Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Gail Pallotta!

Is there a story behind your book Mountain of Love and Danger?
Yes. One of my critique partners and her son, who also writes with her sometimes, suggested the five of us write a series of retold fairy tales and self-publish them. I chose to retell Jack and the Beanstalk because I thought it could lend itself to a bit of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance, and I’m a fan of that genre.

We had so much fun writing and critiquing the novellas over the span of a year.

Mountain of Love and Danger is fifth in the Fairwilde Fairy Tale Reflection series. The others are At the Edge of a Dark Forest by Connie Almony; Red and the Wolf by June Foster; Mirror on the Fall by Mildred and Jonathan Colvin and Swept Away by Vanessa Riley.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why? 
The hero, Jack, interested me most because he was suddenly jarred from his carefree life. Then he had to reach inside and call on his faith to find strength and courage he didn’t know he had.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done? 
I believe I’m guilty of several, but I’ll choose one that applies to writing. When my daughter was a baby, I sent out my resume looking for freelance work. One day an editor called and asked me to bring in some samples to show him. I had plenty of those, but nothing to put them in. I pondered the problem as I lined up a babysitter. Then my gaze fell upon the small picnic basket someone had sent us for Christmas. I emptied it and shoved my articles into it.

When I arrived at the editor’s office, I put it on my lap. He peered over his desk and asked, “Are we going to have a picnic?”

I told him the situation and he chuckled.

I ended up writing many articles for him.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
I grew up at the foothills of the beautiful Western North Carolina Mountains, but what I like most is a toss up. The scenery is awe-inspiring and peaceful. The small-town people I was fortunate enough to grow up with are the salt-of-the earth kind. We were a close-knit group who genuinely cared about each other and still do.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends? (and feel free to share a recipe with us!) 
Christmas Eve dinner is my favorite meal with family and friends.
I’ll share an easy sweet potato casserole.
4 medium sweet potatoes 
3 tabl. margarine
2 tabl. brown sugar
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup cooking sherry

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 tabl. melted margarine
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cook sweet potatoes, peel and mash. Add margarine and brown sugar mixing well. Add marmalade and sherry and mix thoroughly. Place in baking dish.
Mix topping until crumbly. Then spread it on top of the sweet potato mix and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)
My favorite Bible verses are Matthew 22: 37 - 40, because Jesus tells us God’s greatest commandments in a few words. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Please tell us if you have another book in the works. 
I recently signed a contract with Prism Book Group for a contemporary romance, Barely above Water. In it an illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. She turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida, and takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but must overcome his fear of losing a loved one then regain Suzie’s trust. She relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, financial burdens without permanent employment, and heartbreak.

Buy her book here:

About Gail:
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

Connect with her here:
Web site

GAIL is giving away a copy of MOUNTAIN OF LOVE AND DANGER. 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.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mountain of Love and Danger by Gail Pallotta

Back Cover Blurb

Jack Greenthumb finds romance in Fairwilde Kingdom—a different day—a different girl. Then a cruel mystery begins. Dad’s beaten, the family farm destroyed and Jack’s true love, Gwendolyn Bante, kidnapped. Jack’s undercover operation reveals Gwenie’s a captive atop a mountain accessible only by helicopter. Reaching her is a dangerous expedition even for a champion rock climber like Jack. However, a Greenthumb Acres employee plants a miraculous seed from Heaven for the rescue. Suspense mounts as Jack scales the perilous cliff to face a brute and a treacherous descent in this retelling of the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Read an Excerpt:

Lonely darkness fell around Jack as he slipped into his harness and put on his climbing shoes. He crept in and out of the moon’s shadows to the base of the alp and took hold of the strong plant, the itchy touch of it not a problem, the strength of it boosting his confidence. Fueled by the fire burning in his heart to find Gwenie, he stepped on the first node and glanced back. Just one quick look. He didn’t know why. Maybe something in his psyche wanted to see the ground from whence he’d come one last time in case he never set foot on it again.

