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Friday, October 31, 2008

What's On Your Reading List?

It’s Halloween and I’m writing my Novel Journey post in-between Trick-or-Treaters . . . so . . . . for this post, I’m asking what books you’re currently reading.

Here’s mine:

Peter and the Shadow Thieves

It started when I saw Peter and the Starcatchers at my daughter’s school book fair for $3. I’ve known about the series for awhile, but it was such a great price I decided to pick it up and read it. It did not disappoint. It’s an imaginative tale of how Peter, Tinker Bell and Neverland came to be.

I enjoyed it so much, I’ve purchased the next in the series and am halfway through.

While I was in the children’s section, I picked up L’Engle’s Wind in the Door, which will be my next read.

Also worth mentioning, my daughter and I are reading The Tale of Despereaux, which is coming to the Theater Dec 19, 2008. Gina read it to her boys and suggested it to us. It’s awesome.

Okay, so now that you know I’m reading the books written for 8-12 year olds, what are you reading?

Author/Road Pastor Nigel James ~ Interviewed

Eight years ago, Third Day, winners of 22 Dove Awards and 3 Grammys, extended Nigel James the invitation of a lifetime: the offer to tour with them as the group’s road pastor. Since that time, Nigel has been the group’s spiritual mentor and companion. In his new book, Lessons from the Road, he gives readers the chance to know the real Third Day—a bunch of regular guys who happen to be brilliant Christian rock musicians.

Nigel is a native of Cardiff, Wales and the founder of IGNITE, a UK-based youth discipleship initiative, and he is also a frequent speaker on American college campuses. Prior to his tenure with Third Day, he travelled as a speaker with the Newsboys. Having toured with the likes of Michael W. Smith, Max Lucado, and, of course, Third Day, he knows all too well the challenges of life on the road.

Tell us a little about your book.

Simply put, it’s an opportunity for the readers to join Third Day in the dressing room and on the tour bus, and to sit in on our devotional life together.

There are people who don't think the words "Christian" and "rock" go together. How do you handle controversy? What tips do you have for others who may face similar criticism?

If the words ‘Christian’ and ‘rock’ don’t go together then I’m amazed God uses Christian rock music so powerfully! My contention would be that the words ‘Christian music’ and ‘industry’ don’t always sit easily together, but even then God still touches people’s lives through the music. I completely believe that the Lord uses CCM for evangelism and discipleship, perhaps sometimes despite the flawed people involved. There will always be criticism of Christian rock, my simple advice after a number of years of trying to answer that criticism is to not evne enter the debate. Let the music and the power of it’s ministry speak for itself.

Do you struggle with the inner critic or the voice that calls you a fraud? How do you silence or muffle it?

Absolutely! That voice questions my position as a writer, a pastor, a leader, a father, a husband. But thankfully, my identity in Christ is stronger and louder than that inner critic, so I choose to believe Jesus.

Has any event or person changed the way you write? How or why?

Not specifically, but I tend to write analytically and sometimes without enough fire or passion, so I enjoy reading other authors and learning from them. Current favorites- Max Lucado, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, John Eldredge, and Erwin McManus.

What would you do, who would you be if you weren't touring with Christian rock bands?

Pastoring a church, leading a mission organization, or earning a living as a sports journalist.

What surprising blessing has come out of being on the road/ working with musicians?

Traveling to almost all of the US states, meeting lots of great people (some of them famous), plenty of free CD’s and Tee-shirts!

What does it cost you, personally, to live a life that some only fantasize about?

I think it’s hardest on my family because I’m away so much. The traveling life is getting harder as I get older- physically, mentally and spiritually. This year I’ve been on the road and missed my wife’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, my mum’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, and the birth of my first grandchild. Now that’s an extreme set of circumstances but gives you an idea of the sacrifice involved.

What advice would you give the "beginning" Nigel James as he embarks on his writing journey?

Being a preacher, I’ve always preached most of my books before I’ve actually written them. It’s a good way of operating. The real key is that you have to completely believe in the subject you are writing about and enjoy unpacking it.

Parting words...words of wisdom...random thoughts....the answer to the question you wish I had asked.

I’ve learned that in order to give out you have to take in. So personal study, leisure reading, Biblical devotions, are all vital. I’m studying for a Master’s degree in Theology at the moment, and I’m looking at it as giving me more ballast and stability under the water line. Too many of us look great above the water, but there’s no foundation below.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rain Song Winner!

Congratulations to Jessica Smith for winning a copy of Rain Song. Use my contact information to e-mail me your address.

Author Interview ~ Sandra Robbins

Sandra Robbins, a former teacher and principal in the Tennessee public schools, is a full time writer and adjunct college professor. She is married to her college sweetheart, and they have four children and five grandchildren. As a child, Sandra accepted Jesus as her Savior and has depended on Him to guide her throughout her life.

While working as a principal, Sandra came in contact with many individuals who were so burdened with problems that they found it difficult to function in their every day lives. Her writing ministry grew out of the need for hope that she saw in the lives of those around her.

It is her prayer that God will use her words to plant seeds of hope in the lives of her readers. Her greatest desire is that many will come to know the peace she draws from her life verse Isaiah 40:31—But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My first book Pedigreed Bloodlines has just released from Barbour in their Heartsong
Presents Mysteries line. It is the first book in the Leigh Dennison series. Leigh finds herself propelled into the role of sleuth as she tries to find out who murdered Addie Jordan, the woman she loved like a mother. Added to her problems is the fact that she, who knows nothing about dogs, has inherited Addie’s kennel of champion show dogs. As clues unfold, so do her suspects which include a homeless Vietnam veteran, a young high school dropout, the owner of a rival kennel, and the man Leigh finds herself falling in love with.

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

When I found out that Barbour was starting this line, I wanted to write a story that would fit. I started brainstorming by listing things that I liked or understood. As I narrowed my choices of what to include in the book, the story grew off the page and took on a life of its own. I incorporated personal experiences that have influenced my life and tried to make sure the Christian principles I included were easily recognized.

There were many ‘what if’ moments as I wrote the story. I think every good writer wants to up the stakes for her characters, and my love for Leigh was no different. I kept saying ‘what if’ as Leigh stumbled into one situation after another. In the end she handles everything well and comes to a new understanding of her abilities.

Tell us a little about your main character and how you developed him/her:

Having worked as a teacher and principal in the public schools for many years, I was very familiar with Attention Deficit Disorder and thought my heroine would be loveable if she suffered from ADD. I gave her my love for antiques and sprinkled in my interest in dogs to round the story out.

