Sunday, May 29, 2011

with Loree Lough

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

My hubby's job put us in Richmond, leaving me without a job. Saw an ad in the local paper for a "neighborhood correspondent" and thought it would be a great way to get to know the area and meet new people. After just a few interviews, my editor said she liked my "style," and gave me several feature assignments. Soon, editors at other publications were calling with assignments.

When hubby's job took us back to Baltimore, I showed my "clip book" to editors here, and, you guessed it, assignments! At about the "2,500 articles in print" point in my career, I got fed up with a disturbing trend: Editors, forced by publishers to change critical facts to appease advertisers. I figured if I was gonna write fiction, it might as well be in the form of a novel, and, you guessed it, assignments!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
My grandkids! I can write with the TV blaring in the other room, the washer and dryer droning in the adjacent laundry room, lawn mowers and chain saws roaring outside. But put a grandkid within 50 feet of my computer and I'm putty. SILLY putty!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Right now, I'm reading a military thriller called Black Eagle Force: Eye of the Storm by writer pals Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke (who, in addition to having starred in a bunch of movies, produce and direct screenplays they've co-authored).
Recently, I enjoyed James Rollins' The Doomsday Key. If you liked The DaVinci Code, you'll love this one. On the non-fiction side, I loved Touching History by Lynn Spencer, a pilot who relived the true-to-life minutes preceding and following the heartless attack on our country on 9/11. Very "Tom Clancy-ish" in style and description. And Scent of the Missing was supposed to be research for the novel I'm writing now, about search and rescue personnel and their amazing dogs. But author Susannah Charleson did such a bang-up job of writing it that I totally forget that I'm supposed to be working, not reading for pleasure!

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I love cowboys. Have since I was a little girl, watching Westerns on Saturday mornings…will until my old peepers make it impossible to see Stetsons and boots and snug blue jeans. Lamont London, widowed years ago, raised four rowdy daughters, single-handedly while running a successful ranch near Amarillo. Like those heroes-in-the-saddle I fell in love with as a kid, he's everything a man should be: Brave, strong—physically and emotionally—honest, and of course, gorgeous.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Country, without a doubt, because it's "real" and earthy and honest to its core. People tell me I'm uncomplicated and trustworthy (oh, if you knew the secrets in this head of mine!), so I guess that's another similarity, because you can understand the words in a country-western song!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Holy mackerel, is that a loaded question! I've done some pretty wacky things in my day—for a paycheck, and "just cuz," but I guess the craziest was taking a giant leap of faith when I was young (and some might say stupid): I auditioned with Artists Corporation of America and, signed with an agent there, then packed a steamer trunk and my guitar and went on the road, singing—all by myself—in hotel lounges all over the country. I got a chance to "open" for quite a few big stars of the day, but that isn't my favorite memory. It's thinking of all those brave, wounded young soldiers who asked me to sit down beside their V.A. hospital beds and sing their favorite songs.

What is your strangest habit?
Shhh…don't tell anybody (PLEASE!), but I'm addicted to goofy TV shows like "The Amazing Race" and "American Idol." (And if my husband wouldn't blow a gasket, I'd watch "The Bachelor," too!)

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
If you open my dishwasher right now, you'll find it's filled with clean dishes. And if you come back next week, you'll see a few of those same plates and mugs, right where they are today. And if I had a dollar for every time I've gotten dressed, picking stuff out of a laundry basket? I could probably go back to Ireland. Twice!

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
My all-time favorite family meal is a big wear-your-jeans-and-sneakers cookout: Hot dogs (extra onions on mine, please), baked beans, potato salad, and gallons of sweet iced tea.

Loree's Easy-as-Pie (but not as fruity) Baked Beans

Ingredients:
1 large can Bush's baked beans
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon dry minced onion
½ cup catsup
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ cup dark brown sugar

Directions:
Dump everything in your favorite Dutch oven, stir well, and simmer for an hour.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I seem drawn to the stuff that makes people question God…and His desire to be involved in every tiny detail of our lives. That lends itself well to forgiveness and acceptance—of self and others, past mistakes and present offenses—and breaking that oh-so-human belief that the old "God helps those who help themselves" rule was mysteriously etched onto those stone tablets, delivered by Moses.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Life is, well, life. That's why my go-to verse has long been 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says: "No temptation has seized you that isn't common for people. God is faithful. He won't allow you to be tested beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, god will also supply a way out, so that you will be able to endure it." Common English Bible

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
An Accidental Family (the 3rd and final novel in my "Accidental Blessings" series for Love Inspires, releases this June. In the first two books (An Accidental Hero and An Accidental Mom), I featured two of the four daughters, raised single-handedly by widowed Texas rancher, Lamont London. In this book, Dad gets a second chance at love in a suspenseful, heart-tugging story that puts trust, faith, and unresolved issues to the ultimate test.

Purchase at CBD



Purchase An Accidental Family at CBD.


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

with Angie Briedenbach

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

There was a ten-year period of time that I didn’t write in my adult life. Because writing is in my DNA, I felt depressed and bored. Sure I was racing to work and support my children, but there was this very unsatisfied feeling inside. Once I started writing again, that empty feeling disappeared. I think we are meant to live out our purpose and when we are not in that place, we feel deep dissatisfaction.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
The obstacles have changed over the years. First it was skill. I took every class I could find. Next it was time. I began putting writing into my schedule. Eventually writing became a priority. We have to schedule our dreams and goals into our daily life. Wishes don’t make dreams come true.

