Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Please Welcome Author Carol Cox


Is there a story behind this book?
       
Stories featuring a master of disguise have always intrigued me. Add to that a fascination with southern Arizona during the Tombstone era, and you have the makings for some interesting situations. The fact that Ellie, (an undercover Pinkerton agent who is also our mistress of disguise) has a background in the theater but no experience at all as a detective only made things more fun!
  
What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve loved books as long as I can remember, and I’ve read voraciously since I was a small child. The moment I realized there were people who got to sit down and write all those wonderful stories, I knew that had to be the best job in the world. No matter what other avenues my life followed over the years, the dream of writing books for other people to read never left me. I felt blessed beyond measure when that dream finally became a reality!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Life. J Between homeschooling my daughter, responsibilities in the two churches my husband pastors, family activities, and community obligations, it isn’t unusual for me to find myself stretched a bit thin. I have to maintain a flexible schedule (remember Gumby?—that kind of flexibility), and my biggest challenge is in keeping my priorities straight, something I work on constantly.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)

I enjoy a wide variety of genres, everything from Christian fiction to Agatha Christie’s mysteries, to the quirky humor of P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favorite authors of all time.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

That would be Ellie Moore, the heroine of Love in Disguise. Ellie saw herself as plain and unattractive. Even when she got the chance to remake herself into two very different characters, she still found it hard to feel any sense of worth. Her struggle to find her true identity and value is one I think many of us can relate to.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?

Hmm. My tastes in music are as diverse as the types of books I enjoy. Some of my favorite styles are: country, contemporary Christian, and classical. Would that make me a Contemporary Classical Country Christian?

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

There’s a long list of things I’ve done that would qualify for that. How about the time our church hosted a Mother’s Day luncheon, and all the women attending were supposed to wear hats they decorated themselves. The idea sounded good on paper, but I don’t look good in hats. Never have, probably never will. What to do? I decided if I was going to look peculiar anyway, I’d make sure I looked really peculiar. I went on a shopping foray, picking out the most bizarre decorations I could find. Starting out with a floppy blue sun hat as the base for my creation, I tacked rows of half-inflated balloons around the brim, added a plastic tiara with multi-colored lights that flashed at the touch of a button, and topped the whole thing off with a large flower made of craft foam bobbing on a pipe cleaner stem. It definitely stood out among the other ladies’ projects. And surely there’s no connection between that and the fact that we’ve never done another hat-related event since then.

What is your favorite season of the year?

I love spring and fall. Spring brings new life, a reminder of the promise of heaven, while fall, with that first nip of frost in the air, always puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

What is a favorite (season) memory from your childhood?

My mother, grandmother, and I traveled to Joplin, Missouri, the winter I was four years old to attend an elderly relative’s funeral, and it snowed while we were there. Being born and raised in Phoenix, it was the first time I’d ever seen snow outside of movies and TV, and I was totally enthralled. My great-great aunt took me outside to play in that lovely white stuff and helped me scoop up enough to make snow ice cream. I’ve always remembered that experience as one of pure joy.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Far too many! If I don’t keep a tight rein on my self and my time, I can be one of the world’s great procrastinators. A couple of years ago, I printed out a sign that says: “Do It Now!” and hung it over my desk. It makes a great reminder to stay focused . . . as long as I remember to look at it.


What's your favorite meal with family and friends? (and feel free to share a recipe with us!)

Grilling dinners out on the front porch is one of our favorite things to do as soon as the weather is warm enough. There’s something so relaxing about cooking outdoors and not having to rush around the kitchen. The clean-up is easy, too, which is a big plus when a deadline is closing in!

My family loves grilled mahi-mahi. One of our favorite ways to prepare it is to sprinkle the meat with lemon juice, top each piece with sprigs of rosemary snipped fresh from the herb garden, then wrap it all in foil and grill for about 25 minutes. Yum!


Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

While I admire writers who know from the outset what theme they plan to explore when they begin writing a book, I am not one of them. I may get a sense of the theme as a book is being written, but often as not, I may not discover it until the story is complete. The theme of trust is one that seems to recur throughout many of my stories. 

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
We live in a time when so many things clamor for our attention, things that can steal our joy. This verse is a wonderful reminder to put our focus on the Lord instead of our circumstances and find our joy in Him.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book is coming out in 2013, but I don’t have a firm release date for it yet. It’s set in the fictional town of Cedar Ridge in central Arizona. The hero—a widower with an ornery young son—and the heroine—a former governess who has had her fill of dealing with unruly children—are vying for control of a mercantile while dealing with demanding customers and quirky townspeople, as well as trying to find out who’s behind the sinister happenings that have been plaguing the town. I’m in the middle of edits on this book at the moment, and I love the suggestions my editor has made, so I’m very excited about the end results!  