He climbed up the next nodule and the next as fast as his feet and arms would take him. A sense of leaving the everyday world overwhelmed him as it always did when he climbed, but this time it wasn’t freeing. An eerie sensation sent shivers through his bones with every foot he scaled. The breaking of twigs, crunching of leaves, and howling noises below grew fainter and fainter as he ascended higher and higher.

“Whooo-whoo.” Halfway up he met an owl that turned its head in a circle as it sat on the highest limb of a towering oak. He pulled upward while pushing with his lower body as he passed boulders and scraggly bushes lit by the stars and moon. He searched with his right hand for the next node, found it, moved up and placed his foot on the spot where it had been. The jagged surface on this mountain could rip open a person in an instant, but it was Jack’s fear for Gwenie that gripped him. The yearning to hold her safe in his arms seeped deeper into his pores each time he forged upward.

His body ached as he pulled with nerves wound as tight as a corkscrew for wanting to hurry to the top. Soon his leg muscles cramped. A gray piece of granite jutting out like the seat of a chair with a slab for a back tempted him. How could he rest after what he’d done to Gwenie? He had to keep moving, but what if his arms and legs gave out, and he never reached her? His head throbbed with decision making.

Just for a second he let go of the living pole. His foot slipped, and he slid down the precipice, debris rolling, crashing beneath him until the belay caught the rope and stopped his fall. His head swam as he thrust the spring-loaded camming device into a crack and anchored the cable. He swung to his right and sank to the rocky seat. The stones settled below him and silence filled the darkness where he sat tucked out of the light from Heaven.

Two days ago he was a slap-happy player in love with Gwenie since childhood, but content to drink life’s single pleasures a while longer. Now the need to take hold of a more profound passion that seemed as fragile as one of Dad’s orchids burned in his soul. The breeze whipping around him blew away images of fast rides through Fairwilde with a blond or a brunette laughing beside him. He needed Gwenie. Please Lord, let her be alright waiting for me.

He stretched out his legs then rubbed his palms together. Upward.

He swung out, grabbed hold of the beanstalk, pulled up with his hand and pushed with his foot as a blast of strong wind swayed the sturdy stem. The stars grew dim then disappeared as clouds rolled over them. Raindrops hit his head while lightning flashed, lighting up the sky—nothing but dark space as far as he could see. Then the flash.

He pulled up with his hand and pushed with his right foot—pulled up with his hand and pushed with his right foot again and again through the black void cut by occasional lightning. The tiny glow from the lamp on his helmet did little good in this storm. Another burst of air whipped around him, and the plant quivered. He touched a flat spot. The one Fernando told him to look for? He moved his fingers around it.

Yes. Relief as strong as the gust that bent the trees swept over him. The top. He wanted to shout I’m here Gwenie! into the stormy night over and over, but instead he leaned forward trying to see a way into the cabin.

Buy her book here:

About Gail:
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

Connect with her here:
Web site

GAIL is giving away a copy of MOUNTAIN OF LOVE AND DANGER. 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.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Last Lonely Christmas by Claire Sanders

Back Cover Blurb:

What’s a girl to do when everybody has somebody except her?

Mary Thompson has learned to cope with everyday loneliness, but Christmas is a different kind of challenge. Every carol reminds her that Christmas is a time for families to gather and for loved ones to exchange tokens of love. There must be something she can do to avoid another lonely Christmas.

Will Stewart knows little about loneliness. As a single father, he’s got his hands full with two children and his career as a contractor. A few moments of peace and quiet would be a welcome change, but he’s not likely to get them while he’s working on renovating a cottage for a new client. And of course, she wants it done in time for Christmas.

The story of how these two find each other amid the hustle and bustle of the busiest time of the year will warm your heart and renew your faith in love.

