. "You'll find a lot of tourists in these parts, headin' into town just like yourself. No cause for worry."

"I'm actually moving here." She extended her arm, and he juggled his coffee cup into his other hand to accept the handshake. "Carrie Randall."

He rocked back on his heels, taking her measure. "Welcome, then."

"A dark sedan followed me for the past a hundred miles then right into town." She flicked a glance toward the empty Main Street. "Though I couldn't tell you the license plate or even the make of the car."

"Like I said, you'll find a lot of travelers out here on long trips. Destinations are few and far between. People go sightseeing, and you might run into the same folks time and again. No call for worry."

She eyed a family coming out of the café and lowered her voice. "I had to file a restraining order against my ex-husband last year."

Munson's gaze sharpened. "Well, now," he drawled. "That might be a calf of a different color. He knows you're moving here?"

"I certainly didn't tell him. I hear he's following a rodeo circuit down in the Southwest this summer. But..."

"But you aren’t sure." Munson tipped his head toward the center of town. "Ma'am, you can find the county courthouse just four blocks west of here. You might want to file here as well."


"It's for your own good." He gave her a warm, encouraging smile. "Where are you staying? I can pass the word along. We like to keep an eye on things around here."

Billy had dropped out of sight during the past year, while she stayed with her protective brother Trace. During that time she'd felt safe from Billy's volatile temper, which had escalated ever since their divorce.

Now, she just wanted to start life fresh, with none of those old reminders. No need to look over her shoulder. With no chance of rumors filtering out about her being another one of those women who had fallen for charm and flash and ended up in an abusive relationship with an unfaithful man. And in small towns like this one, idle talk by one of Lawler County's finest would reach the local grapevine and fuel gossip traveling at the speed of light, branding her forever. "I-I'll be fine."

A flicker of annoyance crossed Munson's expression. "Too many women fail to ask for help, ma'am, and the results can be mighty sad. Our sheriff's department will do whatever it can to assist you, but you have to cooperate."

She sighed. "I have a summer lease on an upstairs apartment out at Wolf River Rafting Company. "

"The Bradleys," he said, his mouth twisted with a hint of distaste.

He'd settled his aviator shades into place, but from his long silence and the muscle ticking along his jaw, she guessed that the deputy didn't approve. "Is there something I should know?"

" your step out there." He hesitated, as if he wanted to say more, but then he shook his head. "And don't ever forget to lock your doors."

You can purchase Murder at Granite Falls from Amazon.

Roxanne is giving away a copy of Murder at Granite Falls. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

with Darlene Franklin

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Darlene!
What started you on your writing journey?

I had a childhood friend who was as crazy about the original Star Trek as I was. We would make up stories when we played together, and then we would continue the stories by mail. (We lived in different towns). That was my first attempt at story telling. And even back then, we had romance. We paired Spock with an emotionally explosive character named Mirabella. Conflict!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Mostly myself! I know I’m in a serious distraction mode when I clean instead of writing. With my last book (Knight Music, due out from Heartsong Presents later this year), I was so easily distracted that I took a notebook and pen and headed to the restaurant. I wrote most of the last 10,000 words long-handed. One goal this year is to buy a laptop and not get an internet connection with it, so I can do the same thing without getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I confess, I read mysteries to relax. I’m in mourning since I only recently discovered that my favorite author, Dick Francis, died a year ago. (How did I miss the news!) I love Steven James and Tim Downs in the CBA, as well as Linda Hall and fellow Spyglass Mystery alumna, Nancy Mehl.

I also enjoy a good historical romance. I have to give a shout out to my crit partner, Susan Page Davis, who is one of the busiest and best writers in the genre. Her next release (April), Love Finds you in Prince Edward Island, is the first international setting for the popular series from Summerside. It’s a treat, about the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in 1860. At a recent writers’ retreat I was surrounded by the cream of the crop of historical writers: Tracie Peterson, Kathy Hake, Janice Thompson, Lena Nelson Dooley, Karen Witemeyer, Marylu Tyndall, Elizabeth Ludwig, and others.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I have a soft spot for my heroine, Clara Farley. She’s intelligent and doesn’t care to hide it. She’s using her inheritance to open a school for girls and dreams of the day when women can vote (and even run for office).

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
You’re asking a music major. I'm going to say Baroque, because my mind wanders all over the place, with recurring themes.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
One way I am not your typical American: I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 23 years old—and then it was in Florida, a place I only lived for one summer. A dear Christian lady helped me get past the hurdle. In fact, I have lived much of my life without a car.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Remember housework above? And now I have an excuse. I am somewhat disabled. Whenever I make a serious effort to climb up and down the steps to the laundry or to clean up the mess, my body complains. I have to get a maid.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Share a recipe? How about a list of restaurants? Whenever I am celebrating a new book contract, I bring my son and his family with me to a tiny little Greek-Italian restaurant called Bella Vista. The Greek spin on classical Italian dishes, such as fettucini alfredo, is SO good.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The same theme keeps creeping up and relates to my tag line—writing at the crossroads of love and grace. God has given me, a divorced single mom, the privilege of writing Christian romance. The only reason I can write about it is because I know love, intimately—God’s love—purified in my heart through the trials of my life. In the troubles my characters face, they discover love—of parent, of child, of friends, of wife, of husband, but most importantly, of God!

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Psalm 62:11-12a: One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.” This verse hit me like a ton of bricks a few years ago. I wrote in my journal, “Power without love is cruel; love without power is impotent.” God’s love makes His power kind (not necessarily easy) and His power gives wings to His love.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Love’s Raid is coming out this month. It is the final book in my Maple Notch Brides series from Heartsong. I’ve already introduced you to Clara. She wants to buy the Bailey mansion from Daniel Tuttle for her girls’ school. Daniel returned from the Civil War missing half an arm and accepted the job as town constable. The job he views as a secure turns serious when the local bank is robbed. Clara jumps in to help him solve the crime. The story line was inspired by St. Albans Raid, the northernmost battle of the Civil War. Confederate soldiers robbed the bank in St. Albans, Vermont, and claimed the town for the confederacy! Hoping to divert some of the Union army’s attention away from their march through the South.