What book have you recently enjoyed reading?
I’m finishing a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time about the last royal princess of Hawaii. Love Finds You in Lahaina, HA is full of intrigue and history of the Hawaiian monarchy. I just love it! I’m also reading a devotional, Jesus Calling, given to me by my writing partner, Teresa Herbic. I don’t normally have a writing partner but this book is a very special ministry outreach devotional. So her gift has many levels to it. I love this devotional because I really do feel like Jesus is talking right to me on each page.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I love the pirates, but my favorite character is in chapter two. It’s Rachel as she’s coming to the realization that her mom really isn’t magical. I loved the lyricism of this particular story. I love it every time I read it. I remember the interview with her at a writer’s retreat and relive those amazing hours as we came to understand some astonishing truths about our moms and our understanding of ourselves.

If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Um, I love dessert. This is my favorite food group. But I do admit to a caramel corn addiction. I used to work in a caramel corn shop. The owner thought if he let us eat all we wanted that we’d eventually get tired of it. Nope, I think I ate my paycheck each week. Poor guy, lol. Here’s my recipe:

Caramel Corn

Although there are many versions, this recipe consistently gets rave reviews including returned tins each Christmas for refills. The secret is in NOT baking the confection. Many recipes tell you to bake the caramel corn in order to create a hard candy coating. But the chewy caramel corn is actually more satisfying to our friends and family. See what you think of this simple treat.

12 cups popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Melt above ingredients over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil.
Cook for 5 minutes. Stir to avoid burning.
Turn off heat.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Stir well. Caramel will foam while changing color.
Immediately pour over warm popcorn.
Use a folding motion to coat completely.
Break apart large chunks and cool on butcher paper or foil.
Store in airtight tins lined with foil for easy cleaning.

Insider Tip: Make popcorn ahead and keep in a butter-sprayed ceramic bowl in oven at 200°. Caramel will not harden as fast, giving time to coat all the kernels. Butter spray on the long handled spoon and bowl keeps the caramel on the popcorn and easier clean up.

Tip 2: Have a second person ready to stir as caramel pours over popcorn. Be very careful not to get any on your helper as hot caramel has serious burn potential.

If you were to find a purple polka-dotted monster in your kitchen one morning, how would you respond?
I’d laugh and offer breakfast. It’s undoubtedly one of my kids pulling a prank--yet again.

Tell us about one of your favorite memories or moments in your life.
There are these amazing moments of awe that happen when I hold my grandchildren. I’m astonished at the gift God’s given me. I love to sing them to sleep. The utter peace and beauty of the babies snuggled in my arms is entrancing.

What's one of your dreaded things to do?
Numbers and paperwork. They’re the same to me. They drain me of energy.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I love to write about the theme of wisdom. I think it’s a powerful way to change the world by helping people grow spiritually and emotionally.

What is the Lord teaching you, or recently taught you?
I recently studied David and Solomon. We don’t recognize often how off track these great men went in their older years. I’m hyper-aware right now how easy it is to fall away from the Lord. He’s teaching me to completely remember and rely on Him, to be aware that anything in my life is because God gave it and not because I did it.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
We don’t know the date yet, but it’s a 365 daily devotional. Also in the works are an historical fiction series and a contemporary comedy/romance. But two short projects I’m interested in doing this summer are publishing my Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance and Creative Cooking for Colitis cookbooks to nook for their color versions (they’re already available on Amazon and Kindle) and a booklet on brain/organ donation to e-book.

Purchase at CBD


Purchase Gems of Wisdom at CBD.

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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Loree Lough's An Accidental Family

At last count, Loree had 80 books in print (with more than 3,000,000 in circulation), including the upcoming First Responders series, which kicks off with From Ashes to Honor, a 9/11 story that will release in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

Loree has earmarked a generous portion of her proceeds to two organizations that are very close to her heart: Soldier Angels (assisting deployed soldiers and their families) and Special Operations Warrior Foundation (aiding the children of the brave fighting men and women who are killed in the line of duty).

You can find Loree online at
www.loreelough.com
www.theloughdown.blogspot.com
and on Facebook, Twitter, Shoutlife as Loree Lough

An Accidental Family

To Love or Not to Love Again: That's the question stirring in Texan widower Lamont London's heart. His longtime neighbor Nadine Greene still turns heads—especially his. But after enduring an abusive marriage, Nadine's gun-shy when it comes to relationships. And Lamont has some unresolved feelings to overcome about his late wife.

It isn't until Nadine's ranch house burns to the ground and Lamont offers refuge to her and her son's family in his empty mansion that she opens her heart.

Can they find a sweet second chance at love, and make two families into one?

Here's an excerpt of An Accidental Family:


Lamont had never felt more alone in his life.

Strange, since the church bulged with longtime friends, family and neighbors, here by invitation to witness his youngest daughter's wedding.

They stood at the back of the church, just the two of them, waiting arm and arm for their cue to march toward the altar. Lily smiled up at him through the gauzy mist of her veil. "I love Max like crazy, Daddy," she said, tears shimmering in her big green eyes, "but you'll always be my best guy."

He wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked, that he was proud of the woman she'd become, that her mama would have been proud, too. But a sob caught in his throat, so he patted her tiny, white-gloved hand and ground his molars together as those first strains of "The Wedding March" came through the closed chapel doors.

The roses and lilies of the valley in her bouquet began to quake, and he tried again to come up with something, anything that might calm and comfort her. But now the choking sob had made its way to his brain, making him feel just plain stupid as he continued patting her hand.

The doors opened, and a couple hundred parishioners turned simultaneously in their pews, smiling and craning their necks to get that first glimpse of the bride and her dad. Evidently, his hearing wasn't bad for a guy in his fifties, because despite the window-rattling crescendo of the music, he could make out "Isn't she pretty?" and "He's so handsome in a tux" rushing down the aisle like an ocean wave.

Next thing he knew, Lamont found himself at the altar, lifting her veil, kissing her forehead…and handing her over to the man who'd take care of his Lily from this day forth.

"Who gives this woman?" the preacher asked.

They'd practiced this, just last night, but Lamont didn't want to spout the two simple, one-syllable words they had assigned him. "She's not a woman," he wanted to shout instead, "she's my baby girl!"

But after his mechanical "I do," he walked woodenly to his seat and sat tugging at the stiff collar of his tuxedo's white shirt, trying to pay attention as Lily recited her vows and exchanged rings with Max, trying not to blubber like a toddler when the bride and groom shared their first kiss as man and wife.

When they faced the congregation, Lily looked at him and sent a silent reminder: "You'll always be my best guy, Daddy…."

It put a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes, and Lamont tried to hide it by lifting his chin. But Lily saw, and knowing what it meant, blew him a kiss, the way she had since she was a toddler. And, as always, he pretended to catch it and tuck it into his pocket.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the pastor droned, "I give you Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Sheridan."

All in attendance stood and applauded, including Lamont—though his heart wasn't in it. Because this was it. The end. Tonight, he'd go home to that big house, empty save the constant companionship of his ever-faithful mutt, Obnoxious.

You can watch the book trailer for An Accidental Family here.

Purchase at CBD



Purchase An Accidental Family at CBD.


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

Angie Briedenbach's Gems of Wisdom

Angela Breidenbach is Mrs. Montana International 2009, a multi-award winning inspirational speaker and the author of the Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life from Journey Press, the Creative Cooking Series including the new release of Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance (soon to be on Kindle and Nook) and Creative Cooking for Colitis on Kindle/Nook.

Other works by Angela include compilation books and devotionals from Guidepost, Group, and articles in magazines, ezines, and newspapers. She connects missions to her work with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministries and the Jadyn Fred Foundation.

Angela also teaches online classes and coaches one-on-one in courageous confidence, personal growth, and powerful living. She’s certified in mentor/peer counseling as a Stephen Minister and life coach. Angela serves as an assisting minister for her congregation in Missoula, MT. She volunteered as the American Christian Fiction Writer's publicity officer for two years. Not only did she walk the hard line of deciding to donate her mom's brain for the study of schizophrenia, but she’s also on the brain donation list at the Brain Bank-Harvard McLean Hospital.

Angela is married with a combined family of six grown children and two grand children. Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life releases May 2011 from Journey Press, a Sheaf House imprint. Angela is at home in the country or on stage in front of large audiences.

Angie's Life Verse is: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8: 26-27


Angie is a member of the Christian Speaker Services, ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), AWSA (Advanced Writers Speakers Association), and RWA (Romance Writers of America)

Interested in having Angela speak? Contact Christian Speaker Services 800.871.9012 x40250
www.Karen@ChristianSpeakerServices.com

You can find Angie online at:
www.AngelaBreidenbach.com
www.MyGemofWisdom.com
www.Youtube.com/AngieBreidenbach
www.GodUsesBrokenVessels.com
www.twitter.com/AngBreidenbach
www.TheFaithGirls.com on Wednesdays each week
www.facebook.com/AngelaBreidenbachInspirationalSpeakerAuthor
www.linkedin.com/in/angiebreidenbach
www.christianspeakersservices.com/angela-breidenbach-christian-speaker-author.html

Gems of Wisdom

In Gems of Wisdom: For A Treasure-Filled Life you'll embark on a treasure hunt for God's unique gems of wisdom. Be empowered, learn to influence through your own life lessons, and preserve important relationships. Gems of Wisdom invites the reader on a treasure hunt to find important life concepts represented by the beautiful stones God created. Excellent for Bible study and book clubs and now with the bonus companion guide included.

You will find a treasure trove of gems that will equip you to make sound decisions. There is no place for negativity. Embrace life and savor the words to come. -- Margaret Daley

Thoughtful, insightful, heart-touching. Leaves the reader blessed in God's faithfulness. Thank you for being brave enough to confront these battles head on, & for sharing your heart. -- Tracie Peterson, best-selling author of Embers of Love

Here's an excerpt of Gems of Wisdom:


Gem of Wisdom
Search for Wisdom as you would search for silver or hidden treasure.
—Proverbs 2: 4, CEV


From a Personal Place: Angie’s Story

I ran before I fell apart. Door after door in the sterile clinic kept me out. Out in the hall. Out in public where privacy became the mythical siren song before I fell apart. I needed seclusion, and I needed it now—before I fell apart.

