Monday, February 28, 2011

meet Lisa Lickel

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she has written dozens of feature newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio theater, and several inspirational novels to date. She loves to encourage new authors.

You can find Lisa online at LisaLickel.com; Reflections in Hindsight; Wisconsin Author Review Blog; The Barn Door; Favorite Pasttimes; Facebook; Shoutlife; Goodreads; www.wrwa.net

Healing Grace

A haunting story of love and sacrifice...
Grace Runyon could fix anything--until her husband got cancer. She couldn't help him. She couldn't save him. No one understands. No one would ever forgive her. She has to run. It takes another sick man and his little boy to help her fight her way out of self-pity into the light of redemption. But will her new friends stick with her when they discover her secret?

Ted Marshall wanted to be more than Grace’s landlord. But a dying man has no business asking a woman like to her love him back. Can he settle for a taste of her faith in whatever it is that makes her so special?

Just when Ted and Grace begin to hope for the future, Ted relapses. Grace faces the ultimate choice once again: Trusting God to work through her precious gift, or letting a terminally ill man die. What if the price is more than she can pay?

A recommended book club read
Group question guide included

Here's an excerpt of Healing Grace:

HEALING GRACE
By Lisa J Lickel
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness
will rise with healing in its wings.
And you will go out and leap
like calves released from the stall.” Malachi 4:2


Prologue

Run!

The taste of fear nearly made Grace gag. She flared her nostrils in an effort to keep her mouth closed and get a breath. She closed her eyes—just for a second.

Run!

Grace gave in to the impulse and, pressing against the open rim of the casket, stumbled upright. She looked at him for the last time, seeing the deep grooves of pain forever etched alongside his mouth. Grace pushed away and turned, pressing her hand to her lips.

Her skirts hampered her off-kilter stride. The silly heels her mother-in-law pushed onto her feet that morning sunk deep, making divots in the perfectly manicured grass between the monuments. Her earrings jangled like a cowbell. Grace felt as though she was on display as the gathered friends and relatives stared at her. She would not cry or scream or faint or throw up, not now.

Grace tore off the earrings, staring without comprehension at the three drops of bright blood that appeared on her left arm. She ran, dodging the tombstones like some grim slalom course.

“Grace! Gra-ace! Where are you going? Grace, there’s more yet! We’re not through! You have to….”

Grace ignored them all. Their concern, their curiosity, their suspicion. Of course it was her fault and they should blame her. She slammed the car door on her skirt and put the pedal down with her cold bare foot.

They wouldn’t try to follow her, would they? She had tried so hard, so very hard, but nothing helped him. They all should know that. There wasn’t any more she could do.

She had to run.

Chapter One
Morning? or evening?

Grace scrunched her eyes at the bright shaft of light that pierced her lids.

She sat up, head reeling at the sight of the swirling, geometric tones of the ugliest aqua and mud-colored drapes and bedspread she could ever remember seeing. Her temples throbbed and the curtains came in and out of focus. She blinked. Hard.

Grace got out of the bed in the tiny room and looked out the window, reasonably sure now it was morning. She searched her handbag for a remedy to her headache.

“More clues, that’s what we need,” she said out loud just to test her hearing. “Where am I?” The receipt for the motel room lay on the bedside table. Grace noticed with mild shock that the motel was in a generously-sized community in northwestern Michigan--two states away from where she started. There was no clock in the room and her watch had not been wound recently. She flipped the television switch with a shaky hand to find a local station which would indicate the time. And temperature. She shivered and rubbed her arms. Had she changed seasons, as well? Spring had never been this cold where she came from.

She peeked out the window to the parking lot then cautiously slipped out through the door and back in again, retrieving an emergency bag she always kept in her car. Sometimes her patients lived far up in the hills in unsavory conditions and an extra outfit was necessary when she had to stay overnight. Her work as a physician’s assistant demanded she be prepared for anything. Her former work.

Once in the shower she adjusted the nozzle so the spray wouldn’t hit her full in the face. Four days. She’d lost four days to her fear and escape. Grace read the check-in slip signed in her own handwriting. She came here two days ago; two days of which she had absolutely no memory. She must have slept the entire time. Woodside was far away and she knew she wouldn’t ever go back to Tennessee.

Little sparks of flashback slowly came to her as she paced the four steps, forward and back, that was all the space allowed by the dimension of the room. She waved a hand through her hair while it dried in soft waves above her shoulders. She stepped close to the mirror on the dresser. Red rimmed her gray eyes. But not too much. She pinched her cheeks for some color. The little tear in her earlobe had healed already. She fingered it ruefully. If she wanted to continue to wear pierced earrings, she’d have to poke a new hole. She sat back on the bed, thinking, remembering.

The ceremony had been as dreadful as she imagined. Too soon after Sean. Anyone in her position would have lost her nerve and run, too, she reasoned. Stop it. No more funerals or thinking about death for a while. There wasn’t anything she could do for anyone any more. They didn’t need her. Why would anyone come after her? She had to stop this paranoid thought.

The nightmare drive on the Interstate—that trucker in Indiana trying to pick her up the last time she last stopped for gas and food she wasn’t hungry for. She ended up leaving without eating anything that time.

Grace poked through the bag of clothes on the bed. She was pretty sure she had obeyed the driving rules, had gotten gas at the right moments, stopped at the right signs, taken the exit…. How had she ended up here, though? Why here in Michigan, near the lake?

After dressing, Grace went outside in search of something to put in her stomach. It felt like a good four days since she had eaten—what? Some cold toast she forced down that last horrible morning at…home?

“No, no longer home.” Grace fixed the thought firmly in her head. “I’ll find a new place. Start over. Be a normal person.” She looked around curiously, tallying what little she knew about the state: Great Lakes, fruit and automobiles. Not a lot to go on. No one she knew lived here. That was probably the best part. She didn’t have to be afraid if no one knew her, knew what she’d done. And not done.

The parking lot was nearly empty and she walked across the two-lane highway in the thin, sharp sunshine of early May to a little mom-and-pop diner overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.

Michigan, for whatever reason, was the place God sent her.


You can purchase Healing Grace from Amazon.

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

meet Laurie Alice Eakes

Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer. Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. She was also a finalist for the ACFW 2010 Carol award in the short historical category.

After selling her first book in the inspirational market, she also wrote articles and essays for Christian publications. A brief hiatus in publishing climaxed with her selling thirteen books in thirteen months, to publishers such as Barbour, Avalon, and Baker/Revell.