And I also have to share exciting news: I have just signed my first contract for two trade length books with Moody: Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough (another great historical writer) and I are writing the six-book Texas Trails series. I’m writing the first book, Lone Star Trail, set in Victoria, Texas, at the time of statehood (1846) and following one German family who joined the Verein in settling the Texas Hill Country.

Darlene is giving away a copy of Love's Raid. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Darlene Franklin's Love's Raid

Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin recently returned to cowboy country—Oklahoma. The move was prompted by her desire to be close to her son’s family; her daughter Jolene has preceded her into glory.

Darlene loves music, needlework, reading and reality tv. Talia, a Lynx point Siamese cat, proudly claims Darlene as her person.

Darlene is the author of seventeen contracted books and novellas, as well as several hundred short pieces. Two of her books have finaled in ACFW’s Book of the Year (now the Carol award) contest: her novella, Dressed in Scarlet, and her cozy mystery, A String of Murders. Visit Darlene’s blog at for information on book giveaways and upcoming titles. She is also a contributor to

Love's Raid

Clara is resigned to be a spinster. While other women in Maple Notch, Vermont, are married and raising children, Clara focuses her energies on creating an academy for girls so they can get a better education. She dreams of being able to vote and imagines a world where women could even run for office, an idea that evokes laughter or fear in all the men she knows. . .except for Daniel Tuttle.

Having returned from war missing part of one arm, Daniel is convinced no woman would want him. So he keeps his focus on his job as town constable. But even as he searches for the men who are robbing area banks and threatening his community, he cannot shake the vision of Clara’s steady gray eyes, the challenge of her quick mind, and the strength of her faith in God.

Will Clara and Daniel succeed in keeping love at arm’s length? Or will their defenses fall to love’s raid?

Here's a short excerpt of Love's Raid:
For a moment, Daniel lost himself in the depths of Clara’s charcoal-rimmed, gray eyes. He saw intelligence and humor and a liveliness she kept far too hidden. He was drawn to her, as helpless against the tug as metal drawn to a magnet, and he wanted to see more and more of her. “You have made some excellent observations about the robbery.”

A pleased surprise lit her face, and he continued, “I would appreciate hearing your insight into this crime. Your feminine intellect”—her eyes flared at his turn of phrase—“approaches the problem from a different angle.”

The glare softened.

He plunged ahead. “Are you willing to meet with me from time to time to discuss my progress in the investigation?”

She studied him, one gloved finger on her pursed lips, as if judging the genuineness of his request. The hand lowered and covered her heart. “I believe you mean it, Captain Tuttle.”

He held back a smile and nodded.

She shook her head. “Few men of my acquaintance would ask a woman for advice on a criminal matter.” She held out her hand. “It would be my honor, sir.”

Honor. The word rang hollow in a heart wanting. . .what, he couldn’t bring himself to put into words. He took her hand. “To our joint endeavor. May we find quick success.”

Darlene is giving away a copy of Love's Raid. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

with Laura W. Eckroat

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Laura!
People talk about life before children— what was your life before writing?

I have always written – so my life was normal as I was writing. I am a wife and mother and a school teacher so I kept busy with all of that. My life after being published has changed somewhat. I have traveled a bit more going to different states and talking to children at schools and presenting to adults at Professional Conferences. I was the grand marshal of my hometown’s Easter parade a few years ago and that was really fun. I also talked to over 800 students at 4 elementary schools in 2 days – I spoke about writing, editing, publishing, illustrations, and word choice – this was to kick-off their summer reading program. All of the children received journals and copies of my book.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I find that I used to just write whenever and it didn’t matter if I missed a couple weeks. Now I feel guilty if I don’t write. The only obstacle I have found now is that I also need to market the books that I have published, so that takes away from writing time. But I used to have a huge obstacle – before I was published. I was very nervous to have anyone read what I wrote. Now I enjoy telling people my ideas about upcoming books and they seem excited to read the finished product!

What book have you recently enjoyed reading?
I recently read A Dog’s Purpose, by Bruce Cameron; I rarely read books more than once and this is one that I am going to read again.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
My daughter intrigues me – she is very talented at so many things. Like me, she sometimes is nervous in sharing her talents. My daughter is the main character in A Simpler Time and I wish we could relive those things in the book. I look forward to doing those things with her kids someday – when I’m a grandma.

If you were a dessert, what would you be?
I would be Taffy Apple Salad. This recipe is fun because you add a bunch of things that you would not think taste like a Carmel Apple – but you end up with something amazing. I think my life has been like this – I’ve done many different things – Human Resources, General Manager of a toy store, Teacher, Author … All these things have made ME!
Laura Eckroat - Taffy Apple Salad

If you were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning, how would you respond?
I would not be surprised if I found a purple polka-dotted monster in my kitchen one morning … I would say “Hi, are you here to do the laundry or clean the bathrooms?”

Tell us about one of your favorite memories or moments in your life.
I actually have two favorite memories. The first is from when I was little and Lake Michigan froze over and it was REALLY cold in Northwest Indiana and my dad took my sister and I out to Lake Michigan and we walked way out onto the frozen lake. It was eerie but really very beautiful! The second favorite memory is the day I brought home my daughter from the hospital. I could have just sat and held her forever … sometimes I wish I could go back in time just to hold her as a baby again!

What's one of your dreaded things to do?
I’m not much for talking on the phone, so sometimes I’ll email or text so I don’t have to talk on the phone.

What is the Lord teaching you, or recently taught you?
To be thankful for what I have.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book is called Went Out To Get a Donut – Came Home With a Muffin. It is due out late 2011 or early 2012. When I have asked kids what they think it’s about, they say “that the main character wanted a donut but the store was out.” OR “it’s about a trip to the bakery.” I have given three groups of children 12 and under a preview of this new book; once they figure it out, they all bust out laughing!