Book excerpt

Mary Thompson peered over the railing of the third floor atrium and gazed with wonder at the busy sales floor below. Alden’s Department Store had buzzed with shoppers every weekend in November, but today’s crowd was twice as large. Had someone announced an all-you-can-carry-for-free sale?
            The happy voices of shoppers mingled with strains of Christmas carols and lights twinkled among ocean-themed decorations. The store owner, Charles Alden, had requested “something different” for the Christmas decorations this year, but the decorator he’d hired had somehow mixed up Christmas with “The Little Mermaid”. Scantily dressed mannequins with bikini tops and glittering fish tail bottoms hung from the ceiling and lounged atop display cases. Each held a silver platter, as though proffering a gift idea to shoppers. As if the mermaids weren’t enough, display tables featuring oversized stiletto heels covered in colorful sequins had been placed in each department. Not only were the shoes big enough to fit Sasquatch, they were better suited to Mardi Gras than they were a celebration of the Lord’s birth.
That was the main problem, Mary realized. Christmas had always been a quiet occasion in the Good Shepherd Home for Children. The adults had made sure each child received a gift, but the emphasis had always been on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph instead of perfume, jewelry, and the latest fashions.  
A crowded sales floor was good for business, Mary reminded herself. She’d gladly endure the chaos between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve if it kept Mr. Alden happy. Besides, working at a frenetic pace was a welcome change from the dreadful quiet of Thanksgiving. She’d spent the day scraping paint from kitchen cabinets in her fixer-upper house while her neighbors, the Kaminskis, had welcomed carloads of family to celebrate the day.
The real estate agent hadn’t been able to hide his surprise when Mary had made an offer on the sad-eyed Craftsman bungalow, but it was hers now. The large lot with the pecan trees belonged to her as well as the spacious second-floor bedroom that overlooked the back yard. Of course the house needed work, but for a girl raised in an orphanage, nothing was quite as precious as her own home.   
Mary shifted her gaze from the ground floor to the middle-aged man who had joined her at the railing. He took a deep breath and patted his chest. “Ah….there’s nothing as wonderful as the smell of shoppers in the morning,” he said with a wide smile.
“Good morning, Mr. Alden. How was your Thanksgiving?”
Charles Alden patted the small paunch above his belt. “Oh, the usual. Too much family, too much turkey, too much football. My wife invited everyone to our house this year”
Mary smiled at her boss’s description. Family holidays were the norm for him, but a mystery to her. How marvelous it must be to have “too much family”. Mary gestured toward the escalator. “I’m on my way to check on the temporary workers we hired for the holidays.”
“I won’t keep you,” Mr. Alden said, “but you might want to check with Alexis about the new registers she’s ordered. All of the floor personnel will have to be trained right away.”
            He turned, not waiting for Mary’s answer. As she watched his gray-suited figure disappear down the corridor that led to the management staff’s offices, an ominous cloud formed in her mind. As the newly hired director of technology, Alexis Lange was piloting new hardware and software in the main store. She promised up-to-date inventory control, product suggestions based on buyers’ shopping histories, and touch screen kiosks that allowed shoppers to place orders immediately. It was all great as far as Mary was concerned, but did all that new-and-improved have to be installed during the busiest time of the year?
            It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas was playing as she rode the escalator down to the main floor.  Mary surveyed the shoppers crowded around the jewelry counters. Christmas and Valentine’s Day were the busiest times of the year for jewelry, and she’d placed three temporary workers in that department. The two college girls seemed to be holding their own, but Mrs. Gallagher’s Santa hat was askew and tufts of curly gray hair formed corkscrews around her head.
            Mary laid her hand on the older lady’s shoulder. “Everything okay, Mrs. Gallagher?”