She is an active member of RWA and ACFW, and started the Avalon Authors group blog. A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, And a Bachelor of Arts graduate in English and French from Asbury College, she is an experienced speaker, and has made presentations at local and national conferences, as well as schools, universities, and libraries.

Until recently, she lived in Northern Virginia, then her husband’s law career took them, and their dogs and cats, to southern Texas, where she writes full-time and enjoys the beach whenever possible.

You can find her online at her web site and read excerpts from her books and about her journey through life and publication at:
www.lauriealiceeakes.com
www.seizethechance.blogspot.com

Lady in the Mist

Lady in the Mist brims with tension, intrigue, and romance.”—Julie Klassen, bestselling author of The Silent Governess and The Girl in the Gatehouse

By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets.
Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, what he, a British aristocrat, is doing on American soil working as an indentured servant.

In a time when relations between America and England rest on the edge of a knife, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths, leading them on a journey of intrigue, threats, public disgrace, and . . . love? But can Tabitha trust Dominick? Finding true love seems impossible in a world set against them.

With stirring writing that draws you directly into the story, Lady in the Mist takes you on the thrilling ride of love’s discovery.

Lady in the Mist is a book you won’t want to miss.”—Golden Keyes Parsons, author of In the Shadow of the Sun King

“I loved, loved, loved this book. It grabbed me by the heart and held on.”—Lena Nelson Dooley, author of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

“Secrets, suspense, and a sweetly told love story make this a highly rewarding read.”—Cheryl Bolen, Holt Medallion–winning author of One Golden Ring

“A fascinating story of redemption and sacrificial love. It captivated me from the first page.”—Ann Shorey, author of At Home in Beldon Grove series

Here's an excerpt of Lady in the Mist:

From Chapter 1 of Lady in the Mist

But as she turned and crunched her way along the hard-packed sand toward home, she couldn't stop herself from slipping into the hope, the dream of a beloved striding out of the mist to greet her, take her hand in his--

Lost in her imagination, she blundered straight into a person standing on the beach. He grunted. She reeled backward. Her heel caught in the hem of her skirt. Her other foot slipped on the wet sand, and her posterior struck the ground with a splat like a landed fish.

The person moved, looming over her. "What do we have here?" Quiet, the voice was real and male, deep and unmistakably English. "Are you all right?"

He sounded friendly, even warm, and not threatening. Yet no one should be about on this stretch of beach in the wee hours of the morning. No Englishman should be about on the Atlantic coast, where young men disappeared with regularity unless he were--

"Pressgang," the word burst from her like a curse, and her heart began to race. Her mouth went dry, tasting bitter.

She tried to scramble to her feet. She needed to warn the village men to stay inside. But her cloak and skirts tangled around her, holding her down.

"Let me help you." Still speaking in an undertone, he stooped before her. She caught an exotic scent like sandalwood, saw no more than a shadow outline and dark hair tumbling around features pale in the misty gloom.

Listening for others moving about on the beach, Tabitha waved him off. "No, thank you. I can manage myself."

She tugged at her skirt, and nearly toppled sideways.

"You don't look to be doing such a good job of it." Laughter tinged his words. The hand that clasped one of hers was real and masculine, strong and too smooth to belong to a fisherman or sailor. "Perhaps you can get to your feet if I help. Do you have feet? There does seem to be something trailing behind you. Perhaps it's a tail. Are you a mermaid?"

Tabitha snorted and tried to wrench her hand away. Flirtation would get the stranger nowhere with her. The instant she regained her feet, she would run back to town and warn the sheriff or mayor that the English were at it again, stealing young American men to serve aboard their ships in their endless war with France.

If the man let her go. At that moment, he gripped her hand with a firmness suggesting he would not.

You can purchase Lady in the Mist from Amazon.

Laurie has a gift to give away. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

with Anne Patrick

Welcome to The Book Loft, Anne!
People talk about life before children—what was your life before writing?

It wasn’t nearly as much fun! Actually, since I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, not much has changed aside from meeting deadlines. It can be challenging but it also keeps me focused. For instance, I recently sold my five-book ‘Wounded Heroes Series’ to Desert Breeze Publishing and I’ve only written the first book. I have release dates for all of them now all I have to do is write them :-).

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
When I have to stop in the middle of writing a book to work on the edits of a contracted book can be difficult at times. However, once I read the last couple of chapters I’ve written my muse usually awakens and we’re back in the zone.

What book have you recently enjoyed reading?
Irene Hannon’s Against All Odds. I also love Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series.


Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
My sassy fire investigator in Fire and Ash, Sadie McGregor. She’s faced many obstacles in her life that have made her doubt God’s love. It was fun watching her evolve through the story.

If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Oh, that would have to be my Better Than Sex Cake Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try. But I warn you, it’s addictive!
Anne Patrick - Better Than Sex Cake




You can purchase Fire and Ash from Amazon.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

meet Anne Patrick

Anne Patrick is the author of more than a dozen novels of Romance, Mayhem & Faith, including the award-winning and best-selling Journey to Redemption & Fire and Ash. Her heroines are usually strong willed, witty, and often very opinionated…combinations that usually land them in situations where death seems imminent. Anne has an alter ego by the name of Kinzie Monroe, who writes Inspirational Romance. Anne, you might say, is the dark side of Kinzie. Anne’s books may be darker in subject matter, but they all carry messages of hope and faith. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she now makes her home in Kansas.

You can find Anne online her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Fire and Ash

Fire Investigator Sadie McGregor has been called to her hometown of Emerald Point, Missouri to investigate a suspicious fire which claimed the life of a local college student. By appearance the fire looks like the girl was just careless. What Sadie and Sheriff Quinn Harrington discover will not only affect those close to them, but will rock the entire community of Emerald Point and put Sadie’s life on the line.

Sadie’s life isn’t the only thing at stake. Struggling with the guilt of having been responsible for the fire that killed her family, when she was only seven, Sadie doesn’t feel she’s worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. Will Quinn be able to prove otherwise before it’s too late?




