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, March 30, 2009

Donald J. Parker and Free Books!

A high school senior embarks on an intellectual and spiritual odyssey seeking the truth about God while knowing that the belief he ultimately embraces may separate him forever from the girl he loves.

Before we meet today's author, I'd like to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Eileen Rife's book, Restored Hearts, goes to:

pleblanc_1@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Donald J. Parker, author of All the Stillness of the Wind (Sword of the Spirit Publishing, 2008).

Tell us about yourself, Don.

PhotobucketIn 2006 I had a dream that I heard a voice telling me to write a book about evolution. I rolled over and went back to sleep. In the morning I remembered that experience and went immediately to prayer with the words "Lord, did you ask me to write a book about evolution last night?" I heard a small still inaudible voice say just as clearly as anything I've ever heard, "And when you're done with that, I want you to go after Harry Potter and the sexual revolution. I obeyed and went from a bench warmer on the God squad to an author, blowing the trumpet in Zion. I've taken a few darts from the enemy, but I battle on. I have no clue where this odyssey is going to end. My goal is to put God's word in the hands of people that need it to find their way to eternal life or to be equipped to contend for their faith. I felt led to make my ebooks available for free download on my website.

Tell us a bit more about your novel's plot.

PhotobucketWhat makes you think there's a plot? Twain said that anyone looking for a plot in Huckleberry Finn would be shot . . .

Jeremy went from being an atheist in the prequel to believing the world must have a creator. In Stillness, he makes the journey to discover what such a creator would require of him. He's totally in love with Maria, a beautiful girl who refuses to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Jeremy refuses to sell out his intellectual integrity even to win her love. With a sworn promise not to honor any sacred cows in his search for the truth, Jeremy dives into the confusing world of religion with no fear of hitting his head on the bottom. His probing questions navigate in and out of treacherous waters of doctrine in search for absolute truth.

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

This is a no-brainer. The story is Jeremy's. I lived part of that journey, so getting this on paper was a way for me to reflect on my own journey to find truth. Jeremy is a good kid, the kind we wish our sons would grow up to be, making it easy to feel the angst he suffers at being torn between competing versions of the truth and the desire he has to be compatible with Maria.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

My characters usually have the art of mock verbal warfare down to a science. They lovingly joust throughout the book with what I hope is witty repartee. Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, however, so some people may find this irritating. The book presents a challenge intellectually and spiritually, yet provides a romantic backdrop that intrigues anyone who can be drawn into a fictional unfolding of young love.

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

PhotobucketIf we could turn back the hands of time, I'd recruit a teenage Maria Osmond to play Maria.

PhotobucketAnd Jeremy would be portrayed by a young Kurt Russell.

PhotobucketIn the present age I would use Victoria Emmons and Austin Kearney from the movie Come What May , a story concerning the Wade vs Roe case. Photobucket

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

Dialogue. I have a distinctive style of writing (which bothers some people) because I write almost pure dialogue. People's words flow out of my fingers, but I have to strain to write anything descriptive. For this and other reasons, I'm going to start writing movie scripts in the near future instead of books.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Manufacturing description and trying to follow arbitrary rules about how a good novel should be crafted. I have never been much of a follower. I hope to blaze my own trail in regard to the form of the novel if I continue writing them. Novelists shouldn't be put in a box any more than God is. After all, writing is an art and not a science. I want to write what God wants in content and form--not what man wants.

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

Make the person somewhat double minded--unable to decide to walk down one path in life without entertaining tempting thoughts to wander off unto the other route. A flesh-versus-the-spirit type of thing, where the character has to agonize over the pros and cons of each way, is perfect. Unfold a potpourri of emotional situations so the character experiences joy, sadness, anger, tenderness, etc., revealing many facets to their personality.

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

This is the hardest interview question I've ever faced. I'd have to say a computer. My cerebral CPU (Central Processing Unit) is always firing at high clock speed, multitasking, spewing output just like my computer. I started out with lots of memory and drive, but have become outdated and am in need of having my parts replaced.

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

The Final Quest, by Rick Joyner is one I just finished this morning. It deals with a vision that he had from the Lord. The most striking thing was the reference to the cloak of humility as a badge of honor among those in Heaven. One of the people he meets in his vision (in Heaven) was a famous writer who said that his books were garbage containing human reasoning instead of God's pure word. That was a big wake up call for me because I include a lot of humanly wisdom in my books. The goal is to draw people to the Lord via my books, not to draw people unto my books or me.

Another impactful book is Not Peace but a Sword, by Vance Havner. It reinforced my resolve to present God's word in love but without compromise. The time for playing church is at an end. It is now that time that Jesus said would come--a time to worship in spirit and in truth in an era when people have itching ears and will not endure sound doctrine.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a novel dealing with sexual pressures on teenagers. It's going to get a little edgy as it branches out into controversial topics like Planned Parenthood and abortion laws that permit a minor to get an abortion without their parents' knowledge, while doctors can't perform any other type of surgery on a child without the express written permission of the parents. If that little tidbit of information doesn't tip you off as to the condition of our society, nothing will.