My nurturing personality which served me well during my years of working with children was something I wanted to pass on to Leigh. At the beginning of the book she doesn’t have concern for others. By the end of the book she has grown in her knowledge of how Jesus told us that when we do something for our brother we have done it for Him. I really liked watching her change.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Least?

I enjoyed the fact that I could plot and write a mystery. I thought I would only write historical romance until I wrote this book. The process of putting this story on paper reawakened my love of mysteries that I’ve had since I read all those Nancy Drew books when I was growing up. I like trying to plot something that is going to make the reader think and try to figure out the puzzle that’s been laid out in the story.

The thing I liked least was second guessing myself. I’d write something and then want to change it. I think, though, that every writer does this. We revise until the last minute and then read the published copy with a critical eye. Such is the life of a writer.
What made you start writing?

I’d thought about it ever since I was in college and had planned to write a book someday. One day it occurred to me that life was passing by and I hadn’t fulfilled the dream of writing a book. So I sat down and began to write. I had no thought that I would ever be pursuing a writing career as actively as I am. God has blessed me beyond what I had envisioned for myself. I find He often does that.

What would you do with your free time if you weren’t writing?

I’m sure I’d be doing something, but I have no idea what. I might still be a school principal. Or I might be working as an educational consultant. I’m sure I’d be involved in something.

What's the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?

When I first started writing, I had trouble showing the action. I did a lot of telling. Thankfully, I had a great critique group that helped me see what I needed to do to place the reader in the story. I keep a watchful eye out for telling passages now.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I think I do. Friends who’ve read my first book say they can see me in the character of Leigh. I think as Christian writers we want our characters to have Christian principles very recognizable in their lives. In writing for my characters I think I’ve grown in my own faith because of how their lives have changed.

What message do you hope readers gain from your novel?

I hope they will see the need to put their trust in God. I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters, and I tend to think of life without God as a runaway one that is careening down the track at top speeds. God is the calming influence that whispers to us that He is with us and will lead us through those hills and valleys of life that we all experience. If I can help one person understand that, I will be successful.

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

I begin with the glimmer of an idea. I know where I want to go and have to decide how I’m going to get there. Next I develop my characters. I give them names, descriptions, jobs, strengths, fears, etc. and begin to develop a time line. I like to show my characters in their safe world which is about to be threatened, and then I throw in an incident that tells them life is about to change. From there I plot the story toward the climax which I usually plot first. My method is to know where I’m going and move the characters toward that point. After the novel is written, I go back over it revising it several times until I’m ready to submit it. I think I could go on revising forever, but there comes a time when you have to let it go.

What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?

In my recent reading, I really enjoyed The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. One of my favorite books from years ago is Exodus by Leon Uris. Another that stands out for me is Truman Capote’s true-life crime novel In Cold Blood.

These books are different and yet share the similarity of their characters. Hosseini’s description of life in war-torn Afghanistan and Uris’ account to build the nation of Israel after World War II both tell the stories of strong individuals facing great obstacles to make life better for those they love. Capote’s work explores the lives of two weak individuals whose insecurities and lack of guidance and love in their lives propel them on a journey of murder and destruction.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

I wish I had understood the time it takes to get a novel ready for publication. I think I had the idea some editor would scoop up my manuscript and it would be in print within a few months. I had no idea how long it takes to get a novel edited and tweaked before the manuscript is finally ready to be published. Patience has never been one of my virtues, but the Lord has certainly led me to a new understanding of how a writer must possess this characteristic if she doesn’t want to go stark raving mad waiting to hold that book in her hands.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

Marketing is something else I didn’t understand about the business of writing. And, yes, it is a business. I have a website and a blog where I try to keep readers informed. I have to confess my poor blog does suffer a lack of attention from me at times. I am more of a people person and really enjoy book signings and speaking to writers’ groups and other organizations. I recently participated in the ACFW book signing at the Mall of America in Minneapolis and had a great time. I have spoken to numerous groups in northwest Tennessee where I live and enjoy the interaction with readers. I have also found that networking with other authors is a great way to get the word out about your writing and have recently joined the Christian Authors Network. This is a group of published Christian authors who work together to market their books.

Tell us what we have to look forward to in the future. What new projects are you working on?

There are two more books in the Leigh Dennison series. Murder in Small Doses and Rock Around a Murder will release in 2009. I’ve just sold a romantic suspense to Steeple Hill. Its working title is A Riddle to Die For and is slated for release in August, 2009.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

I always hesitate to offer words of advice to writers. I’ve always believed that each of us is a lifelong learner, and I learn something new everyday. To new writers, though, I would tell them to sit down at the computer and write the story God has given you. Then find a critique group to read your work. Join a professional organization like American Christian Fiction Writers, and go to at least one conference each year. You will be amazed at how your writing will improve as you work on developing your craft.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Megan DiMaria ~ Guesst Blogger

I participated in a book signing the other week, and another author congratulated me on finding a unique niche. I wish I could say that it was marketing genius or literary savvy that led me to write about characters experiencing midlife. But to tell the truth, I just lucked into it. As I began to prepare my book proposal and started to research the market, I realized just what an open, emerging market I’ve stumbled on: fiction written by and for Baby Boomers.

The main character in both my novels (Searching for Spice, 4/2008 and Out of Her Hands, 10/2008), Linda Revere, is a Baby Boomer with teenage/young adult children. She is active, thoughtful, optimistic, healthy, curious about life, and still sees herself as an attractive woman with a lot to offer. In short, she’s a compilation of us—women born during that period in history categorized as Baby Boomers.

The reader feedback has reinforced that I’ve struck a chord among Boomer women:

“I . . . am . . . Linda!”

“It’s extremely relatable.”

“Are you following me around with a video camera?”

“This is exactly what I’m dealing with now in my life.”

“Any parent of a teen will identify with . . . ”

“. . . rings with truths today's working wives/mothers can understand.”

“. . . and along the way you just might feel, as I did, that you've found a "sister" in Linda Revere.”

“This was just the type of book that I needed to read as a baby-boomer.”

There are over 78 million Baby Boomers in America today. This generation of Americans has been aggressively engaged in cultural and political trends since coming of age. Remember that, “Don’t trust anyone over 30” statement of the 70s? That came out of the mouths of Boomers, young adults who wanted to grab onto life and affect their world.

Guess what? They’re not going quietly into the twilight. They’re here and they’re still fighting for what they believe in and what they have to say. From health issues to anti-aging cosmetics to active lifestyle opportunities, Boomers are still pushing their agendas.

And those 78 million Boomers include a huge chunk of today’s reading public. According to a 2005 article in, the amount of time spent reading relates directly to age. People age 45-54 read nearly two times more than people in younger age brackets. It only makes sense that Boomers would be interested in reading fiction that reflects their lifestyle.

