WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE?

What book should you read next? What words should you write next? Whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, you need look no further for ideas and pointers to help you make up your mind. You might even get your next book for free--and signed by the author!

Sometimes I even give away my own novels. My Inspirational romances and devotionals are pictured below and are detailed on my Books page. You can always count on a trace of humor in my novels and nonfiction. Whether you're a teen or a woman mature in years, I think these stories will ring true.

Read on, and discover some of today's most appealing Christian novelists, their latest books, and their words of wisdom and imagination. Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cathy Gohlke and Free Books!

Last night I saw a pretty bad circus performance. I don't want to mention the company, because normally it's wonderful. But this year the acrobats did more prancing than acrobatting, the trapeze artists flew with very little ease, and the mutts in the dog act attacked the trainer at random and kept stopping to smell things no one wanted to watch them smell. But, I know this troupe's normally excellent standards. This just wasn't their year.

I hope I'm never judged by a single bad performance, and I hope I don't form opinions of others that way, either.

I don't know why I felt compelled to write the above paragraphs, but I wrote them, deleted them, and felt compelled to write them again. Maybe God wanted me to make those comments or remember them. Does it strike a chord with any of you?

Anyway, on to giving away books! Today we're announcing the winner of the signed copy of one of Cara Putman's novels. Our winner is

becca.dowling@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address and to determine which of Cara's books you prefer. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

And now for today's book tease: As Civil War rends the nation and his family, seventeen-year-old Robert vows to rescue his estranged mother and the girl he loves from behind enemy lines.

Today we're talking with Christy-award-winning novelist, Cathy Gohlke, author of I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (Moody Publishers, 2008).

Cathy Gohlke's first novel, William Henry is a Fine Name, won the Christy Award. She has worked as a school librarian, drama director for adults and young people, and as a director of children's and education ministries. Cathy lives with her husband of twenty-six years in Elkton, Maryland.

I got to spend a little time with Cathy at the ACFW conference a week ago. She's a lovely, humble, fun woman. Cathy, tell us a bit more about I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires' plot.

Robert promises to refrain from enlisting for the Union until he turns 18, then think long and hard before he agrees to shoot one of his countrymen--or kin--between the eyes. It is a promise he kept true until the spring of 1864, shortly before his eighteenth birthday, when he receives a letter from Emily, begging that he help her father, a prisoner of war in Fort Delaware, then come south to aid his estranged mother. Unwittingly entangled in a Confederate prison escape, left for dead and charged as a spy, Robert must forge his anger and shame into a renewed determination to rescue his family. Confronted by an enemy and a war he no longer understands, Robert finds that the rescue, and its results, may not be up to him.

Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Emily, Robert's second cousin and the girl he has always cared for, is determined to do all she can for her family and the slaves in her care. She secretly teaches them to read, as the price of their freedom, knowing that they will need skills beyond their own trades to survive and provide for themselves in a new world. She takes in war orphans, cares for relatives who are physically ill and mentally depleted. Although her early life had prepared her for none of these things, Emily tackles whatever needs to be done, adapting and "stepping up" as needed--despite the war and chaos around her.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

Most of us struggle with the question, "Where is God in the midst of war?" We want to believe, like Robert, that God is on our side--that we are able to see things through God's eyes. Sometimes we forget to ask if we are on God's side. Through all our trials we battle for survival--our own and the survival of those we love. But sometimes God's will "runs a mystery" to ours, as Robert says, in I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, and we cannot understand why our plans--so carefully and conscientiously laid--are thwarted. It is hard to release our loved ones into the care of an Almighty God when we cannot see the full picture. But it is only when we do so that the perfect will of God can be made manifest in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Readers will resonate with the passion and adventure, the struggles, even the anger, of Robert and Emily, the joy of their release into God’s care.

If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?

Let's cast William Moseley (minus the wonderful British accent) as Robert.

George Clooney as Col. Albert Mitchell, C.S.A.
Meryl Streep as Robert's mother, Caroline Glover.

Dale Midkiff as Charles Glover, Robert's father.
Freddie Highmore (minus the British accent) as Wooster Gibbons.

As for Emily, I'd open the casting for a fresh face and a strong voice.