            The older lady blinked as though she’d been startled out of a reverie. “What? What did you say?”
            “I’m just checking to see if you need help with anything.”
            Sarah Gallagher stepped back from the jumble of earrings she’d been sorting.  “Oh, Mary. Isn’t this just the best time of year? I love the hustle and bustle. All the husbands looking for just the right thing to give their wives and all the wives looking for just the right thing to ask for.” She chuckled good-naturedly. “My husband, George, rest his soul, always got me a nice piece of jewelry for Christmas. He said, ‘Now, Sarah, if things get tight someday, you’ll be able to sell your treasure for whatever you need.’ As if I’d ever be able to part with it.”
            Mary gestured toward the earrings scattered across the counter. “What happened here?”
            “Oh, nothing,” Mrs. Gallagher said with a wave of her hand. “Just a little accident. No harm done.”
            Mary’s attention was drawn by Olivia Bishop, the department’s senior salesperson. Olivia pointed at Mary and then pointed to the opposite counter. Mary nodded her understanding. “Let me know if you need anything, Mrs. Gallagher. I want the time you spend here to be pleasant.”
            The corners of Mrs. Gallagher’s eyes crinkled as she smiled warmly. “Of course. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”
            Mary stopped at several spots along the horseshoe-shaped counter before meeting Olivia. If she made her inspection look casual, perhaps Mrs. Gallagher wouldn’t suspect there was a problem.
            Olivia crossed her arms under her full bosom and tapped the toe of one shoe. “She has got to go.”
            “Good morning to you, too,” Mary answered. “How was your Thanksgiving?”
            “I know you’ve got a soft spot for old people,” Olivia said with a strident tone, “but Sarah Gallagher has dropped a tray of earrings, lost a diamond ring, and messed up the cash register twice. And the store’s only been open for two hours.”
            “Lost a diamond ring?” Mary repeated.
            “Don’t worry, I found it under a cabinet. But, Mary, please find another place for Sarah.”
            Mary stood on tiptoe to look over the cabinets in the center of the horseshoe. “See what Mrs. Gallagher’s doing right now?”
            Olivia stretched her neck to look around the mermaid that stretched provocatively along the cabinets. “She’s talking to a man.”
            “She’s talking to a customer. That’s what she’s good at. She listens to people. Asks them questions about their family. Spends time with them.”
            “Is that why she hasn’t made any sales?”
            “I think that personal touch is what customers really want. They long for someone to be interested. That man she’s talking to is wearing a wedding ring, and I bet he’s shopping for his wife. Maybe today he’s only gathering ideas, but he’ll remember Mrs. Gallagher. The nice grandmotherly lady who helped him.”
            Olivia pursed her bright red lips and frowned. “Maybe,” she said under her breath.
            Mary patted Olivia’s elbow and smiled. “I’ll check with you later. For now, keep Mrs. Gallagher away from the cash register and let her do what she does best.”
            Olivia pulled the tail of her red sweater around her hips and nodded. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
            As Mary left the jewelry section and headed for the children’s department, she was intercepted by the Information Technology team. Dressed in a slim-fitting black skirt and red jacket, blonde Alexis Lange was the epitome of business professional. How did she spend all day in those high heels?
            “Mary!” Alexis snapped her fingers.
            Mary turned toward the sound, wondering if she’d responded like a well-trained dog. “Good morning, Alexis. How’s it going?”
            “Fantastic. Once Mr. Alden sees how my ideas increase sales, I’m sure he’ll want to extend the technology to the branch locations.” Alexis turned her attention to a hand-held electronic tablet. “Neil, did you upload the data about installation dates?”
            Neil Jorgensen, the younger of Alexis’s two assistants, adjusted his rectangular glasses and frowned at her tablet. “It’s right there, in the folder labeled ‘installation schedule’.”
            While Alexis concentrated on the screen, Neil turned and made a goofy face at Mary. Mary hid her smile behind her hand. “Did you need me for something, Alexis?” Mary asked. “I was on my way to the children’s department.”