Other statistics prove that there is a great potential to marketing toward mid-life women. More and more, media attention is being focused on mature women, portraying them as hip, attractive and active.

In a 2006 article titled Hollywood vs. Women (Entertainment Weekly) urges Hollywood to pay more attention to women over thirty—referring to that hugely profitable demographic as “that great untapped market, grown-up women.” The article also states, “After all, somebody bought $241 million worth of tickets to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and it wasn't high school boys. And Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give didn't earn its $125 million because comic-book geeks love Diane Keaton.

In light of that information, I believe that publishing might also follow those trends.

I don’t know if there is a magic formula to placing your novels in the hands of your target audience, but I’ve tried to market in ways to that might expose my books specifically to Boomers as well as the general audience. I’ve joined most of social networks most writers belong to as well as those outlets that cater to age-specific demographics such as and As a result, I’ve gotten almost 900 additional hits to my profile from Boomer-age people.

In a local campaign, I’ve been allowed to display my ARCs and distribute bookmarks in my community at a compounding pharmacy and my optometrist’s office. From personal experience, it seems a large number of women over 30 often frequent both of those businesses, either purchasing for themselves or running family errands.

Another way I’ve brought my book to the attention of my target audience is simply to introduce myself and offer them a bookmark. I do this in line at the Post Office, the grocery store, the shopping mall, or anywhere I find myself standing near a woman who looks approachable.

On another note, a friend of mine who is a public-health professional was given free tickets to a James Taylor concert last year. It turns out the concert was sponsored by a company that makes heart defibrillators. What a clever tie-in that was to reach that demographic! That’s the kind of ideas I’m striving for.

My most current marketing campaign includes searching the Internet for bloggers who may represent my target audience, sending them an email to introduce myself, asking if they would be interested in reading one or both of my books, and requesting they spread the word about my novels in their sphere of influence. The response so far has been great. These are women who are not the usual influencers, and they are flattered and enthusiastic to be a part of my marketing efforts.

I think most writers should consider casting a wide net in their marketing efforts, but it never hurts to try to reach out to readers who might specifically identify with your topic. I’ve been fortunate to have received great feedback from women of all ages. And when I get email from younger readers who enjoyed my book, they often say they’re passing the book on to their mom. How cool is that?

NJ: Megan doing a promotion on her website that involves FREE books. Be sure to visit today!

In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

CoAuthors Interviewed ~ Eva Marie Everson & Linda Shepherd

Linda is a national Christian speaker who uses the power of story and humor to draw her audience closer to God. She says, "There's a point in my presentations where the women in my audiences appear to have each had a face lift and to have lost twenty pounds. It's like we've spent the day in a spa of refreshing encouragement."

Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?

The first time I was inspired to write a book, I marched to a writer’s conference and showed my concept for a teen devotional to an editor. To my surprise, the editor bought it. The next few sales were a bit more difficult to find, but even so I’ve continued to write and publish well over two dozen books.

Do you think an author is born or made?

A good writer is someone of talent who practices the craft of writing. That said, there are many talented people who yearn to tell their stories, but not all of them are willing to do what it takes get their stories into a marketable presentation.

What is the first book you remember reading?

When I was a child, my dad was always quick to give me a shiny quarter to buy a Golden Book whenever we went to the grocery store. Pokey Little Puppy, and the Children’s Book of Prayers were among my favorites. I memorized every line in my vast collection until I started school and began to read about Spot, Dick and Jane running across the pages of my primer. After that there was no stopping my visits to Beaumont’s many libraries.

What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?

Novelists are visionaries who love to create and control their own little worlds. Non-fiction authors are usually teachers who long to communicate ideas and principles. But regardless of their differences, most authors are merely daydreamers with a keyboard.

How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?

Sometimes it takes another to tell you your idea doesn’t have wings. But as a visionary, I can always imagine my book idea finished, and flying onto some bestsellers list somewhere. The real challenge is in getting others to see your vision.

What is the theme of your latest book?

In the novel the Potluck Catering Club’s The Secret’s in the Sauce, the theme explores secrets that hold us back from a deeper relationship with friends, family and God.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I learned along the way, it’s not about trying to guess if you’re ready, it’s about doing your best to meet a deadline with your best work at that point in time. Otherwise one could find themselves editing one book the rest of their writing life.

Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?

Absolutely. Almost anyone can write a book, but not everyone can write a book that creates a statement.

When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?

As I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I spend a lot more time pouring over my writing than most. However, there comes a point when my chapter begins to read like a well loved song. When that happens, I’m ready to write the next verse.

Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?

As Eva and I have written the two Potluck Series as a team, we’ve spent a lot of time on the phone discussing plots and characters. One day as we discussed our ‘girls,’ Eva was shopping in a department store in Orlando, while I was shopping in a department store in Denver. We suddenly realized we were raising eyebrows as we chatted and laughed about our character’s shocking dilemmas. I told Eva, “The people around me think I’m the world’s biggest gossip and they’re not laughing.” Eva admitted that she too was facing dirty stares. After that, we were careful not to talk about our girls on cell phones in public.

How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?

The Potluck Catering Club The Secret’s in the Sauce is what happens when steamy secrets boil over, spilling heartache, love and truth into the friendships of six, small-town women. .How will these friends react to revelations that will rock not only their lives but their marriages? Take a visit to Summit View, Colorado and discover who’s past has caught up with them, who’s been in the sauce and what Deputy Donna will do to arrest these latest developments while discovering the love of her life.

For more information, go to:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is "Christian Horror" Becoming a Trend?

by Mike Duran

So I’m minding my own business, listening to a conservative political talk show, when an advertisement for The Unseen and Field of Blood airs. Hey, what better place to feature T.L. Hines' and Eric Wilson's new thrillers than on primetime, mainstream, political talk radio? As if this election wasn't scary enough.

Frankly, it's good to see "Christian horror" making such inroads. Okay, so that's not the term we like to use. Just mentioning the word "horror" conjures images that are, at first blush, antithetical to everything "Christian". When gore-fests like Saw V, which opened this weekend, occupy such high-profile shelf space, it's understandable that writers of religious fiction would distance themselves from the term. Like it or not, the horror genre is usually equated with occult-laden splatter flicks aimed at indiscriminate teens or uncivilized adults. Whether or not that distinction is totally accurate, Christians tend to favor "thriller" or "supernatural suspense" as the term of choice and hedge at being labeled "horror writers."