I love the visual possibilities with that cast, Cathy! So, what facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.

Dialogue comes naturally for me. I delight in the variety of the people I meet--we are all so unique--and carry that delight into my characters. I hear the voices of characters in my head, see them unfold as a play or sometimes a film in my mind, so writing dialogue is recording what I've "seen and heard." Writing scripts and having directed drama at a grassroots level helps, too.

Yes, novelist Rene Gutteridge said something along the same lines. Since most novelists tend to be visual thinkers, I can imagine how much more honed our skills might be with your kind of theater experience. And what do you struggle with in your writing?

Plotting. I'm always asking myself as I plot, is my fiction stranger than truth? I usually know where my story begins, climaxes, and ends. It's the connecting points I find most challenging.

Choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

I'm a well-worn leather journal--brown, a bit tattered, cracked binding, some coffee stains and smudges, and a few pages where ink ran when tears fell. Like that journal I've traveled long, my journey rich in twists and turns. I've heard and read the stories of hundreds of people, have known great joy and deep sadness--theirs and mine. We've shared our journeys over coffee, tea, and an occasional glass of fine wine--all leaving their marks upon my pages. Those memories, stories, and journeys are part of who I am.

Other than your writing, what is something about your life, right now, that thrills you?

Watching the lives of my grown children unfold, seeing them take on new adventures, new relationships, new challenges--watching them discover all that God created them to be.

What's the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

The Roses of No Man's Land, by Lyn McDonald, is the story of the nurses, doctors, and many volunteers who cared for the wounded and dying in World War I on the Western Front--some in hospitals, but many in makeshift medical facilities, woefully understaffed, undersupplied, and without the miracle of medicines we now take for granted. I'm blown away--but inspired by the unassuming grit and resilience of the human spirit in the midst of that horrible war and carnage, by the love that flowed naturally from one human being to another. I'm reminded that we can either use our gifts to hurt or heal, and that freedom in this world is a very precious thing--dearly bought in human blood.

What are you working on now?

I'm researching a new novel with new characters, set in England, France and America in the years just prior to and including WWI. I spent two weeks in England this spring, with a day trip to Calais, France, "getting to know" my characters, their history, falling in love with their story, culture and setting. It is fascinating to view war--or any time period--through the eyes of another culture.

You make me want to get over there, Cathy! One of these days . . . And where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

Visit my website. I'd love to hear from you! www.cathygohlke.com You can purchase I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires at bookstores and Amazon


Thank you, Cathy, for visiting and telling us about yourself and your books! Readers, leave a comment below to be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. Leave your email in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com. If you subscribe to my blog, at right (or if you're already subscribed), you'll be entered an additional time. We'll draw our winner's name next Monday.

And check back here on Thursday to enter your name a second time and to hear about the Christian novels being released during the month of October.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who Are the Winners?

Readers have one more day to send me the answers to the Christian Fiction Online Magazine quiz I posted on September 4 ("Awesome Contest! The Murder That Didn't Take"). You can use the link at right, under Previous Posts, to check it out. Send me an email HERE with your answers before Saturday morning and I'll send your name to editor Michelle Sutton. She'll enter you twice in the September Box-of-Books Give-away, to be held September 30.

In the meantime, I've just drawn the winner of a signed copy of Beach Dreams from the various posts for those entries this month, as well as from my subscribers list. The winner is:

jenjohns@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

Finally, anyone who leaves a comment on today's post will have their name entered an extra time in this Monday's give-away of a signed copy of one of Cara Putman's novels. We'll draw the winner Sunday night. Leave your email address in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.

I know many people (myself included) have raved this week about the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Minneapolis last week. I'm horrible about remembering to take pictures while I'm there--after the first day, I tend to walk around in a sleep-deprived stupor--but I did manage to take a few shots at the awards banquet, which I've posted below.

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Jennifer Hudson Taylor (L) and Miralee Ferrell (R)

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Cathy Gohlke (L) and Carrie Turansky (R)

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Terri Gillespie (L) and Jill (R) (Jill, I'm sorry, I missed your last name--send it to me if you see this!)