The book is actually a rhyming, repetitive book for ages 3 – 8 (or so) about our rescue dog Muffin. It was really fun to write and I’m excited for it’s release.

What do you enjoy about being an author?
I very much enjoy going to schools and talking to children about writing and the writing process. It is fun to answer their questions and hear what they have to say about writing. If anyone is interested in having me speak at their school, library, or professional organization they can reach me at

I’ve also enjoyed all the cool things I’ve gotten to do as an author; being the grand marshal of a parade, speaking at my grade school, being on TV, featured in Dallas Child Magazine, winning the Best Children’s Book Award at the North Texas Book Festival, and volunteering at the Fort Worth Nature Center. I’ve found speaking at the Western Massachusetts Homeschool Convention and the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference and at the end of March, 2011 – State of Maryland International Reading Association Conference has been very fulfilling and has helped me grow as an author and speaker.

You can purchase The Life of Bud and A Simpler Time from Amazon.

Laura is giving away TWO books; The Life of Bud AND A Simpler Time. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

with C. J. Darlington

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, C. J.!
What started you on your writing journey?

My love of reading. I’ve always loved books, and writing was a natural extension of that. When I read Piercing the Darkness as a teenager it sparked something in me. I wanted to tell stories of hurting people on their journeys to God like Peretti did.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
The internet is a huge distraction. It’s why I’m really glad I don’t have wireless in my house. Otherwise I’d probably find myself fooling around when I’m supposed to be writing. That happens enough as it is! LOL. The whole social media revolution is a wonderful thing for writers, but it’s something we need to be careful with too as it’s too easy to feel like you’re writing when in fact you’re not.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I love character-driven suspense! One of my favorite authors is Sibella Giorello, and I recommend all of her novels! She’s recently re-released her first one, The Stones Cry Out, exclusively for Kindle (only $2.99!) with lots of revision and previously deleted scenes. It’s the first in her Raleigh Harmon series. The second, The Rivers Run Dry, is probably my favorite in the series, but they’re all good! Also, if you enjoy YA books, I heartily recommend the novel Rodeo Dreams by Catherine Madera.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I loved my main character Roxi Gold as I was writing her. She’s young and vulnerable, but she has an inner strength that has kept her from becoming jaded. But she’s wounded and in desperate need of love and acceptance. She touched my heart as I wrote her, and I hope she touches the hearts of those who read her story in Bound by Guilt.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Oh, dear. I guess some sort of movie soundtrack---that can be whatever you want it to be! Soundtracks tell a story, really, and all our lives are stories.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My sister and I camped out on the back deck to watch the Leonids meteor shower. This was a couple years ago when the shower was spectacular. There were meteors literally raining down. We counted 80 before it got cloudy and we tried to drift off to sleep in our sleeping bags. Storms like that happen rarely for this shower, so it was really cool to have caught it.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Let’s see… doing the dishes, vacuuming, clipping dog toenails… pretty much anything that has to do with cleaning I put off! Little known fact about C.J.: She is a slob. Not that I want to be! I like it when things are clean and neat. But I am also a very good procrastinator (I will refrain from using the word lazy) LOL.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
My Mom’s macaroni and cheese is a family favorite. What makes it different is that you don’t have to cook the macaroni ahead of time. We dump everything into the same dish---8 or 10 ounces of cheese, 4 or 5 eggs, 2-3 cups of milk, and macaroni. Put in 350 degree oven for about an hour, stirring once or twice if you want. Makes for a tasty dinner!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I love writing about hurting people discovering how much God loves them. The theme of redemption is so important to me. It’s really something that I hope flows through everything I write. This doesn’t mean preaching to readers. It’s important for me to share stories that illustrate this quality of God without beating it over people’s heads. In my latest novel Bound by Guilt, I try to do that by having characters who show us what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ by their actions.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
My favorite Scripture is Romans 5:6-8 which says, “You see, at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this---while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

I find that last line amazing. While we were still messing up, while we were still cursing His name, while we were far away from Him, God sent His son to die in our place. Wow.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My second novel Bound by Guilt has just released, and I am very excited about it! The novel is the story of a teen girl named Roxi Gold who’s been in and out of foster care for most of her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in---even if it’s against the law. Soon she finds herself traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Abby Dawson is a cop who’s seen the worst of society, but not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run.

Currently I’m writing a third novel. All I can say about that so far is that if you enjoyed Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt, I think you’ll enjoy this one too.

You can purchase Bound by Guilt from Amazon.

C. J. is giving away a copy of Bound by Guilt. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

C. J. Darlington's Bound by Guilt

C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore.

In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews.

A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats.

You can find her online at

Bound by Guilt

Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?

You can purchase Bound by Guilt from Amazon.

C. J. is giving away a copy of Bound by Guilt. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Laura W. Eckroat's Life of Bud

My name is Laura W. Eckroat, I currently live in Fort Worth, TX with my husband and 18 year old daughter, Ashley. I have two dogs- Mabel, our couch potato beagle; and Muffin, our very silly rescue dog— which no one seems to know what she is! I’m originally from Whiting, IN and have lived in Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts and now Texas. In my former life I was a Human Resources Manager, General Manager for an educational toy store, and an elementary school teacher. I now work for the YMCA and am focusing on writing.

My website is under construction – I can be reached at
You can find me on FB at

The Life of Bud

This is the story of life and how important we all are and how hard it is to let go in the end. The story follows Bud, who starts out in life as a tiny bud—but grows into a beautiful, vibrant leaf on the Mighty Oak.

He could see the entire town, and he watched in amazement all the plants coming to life – flowers blooming, vines winding, grass growing.

A Simpler Time

Oversaturated with the latest video games and iPhone apps, does anyone slow down to remember A Simpler Time. Join A.J. as she discovers a summer of fun with her mom, finding animals in the clouds, and a trek to find the perfect four-leaf clover!

"Mom, I’m bored!”
A.J.’s mom told her to eat her breakfast and after breakfast they would start their great summer adventure. Their adventure to … a simpler time

You can purchase The Life of Bud and A Simpler Time from Amazon.