So it was refreshing to hear one acquisitions editor from a Christian publishing house recently admit that the distinction between "horror" and "supernatural suspense" is purely semantical. As much as authors resist the label, popular Christian Fiction has its share of devils, demons, occultists, serial killers and varied creatures of the night. Frank Peretti's, This Present Darkness remains a landmark, one of the biggest selling religious fiction titles ever. The book is filled with descriptions of leathery, sulfur-breathing, black-taloned, drooling demons, battling majestic, handsome, angels. Melanie Wells' supernatural suspense trilogy sports a rather ethereal, anemic-looking antag with a penchant for haunting. And while Peter Terry may not be Pinhead, their aims are akin. Tosca Lee's Demon: A Memoir, is told from the angle of a angel, a very fallen one. The book has garnered so much buzz, it's led the folks at CBA Industry Blog to ask, Is Tosca Lee the Next William P. Young? So yes, Christian Fiction has its share of monsters and devils. Even Bigfoot shows up on occasion.

Though the line between Christian Fiction and the horror genre is tenuous, more and more Christian authors are skirting it. Some of that evidence includes:
  • Eric Wilson's Undead Trilogy -- The first installment released this month; its plot includes, of all things, vampires!
  • Sta Akra -- Sta Akra is Greek for "on the edge" -- A group of nine successful Christian authors like Tim Downs, T.L. Hines, Bob Liparulo, and Melanie Wells, pushing toward more "edgy" Christian Fiction.
  • Kathy Mackel's "Christian Chillers" -- It's a term she's coined to re-frame the "Christian horror" category.
  • Anne Rice's upcoming "Christian vampire" story -- As reported in Time magazine earlier this year, in an article entitled Lestat Lives, Ms. Rice says the story will be "redemptive" (in keeping with her recent conversion to Catholicism).
  • Coach's Midnight Diner -- Described as "A hardboiled anthology of horror, mystery, and paranormal fiction" with a Christian spin. The second issue is due out this December.
  • Fear and Trembling -- An e-zine sponsored by the folks at Double- Edged Publishing showcasing "horror and dark fiction" that "will not offend traditional Christian values."

Okay, so it's not earth-shattering, but things like this give me hope that the ocean liner that is Christian Fiction is slowly changing course (at least, broadening her horizons).

Maybe I'm in the minority, but when it comes to fiction I have little qualms about splicing the terms "Christian" and "horror." After all, some of the basic staples of Hollywood-ized horror (see: the Seven Deadlies, Lucifer, Hell and their associated torments), find their roots in Scripture. The Bible is replete with principalities and powers, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the slaughter of children, human sacrifice, souls in eternal anguish, decapitations, dismemberments, fire and brimstone and blood. Classics like Dante's Inferno contain some of the most macabre, disturbing images in Christian literature. And parts of the Book of the Revelations can only be described as pure nightmare.

Classic horror, though not always explicitly Christian, nevertheless uses the disturbing to explore the boundaries of existence and the human psyche. Yes, Frankenstein's monster is a bad-ass. But it's the questions about "human creation" that make the tale so unsettling. Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, are all morality plays of one sort or another. Their shock value serves only to prick our fallen sensibilities and illumine a greater good.

One of the main reasons we Christian authors distance ourselves from the horror genre is the disproportionate amount of crap found there. But there's a big difference between pointless splatter flicks like Saw, Hostel, and The Hills Have Eyes, and the supernatural and psychological terror of films like The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Likewise, there's a decided dissimilarity between the "horror" of Dean Koontz, Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacres of the world. Rather than shun the "horror" label, we should reclaim it. There's a big difference between exploring the terrors of a world gone wrong, where real evil stakes a territorial claim on human souls, and the grizzly, amoral exploitation that's pawned off as entertainment.

If any genre is ripe for the Christian imagination, it is "horror."

Whether or not we are trending toward something new in Christian Fiction has yet to be seen. But I would personally be excited about believers claiming -- or re-claiming -- a place in the discussion.

Your thoughts...

Tags: christian horror, christian fiction

Commitment and Providence by Marcia Lee Laycock

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elemental truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.All sorts of things occur to help that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man or woman would have dreamed could have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.Boldness has genius, power, and magic to it. Begin it now." Goethe

Let’s play what if. What if Abram didn’t pull up the tent pegs and set off from Ur. What if Noah didn’t pick up the hammer? What if Moses didn’t pick up the staff? What if Gideon didn’t climb out of the winepress and break down the altar to Baal? What if Joshua didn’t march around Jericho? What if Ruth didn’t go with Naomi? What if David didn’t take the provisions to his brothers on the front lines? What if Solomon didn’t build the temple? What if Shaphan the secretary didn’t read the book of the Law to Josiah? What if Josiah didn’t tear his robes? What if Esther stayed home? What if Daniel didn’t pay attention to his dreams? What if Matthew didn’t walk away from the tax collectors booth? What if Peter didn’t put down his nets?

What if you don’t take up your pen?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alice J. Wisler Interview . . . . Book Giveaway!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy Rain Song
Winner will be announced Wednesday

Time to crow: What new book or project do you have coming out?

Hallelujah, at last! Rain Song, my first novel, was released just this month.

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

The story took about two years to piece together, create in first person, switch to third, and then go back to first. The whole process reminds me of a patchwork quilt. And I’m not a good seamstress. Rain Song deals with a mysterious past and I guess I often wondered what it would be like to find someone from your past who knew more about you than you. That mystery kept me going as I wrote; I was never bored.
Every novelist has a journey.

How long was your road to publication? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

I was offered a contract by my agent weeks after she read the finished manuscript (which I had just completed in that draft once she asked for it). She pitched my book to various Christian publishers in November 2006, and in January, we had a two-book deal from Bethany House.

Now that my first novel is out, I feel a connection to playwright James M. Barrie: “For several days after my first book was published, I carried it about in my pocket and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded.”

Did you ever bang your head against the wall from the dreaded writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?

I have this trick to overcome writers block. I put on my headphones, crank up the Eagles, jazz or Celtic tunes, and am energized. The words come out onto my computer screen as the music plays into my ears. My sentences are usually not without flaw, but at least they are typed into my draft and at the end of the day, I have something to show for it.

What's the most difficult part of writing this story and how did you overcome?

Finding the main character Nicole’s voice took a number of drafts. Potential agents would comment that they liked a lot about the manuscript, but could not relate to the storyteller’s voice. One afternoon while pulling weeds in my yard, that voice came to me. I grabbed some paper and wrote. For once, pulling weeds paid off a lot better than getting poison ivy.

Show us a picture of your writing space.

What does a typical day look like for you?