Purchase the book at:                       
Barnes & Noble                

Carol Cox is giving away a copy of Love in Disguise The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy

Monday, May 28, 2012

Carol Cox's Love in Disguise


Bio: 
Carol Cox is the author of nearly 30 novels and novellas. A third-generation Arizonan, Carol has a lifelong fascination with the Old West and hopes to make it live again in the hearts of her readers. She makes her home with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play--within view of the family's front porch.

You can find her on the web:
Twitter: @AuthorCarolCox

Back Cover Blurb:
Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.
Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?


Book Excerpt:
Chicago, Illinois
December, 1881

   “O happy dagger! This is thy sheath.”
   Ellie Moore gripped her hands together as she mouthed the well-known line from the last act of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The words floated out into the dark chasm beyond the edge of the footlights, and an expectant hush filled the theater, followed by a collective gasp at the moment she plunged her fists toward her abdomen and threw her head back with an agonized grimace.
   “There rust, and let me die.” Ellie let her head fall to one side and held her pose, silent as the grave, while the Capulets and Montagues reconciled, and the prince delivered the final line.
   Not until the roar of applause swept through the auditorium of Chicago’s Orpheum Theater did she stir again, ready for the curtain call. Ellie waited for the proper moment, then swept one foot behind her and sank into a low curtsey, spreading her arms wide. Her right hand brushed against the back of the red velvet curtain that screened her from the stage.
  “Here now. Don’t you dare set that curtain to moving.”
  Startled by the abrupt hiss behind her, Ellie jerked her head around and met the fierce gaze of Harold Stiller, the theater manager.
   At the same moment, the actors began to file off the stage. Roland Lockwood, the troupe’s Montague, bumped against Ellie’s outstretched hand. Arms flailing wildly, Ellie floundered to regain her balance, but to no avail. With a muffled thump, she plopped into an ungainly heap on the wooden floor.
   Burt Ragland, one of the stagehands, pushed past, his lip curled in obvious disdain. “That wouldn’t have happened if you spent your time tending to your own job instead of pretending you're some kind of star.”
  Ellie scrambled to her feet, brushing dust from the hem of her skirt and trying to ignore the snickers from the other stagehands who’d gathered nearby.
   “At least I intend to make something of myself,” she snapped. “You’ll be stuck here long after I’m gone.” She lifted her chin when she heard the grunts of indignation from the group. Ha! That rocked them back on their heels, all right. And good riddance.
   Noting the cleaner area on the floor that marked the spot where she’d made her undignified landing, Ellie swiped at the back of her skirt. “I’ll think of you all, languishing here in this dusty hole, when I’m sipping tea in London.”
    Outright guffaws met her statement. Ellie gave up on trying to swat the dust from her backside, finding it too difficult to twist herself into a pretzel shape and maintain her haughty air at the same time.
   Let them say what they wanted. It didn’t matter anymore. Before the night was over, she would be gone from their midst and on her way to England. There, in the homeland of the Bard himself, she should find many who would appreciate her acting skills, gleaned from years of observation in the theater. Finally people would look past her drab exterior and see the raw talent that lay beneath. All she needed was a chance—just one! Then she would show them all.
   While the other actors dispersed to their dressing rooms, one of the crew opened the house curtain one last time, so Magdalena Cole, Queen of the American Stage, could address the audience.
   Her voice filtered back into the wings. “Thank you all for being here. Every performance is special to me, but tonight has a significance all its own.”
   Ellie glared at Burt and the others while Magdalena continued with the pretty speech she and Ellie had worked out the night before.
   “This marks my last performance in your fair city, and not only in Chicago, but in this great land of ours.” Magdalena paused to let the murmur of surprise die down before she went on. “Tonight I leave for New York, there to board a ship that will carry me away to share my art with the audiences of Europe.”
   “Don’t make out that you’re any better than us,” Burt growled. “The only reason you get to go is because you’re that woman’s toady.”
   Ellie sucked in her breath. “That’s personal wardrobe mistress—thank you very much.”
   “Good night, my friends, and God bless you, each and every one.” Magdalena glided off the stage to thunderous applause, carrying a bouquet of deep red roses in the crook of one arm. She thrust the flowers at Ellie as she walked by. “Put these in water,” she ordered, then gave a quick laugh. “What am I thinking? I won’t be here tomorrow to enjoy them, so it doesn’t matter what you do with them. Throw them away, if you want.” She continued down the hallway without breaking stride.
   Burt snorted. “Sounds more like personal dogsbody to me.”
   Ellie tossed the bouquet into a nearby trash barrel and followed in Magdalena’s wake, not deigning to give Burt the satisfaction of a reply. She closed the dressing room door, shutting out the post-show flurry.
   “Hurry.” Magdalena’s eyes shone like a child’s on Christmas morning. “We haven’t time to waste.” She spun around so Ellie could unfasten the hooks on the back of her costume. “Arturo will be here any moment. Is everything packed?” Magdalena slipped out of the Juliet gown with practiced ease.
   “It’s all ready.” Ellie draped the costume over the back of a nearby chair and reached for Magdalena’s new traveling outfit. She slid the stylish dress over the actress’s head and upraised arms and fastened the row of jet-black buttons that ran from neck to hem. Then she stood back to study the effect.
   “Well?” Magdalena pivoted slowly. Even in their present rush, she could find time to pause for an accolade.
   Ellie reached out to adjust the rounded collar then nodded. “It’s perfect. That cobalt blue matches your eyes exactly. Your couturier outdid himself this time.”
   “And well he should have. I paid dearly for those new gowns. Even though I’m planning to acquire a whole new wardrobe once we reach London, I could hardly begin my grand European tour dressed like a second-rate bit player, could I? First impressions are so important.”
   Ellie folded the Juliet gown with care and placed it on top of the other clothing in the costume hamper. She lowered the lid, pressed it down with both hands, and then finally sat on it in order to fasten the latches.
  “There now, we’re all set. Your new dresses are in the two large trunks, along with your other personal effects. Costumes, wigs, and makeup are here in the hamper. We’re ready to leave as soon as Mr. Benelli arrives.”
    Magdalena cleared her throat. “Ellie, there’s something I—” A knock at the door cut her off. She leaned back against the dressing table and struck a pose, then nodded at Ellie. “It must be Arturo. Let him in.”
   Ellie opened the door to find a small contingent of theater workers gathered there. Harold Stiller stood in front of the group.
   “We’ve come to say goodbye.” He pushed past Ellie and walked over to Magdalena, who abandoned her dramatic stance the moment she recognized her visitors. “On behalf of all of us at the Orpheum, I want to wish you a safe journey to England and a dazzling career in the theaters of Europe. We will always treasure the memory that we, in some small measure, played a part in your success.”
    Magdalena’s lips tightened, then curved in an expression that would look like gracious acknowledgment to anyone who didn’t know her as well as Ellie did. It was obvious to her that the actress had no intention of giving credit for her success to anyone but herself while she stood on the threshold of her greatest triumph.
   Their triumph, Ellie corrected herself. How many times had she heard Magdalena say she didn’t know what she would do without Ellie’s help?
   “Thank you for coming to say farewell.” Magdalena’s tone held a note of dismissal, but Stiller didn’t take the hint. He leaned against the chair as if settling in for a long conversation, ignoring the glitter in the actress’s eyes that would have warned a more observant person of a pending eruption likely to rival that of Mount Vesuvius.