            Alexis’s face kept a neutral fa├žade beneath her perfectly applied makeup, but she rolled her eyes. “Better you than me,” she muttered. “I avoid that department like I avoid carbohydrates. But I did want to tell you that the new cash registers were delivered on Wednesday. Have you arranged for employee training?”
            “No, but I’ll set up the schedule before I leave today.”
            Alexis used the back of one red-nailed hand to push a disobedient lock of hair back into her flawlessly fashioned style. “The sooner we get the new system up and running, the sooner our profits will increase.”
            Without saying goodbye or thanking Mary for her part in establishing the new system, Alexis strode briskly toward the housewares department, her other assistant following quickly in her wake.
Neil grinned and approached Mary. “Gee, Mary, what’s taking you so long? After all, the new cash registers were delivered two days ago. Just because they haven’t been unpacked and set up is no excuse.”
Mary smiled at her friend and turned toward the children’s department. “What about the fact that you and the other members of your team are the only ones who know how they work?”
Neil fell into step beside her. “What about it?” He mimicked flicking back a strand of hair and imitated a feminine voice. “We must all work together to show Mr. Alden how marvelous I am. Simply mar-ve-lous.”
Neil’s sarcasm may have been mean-spirited, but Mary couldn’t stop herself from laughing at his impersonation.  “Alexis is going to catch you making fun of her someday.”
Neil’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding? She’s so focused on impressing the boss she probably won’t even realize what I’m doing.”
As they entered the children’s department, Mary stopped to examine the child-sized mannequins who had been dressed as sea creatures. One wearing a crab costume played with stuffed animals while two others dressed like sea horses investigated a treasure box. “What do you think about this year’s Christmas decorations?”
“I think they’re perfect for all the little boys and girls that live at the bottom of the sea,” Neil said with a smirk. “Uh-oh. I see Alexis looking more confused than usual. I’d better catch up to her before she breaks something.”
Mary watched Neil saunter into the housewares department. Alexis frowned over her electronic tablet, glanced at Neil, and then passed the device to him.  It was hard to know if Neil was better at technology or cracking jokes, but in the year he’d worked at Alden’s Department Store, he’d proven his knowledge of computers and his willingness to work patiently with the most tech-challenged employees. He was ten years younger than Mary, but that hadn’t kept them from becoming friends.
The head salesperson in the children’s department, Roberta Lewis, pushed her glasses to the top of her head. “Mary, do you have a minute?”
Stepping behind the counter, Mary saw that Roberta had the sales force marshaled into a quasi-assembly line. One of the new girls removed items from hangers and formed tidy stacks of each customer’s purchases. An experienced worker handled the register and another new girl bagged the purchase. Leave it to Roberta to keep everything moving smoothly. “What can I do for you?” Mary asked.
“How was your holiday?” Roberta asked.
The image of herself warming a frozen meal in the microwave flashed into Mary’s mind, but her co-worker didn’t need to know how achingly lonely she’d been. “Quiet. How was yours?”
“Anything but quiet. I tell you, when my family gets together we make more noise than a room full of Harleys.”
Mary laughed with her. “Looks to me as though you’ve got everything under control here.”
“Thanks, but I need to know who’s working the evening shifts next week.”
“Didn’t you get the email?”
“No. In fact, I think something’s wrong with my account. Every time I log in it tells me I have no new emails.”
“I’ll let the I.T. department know and I’ll put a paper copy of the schedule in your mailbox.”
Roberta shook her head and frowned. “All this new-fangled technology …ever since Alexis started working here it’s been one problem after another.”
It wasn’t the first time Mary had heard that complaint, but her job was to fix problems, not spread discontent. “I’m sure it’ll all work out,” Mary answered. “Let me know if you need anything else.” 