6:30 AM is when the talk radio folk wake me. I get my two middle-schoolers off to school and then come home to make coffee or tea, depending on my mood, and write. I have to balance novel writing with assigned article writing. I prefer novel writing to any other type, but the assignments do help pay the light bill.

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

Since Rain Song took a long meandering time to write, I’ll tell you about my next novel, How Sweet It Is, due out May 2009. Writing that manuscript proved that I can start and finish in a linear fashion. The idea for this second novel came from a cozy mountain cabin my kids and I rented one spring break in Bryson City, NC. I took a lot of notes on scraps of paper to get my story line in gear. A young woman is offered to live in her deceased grandpa’s cabin as long as she teaches cooking to foster kids at a church-run program. To get a feel for what the inside of Grandpa Ernest’s cabin held, I cut out magazine pictures, gluing them to a poster board. I focused on odd utensils since Ernest won those when playing board games like Clue.

I got the whole story out there, filling in the major scenes for each of the chapters. Then I focused on each chapter’s details. That’s usually when some minor character begs to have a larger role. In Rain Song, it was three-year-old Monet. In How Sweet It Is, Jonas let me know he would not settle for a casual part as a plumber. Editing takes a long time. I usually have to abandon my work or I’d never find it perfect enough to get out there for publication.

In your opinion, what’s the best novel ever written?

I wish I had an answer to this, but I can’t choose just one. I think Louis Sachar did a great job with Holes because each storyline throughout the book gets neatly tied up at the end. I like different novels for various reasons—each speak to me about various issues— and I can’t say one has it all for me, or that one is the best novel ever written. Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club is a favorite for its cultural experience and rich writing. Rick Bragg’s All Over But The Shoutin’ makes me love the English language for the way he strings words together.

What writing advice helped you the most?

Keep trying. Don’t give up. You can do it.

What advice hindered you the most?

You’ll never get published, your dream won’t ever come true. Those were the negative jabs inside my own head. I had to fight those often.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

I wish I’d sat down to write more instead of just dreaming about being published one day. I think I wasted a lot of time not going about the business of just writing for the sheer love of creating. Had I diligently honed my skills at an earlier age, I could have arrived on the book scene a lot sooner.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

After the death of my four-year-old son, Daniel, I self-published two cookbooks of memory, Slices of Sunlight, and Down the Cereal Aisle. Those books taught me how to market! I enjoy book discussions, food, and parties centered around the themes in Rain Song. These themes are family reunions and traditions that unite people, such as pineapple chutney. I have a newsletter, Literary Lyrics, that informs subscribers of my book events and that helps to spread the word. I also go to local restaurants and coffee houses and ask if I can place some of my postcards there for the customers. I offer to promote myself and my writing through workshops and speaking engagements. Sometimes I think books are sold one at a time, and it is those specific one-on-one relationships that make people interested in buying a book written by you. Sort of like door-to-door salesmen. Oh, and I pray often that people will buy my novels. Yep, that works for me!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Keep trying. Don’t give up. You can do it.

Alice J.Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina. Visit for more information.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Author - Handwriting Expert Sheila Lowe ~ Interviewed

Like Claudia Rose, Sheila Lowe is a court-qualified handwriting expert who testifies in forensic cases. She has more than thirty years experience in the field of handwriting analysis and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. The author of Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis, her analyses of celebrity handwritings have appeared in Time, Teen People, and Mademoiselle. Her articles on Personality Profiling and Handwriting Analysis for the Attorney have been published in several bar association magazines.

Sheila's clientele includes a wide spectrum of corporate clients, mental health professionals, attorneys, private investigators and staffing agencies, among others. Her award-winning Handwriting Analyzer software is used around the world and her profiles help uncover important information in background checks and pre-employment screening. She enjoys analyzing handwriting for individuals, too, helping them understand themselves and others better.

What is your current project? Tell us about it.

I’m madly working on the third book in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series featuring Claudia Rose (December 1 deadline—yikes). In Dead Write, Claudia goes to New York at the request of eccentric Russian matchmaker, “baroness” Grusha Olinetsky, to help her uncover why the members of her club are dying at an alarming rate.

Share a bit of your unique writing journey.

I started writing as a kid, and wanted to write mystery since I was about 14. However, life intervened and while I was getting married, having babies, then divorcing and trying to get through life as a single mom of three, most of the writing I did for the next thirty years had to do with my career as a handwriting analyst. I wrote two books and many monographs and articles on handwriting before finally returning to my original goal. The strange story of a woman I knew who had apparently committed suicide gave me the kernel of an idea, and Poison Pen was the result. The second book in the series, Written in Blood, came out in September 2008. I’m not sure when I decided to write a series, but once I got to know my protagonist, Claudia Rose and her friends, I guess I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

What has been your biggest writing challenge and how have you overcome it?

Email. Seriously. I’m addicted to reading and immediately responding to email. Consequently, I spend at least half my day on it. It’s something I’m still struggling to overcome. Okay, the truth is, I’m not really struggling, nor even trying a little bit. I know it’s a matter of self-discipline, of closing Outlook so I won’t know when a new message has come in, but it’s rare that I actually do it.

Share a bit about your other hat. How does a handwriting analyst end up a crime story novelist?

As I said above, I’ve always wanted to write mystery, so it’s really the other way around. I got interested in handwriting analysis in high school and found it gave me a certain cachet in my social circle. Later, I got serious about it and became certified as a graphologist and then qualified in court as a handwriting expert. Along the way, I’ve learned the truth in the maxims: behind every handwriting is an individual and every individual has a story. I probably will always have a handwriting analysis practice (writing doesn’t pay all the bills yet!), but it’s fun to be able to combine the two careers.

Do you have any advice on how to turn a career into a character?

Legitimacy is important. There are dozens of cozies starring people who somehow fall into improbable situations time and time again where they have to help solve crimes. Some call it the “Jessica Fletcher Syndrome” after the beloved protagonist of the Murder She Wrote TV series (who would want to live in Cabot Cove at the rate the population there was murdered?!) Bottom line, though, if you’re going to turn a career into a character, especially if it’s an amateur sleuth, make sure there’s a good reason for him or her to be involved in criminal investigations. My character, Claudia Rose, works with attorneys, the police, and individuals, so there are plenty of opportunities for her to come into contact with crime.

With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing is to learn the craft. There are seemingly small but important things a writer needs to attend to, such as “leave out most of the adverbs,” it will make your writing stronger. Also, read critically the authors you like, to see what they do right. Be realistic about the market and don’t expect a six-figure advance. If you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, understand that if you want the word to get out about your books, unless you do get a big advance, you will need to invest time and money creating and implementing a publicity plan because most publishers today don’t spend a lot of money on promoting new authors.

