Monday, June 27, 2011

Delia Latham's Kylie's Kiss

Born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham moved from California to Oklahoma in 2008, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her simple country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. The author enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She loves to hear from her readers. You may contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Kylie's Kiss

On a dare, Kylie Matthews lands smack in the middle of Solomon’s Gate—Castle Creek’s new Christian dating agency—and she finds herself revealing exactly what she’s waiting for in a relationship: “The kiss that steals my breath away.”

What she doesn’t reveal is her lack of self-esteem or her irrational reaction to facial disfigurement. Neither is applicable to her quest to find the perfect match. But that seemingly superficial malady becomes all-important when her first agency-arranged date is Rick Dale—a man who is everything Kylie is searching for. He’s handsome, smart, fun. Rick has it all…including an angelic six-year-old daughter with severe scarring on one side of her face.

Hard at work founding a therapy camp for young female victims of deformity or disfigurement, Rick wants Kylie to be a part of those plans. She’d love to say yes…but how can she, when every contact with the facility’s guests—and Rick’s own daughter—will make her violently ill?

Kylie is ready to admit their relationship doesn’t stand a chance, but she’s forgotten that God makes a way where there seems no way.





Here's an excerpt of Kylie's Kiss:

Rick settled into a seat across from Kylie and Clay and sat in silence for a moment, a slight frown drawing his dark brows together. Finally he looked up, first at Clay, then in her direction. “Kylie, I haven’t had a chance to share with you about Lea, though I believe Clay knows a little.”

Her heart sank and her gaze flew to her boss, who nodded. Yes, he knew about Lea, whoever she was. This didn’t sound good. “Who’s Lea?”

“She’s my little girl.” Kylie drew in a slow, deliberate breath, forcing herself to stay calm. So he had a daughter. As long as a wife wasn’t the next announcement, she could handle that.

“You have a child. How old is she?”

“She just turned six.” Rick’s expression softened as he spoke, and Kylie knew without a doubt that Lea was his life. His green eyes, startling against the olive of his skin, met hers without flinching. “She’s a special child, Kylie. Smart, beautiful, charming….” Kylie found herself fascinated by the adorable little self-derisive grin that played about his lips. “And sweet as cotton candy.”

Kylie couldn’t help smiling. “You don’t like her much, huh?”

“She is my heart and soul.” A little sheepish, but unrepentant.

“When do we get to meet this perfect child?” Clay’s grin lit up his craggy face. “Destiny’s already looking forward to it, but be warned—she’s going to try to keep her. My wife has a thing with kids, man. She loves ’em, and they always love her right back.”

Rick laughed a little, but his tone was serious. “I hope she still feels that way after she meets Lea.” He pulled a wallet from his pocket, then sat for a moment, saying nothing.

Puzzled, Kylie watched him run slender fingers through his thick black hair. Again and again he invaded the thick waves, managing to somehow leave them only slightly mussed. Finally he opened the billfold and pulled out a photo.

When he raised his head, revealing the torment in his eyes, her heart nearly stopped. What was wrong with Lea? Whatever it was, did Rick think it would make a difference in how she or Clay might feel about the child? If so, he certainly didn’t give them much credit.

“This is Lea.” He handed the photo to Clay, who smiled and passed it on to Kylie.

“She’s a cutie all right, my friend. You weren’t exaggerating. So what’s the problem?”

Kylie wondered the same thing. The photo showed a partial silhouette of an extraordinarily beautiful child. Unlike her olive-skinned father, Lea was a vision of light. Golden hair, porcelain skin, eyes the color of a robin’s egg. Kylie met Rick’s gaze, mystified by his obvious unease. “She’s lovely.”

“Thank you. I think so.” He pulled out another photo and handed it to Clay. “In spite of this.”

Kylie’s stomach clenched and threatened to revolt. Her boss’s flinch was slight, but unmistakable. Oh, dear God, please help me handle whatever this is with grace. How ironic that her first real prayer in years would be one of such a pitifully begging nature. Somehow she knew her reaction to this photo could mean life or death for her relationship with Rick. How strange that she’d be thinking in terms of a relationship now, when only moments before she’d been ready to concede defeat.

Clay nodded slowly, then met Kylie’s eyes. He held briefly to the picture even after her fingers closed on it. His words were directed to his friend, but his gaze held hers. “You’re right, my friend. Nothing could make this child anything less than perfect.”

He released the photo into Kylie’s grip. By now she did not want to look at it. Something in Rick’s eyes and Clay’s voice told her she could be in trouble. But what choice did she have?

Her eyes moved in slow, jerking movements from Clay’s face to the photo in her hands. She gasped, overwhelmed with sympathy—and total panic.