Laura is giving away TWO books; The Life of Bud AND A Simpler Time. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

with Roseanna White

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Roseanna!
People talk about life before children—what was your life before writing?

Magical—because, you see, before writing was before school, so I was still in the magic of early childhood. Once I learned that different, learned type of creativity that involves putting pencil to paper, there was no going back! My games of make-believe were then just fodder for my short stories. =)

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
These days, it's finding the time to work. I not only have two small kids, but I'm homeschooling my daughter, and wow. My time just evaporated. To combat it, I've set up regular babysitting days with the grandparents, get up at 6 and pray the munchkins give me at least an hour, and have set up my office in the school room so I can squeeze a few sentences in whenever the kids are happily playing.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
This is a tough one. I think the ones I found most intriguing were my historical figures—Xerxes, Mordecai, and Esther especially. It was such a challenge to stick to the history we have on them, yet find a way to make them new, fresh, consistent with MY story, and (in the case of Xerxes) lovable.

What book have you recently enjoyed reading?
Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes! It's a wonderful clash of America on the brink of the war of 1812 and a typical Regency England man who got tossed into a very atypical situation. Love it!

If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Chocolate Orange Cream Cake!
Here's the recipe:

Chocolate-Orange Cream Cake


½ cup Dutch process cocoa
½ cup boiling water
2/3 cup shortening
1 ¾ cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon orange extract
Cream Filling (follows)
Chocolate-Orange Frosting (follows)
Garnishes: orange slices and curls*, chocolate ribbons**

Grease 3 (8-inch) round cakepans; line with wax paper. Grease and flour wax paper and sides of pans, set aside.

Combine cocoa and boiling water in small bowl and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

Combine buttermilk, soda, and salt. Add flour to shortening mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with flour, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in cocoa mixture and orange extract. Beat 2 minutes.

Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove from pans. Peel of wax paper and let them cool entirely.

Spread Cream Filling between layers to within ½ inch of edge. Spread Chocolate-Orange Frosting over top and sides, and garnish if desired.


2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup shortening
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon orange extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine flour and milk in small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, 3 minutes or until of consistency of frosting and can hold its shape. (Don’t boil.) Remove and let cool.

Beat shortening and butter at medium speed until creamy; add flour mixture, orange extract, and salt, beating well. Gradually add sugar and beat 4-5 minutes, until fluffy.


½ cup butter, softened
3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate, melted
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted

Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Add chocolate, orange juice, and whipping cream, beating well. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed until of a spreadable consistency.

*To make orange curls, carefully cut orange peel into ¼ inch thick slice, making it as long as you are able (at least half the orange). Wrap around a pencil and stick in the freezer for 15 minutes, until it holds the shape.

** To make chocolate ribbons, combine 8 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon corn syrup. Pour onto glass cutting board (or other non-porous surface), smooth to ¼ inch thickness, and let it cool until it’s nearly set (I generally refrigerate to hurry the process along, checking every few minutes). Hold a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle to the board and draw down the length of the chocolate to create curling ribbons.

If you were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning, how would you respond?
I would first stop and stare, then kindly ask him to get out from in front of the coffeepot. If caffeine didn't clear my vision and the purple guy was still there, I'd ask if he could please pretend to be a toy so that he wouldn't terrify my children. Then I'd most likely break into song. (One eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater . . .)

Tell us about one of your favorite memories or moments in your life.
I've had a lot of fun times, but I'll tell you about one that pops to mind simply because of its absurdity. We were taking a family walk, the kids in their strollers, last spring. As we neared a corner, we heard a loud sound, kinda like a leaf blower. I was instantly intrigued, given that it was SPRING. As in, no leaves. So we turned the corner, and what do we see? A woman vacuuming flower petals from her yard.
Vacuuming. Her yard. As in, outside. With a vacuum. In her yard. We laughed for hours afterward.

What's one of your dreaded things to do?
Anything that involves cleaning. Not my forte.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I seem to tend toward forgiveness, salvation, redemption . . . and identity in the Lord. Not sure why these are the ones I go back to time and again, but my stories always seem to include those.

What is the Lord teaching you, or recently taught you?
As 2010 ended and 2011 began, I asked the Lord for a word for me and my church family to embrace for the new year. The one we received was “Shine,” and as I keep that in mind throughout each day, I realize how crucial, yet difficult a task it is. Shining for the Lord means keeping myself free of dirt and grime so His love can reflect off me. It means demonstrating His light and goodness even when I'm feeling down and dark. It means being less about me and more about Him. Quite a task, but one I praise Him for giving us.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book travels a few thousand years forward in time. =) Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland will be out this December from Summerside Press.
Here's an unofficial one-paragraph summary:

In 1784 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark
Benton. Never did she think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man
she’s loved all her life, but then he betrays her with her cousin. She
flees to Annapolis, Maryland, the country’s capital, and throws herself
into a new social circle with new friends–-ones that force her to examine
all she believes. Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his bride. But he
soon comes to realize that in this new country he calls his own, duty is no
longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something
greater . . . before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.

You can purchase Jewel of Persia from Amazon.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Roseanna White's Jewel of Persia

Roseanna M. White, author of A Stray Drop of Blood, makes her home in the mountains of Western Maryland with her husband, two small children, and the colony of dust bunnies living under her couch. After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, she and her husband founded the Christian Review of Books, where she is the editor. She is a member of ACFW, HisWriters, Biblical Fiction Writers, and HEWN Marketing.

You can find Roseanna online at her website,, her blog,
and on Facebook.

Jewel of Persia

How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?

Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes' wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.

Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they’re not the Spartans or Athenians. The threat lies with those close to the king who hate her people. She determines to put her trust in Jehovah–even if it costs her her marriage.

Years of prayers are answered when Kasia's childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?

Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus's Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire . . . and the friendship that saves a nation.