What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?

There are a couple of people who have changed me as a writer. My friend, Bob Joseph had numerous novels published by Random House in the 1980s—one of his books sold a half-million copies—and he’s always my first editor. Back when I discovered that writing mystery was a very different proposition from the non-fiction books I had written, Bob taught me a lot. Another invaluable resource was the mystery critique group I helped form—we keep each other honest. Then there’s writers I most admire in the genre: John Sandford, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman, Deborah Crombie, Tami Hoag, Patricia Cornwell. They’ve all had a strong influence on the way I write. Yet, it was Ellen Larson, an independent editor, who was finally able to show me why my book wasn’t selling (it took seven years to get it published). Ellen doesn’t pull punches, and she gets to the bottom line in a hurry. I can’t say I agree with her 100% of the time, but probably about 98%.

You wear different hats, novelist, lecturer, expert, non-fiction author, which is your favorite and why? Or which is your most uncomfortable one and why?

My favorite thing is to sit right here at my computer and write. I think that most writers, me included, are introverts, which means we are happiest when we’re or our own in our heads. But to become successful in this field, it’s vital to get out and schmooze, both with fellow writers and with readers. We love those readers! When I speak to groups, I usually talk about handwriting analysis, and show in practical ways, using handwritings of famous people, what Claudia Rose does. So it’s easy for me to to combine writing and handwriting, and wear multiple hats at one time.

Have you discovered any surefire marketing ideas that you'd like to share with us? Or have you encountered any that our readers should avoid?

If only I did have some surefire marketing ideas! Anything Internet seems to big these days, especially blogging. Because I already spend so much time at the computer and am emailing so much of the day, writing a blog daily, or even weekly, feels like a burden. However, guest-blogging, as I’m doing now, is much easier. My web master tells me that the more places you get your name, the better Google’s search engines like it, so I appreciate this opportunity.

Parting words...anything you wish I'd asked because you have the perfect answer?

I think you asked some great questions that required me to actually think : ). One thing I’d like to add is that my Forensic Mystery Series is not about handwriting analysis—after all, I wrote the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis for anyone who wants to learn what it’s all about. But at the same time, handwriting plays an important role in my stories because it allows Claudia to really understand the people she’s dealing with—especially the bad ones!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Author Interview ~ Leah Starr Baker

From preacher’s kid to youth pastor’s wife to Mrs. Oklahoma, “setting a good example” is pretty much second nature for author Leah Starr Baker. And, like most women, she is all too familiar with the pressure to be perfect in all arenas. But since surviving a bout with Systemic Lupus, a chronic disease that affects the immune system, Baker is more apt to celebrate life’s imperfections these days – and has found a creative outlet that allows her to do just that.

Her debut novel The Bunko Babes (Emerald Pointe Books, November 2007), chronicles the lives of eight women who rely on each other through giggles, fattening foods, and weekly bunko games for strength and support.

Drawing from the frantic reality of a woman’s daily life – cooking breakfast, clothing an army, running errands, forgetting the dry cleaning – and from a host of deeper struggles, like infertility and divorce, The Bunko Babes offers readers a cast of loveable friends – friends whose troubles certainly aren’t getting in the way of their weekly bunko game.

“I have fallen in love with each of these women, and by the end of the novel, I was sad to let them go,” says Baker. While the "Bunko Babes" are far from perfect, they are survivors, much like Leah herself. “The Bunko Babes chose me I guess you could say, not the other way around,” says Baker. “And I hope the main message that readers take away from the book is that nothing and no one is perfect. Life is not perfect and better yet, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just wants us to be real,” she says.

Though Baker’s various career paths have included everything from stay-at-home mom to country music recording artist, she admits that she never sought out writing as a profession until recently. Her knack for storytelling, however, does appear to be a family trait: the daughter of pastor and author, Richard Exley, (Alabaster Cross and Encounters with Christ), Baker recalls watching her father burn the midnight oil preparing sermons for his congregation. “As a child, I remember my father sitting at his desk, kerosene lamp at his shoulder, preparing his Sunday sermon and me across the room watching, absorbing,” says Baker.

Combined with the colorful cast of real characters in her life – “a compilation of the many amazing women who have touched my life throughout the years,” she notes – Baker had all the tools necessary to explore female friendships in a work that has been likened to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

“I write as if I am sitting on the couch, sharing a cup of coffee, and chatting it up with one of my girlfriends,” says Baker. “I like to think of the reader as a participant in the story, instead of an observer.”

Along with her two children and husband, LEAH STARR BAKER currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When she is not writing, she is a volunteer for Jenks Public Schools. For more information, please visit

Thanks for coming, Leah. Can you share how you came up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

This is one of my favorite stories to tell. One night my husband and I were sitting in the hot tub relaxing about a particularly tough day when out of the blue Douglas said that I should write a book called “Bunko”. His suggestion for a storyline involved a group of suburban women who were using the game of Bunko to cover-up a methamphetamine ring. I thought it was an interesting concept but I was more interested in the title than the storyline. After weeks of contemplation, I felt that Bunko should be more about female friendships and the value that they play in our lives as women. As the story developed more fully so did the title and it came to be known as The Bunko Babes.

Tell us a little about your main character and how you developed him/her:

Rebecca Thornton or Becca as her friend’s call her just poured out of me. It was like she was the character that I was meant to create. Her voice came quite easily to me. My friend’s say that is because she is a lot like me and I will admit that we are similar in many ways but Becca isn’t me. Her development as a character was a gradual process. Each day and with each chapter she came alive more and more. That’s one of the things I love most about writing…the shaping of the characters and the surprises that occur as you are pounding out the story. I can’t tell you how many times I would just write something and I would have to stop and wonder where that came from. It’s hard to explain but the character’s and the story take on their own lives that not even the author is aware of until they are being written.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Least?

This book and story was a lifesaver for me. At the time I began writing this story I had been housebound for most of a year and my mother and grandmother had to take turns living with us to help take care of my two small children. I was getting extremely depressed the longer I was trapped but when I turned off Jewelry television and began writing I started to come back to life. So, I loved everything about writing this book. I feel so blessed that I got to create such wonderful and rich characters. These women and the simple game of Bunko were my lifeline to the outside world.

The least thing I like about writing this book is very simple—the edits phases one through four. That was very humbling.

What made you start writing?

Writing has always come naturally for me. Even as a young teen, I would sit in my window seat and just start writing. I was a hopeless romantic so all my stories involved falling in love and they all included living in the mountains (I moved from Colorado when I was 10 and I’m still trying to get back).