Another silhouette, shot from the opposite side of Lea’s face. Long, lumpy red welts stained her exquisite skin, puckering her cheek into an inhuman mask. Kylie had no idea she was crying until the tears tickled her face, even as her throat closed and her stomach lurched.

The photo fluttered to the floor as she leaped to her feet. Sending the two men a desperately apologetic look, she flew out of the room with a hand over her mouth.


You can purchase Kylie's Kiss from Amazon.

Important note: This is not our usual book giveaway!! This is giveaway is combined with other sites for Delia's birthday blog blitz.

Delia is giving away FOUR pdf copies of Solomon's Gate books to FOUR readers who leave comments at any or all of the various blogs June 27 through June 30--NOT just to commenters here at the Book Loft. Winners may choose either Destiny's Dream (Book One) or Kylie's Kiss (Book Two). Delia will announce the winner on July 1st.

For those who comment today, June 27th only, Delia will draw a winner for a special gift. The first-prize winner of the oil bottle necklace will be chosen from comments left on June 27th ONLY. You can go to other sites and enter there too! For a list of sites involved, go to Delia's page about her blog blitz.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

with Patty Smith Hall

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

I’ve always been a writer—in elementary school, I was big into writing poetry and actually had several of my poems published. I also wrote for my high school and college newspapers. But then life took over and I had to put writing on the back burner.
In the late ‘90s, my mother was the primary caregiver of my grandparents and needed something as a stress release so I encouraged her to read. Before I knew it, she had read through EVERYTHING she could get her hands on. So I decided that I would write her stories just for fun. Thing is that story turned into a 300 page book! A few years later, I felt the calling to write for Jesus and have been writing ever since.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Housework! I can just look around my house and find something that needs to be done. Which is why I have an office I go to every day to write.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I’m a huge reader of historical fiction. When I first started working with my agent, the wonderful Tamela Hancock Murray, she asked me what genre made up the majority of my personal library –and I had to tell her that about 85% of my books were historical. But I do read women’s fiction and contemporary romance but only occasionally. Some of my favorite historical books are Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes; any book by Mary Connelly; and Sarah Sundin’s WWII series.


Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I would have to say my hero, Captain Wesley Hicks. I understood my heroine—she’s smart, strong-willed and very determined. But Wesley was dealing with a situation that was very unusual for that time and I wanted to make sure that he came across in a very realistic way. Once I got to know him, I knew why Maggie(my heroine) could fall for him.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Country! Goodness Gracious, if you ever heard me talk, you would know there is no hiding my southern accent! It’s thick as gravy!

What is your strangest habit?
I LOVE crushed ice to the point I will drive out of my way to get to a RaceTrac or Quik Trip so that I can get a cup full. And my husband knows the fastest way to my heart is to bring me a large cup of crushed ice home on Friday night!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Ironing, most definitely. And calling up our health insurance company to fight a claim—but then they dread hearing from me too.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I would have to say crockpot roast with baby carrots and potatoes, fresh green beans from the garden, fried okra, rolls and my mom’s German Chocolate cake.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I kind of see which way God is leading me once I get into the story. With Hearts in Flight, I asked the question, ‘If our earthly parents have dreams for their children, what kind of dreams do our Heavenly Father have for us?’ My next book revolves around the reality of loving the sinner while hating the sin.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Romans 8:28 “And we all know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
This verse is special to me because it is one that my best friend, Donna and I chose to be our life verse when we both rededicated our lives to the Lord the summer before ninth grade. I would have never guessed how much this verse would comfort me over the years, particularly after Donna was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 34. This verse reminded me that even in that moment, God was at work, using Donna’s death in ways that I would never understand.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I’m working on the second book in my WWII series. It picks up with some of the same characters that are in this first book and revolves around a male cousin of my heroine in Hearts and a young woman running from a shamefully secret. I love to inject interesting bits of history that isn’t commonly known into my stories, and what I researched for this book even blew me away!

Purchase at CBD



Purchase Hearts in Flight at CBD.


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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Patty Smith Hall's Hearts in Flight

A romantic at heart, Patty Smith Hall is an award winning, multi-published author. Her stories of encouragement and hope can be found in Guideposts, Journey and Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul.

Her Genesis award winning manuscript, Hearts in Flight, will be released by Love Inspired Historical in July, 2011. Patty resides in Georgia along with Dan, her husband of 28 years.

You can find Patty online at www.pattysmithhall.com.

Hearts in Flight

Serving her country as one of the Women's Army Special Pilots is Maggie Daniels's dearest wish. But there are obstacles to overcome above and beyond the enemies in the Pacific, including her overprotective family, skeptical fellow pilots—and handsome, distant squadron leader Wesley Hicks. Whatever it takes, Maggie will prove herself to Wesley, until she succeeds in winning his admiration…and love.