The final door swung open onto an empty treatment room that smelled of medicinal alcohol. The heavy door closed behind me, only to have a nurse catch it. I turned to beg for a moment, just one moment. But there’d be no moment. She entered wielding compassion.

I backed away from the sweetness of her weapon.

She advanced. And touched me.

I slid down the white paint and hit the cold tiles.

“Are you okay?” Her voice echoed from somewhere above me, tinny and distant.

Misery, at this moment, did not want company.

Eva, mother of two, my mom, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at twenty-three, around my second birthday. I never had that close mother/daughter relationship—and now I never would. I had to accept that no miracle medicine would give me the mother I’d craved my entire life.

I could not restore my mother’s health or sanity. No doctor, no drug, nothing would make it all better. Nothing would change anything. Hope, the stuff of fairy tales, exploded. I reeled from the power.

Resigned, I rested my head against the wall. I could almost see the iridescent glitter of fine dust settled all around me. I closed my eyes.

What was left?


***

I still shiver when I think about that time, that emotional void. It was very dark down in that hole.

How was I supposed to see in the suffocating dark? Were valuable gems waiting to be discovered?

How dark is the place where you are right now? Have your hopes come face to face with reality? Are you lost in the dark looking for a way out? Let’s strike a match and light the space right here.

I invite you on a treasure hunt, an adventure that reveals not only hidden treasures, but also the pirates who try to steal it. An adventure that will give you tools to uncover the gems of wisdom that make this journey rewarding. This book is your treasure map. The stories and concepts in these pages will help you to delve inside and find your own gems of wisdom to fill up your treasure chest. The Companion Guide at the back of the book provides space to write your answers to the questions in the first part of the book. Helpful features include the following.

Pique Points: thought-provoking questions.

Ponder Points: tidbits to entice an open mind.

Personal Places: tender and true stories from the hearts of volunteers, shared to help others.

Pirates: creative fiction portrayals of cutthroat negative attitudes, situations, and feelings that get in the way of healthy living (based on real historical pirates.)

Putting It All Together: tying all the loose ends together in each chapter so it’s easy to understand and easy to put into practice.

Polishing Point: real-life options to solve real-life dilemmas and suggestions on how to put them into practice.

Gemstones: gems of wisdom awarded as new concepts learned along the treasure hunt route.

Definitions: a little more perspective on some words and ideas sprinkled throughout the book.

Tips: tried and true gem chips that have worked for others.

The Gems of Wisdom Companion Guide at the end of the book with space to record your answers to the questions included in each chapter.

Your captain and crew stand ready to help you navigate the changes ahead until you can pilot your own vessel. Come fill your treasure chest. Battle your pirates and win the gems of wisdom. You can win. You must win!

Ahoy there, matey. Welcome aboard!

Purchase at CBD



Purchase Gems of Wisdom at CBD.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

with Hartline's heart, Joyce Hart

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.



It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy!

Joyce Hart has been a literary agent since 1992. She was formerly the vice president of marketing of an inspirational publishing company and as the president of Hartline Marketing has nearly thirty three years of successful experience marketing and promoting books. Joyce has been a pioneer in selling high quality fiction to the inspirational market and has built an excellent rapport with leading inspirational publishers. A member of ACFW, and the National Association of Professional Women, Joyce is a graduate of Open Bible College, Des Moines, IA now merged with Eugene Bible College in Eugene, Oregon. Joyce is based at Hartline Literary's Pittsburgh headquarters.

Follow the From the Heart blog here.


Welcome to The Book Loft, Joyce. It's an honor having you.
How did your past prepare you for what you currently do?
I worked for Whitaker House Publishing for 11 years. I started as a secretary and eventually became the Vice President of Marketing. I did many jobs while I worked there, both in sales and in editorial.


Do you have a certain genre or even writing style you like to represent or a sweet spot in the industry that you find yourself returning to?
It seems like romance, romantic suspense, and historical are what I sell the most of. I have always loved fiction and I seem to gravitate to good stories.

What is it in a story that catches your attention?
Usually if I fall in love with the characters, that’s what draws me in. I like unusual settings, but that’s not a main consideration

Are there things you do NOT want to see? How about things you're looking for?
I’m not an expert on fantasy or science fiction. I’ll leave that to the younger generations.
I’m looking for well-written fiction, for non-fiction written by well-known authors.


What's your least favorite and most favorite part of being an agent?
I love working with our clients. It’s exciting to help a first time author sell their first book and it’s exciting to help a well-published author get a really good contract with a publisher that they want to write for.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. What do you see as one of your strengths as an agent?
It would have to be my long term relationships with the editors and publishing houses and my 30 plus years of experience in the industry.


Tell us about the process of how you choose authors to represent.
If their writing or subject matter grabs my interest and I find myself wanting to read more, I will usually contact that author and we take it from there.

Do you have some words for unagented writers? Pointers, tips, encouragement—anything that might help them along their way or make them more appealing to agents.
Attend writers conferences, learn how to prepare a really good proposal, network with other authors. If you are writing nonfiction, develop a strong platform. But most of all- never give up!