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

My book is sold at all the online book markets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A signed copy is available for ten dollars at my publisher website at www.SwordOfSpirit.net

Thanks, Don, for telling us about yourself and All the Stillness of the Wind.
Readers, Don has offered to sign a copy of his novel for the winner of our drawing on Monday, April 6. To enter, leave a comment for Don, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Thursday, when we'll meet novelist Jill Williamson, author of By Darkness Hid. And we'll draw the winner of Cynthia Hickey's book, Candy-Coated Secrets. You can still enter for that drawing under Cynthia's interview, below.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cynthia Hickey and Free Books

Who thought leading an elephant down Highway 64 could lead to murder?

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Anita Higman's novel, Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, is:

wonderbook@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Cynthia Hickey, author of Candy-Coated Secrets (Barbour Publishing, March 2009)

PhotobucketCynthia Hickey lives in Arizona with her husband and two of their seven children, plus one dog, one cat, and a fish named Floyd. Candy-Coated Secrets is her second cozy mystery.

Tell us a bit more about your novel's plot.
PhotobucketBig-hearted Summer Meadows offers to walk an elephant to the fairgrounds after the Carnival convoy breaks down in front of her house. Upon arriving at the fairgrounds, she discovers a dead woman hanging in the bathroom of one of the trailers. When someone begins stalking Summer, she and her fiance Ethan set out on a quest to find a killer and prevent Summer from becoming the next victim.

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

Definitely Summer Meadows. She has a lot of my traits. Especially when I was younger.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

It's a fun, easy read with laugh-out-loud parts, a ditzy heroine, and a hot romance.

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

PhotobucketI would love for Patrick Dempsey to play Ethan.

PhotobucketSummer is a bit harder. Maybe an older Krista Stewart.

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

Dialogue. I just have the characters carry on a conversation.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

I'm having a tough time going from first person to third. What a difficult transition.

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

Deep POV. Get the reader inside the character's head. I know, easier said than done.

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

A book. There's a lot going on with me too.

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

Blood Bayou, by Karen Young. Couldn't put it down. A steamy romance between a husband and wife, and a page-turning suspense.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple of historicals in the works and a romantic suspense.

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

I can be found at www.cynthiahickey.com or www.cynthiahickey.blogspot.comor www.mainlymystery.blogspot.com. My books can be bought from amazon.com or any retail store.

Thanks, Cynthia. Readers, Cynthia has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, April 2. To enter, leave a comment for Cynthia, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Monday, when we'll meet novelist Donald James Parker, author of All the Stillness of the Wind. And we'll draw the winner of Eileen Rife's book, Restored Hearts. You can still enter for that drawing under Eileen's interview, below.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eileen Rife and Free Books!

One brother's dark secret. Another brother's scorn. Will family ties be strong enough to bind two wounded hearts, once the secret is revealed?

Before we meet today's author, I'd like to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Margaret Daley's book, Poisoned Secrets, goes to:

lauralousmith@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Eileen Rife, author of Restored Hearts (OakTara Publishing, February 2009).

PhotobucketEileen Hinkle Rife is a veteran homeschool mom and author of several nonfiction books. Her byline has appeared in numerous magazines, including Marriage Partnership, Light & Life, Mature Living, On Mission, and Christian Home & School. She is a frequent contributor to Discipleship Journal who first published her article, "When God Calls Your Child into Full-time Missions." Her first novel, Journey to Judah, is based on her oldest daughter's love story. All three of her daughters are involved in mission work around the world. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars and speak on a variety of topics for church groups and organizations in the States, as well as overseas. Eileen is currently working on Book Three, Chosen Ones, in the Born for India trilogy.

Eileen, please tell us a bit more about the plot of Restored Hearts.

PhotobucketNewlyweds Gavin and Maggie Munsfield return to life at the Oasis Compound in Chennai, India, which is suffering from the effects of the recent tsunami. Gavin's brother, Tim, a landscape artist from Boston, joins the couple for the clean-up and rebuilding of the Compound. However, Tim harbors a dark secret that threatens to destroy his relationship with his brother . . . and a promising new love.

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

Tim. I never dreamed that I could identify at all with Tim's struggle, but I soon discovered that all bondage shares common characteristics. I found myself feeling compassion for Tim and his dilemma in a way that I had never experienced before when encountering folks struggling with this particular issue.

That's an intriguing answer, Eileen. Makes me curious as to what Tim's struggle is all about. Why will readers enjoy your novel?