Purchase the book at:
Amazon:
Barnes & Noble:
christianbook.com:

  Carol Cox is giving away a copy of Love in Disguise. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. 
 Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy

Friday, May 18, 2012

Valerie Comer's Back

We're glad you're here today, Valerie. Let’s start with some fun
questions:

Tell us a bit about your childhood: a favorite memory or moment that’s stood out to you through the years.


I grew up in Northern Manitoba, Canada, where it can get to 70 degrees below zero in winter. My parents worked with a mission to the native people and ran Bible camps all summer long for $2.00 a week per camper. Yes, that period is in the right place! Neither of my parents ever wasted a chance to share the gospel with anyone else. They're in heaven now, where I'm sure many people lined up to thank them for their part in bringing salvation to others.

We didn't live anywhere near a public library, and even my classrooms only contained a few shelves of books in the back. In those days the University of Manitoba had a lending library. I remember looking over a magazine, like the Scholastic book forms my kids brought home from school in later years, and picking out library books. They'd arrive in the mail, we'd all read our books, then we'd return them with an order for the next set.

Hard to imagine, but how much you children appreciated the books, I'm sure! What career did you have before writing?

My primary job over the years has worn many hats: wife, mother, gardener, farmer, beekeeper, and local food advocate. In more recent years, I've added grandmother to that list--my favorite title! I've worked outside the home for the past two decades, mostly in retail. I now have a job in a small-town flooring shop where I mind the business for my two awesome boss guys--and do most of my writing from 9-5. (Yes, they know. Yes, they're okay with it.)


Fantastic job situation. :) Now, some serious questions:

Do you have favorite spiritual themes you like to write about?


I don't set out to reuse themes, yet I find some recurring. Often my characters lack self-confidence and don't see their personal worth, either to other people or to God. They don't feel like they belong. These issues probably continue to crop up because they echo what's gone on in my own life over the years. Seeing my value in God is hard for me!

If one of your characters showed up at your house, which one would be the most feared/least wanted? Why?

Interesting question. Although I've written nine novels and one novella, as of this writing, only the novella has seen the light of day. Because it's short, I had to keep my character cast under control, and I don't dislike or fear any of them. However, my main character's father is loosely based on my own dad. Remember what I said about him always sharing his faith?