Wesley can see that Maggie's a first-class pilot. She's also too fearless by half. The war has cost Wesley so much already. Can he let go of his guilt for a chance at happiness—and can he learn to trust in God…and Maggie…enough to believe in love for a lifetime?

Here's an excerpt of Hearts in Flight:

Georgia 1943

"You'll never catch a husband if you keep messing with that plane."


Maggie Daniels bumped her head against the instrument panel, the memory of her mother's words at the breakfast table faintly ringing in her ears. She leaned against the weathered pilot's seat, her fingers lifting to the knot forming at her hairline. Well, someone had to get her plane, Old Blue, up and running or Daniels's Crop Dusting would be permanently grounded.

"Ms. Daniels?"

The deep timbre of a man's voice rumbled against the worn-pine hangar like her two-seater right before takeoff. Hidden from the intruder's view, Maggie peeked over the cockpit. Less than a wingspan away, an unfamiliar man stood with his back to her. A field of khaki cotton stretched across his broad back, his olive suit coat flung over his shoulder like a kite's tail.

What's a flyboy doing in my hangar?

"There's no telling where the woman is at." The plane shifted slightly as he leaned against its nose. "I've got other things to do than stand around here."

Heat crept up Maggie's neck and into her cheeks. Why was it that men, at least the ones she knew, didn't seem to have a patient bone in their bodies? Always assuming that a girl was more interested in what she put on her head rather than what she put in it? She poked a stray curl into the wool binding of her snood. Well, this war had changed all that, and if she could put her two cents in, she would say it's about time.

She grabbed the leather handrail and pulled herself upright. "Lookin' for me, mister?"

The man turned. Steel-blue eyes stared over darkened lenses, sending her midsection into a tailspin. Taking a deep breath, Maggie climbed out of the cockpit and shimmied off the wing.

"So, you're my new pilot?"

The question irked her. "That depends." Maggie leaned back against Old Blue. "Who are you?"

The man stepped closer and extended his hand. "Captain Wesley Hicks."

First rule of war—trust no one. Maggie stared at his outstretched hand. "Could I see some ID, please?"

He reached into his jacket, his mouth a grim line as he pulled out a worn leather wallet. He extracted a blue card and handed it to her.

Maggie skimmed over the typewritten information before settling on the black-and-white photo. The grainy photograph couldn't blur the determined set of the man's jaw or the sharp intelligence lighting his eyes. Something told her she'd have to watch out for this one. She handed it back to him. "So what brings you all the way out here, Captain Hicks?"

He pocketed his wallet. "Major Evans thought it would be a good idea if I met you before you continue your training on the B-29."

"No disrespect, but I'm home on family business." She patted the run-down crop duster, the feel of warm metal beneath her fingertips more steady than her life had been in the last few months.

"My condolences on your uncle."

"Thank you." Maggie stared out the hangar door toward the house, a gold star hung proudly in the front window. It still didn't seem real that she would never see Jackson again, at least not this side of heaven. She gave the antiquated plane one last pat before dropping her hand to her side. Blue had been Jackson's responsibility before he'd joined the air force to fly bombing raids over occupied Europe.

"I have to be honest with you." The captain cleared his throat, jarring her away from her somber thoughts. "You're not quite what I expected."

The gruffness in his voice put Maggie on alert. "What exactly were you expecting, Captain?"

"When I was given the assignment to train Air Transport Command pilots for the B-29, I didn't know I'd have a woman in the ranks."

Maggie stretched to her full height and looked up. He towered over her like a hundred-year-old pine. She pressed her lips together. "Is that a problem, Captain?"

A muscle in his throat jerked as he glanced at her. "Not unless you make it one."

"Why would I?" She balled up her hands to keep from shaking her fist at him. "I'm only trying to serve my country the best way I know how, transporting planes to airfields all over the country so that able-bodied men can be assigned to squadrons on the front."

"I hope that's true, because we're not talking crop dusters here, Ace." Flinging his coat on the wing of the plane, the captain tugged at his tie as if it were a noose around his neck. "This is the big leagues."


Purchase at CBD



Purchase Hearts in Flight at CBD.


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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Winners!

I really haven't been hoarding the winners. They just slipped through the cracks in the craziness here. So, here's a MONTH's worth of winners... Winners, be SURE to contact me!