Joyce, what led you to start Hartline Literary Agency?
I worked 11 years for a Christian Publisher, then in 1990 started Hartline Marketing and was a Publishers Rep. I began to receive manuscripts from authors, hoping I might help them get published. I became an agent and sold my first title in 1992. That author continues to be one of my bestselling authors and is a very dear friend.

Thank you for being with us today, Joyce, and for your encouragement to never give up.

You can purchase A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication here.

To be entered in the book drawing for A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication, leave a comment on any and all of the Spot on PEAs posts this week. Winner will be announced on June 15th.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.





with Lena Nelson Dooley



It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy
Which of your books has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
When people ask me things like that, I always say the book I’m working on right now is my favorite. I haven’t written a book I didn’t like. And I love the characters God gives me to write about.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
In Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, I loved all the characters, but since Jeremiah was the one who had the most spiritual growth, I found him very interesting.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My husband used to be a truck driver. About 25 years ago, he was gone for a couple of days. At that time, I used a pressure cooker fairly often. I had cooked Swiss steak for the family dinner. After the pressure went down, I couldn’t get the pan open. After trying for quite a while, I called the police station and asked if a policeman could come by the house and open my pressure saucepan. They sent one out right away, and my family had dinner that night.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
My perfect day would be spent doing what God had planned for me that day. So I have a lot of perfect days. My husband is usually a large part of that day. Often my children or grandchildren are involved.

I really like to travel, so when we’re traveling, I’m very happy. And when I get to spend time with other authors, it’s a real plus.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have very eclectic reading tastes—historical, contemporary, romance, suspense, some speculative fiction. However, I’m not really interested in reading horror or dark spirits.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Chocolate, especially dark. Or M&Ms.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I write about redemption, trusting God, forgiveness. Things like that

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
To completely trust Him for everything in my life. This is an ongoing lesson.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I just signed a contract for a 3-book historical series set in 1885 about triplets born on the last wagon train west that were separated at birth.

Thank you for being with us, Lena! It's been a pleasure--and I'm loving your book! :-)
Purchase at CBD


Purchase Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico at CBD.

Lena is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

with Hartline Agent Diana Flegal

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.



It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy!

Diana Flegal lives in Pittsburgh, Pa where she works as Editorial Assistant to Joyce Hart and is one of Hartline's agents. Diana is seeking to add both established and promising authors to her list of clients. Hartline Literary Agency represents fiction and non-fiction books to leading mainline and inspirational publishers. Diana represents fiction of all genres, but is not interested in titles that would conflict with the Christian Worldview. In fiction, she is currently looking for Women’s fiction and formula romance titles. She will entertain YA Fantasy titles, but only if they are of outstanding quality. Non-fiction titles written by authors with well established platforms are always considered.

Welcome to the Book Loft,Diana! It's so good to have you with us today.
Tell us, what led you to Hartline Literary?
Joyce Hart and I attend the same book club. When she mentioned her office assistant was leaving (having a baby) I decided to ask her if I could apply for the vacancy. I did and I have been her Editorial Assistant coming up on 6 years and have been agenting since middle of 2007.

How did your past prepare you for what you currently do?
I am a voracious reader and have supported the publishing industry financially for many years by purchasing books to read and give as gifts to others. When I was small, hidden under the covers late into the night reading a book with a flashlight, my father would bellow- “Put that book away and get to sleep! You have to get up for school tomorrow”. I just knew some day I was going to be surrounded by books and read far into the night as often as I could. Well, I am now surrounded by books and do read late into the night the manuscripts of my authors. A dream come true. I might not have a journalism degree but I can recognize good writing when I see it thanks to years of voracious reading. I am an encourager by nature and further developed my people skills on the mission field (Haiti) and have been able to put them to good use in this present job.

Do you have a certain genre or even writing style you like to represent or a sweet spot in the industry that you find yourself returning to?
I love a strong woman’s fiction title and lean toward nonfiction in my personal reading, but a well written romance, literary piece or fantasy can capture me as well. Strong writing gets me every time.

What is it in a story that catches your attention?
Strong characters facing realistic adversity and coming out on top.

Are there things you do NOT want to see? How about things you're looking for?
I am full up on Sci Fi, Bible Studies and devotionals. I stay away from Childrens books unless one of the authors I represent has one to offer.

I am looking for formulaic romance and womens fiction as well as a well written suspense. I also like to see unique Christian Living titles.

What's your least favorite and most favorite part of being an agent?
I dislike rejections and not finding a publisher for a title that I strongly believe is a worthy read.
My favorite part is getting to hang out with such creative and gifted individuals, authors and editors alike. And I love seeing a contract offer pop up in my email box, being able to pick up the phone and inform an author we have a potential sale.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. What do you see as one of your strengths as an agent?
I hang in there even when others might quit or give up on an author. If I believe in an author I will continue to look for open doors.

Tell us about the process of how you choose authors to represent.
First I must like their writing voice. Each agent has their own individual taste. For nonfiction, it helps me when I can be passionate about the subject matter, but even then, they must have an aggressive platform and be already networking re: FB, website and blog, and Twitter. In the case of fiction, the story must draw me in and be difficult to put down as well as maintain solid pacing. The authors I represent all write in a way that drew my interest one way or the other. I tend to collect out of the box titles. Not the general norm. Unfortunately, most of those types do not fit into any given Genre, so I have had to learn to be more discrete in what I now acquire, choosing more ‘normal’ gifted authors, titles I have a great chance of selling.