Well, Lyssa's father took that to an extreme. He didn't see people, only numbers, and as a result, he embarrassed Lyssa so many times while she was growing up that, though a believer herself, she hid her faith when she left home. She was all done living with ridicule. I pushed Lyssa's dad to be an extreme of mine, and did the same with Lyssa. I, too, have found it hard to speak boldly about my faith.

Therefore, the character I'd find most uncomfortable to have in my home would be Lyssa's dad. Because this is a novella with no room for extra threads, you know this plays a major role in the story line, and he's not really such a bad guy. Oops, might have given too much away. :)


I love it! Tell us where readers can learn more about you and where they can get your book.


My website and blog are at http://valeriecomer.com. I blog about writing, promoting, and/or marketing on Fridays, with book reviews on Wednesdays, and 'green' issues on Mondays. There's more information about Rainbow's End at http://valeriecomer.com/rainbowsend, with purchase links for paperbacks and ebooks at various online stores.

I'd love to have you visit, as I've enjoyed being here at the Barn Door Book Loft today. Thanks!

And thank you, Valerie, for visiting!

Valerie is giving away a copy of Rainbow's End. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Carole

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Meet Valerie Comer!

Valerie will be back tomorrow to answer some questions for us. Make sure to join us!

A little bit about Valerie and her books:



Bio
Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Check out her website and blog at http://valeriecomer.com.

Rainbow's End (4-in-1 collection published by Barbour, May 1, 2012):


Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

"Topaz Treasure" (first novella in Rainbow's End) by Valerie Comer

Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?

Kirk’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended as he searches for opportunities to connect with Lyssa and her intriguing sparkle. How can he convince Lyssa there is more than one kind of treasure? And can she remind him of the greatest prize of all?


To buy Rainbow's End:
http://valeriecomer.com/bookshelf/fiction/rainbows-end/

Connect at:
Website: http://valeriecomer.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/valeriecomer.author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/valeriecomer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomer
Blog: http://valeriecomer.com/blog
Blog: http://romancingamerica.com


Valerie is giving away a copy of Rainbow's End. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Carole

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winners!


The Winner Of: 

Allie Pleiter's Home Front Hero is: Abbi Hart
Lacy Williams' The Homesteader's Sweetheart is:  Wendy Newcomb

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

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)
Until Next Time. . .  Sharon A Lavy

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Welcome Back, Staci Stallings

It's good to have you here, Staci, Tell us, what is your favorite scripture verse and why does it resound with you?

You know, this used to be an easy question. There are many now... Hebrews
11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

But I think my all-time favorite is 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Because the truth is, I can do good things and look really good doing them, but if I'm doing them for the wrong reasons, I'm wasting my time. Love is about eternity. Everything else only looks at now. If you're focused on now, you're really missing the point.

Good point, Staci! I agree. In your latest book, is there a story--an inspiration behind it that gave you the desire to write it?

God. Seriously. He put "Deep in the Heart" on my... heart. I woke up one morning with a name. A single name. Not a story. Not a plot. Nothing else. Just a name and a feeling of knowing this guy even though I really didn't. So I got up, went to the computer, typed in the name, and there he was. Strangely I don't think I'd ever heard this guy's name before nor had I ever seen him. Three weeks later he came out with a country song that became a major hit (while I was writing Deep in the Heart). So God gave me the inspiration, with as thin a thread as He's ever started me with, the desire to dig and learn and understand the story of these two people, and most of all He shared the insights with me about what HIS love and forgiveness and mercy and grace in a life can do, and how lives change when we share those things with others.

That's totally fascinating. How remarkable are God's ways. Do you have a favorite character in your book that is dear to your heart?


I would love the chance to give both of the main characters in this one a hug. Maggie because she is trying SO hard and clinging SO hard to God--even when it seems that all of life is against her. That's not easy, and a lot of people give up in the face of far less than she is dealing with. But Maggie clings to her faith and her belief that God will see her through anything, and she has the courage to share that faith with those around her. She's an inspiration to me--even though I'm sure she would think that was odd as she doesn't see herself that way at all.

And Keith... I can't help but smile when I think of him. He has such a big heart but he's been told so many lies in his life. Oh, what a trap that is when we fall into it. We think life is up to us to live, and every failure is just one more brick in the conviction that we're doomed to be miserable forever. I love reading this one and seeing what happens when someone shares God's love with someone. When they choose to meet hurt with unconditional love. It's awe-inspiring!


Now, a couple of fun questions:

If you could choose a favorite meal, where would it be and with whom would you want to share it?


My mom's fried chicken dinner at her house with my family! Hand's down. No question. I'm convinced that's what Heaven is going to be like!

Yes, and with homemade biscuits. Can't get any better than that. lol Where would you like to live permanently if you could have a choice? Why?

You know, honestly I love it right where I am. Yes, the Texas Panhandle is flat. There aren't many trees. It's more yellow than green, and the wind can be an issue. But the sunsets are beautiful. There is lots of space to roam and play. It's safe, but mostly because my family and friends are here. What more could I ask for?

