Saturday, September 29, 2012

TSMSS - For Those Tears I Died

I've shared a number of songs by David Phelps through the years on this blog. Today my heart is heavy for him and his family. David's sister, Sherri Proctor, passed away this week after a six-year battle with cancer.

This video is David and his Family Band, including Sherri, singing just a little over a year ago in June, 2011, at a festival in Ireland. I have always loved this song but I don't think I've heard it since my high school days.

Join me at Amy's for more songs.


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Trinity: Military War Dog

Trinity: Military War Dog
(A Breed Apart)
Ronie Kendig
(Barbour Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1616265946
September 2012/352 pages/$12.99

A year ago in Afghanistan, Green Beret Heath Daniel’s career was destroyed. Along with his faith. Now he and his military war dog, Trinity, train other dogs and their handlers. Though his passion is to be back in action, the medical discharge has forced Heath—-and Trinity—-to the sidelines. Military intelligence officer Darci Kintz is captured while secretly tracking the Taliban. Only one dog can handle the extreme conditions to save her. Trinity. Only one man can handle Trinity. Time is running out on the greatest—and most dangerous—mission of their lives.


Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include espionage thriller Dead Reckoning and a military series: The Discarded Heroes series (Nightshade, Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn).

In addition to speaking engagements, Ronie is a monthly columnist at the award-winning blog, Novel Rocket, and is active with the American Christian Fiction Writers. Ronie can be found online at, on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@roniekendig).

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained critical acclaim and national attention, including: 2012 Christy Award Winner – Wolfsbane (Contemporary Romance); 2012 Carol Award Finalist – Wolfsbane (Romantic Suspense); Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards (Nightshade); RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade); Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011); and more.

Ronie lives in Virginia with her husband and four children.


I love Ronie Kendig's books. To be honest, I was a little hesitant about this one when I first heard about it because I am not an animal lover and really didn't think I would be particularly drawn into a book that "starred" a dog. But knowing Kendig's gift for penning compelling stories, I had to give it a try and I was immediately captivated. I predict this will be another award-winning series for Kendig. Her passion for honoring our military--both human and canine--shines through her writing, not in sappy storylines but in gritty and realistic action that left me breathlessly turning pages as if my efforts might impact the outcome of the novel. While Trinity is certainly a major part of this story, Heath and Darci are integral as well, and Kendig is a master at portraying authentic characters who often face the dangers of their jobs with less trepidation than the struggles within their own hearts and minds. Faith, courage, loyalty and plenty of action--Trinity: Military War Dog is a reader's best friend!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Books as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two Destinies

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Two Destinies
David C. Cook (September 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Musser


Elizabeth Musser, author of acclaimed novels such as The Swan House, grew up in Georgia, but now lives in Lyon, France, where she and her husband serve as missionaries with International Teams. Look for Two Testaments, her sequel to Two Crosses, in stores now, and Two Destinies, the third book in the trilogy, set for release in Fall 2012.

A word from Elizabeth:

Recent exciting news is that, finally, the whole trilogy is going to be published in 2012. Many readers have written to me throughout the years to encourage me to keep pursuing getting Two Destinies into print. In a fun twist of fate (really the Lord's perfect timing), David C. Cook (who originally published Two Testaments) has offered me a contract for all three novels. The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy will be published in June 2012 (Two Crosses and Two Testaments) and in September, 2012, Two Destinies will be in the bookstores for the first time!


Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. RislĂ©ne Namani, a French woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death.

A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict, and faith put to the ultimate test.

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Two Destinies, go HERE.


Elizabeth Musser is a talented author and although I have only made it partway through this book, I gladly recommend it!


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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge #95

It's Wednesday and time to join Joyce from This Side of the Pond for the weekly Hodgepodge. If you haven't played along, you're missing a fun time!

1. The Wednesday Hodgepodge this week falls on John Chapman's birth date. He's more famously known as Johnny Appleseed...what's your favorite variety of apple?

Right now it's Gala. It seems like every time I get a variety I like they change it up or quit selling it here. I used to really like Jonagolds.

2. When did you last say 'ick'?

I can't--and probably don't want to!--remember!

3. Do you think there's a generation gap? Explain.

Sure. It's somewhat inevitable. The younger generation does not have the wisdom to understand the older generation's perspective. And while the older generation remembers and understands a bit of the perspective of the younger generation, times change enough that they can't completely relate.