The winner of:
  • Henry McLaughlin's Journey to Riverbend is lgm52
  • Thomas Smith's Something Stirs is Charlotte Kay
  •  Lynette Eason's Threat of Exposure is Amy (arsmelser6)
  •  Lorna Seilstad's A Great Catch is Roanna
  •  Kaye Dacus' The Art of Romance is Pam K
  •  Valerie Massey Goree's Deceive Me Once is cjajsmommy
  •  Grace Bridges's Legendary Space Pilgrims is Anne Payne
  •  Penny Zeller's Kaydie is Linda Kish
  •  Niki Chillemi's Burning Hearts is Ann
  •  Eileen Rife's Chosen Ones is Sunny
  •  Lindi Peterson's Her Best Catch is Amy Holbrook
  •  Terry Burns' A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published  is Sunny
  •  Jill Williamson's From Darkness Won is Christine Lindsay
  •  Donna Fletcher Crow's A Very Private Grave is Amanda Stephan
  •  Lynette Eason's A Killer Among Us is Lisa Lickel
  •  Lena Nelson Dooley's LFY in Golden, NM  is Tracy Smith
  •  Angie Breidenbach's TITLE is Joanne Sher
  •  Loree Lough's An Accidental Family is splashes of joy
  •  Kim Watters's Home Sweet Home is MissKallie2000
  •  Raquel Byrnes's Purple Knot is Judy
  •  Marybeth Whalen's She Makes It Look Easy is Merry


Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me (Patty {at}BarnDoorBookLoft {dot}net) with your address so the author can send you a book.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day Two with K. Dawn Byrd

Welcome back, Dawn. Let's talk writing. What does your writing environment look like?


I must have total peace and quiet when I write, which means I have to get away from my husband and the golf channel. I absolutely love my netbook and have found that as long as it's in my hands, I can write anywhere including the dentist's office, doctor's office, etc.

Do you outline or are you a SOTP'er (Seat of the pants writer)? 

I don't exactly outline, but I do plot. A lot. I'll start with a story idea or a character rolling around in my mind and begin to jot down notes. I'll have a section on scenes. For example, with Mistaken Identity, a few were 1) first meeting, 2) first kiss, 3) first fight, 4) first date. You get the picture. I also fill out character worksheets in order to get to know my character's a little better. 


Book Trailer for MISTAKEN IDENTITY, by K. Dawn Byrd
 
What are you reading, now? 

I'm reading Jill Eileen Smith's Michal and absolutely loving it. The book has brought the Bible to life. A friend recommended I read Jill's Bathsheba next. She said that she'll never think the same about the Bible or Bathsheba again. I can't wait!

What was your favorite book as a child? 

My favorite picture book was MOP TOP (by Don Freeman). It's about a little boy who refuses to get his hair cut and when he hides in between some mops in a store, he's mistaken for one and a lady grabs him by his hair. When I learned to read a little better, I absolutely devoured Nancy Drew books (by Carolyn Keene). I must have read every one in the school library...twice. (Me, too. I loved Nancy Drew! Nothing like those yellow and black hardcovers--I'm old school:).

Thank you, Dawn for sharing your time and talent with us. The winner of this giveaway is sure to be blessed. So readers, don't forget to comment below for a chance to win an ebook copy of Dawn's, MISTAKEN IDENTITY, then hop over to yesterday's post to do the same for a second chance to win.

You can also connect with Dawn by checking out her blog work: www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com, lots of giveaways there, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook Christian Fiction Gathering group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444

Good luck, everyone.
 


New Hope Publishers--Catch the Vision

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery


At the CWG Writing for the Soul Conference in Denver this past February, Andrea Mullins always had a kind word or encouraging smile to offer anyone who happened her way. She radiates with the love of Christ and is committed to her mission. She longs to see believers make a positive difference.

New Hope Publishers is mission-minded. Their goal is to challenge readers to be the hands and feet of Christ, whether that means ministering to orphans or fighting against sex-trafficking. New Hope authors are ambassadors and inspirations--men and women living contagiously sold out for Christ.

"We are looking for authors whose message has kingdom value," Mullins says. This includes fiction and nonfiction titles. Speaking on the effectiveness of Christian fiction compared to nonfiction, Mullins says, "...I...believe they have equal impact potential. Fiction can involve the emotions in ways that nonfiction doesn’t always do. And fiction can confront us with information that challenges our assumptions and forces us to rethink our actions or position or values."

When listening to authors talk about future projects, Mrs. Mullins is as concerned with the author's faith-walk as she is with their writing. "I like hearing about an author’s journey," Mullins says, "their faith walk, so I can put their proposed book into context and have some understanding of who they are and where they are going with their ministry and their writing."

New Hope books have eternal value, are able to transform the culture and stimulate positive change, and are written by authors with a strong faith walk and a thriving ministry. It is no wonder, then, that this Christ-centered publishing house has experienced such success.

Visit New Hope Publishers to find out more about their books and their mission.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet Dr. Andrea Mullins, Publisher at New Hope Publishers

Guest post by Jennifer Slattery


Yesterday I introduced you to New Hope Publishers, a company passionate about Christ and spreading His redemptive message. They've coined the term "missional fiction," and today Dr. Andrea Mullins, Publisher at New Hope, visits with us to share New Hope's vision and what they seek to accomplish with their fiction line.