With a quick wave, she left the children’s department and circled through the ground floor, checking on the other temporary workers she’d hired. Satisfied they were holding their own, she dodged paper seaweed as she rode the escalator back up to the top floor. If she got started on the training schedule right away, she should be able to keep her six o’clock appointment.     

Author bio:

After many years of writing and publishing in the nonfiction world of academia, Claire Sanders turned her energy, humor and creativity towards the production of compelling romantic fiction. Claire writes captivating stories that fit the genres of contemporary, historical, and inspirational romance. Claire creates heroes any woman would want to be with and heroines who overcome all obstacles to find love. Written with wit and tenderness, her stories engage the readers’ hearts and imaginations. Readers will find themselves anxiously turning the pages to find out what happens next. Claire lives in the greater Houston area with her daughter and one well-loved dog. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her cooking, gardening, and dreaming of places to travel.

To connect with Claire:

To purchase her book:

Claire Sanders is giving away a copy of The Last Lonely Christmas.  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 may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Claire Sanders

Is there a story behind your book, The Last Lonely Christmas?
A lot of my stories come from problems I’m trying to solve in my own life. I’ve been faced with the problem of spending holidays alone and having to decide if I wanted to suffer in silence or do something about it. I hope the reader notes that the heroine of this story solves her problem before the hero steps in and changes her life.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
The demands of everyday life can easily keep me from writing. I work full time and have a family, so finding a few hours to write can be a challenge. I’ve learned to stop measuring my writing by how many words I produce each day. Instead, I focus on inching my way toward the finish line.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Although they’re not writers for the Christian market, my favorite authors are Deborah Smith, Dorothea Frank Benton, Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, and Jennifer Cruisie.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
The heroine of “The Last Lonely Christmas” is a capable young woman who can solve almost any problem in her life. But when the only solution is something she can’t provide for herself, she learns she must learn to rely on others. This is so much like me it’s a bit scary. I’ve often taken self-reliance to the extreme.

What is your favorite season of the year?
I live in the Houston area, and we are notorious for our steamy, hot summers. It’s no wonder then that my favorite season is autumn. When that first cool breeze blows through in October, I feel like the whole world is sighing in relief. In fact, I decorated my bedroom in autumnal colors so I could enjoy the season year-round.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
People who visit central Texas for the first time sometimes comment that the land is vast and empty. It’s true that this part of the state has few forests but the wide-open vistas and massive sky are familiar to me. I revel in the feeling of openness. Whenever I visit the dense forests in the eastern part of Texas, it feels gloomy and claustrophobic. To each her own, I suppose, but those empty prairies are home to me.        

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Any time I have to make a phone call to someone I don’t know, I grit my teeth, say a quick prayer, and dial the number. I find that communicating in writing or face-to-face is so much easier than trying to talk to a disembodied voice. I love email and texting but I’m afraid they’re only enabling my reluctance to talk on the phone!

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
My favorite place to travel is any place I haven’t been before. I love learning new things and visiting a new place or a different culture is ripe with opportunities to learn.

 Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
My books “The Captive Bird” and “A Thousand Little Blessings” are both about forgiveness and the powerful healing that comes when one forgives. Another common theme in my stories is women who do not know their true worth, but learn that they are much more than caregivers or good workers.

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

I have several books currently in print. You can read about all of them at my website Also, friend me on Facebook and you’ll receive notices of my new releases.

To purchase Claire's book:

Claire Sanders is giving away a copy of The Last Lonely Christmas.  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 may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Winners

Once again, we want to welcome our readers to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. We've got some real page turners for you this week. Our hope is that these books will make you stop and think.

But before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:

Vicki Buchhold who offered her Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead.
Beth Wiseman who offered her Romance  The Promise.
Lora Young who offered her Historical Romance Mystery Malicious Mischief.
Sharon A. Lavy who offered her novel Farewell For A While.
Carole Brown who offered her World War II novel  With Music In Their Hearts.
And April McGowan who offered her novel Macy.
And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:

Lisa Lickel has won Vicki Buchhold’s Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead.
Britney Adams has won Beth Wiseman’ Romance  The Promise.
Caryl Kane has won Lora Young’s Historical Romance Mystery Malicious Mischief.
Wendy Newcom has won Sharon A. Lavy’s novel Farewell For A While.
Squires J. has won Carole Brown’s World War II novel  With Music In Their Hearts.
And Elaine Stock has won April McGowan’s novel Macy.
Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 

Be sure to check past winners posts. Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss seeing the winners list.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Florida Author Diane Dean White

Welcome Diane! Is there a story behind your book Winter Wonderland?

I grew up in Michigan and we’d often go to Detroit for special events; the Tiger ball games, plays at the Fisher Theatre and to shop at Hudson’s Department Store. I wanted to capture some of the past, as Detroit has had a lot of hard knocks lately. I decided on the year 1951when so much was happening with WWII over, veterans returning, and Detroit was prospering with large companies moving in. Michigan is known as the Winter and Water Wonderland state, thus the title. J

What started you on your writing journey?