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Kathleen Y'Barbo (L) and Janice Thompson (R)

I'd post a picture of myself, but I'm too vain. It's hard to look at my photos from this whirlwind conference and believe I wasn't on drugs, alcohol, or getting repeatedly kicked in the head by a mule. This is one woman who seriously needs her beauty rest. But I had fun!

Post script: I just received this picture my buddy Michelle Sutton took Thursday evening, before things got too hectic and sleepy.

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So this is the lovely Shar Maclaren (L), Michelle Sutton (Center), and yours truly (R).


Check back Monday to see who wins Cara's book! Plus, I'll be posting my interview of the above-shown Cathy Gohlke, featuring her gorgeous new novel, I Have Seen Him In the Watchfires.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cara Putman and Free Books!

Wow. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference took place in Minneapolis this past weekend, and I want to recommend the event to all Christian fiction writers out there. Whether you're a newbie or multi-pubbed, you will love the camaraderie, support, and education offered during these jam-packed four days. And if you're having a difficult time finding an agent or publishing house, you simply can't beat the opportunity to meet one-on-one with some of the best agents and editors in the business.

On a specific note, if you ever have the opportunity anywhere to hear marketing ideas from Thomas Nelson's Allen Arnold, learn about the practical approach to writing from agent Chip MacGregor, or hear author James Scott Bell talk about absolutely anything (usually hilariously), take that opportunity! These guys were the highlight of the trip for me.

At the ACFW Book of the Year awards program, today's featured author, Cara Putman, won the ACFW Book of the Year award in the Short Historical category with her first novel, Canteen Dreams! Cara pointed out that she received her contract for Canteen Dreams two years ago at the 2006 ACFW conference. How's that for a fine testimony to the success possible through the group?

We'll hear more about Cara in a moment, but first, let's announce the winner of our drawing for the signed copy of Linda Hargrove's novel, Loving Cee Cee Johnson. Today's winner is

forest_rose@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

And now for today's book tease: Has God abandoned Lainie as her dreams of serving in World War Two as a nurse lay crumbled at her feet, or is He changing the dream to include a soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska?

Today we're talking with Cara Putman, author of Sandhill Dreams (Heartsong Presents, 2008). Cara, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, wife, mother, writer, and Publicity Officer for ACFW. I'm doing the things I love, and God has blessed me abundantly.

Tell us more about Sandhill Dreams.

Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska's Sandhills.

Tom Hamilton had dreams, too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he's had of dogs since he was bitten as a child.
Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?

Oooo, I love books about dreams. Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Lainie is in a period of questioning God, and as I wrote this book I was healing from an experience that had me clinging to my faith. I asked many of the questions Lainie does, and writing her story really challenged me. I didn't want to write a woe is me character, but a character wrestling with the very real and often painful questions. But she's also full of life and zest.

You had a couple of other novels release this year, didn't you?

I call May my month of three births, my daughter Rebecca and two books: Sandhill Dreams and Deadly Exposure: Love Inspired Suspense. And Captive Dreams: Heartsong Presents, released September 2008.

Why will readers enjoy your novels?

The Nebraska Brides series [Sandhill Dreams and Captive Dreams] is a step back in time, but not necessarily a simpler time because World War Two dominated. The characters are real people grappling with real life at a time that is such fun to return to.

In contrast Deadly Exposure is a page-turning suspense. Readers who love the adrenaline rush, will enjoy this book because I'm told you'll hit a point where you literally can't put it down.

If you were the casting director for the film version of, say, Captive Dreams, who would play your lead roles?

What a fun question! I actually hunt for photos of movie stars from the 40s when writing my World War Two novels. Dottie, the heroine's best friend from Captive Dreams, looks a bit like Mary Martin.

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.

The mechanics of writing. Grammar, succinct writing, etc., were hammered into me through two years of writing in law school, plus teaching legal writing for a couple years. Reading voraciously for years really helped me, too. Now, it's learning the mechanics of story-telling that are a bit harder.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

The first four or five chapters of each book. I feel like I'm struggling to get to know the characters. Have I found their voice? How are they different from other characters, etc. I usually hate the book at that time. Then when I go back through it for revisions, I find that I really like the characters. It just takes awhile to get to know them.