Here's an excerpt of Fire and Ash:

Quinn looked up at the yellow VW and sighed. Thank God it's Friday. He got out of his cruiser and walked up the drive that was still soaked with run off from the 1:20 A.M. fire. He looked around for the young officer he'd posted at the scene. There was no sign of him or his car. He ducked beneath the yellow tape, stepped through the maze of charred furniture, and entered the burned out structure. As he glanced around, he spotted the possible owner of the classic VW standing in what had once been the living room. At least this guy was a fireman and not a reporter. His eyes narrowed on the man who stood with his back to him. For a fireman he was very small in stature, only about 5'6" and he guessed barely over 120 pounds, even with the turnout gear and helmet.
"Excuse me, sir. Are you supposed to be in here?"
The fireman turned. Quinn's eyes widened. Even with soot covering a good portion of the face, he could tell it was a woman from the brilliant smile she tossed at him. "It's miss, and I reckon I am if you wanna know the cause of this fire."
"You're with the State Fire Marshal's Office?" he guessed. Emerald Point's Fire Chief had told Quinn earlier that he suspected arson.
She stuck her clipboard underneath her arm, reached for the badge pinned to her turnout coat and flipped it around for him to view. "Sadie McGregor, Fire Investigator."
Interesting. She shared the same last name as the Fire Chief. That couldn't be a coincidence. "I had an officer posted here. Do you know where he went?"
"I sent him on an errand. Hope you don't mind." She stepped forward. Underneath her helmet, short strands of caramel colored hair framed a pretty face with freckles marching across both her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. Haunting emerald eyes held his gaze as she offered her hand.
"Guess not." He shook the small latex covered hand, surprised by the strength of her grip. "Sorry for mistaking you for a guy."
She chuckled, turned, and walked into a room off to the right.
He followed. "I thought you were awfully small for a firefighter. I'm Police Chief Quinn Harrington by the way."
"I gathered that from your badge," she said with a smile. "Joe said you were on the scene during suppression, did anyone videotape it by chance? Or take pictures?"
"There were reporters on the scene so footage is probably available. Are you kin to Joe?"
"I'm his niece." She knelt along the baseboard. It was several seconds before she moved anything other than her head, which tilted from side to side as if in deep concentration. A few minutes later she balanced the clipboard on one knee, reached down and picked up what looked to be a framed photograph. "Must be her parents," she said, holding the frame up for his viewing.
"Mike and Donna Ingram. Larissa was their only child."
"Too bad. What do we know about her?"
"She was a senior over at the college, good kid, has never been in any trouble that I know of. The parents are away on vacation, so we think she was house sitting for them."
"Did you know her?"
"Not well. I've only been on the job a few months."
She laid the photograph on the buffet table, scribbled something on her clipboard and continued her examination of the room.
"I believe the point of origin is her bedroom, upstairs, first door on your right," Quinn volunteered.
"I've already been there," she said before exiting the room.
He followed her down the hall, into the kitchen. "How long have you been here?"
"Since dawn."
Just about the time he'd gone home to get a couple hours of much needed sleep.
Sadie pried opened the door of the soot-covered refrigerator and surveyed the contents. "Looks like our girl had herself a party."
"What makes you think that?"
"The refrigerator is almost empty and there are two barrels on the back porch with enough beer cans to pay for both our lunches."
"Preliminary findings of the coroner suggest she died from smoke inhalation."
"She also had a skull fracture."
"You've seen the body?" he asked.
"Yup."
"Well she could have received the head injury when she woke up disoriented. She was found next to the bed. She could have tripped and struck her head on the corner post."
"That's one possibility."
Sadie left the kitchen. Quinn followed, perplexed by both hers and the fire chief's suspicions of arson. The Ingram's were a nice family, well respected in the community. Arson meant either someone within the family was responsible, or they were the target of a crime. He didn't like either scenario.
Back in the dining room, Sadie knelt in the same spot she'd surveyed earlier. Quinn moved in behind her and followed her gaze to a deep scarring along the baseboard. "Okay, so what's your theory?"
"It's too soon to tell, but I suspect there may have been a fire here," she said in a completely flat, dry tone.
He smiled at her sarcasm. "You've been here all morning. Surely you have some kind of theory as to the cause?"
"I don't give theories, I see facts, and I develop opinions."
"Opinions based on what? Most of the physical evidence, if any, is destroyed or drastically altered during a fire?"
"The basics of fire behavior, dynamics and investigative experience based on what is visually seen, smelled, heard and touched." She glanced over her shoulder. "And just so you know, my opinions are seldom wrong."
Either she was very full of herself or she was very good at what she did. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, he rephrased his challenge. "All right, so let's hear your opinion of how the fire started."
She stood, and as she turned he was taken aback by the intensity of her expression.
"By appearances it looks accidental, as you suggested, the cause being a candle in her bedroom. One would think she fell asleep with it burning. However, there is the presence of what smells like turpentine near the bed, which is why Joe requested our help."
"The victim was an artist."
She grinned. "I sort of gathered that from what's left of the canvases, and the fact that the paints helped to accelerate the fire."
"I'm sorry. I really don't mean to keep insulting you."
"That's all right. Joe warned me that you were a little chauvinistic."
"Oh, he did, did he?"
She tossed him another beautiful smile before depositing her clipboard on the charred counter, "C'mere, I want to show you something."


You can purchase Fire and Ash from Amazon.

Anne is giving away a PDF copy of Fire and Ash. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Meet Elisa Marie Crites (Part 2)

A guest spotlight by Shellie Neumeier.


Welcome to day two with Elisa Marie Crites. Elisa penned Secrets Under The Midnight Sun and has been gracious enough to share with us a little bit about her book and her journey.
Who did you write your book for?
Writing is hard work. Many times during the process of this book I grew frustrated and wanted to quit. One day as I drove from my office to teach a financial class I found myself lamenting to God again that it was too difficult. I sensed a question being asked of me, “If you knew even two lives would be changed by this story, would you choose to make the sacrifices you’ve made to get it to print?”

I didn’t have to think about the answer. Of course I would.

Who should read this book?
Anyone who has longed for the love of a father, or is curious to learn a bit about Alaska. I almost answered this question saying women who enjoy reading Young Adult books and girls, but remembered a man who contacted me recently saying he enjoyed my book and wept a couple of times while reading it. By the way, if you go to my website, www.elisamariacrites.com you can read the original first chapter of the book and watch the book trailer.

How much of your writing is based on your own experience as a child or teenager?
Oh wow. Do I want to answer this? I longed for the love of a father and to feel safe. Freddie learning about God
being her Abba is straight
from my heart.

What's your favorite book turned movie?
I think that would have to be Bridge to Terabithia. I cried when I read the book. I cried when I watched the movie. I enjoyed reading the book, Marley and Me, while on a trip. On one flight I couldn’t stop laughing and on the next flight I was sobbing. I had planned to see the movie, but it came out about the time that Max, my boxer/pit bull was stolen, and I couldn’t bear to go see the movie.