An old black Royal manual typewriter in sixth grades; I wrote poetry and then short-stories. I worked as a secretary at Michigan State University and when my hubby’s job took us to the county seat of a southern town I worked as a newspaper reporter. The people that I interviewed were so interesting, and I had my own column which brought me attention. I was hooked with my first byline! I continued to write while raising my family, doing stringer work for area newspapers and donor appeal writing for non-profit organizations as well as family research for a book. After the kids left for college I started writing short-stories and many were picked up for publication in a variety of books and magazines. It was until 2004 that I wrote my first novel, Carolina in the Morning, and soon after had a weekly column in a Michigan magazine. In 2010 I stopped writing for my weekly and worked on my book On a Summer Night…and kept on writing!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

I turn the rest of the world out when I’m caught up in a creative mood; perhaps a call from our daughter or grand’s who are across oceans with their dad’s work. OR our son who serves on the mission field, and we have a chance to SKYPE with him. Otherwise, I’m fairly dedicated to staying with my writing until a natural break takes place, usually after a few hours, when I leave the computer room and spend time with my hubby until it beacons me again. J

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

Ruth is my main character. She and her mother, Cora, have a good relationship and she seems like the kind of daughter who would have been happy and loving in 1951. She’s a Christian with strong morals, and excited about her work and new job….until someone enters her life. I enjoyed the research about the area, no I’m not from that time zone, and much research was involved. My hubby is from the Detroit suburb so he helped in some areas. J I grew up in the capitol city of Michigan.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

The fun things our granddaughters share when we talk. Or when they visit and we go out to our annual voyage to a tea room. They love to dress up and are such fun.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

I wrote about it in the story “White Christmas”…we lived across from the University and my parents rented rooms for the students. When they went home at Christmas break the house was ours (me and my younger brother). The movie “White Christmas” was popular in the mid-fifties, and when Dad got home we all went downtown to see it. There hadn’t been a lot of snow yet, and during the movie it came down in constant flurries. When we exited the theatre after seeing that special film, we walked into a wonderland of snow, it was a beautiful sight. Something as a family we did before Christmas, and I always remembered.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

We’ve just settled into a new home in Florida, but have aspirations to travel with a motor home and see the country. I have severe back problems which make travels hard on me via car; and have to lie down often. A trip to Michigan is always a special place, and I enjoy visiting family when we go.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

I do share Christ and the salvation plan in my books, and I try to show readers true life experiences and reality, but also how problems can be faced trusting Christ to help them. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and again reality, as in everyday life, is the focus.   

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 
“Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give thee the desires of thy heart. “ Psalms 37:4
I love this verse and feel it’s true. I’ve felt His leading time and again, and my love for writing is something He has given me. I rely on His guidance in my books and through prayer try to share with readers what He would want me to.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I’ve been working on a novel, This Side of Heaven, for a couple of years. It’s set to release in February 2015. This takes place in rural Georgia and follows a young mother who flees with her two young children in a protection program, and meets someone very special. But being a new Christian and knowing how the Lord led her from an abusive situation, doesn’t act on that…until she learns of her husband’s passing. And she is free to fall in love again. The story shares sadness, triumphs, tragedy, a visiting older aunt who becomes terribly important, and a well read retired Judge, who makes this story a favorite of mine. It’s a weave of romance and suspense. 

Thanks for sharing with us today, Diane!

Connect with Diane Dean White at:

Diane Dean White is giving away a copy of Winter Wonderland. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Wonderland by Diane Dean White

In 1951 WWII has ended and the economy is booming around the country. Jeb and Cora Willis are excited about a new start. Like many families, they decide to move to the city of Detroit for a factory job that will bring prosperity and a better life.

While most young women are looking for husbands, Ruth tries to further her career and concentrates on obtaining a job with her business skills at Detroit’s J. L. Hudson Department Store. She feels good about her new office position and then meets Clint…who changes everything.

 Was he part of the reason for their move? During a health problem will their faith hold them together or threaten a loving relationship?  Celebrate the Christmas holiday and follow Ruth in this romantic story, during Detroit’s heyday, in Winter Wonderland. 