That's certainly a good argument for just plowing on through, isn't it? Often we go back and realize we did a better job than we realized in developing characters or story. Okay, Cara, now choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

Fun question! I'd have to say my computer. It's got a brain that doesn't always cooperate, a memory that can get overloaded, and a battery that goes dead. But it can sure accomplish a lot, too.

Other than your writing, what is something about your life, right now, that thrills you?

I'm really excited to teach business law at a Big Ten University. I've taught a graduate summer course for three years, but this is the first time I'll teach during the year other than filling in for other professors. I love the college and the students, so am very excited to have that opportunity.

And I LOVE being a mom--it's been a delight to watch our two older children interact with our newborn this summer. Such fun to be back in the baby stage.

Readers, I have to comment here, that Cara was quite the marvel at the ACFW conference. You would never guess that she was pregnant just four months ago. Gorgeous, gorgeous woman. All right, Cara, now tell us what's the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

Wow. I read so much, that I had to really stop and think about this. One I've almost finished is actually non-fiction . . . The Faith of Barack Obama. I'm a political junkie from living and working in DC after college, but this election cycle has been a hard one to get excited about--until the last week or two. Between reading this book and the presidential forum Rick Warren hosted, I am charged. But the interesting thing about the book is how it illuminates some of the challenges with the post-modern church. I'm really trying to wrap my mind around that since my kids will grow up in this area and I want to do everything I can to give them a strong foundation.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing the final three chapters of the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law (due September 15). I'm researching and writing the first book in my Ohio World War Two series for Heartsong Presents (due October 7). I'm researching my next suspense for Love Inspired Suspense (due December 1), and I [just finished] polishing a legal proposal [for] the ACFW conference at the end of September.

Is that all? Well, no wonder you had another baby. You must have had way too much time on your hands! Where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

Please visit my website: www.caraputman.com and my blog which you can find at the website or at caramusings.blogspot.com. I frequently have book giveaways running on the blog and talk about books I'm reading and what's going on in my writing world. You can find my books at Amazon and www.cbd.com.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Trish. And I'd love to give away a copy of one of my books if you think your readers would be interested.
Thank you, Cara, and I know our readers would be thrilled with a signed give-away of one of your books. Readers who leave a comment below will be entered into a drawing for one of Cara's books. Leave your email in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com. If you go to Cara's site, linked above, you can read more about each of her books and decide which you'd like to win. If you subscribe to my blog, at right (or if you're already subscribed), you'll be entered an additional time. We'll draw for one of Cara's books next Monday.

And check back here on Thursday to find out who wins a signed copy of Beach Dreams. There's still time to enter for that drawing, by commenting on my posts for August 31 and September 4.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Free Books and Linda Leigh Hargrove!

Good morning and welcome to my lone posting for this week. The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference takes place this week in Minneapolis, so I won't be posting again until next Monday.

Still, we have a book winner today, and we'll have another winner next Monday. And there's still time to enter for the September 25 Beach Dreams giveaway and to get your name entered twice in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine box-of-books giveaway at the end of the month. See my September 4 post for details.

I'm happy to announce the winner of the signed copy of Leanna Ellis's Lookin' Back, Texas, who is

stacey_dale@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

And now for today's book tease! Listen to this: What do you get when you splice Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with In the Heat of the Night?

Doesn't that sound intriguing? Today we're talking with Linda Leigh Hargrove, author of Loving Cee Cee Johnson (Moody Publishers/Lift Every Voice, 2008).

Linda Leigh Hargrove blends suspense and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. The former environmental engineer currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and three sons where she designs Web sites.

Linda, tell us more about Loving Cee Cee Johnson.

For many years, shame over her humble and hate-filled beginnings has driven Cee Cee away from her hometown. Nothing good could come out of Pettigrew--at least that's what she thought.

An ill-fated work assignment takes Cee Cee, a successful reporter and journalist, back to Pettigrew. Haunted by the traumatic events of her childhood, her mask begins to crack as she uncovers family secrets and finds out what really happened the day her black Jesus figurine was thrown into the fire.
Her faith is challenged as she discovers the truth about her militant father, the white man who refused her plea for help, and the handsome white playwright who wants to tell the world about her past. From these men and her new friend Isaac Hunt, Cee Cee discovers what it means to listen, learn, love, and forgive.

Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

John Carter Manning, the white playwright/love interest. I enjoyed creating the man that would be just right for Cee Cee Johnson--connecting with her body, soul, and spirit.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

I think readers will enjoy the lively interaction between the characters. I bring in a few of the main characters from my first book, The Making of Isaac Hunt, and let them respond to Cee Cee and her issues. The sparks fly but the blinders fall away in the end.

I try to approach the subject of racism and reconciliation like I would with a friend. I don't beat you over the head with it. I tell you a story and try to weave the tough stuff in naturally.

If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?

Cee Cee Johnson:Regina King


John Carter Manning: Tom Welling


Isaac Hunt: still 'hunting'


Abraham Benson: an older Matt Damon

Catty Wright:a much darker, Rachael Williams (British model)

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.

Making up stories comes so easy. I love to create people and places from scratch. And it is so much fun picking totally unrelated topics and putting them together to see how things turn out.

The different characters you throw together are fascinating, too. What do you struggle with in your writing?

I sometimes struggle with plotting and pacing. And then there's the whole being a confident writer thing which I fail so miserably at most of the time. I have to remind myself that I'm good enough for the Lord to keep working on and that quiets the inner cynic (usually).

I hear you, and I'll bet most readers do, too, whether they write or do something else with their lives. Okay, Linda, now choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

A water bottle. I think God uses me like you would a bottle. You fill it with water to refresh you for your journey. I think He's filled me with many talents to help His Body and the world at large.

Other than your writing, what is something about your life, right now, that thrills you?

I'm thrilled about the new direction I'm going with my Web and print design business, 1721 Media. I love to design things. And I love to help nonprofits look their best (online and in print). I think He's leading me down a path that I can do both and make a living wage when I'm not writing. That's exciting.

What's the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

The last book I was really impacted by was a book on craft, The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood. The small book has not only been a deep well of inspiration for my writing but it has also helped me understand how to live more in the moment, not replaying bad memories and failures.

I have that book, too! I have yet to use it, though. What are you working on now?

I'm working on the second sequel to The Making of Isaac Hunt. It's called Saving Tate Michaels (for now, at least). Loving Cee Cee Johnson has some tense moments but it's mostly a love story, in my opinion. My goal for Saving Tate Michaels is to ramp the suspense up to the level of The Making of Isaac Hunt, and then some.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

Folks can find me online at LLHargrove.com or 17Seeds.com, my faith and race blog. Also, search for me on Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks, Trish for having me. God's blessings on your writing.

And thanks for visiting, Linda!

Readers, Linda has agreed to send a signed copy of Loving Cee Cee Johnson to the winner of our drawing next Monday. To enter, leave a comment below for Linda and/or subscribe to my blog, at right. Both actions will enter your name a separate time. In case you win, leave your email address like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.

Check back Monday to see who wins and to see my interview of Cara Putnam, author of Captive Dreams.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Chances to Win, You Perfectionists, You!

Today we have a winner for the signed copy of Mary Connealy's Calico Canyon, and that winner is:

michellekidwell1977@

Congratulations, Michelle! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

And today I'd like to give readers another chance to have their names entered in the drawing for Leanna Ellis' novel, Lookin' Back, Texas. If you've already entered, you can enter again here and increase your chances of winning.

Leanna talked about one of her favorite characters in the novel, Betty Lynne, and the fact that she was an over-the-top perfectionist. Some of the comments after Leanna's interview showed that many of us are perfectionists (or live with them).

I struggle with perfectionism at times, and sometimes it's absolutely daunting. When I was a child, there were activities I wouldn't even attempt, because I couldn't stand the fact that I wouldn't do them perfectly right away (or possibly ever). Maybe you relate? As an adult I've learned to plow through that fear--yep, that's what it is--but that doesn't mean perfectionism doesn't grow back into place when I'm not paying attention.