4. What's on your computer screen saver? Do you leave it alone or change it often?

Not sure if Joyce means the background/wallpaper or the moving screen saver. Right now the background/wallpaper is a one of the standard pics that came with the laptop. And the screen saver is the standard floating bubbles one that came with it. I change them occasionally but not very often.

5. If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes, what would you say?

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)


If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile——the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

6. Four fashion trends to try this fall are: brocade/jacquard (fancy printed fabrics), peplum, lace, and printed pants...which of these four would you be most likely to wear?

Peplum or lace.

7. What can make your bad day better?

Listening to some great Christian songs or hymns.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My favorite quote of this week: "totally benign."


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ACFW Recap!

I'm honored to be guest blogging at Litfuse Publicity. Click to read what makes this conference so special!


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Still Life in Shadows

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Still Life in Shadows
River North; New Edition edition (August 1, 2012)
Alice Wisler


Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties. Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers. In her room, she created stories. The desire to be a published famous author has never left her. Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.


It's been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the "Getaway Savior" he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.

One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother's body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father?

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Still Life in Shadows, go HERE.


This book finally arrived yesterday, so I've barely started it. I've enjoyed previous books by this author and so far this one is good, but I've only read the first few chapters so I can't offer a complete review.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Courageous Teens

Courageous Teens
Michael Catt & Amy Parker
(B&H Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1433679063
September 2012/176 pages/2012

Courageous Teens is a student-focused presentation of Courageous Living by Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of the hit film Courageous.

Catt brings fresh insight to “stories of people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe . . . (who) challenge me to keep moving forward. They demand that I examine my priorities and deal with anything that brings fear to my heart.”

Teen readers will be inspired to resolve to live for God as they learn more about Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Ruth, Daniel, and many more.

Best-selling youth market author Amy Parker arranges the heart-stirring material into four categories: Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities, and Courageous Influence. Discussion questions are also included at the end of each chapter.


Michael Catt has served as senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, since 1989 and is executive producer of the popular films Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous that originated from the congregation. He also authored Fireproof Your Life and founded the ReFRESH revival conference. Michael and his wife, Terri, have two children.

Amy Parker has written more than twenty books for children, teens, and adults including the best-selling A Night Night Prayer and three Mom’s Choice Awards winners. Amy and her husband have two children.


(My girl is a senior in high school and volunteered to do this review for me. I have posted her comments below without editing them.)

Courageous Teens is a very well-written book. Unlike some religious books, this book is gripping, using script from the movie Courageous, relatable Bible stories, and current day examples of living courageously for God. I loved how Michael Catt and Amy Parker use example after example of young adults living courageously for God in the Bible, such as Joshua, Esther, and Joseph. He makes the stories and characters come alive and I had no sense of monotony in reading them despite having heard about Joseph and his coat of many colors and Esther saving the Jews since I was a little girl in Sunday school. The book inspired me to stop living life on the sidelines and truly live for Christ. I definitely recommend this book for the teenager near you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Handlebar Central and B&H Publishing as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Carol Award Winners!

The 2012 Carol Awards were presented Saturday night at the ACFW Annual Conference Gala. What a wonderful experience it was for me to be there!


Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)


The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)


My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale – Karen Watson, Editor)


Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)


To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers – Karen Schurrer, Editor)


Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan – Sue Brower, Editor)


An Accidental Christmas from A Biltmore Christmas by Diane T. Ashley/Aaron McCarver (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)


Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)


Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan (Love Inspired – Melissa Endlich, Editor)


Nightwatch by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense – Melissa Endlich, Editor)

SHORT HISTORICAL (four finalists due to a tie):

The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)


Broken Sight by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press – Jeff Gerke, Editor)


Fallen Angel by Major Jeff Struecker/Alton Gansky (B & H Fiction – Julie Gwinn, Editor)


Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate (Penguin Praise/Berkley – Ellen Edwards, Editor) -- This novel received perfect scores from all five judges, a first in the history of the awards!


The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan – Jacque Alberta, Editor)

Here are all the winners who were present at the gala:

(l-r) Karen Witemeyer, Colleen Coble, Diane T. Ashley, Aaron McCarver, Lisa Jordon, Rosslyn Elliott, Susan May Warren, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Dan Walsh, Melanie Dickerson, Lisa Wingate.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Heartbeat Away

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heartbeat Away
David C. Cook (September 1, 2012)
Harry Kraus


A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.