What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would? (With answer, please!)
The question: Would you like a personal shopper to pick out and buy all your clothes for you?
My answer: YES!!!! (I hate shopping for clothes and have a hard time budgeting for an activity that I find equivalent to a toothache.)
Secrets Under the Midnight Sun can be purchased from Amazon.

Thank you for joining us today. Elisa is giving away a copy of Secrets Under the Midnight Sun. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet Elisa Marie Crites

A guest spotlight by Shellie Neumeier.
Elisa Maria Crites lives in Alaska. She is mom to three and grandmother to nine super kids. She enjoys reading, bicycling, working out, cooking, quilting, traveling and spending time with friends. She is a member of ACFW and a contributor to www.novelteen.com a website that reviews and promotes clean reads for teens. You can find her at www.elisamariacrites.com and facebook.

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Elisa. Tell us about your book, Secrets Under the Midnight Sun.

I’ll share the cover blurb with you.
Twelve-year-old Fredricka O’Reilly has a dark secret. It’s 1967 in the last frontier-Alaska, and the truth keeps the normal happy life she longs for just beyond her reach. Her brother’s four-year stint in the Air Force ends, and Fredricka believes his return will change her life for the better, until he reveals a secret of his own. As her life crumbles around her, the only one left to turn to is her mother. Can Fredricka risk telling her secret even if it could tear her family apart?

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

Sane? Relaxed? Carefree? Writing is hard work and I’m my harshest critic. I don’t feel that I chose to be a writer. Writing is more like a cloak that has been put on my shoulders.

What is your goal as a writer?
My goal is to write stories, fiction or not, that will leave my reader with something to ponder. I love people and desire to encourage them. I hope they will be touched by my work and share it with others.

What person or person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?
My wonderful, honest critique partners. (Thanks, guys.) I don’t write to feel good, I write because there are messages to share. Having other eyes find my mistakes and point out my awkward phrasings has been a tremendous blessing. Without them, I couldn’t have gotten to this point.

What was your favorite book as a child?

There were so many. An early favorite had to be, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I found a copy from 1959 and bought it for my granddaughters last Christmas. The girls are two of five children and they both loved it. How fun to share something that I loved as a child and to see their delight in the same story.

In fifth grade the book that had the biggest impact on me was, The Diary of Anne Frank. I bought that for my daughters when they were in fifth grade and then bought it for my oldest granddaughter when she was in fifth grade.


Secrets Under the Midnight Sun
can be purchased from Amazon.


Thank you for joining us today. Come back tomorrow for Elisa’s interview, part two and a special giveaway. Elisa is giving away a copy of Secrets Under the Midnight Sun. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


A guest spotlight by Shellie Neumeier.

Meet Teen Sensation, Double Vision

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

If you were to ask a dozen teens what they want to be when they grow up, likely you'd hear much of the same answers: rock star, MLB player, Tiger Woods. Most don't realize the immense responsibility such lofty dreams carry. It's like having your life blasted across cyber-space, every frown, every casual word, every loosely-knit association broadcasted, tweeted, and analyzed. Add being a pastor's kid to the mix and you're bound to get a head-ache, but Mason and Micah take it all in stride. (Although I'm going to ask you to pray for them anyway--that God will continue to hold them close and keep them true to Him as doors continue to open and their schedule increases.)

So what's it like being a pastor's son?

Mason says it's a mixed bag. "It has it's ups and downs I guess," he says. "You get some perks but there are some disadvantages such as not getting to watch the Super Bowl."

And yet, spending most of their young life in church appears to have it's advantages, a closer walk with God being the most apparent. Youth camps have perhaps impacted them most.

"The time in my life that I felt closest to God was at youth camp because we had a chance to get away from distractions like cell phones and computers and just get close to God," Mason says.

Micah agrees. "Being at youth camp puts you around a lot of other believers who are a better influence on you."

They in turn, seek to influence others by using the gift God has given them. "By playing Christian music it opens up a lot of opportunities to share the gospel through our music," Mason says.

If you'd like to hear them sing first hand, head down to the Kansas City Market. Once the weather warms up, that's where you'll find them.

This past Monday, they had the opportunity to play for Michael Tait from the Newsboys and DC Talk. Check out this video!

In the meantime, head on over to their website to listen to a few of their videos, check their upcoming schedule or book them for an event.

You can also catch them on Youtube. (I believe this is a Bon Jovi song. Ah, the memories!--thinking of acne cream, puffy hair and eighth grade algebra.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CoTT: Laying Bare

COTT guest post by Michelle Massaro.

Reading all the excerpts shared at Clash of the Titles this month, and discussing falling for heroes, has made me think back to other tender scenes I've encountered. Many stories make our hearts beat faster or awaken a deep longing within us—both in books and movies—and one such story is The Notebook. Yeah, yeah, it's often ridiculed by the guys. But women everywhere swoon. Why? Because in the movie we see a man who loves a woman—even when she doesn't know him.

Sound familiar?

We've been having a pitter-patter love fest here at COTT the past few weeks with all these Romantic Moments--by Lorna Seilstad, Elaine Marie Cooper, Joanne Troppello, and Karen Witemeyer--and as we come down off the sugar rush of Valentine's candy it occurred to me that no Valentine's month would be complete without focusing on our first love. And I don't mean the boy you kissed behind the bleachers in seventh grade, or even prince charming. I'm talking about the King of Kings. Today I thought it only appropriate to turn my eyes upward.

John 1:10 tells us that He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

So The Notebook in this way is a picture of Christ loving his bride, the church. Christ is the lover of our souls!

We also read in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. And from John 15:13 we know Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

His love is not based on what we do or how we look. It's not based on seduction, flirtation, or how we make Him feel. He loves us for who we are; He loves us when we are exposed.

Isn't it breath-takingly romantic when a husband finds his wife most beautiful first thing in the morning, before she's applied her makeup and arranged her hair just right? So also, we need no "beauty tricks" to win Him. We don't need to hide our flaws, whether physical or spiritual. We couldn't if we tried—all things are laid bare before Him. And yet He loves us. Enough to die.

That's what I call a hero.


Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me and drawing me into your embrace; for loving me with all my flaws exposed. I'm deep in love with you, Lord.


What other pictures of Christ have you found in romantic stories? Or, share how He captures your heart.


COTT guest post by Michelle Massaro

Meet Teen Sensation, Double Vision

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

Don't let their small stature fool you. When Micah and Mason Marrs of Double Vision sing, grown men are brought to tears, or to their feet in hallelujah, depending on the song. They've performed at state fairs, cafes and youth groups, but on Sunday morning you'll find them surrounded by a large group of toddlers, guitar in hand.