My Dad is an author and has published over 30 books now. He was always encouraging me to pursue writing but I kept putting it off. I guess I didn’t want anyone to think that I was just riding on my Dad’s coat tails. But all of that changed when I found a book in my father’s library that broke down the writing process into simple steps that I could do. Always before I would write a chapter or do and felt they were really strong but I didn’t know how to get past the first 10 pages. How do you develop a complete storyline? How do you create believable characters? That sort of thing and this book laid out the plan. I would love to tell you the name of the book but I can’t find it. I’ve looked it up on Amazon but it is not there. I thought it was called “How to Write a Novel in 90 days”. If you ever find that book buy it. It is invaluable to a rookie writer.

What would you do with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Sleep. :-)

As a survivor of Systemic Lupus and a mother of two I crave sleep like others crave chocolate. I can never get too much of it. I also love to sing and have recorded two independent records in Nashville in the mid-nineties and I have a heart for politics as well.

What's the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?

Developing the storyline. Right now I am working on a political intrigue book and it is difficult to make sure that you are giving enough information out in each chapter without giving away too much information. That is a difficult balance to obtain. So what I’ve done is made me a poster with a timeline on it. Under each chapter name, I fill in the clues and information that I have exposed thus far. It helps keep things in order.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I think that every author can find at least a small part of themselves in each of the characters they create especially the main character of their stories. Because The Bunko Babes is written in first person I think I put a little bit more of myself into Becca than I have in my main character of my newest work. Becca is a stay-at-home mom and is learning to live with a debilitating disease so she is much like me in that aspect, whereas Allison Kendall is a struggling journalist writing obituaries for the Tulsa World. That is nothing like my life. But any character that you write will have characteristics of someone you know or have seen. That’s what makes a strong, three dimensional lead.

What message do you hope readers gain from your novel?

That life is full of challenges. No one is perfect or has a perfect life. But the joy of living comes in whom you know and whom you allow to know yourself. Relationships are the key to happiness. Living is in the doing and being not in the having. We must learn to focus on the blessings in our lives even as we struggle through the challenges. I love that famous line from the movie Steel Magnolias, “That which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.”

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

Once I get an idea, a plot, I like to immediately begin the writing process. I like to pound out the first couple of chapters before I do any background research of begin the in depth process of developing the characters. This allows me to get a feel for the story, the plotline and the characters. At this point, I pause and take the necessary time to really do a in depth analysis of my main characters. I answer about 10-12 questions about each character creating for them an entire history of their life. Of course, this includes their physical characters, any interesting habits, their birthday, any love interests past and present and so many other things. Once that is complete I will do a brief summary of the story. Then I simply write a minimum of 3 pages a day. To prime my pump I will read the previous days work as a reminder of where I’ve gone and what I need to accomplish in these next pages or chapters. I very seldom go back and make any major changes to my work. I save that for the revision process. From start to finish, my novels will have been revised 3 to 4 times.

What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?

I have always adored Gone With The Wind. I do my best to pick it up and read it again every 4 to 5 years. Also, Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood is a book that really moved me and gave me a passion for the Chick Lit genre. Classics like Thorn Birds, Rage of Angels, and even some of the newer classics The Firm, The Notebook, are books that I could read time and time again. Each of these stories touched me deeply in one way or another and have helped me understand the ebb and flow of a great story.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

That it is extremely important to have a story outline. Something to help you remember precisely what points need to be in the plot and at what point they should be put in. It makes revisions much simpler. Also, I feel that it is so important to understand that you and your body of works are separate entities. I was hurt when I got my first and second round of edits. I took their comments and suggested changes as a knock against me both as a writer and as a person. I had to learn to step back and remind myself that Becca Thornton and the Bunko Babes are not me and my friends. The editors are not intentionally setting out to hurt me. They are simply doing their jobs.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I do quite a bit of marketing. I researched and worked really hard trying to find the best publicity firm for my book and then I did everything they wanted me to do. On my own, I lived on the internet searching for blogger’s and reviewer’s that I thought would be a great place for my book and then I would send the info to my contact at the PR firm for follow-up. This helped me get well over 25 reviews. I have done several book signings but we decided to try and mix it up a little so we included a game of Bunko to be played while I was signing. The people really seem to like the change-up.

Tell us what we have to look forward to in the future. What new projects are you working on?

I am working on a new project right now. I am revising my very first manuscript and as soon as that is done I am going to get right on the second book in this series. I feel now that God has given me a direction for Bunko Babes II. I didn’t want to start writing just because someone wanted a number two. I needed to feel like I had a strong plot line and could move the characters forward. Now I do and I am looking forward to getting to work on that very soonJ

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If writing is your passion, don’t give up. You can follow your dreams. But please don’t write because you want to get published. That is a road filled with heartache. Write because it makes you happy, fulfilled. Write for yourself. I write because without it I am less of who God made me to be. Getting published the first time was a huge bonus and it will be the next time too.

God bless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

S. Dionne Moore ~ Guest Blogger

S. Dionne (whose picture is the one on the left) couldn’t make this appointment, so I’ll be speaking on her behalf. She suggested I talk about marriage. In particular, the ingredients needed to make a marriage work. And this is a subject that I, LaTisha Barnhart, know well. You see, Hardy and me have been married a long time.



We’ve raised seven babies, done diapers, colic, measles, chicken pox, puberty, the birds and the bees, enough Math, English and History to fill our own text book, Teacher’s Edition, and then we moved right into the college years. And that’s where that sentence ends because it’s where Hardy and I almost ended. Sunk beneath the debt of tuition. I know you’re feeling me on that. Good thing there were scholarships and such to help.

We’ve seen a lot, Hardy and me, and we’re definitely two distinct personalities that have to work hard at our differences. Hardy is shy, quiet, though he’s full of sass when he needs to be, and that’s usually when I need him to be. I’m the opposite of him in many ways, but we’ve learned to respect each other. Hear that? R-e-s-p-e-c-t. That’s point number one.

There aren’t two people anywhere who are gonna say “I do,” and not have to make some changes in their life and lifestyle. Marriage is sacrifice, and you’d better remember that before you ever hit that altar.

Monetary sacrifice
Time sacrifice
Work sacrifice
Love sacrifice

Another thing, me and Hardy are going on our 39th year of marriage. Why? Because deep down, all tough talk aside, I love who he is. He makes me a better person. And I do the same for him. Opposites attract for a reason, and I believe whole heartedly that those reasons are to form us into something better.

It’s often said how dull the world would be if we were all alike. Isn’t that the Gospel truth? God made us different for a reason. But God didn’t make us different so we could divorce and list irreconcilable differences as the excuse. No, sir. Now if you’re unequally yoked to begin with, that is a huge problem. So let this be a warning to you. Get yourself a man who loves God first and you second. Otherwise it’s never going to work.