When a brilliant surgeon undergoes a heart transplant, her life transforms as she begins experiencing memories of a murder she never witnessed.

The residents worship her. Nurses step out of her way. Her colleagues respect and sometimes even fear her. But surgeon Tori Taylor never expected to end up on this side of the operating table.

Now she has a new heart. This life that was formerly controlled and predictable is now chaotic. Dr. Taylor had famously protected herself from love or commitment, but her walls are beginning to crumble.

And strangest of all, memories surface that will take her on a journey out of the operating room and into a murder investigation.

Where there once was a heart of stone, there is a heart of flesh. And there is no going back.

If you'd like to read the first chapter excerpt of A Heartbeat Away, go HERE.


Few things make me as happy as opening a new novel by Dr. Harry Kraus, and A Heartbeat Away is his best yet. I LOVED this book! It's another one of those that causes me a bit of a dilemma: should I read it quickly to see what happens? Or read it slowly to savor every detail? The tagline for Kraus' fiction is "Grace from the cutting edge" and that aptly describes this novel. The concept of cellular memory fascinated me as I read. Like a few surgeons I've worked with in my nursing career, Tori Taylor's tongue could cut as sharply as her scalpel, but trading her scrubs for a patient gown results in a change of heart--literally. But was the change due to her transplanted heart or due to her brush with death and the emotional impact of surgery? Kraus' experience as a surgeon lends detail and credibility to the novel that only a seasoned professional can provide. His tenure as a medical missionary in Kenya adds depth and a personal touch to a secondary story that is interwoven with Tori's quest to solve the mystery of her new memories. And the element of danger and suspense make this a pulse-pounding read. This is a captivating and thought-provoking story that will stay with me long after I've turned the final page; don't miss it.

Watch this interesting and brief video that Dr. Kraus and his son filmed on his front porch in Kijabe, Kenya, as he talks about the premise that sparked this novel.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Falling for the Hodgepodge

Saturday is the first day of fall, and Joyce has us thinking about the autumn of our lives (!) as well as autumn on the calendar.

1. What's the best and worst thing about growing older?

Best - not having to experience some of the angst of youth!
Worst - not getting to experience some of the fun of youth!

Seriously, having a bit of wisdom and having been "around the block" a few times is the best part. The worst part is the body not realizing that my brain still feels like I'm 30!

And the realization after both of my parents had died that I am now part of the oldest generation in my family! It was sobering to realize there wasn't that "buffer" generation between me and the end of life!

2. Autumn arrives this week in the Northern Hemisphere...what one thing do you love most about the fall season?

A breeze below 100 degrees. And Thanksgiving.

3. Speaking of fall...pumpkin seems to be flavoring everything these days-are you a fan? What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or beverage?

Ixnay on the pumpkin. The only thing I like about seeing the pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks is knowing that the peppermint mochas are coming next!

4. Since we're on the subject of fall...what's the worst fall you've ever taken?

Fell off my bike in 3rd grade and hit my face. Knocked out a baby tooth, cut my lip, and got mad at my sister, who distracted me as I was trying to turn at the end of the driveway. (I hadn't been riding long and I was barely big enough for the bike. That's the result of being the baby and getting the hand-me-down bikes. I had to wait to grow into the big kid bikes.)

5. If you could own a prop from any film what would you choose?

Since I got to go down to Salzburg, Austria on my Germany trip in August and see some of the sites where The Sound of Music was filmed, I'd definitely say the pavilion where Liesl and Rolf danced and sang Sixteen Going on Seventeen and where Captain Von Trapp proposed to Maria. I know it's more of a setting than a prop, but it is moveable; it's not in the original location where they filmed the movie!

6. What's the most interesting word you've read or learned in the past week?

I haven't a clue.

7. When was the last time you locked yourself out of your house, car, or office? Was it a big deal?

Thanks to sensors and locks that require a key to lock them, it's been at least 20 years. Although now that I've typed that, I'll probably figure out a way to do it in the next week or two. LOL

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm heading to Dallas tomorrow for the ACFW Conference, which runs through Sunday. Saturday night will be the Carol Awards Gala! I can't wait to see which of the 2012 Finalists receive the award! So many great nominations!


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To Love and Cherish

To Love and Cherish
Bridal Veil Island
Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764208874
August 2012/352 pages/$14.99

Escape to a Beautiful, Historic Island Resort

Bridal Veil Island, Georgia - 1898

Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose. Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady's maid.