I first heard them sing at Forest Avenue Women's Shelter in downtown Kansas City. When they rose and moved to the center of the room, a few women giggled, likely not sure what to expect from these two teens. Their giggles soon turned to tears as lyrics speaking of an amazing, initiating love that reaches even to the depths of despair, poured out. The boys wrote the song for their grandmother, but it easily could have been for the women and children seated around them that night.

"We wrote..."Here" for our grandmother after she was diagnosed with breast cancer," Micah says. "We wrote it to encourage her during this tough time. It talks about how God is always there no matter what you're going through or what you are facing."

Their song encouraged the women at the shelter, and the women in turn encouraged them. "After one of our visits to the shelter we wrote a song called "There Is," Says Mason. "It tells the story of two of the ladies we talked to at the shelter that night. The first lady was homeless in the winter time and got really bad pnemonia. The second lady was sexually abused by her uncle and was thrown out when nobody believed her. This song talks about how we can find hope in Jesus even in dark times."

I've heard them sing numerous times since then, and each time is better than the last. Perhaps that is the result of hours upon hours of practice, or an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord--although likely it is both. God is molding them, training them, and guiding them to be lyrical instruments of His grace.

At thirteen, they've played more places than many musicians twice their age. One can't help but wonder how long they've been at it.

"We've been singing since we could talk," Mason says. "We started playing instruments together about two years ago."

They gave their first performance when they were three, singing, "Away in a manger" in church. They've played in numerous churches since, but that's not the only place you'll find them.

On Saturdays, you'll likely find them down at the Kansas City market, surrounded by hand-clapping admirers.

"We started playing on the streets as street performers a couple years ago," Micah says. "That has opened up many other opportunities to play at other places."

Visit their website to view their upcoming tour schedule, to schedule an event or to watch a few of their music videos.

Follow the link below to check them out for yourself. (But don't forget to stop back to leave a comment. I know they'd be encouraged.) Then come back tomorrow as they share what it's like to be PK's. (Pastor's kids.)

Double Vision

Winners!

The winner of:
  • Eleanor Gustafson's Stones is Marianne.
  • Gary Moore's Hey Buddy is Chrissy.
  •  Carrie Turansky's Seeking His Love is Leanne.
  •  Victoria Burk's A Legacy of Love is Carman.
  •  Staci Stallings' A Little Piece of Heaven is Charity U.
  •  Lyle Way's Murder in Shades of Gray is rubynreba.
What a bumper crop of winners!! =]  =]

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, February 22, 2011

with Anne Greene

Welcome to the Book Loft, Anne.
What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve always wanted to write.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
At the moment, I’m doing a lot of publicity for my new book. But, when I’m writing, the only things I let distract me are family. I’m very dedicated.

Which of your characters interests you the most?
The character I love writing about the most—is the one I’m currently working on. I love all my characters. However, I do think I like being in the male point of view slightly more than the female. I like being macho and looking at life from a different perspective. I like being strong enough to handle a couple of thugs. Of course my detective knows martial arts, but she doesn’t use her fists. I like looking at a woman I’m interested in and being totally confused as to what makes her do the crazy things she does. But, on the other hand, I love having a woman use her wiles and smarts when that’s all she has going for her. But Megan and Brody from Masquerade Marriage are probably closest to my heart.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
I sing in a 200 member sanctuary choir accompanied by a full orchestra. I also sing in a gospel choir that performs songs the Gathers made famous. I run the gamet.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My family thinks I’m pretty quirky. I’m often accused of living in my own world-whatever that means! I do sometimes get so involved in whatever story I’m writing that I forget appointments or show up at a social event on the wrong date or at the wrong address. I think I’m reminiscent of the Absent-minded Professor.

What is your strangest habit?
Lots of writers like to work in their pjs. I like to be completely dressed, including make-up. Who knows when I’ll want to run out and see a friend for lunch or run an errand? I’m pretty spontaneous. I can only write for a period of time before I need some social interaction. But then it’s back to the grindstone.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Exercise! Going to the gym. So easy to pass that by. When my mind is occupied with a book, my body wants to sit in that chair and write.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
When I visited Italy I fell in love with Italian food. I didn’t even need to visit Mexico to love Mexican food. I love Thy food. I live in a small town that supports many, many good restaurants and I love to eat out. But my very favorite meal is Christmas dinner with all my family.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I love to write about redemption in every form. Second chances, forgiveness, grace, finding God’s will, and finding and walking with the Savior. I love the grace of God, and His unexpected ways of showing his love. The spiritual theme of my books come from the characters and whatever problems they are struggling with.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. NKJV






You can purchase from Amazon.


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



Monday, February 21, 2011

meet Anne Greene

Anne Greene delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. She writes both historical and suspense novels. After falling in love with several countries and their people, Anne set a number of her books in exotic locations. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries, including three communist countries. A visit to Scotland resulted in her newest book release, Masquerade Marriage, published by White Rose Publishing. When she’s not deployed with her husband, Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Two of her four children live nearby. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. In 1990, Anne graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas, Dallas. Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne and to view pictures from her extensive travel, visit her at AnneGreeneAuthor.com.


Masquerade Marriage

To avoid a brutal arranged marriage, Lady Megan MacMurry chooses a husband from a secret list and opens her broken heart to a Highland warrior’s fight for his life.

A SECRET LIST
He was born to a clan of noted warriors and musicians. Yet to protect his loved ones and escape the dark fate of his brothers, he abandons his identity. Hiding from relentless soldiers who want him dead, he vows to protect the woman he loves more than life, more than freedom, more than Scotland. But his presence throws her into danger.

A VOW HONORED
She weds a stranger to save his life. But do vows make a marriage? When does a marriage become a marriage? What if she holds a different love inside her heart?

A SACRIFICE MADE
Steeling himself against the pain, he condemns himself to a life of heartbreak without her. Wanting her desperately, knowing he can’t have her, he surrenders her and heads alone to certain death. Outlawed, with a price on his head, does she love him enough to give up castle, lands, and family, and risk the agony of surrendering her heart a second time?

Here's an excerpt of Masquerade Marriage:

Like a determined hero, the fugitive warrior strode through the door at the far end of the tiny stone kirk.

Megan’s eyes widened. Her clenched jaw relaxed. Some of her dread dissolved.

“Impressive.” Molly, Megan’s Irish maid, whispered from where they stood together in the vestibule.