Do you have some words for unagented writers? Pointers, tips, encouragement—anything that might help them along their way or make them more appealing to agents.
One of the first things I do if I have some interest in an author’s submission is to ‘Google’ them. I want to see if they have an online presence. A non-fiction writer must develop a platform, have already set up a website, be blogging about their subject and be networking through Facebook and Twitter. They should garner speaking engagements, etc. all BEFORE approaching an agent. Too often a very well written and timely title is shot down solely because of the authors’ lack of platform. With the economy in its present state, the publisher needs to feel the author is invested in promoting their title in a way that can minimize their financial risk. If the author is not comfortable with speaking they should consider joining organizations like C.L.A.S.S..

Diana, as a missionary kid, missions is near-and-dear to my heart. How did missions influence your life?
Growing up, our small church had a constant flow of guest missionaries from all spots of globe. I was fascinated by God’s creative diversity in the different people groups. This eclectic mix gave me an appreciation for all genres of writing. I like ‘out of the box’ books, written in unique voices, and gravitate to things outside the ‘norm’ but that remain biblically sound.



You can purchase A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication here.

To be entered in the book drawing for A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication, leave a comment on any and all of the Spot on PEAs posts this week. Winner will be announced on June 15th.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.



Lena Nelson Dooley's LFY in Golden, NM



It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy
Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 650,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers http://www.acfw.com/ and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

Her latest release is Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside Press. Lena is currently under two 3-book contracts with Charisma House/Strang/Realms. Her McKenna’s Daughters series contains Maggie’s Journey–which releases October 2011, Mary’s Blessing–May 2012, and Catherine’s Pursuit–January 2013. Her Restored Heart series releases in October 2013, May 2014, and January 2015.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally.

Lena has an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books. You can check out her books and find out more about her on her blog by clicking the tabs across the top.

You can find Lena online at:
Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com
Her Official Fan Page
Twitter
http://justthewritecharisma.blogspot.com/
http://www.bustlesandspurs.com/


Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

All that glitters is not gold.

It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah. Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeline Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her reputation beyond redemption.

Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, received 4 stars from Romantic Times Magazine.




Here's an excerpt of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico:

Early spring, 1890

Golden, New Mexico

“Are you plumb crazy?” Jeremiah Dennison’s loud retort bounced around the main room of the adobe house and returned to mock him. “Where did you get such a harebrained idea?”

Trying to control his anger, he shoved his clenched fists into his denim trousers’ pockets, paced to the window, and stared out, paying scant attention to the piƱon trees bending in the wind. He loved Philip Smith like a father, but the man could vex the weather. And this latest idea was the most farfetched yet.

Philip gave a snort. “Harebrained?” He put his rocking chair into motion that sent out a rhythmic squeaking. “Why’d ya say that? It’s worked fer other men.”

Jeremiah tried to calm down. He wanted to measure his words, season them with wisdom that would awaken his elderly friend to all the pitfalls he would face. “What would you do with a mail-order bride?”

The old miner stilled the chair and stared at Jeremiah, obsidian eyes piercing under his bushy white brows. “Somethin’ ”—he smothered a hacking cough with his fist, then swiped a clean handkerchief across his face—“has a deadly grip on me.”

“I know you’re sick. I take care of you, don’t I?” Jeremiah resented the fact that what he’d done wasn’t enough. Otherwise, Philip wouldn’t even consider such a preposterous proposition.

His old friend reached up to scratch the scraggly beard he’d worn all the years he was a miner, but it no longer covered his clean-shaven chin. Old habits died hard. “Jerry, I don’t wanna be a burden on ya.”

“You’d rather be a burden to a woman you don’t even know?” Jeremiah regretted his cynical tone the moment the words flew from his lips. He softened his tone. “I’ve never considered you a burden any more than you thought I was a burden when I came to the gold fields as a greenhorn.”

Philip clutched the arms of the rocking chair and slowly rose. He took a moment to steady himself before he ambled toward Jeremiah. “I ain’t come to this decision easy.” He squinted up into Jeremiah’s face. “I done studied on it fer a while.”

Jeremiah straightened the fingers he’d gripped into fists and relaxed his stiff spine. “What do you mean, ‘studied’?”
“Well, I figure a woman who’d answer them ads in the newspaper must be purty needy, maybe even desperate to get out of a particular bad situation.” He gave a vigorous nod that riffled his snowy hair. “Made me a fortune when I sold my mine. More money than any man can spend in his lifetime. What good is a fortune to an old-timer like me? Won’t never have a family of my own. Maybe I’ll git me a woman with children. She can take care a me, and my money can take care a her.” Another nod punctuated his last statement. “And her young’uns, if she has any.”

How could Jeremiah deny his mentor’s request? Philip never asked for much. If he didn’t do this, the stubborn old man would look for help from someone else. A lesser friend might have a wagging tongue and spread the story all around Golden. Philip didn’t need people gossiping about him sending for a bride. And other miners might try to nab her for themselves when she arrived. If Jeremiah had his way, it would be fine with him if they did, but his friend would be too disappointed. He didn’t want to break Philip’s heart, just talk him out of making this mistake.