Evan isn't afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon. He wants to marry Melinda--but not until he's sure he can support her and a family.

Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island. With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.

But the hurricane isn't the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way. Has she given her heart to the wrong person? Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?


Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at and her blog at

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. When time permits, Judy enjoys traveling, visiting historical settings, and scrapbooking the photographs from her travel expeditions. She makes her home in Topeka, Kansas. Visit her Web site at


I'm always happy when these two delightful authors collaborate! The books in this series are connected by their setting but are stand-alones. I reviewed the first novel, To Have and to Hold last fall. The release of To Love and Cherish is timed just perfectly to coincide with hurricane season! The wind and rain aren't the only storm to strike Bridal Veil Island, however. Personalities clash and conflicts abound--and several of the folks in this novel, including Melinda, got on my last nerve. I love it when authors write such realistic characters that I want to step into the book and straighten them out. Just when I thought Evan and Melinda were going to be suspended in a never-ending conflict over their relationship, the plot thickens -- a murder plot, that is! Peterson and Miller add suspense to the relationship tension already flooding the island, and I turned the pages faster as the book neared its ending. I look forward to returning to Bridal Veil Island in January with the next book, To Honor and Trust!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, September 17, 2012

A Mocha with Dan Walsh - and a Contest

One of the highlights of ICRS in Orlando this past summer was getting to meet and interview Dan Walsh. Dan's writing landed him a spot on my favorites shelf with his debut novel The Unfinished Gift in late 2009. Each book has been even better than the one before it, and his newest release, The Reunion, will touch your heart.

When we sat down to chat, the Carol Award nominations had just been announced, and his third book, The Deepest Waters, had been nominated in the Short Historical category. (The Carol Awards will be presented this Saturday night at the ACFW Conference in Dallas, and I am so excited that I will be attending!). Grab a mocha and enjoy my chat with Dan as we discuss his nomination, his thoughts about constantly being called "the Nicholas Sparks of Christian fiction," and the true story that sparked The Reunion.

Congrats on your Carol Award nomination on The Deepest Waters. I was a bit surprised to see it in the Short Historical category with the Heartsongs novels.!

Thank you. I didn't write it to be in that category but it came out on the short side. One of the things people say about my books is "I couldn't put the book down" or "It's a fast read." Revel didn't want me to fatten the book up. Historicals can be 450 pages, but my writing style is not to put a lot of extra stuff in the story. I guess I'm a minimalist. I want just enough setting to put the reader there and then get right to what's happening. It made it a bit short, so I told Revell that I had a ton of research and asked them if they wanted me to go back and put more setting in; they said, "No, we like it crisp and that's what you're becoming known for, so let's leave it that way."

I've read books that are so heavy on the historical setting that they read more like a non-fiction documentary and the story gets lost in the details. I end up skimming a lot of the book. I hate that!

A lot of people who write historicals love history, and they think everyone loves all the stuff they're reading, which for me as a reader, I'd be skipping. One of my favorite writing quotes is from a secular author named Elmore Leonard. He writes thrillers; I've stopped reading his books because they're too profane for me, but his style is so crisp. There are no wasted words. In an article on writing fiction he said, "In your writing, try to leave out all the parts readers skip." That just stuck with me. It's like the cutting room floor. The guys film all this stuff because they want to get it all but when it comes down to what you put on the screen or on the page--I want the story to really move. I want people to come back and say, "I couldn't put it down" or "I read it in one or two sittings." That's my goal. There's so much I've looked up to put into the story but that was for me; I needed that so [the story] rang true. But I don't need to put in six other pages that a few other geeks like me would love but everybody else is skipping. My goal is to take that stuff out even before it gets to my editor. She loves that. Sometimes she says I'll give it to her and there's nothing left for her to trim.

You've been putting books out at quite a pace. That's caused some physical issues for you, hasn't it?

Yes, I've had both carpal tunnel and some ulnar nerve issues due to the way I was typing on my laptop and putting pressure on my elbows. Doing that for four years at two books a year, it finally caught up with me. The last couple of months I've had some weakness and numbness and so I've made some changes. I got a bigger laptop, but I'm mostly doing the voice recognition software, which works really well. I'm writing a series with Gary Smalley [The Dance releases in April] and I was just about to start the second book when I began having issues. I probably would have had to take several months off if that hadn't been available. I thought it would be odd, but the only difficult thing is that I have to be by myself now. I used to be able to go anywhere to write. I can't exactly sit at Starbucks with this!