He stopped in front of the hand-carved altar and half-turned toward her. Megan pulled in an uneven breath. This Highlander, wearing formal kilts, was no scrawny lad grown older, nor was he a big, hairy Scot with a bushy beard. The tall, strapping soldier stood with legs braced as if about to do battle.

Her heart skipped. Though she’d known Brody when she wore short skirts, this blond warrior was far more than she expected. Her pulse throbbed in her temples. Doubt niggled her brain. Brody was too tall, too obviously a Highlander. How could she hope to pass him off as a Lowland Laird? He appeared to have too big a chip on his shoulder to let her command him.

Brody’s thick sandy hair swept the collar of his linen shirt. Lace-trimmed cuffs matched the white jabot at his muscular throat. A silver broach clapsed his crimson and black tartan to his wide right shoulder. His Claymore, dirk, and thick sword belt startled her.

Megan suppressed a shudder. The English outlawed kilts. With his dress, Brody spat in the face of the English and further imperiled his life. Why?

His intense sapphire stare blazed a trail across the empty wooden pews toward her. His eyes made her feel dizzy as if she just danced a fast reel with a lively partner.

Molly grinned and handed Megan the bridal flowers.

What had she gotten herself into?



You can purchase Masquerade Marriage from Amazon.


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



Sunday, February 20, 2011

with Donna Winters

Welcome to The Book Loft, Donna.
What started you on your writing journey?

Back in the early 1980’s, TV newscasters reported that the romance industry was booming and that new writers were getting published. I thought I’d like to try writing a romance. I wrote three complete manuscripts and several proposals before receiving a contract offer in 1984. My first published novel was released by Thomas Nelson on Valentine’s Day in 1985.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Anything that interrupts solitude and silence!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I’ll try to put in order the type of reading I prefer: the Bible; nonfiction history about the time and place of my work in progress, especially newspapers on microfilm; historical fiction; historical romances; occasionally a good mystery. My favorite historical nonfiction titles are Rosanna of the Amish and Rosanna’s Boys by Joseph W. Yoder. My favorite mystery is Bertie and the Tinman by Peter Lovesey.

Which character in your latest release most interested you while you wrote?
My latest release is the ebook version of Fayette—A Time to Love, which came out in paperback in 2003. While creating this story, I most enjoyed the hero, Huck. His Irish heritage required me to research the speech patterns, customs, and music of the Irish who settled in the Great Lakes area.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Classical pops from the Romantic Era of classical music, preferably Chopin, whose hauntingly beautiful melodies touch my innermost being.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Riding a bobsled down the Olympic run at Lake Placid, New York. I went to college about two hours west of Lake Placid, and one Saturday I went over there and took the run with four others. The Conservation sled goes only about half as fast as the Olympic bobsleds, but it’s still exciting!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Technical things. I hated giving up my Gateway computer, but its Windows 3.1 Operating System simply could not handle the software and ever-increasing file sizes needed for writing and publishing, so last year I gave it up in favor of newer computers.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Roast turkey, glazed squash, and apple crisp. I guess my palette is all-American because I can’t think of a more appealing menu!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Forgiveness, evidently, because it comes up quite often in my stories, even when I’ve set out to write about a different theme! In fact, it was such a strong theme in my story, Butterfly, Come Home that the minister of the church I was attending actually preached a sermon quoting passages from my book to make his point! That was back in 2003, a couple of years after the book had been released. I had intended to focus on disobedience and the consequences thereof, and those are certainly dominant issues, but forgiveness in a myriad of circumstances evolved as an equally important message throughout.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
My favorite verse is from Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” KJV

I have always tried to write according to the theme of this verse, so that after all the conflicts in a story are resolved, the reader is uplifted by the moral truth of the message.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I don’t have a schedule for my next title but I hope to get it out sometime in 2012. It will be a prequel to my book, Elizabeth of Saginaw Bay. In that story, set in 1837, the heroine moves from my hometown of Brockport, New York, to the wilderness of the Saginaw Valley in Michigan to start a new pioneer town. The story I am researching now will focus on Erie Canal town life and the westward movement along the canal.



You can purchase Fayette A Time to Love from Amazon.

Donna is giving away a copy of Fayette A Time to Love. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

meet Donna Winters

Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.

She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.

Donna has lived all of her life in states bordering on the Great Lakes. Her familiarity and fascination with these remarkable inland waters and her residence in the heart of Great Lakes Country in Upper Michigan, make her the perfect candidate for writing Great Lakes Romances®.

On this website you will find not only the books Donna Winters has written, but also titles by authors from the turn of the twentieth century that she has edited, abridged, or compiled for reprint.

Donna and her husband enjoy frequent walks in Fayette Historic State Park, near their home. The limestone bluff behind them rises from the waters of Snail Shell Harbor in the park.

You can find Donna online at GreatLakesRomances.com where you can enter a book drawing every two weeks. You can also follow the “Great Lakes Romance Advisory” postings and giveaways on the blog.





Fayette A Time to Love

The new iron smelting town of Fayette, Michigan held no promise for sixteen-year-old Lavinia McAdams.  The moment she arrived, she took an instant disliking to its muddy streets, acrid smoke, and dirty furnace men.  The sooner she could return to her hometown in Canada, the better.  Then Huck Harrigan came along to challenge her thinking and soften her iron will.  Could she really find happiness in this raw, new town with a "pig iron" Irishman from across the bay?







You can purchase Fayette A Time to Love from Amazon.

Donna is giving away a copy of Fayette A Time to Love. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Friday, February 18, 2011

with Caron Guillo

Welcome to The Book Loft, Caron.
What started you on your writing journey?

Not knowing any better, I suppose. I journaled a lot as a young mother and believed I had something to say. Don’t we all? But the difference, perhaps, was that I also thought publishing was attainable, so I just kept writing and learning and growing and submitting. I can be determined. Or thick-headed. One of those.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Ugh! What doesn’t distract me from writing? I need lots of quiet time for my creativity to surface. But when it does, time stands still for me. I can spend twelve straight hours writing and not feel a moment has passed.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I love all sorts of books—most genres of fiction, nonfiction, Christian, mainstream. Right now my reads-in-progress include The Pawn by Steven James and Necessary Heartbreak by my friend Michael J. Sullivan.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
There are three protagonists—main characters—in An Uncommon Crusade. I couldn’t help but find each of them fascinating. Elisabeth is scrappy and wounded and has a great capacity for love. Simon certainly has a pocket protector hidden somewhere in the folds of his tunic, but he’s genuine—and courageous when it counts. Hugo wants so much to be a warrior, but it’s his tenderness toward the innocent that charmed me in the end.