And while we’re here on this subject, let’s trip down the path of change. Changing him, or changing her. Some young minds think that’s all there is to it. Make their partner change to be a carbon copy of themselves and everything will work out fine. You’re missing the point entirely. Marriage is not about marrying yourself, it’s about the blending of two personalities. His strength is probably your weakness, and his weakness is more than likely your strength. Don’t fight that. Embrace it! Remember it, too, for there are those times when we forget our weaknesses and want to parade around in the finery of our strengths. . .often at the expense of the love and respect we should have for our husband or wife.

Now I could go on and on, but I’ve got mouths to feed, what with old Mr. Potter so sick with flu, and I need some time to put together some chicken soup . To sum it all this marriage stuff up, just be remembering this, whatever you do for the other, do it with love. If you’re primed to take on a project and full of anger or resentment or disgust, it’s doomed to make you miserable, and you’ll probably drag the rest of your household into that misery. Love is selfless, and if you’re full of yourself, don’t plan on getting married.

Back cover says:

LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.

She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CoAuthor Interview ~ Eva Marie Everson & Linda Shepherd

Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning author, a successful speaker, and a radio personality. She has also led numerous Bible studies and women's retreats and is the coauthor of The Potluck Club and The Potluck Club-Trouble's Brewing. She lives in Casselberry, Florida.

Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?

That’s a difficult question to answer. The short story is: nine days from my first pitch to contract offer. The long story begins when I was three and put crayon to paper, knowing something needed to come out of me, was straining to come out of me. But, of course, then I didn’t know what it was. For years I wrote. For years I hid it. Sometimes I would let friends read my work. I did have an article published in the local newspaper when I was ten. It’s framed and hanging on the wall behind me. But it wasn’t until I was 40 years old that a door opened, slowly at first, and I walked in, not a bit shy or timid. I just walked through. Our church needed some script writers for the children’s ministry and I said, “Oh, I can probably help with that.” The rest is history.

Do you think an author is born or made?

Both. You are born with the talent, no doubt. But you have to sharpen that talent. Some of us are born with the talent of writing. Some with singing. Some with playing a musical instrument. Others are born with a talent for brain surgery or cardiac surgery. Some are born with a talent for organization and others a talent for knowledge. But every one of those talents have to be sharpened. The real tragedy is when a talent born into a person is not realized, or—worse still—realized, but never sharpened.

What is the first book you remember reading?

God’s Good Gifts by Ruth S. Gray (Broadman Press, Nashville, TN., 1952). It was given to me for Christmas, 1962 by my kindergarten teacher, Edna Skipper, and her assistant, Della Robbins. I know because I still have it.

What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?

We can be pretty strange creatures.

How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?

Well, first of all, I get this fluttering inside when it’s a great book. A giddy-ness. The premises that are doomed to fail…well, I don’t think I would call them “doomed to fail.” The premise is a good one but it won’t flesh out. So, it’s a good idea with no where go grow.

What is the theme of your latest book?

The Secret’s in the Sauce is about the secrets women hide from not only each other but from their families and ultimately themselves. Each woman in the Potluck Club is struggling with what she thinks is the unthinkable, only to discover friendship, like God’s love, covers a multitude of sins.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Hmmmm…. I dunno.

Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?

Yes. But for my work they’re typically not blatant. You have to look inside yourself as the reader. I hope that it means one thing to one person and another to someone else because we all have our own story to tell, to live out.

When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?

When I quit.

Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?

I’m going to wear shoes without toes from now on. If it’s cold, open toed shoes with thick socks. I’ll tell you why. When I was researching for the book Reflections of God’s Holy Land, I walked my big toenails off (while in Israel). Then, Linda and I went to New York City to research and develop for the next Potluck Club and, once again, I walked my big toenails off. Both times I was wearing expensive walking shoes! Now, after nearly a year, they’re just about grown back in. So…no more closed toed shoes while walking out research!

How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?

You know these women. You are these women. They’re in every church, every group, every community. These are the women of the Potluck Catering Club. They’ll make you laugh. They’ll make you cry. They’ll make you reach for those around you who know you best and love you anyway. And they’ll speak to your heart about the love of the Father for his children.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Little Books

For a man with so few gray hairs, C.S. Lewis had wisdom.

We must attack the enemy's line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects--with their Christianity latent.”

While you no doubt agree with Lewis, it’s difficult to move among Christian artists without wondering if his words are merely sentiment—trite phrases, impossible to apply. It’s all very well to preach embed your faith, but can it be effectively practiced?

I’m a children’s librarian. When literature comes up in my conversation, it eventually veers toward young adult fiction. The emphasis, however, is far from misplaced: nowhere else in society will you find minds more pliable, more open to new ideas, more susceptible to beautiful lies, than in the under-twenty crowd.

Publishing houses understand this full well, and a stroll through the nearest Barnes and Noble attests to their eagerness to invest in a thriving industry … millions of books on a trillion subjects, each written by an author with something to deliver, intentionally or not.

Children’s fiction is a tricky place to keep a message dormant—kids are used to being bossed. They can smell an interfering adult across the park. So when writers earn respect and devotion from young readers, it’s worth noticing. When those same authors are esteemed by critics, when a group of writers, united by a set of common beliefs, secures that place, we should do more than notice.

Exhibit A.

Stephenie Meyer. You’ve heard of her books, I think. Most everyone knows she’s a Mormon.

Slightly less well-known is Shannon Hale. Her young adult novels have won a Newbery Honor, been NYT bestsellers, featured in Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids. Hale is also a Mormon.

Brandon Mull, author of the hugely popular, NYT bestselling Fablehaven series, recently released The Candy Shop War. Fox snatched movie rights within weeks. He’s published by Shadow Mountain, a Mormon press.

Obert Skye’s Leven Thumps series is gaining popularity, and Jessica Day George is widely admired in the kidlit blogosphere. You might remember Orson Scott Card and his award-winning Ender’s Game. You can read more about these writers on

Is this all coincidence? I think not.

Brigham Young University students proved C.S. Lewis right—they produced well-

written fiction, with their Mormonism latent, and created a pocket of literature respected by readers and critics alike, securing popularity and influence not just for today, but for years to come, as children carry their favorite stories into the future.

Stories rooted in a false worldview.

Christian writers see the need: more little books. We’ve been given the Truth.

It’s time to suit up.

Noel De Vries is a children's librarian with an evolving novel in her desk drawer--children's fantasy, Edward Eager meets E. Nesbit. Or so she likes to think. Visit Noel at