People are still discovering The Discovery, which has been a huge success, and now The Reunion is coming out! I really enjoyed reading it. What prompted this story?

When I was researching an earlier World War II book, I came across two different stories that were similar and they just really struck me. There were two gentlemen--and these are true stores--who, during the war, did crazy, heroic things; they saved all these lives, and then they came home. They got the Congressional Medal of Honor; most who get that receive it posthumously because they die in the doing. These guys came back and lived lives of virtual obscurity, and the people who saw them had no idea what they had done.

One of the men actually became a custodian at the Air Force Academy. The cadets come in and they're all about patriotism and making their mark, and this man was just the janitor; I think 20 or 25 years went by. One of the students was doing a research project on the Congressional Medal of Honor winners and wondering if any of them are still alive, and he came across this name and picture and the crazy things this guy did in battle, and it was the name of the custodian. He thought, "That can't be!" but he goes up to the custodian and asks "Is this you?" The man just nods, and the student just cannot believe what this man did and here he is, mopping their floors and cleaning their toilets and some people don't even acknowledge him when they walk by. So he passed the word around about who the man was, and that year at the big graduation ceremony, they surprised him and honored him. After that, he became a celebrity at the Academy, and he was just this humble guy. I thought, "I want to write that story."

I had just written a couple of World War II stories and I wasn't sure I wanted to be pegged as "the World War II guy." I grew up in the Vietnam era and to me, it was a bit like a plague. I vividly remember in elementary school that one of my friends got called out of class and was told his big brother had just been killed in Vietnam. Every day you'd come home and the war would be on the news. And then from 1968 on, you saw all the protests and all the outrage. I remember my parents--and my dad was a Korea War vet, very patriotic--discussing moving to Canada so my older brother and I wouldn't have to go through the war. And of course, when the soldiers came home, they were just treated terribly because of all the animosity about the war. The animosity should have been toward Nixon and the guys making it happen, not the soldiers. When the Gulf War happened in 1990/1991, that was almost like a time of healing when there were these parades, like I wrote about in the book, and the Vietnam Vets were invited out of the stands to walk with the Gulf War vets in the parades.

So I just married those two ideas. Instead of telling that story in a World War II environment, I decided to tell it in a way that communicated my gratitude for the guys who fought in Vietnam. I was spared because I was born five years later but if I'd been born five years earlier, I'd been thrown in the middle of that.

That is a neat story and The Reunion is such a great book! Do you think you'll write a follow-up book?

I don't know if they'll want me to write a sequel. Most of my books are stand-alones, except for the first two. The Unfinished Gift was intended to be a standalone, and when it was done they asked me what I wanted to write next. I said that I could see a second story from this book, a love story, and I would like to write it but I wasn't under contract for it. They told me to put together a synopsis and start writing it and they'd look at it. They loved it, and it turned into The Homecoming. Then, after The Homecoming , there started being all of these Nicholas Sparks connections. I'd never even read any of his books. Revell said they'd like to keep me in stand-alones, which I was happy to do, but the other part of me is that I get really invested in these characters! I can see why authors like to write three or four books in a series; there's more to tell! I have to sort of chop it off and then invent another set of characters and another setting. Sometimes the motor keeps running! With some of my books, I've actually written a synopsis for a sequel in case I get to come back to it. I have a synopsis written out for The Deepest Waters, called The Longest Road, which I'd love to write someday. So we'll see! The Lord knows what the future holds.

Let's talk about the whole Nicholas Sparks thing. It frustrates me a bit when people do that--say that you're the Nicholas Sparks of Christian fiction. I know it's meant as a compliment. I used to read his books but I quit because, frankly, I don't like reading a story that pulls on my emotions when the relationship itself goes against my Christian beliefs, such as an affair.

When they make that connection, I understand what they're saying. I'm a male author writing books that are more emotional and relational than a thriller or a suspense novel, and the suspense is in the relationships and what is unfolding. But my world view and my convictions are so different, I'm not comfortable [being aligned with him]. Since I'm always compared to him, my wife and I just watched the most recent movie based on one of his books. Where he goes with the characters, I don't go. I don't think it's right to go there, morally. In real life, when people do that, it spoils. I've been a pastor for 25 years and I've watched what happens when couples are unfaithful. I've even seen scenes where the wife is with a guy who is a jerk, and you can almost think "He's a jerk; I would want you to be happier than with this guy." But God's way of redeeming that would be to redeem the jerk and lead the jerk to see what he's doing and have them restored rather than cash in on the jerk with someone else--who may possibly be a jerk in three to five years! On the interview I read of Sparks, his view is that as long as the couple is in love, it doesn't matter to him if they're sexually active. I disagree with that philosophy. I want people who compare us to understand the differences. I posted on my blog about this awhile back.