“Jerry, ya ain’t mad ’cause I’m plannin’ to give my money to someone else, are ya?”

The words stabbed Jeremiah’s heart. How could Philip believe that about him? “I don’t need your money. I have more than enough of my own, thanks to selling my own mine and starting the ranch like you told me to.”

The hoary head nodded. “That’s what I figured.”

“Where you going to send the ad?” Jeremiah couldn’t believe he was considering being a part of this crazy scheme. But what else could he do?

Philip limped toward the sturdy pine dining table where a stack of newspapers was piled haphazardly beside blank paper, an inkwell, and a pen. “I read all these, and I think I’ll send it to the Boston Globe.” He picked up the top newspaper and shoved the rumpled pages toward Jeremiah.

Taking the newsprint, Jeremiah glanced at the headlines on the front page. An unusually hard winter had left many people out in the cold. “Why Boston?”

“Don’t want jist anybody. Wanna help a lady in distress.” Philip folded his scrawny arms across his bony chest. “Figure most a the women in Boston are ladies. My aunt Charlotte come from Boston, and she was a lady.” He stopped and cleared his throat, then wheezed out a slow breath. “You do the writin’, ’cause mine looks like hen scratchin’.”

Judging from the stubborn tilt to the older man’s chin, Jeremiah knew Philip’s mind was made up. He dropped the newspaper back on the stack and pulled out the chair beside the stationery. “What do you want to say?”

He picked up the pen with the golden nib—another of the things the old miner had bought after he’d sold the mine. It had never been dipped into the inkwell until now.

Philip leaned both hands on the table, puffed out his chest, and wrinkled his forehead in concentration. “How about, Wanted, a… No. Makes it sound like she’s an outlaw, or somethin’. Do it this way. A Christian man in Golden, New Mexico, is seekin’…” He waited for Jeremiah to finish writing the phrase. “Sound all right so far?”

Wanting to laugh, Jeremiah kept his eyes trained on the words before him. Philip was so serious. “What are you seeking?”

The old miner scratched his head. “I want a lady. Done already told ya that.”

“Maybe we could say, a Christian lady. That should cover it.”

Jeremiah dipped the pen in the inkwell. When he held it poised over the paper, waiting for Philip to agree with his suggestion, a small drop fell and quickly spread into an unsightly blob. “I’ve messed up this sheet. Do you have a pencil? I could use it while we figure out the wording. Then I’ll copy it in ink.”

Philip made his way to the sideboard against the back wall of the large open room and pulled out a drawer. He shuffled through the contents before holding up the stub of a pencil. “Here’s the onliest one I got.”

“It’ll do.” Jeremiah reached for the pencil and continued, “A Christian man in Golden, New Mexico, seeks a Christian lady…where do we go now?”

O nce again, Philip was deep in thought. “…who needs a chance at a new life.”

Jeremiah nodded and added the words. “I like it. Do you want to say anything else, or should I just put your name and address?”

“That’s enough, but put General Delivery as my address.” A smile crept across the older man’s face, bringing a twinkle to his rheumy eyes.

He returned to his rocking chair while Jeremiah copied the words with ink, folded the message, inserted the paper in an envelope, and wrote the address for the Boston Globe on the front.

“I suppose you want me to take this to the post office.” He knew Philip didn’t get out much in the chilly spring air of the Ortiz Mountains, because it aggravated his breathing problem.

“If ya don’t mind.” Philip reached into the watch pocket of his trousers and pulled out a coin. “Here’s the money.”

“I don’t need your money.” Jeremiah headed toward the front door. “I just hope you aren’t making a mistake.”

Philip cleared his throat. “Jerry?” Huskiness colored his tone. “I’m thankful fer all ya do to help me.” He paused until Jeremiah gave him a nod. “I’ve talked to the good Lord about this. I’m sure He agrees with what I’m doin’.”

What could Jeremiah say to that? Nothing. He couldn’t explain why, but when Philip Smith talked to his Lord, things happened. Jeremiah pushed his hair back before donning his Stetson and exiting through the front door, being careful it latched behind him. He didn’t want Philip to have to get up and close it again if it should blow open after he was gone. Let him rest in his rocking chair. After all his long years of mining, he’d earned it.

Marching down the cobblestone street toward the post office, Jeremiah hoped he wouldn’t meet anyone who wanted to talk. The sooner he got this letter mailed, the sooner he could wash his hands of the whole situation. Maybe no one would answer the ad. Or maybe he could just tear the whole thing up and not tell Philip he didn’t mail it.

If he wasn’t honorable, he could get away with that. But he couldn’t lie to the man who meant more to him than anyone in the world. Wouldn’t be right. He’d make sure to look over any letters Philip received. He wouldn’t let some floozy use his friend as her meal ticket and think coming here was her golden opportunity—in more ways than one. No sirree, he’d watch anyone who came with an eagle eye. She would have to pass his inspection before he’d introduce her to Philip. Even if his old friend did say he’d talked to God about it.

As Jeremiah walked into town, he fastened the top button on his long-sleeved shirt. The day would heat up later, but spring brought cool breezes in the early morning. When he passed the hotel, Caroline Oldman stepped through the door and started sweeping the boardwalk.