Here's an excerpt of Jewel of Persia:

Susa, Persia
The third year of the reign of Xerxes

The river called to Kasia before she saw it, the voice of its sweet waters promising a moment of unbridled sensation. Kasia cast a glance over her shoulder at her young friend. She ought not go. Abba forbade it—rarely enough to keep her away, but today she was not alone. Still. Esther was not opposed to adventure, once one overcame her initial reservation.

Kasia gripped her charge’s hand and grinned. “Come. Let us bathe our feet.”

Esther’s creased forehead made her look far older than twelve. “We could get in trouble.”

Kasia laughed and gave the small hand a tug. “That is half the fun. Oh, fret not, small one. My father is too busy to notice, and your cousin will not be back from the palace gates until evening.”

“But the king’s household is still here. It is unsafe.”

“We will only be a moment.” She wiggled her brows in the way that always made her young friend smile. “It will be fun. Perhaps we will even glimpse the house of women.”

Esther’s eyes brightened, and she let Kasia lead her another few steps. “Do you think Queen Amestris will be out? I have heard she is the most beautiful woman in all the world.”

“Only until little Esther grows up.” She tugged on a lock of the girl’s deep brown hair and urged her on. The Choaspes gurgled up ahead, where it wound around Susa and gave it life.

Esther laughed and plucked a lily, tucked it behind Kasia’s ear. “I will be blessed to have a quarter of your beauty, Kasia. Perhaps if I do, Zechariah will marry me.”

“And then we shall be sisters at last.” Kasia twirled Esther in a circle. A merry thought, though it was hard to imagine Zechariah settling down. He was two years her elder, but showed no signs of maturity at eighteen. If anyone could inspire it, though, it was sweet little Esther. Once she grew up, half the men in the Jewish population would probably bang at Mordecai’s door . . . and probably a few of their Persian neighbors as well.

Esther joined her in her impromptu dance, then sighed happily. “I should very much like sisters and brothers. I am blessed that Cousin Mordecai took me in, but having him as a father provides no siblings.”

Kasia smiled but knew she had better change the subject before Esther fell into memories of the parents she had lost. Though three years past, the tragedy could still pull the girl into a vortex of pain. “Any time you want to borrow one of mine, you are welcome. Ima certainly has her work cut out for her today, trying to keep a rein on them in weather so fair. I daresay much of the royal house will be out to enjoy it. Surely we can spot a few of them.”

“And how will we know the queen? Will she be encrusted with jewels?”

Kasia laughed, even as guilt surged to life. She ought to get home and help her mother with the little ones. Soon. Five minutes and she would be on her way, back in ample time to check the bread and sweep the day’s dirt from the floor. For now, she could spare a thought or two to the palace. “She will be decked out in the finest Persia has to offer, surely.”

“Cousin Mordecai says that the king wears jewels in his beard at his feasts.”

She had heard the same stories but widened her eyes with exaggerated shock for Esther’s benefit. “In his beard? What if one were to fall into his soup?”

Their laughter blended into that of the river, and Kasia’s pulse kicked up. The weather was warming again, and when the sweltering summer heats came, the king’s entourage would leave. Kasia could not wait for the change in seasons. Her body may not tolerate it for long, but there was something intoxicating about feeling the sun’s burning rays upon her head. She always volunteered to gather up the barley seeds they roasted on the roads in the summer, and not just to spare her mother the task. To feel it. To be nearly overwhelmed. To watch the world around her quiver in the rising heat and let herself sway with it.

Esther paused a fathom from the river’s bank. “It will be freezing. The snows still cover the mountains.”

Perfect. Kasia grinned and sat down to unfasten her shoes. “We will only step in for a moment.”

Esther sat, too, and soon they tossed their shoes aside and helped each other up. They ran the six steps to the river, where icy water lapped at Kasia’s toes. She shrieked. “Oh, it is cold! Why did I let you talk me into this?”

Esther laughed and pushed her another step into the water. “I? Ha! And you are supposed to be the responsible one, taking care of me.”

“Responsibility begs to be escaped now and again.” She waded out one more step, careful to lift her tunic above the water.

When Esther stepped in, she gasped and leapt back onto the bank. “You are mad, Kasia. Your feet will be ice all night.”

A price worth paying for this freedom slicing through her. How could something that touched only one part affect her whole body? Her feet felt the prickles of a thousand needles that coursed like spears up her legs. A shiver sped along her spine, down her arms, and left her laughing. She turned to Esther, intending to tease her into joining her.

The levity died in her throat. Faster than she knew she could move, she jumped back onto the bank and put herself between Esther and the men that stood a stone’s toss away, watching them.

“Kasia? What are you . . .” Esther broke off, having apparently spotted the men. Fear sharpened the intake of her breath. “Your father will kill us.”

“Hush.” Kasia reached back with one arm to be sure her charge remained behind her. Her gaze stayed on the men. They each had a horse beside them, and gold roundels on their clothing. Bracelets, torcs, gems. A million things that shouted nobility and wealth.

A million things that meant trouble.

She dipped her head, gaze on the ground. Had she been alone, she would have grabbed her shoes and run, perhaps with some vague apology as she scurried off. But she could not risk it, not with Esther there too. What if the girl tripped? Or moved too slowly? Kasia could never leave her young friend exposed to two strangers.

One of the horses whinnied, fabric rustled, and footsteps thudded. Kasia tossed modesty to the wind and glanced up.

The taller of the two men moved forward. His were the more expensive clothes, the heavier gold. He had a dark, trim beard that did nothing to hide his grin. “My apologies for startling you. We should have continued on our way after we realized your cry was not for help, but I was intrigued. You often wade into the river swollen from mountain snows?”

Esther gripped Kasia’s tunic and pulled her back a half step to whisper, “Kasia, just give your apologies so we can go.”

Sage advice, except she doubted a man of import would take kindly to his questions going unanswered. She forced a small smile. “Not often, lord, no. I rarely have the time, and I should not have taken it today. My parents are expecting me home. If you will excuse me.”