Home is where the heart is, and yours is definitely in the right place! That is happiness and peace. Please tell us where readers can stay in touch with you and where to purchase your book.

Readers can read first chapters, excerpts, and reviews of all of my romance books at:

http://ebookromancestories.com

They can check out my Christian Living blog, Spirit Light Books at:

http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com

And they can see "Deep in the Heart" at Amazon Kindle here:

http://www.amazon.com/Deep-in-the-Heart-ebook/dp/B005LVVIIG/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1332866925&sr=8-4

Thanks so much for having me!


Thanks for being here, Staci.

Staci is giving away a copy of Deep in the Heart. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Carole

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Please Welcome Author Allie Pleiter



Welcome to the BarnDoor Book Loft Allie. Is there a story behind Homefront Hero?
Not so much a story as a process.  Little details that piled up into a story.  The inspiration struck as I was walking through two different military museums.  I knew I wanted to do a World War I story, and that I wanted to set it on the homefront--Charleston, specifically, rather than the battlefield.  I found the helmet of a Charleston WWI airman who was awarded a medal for bravery over France.  That got me thinking about what the pressure of such lauded heroism would be like.  As I started thinking about a good heroine for a war hero, I uncovered the Red Cross “Knit Your Bit” knitting campaign supporting soldiers.  Being the avid knitter that I am, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to fuse my passions.  For me, fiction is like finding a loose strand and pulling--you follow along to see what kind of story unravels, then you knit it up into your own creation.

What started you on your writing journey?
The bit in my bio about “the dare from a friend” is 100% true.  I was complaining about my day job one day to a friend who happened to be in the publishing industry, joking that it be so much easier to stay home and write novels (HA!  Little did I know!).  She called me on my bluff and dared me to write one.  I had always been a storyteller, but my focus had been on the stage (I was a theater major in college) and I only wrote for my job in fundraising.  That dare became my first novel.  I tell people God set it up so that I could take absolutely no credit for my career because He knew if I could, I would.  No one is more tickled at how it all turned out than me...I still pinch myself now and then.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Knitting.  Or having coffee with friends.  I’m a raging extrovert so the discipline of staying home getting the work done is the hardest part for me.  I love to speak--and do so frequently--so that can be a welcome distraction, too.  I have to be very serious about my daily word count for just that reason.  I’m sure my family would prefer my favorite distraction was housework, but that’s NEVER happened.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read a lot of different books in many different ways.  Audiobooks, traditional books, ereaders, etc, so I always have about four books going at one time.  The best things I’ve read this year are a debut novel by Erin Morgenstern called The Night Circus and Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy--I’ve devoured all of her novels.  I read a lot of non-fiction, too--I just finished Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and Mark Batterson’s In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Captain John Gallows was a fascinating character to write because he is so complex and undergoes such a drastic transformation during the story.  He kept showing me new sides of himself as I wrote.  And, being the silver-tongued guy that he is, he kept getting the best lines.  It was great fun to take a man that could be so two-dimensional and peel back all his many layers.  I usually have a secondary character itching to steal the show in every book, and Ida Landway may one day get her own story if she keeps pestering me.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
A dramatic, silken 1940’s torch song sung by a suave man in a flawless tuxedo.  Not that I’ve thought about it in great detail or anything.   Take it a step farther, why don’t we, and make it the kind of song you can’t stop singing, sung by a guy who sounds like Michael Buble and looks like Daniel Craig--now THAT’s a song I’d love to be!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oddball research is my very favorite part of this job--and I’ve done some amazing things.  I’ve been taught to walk a tightrope by a member of the Flying Wallenda’s, I’ve learned to crack a 10-foot bullwhip, I’ve explored the Chinese gung-fu-cha tea ceremony, had a cappuccino made for me the #3 barista in the world on the most expensive espresso machine ever made, done arial acrobats in a vintage stunt plane, all kinds of fun.  People are wonderful about sharing their talents if they know you’re trying to get the details right, and I’m shameless about asking.  I love research adventures!

What is your favorite season of the year?
It’s hard not to adore spring when you live in Chicago. Our winters are tests of endurance, so we truly appreciate spring.  When that first crocus pops its head out of the cold ground, I consider it a holiday.  I was married in March, and my children were born in March and April, so there are lots of celebrations in our family in spring.
 
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
I grew up in Connecticut on the shores of Long Island Sound, so my favorite memories are all about boats, beaches, and the water.  Lake Michigan is big, but its not the same thing as a salt water tide.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I’m good about all the medical stuff, but I dread the dentist.  I live in mortal fear of a root canal.  Now, if only I could translate that fear into a viable commitment to flossing!

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Every New Years Eve my family gathers with another family and we cook lobsters.  I grew up with lobster pots, so I know my way around a crustacean.  I don’t consider it a the read deal unless I’ve committed the “lobstercide” -- gotten it live and cooked it myself. 