"Our mission is to encourage and equip believers to be actively involved in God’s mission," Mullins says. "Our mission is why we love what we do. We believe our authors and our books are making an impact for God’s kingdom concerns."

Authors and companies focused on expanding the kingdom have one thing in common--a commitment to effectiveness. Research and experience has demonstrated the power of story-telling. Great stories tap into the heart, challenge pre-conceived ideas, and saturate open-minds with truth. With their missional fiction, New Hope produces exceptional stories centered around eternal issues and concerns.

"Our fiction is like any good fiction—great stories of romance and intrique that will make a reader laugh and cry," Mullins says. "But our fiction is around important issues that Christians are addressing and must understand in today’s world. Our goal is that readers will not only be entertained by the stories, but will also be challenged to test their assumptions and even take action or get involved as a result of what they have read."

This was the model Jesus used. A great portion of the New Testament is made of parables--powerful, thought provoking stories designed to challenge assumptions and invoke action.

"Fiction can involve the emotions in ways that nonfiction doesn’t always do," Mullins says. "And fiction can confront us with information that challenges our assumptions and forces us to rethink our actions or position or values."

There recent release, People of the Book, opened countless eyes to the suffering many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face daily. It is the fourth in a four part series on the persecuted church.

"Readers have said they can’t quit thinking about it after they’ve read it," Mullins says. "The story is about a young Muslim woman who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who encounters Jesus in a dream. She discovers a chat room online where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. As we know, the decision she makes may bring the ultimate penalty."

Hearing the testimony of other Christians who lay everything, even their life, on the line for their faith, challenges me to look past the superficial. It encourages us to move beyond casual Christianity, reminding us of the verse that says, "To him whom much is given, much is expected." And yet, sadly, it seems that verse often gets flipped in life. Those who struggle most often give the most. Works like People of the Book challenge us to make an about face.

They've also received a great response for their recent release, Orphanology, Awakening to Gospel Centered Adoption and Orphan Care by Tony Merida and Rick Morton.

"The response gives evidence that churches and Christian families are seeing that adoption and care of orphans is an opportunity to make an impact on human exploitation, poverty, world evangelization, family values, etc," Mullins says. "Adoption is one of the next missions frontiers."

Throughout history, literature has served as a catalyst to change. It is exciting to see God expand New Hope Publishers' reach as they seek to impact the world for Christ.

Join us tomorrow as Andrea talks about what she looks for in authors.

Welcome K. Dawn Byrd

Please join me in welcoming K. Dawn Byrd, author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Mistaken Identity, her first young adult romance released on June 15 from Desert Breeze Publishing. Queen of Hearts, a WWII romantic suspense released in April 2010 and was the bestselling book for her publisher during its debut month. Killing Time, a contemporary romantic suspense, released August 1, also with Desert Breeze Publishing. 


Hi Dawn, tell us about your book.
 
Mistaken Identity is my first young adult romance. Here's a little teaser from my publisher...

Eden Morgan longs for a boyfriend of her own, an impossible goal when her best friend, Lexi Branson, gets all the attention and all the guys. When they fall in love with the same guy, Eden believes she doesn't have a chance. She can only hope that sometimes the good girl gets the guy.

Who did you write the book for? 

I specifically wrote the book for the young Christian woman who is trying her best to live for God and wonders if it's worth it. I admire teenagers who make it known at school that they love God. It's not easy for them and we should give them more credit for showing God's love, grace, and mercy by living obedient lives.

Do you have a favorite part of the book?


The part I like best is the sweet, innocent romance between my young couple. She's sixteen and not had a boyfriend since elementary school. When she makes of list of six goals for the best summer ever, landing the guy of her dreams is on the top of the list. It was fun to watch them ease into romance, unsure of each others feelings. The hard part came when her gorgeous best friend who was not a Christian fell for the same guy and my heroine struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  

How does your husband feel about your writing?

My husband has always been very supportive of anything I choose to do.  He plays golf and I don't have the patience, so while he plays, I write. Writing is just a hobby, but one that I enjoy so much. Once I was asked if I'd want to write full-time and the answer was  and is "no." I don't want to have to worry about the next contract, the next paycheck,  etc and why would I want to when I have a day job that I love so much?  I write just for the absolute joy of putting words on the page. The fact that I've found a publisher who likes what I write is just icing on the cake.

 
Since you write for young adults, do you have any advice for young adults who write? 

My advice to young writers would be "NEVER GIVE UP!" Yes, I'm shouting at you. Writing is hard work, but you'll get better with every book. The first few probably will not be publishable material, but you can return to them one day and edit again. That's what happened with Mistaken Identity. I wrote it many years ago, way before I ever became serious about writing. I happened to run across it on an old flash drive, opened it up, and began editing. The rest is history.