Well, I think that you're the one setting the bar for Nicholas Sparks because you have the romance and relationships but you set a higher standard for your characters.

I have seen broken marriages restored when one or both start putting the Lord first. It's not always pretty; it's messy and it takes time, but I've seen it happen where there is a happy ending.

I find it amusing about us [as humans] that we think it's so unusual when a man writes like you do, but we don't blink an eye when a woman writes a tight military suspense thriller.

What I think I've gained from listening to and asking people about this--and I think it's a fair criticism so I'm not offended--is that men are typically not known as good listeners. A lot of husbands aren't good listeners. Marriage books have a lot on husbands learning to listen. Even when Peter tells husbands to live with your wives in an understanding way [I Peter 3:7], what it really means is you need to learn how to listen and hear their hearts. One of Gary Smalley's primary things when he talks to a man is "listen to her heart." Don't just react to her words. Maybe she has an emotional tone and your trying to logically sort her words out. No, you have to hear her heart. That's what women do with other women. When they talk, all the things they say that are emotional, other women are reacting to, and they feel comfortable sharing their hearts with each other. So what I've heard is, when men write women's parts and women read it, it doesn't ring true. A woman wouldn't say that or react like that. I don't know if this is part of my relationship with Cindy [his wife] because we've been best friends the whole time, except for the first five years when I was a moron! I really was; I was just like any thick-headed moron and almost lost her. It's ironic how God brought this around, because someone handed me Gary Smalley's first book If Only He Knew and said "this will help you." It totally opened my eyes to the kind of husband I was and how I was treating her. I realized she had to be the focus and it changed how I related to her. Then I became a pastor--we were in a fairly small church and Cindy and I did lots of marriage counseling; we wore all the hats. So I was involved with people in crisis and did a lot of listening. That may have given me an edge in writing these books because I learned to listen at a heart level.

That was going to be one of my questions--how being a pastor has impacted your writing.

I don't know that all pastors have that experience. If you are a pastor who mainly preaches and does meetings, you might miss that element. My life was in the trenches a lot and I think that, coupled with my friendship with Cindy, gave me the ability. Cindy does read everything I write.

Cindy popped in and then left, but I wasn't sure if I should ask this or not, but does writing these books put some pressure on your marriage? You're just a person, and you're still not going to have a perfect marriage; does she ever needle you and say "you can write these great books but. . . ."

No, she doesn't. Our definition, too, of romance really is not just the flowers and remembering the anniversaries, etc. That's why this situation with Gary Smalley [to co-author a series with him] has been such a good fit for us. It had been awhile since I'd read his books because my church was doing some other family materials. After I retired from ministry and this opportunity came, it was a wonderful reawakening and I realized we are so alike in our outlook on relationships; it was like a hand and glove fit. He says the same thing about romance. Sure, women like flowers. But what they want is relationship. The friendships that they have with other women, they would love to have with their husbands. It's their husbands who aren't available for that, not that women don't want that.

I'm not giving Cindy flowers every day. Some guys could be more creative than I am on the wild and crazy romantic things you see in movies. But I do feel like, where it counts, she knows nobody matters more to me than she does. There's nothing I do that means more to me than spending time with her does. If you told me right now that you'd give me any amount of money to do anything I want, my first thought would be, "What are we going to do?" I really do think it's fair to say, except for writing off those first five years as a moron, for the 30 years since then, there's no one I'd rather spend time with--waste time with or do extravagant things with--than her. Writing these books is really kind of easy for me; it's not like I'm stretching. The area where she's been a real big help is, I don't still pretend I know all what women are about. Each day when I finish a chapter (my goal each day is to write one chapter), I read it to her and get immediate feedback. Usually, she loves it, but anytime she feels it's just the least bit off in the woman's thoughts or reactions, she'll tell me. And I crave that. She's like an editor to me. Even my editor says, "Don't send it to me unless Cindy's read it." The one book I didn't listen to Cindy like I should have and sent it off to my editor was the one I had to do the most rewrites.

Thank you so much, Dan! I look forward to seeing you in just a few days in Dallas!