The man held out a hand. “Far be it from me to detain you, fair one. But it is not safe for a beautiful young woman and her sister to be out alone. Do you not know that the court is yet in Susa? What if some nobleman concerned only with his pleasure came across you?”

The words ought to have terrified her, given the sweep of his gaze. But his tone . . . teasing, warm. A perfect match to that easy smile.

Her chin edged up. “I expect if such a man were to come upon me, he would try to charm me before accosting me. Then I would have ample time to convince him that his pleasure would be better pursued elsewhere.”

He chuckled, took another step closer. “But on the off-chance that your wit would fail to persuade such a man—there are some very determined men in the king’s company—I feel compelled to see you safely home.”

“No! I mean . . . it is not far, we will be fine. I thank you for your concern . . .”

The man’s eyes narrowed, his smile faltered. “You must be a Jew.”

A logical deduction—her trepidation at being caught with a Persian man would not be shared by a woman of his own people.

Still. The tone of his voice when he said the word Jew was enough to make her shoulders roll back. As if they were less because they had been brought to this land as captives a century ago. As if they had not proven themselves over the years.

She narrowed her eyes right back. “Proudly.” Not waiting for a reply, she spun away and grabbed Esther’s hand.

“Kasia, our shoes.”

“We shall grab them on the way by and put them on when we get back,” she murmured.

A mild curse came from behind them, along with quick footsteps. “Come now, you must not walk home barefoot. Please, fair one, you need not fear me. Sit. Put on your shoes.”

He reached the leather strips before they did, scooped them up, and held them out. The gleam of amusement still in his eyes belied the contrition on his face. He offered a crooked smile, his gaze never leaving Kasia’s.

She had little choice. Esther’s fingers still in hers, she reached out and took their shoes.

Esther pressed closer to her side and hissed, “Kasia.”

The man’s smile evened out. “That is your name? Kasia? Lovely.”

“I will pass the compliment along to my parents.” She would not ask him his. Certainly not. Instead, she handed off Esther’s shoes to her with a nod of instruction.

Esther huffed but bent down to wrap the leather around her feet and secure it above her ankles. Kasia just stood there.

The man arched a brow. “I have no intentions of hoisting you over my shoulder the second your attention is elsewhere.”

“And I would see you prove it with my own eyes.”

He shook his head, smiling again, and backed up a few steps. “There. You can sit and put them on, and you will be able to see if I come any closer. Is that satisfactory?”

Though it felt like defeat to do so, it would have been petulant to refuse. She sat and swallowed back the bitter taste of capitulation. Glanced up at the man and found him watching her intently, his smile now an echo.

Who was he? Someone wealthy, obviously. Perhaps one of the king’s officials, or even a relative. She guessed him to be in his mid thirties, his dark mane of hair untouched by grey. He had a strong, straight nose, bright eyes. Features that marked him as noble as surely as the jewelry he wore.

But it was neither the proportions of his face nor his fine attire that made her fingers stumble with her shoes. It was the expression he wore. Intent and amused. Determined and intrigued.

He fingered one of the ornaments on his clothing, gaze on her. “Who is your father, lovely Kasia?”

She swallowed, wondering at the wisdom of answering. Surely he had no intentions of seeing her home now, of . . . of . . . what? What could possibly come of such a short encounter? It was curiosity that made him ask. It could be nothing more. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. He is a woodworker.”

Esther made a disturbed squeak beside her, but Kasia ignored her.

The man’s mouth turned up again. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. And I assume he is not inclined toward his daughter socializing with Persians? It is a prejudice I find odd. Are you not in our land? Have you not chosen to remain here, even after King Cyrus gave you freedom to leave? It seems very . . . ungrateful for you Jews to remain so aloof.”

Kasia sighed and moved to her second shoe. “Perhaps. But it is an outlook hewn from the continued prejudice the Persians have against us.”

“Some, perhaps.” The man flicked a gaze his companion’s way. “But most of us recognize that the Jews have become valuable members of the empire. Take Susa for example.” He waved a hand toward the city. “It is such a pleasure to winter here largely because of the Jews who withstand the heat in the summer and keep the city running. We are not all blind to that.”

She inclined her head in acknowledgment. “And some of us recognize the generosity of Xerxes, the king of kings, and his fathers before him, and are grateful for the opportunity to flourish here.”

“But . . .” He cocked his head, grinned. “Your father is not one of those?”

Kasia sighed and, finished with her shoes, stood. “My father has lived long under the heel of his Persian neighbors. Were it not for the size of our family, he would have returned to Israel long ago.”

“Ah. Well, fair and generous Kasia, I thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Your wit and eloquence have brightened my day.” He stepped closer, slowly and cautiously.

Esther shifted beside her, undoubtedly spooked by his nearness. But Kasia held her ground and tilted her head up to look into his face when he was but half an arm away. “And I thank you, sir, for your kind offer to see us home, even if I must decline.”

“Hmm. A shame, that. I would have enjoyed continuing our conversation on the walk back to the city.”

With her eyes locked on his, she was only vaguely aware of his movement before warm fingers took her hand. She jolted, as much from the sensation racing up her arm as from the shock of the gesture.

He lifted her hand and pressed his lips to her palm. Her breath tangled up in her chest. If her father saw this, he would kill her where she stood.

But what was the harm in a moment’s flirtation with an alluring stranger? He would return to his ornate house and forget about her. She would go to her modest dwelling and remember this brief, amazing encounter forever.

A stolen moment. Nothing more.

His other hand appeared in her vision even as he arched a brow. “A gift for the beautiful Jewess.”

That tangled breath nearly choked her when she saw the thick silver torc in his hand, lions’ heads on each end. “Lord, I cannot—”

“I will it.” He slid the bracelet onto her arm, under her sleeve until it reached a part of her arm thick enough to hold it up, past her elbow. Challenge lit his features. “If you do not want it, you may return it when next we meet.”

“I . . .” She could think of nothing clever to say, no smooth words of refusal.

With an endearing smirk, he kissed her knuckles and then released her and strode away. Kasia may have stood there for the rest of time, staring blankly at where he had been, had Esther not gripped her arm and tugged.