Book Excerpt

Chapter One
   Ruth sat up front with her parents in Jeb’s 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster station wagon, while the younger children slept in the back seats. Cora packed a hearty meal for her family for their first couple of days on the road, thinking they’d stop at a road side park and enjoy some cool water with her fried chicken, biscuits, beans, apples and her grandmother’s recipe for shortbread cookies, which the children loved.
   “How long will it take to reach Tennessee, Father?” Ruth woke from a drowsy rest trying to focus where they were.
   “We should be there less than an hour. Then onto Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.” Jeb was alert and looked forward to a factory job with good pay. “The longest day is past; going through the entire state of Florida can be a challenge. I’m happy for good weather and easy driving conditions.”
   “It’s always best to get an early start before the rooster crows; it gives us time on the road and not as much heavy traffic.” Cora was quick to encourage her daughter.
   “How will we know where to go, to find a house, Mother?” Ruth’s concern showed. She didn’t blame her dad; she knew he was a hard worker. But having to move when she had a good job in the small town where they’d lived, well, what was Michigan like?
   “Spoke with John Turley; he said they have room for us to spend the night. I have his number to call once we get to the city.” Jeb was confident. “Glad we’ve kept in touch through the years.”
   “It’s a Godsend people are willing to open their doors to others. They must be good Christian folks to be so kind.” Cora used a handkerchief to wipe perspiration off her brow.
   “I wonder if I can find an office position somewhere in Detroit. I’d like to continue to use the business skills I developed in high school. Maybe I could attend night school.” Ruth contemplated. “I’m grateful for the bookkeeping job Mr. Jakes gave me; it was good experience since graduation a year ago. Oh, I didn’t open the letter he gave me when I went for my pay and to tell him good-bye.” Ruth reached for her purse.
   She read the note briefly and along with her weekly pay was a fifty-dollar bill. “I know I didn’t make this much. Says it’s a bonus, and he included a reference.” Ruth brightened. “That makes my day a great one already.”
   “That’s quite a gift and I know you did a good job, Ruth. Your father and I are proud of you.” Cora patted her daughter’s hand. “Look, we’ve reached the Tennessee state sign; we’re officially in the land of the Grand Ole Opry.” Cora smiled.

About The Author

Diane is a former newspaper reporter and weekly columnist. She is the author of over three-hundred short-stories. Her first novel, Carolina in the Morning is followed by On a Summer Night, Stories from a Porch Swing, Texting Mr. Right and Winter Wonderland. Look for This Side of Heaven in February 2015.  She and her hubby Stephen have been married for forty-two years, the parents of three grown children and three grand gals. They make their home in the sunshine state.

Purchase Winter Wonderland at:

Diane Dean White is giving away a copy of Winter Wonderland. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Katie Clark

It's a pleasure to welcome Katie to the Barn Door Book Loft today. Katie your book sounds intriquing. Tell us:

Is there a story behind your book Vanquished?
There is! I’d had the idea for my characters for years, literally. They’d been floating around my brain, just itching to come out. When someone suggested I write a book set in a world with no Bible, I knew these characters had finally found their place. The story flew from there!

What started you on your writing journey? 
My grandpa started taking me to the library when I was a little girl. I used to pick the Choose Your Own Adventure Books, because I wanted to be in charge of the stories. From there, I went into writing my own stories in high school, to eventually studying the craft and getting into publishing.

What distracts you from writing the easiest? 
FACEBOOK, hands down!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
Being completely honest when I say I can read the encyclopedia. Or romances. Or westerns. Or YA dystopian. Or contemporaries. I love stories, and as long as it’s a good story I am on board.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud? 
Unexpected humor. I love finding irony in life, or just wacky things in unexpected places.

What is your favorite season of the year?  
Oooh! Hard one. I have always loved fall most, but in the last few years I’ve slowly moved into loving summer, too. So it’s a toss up—summer or fall!

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

Now this is an easy on! Laundry and dishes are my nemesis. They defeat me daily.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 
The entire Enslaved Series releases together from Pelican Book Group on November 22, 2014. I also have a new YA series with them that will come out next year! These books won’t be a long, continuing story like the Enslaved Series. The new series will be stand-alone books with a common theme—lost Biblical treasures. Book 1 is titled Shadowed Eden, and it will come out first (I describe it as the TV show “Lost” meets Christian YA!).

To buy her book, go here:



About Katie:
KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of VanquishedDeliverance, and Redeemer

You can connect with her at:

KATIE  is giving away a copy of VANQUISHED. 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.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

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