Do you have a day job?
I do, and I love it! I am an International Tour Manager leading small group tours to Italy for QueensLander Tours. I travel with the guests from Venice to Florence to Rome and beyond! I also work on the operations side of the business when I’m not traveling. Italy first stole my heart when I studied there during college. I love being able to share that beautiful country, its charming people and its incredible food with new friends. Last year, I spent a day between tours working on revisions for An Uncommon Crusade while the beauty of Venice surrounded me.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My son swears I taught him how to make a bodily function sound by wedging one hand under his armpit and pumping his arm. What kind of mother does that? It is true that when he was little I reached to pull him close to me, and when I did, it produced a funny little noise. But I would never have taught him the range of sounds and tones he has achieved since. He gets that from his father.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Laundry—I’d rather scrub toilets than fold and put away clean clothes, paying bills—which is why they’re all set up as automatic payments, and shopping of any kind.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Our entire family gets far too excited about food in general. It’s embarrassing, really. We love Italian, but a close second is Middle Eastern cuisine. Two Christmases ago we feasted on roasted lamb with tatziki sauce, tabouli, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and hummus with pita. All homemade. In fact, I make hummus regularly. Here’s the recipe I use from my husband’s Lebanese great aunt:
Caron Guillo Hummus

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Transformation is a big theme in my own life, and so it finds its way into my stories. To me, faith isn’t faith unless it produces a transformed life.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
There are so many, of course, but one in particular became dear to me long ago during my first year of marriage. My husband asked, “What is it about faith in God that makes us any different from every other ‘good’ person in the world?” I didn’t have an answer, really, until I contemplated Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I began to be challenged by the idea that any goodness in me does not have to be limited by the extent of my own (pitiful) goodness. That life isn’t about me; it’s bigger than me and infinitely more exciting—and requires greater sacrifice—than a life outside of Christ. That faith-walking is harder, purer, more doubt-filled and more affirming than any other way to live. Just being “good” wasn’t enough for me anymore. I wanted Christ to become my life, to transform me.

Tell us about your next book.
I’m working on a story right now called Great Zimbabwe. Much of it is based on my experiences in Zimbabwe in recent years, my continued involvement in humanitarian efforts there, and my time spent at a black rhino breeding station and game park.

In Great Zimbabwe, American Sara Jenkins travels to Zimbabwe to meet the father she’s never known, and perhaps scrape together enough courage to deal with the challenges she faces in her life and relationships. Instead, she must solve the mystery of his disappearance more than two decades ago.

The African country--and the game park and rhino breeding project her father’s family manages there--are embroiled in a centuries-old conflict rooted in the ancient kingdom of Great Zimbabwe. Additionally, Sara’s meager courage is threatened by her fear of pythons, poachers, and an apparent curse.

Nevertheless, when hired thugs slaughter four black rhinos in Takunda Game Preserve and her charming cousin is arrested for illegal activities, Sara is determined to help her father’s family stay afloat in a sea of political, economic, cultural, and racial tension.




You can purchase An Uncommon Crusade from Amazon.

Caron is giving away a copy of An Uncommon Crusade. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

meet Caron Guillo




Caron Guillo writes, travels, prays, eats and laughs. When desperate for chocolate, she’s been known to spoon it straight from a tub of frosting.

You can find Caron online at her website CaronGuillo.com and on Twitter.



An Uncommon Crusade

Only God can save them now . . .


Elisabeth, Simon, and Hugo join an ill-fated commoner’s crusade to Jerusalem in search of wealth, glory, and redemption. But their dreams are destroyed when Elisabeth and Simon are sold into slavery and Hugo finds himself adrift at sea.

From the dark forests of thirteenth century Germany, through treacherous alpine passes, to a sprawling estate in Egypt, three lives become linked in a desperate journey.

What reviewers are saying about An Uncommon Crusade:
Elisabeth, Simon, and Hugo join an ill-fated commoner’s crusade to Jerusalem in search of wealth, glory, and redemption. But their dreams are destroyed when Elisabeth and Simon are sold into slavery and Hugo finds himself adrift at sea.

From the dark forests of thirteenth century Germany, through treacherous alpine passes, to a sprawling estate in Egypt, three lives become linked in a desperate journey.

“A very powerful story . . . it made me feel a little more human when reading it.”
—Amazon Top Reviewer

“In An Uncommon Crusade, Caron Guillo transports her readers back to a time when youthful exuberance died a thousand deaths. Some, however, found faith and courage in defeat. With warmth and humor, Guillo weaves an unforgettable story of hope and perseverance in a cruel and unforgiving world.”
—Jack Cavanaugh, Co-Author with Bill Bright of The Great Awakenings series

“From the first breath this epic journey seizes the mind and the soul in an intelligent and passionate web of brokenness and hope….Caron’s story captivates because it’s our story...of innocence lost and
redemption unexpectedly found. You will undoubtedly find yourself in these delightful pages!”
—Jerome Daley, Life coach, speaker, & author of Soul Space and The New Rebellion Handbook

“Caron Guillo weaves a rich tapestry with An Uncommon Crusade, ushering you into another time and place with characters you can't help but love. Her unique writing style blends three journeys into a powerful story of understanding, forgiveness, and transformation.”
—Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling Author & Writer in Residence, West Texas A&M University

“Although this novel uses the Children’s Crusade of 1212 as its background, it is not a historical chronicle, but a very personal story, with few of the actual political players of the period appearing in a major role. Instead, the story traces the lives of several of the young followers of Nicholas of Cologne as they travel to Jerusalem, and over the years after the Crusade disperses. Each of the characters . . . comes across as bold, rich, and easy to relate to rather than overworked. The author does a good job weaving the divergent stories together, both in terms of the pacing and in the way they come together at the end of the tale . . . an enjoyable story with believable characters and an exciting plot.”
—Publishers Weekly

Here's an excerpt of An Uncommon Crusade:

Chapter 1

Mid-March AD 1212, the Black Forest, Holy Roman Empire

Sixteen-year-old Elisabeth’s lying-in began at dusk, her water spilling in a warm and sudden rush.

Mama’s husband, Ort, cursed and trudged out the warped wooden doorway of their single-room hut beside the cooper’s workshop. Off to the village tavern, more than likely. Elisabeth’s older sister protested before running for the midwife as Mama ordered. Elisabeth hadn’t a clue what she should do other than swallow back the fear that accompanied the birth pangs.