**It's a Giveaway**

Dawn has been gracious enough to offer an ebook copy of Mistaken Identity to one lucky winner. Comment below for a chance to win. (You can comment on each of Dawn's interviews for a total of two entries).

Thank you for joining us, Dawn and best wishes for your writer's journey.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Books That Challenge, Equip and Inspire by New Hope Publishers

Guest blog by Jennifer Slattery

New Hope Publishers is known for producing quality books that transform readers who in turn transform the world around them. They're committed to the creation of "missional" material. According to their website, missional books are those works that stir "a zeal for living out Christ’s love in our homes, our communities, and our world. Missional is an adjective that describes a way of thinking, acting, and living that frames our response to the people and needs we see around us." It's a much needed mind-shift in today's "It's all about me" culture.

Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

We must resist the downward tendency to conform. Instead, we are to be transformed, by renewing our minds with truth. As we do, God's will and our role in it becomes clear.

New Hope Publishers produce books and novels designed to help believers fulfill their God-given roles in the body of Christ, expanding His kingdom, and sharing His love with a hurting world.

They do this through three targeted product lines:

Arise: Addressing specific topics of contemporary need and interest for women and families

Grow: Focusing on providing church leaders and believers with the very best Bible studies and teaching resources

Impact: Connecting believers with social issues, Christian living topics, church growth and leadership concerns, and matters of interest to the missiological community

Their recent release, People of the Book, has made quite a stir, reminding American Christians to cherish the freedoms they have in Christ while praying for their less-fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ who endure persecution daily.

Back Cover:
Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. Her brother, Kareem, who has never liked Farah, seeks an opportunity to expose her for the sham he believes she is.

Farah’s cousin frequents an online chat where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. While there, her cousin becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian named Sara—and a friendship quickly develops. However, Sara has problems of her own due to her 15-year-old brother Emir’s involvement with a gang.

Each finds her faith put to the test. Will they remain true to their beliefs? Will God protect them in the midst of persecution and treachery? Or will they be required to pay the ultimate price for their faith?


Their non-fiction title, 5 Leadership Essentials For Women, motivates and equips women to create positive change in their realm of influence while leading other women to impact their world for Christ.

Back cover:
5 Leadership Essentials will guide Christian laywomen to develop fundamental skills in moving projects forward, leading other women and changing the world for Christ. The five key leadership areas addressed are group building, communication skills, relationship skills, conflict management and time management. Written by women who are experienced leaders, 5 Leadership Essentials also includes discussion questions and learning exercises at the end of each chapter.

Visit their website to find out more, then come back tomorrow as we talk with Andrea Mullins, Publisher at New Hope, about missional fiction and its kingdom impact.

**Please note: This is not a book give-away

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

with Susan Sleeman

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

The life long love of reading inspired me to want to write a book, but it was God who arranged free time for it to happen. I’ve always enjoyed writing from creative to technical writing I’ve done in the corporate world, and I said for years that I was going to write a book, but I was so busy working full time, raising children, and volunteering at church that I never made the time. Then in 2000, I began having health issues that limited my physical activity. Forced to sit for long periods of time, I started to research the craft of writing and began my first book.