“Kasia, what are you thinking? You cannot accept a gift from a Persian man! What will your father say?”

“Nothing pleasant.” Blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face, Kasia let her sleeve settle over her arm. It covered all evidence of the unrequested silver. “He need not know.”

“Kasia.” Esther’s torment wrinkled her forehead again. “What has gotten into you? Surely you are not . . . ?”

She glanced over to where the man mounted his horse and turned with one last look her way, topped with a wink. Blood rushed to her cheeks. “Perhaps I am. He is a fine man, is he not?”

Esther sighed, laughed a little. “He seemed it, yes. But your father will never allow you to marry a Persian. As soon as he decides between Ben-Hesed and Michael, you will become a fine Jewish wife to a fine Jewish man.”

“Yes, I know.” Her breath leaked out, washing some of the excitement of the last few minutes away with it. “It hardly matters. The loss of one bracelet will probably not bother him. He will consider it restitution for our dismay and think of it no more.”

Esther lifted her brows. “But he said he would see you again.”

“Do you really think a man of his station will bother himself over a Jewish girl whose father cannot afford a dowry?”

“I suppose not.”

Kasia looped her elbow through Esther’s. “Come, little one. We had better hurry home.”

Esther renewed her smile. “You have quite the romantic story now. Someday, when you are an old married woman, you can pull out that torc and give it to your daughter along with a tale to set her heart to sighing.”

Yes . . . someday.

You can purchase Jewel of Persia from Amazon.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Increasing the Odds as You Climb Towards Your Writing Destination

by Jennifer Slattery

Writing is definitely not for the thin-skinned, nor for those seeking instant gratification. It is one of the few jobs where the applicant can spend years, decades even, doing all the right things with nothing to show for it. So much of the writing industry is beyond the writer's control, at times it may appear to be an endless upward climb with a perpetually elusive destination. And although it is true there will be much that forever remains beyond our control, there are concrete steps a writer can take to increase their chance of success.

The first thing a writer needs to do is develop a long-term focus. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, quite the opposite. If you want to be successful as an author, expect years of sweat and tears and start by focusing on the foundation.

This is where contests come in. At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference last September, I reported on one of the late night agent panels, and something Kathy Helmers from Creative Trust, Inc, said really resonated. When discussing the importance of developing a platform she said it was easier for an unpublished author to land a contract than it was for a published author with low or diminishing sales. What this means is, before you sell that first novel, make sure you have a wide reader-base to support it.

That's where Clash of the Titles comes in. Each week, we draw readers from over nine different countries, including the Ukraine, Peru, India and Germany. Competing authors point readers to our site and search-engine friendly key-words draw even more. This ensures a great deal of exposure for all participants, which in turn, offers the potential for an increased reader-base.

We also offer authors valuable reader feedback. All contests provide great feedback, but Clash of the Titles is unique in that we provide unbiased, authentic reader feedback. Let's face it, you can do everything right technically and still pen a dud. If your characters don't grab the reader and your plot falls flat, so will your book. And although editors, agents, and traditional contest judges have learned to "read the market" so to speak, they'll never be able to dive in the reader's head. But we can, in a way. By inviting readers to choose their favorite excerpt and leave comments in our survey, we get a glimpse into their psyche. We learn what they like and what they don't.

So why would an unpubb'ed author subject themselves to a contest on Clash--one where their work will be read by thousands and perhaps even dissected line by line? Because we offer great exposure, the potential for an increased reader-base, and honest feedback.

Yep, it's a win-win. (And remember, we're not just for the unpubb'ed. In fact, most of our competitors are published, but every once in awhile, we open our clash to the unpubb'ed, giving our audience a chance to get to know emerging authors before they make it big.)

So, hop on over to our submissions page to find out how you can throw your excerpt into the ring. Remember, every tweet, fb share and comment enters you in our drawing to win a free book and builds up an author who very well may be in need of encouragement.

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, columnist and freelance writer living in the midwest with her husband of fifteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World, the Christian Pulse, Samie Sisters, and Reflections in Hindsight, reviews for Novel Reviews and is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at


The winner of:
  • Laurie Alice Eakes's gift is Jo (ladijo)
  • Lisa Lickel's Healing Grace is Joanne Sher
  •  Joanne Tropello's Shipley's Governess is cjajsmommy
  •  Max Anderson's Barney and the Runaway is Mara

Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me with your address so the author can send you a book.

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Roger Bruner Stops by the Book Loft

Welcome back to the Barn Door Book Loft with Roger Bruner. Roger is sharing his newest release, Found in Translation, the story of spoiled eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger sent on a mission trip to a remote Mexican village where faith, obedience, and forgiveness intersect. This is the first novel in a brand-new series which will challenge the reader's faith and capture their heart as they get to know Kim and her new friends and witness their unforgettable journey.

What is the biggest benefit the reader will take away from reading your book?

The reality of Romans 8: 28. . .that God will work things out according to His plan for those who’re willing to follow it (Bruner translation).

What is the part of your book you personally like best? 

The epiphany that comes right at the end. Can't tell you any more than that without spoiling things for those of you who’ll read it. 

Who should read this book? 

Everyone, of course. (grinning) But, seriously, not just teen girls. Maybe not teen boys, though. No, there’s one exception to that, too; this is a great read for anyone who’s thinking about going or preparing to go on a mission trip. 

Are you working on anything now? 

I've been busy polishing up a couple of older manuscripts. Wherefore Art Thou Ramon? is a YA novel, and The Devil & Pastor Gus is actually more of satire and speculative fiction rolled into one—with a healthy dose of humor at the same time. I have ideas for at least two more ideas in the Altered Hearts series that Found in Translation is the first book of. (Lost in Dreams, the second book, comes out this summer or fall.) I'm trying to come up with something different for now, though—something that will transport me from edit mode back into create mode. I’m playing with something related to adoption; I’m adopted and my daughter is, too. 

What is your goal as a writer? 