Dan shared just yesterday on his FB page that "a major movie producer has just optioned The Reunion for the next year and wants to make it into a film!" I am so excited for Dan; this would make a phenomenal movie.

Here's the information about The Reunion from Revell, followed by my review.

The Reunion
Dan Walsh
ISBN: 978-0800721213
September 2012/304 pages/$14.99

Everything lost can be found.

Aaron Miller knows a thing or two about loss. He's lost love. Dignity. Second, and even third, chances. Once honored for his heroism, he now lives in near obscurity, working as a handyman in a humble trailer park.

But God is a master at finding and redeeming the lost things of life. Unbeknownst to Aaron, someone is searching for him.

With deep insight into the human heart, consummate storyteller Dan Walsh gently weaves a tale of a life spent in the shadows but meant for the light. Through tense scenes of war and tender moments of romance, The Reunion will make you believe that everyone can get a second chance at life and love.


Dan Walsh has once again touched my heart with his gift of story. From the opening scene where Aaron Miller lives in a storage room at Bentley's Trailer Park and Campground--with a bed that "wasn't much more than a military cot. But it was way nicer than sleeping in cardboard boxes and underneath highway overpasses. He'd done enough of that years back."--I was swept into this book. So many hidden scars he carries from the war as he quietly devotes his days to serving the visitors and residents of Bentley's; hidden away in his room is the highest honor a soldier can receive, the Congressional Medal of Honor, which he received for saving the lives of three fellow soldiers. Walsh has penned a beautiful tale of a life lived in obscurity, yet not unseen by the One who says "the last shall be first." It is also a powerful tribute to our nation's Vietnam Vets and is highly recommended for anyone who served or knows someone who served in that conflict. And for anyone who has felt the heartache of abandonment, only to discover that the truth isn't always what it seemed, this book is for you. Poignant and tender, The Reunion brought smiles and tears. My only complaint is that it ended!


Dan Walsh is the award-winning author of several books, including The Deepest Waters (nominated for a 2012 ACFW Carol Award), The Discovery and The Reunion. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit his website.


Dan Walsh is celebrating the release of The Reunion with a 10-book giveaway! Five readers will each receive a copy of The Reunion as well as a copy of his Carol Award nominated book, The Deepest Waters. For details and to enter, click here. BUT HURRY! Contest ends at 6:00 pm tonight!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell prior to my interview with Dan Walsh. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Friday, September 14, 2012

A Friday Flashback

Last night on FB, a friend mentioned the old TV show That Girl. Anyone else remember it? Marlo Thomas starred in it. I was pretty young when it aired (it was on ABC from 1966-1971) but my sisters watched it occasionally and I loved the intro.

This reminded of of a couple of other old classics that I remember my family watching occasionally. Again, I was pretty young, so I mostly remember the intros!

This was Sally Field's second sitcom, after Gidget. Remember The Flying Nun?!

And Petticoat Junction! I love how they always announced when things were in color! (And sometimes they'd say "in living color!" Wonder what "dead color" would be!)

Speaking of color, I vividly remember my shock when we finally did get a color TV and I discovered that the intro to on of my favorites, Family Affair, which I'd always seen as this:

. . .was actually this:

(The intro wasn't the only thing I liked about Family Affair. I loved the entire show. And I thought their big front doors with the door knobs in the middle of the doors were so cool!)

I always thought the way they did the intro with the hands on My Three Sons was clever!

What about you? Do you remember these? Are there old classics that you remember, perhaps not so much because of the content but because of the theme or some other reason?


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Christmas Roses

Christmas Roses
Amanda Cabot
ISBN: 978-0800720049
September 2012/172 pages/Hardcover/$14.99

Celia Anderson doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a traveling carpenter finds lodging at her boardinghouse, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle, though, to find roses during a harsh Wyoming winter.

But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .


Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow's Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.


"My husband was a good man," Celia said, "and I grew to love him, but ours wasn't the kind of marriage I dreamt about, and it certainly wasn't the kind I read about."

A raised eyebrow telegraphed Mark's feelings. "Are you talking about novels? They're not real."

"The stories may not be real, but the love they portray is. I've seen it. I want a husband who looks at me the way Reverend Pearson looks at Bertha. I want a man who will love me for myself, not for my cooking or because I would be a mother to his son or even because he's lonely." Celia closed her eyes for a second before she said, "I want a man who will give me roses for Christmas."