“The midwife won’t come,” Methild said an hour later.

Mama’s head snapped up. “Why not?”

Methild crossed her arms. She didn’t bother to spare Elisabeth’s feelings with a whisper. “The priest has forbidden the old woman to help.”

Mama’s eyes shifted to Elisabeth. “Very well. Get fresh hay from the shed,” she told Methild. “And we’ll need a knife. Bring one of Ort’s sharpest.”

The blood drained from Elisabeth’s head, leaving her dizzy. “Mama?”

“The knife is only to cut the cord.” Mama’s eyes softened. “I’ve given birth to six children, daughter. I know what to do.”

Of course. Elisabeth watched her mother bustle about the cottage, loosening knots and unlatching the chest in the corner to encourage Elisabeth’s womb to open. So many times in childbirth, and no more than two of Mama’s babes had survived. Three died in infancy, but not poor James. Elisabeth remembered him as a gentle and kindly big brother before fever took him a dozen years ago.

Despite the shame Elisabeth’s pregnancy had brought, she knew Mama hoped for another boy in the family. And not only because of Ort’s threat to turn out Elisabeth and the child unless she delivered a son. Mama wanted a grandson. She’d never said so plainly, but Elisabeth guessed she wanted to see James in the child’s eyes. Or Papa.

Another spasm gripped Elisabeth’s abdomen. She groaned through it, freckled hands gripping the tattered blanket beneath her. Wisps of ginger hair matted on her forehead, and smoke from the central fire pit made her choke and gasp.

She normally loved the smell of the cooking fire. Found comfort there, stirring a pot of soup, making something delicious from the very little they had. But tonight, the fire’s wispy gray fingers wrapped themselves around her throat like death itself.

A person couldn’t die cursed by the church, could they? Or by God? Where would their soul go?


You can purchase An Uncommon Crusade from Amazon.

Caron is giving away a copy of An Uncommon Crusade. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Get Extra Entries in the Giveaways

Today is Jim's birthday so I'm doing something special to celebrate my special man.

For today and tomorrow, followers of this site can enter each open book drawing an extra time. Just be sure to say Happy Birthday to Jim in your comments.

Jim Wysong, my wonderful husband, has a book out. If you email me the title of his book, I'll give you a 2nd extra entry in the book drawing of your choice. You can email me here and be sure to mention the drawing you'd like your extra entry to go in. Each book giveaway is open for at least two weeks, so the ones that are still open and eligible for the extra birthday entries are those between January 29th and now. ;-)

This special is only good Thursday and Friday, for followers of The Book Loft. Not a follower? Not to worry, you can get in on this special by simply following us--the links and gadgets are to the right, in the sidebar.

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Meet Delia Latham, Author of Destiny's Dream

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery

Delia Latham has been writing essays and stories since the third grade. Her publications include Goldeneyes, published by Vinspire Publishing, Yesterday's Promise, published by White Rose Publishing, and the popular Solomon's Gate Series, published by White Rose Publishing. Today she's here to talk about her latest release, Destiny's Dream, where she receives her inspiration, and her relationship with Jesus Christ, the Divine Author.

Delia, the concept for Destiny's Dream is very unique—a conservative Christian woman starting a dating service. Where did you get such a fun idea?

Over a decade ago, I read a book based around a dating agency. It, too, was part of a series. I enjoyed it so much, and I kept thinking about it. How fun would it be to base a book around a Christian dating agency? I loved the idea, but I didn’t get right on it. I mulled it over while doing dishes, making beds, and sweeping floors. I dreamed up scenes while driving down the road in my car. I created characters as I sat by the fireplace in the evenings. Then finally—ten years later—I woke up one morning and it was as though God said, “It’s time. Do it.” By the time I started writing Destiny’s Dream, the idea had developed into an entire series, and God had given me a little extra touch of the divine to incorporate into my dating agency. I loved writing this series! Hopefully, my readers will get as much out of the finished stories as I got out of creating them.

This is the second book of yours I've read, and both of them brought me from tears to giggles. Are you that emotional—grin—in real life? But seriously, I'm envisioning your home full of giggles. Is that the case? Do you have a special memory you can share?

You know, I don’t consider myself a really funny person. The humor in these stories took me by very pleasant surprise. My husband and I have shared a lot of laughs and humorous moments with our four children (all adults now), but trust me—there was as much drama and tears in our home as in anyone else’s. I just thank God for the sense of humor that got us through those unpleasant times…and helped me find a way to turn the frowns upside down.

Throughout the story, Destiny relied heavily on prayer. What draws you closest to God? Do you have a special place you like to pray?

Praise and worship music always touches my heart and puts me in a worshipful mood. I love songs that help me feel God’s presence so strong that I can almost reach out and touch Him. I enjoy praying in front of my fireplace, with the lights dimmed and soft worship music in the background. But I also take the scripture to heart that admonishes us to “pray without ceasing.” I talk to God all the time…a little like I write. I do it while I’m working around the house; driving down the road; enjoying a solitary walk...you get the picture. ☺

What is Destiny's greatest struggle?

Destiny has a hard time getting people to take her dream seriously. Even her socialite sister bucks the idea of a dating agency in their conservative town—especially one run by a member of her family! Then, when a madman threatens Destiny and her clients, she struggles with keeping the doors open in the face of people being hurt because of it.

What is her greatest strength?

She has an unwavering trust in God. She knows God made Solomon’s Gate possible. She knows He called her to this ministry…bringing hearts together, helping people find the loves God created for them. So despite impossible financial situations, despite ridicule from people she loves, despite the unexpected element of danger, she clings to that knowledge, and to her dream.

What primary truth (or truths) do you hope your readers will walk away with having read Destiny's Dream?

I hope they’ll find themselves in possession of a little of Destiny’s faith and trust. Also, remember that extra little “element of the divine” I said God inserted into this series without my prior knowledge? Well, I hope readers come away believing a little more in that, because I sure did!

This is the first book in a three part series, correct? Tell us a bit about the next book.

I thought you’d never ask! LOL Here’s a short blurb from Kylie’s Kiss:

She seeks the fairy tale kiss that will make her heart come alive.
His beloved daughter has already been scarred by one woman’s selfish negligence. Can he ever trust another with his heart and little Lea’s life?
Their secret fears threaten to destroy any chance at happiness together.
But Heaven has a plan…

I can't wait to read it! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Readers, hop on over to Delia's website to find out more about her and her delightful novels.

Delia is giving away a leather bound Max Lucado Journal called, Grace For the Moment.

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