“Morning, Caroline.” He tipped his hat to the proprietress, who was also the wife of the preacher. They’d been good friends to Jeremiah since they arrived in Golden. Their influence had calmed the rowdy town a lot.

He kept walking toward the post office. Would Philip hear from a woman before summer? Jeremiah hoped the old miner wouldn’t receive a single answer to his ad.

Jeremiah thought back to when he came from Missouri to New Mexico searching for gold. Philip was the first miner he’d met. Thin and wiry, the old man’s face was almost hidden behind his long beard and thin gray hair that reached to his shoulders, but he had a heart of gold. He’d befriended Jeremiah and helped him learn all about mining. He was even there when Jeremiah’s partner was killed in a cave-in at the mine they owned together.

Philip had listened to all of Jeremiah’s rantings and guided him toward becoming a cattleman. He knew Philip prayed for him all the time. But Jeremiah couldn’t accept all that God nonsense himself. Where had God been when train robbers killed his mother and he was left in the clutches of his cruel uncle and father? With a shudder, he shook his head to dislodge the images invading his thoughts. The less he thought about the past, the better. Too much pain and suffering there.

He was sure Philip had prayed about sending this letter, but Jeremiah wasn’t convinced there was a God. And if there was, why would He care whether some greedy woman came to fleece the old miner?

No, Jeremiah would guarantee that didn’t happen.

On a personal note--I'm reading this book right and I can tell you the exact moment I was hooked into the book. Here it is: “Are you plumb crazy?” Jeremiah Dennison’s loud retort bounced around the main room of the adobe house and returned to mock him. “Where did you get such a harebrained idea?”

Yup. The very first sentence hook me and the rest of the short paragraph set the hook good. Esther is dying to read it--good thing I had dibs on it! LoL (This is serious business here at my house!!)

I'm totally loving Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico!

Purchase at CBD


Purchase Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico at CBD.

Lena is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

with Hartline Agent Terry Burns

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.



It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy!

Welcome to The Book Loft, Terry! It's an honor to have you with us.
What led you to Hartline Literary?

I was a client of Joyce’s for several years but had a tendency to make contacts and initiate deals myself plus help a number of my friends publish. That led Joyce to decide to try me in the agent role.

How did your past prepare you for what you currently do?
I was a chamber of commerce executive for nearly 30 years, helping business people develop their businesses and make deals. I discovered that being an agent was practically the same process.

Do you have a certain genre or even writing style you like to represent or a sweet spot in the industry that you find yourself returning to?
For me it’s about the story and the quality of the writing, a book I just can’t put down. A unique story in a unique voice. But even then it needs to have a clear market that I can see and feel like I have the right contacts to get it into that market.

What is it in a story that catches your attention?
I want a story to make me feel something, sad, happy, laugh, cry, genuine emotion.

Are there things you do NOT want to see? How about things you're looking for?
I don’t handle profanity or graphic sex or violence. I know that stuff sells but I don’t have to be part of putting more of it out there.

What's your least favorite and most favorite part of being an agent?
Most favorite is helping launch new authors. Least favorite is having to tell so many people that I just can’t help them. But I know going in that I can only take a small percentage of what is being sent to me, most of them good books, and it is all about looking for those exceptional books that stand out from all of the other good books I get to see.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. What do you see as one of your strengths as an agent?
I came from the writing side of the equation as opposed to the publishing side. I probably communicate more with my clients than many other agents do. It also gives me a heart for trying to launch new authors and I am usually listed up at the top of the list of agents getting debut books in print.

Tell us about the process of how you choose authors to represent.
I work a little different than a lot of other agents, even in my own agency as I use a group of editorial assistants to work up projects and make recommendations. I go through first and respond to those that are clearly not a fit, but like other opinions on those I am considering. By the time I get a recommendation it also includes places we might take the project or if there don’t seem to be any places we could go with it in our database. It helps me work more submissions more effectively.

Do you have some words for unagented writers?
Patience may be as important as skill in becoming a good writer. Too many people have unrealistic expectations and get discouraged before they have time to develop as a writer.

What is one question you wish someone would ask you and your answer to it?
"You said it takes an exceptional book to stand out from other books, what makes a book exceptional?" My answer would be that we often do a good job writing a story, then we do a good job of editing that story or getting it edited and we think we are through. That process is what produces a good book. Exceptional comes when we take the third step and DIRECT the book like a movie director insuring that the reader is forced off the first page, hooked into the story by page ten, pushed from chapter to chapter. We insure the rise and fall of the story is there as it should be without dead spots. In other words, once we have the story we must turn out attention to pacing and flow. In my opinion that is the major difference between a good story and an exceptional story.

Terry, word is that your hat is magic. It's not a typical magician's hat, so what's magical about it? How has it played into what you do now?

People do not know that I am a leprechaun (we grow them bigger in Texas), and yes, the hat is magic. Actually I am rather shy and though I live in cattle country and like to dress western I do take it up a notch when I am “getting into character” to do my job. I have become identified with it now to the point where people ask about it if they come into a room and I don’t have it on.

I've learned much from you, Terry. Thank you for being with us this week and for offering A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication as a giveaway.
You can purchase A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication here.

To be entered in the book drawing for A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication, leave a comment on any and all of the Spot on PEAs posts this week. Winner will be announced on June 15th.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.


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