When she opened her eyes, Mark was staring at her, his expression inscrutable. "That's a pretty tall order. Roses don't grow in December, leastwise not in Wyoming Territory."

Forcing a laugh to cover her embarrassment, Celia gave Mark a wry smile. "Then I guess I won't marry again."


One of my favorite things about the fall season is the arrival of Christmas novels and novellas! Although this is the first one I've read this season, I can tell it will be one of my favorites. I immediately fell in love with the characters, and I especially longed for Celia not to "settle" for just any man in order to provide security for her daughter and herself. Mark's kindness and thoughtful attention was countered by the inner turmoil he felt as a result of his father's abandonment and his feelings that God no longer cared about him. I longed for both Mark and Celia to allow God to heal their past hurts and struggles and move forward. But no roses can be found in Wyoming in the dead of winter, can they?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Amanda Cabot and Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Are You Ready for Some Wednesday Hodgepodge?

1. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? The NFL is back in action along with all the college teams. Are you a fan? Who do you root for? If you're not a fan what do you do while the rest of America watches Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and now Thursday night games?

We are not football fans. I keep up with whether the Longhorns win but that's about it. If I had married someone who likes football, I could have been more of a fan because I grew up with it, but it's not a big deal to me. It is actually interesting and a bit disheartening how completely obsessed people get with it. It's sometimes hard to have a conversation that doesn't revolve around it, especially in a group with men. There really is more to life than football.

And there are plenty of things to do instead of football. (Read a book!) Pardon my soapbox, and it isn't just football, but I think we as Christians are going to be accountable for the incredible amount of time we wasted on such things yet couldn't find time to minister to someone. Just sayin'.

2. What's something I'll always find in your closet?

My clothes and shoes! (And way too much dust!)

3. Share one of your earliest memories.

When my brother cut his hand. I mean, he seriously sliced it - fell on a broken bottle in a ditch. Fortunately, the best hand doctor in town just "happened" to be at the hospital they took him to; otherwise he might have had some permanent muscle/nerve damage.

Anyway, he was about 13 and I was around two and a half years old. I have this "snapshot" picture in my mind of him and our mom standing at the kitchen sink and my mom frantically trying to rinse the blood off his hand.

4. What circus act best describes your week so far?

Juggling on a high wire! Trying to balance the things I have to do -- and the phone keeps ringing reminding me of appointments I forgot to put on the calendar!

5. What's a food you disliked as a child but you love now?


6. Describe your summer in three words.

Busy, unique, expensive!

7. Where were you on September 11, 2001? Will you do anything special to mark the day this year?

My kids were both in elementary school and I was at home, not feeling well due to a cold/allergies. My man called to tell me about the attack and I turned on the TV just moments before the second plane hit the tower. I was pretty much glued to the TV the rest of the week.

I didn't do anything special yesterday as an observance; I was just aware of the significance of the day.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Has anyone tried these yet? They were supposed to be at Target (the only place they'll be available) Monday, but the one by my house said the Nabisco guy hadn't brought them yet. I'm not a fan of candy corn but a friend of mine is addicted to it so I was going to get her some.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (September 4, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page


A murder is solved and a quiet Amish community must deal with the repercussions. Amid the surprising revelations, can a newfound love survive?

As the search for Perry Borntrager's killer continues, Jacob Schrock feels like his world is about to crumble. Right before Perry went missing, he and Jacob got into a fistfight. Jacob never told anyone what happened that terrible night. He's good at keeping secrets—including his love for Deborah, Perry's sister. But when Deborah takes a job at his family's store and their friendship blossoms, Jacob senses everything is about to be revealed.

Deborah has been searching for a slice of happiness ever since her brother's body was discovered. When the police start questioning Jacob, Deborah can't believe that the one person she's finally allowed in could be the one responsible for her brother's death. Will she believe what everyone seems to think is the truth . . . or listen to her heart, and hope there is still one more person who is keeping secrets in Crittenden County?

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Found, go HERE.


This has been a great series, and I have eagerly awaited this final book to finally discover, along with the rest of Crittenden County, who killed Perry Borntrager. I feel like I know so many of the characters that are a part of this community, some Amish and some Englischers, and it troubled me to suspect any of them of committing the horrific crime! Gray brings this saga to a conclusion that is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming as she portrays the dangers of secrets as well as the importance of authentic and supportive friends in one's life, through good times and bad.

Click on the titles to read my reviews of the first two books in this series, Missing and The Search.


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