Those of you who are writers might notice a touch of perfectionism sneaking into your thoughts at times--maybe it feels like writer's block--hindering your ability to simply dive in there and let the stupid words fall among the stellar ones. I'm here to encourage you to turn your back on those thoughts and let all the words fall out of your head and onto the screen. Don't worry about those imperfect words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters! The delete key is your friend, honey!
Now, to get your name entered an extra time in the drawing for Lookin' Back, Texas, just leave a quick comment about your experience with, or thoughts about, perfectionism. And be sure to check back on Monday, when I'll announce the winner.

I'll also post my interview with Linda Hargrove, author of Loving Cee Cee Johnson.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Leanna Ellis and Free Book!

Good morning, all! First off today, here's an alert: there haven't been many entries for the extra chance to win the box of books at Christian Fiction Online Magazine, described in my last post. So you might want to take advantage of your odds while you can! Remember you have to send me an email with the five answers in order to be entered in CFOM's drawing twice.

And there's still time to add a comment to my September 4 and August 31 blogs in order to be entered in my September 25 give-away of Beach Dreams.

Now on to today's fun stuff. Here's the tease for today's novel: A devoted wife and mother must return to her hometown of Luckenbach, Texas to help her mother plan her father's funeral. Trouble is,he isn't dead! And neither are the secrets she buried there years ago.

Today we're talking with Leanna Ellis, author of Lookin' Back, Texas (B&H Publishing Group, September 1, 2008).

Winner of the National Readers' Choice Award and Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award, Leanna Ellis writes women's fiction for B&H Publishing. Her latest book, Lookin' Back, Texas will be released September 2008. Ellis lives in Texas with her husband and children and an assortment of amusing pets.

Wow, those are some impressive wins, Leanna! And may I just say, I love your photo and think you look a tad mischievous--always a good character trait in an author, I think. Now tell us a bit more about the plot of Lookin' Back, Texas.

This book is really about forgiveness. My heroine is hiding a secret and she's asked God's forgiveness but she's never truly accepted it. Her mother has a few issues with forgiveness herself that must be dealt with through the course of the book. There's a lot of humor in this story provided by Betty Lynne but there are some very serious subject matters. And it all takes place in the very unique setting of Luckenbach, Texas.

Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

The three main characters: Suzanne, Mike and Betty Lynne were all fascinating to me. Their stories and background intrigued me. But Betty Lynne probably made writing the most interesting because I never knew what she would do. For instance, when I was writing the scene in the florists shop, suddenly Betty Lynne started rearranging the arrangements. I hadn't planned that but it really made that scene work beautifully. And it made it a lot of fun to write.

She does sound like a fun character. Why will readers enjoy your novel?

Who hasn't had a perfectionist in their life? Betty Lynne is a real trip. You never know what she's going to do or say. But the issues surrounding her have very deep implications. She's really an over-the-top type of character almost a caricature but I did that on purpose to make it funny to watch her in action. But hopefully some of the spiritual truths will sink in because if any of the readers are like me, they might suffer a few perfectionistic tendencies. Or they might know a neighbor who does.

If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?

Oh, this is so difficult for me! I'm clueless about young, hip stars. Maybe your blog readers could make suggestions.

We'll use your suggestions, Leanna, and I'll shoot for photos that look like they fit the characters' ages.

I can see Betty Lynne played by the mom on Everybody Loves Raymond. She would be a hoot! But I don't know her name.

Okay, that's Doris Roberts. Love her. Who else?

Maybe Nicole Kidman for Suzanne, tall, blond and cool on the outside but struggling on the inside. Maybe Kevin Costner for Mike. He might be a bit too old, but love him!

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.

Is it supposed to be easy? LOL! Sorry. Coming up with ideas is a lot of fun for me. Making those ideas work is not easy though. Usually my ideas are somewhat wacky and yet serious in nature. Blending the two is never easy. But it is very satisfying when it finally works.

I hear you. Nothing like getting a great plot idea, then a contract, and suddenly realizing you actually have to make it work! What do you struggle with in your writing, Leanna?

Everything! I've probably struggled with all aspects of writing at one time or another. I'm the perfect example of persistence pays off! Probably the area I struggle with the most at the moment is discipline. I'd so much rather stay in bed and sleep an extra couple of hours.

Choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

A printer. I hope to only print what truths and stories God sends. Or maybe it's just because a printer is sitting right next to me.

LOL!

Let's see on the other side of the computer is a bottle of lotion for dry hands. So, maybe I'm spread too thin. Or maybe God's truth will soak into readers and rejuvenate them through my writing. Maybe I should just go get another cup of coffee and try to wake up.

And then you'll be like a cup of coffee? Warm but full of vim and vigor? Okay, let's try this: other than your writing, what is something about your life, right now, that thrills you?

My kids. Every day and in every way. They are such a thrill and joy. I'm so grateful to have them in my life.

What's the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

I'm reading Kay Warren's book Dangerous Surrender right now and it is tremendous not only in convicting me in so many areas but in her honesty. Very powerful.

What are you working on now?

I just finished the line edits for my book that comes out April 2009. It's called Ruby's Slippers. I just saw the trailer for it and it's fabulous! I'm so pleased with this book.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

Oh, you can find me at www.leannaellis.com where I have a blog and on shoutlife.com, but more importantly you can find my books on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, crossway.com, cbd.com or any other book seller. Thanks for having me, Trish! Blessings to you and your readers.

Thanks for stopping by, Leanna! Readers, Leanna will give away a signed copy of Lookin' Back, Texas to the winner of our drawing next Monday. To enter, simply leave a comment for Leanna, below, including your email, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com. If you subscribe to my blog, at the right (or if you're already subscribed), your name will be entered an additional time.

And stay tuned for our drawing of Mary Connealy's Calico Canyon on Thursday!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Awesome Contest! The Murder That Didn't Take

Okay, I promised to ramp up my Beach Dreams give-away drawing, mentioned in my August 31 blog post, and Michelle Sutton, Editor of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, is helping me do that. Here's how to improve your chances of winning that free copy of Beach Dreams, but also to improve your chances of winning an entire box of books being given away on the CFOM site.

It starts with my drawing your attention to my humor column in CFOM, called "Real Life is Stranger."

Do you ever read a news item or witness an event and think, "That would make a wild novel!" But when you try to sell the idea to others, they deny such a thing could happen in a novel, because no one would believe it.

"But, it did happen," you say. "I saw it happen!" or "But, I read about it in the news!"

Frustrating, no? But sometimes real life is simply stranger than fiction.

Those are the oddball news stories I address each month in Real Life is Stranger. I hope you'll take a quickie break, stop by the site, and have a laugh with me. Then come back here and leave a comment below, and I'll add your name to my September Beach Dreams drawing, even if you're already entered. Include your email, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.

But wait! There's more!

Once you use the above link (it's also at the bottom of this posting) to read my column, cruise around the magazine to find the answers to the following five questions. So, when you come back here, link to my email address (at the top of this page) and tell me the answers privately (Shhhhh! Don't post your hard-earned answers in the comments section of this post!). For everyone who sends me an email with the correct answers to the following five questions, Michelle Sutton will add your name twice to the CFOM drawing for an entire box of books.

So, here are your five questions:

1. Whose column mentions poodle grooming?
2. Whose column mentions a high school sweetheart?
3. Whose column mentions having one's hands in casts?
4. Whose column mentions having a good girly cry?
5. Whose column mentions a dangerous river rafting trip?

Just to get you started, here's the beginning of this month's column, with a link to the magazine at the bottom:


THE MURDER THAT DIDN'T TAKE

Writing a murder mystery? Make sure your victim cooperates!


It wasn't until the next morning, when he was looking for some breakfast in the fridge, that his wife noticed the knife sticking out of his back...

The saying has been around long enough. We all know friends don't let friends drive drunk. But friends who let friends drive drunk after they've stabbed them in the back with a six-inch knife? That's really bad form. More . . ..

Free Book and Mary Connealy!

Busy day today! We have a book give-away, an author interview, a chance to enter for next week's book give-away, and a fun contest to win multiple books (said contest to be described in a separate post in an effort to be less confusing)! Already confused? Me, too--I think there's an additional book giveaway I forgot to mention.