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
I feel called to write about characters who accept God’s challenge to be more than they think they can be.  I love to send them to that scary place where God has taken you to the end of your capabilities and you’re forced to rely on His power.  Grace, provision, sovereignty--it takes different forms in different books, but it’s a universal call to drastic reliance.

Can you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?   
I’ve never been the kind of person to choose a “life verse.”  Different verses speak to me at different times.  I’m often asked for a favorite verse, and I really don’t have one.  My favorite thing about God’s word is it’s living qualities, the fact that you can run to scripture with whatever you are facing and God will always send you what you need.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I’m collaborating with two other Love Inspired Historical authors on a series set around the 19th century orphan trains.  I’m waiting for the right title to hit me--sometimes I know right off, other times it’s a nail-biting race to the deadline. It’s the story of a stubborn woman who refuses to give up on a man who continually condemns himself.  Forgiveness and redemption are always powerful themes to write.

Purchase the book at:                       
Barnes & Noble              


Allie Pleiter is giving away a copy of  Homefront Hero.
The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Allie Pleiter's Homefront Hero


Author Bio:
An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing.  Visit her website at www.alliepleiter.com or her knitting blog at www.DestiKNITions.blogspot.com

Back cover copy:
Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As soon as he's well enough, he'll rush back to Europe, back to war—and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero—Leanne's hero.

Book  Excerpt:
Here’s a glimpse of our hero and heroine’s first meeting.  Nurse Leanne Sample and her friend Ida are staring at a poster lauding Army Captain Gallow’s next rally appearance:

   "'Hear the daring exploits of Army Captain John Gallows,'" Ida read aloud. "'Thrill to the tale of how he saved lives at the risk of his own.' Well, where I come from a gallows is something to be feared."
   Leanne could only laugh. Some days Ida sounded as if West Virginia were the wild, wild West. "Oh, that might still be true here. The Gallowses are a very formidable Charleston family."
   "Have you met them?"
   "I've not had the pleasure, but I believe our fathers know each other back in Charleston. A fine family going back for generations."
   Ida leaned back and crossed her arms while eyeing the dashing photograph of Captain Gallows that illustrated the announcement. "Fine indeed. He's certainly handsome enough." She adjusted her stiff white apron as if primping for the photograph's admiration. Ida did like to be admired, especially by gallant army officers. "I can't think of a better way to spend our first free evening off base. Perhaps he'll let me sketch him."
   "Why is it you want to sketch every handsome man you meet?" Leanne teased. Already she could see it might prove hard to keep her artistically inclined roommate focused on her duties. Ida was a free spirit if ever there was one, and while she took her nursing very seriously, her adventurous nature already pulled her too often away from her tasks.
   "I'd be delighted to sit for you," came a deep voice behind them. "Especially if you are so partial to handsome war heroes."
   Ida and Leanne spun on their heels to find the very man depicted in the photograph. Complete with the dashing smile. Even out of his dress uniform—for he wore a coat, but not one as fancy or full of medals as the one in the photograph—he was every bit the U.S. Army poster-boy hero. His dark hair just barely contained itself in its slick comb-back underneath his cap. He carried himself with unmistakably military command—Leanne suspected she'd have known he was an officer even in civilian clothes. He certainly was very sure of himself—a long moment passed before Leanne even noticed he leaned jauntily on a cane.
   Ida planted one hand on her hip. "Well—" her voice grew silky "—no one can fault you for an excess of modesty. Still, my daddy always said a healthy ego was a heroic trait, so I suppose I can let it slide, Captain Gallows." She drew out the pronunciation of his name with a relish that made Leanne flush.
   Captain Gallows was evidently all-too-accustomed to such attentions, for he merely widened his dashing smile and gave a short bow to each of them. "How do you do?" He pointed to the sign. "Say you'll attend tonight's event, and my fears of facing an audience full of dull-faced students and soldiers will be put to rest."
   "Are you one of the Four Minute Men, then?" Leanne asked. Her father had been asked to serve on the nationally launched volunteer speakers board, called "Four Minute Men" for the prescribed length of their speeches, but Papa had declined. Still, from the superlatives on his bill, Captain Gallows could go on for four hours and still hold his audience captive.
   "The best. They give me as long as I want. They tell me I'm enthralling."
   "I have no doubt they do. I'm Ida Lee Landway, and this is my friend Leanne Sample. We've just joined the nursing staff at the base hospital."
   The captain tipped his hat. "How fortunate for our boys in the wards. Miss Landway, Miss Sample, I'm delighted to meet you. Tell me what I can say to convince you to come to the rally."
   "Oh, it won't take much," Ida cooed.
   "We were just on our way over to town early and already planning to attend," Leanne corrected. "No persuasion will be required." He certainly seemed a cocky sort, this Captain Gallows.
   "I'm not so sure," he replied with a disarming grin. "I was on campus this morning and one of the students told me she would come, but she would bring her knitting. Not the kind of response I'm used to, I must say. I'm trying to see it as a patriotic act, not an expectation of my inability to fascinate."