Sure, I'd love to become a NY Times bestselling author—who wouldn’t?—but that's not what I pray for. My idea of success is reaching as many readers as possible and touching their lives in the way God desires. I’m looking forward to hearing about people being saved; learning to be more faithful; becoming more forgiving; feeling a God-call to a specific career, even if it's a secular one; and so many other possibilities.
I want to earn enough to make Barbour happy they invested in me (and to give my agent a reasonable return for his investment in me as well), but I’m not at all concerned about earning money from my writing. Most of my advance has gone towards marketing and writers conferences. 

What was your big break? 

When Kimberly Shumate was working at Harvest House, she fell in love with my writing, even though HH didn't publish the type of books I wrote. I periodically sent her a few pages of something I was working on to get her reaction. When I sent her fifteen pages of Found in Translation, she soon asked for the whole thing. By the end of that week, she had gotten Terry Burns of Hartline Literary to be my agent. If that wasn’t a God-thing, I don’t know what is. Although it took Terry a year to get a contract on Found in Translation, just having such a good agent made me feel that things were really going to start happening. And so they have. 

Do you prefer to write longhand, on a typewriter, or on a computer? 

Oh, definitely a laptop. In the manuscript I'm polishing right now, one teen girl who’s unfamiliar with typewriters is having a discussion with another about how to use the church office typewriter to send instant messages. The second girl responds by asking how to cut and paste on the typewriter. I no longer have one. And longhand? I don't think I have arthritis, but only a little bit of writing with an ink pen hurts—my eyes as much as my hand. Guess I should've become a doctor, huh? 

What are some of your hobbies? 

I’ve been playing guitar for about forty-five years, although my fingers don’t move as fast as they used to. I write Christian songs and record them at home in my little digital studio. The two songs referred to in Found in Translation are real, original songs of mine. Now that I’ve said all that, I have to admit I don’t do nearly as much with my music as I used to, though I play on the praise team at our 8:15 service and at our weekly nursing home ministry.

I love digital photography—both taking pictures and editing them. Along the same line is my love of web design. I do everything on my on website using straight HTML.

I enjoy going on short-term, volunteer mission trips. I’ve been to Australia, England, Wales, and Romania. My church helps to sponsor some churches in Nicaragua, so I hope to make it there sooner or later, too. But, believe it or not, one of my favorite hobbies is staying home. 

I suppose my most compelling hobby is reading. Fancy that! 

What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would? (With answer, please!) 

Q. Would you come do a book signing at the White House?
A. Is that Obama with one m or two?

Thank you for sharing your life with us, Roger!

Roger has been kind enough to offer a copy of Found in Translation to one lucky soul. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight posted yesterday AND today.

Roger can be found on his website and on twitter (RogerBruner) and on facebook (

Monday, March 21, 2011

Roger Bruner's Found in Translation

Join me in welcoming Roger Bruner, author of Found in Translation. Roger worked as a teacher, job counselor, and programmer analyst before retiring to pursue his dream of writing Christian fiction full-time. A guitarist and songwriter, he is active in his church's choir, praise team, and nursing home ministry. Roger also enjoys reading, web design, mission trips, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen.

Tell us about your book. 

Kim Hartlinger—eighteen and spoiled—arrives on a mission trip to Mexico and discovers, to her chagrin, that she’ll be doing construction in a tiny remote village without plumbing and electricity, rather than evangelism in a medium-sized town with a McDonald’s. . . “Roughing it”  isn’t exactly what Kim had in mind when she signed up for this trip. As if that isn’t enough, the group is without a translator, and Kim’s “dual-language” Bible turns out to be Spanish-only. After breaking her arm the first morning on the job, Kim struggles to find a way to help her team and share the truth of God’s Word with the villagers. Will Kim be able to touch the villagers’ hearts with the Gospel? Or will her time in Mexico be up before she gets the chance? 

Who did you write your book for?

Even though my market is teen girls, I can't say I wrote it for them any more than Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird for children. But because most of my characters are eighteen, Found in Translation had to be marketed as young adult. This book is probably my wife's favorite of my eight or nine manuscripts, half of which are contemporary women's fiction. 

If you weren't a writer, what would you be? 

Still on the register at Target, very frustrated, and counting the days till I turned sixty-five. (Laughing.) 

What's the best piece of advice you ever had on writing?  

James Scott Bell looked at a previous version of Found in Translation and protested that I hadn't even started with a scene, much less a hook. I ended up lopping off my beloved first fifty pages and creating a more captivating beginning. If I hadn't done that, I'm sure Found would still be unpublished—and unpublishable. 

What are you reading right now?

Believe it or not, I just finished Found in Translation. It was wonderful to hold it in my hands and know I couldn't make any more corrections, no matter how tempting.  I received three or four books for Christmas, though, and I alternate among them according to what room I’m in at the moment. They include Jim Rubart's new book, Book of Days; Bobby Weaver's If It Weren't for Us Christians (There'd be More Christians); and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. 2010 marked my second year in a row of reading straight through the Bible. I've tabled the Koran (I think every Christian needs to become at least slightly familiar with it) for now, as well as Frankenstein; Mary Shelly's style is too different from the way things are written today to make it an enjoyable read. I have a couple of writing books I’m reading, too; Jeff Gerke's Plot vs. Character is terrific, and Save the Cat! is a screenwriting book—I have no interest in doing screenwriting myself—every novelist should read. 

How does your wife feel about your writing career?  

My wife, Kathleen, is wonderfully supportive of my writing. Without her encouragement, I couldn't have retired at sixty-two to write full-time. She's an avid reader and a wonderful editor. I often bounce ideas off her while we Walk Away the Pounds with Leslie Sansone (with Leslie muted, of course).

Roger has been kind enough to offer a copy of Found in Translation to one lucky soul. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight posted today AND tomorrow. So stop by tomorrow and learn a more about Roger and Found in Translation. (He's going to tell us the one question he wishes someone would ask him...and he'll answer it.)

Roger can be found on his website and on twitter (RogerBruner) and on facebook (

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