Anyway, first things first: I'm happy to announce the winner of the signed copy of Max Anderson's Legend of the White Wolf, who is

sarahwoll@

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address. I encourage readers to keep entering and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!

All right, next item! Here's the tease on today's featured novel: She gets his sons kicked out of school, he gets her fired. A totally innocent, compromising situation sees them married the next day. If they can keep from killing each other long enough, they just might fall in love.

Today we're talking with Mary Connealy, author of Calico Canyon (Barbour Publishing, 2008)


Mary Connealy is married to Ivan, a rancher, and she is the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And there is always a cape involved in her transformation.


I knew that was you! Okay, Mary, tell us more about Calico Canyon.

Schoolmarm Grace Calhoun has her work cut out for her with the Reeves boys--five malicious monsters of mayhem who are making her life miserable. Things couldn't get any worse. . .or could they? When widower Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, stops at the general store for supplies, he unwittingly totes home a wagonload of trouble. How did Grace--the one woman Daniel can't stand--wind up unconscious and in his care? Come daybreak, a wedding is forced upon these two unwilling participants. How will these reluctant newlyweds ever survive to fall in love?

That sounds so fun! Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Not a fair question. I loved Grace, showing her rediscover her backbone. I loved making Daniel just so clueless but still with a great heart. I loved trying to make each one of those almost-cookie-cutter boys an individual.

Well, you just love everyone, don't you? Fine. Why will readers enjoy your novel?

It's a historical western romantic comedy with suspense. There's something for everyone.

You paint a good image when you describe Daniel finding Grace (in his wagon, I assume). If you were the casting director for the film version of Calico Canyon, who would play your lead roles?

Julia Stiles is Grace.


Tom Welling is Daniel.



The boys? I don't know, corral a bucket of worms and try to make them behave.

(Hey, we aim to please. Just be glad I didn't use a real photo. There were some nasty ones.)


What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.


I seem to always have a story in my head. That comes easy. A story I want to tell.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Making three dimensional characters is a little harder, but I love the process of discovering who dwells in the pages of my story. So I have this story, and even if I start with a character, like if you want to give a secondary character his or her own story, to me, it's the story that pops up. "You know what would be great, if he found a . . ."

Choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

A refrigerator maybe? I'm the same general shape.

And right there, folks, is why Mary is a fun author to read. Other than your writing, Mary, what is something about your life, right now, that thrills you?

I'm going to be a grandma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I also just love watching my four girls, all out of the house now, grow up. They're such wonderful, interesting people. My husband always says the girls are the most expensive toys we ever owned. We might as well have fun with them. So we spend a lot of time with them, and try not to be meddlers . . . or at least not get caught at it.

Agreed--kids and grandkids rock. What's the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

I read so much, Trish. And I love it, I am a book-aholic for sure. So it's NOT a fair question. I loved A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman. I think this is a book that people will still be reading and talking about 20 years from now. Her next book is coming soon. I've got some great friends who have all come out with books this year, Sushi for One by Camy Tang, Her Unlikely Family by Missy Tippens, Scared to Death by Debbie Giusti, A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt, Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean.

What are you working on now?

The third book in this series, called Gingham Mountain, is coming in February so there's revision work on that, and after the Lassoed in Texas Series , I've got another three-book series called Married in Montana. More cowboys, more romance, more comedy.

Wow! I will admit to a bit of envy with all that on your writing horizon, Mary! How exciting! Where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

You can find me on the web at Mary Connealy; Mary's blog; and Petticoats and Pistols

You can find a link to buy my book on my website or find it on Amazon: Here

Mary, thanks so much for telling us about yourself and Calico Canyon. Readers, Mary will give a signed copy of Calico Canyon to the winner of next Thursday's drawing. Simply leave a comment for Mary below to be entered. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com. And if you subscribe to my blog, at right, or if you're already subscribed, you'll automatically be entered another time.

Stay tuned. I'll be posting again today with details on another fun contest--it's actually a new twist on my September 25 Beach Dreams giveaway, but it just got quite a bit bigger, thanks to Christian Fiction Online Magazine Editor Michelle Sutton.

Also, check back on Monday to meet Leanna Ellis, author of Lookin' Back, Texas.
 

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