As my health deteriorated, I had more and more time available and soon I was writing fulltime and actively pursuing publication. I continued to work on the craft and to submit books, got the requisite rejections and then in the fall of 2008 at the ACFW conference, I was awarded a book contract in front of 500 or so of my fellow writers. My agent, crit partners and the editor had conspired to keep this a secret from me for five months. Since then I have contracted additional books in the Love Inspired Suspense line and look forward to writing for years to come.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
It’s probably easier to tell you what doesn’t distract me. LOL. I’d have to say social media and email are my biggest distraction. As I’m writing and I hit a brief moment of not knowing what to write next, my mouse just seems to head for Facebook, Twitter, or email all on it’s own. I can get wrapped up in all of that if I’m not careful and not get done with the work I need to do that day.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I love to read romantic suspense, suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. A book I recently read and loved was Mark Mynheir’s The Corruptible. The main character of this series is so real, so flawed and so tough, yet he is so vulnerable and wounded that you have to cheer for him. Plus I love Mark’s insider view of a police department and a police officer’s thinking. I also love to read fellow Love Inspired Suspense author Stephanie Newton’s books. She does romantic suspense so well.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I have to say I identify with the police chief Russ Morgan. He struggles with letting God be in charge of his life and I used to struggle with this a lot until I really understood the meaning of the value of pain and suffering in our life. I don’t like pain, I don’t like suffering. I do not want hardships. I do not ask for them. But it’s the time when God can change me most and bring me closer to Him. I am a better person for going through them.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
I’m not really sure I see myself as a style of music, but if I were to be compared to a style, I would want someone to think I was praise and worship music. When faced with chronic health issues, you learn to praise the Lord for everything. The good and the bad, because the good, well why wouldn’t we thank him for that, but the bad, that’s when it gets hard, but is the time I most grow as a person so I have to praise Him for loving me enough not to leave me as I am.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m laughing and enjoying all the fun memories this question brings to mind. Hmm, now which one do I want to be publicized on the internet?
When I was young, there was a contest to stretch Slow Poke suckers. These were hard taffy suckers that could stretch to incredible lengths if you worked on them for hours. So I did and sent them a letter with the length of my sucker—don’t remember how long it was now—and received an award from the Holloway Candy Company for my achievement in stretching a Slow Poke sucker to extreme lengths and the title of Super Sucker Stretcher. I still have the letter from the company.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Cleaning house. I hate to clean unless I’m in the mood and the mood does not strike very often.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
My favorite meal is anything my husband cooks. I do not like to cook. I love to bake, but cooking not so much. One of the best and easiest meals he makes is one we learned from a friend who grew up in Louisiana. You simply purchase a seafood cooking spice bag, put it in a large pot with water, red potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. Simmer until done then add shrimp until it is done. Voila you have an amazing meal without a lot of work.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I write about trusting God a lot. Like many other writers, I write about what I know, and I know how hard it is to trust God when your life is falling apart around you. But I also have experienced God’s incredible faithfulness and undeserved blessings when I have trusted him and I like to share that.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
The verse I use for my writing life and for my life in general is, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 If I remember this verse, even when I don’t want to do something and want to put it off, I’m reminded that I am doing everything for the Lord and to put in my best effort. It also helps me remember that even in adversity I am to give thanks.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Behind the Badge is a romantic suspense title from Love Inspired Suspense and releases this month. In this book, a killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker and her sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn’t have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. She and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough to keep them alive?

In December of this year I also have another romantic suspense book, The Christmas Witness. This book features ex-FBI agent Reid Morgan who must keep a former witness and her critically ill daughter safe when a bank robber is released from prison and threatens to exact revenge.

Also, I am excited about a new romantic suspense series contracted by Love Inspired Suspense that I am working on now. The series is called, The Justice Agency – When all else fails. It’s about five adopted siblings who work in various fields of law enforcement until their adoptive parents are murdered. When the police can’t figure out who killed their beloved parents the Justice siblings come together to solve the case. They discover in the process that they like working together and they form an investigative agency called The Justice Agency. They dedicate the agency to helping people who traditional law enforcement is either unable or unwilling to help. The first two books of this series will release in 2012

I’d also love to tell you about my contest.
In honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!
Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go here and answer the following question. That’s it. You’re entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Behind the Badge.
If you’d like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: Did Russ see more than or less than 5 digits of the motor bike license plate?


Here's the excerpt of Behind the Badge:

Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

"I hear you, Deputy."

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"

"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."

"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."

"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.

She let out a long sigh.

"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.

"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."

"But I-"

"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.

*****

Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.

Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.

"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.

"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.

"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"

"Yeah."

"And what about the killer?"

"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"

"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."

"That's something, then."

Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."

"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."

"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."

Purchase at CBD



Purchase Behind the Badge at CBD.


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

with Keven Newsome

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

A video game. Specifically, the original Dragon Warrior RPG for the NES. I was in fifth grade. I took a notebook and began to write “fan fic” based off the video game…complete with King James English, because that’s how they talked in the game.
On a broader scale, writing for me began as an extension of art. I used to be quite the sketch artist. In fact, the interior scroll-work inside the book was done by me. It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words…or more. And every picture I drew had a story. Those stories demanded to be written. That’s how art turned into writing for me.
I piddled around with fan fic based off my favorite video games and cartoon shows for a few years, all the while drawing pictures to go with my stories. But in junior high the germ of a novel took root. It grew and developed, and in high school I began writing my first novel…a medieval fantasy full of anachronistic dialogue and teen angst. I never finished it. But after college, I wrote the prequel to that story…and that’s the book I call my “practice book.”
After that came Winter.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Though I do have distraction, I wouldn’t say those few things are what prevents me from writing. It is school and family. Being a full-time grad student is hard enough, but add to that full-time husband and full-time dad, I barely have enough time to do anything else. And I refuse to let my family get short-ended because of my own selfish desires. Writing happens in the cracks…when I have down time or have a slow day at work. And if I have neither of those things, then writing doesn’t happen. My kids are young, and I intend to enjoy them as much as possible. They’ll be grown soon and I can give writing more time. Or perhaps Winter will shoot-the-moon and I’ll be blessed enough to be able to write as a full-time professional. Only God knows. But my family is more important than this “hobby.” That’s really all it is right…that’s all I can allow it to be…a hobby.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
As odd as this may sound and as picky as I am, my favorite books are usually medieval fantasy types. I enjoy occasional thrillers and sci-fi, but my heart is with swords and horses. I haven’t been able to write anything fantasy worth a flip yet…but I’ll keep trying, that’s for sure! As for some book recommendations…well, here’s my top ten list (and I’ll even put the genre in parenthesis.)
10. Alpha Redemption, by PA Baines (sci-fi)
9. Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling (fantasy)
8. The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien (fantasy)
7. Red, by Ted Dekker (fantasy)
6. This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti (supernatural thriller)
5. Thr3e, by Ted Dekker (thriller)
4. Perelandra, by CS Lewis (fantasy/sci-fi)
3. The Visitation, by Frank Peretti (supernatural thriller)
2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by CS Lewis (fantasy)
1. The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley (fantasy).