Purchase the book at:                       
Barnes & Noble                    

 Allie Pleiter is giving away a copy of  Homefront Hero.
The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. 
Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lacy Williams's The Homesteader's Sweetheart

Bio:
This year Lacy Williams will celebrate both her thirtieth birthday and a decade of marriage to the love of her life. She traded in her childhood dream of being a veterinarian for a job as a bean-counting auditor at a public accounting firm, but her love of animals, especially dogs, continues (she has three). Growing up on her grandfather’s farm, Lacy was bucked off a horse, tried to milk a feral cow, and once attempted to mine for gold in a red dirt field (with no luck). These childhood adventures provide a good amount of material for the western romances she writes. More recent escapades include getting stuck in an elevator on the way to an awards banquet (where she won), having two children, becoming a multi-published author. Next up on her bucket list: writing a screenplay and taking a research trip to Australia.

You can find her: special promo during month of May at: www.megamaybirthdaybash.com
Twitter: @lacy_williams

Back Cover Blurb:
To escape a dreaded arranged marriage, Penny Castlerock will face anything—even life on her grandfather's farm. But it isn't the rustic lifestyle that's got the Philadelphia socialite tied in knots. It's the handsome homesteader and his eight adopted children next door….

With seven boys and a girl to raise, transplanted farmer Jonas White could sure use some help. He just didn't expect it to come from the high-spirited, copper-haired beauty he's always admired from afar. But surely working the land is no life for a woman like Penny. Yet a threat to Jonas's farm just might show him how perfect Penny is for him after all.

Book Exerpt:

Wyoming Territory, summer 1890

   Hadn't he promised himself not to get into a situation like this again?
   Jonas White stood on the dusty street in his Sunday suit, letter clutched in his hand, gazing up at the fine house. It seemed too much of a coincidence that his neighbor and closest friend--although they were two generations apart in age--was related to a wealthy banker when Jonas desperately needed a loan. And the letter Jonas had promised to deliver for his friend would grant him access to the banker he'd been trying to see all day.
   But Jonas had stopped questioning the Lord's hand in things once he'd met his neighbors, the Nelsons, just over five years ago.
   Staring at the light spilling from the glass-paned windows onto the large, well-kept yard reminded Jonas of another place and time, and how as a child he'd often looked in on some of Philadelphia's wealthy families. Like those stately town houses, this house was ostentatious. Two-story and much larger than the other homes on the street. Or in the whole town of Calvin, Wyoming, for that matter.
   Jonas resolutely pushed the painful memories to the back of his mind. His daughter needed him to do this, and he couldn't fail her.
   Sounds of voices and tinkling china trickled out from the wide-open front door. Was the banker hosting a party? If so, this might not be the best time to call, but Jonas needed to take care of business before the woman who was watching Breanna for him left town on the next Eastbound train.
   He brushed at some dust on his jacket sleeve and took a deep breath, reminding himself that his loan was a reasonable request. If only he felt more comfortable interacting with high-society people like the banker, but his upbringing didn't exactly lend itself to that.
   Trudging up the steps before he could change his mind, Jonas entered the elegant home. The entry hall was empty, but voices drew him to a parlor packed with people. One or two of them shook his hand, welcoming him as he moved through the crowded room. Most ignored him. Jonas scanned each face, looking for the portly man with salt-and-pepper hair that he'd glimpsed briefly on the boardwalk this morning. No sign of the banker.
   Conversations ebbed and flowed around him as he moved through the parlor and into another lamp-lit room in search of Mr. Castlerock. He knew he was out of place, and the disdainful looks he received from some of the partygoers only confirmed it, made him feel as awkward and unwelcome as he'd felt at eighteen in the Broadhursts' Philadelphia home.
   "Can I help ya, son?"
   Jonas turned at the voice and caught sight of a plump woman with an apron covering most of her ample figure. Here was someone from his class, someone who could help him. Relief flooded him.
   "Yes, I'm looking for Mr. Castlerock. I'm to deliver this letter, and I need to speak with him on another matter--"
   The woman took the letter from Jonas. "I'll put it aside for the boss. If he sets it down during the party, he'll never remember where he put it in the morning. Last I saw him, he was in his study, down there..." She nodded toward a door down the hall and her voice trailed off as she bustled away in the opposite direction.
   "Thanks," Jonas murmured to her departing back.
   He couldn't be sure which room she'd meant to indicate--there were two doorways on the left and one on the right, so he peeked into each as he passed. Finally, he had no choice but to enter the room at the end of the hall.
   So intent was he on locating the banker, Jonas didn't notice her at first. But as he tried to slip through the...crowd without bumping into any of the fine furnishings or well-dressed guests, he caught a glimpse of upswept copper curls, burnished to fire by the lamplight.
   He'd only ever seen one person with that color hair in his entire life.
   Jonas stopped moving, dumbstruck, as a tall man in a black jacket moved away and his view became unhindered. It was her, with the laughing blue eyes he remembered and wearing the frilliest, fanciest peach colored dress he'd ever seen. The girl he'd admired from afar, back in Philadelphia. Penny Castlerock. He'd guessed from the unusual surname that she might be a relation to the wealthy banker, but never imagined he would see her here. He'd thought she would be married to a Philadelphia businessman by now.
   What was she doing in Wyoming?