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Why, the title character of course—Winter. The book is really all about her. It’s about her fall and redemption. It’s about how God can take the most broken and unusable person and transform them into something beautiful. Besides, she’s really a rockin’ character.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
HA! Did you know my bachelor’s degree is in music education? How in the world am I supposed to choose a style of music to be! I will tell what I listen to the most, though. My two favorite genres are Christian rock and film scores. Quite the opposite you say? Well, consider this…bands like Red, Skillet, Fireflight, Wavorly, Superchick, and even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra are mixing the two styles with great success. You should also know that the notable film composers Trevor Rabin, Hans Zimmer, and Danny Elfman all began their careers as rock musicians.

What is your strangest habit?
I have this OCD thing for symmetry. If it’s supposed to be symmetrical, but isn’t…then I have to fix the problem. And if they’re things that can’t be fixed, then it drives me a little nuts. For example, a church I used to attend there were matching outlets on the choir banister on either side behind the pulpit. The problem was, the one on the right was about twelve inches offset from the one on the left. It was just a contractor’s measurement mistake. But they were supposed to be symmetrical. But they weren’t. And I couldn’t fix it. And every Sunday I would look at them and grind my teeth. While we’re on the subject of churches, how hard is it to center choir loft chairs? Come on! Take the extra thirty seconds and center them. If you don’t…I will.
Now, let me give you a little reassurance that I’m not totally crazy. If it’s obviously not supposed to be symmetrical, then I’m not bothered in the least. It just things that are supposed to be and aren’t, that drive me nuts.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Answering this question would be one. But mostly it’s this. I’m an introvert that pretends to be an extrovert when I have to. Those are things I dread the most…interacting with people I don’t know, because it’s expected of me.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Homemade biscuits and chocolate gravy! I won’t tell you how to make homemade biscuits, because that’s really an art form. But you really have to have a big ole’ cat-head biscuit to go with chocolate gravy. There’s a decent biscuit recipe right there on the Martha White package. Or just google for one. But under no circumstances should you settle for frozen biscuits here. It just won’t do.

Chocolate Gravy

1c sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 stick margarine
2 c evaporated milk

Combine sugar, cocoa, and flour. Mix well. Add the 2 cups milk gradually. Cook slowly until it thickens, stirring constantly. (That's very important) Just before it is finished, add the margarine and vanilla. Stir until margarine melts. Served over hot buttered biscuits.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Part of my study at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is in the area of Supernatural Theology. So naturally, I try to employ these themes in my writing. Though I may take artistic liberties at times, I strive to portray the supernatural as Biblically accurate as possible.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
”Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise. Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.” Micah 7:8 (NAS)
This verse prefaces my book. It is special to me because it sums up Winter’s character so perfectly. She’s a person who has been beaten down by the enemy and has spent a good bit of her life in very dark places. But the Lord doesn’t give up on her. He is her light. And through Him, she becomes something amazing.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Well, nothing is set in stone. Winter is just the first book of a four book series. My publisher has penciled in the second book for release in the fall of 2012. But that’s a year and a half away, and a lot can happen between now and then.
However, you will be able catch me in the upcoming short story anthology Aquasynthesis, which showcases all of the Splashdown Books authors.



Purchase Winter at Amazon.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge

Susan Sleeman is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her Facebook page, her website, www.susansleeman.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/susansleeman.

Behind the Badge

"YOUR SISTER IS NEXT!"
A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker’s sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn’t have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?

Here's an excerpt of Behind the Badge:

Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

"I hear you, Deputy."

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"

"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."

"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."

"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.

She let out a long sigh.

"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.

"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."

"But I-"

"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.

*****

Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.

Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.

"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.

"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.

"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"

"Yeah."

"And what about the killer?"

"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"

"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."

"That's something, then."

Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."

"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."

"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."


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