Purchase the book at:                       

Lacy Williams is giving away a copy of THE HOMESTEADER’S SWEETHEART.The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address.You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Please Welcome Author Lacy Williams


Welcome to the BarnDoor Book Loft, Lacy. Is there a story behind this book?

I was doing research for another story and came across a very old photo of some street kids in New York City. Their faces were dirty but their eyes showed their spirit—they hadn’t given up on life. Instantly, the hero of this book, Jonas White, was born. He is tough enough to have grown up on the streets and survive—but he bears the emotional scars of being abandoned.

What started you on your writing journey?
I always remember having stories inside me. I have notebooks and notebooks full of stories from when I was a kid. So it’s hard to pinpoint what started me writing, however, my parents have been big supporters since my childhood and they’re definitely a big reason I’ve been published. One year when I was about ten, they bought me a typewriter for Christmas. When I was a teenager, they encouraged me to take writing courses, and I did. Now that I’m published my mom buys extra copies of my books and hands them out to her coworkers. They have been a huge support and I’m so thankful to have them.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Email. It’s so easy to have it pulled up all the time, but I’ve found I do my best writing (wordcount and quality) when I have everything closed down with only my current WIP active on my computer. Sometimes I even have to push the WIFI button off.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
I love historical romance (obviously). I recently discovered Karen Witemeyer and I love her voice. Regina Jennings is a new author and a crit buddy of mine and I also love her stories. I’m a big fan of

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
In the beginning it was the hero, Jonas White. His tenacious, compassionate spirit really captured me and I loved writing him. But as I worked on the book, a couple of his adopted sons really started getting to me—with their orneriness. Maxwell is a shy guy, and I found myself drawn to him. Then there’s Edgar, who finds it really hard to trust women (the heroine, especially), but who is won over in the end and actually is instrumental in convincing the hero to go after her.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Praise music. I love singing and often when something good happens in my life I’ll find myself belting out a chorus of a new or a favorite song. Most recently it has been a Chris Tomlin song “Our God”.

What is your favorite season of the year?
I love both spring and fall. The changing weather and colors always inspire me. I love hiking but don’t get a chance to go much now with small kids, but I love taking them to the park and walking on the trails there.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
During my childhood, my family lived on my granddad’s farm for several years. He had a fishing pond and one of my favorite memories is walking down to the pond for picnics or to go fishing. When I was really small, we would use whole kernel corn (from a can) and cane poles, and then when I got bigger we graduated to nightcrawlers or minnows for bait. We would catch perch, largemouth bass and the occasional crappie or catfish. Mostly we threw them back, but sometimes we’d have a good fish fry!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I’m a procrastinator by nature, but with little kids in the house I’ve learned to do things ahead of time because I never know if I’m going to have time at the last minute to complete a project.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I am a steak and potatoes girl, however, for really special occasions, I love seafood. My husband proposed to me after a lovely meal at Red Lobster, so that is always a favorite of ours.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
I just finished a story (December release) dealing with redemption. I love reading redemption stories but it was a lot harder to write one than I thought it would be. For me, finding a balance between a character who needs to be redeemed (in this case, a con man), and making that character likeable to the reader was kind of hard. I guess we’ll wait and find out if I made him likeable enough!

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Psalm 27 has always been one of my favorites. I am not a patient person, but reading and memorizing this Scripture has brought me peace in different times when I’ve needed encouragement to wait on the Lord.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
THE HOMESTEADER’S SWEETHEART is available now from Love Inspired Historical. Homesteader Jonas White is just trying to make ends meet for himself and his large, adopted brood. He needs money to get his daughter the medical treatment she needs and has to turn to his neighbor’s visiting granddaughter—who is the last person he could imagine helping him. Penny Castlerock is a spoiled socialite who is used to parties and fine dresses, but as Jonas gets to know her, he finds out there is a compassionate woman beneath the fancy veneer. But how can a fine lady like Penny fall in love with a poor homesteader?

I am also doing a special promotion for this book. Readers can find full details at www.megamaybirthdaybash.com.

Purchase the book at:                       
Barnes & Noble         

Lacy Williams is giving away a copy of  THE HOMESTEADER’S SWEETHEART . The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Until next time. . . Sharon A Lavy

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