The novel continues where Book One, Journey to Judah, leaves off, weaving together romance, intense conflict between family members, and the human struggle to break a bondage, all in the exotic setting of India. It is a novel I believe everyone can identify with in some way.

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

PhotobucketNaomi Watts would be a good actress to play the role of Maggie. Not sure about Gavin and Tim. They are brothers who look very much alike--both muscular, dark with wavy hair and killer smiles, although Tim is a bit shorter than Gavin. No names are coming to mind at present.

And I spent far too long seeking photos of such men--what we bloggers do for our art! We'll all have to use our imaginations in picturing the brothers.

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


Coming up with story ideas. My writing mentor says I'm an idea machine. I love brainstorming plot possibilities and dealing with difficult issues that our world faces today.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Getting the story down in the first draft. I'm always tempted to stop and edit as I write.

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

The main character will come alive if you give him a compulsion, a desire, a fear, a motivation, and show him working through these things with action, dialogue, and description. A round character must go through a process of change as the story unfolds.

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

My fuzzy, velour bathrobe. I spent a month in India this summer, and while I was gone, my two-year-old granddaughter immediately gravitated to my cozy robe hanging on my bedpost at home. She insisted her mother wear it so that she could snuggle up to it. I like to think that I'm a comforting, warm person who can wrap someone up in love and tenderness.

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

The Debt, by Angela Hunt. I will forever view ministry in a different way.

What are you working on now?

Book Three, Chosen Ones, in the Born for India series, is in editing stage. Second Half is cooking on the shelf while I actively work on Fatal Distraction, a story about marital infidelity, its consequences, and the healing that can come when spouses seek help.

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

www.guardyourmarriage.com
www.freewebs.com/eileenrife
www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com

Restored Hearts is available at most online stores, but for the best price, check out the following:

Amazon.com
Christianbook.com
Buy.com

Thanks, Eileen, for telling us about yourself and Restored Hearts. Readers, Eileen has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Monday, March 30. To enter, leave a comment for Eileen, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Thursday, when we'll meet novelist Cynthia Hickey, author of Candy-Coated Secrets. And we'll draw the winner of Anita Higman's book, Love Finds You In Humble, Texas. You can still enter for that drawing under Anita's interview, below.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Him

Occasionally I want to add an extra posting to mention a book I recently read. No give-away, just info about the book, along with my comment as posted on various book sites.

Today's book is Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Him.

About the book:

Susie wakes up after a party knowing something isn't right. When she discovers she is pregnant but has no idea who the father is, she decides to place her baby for adoption with an infertile couple from church. Following through ends up being more challenging than she'd imagined. But she wants to do the right thing. If only Jeff would quit trying to marry her so she'll keep her baby! Why doesn't he understand? It's not about him; it's about what's best for her child. Meanwhile, a man shows up in her life that looks irritatingly familiar. Could he be the father?

Jeff feels guilty. Someone took advantage of Susie and impregnated her when she passed out at his house--at his party. He offers to marry her so she won't have to give up her baby. She refuses, saying he should he marry someone he loves. Susie refuses to believe Jeff loves her. Because as an adopted child, she believes he has unresolved issues that are influencing his decisions. His constant pursuit leads to rejection, which leads to further pursuit. Somehow he has to convince her that his love is genuine before it's too late, but she's not listening.

Can these friends find true love despite the horrible circumstances surrounding the unplanned pregnancy, or are they destined to remain "just friends"?

My review:

In It's Not About Him, Michelle Sutton addresses the harsh realities and sometimes graphic temptations with which today's young Christians often struggle. As in her debut novel, It's Not About Me, Sutton loves her lead characters enough to let them make mistakes and bad decisions. But the lessons learned are numerous and edifying. One would expect teen readers to see the book as both a cautionary tale and a message of hope when circumstances seem too dark to overcome.

For more information about Michelle and her books, visit her site: www.michellesutton.net

And be sure to visit the interviews below to enter for give-aways of books by Margaret Daley and Anita Higman!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anita Higman and Free Books!

Trudie has never been one to compete with her glamorous sister, even when it means giving up the things she wants.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of S. Dionne Moore's novel, Polly Dent Loses Grip, is:

hollymag@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Anita Higman, author of Love Finds You in Humble Texas (Summerside Press, February 2009).

PhotobucketAward-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-four books published (several co-authored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston. Anita has a B.A. degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Some of her favorite things are exotic teas, going to the movies, and all things Jane Austen.

What can you tell us about Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, Anita?

Photobucket Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant, and she's never had much luck in love. To makes matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to "treat" her to a makeover and a blind date. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and devastatingly handsome Mason Wimberley. In spite of Trudie's humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny, and smart.

But there's one obstacle in the way of the budding romance: Lane suddenly decides that she's in love with Mason! Trudie has never been one to compete with her glamorous sister, even when it means giving up the things she wants. Will she be able to stay true to her humble self and find her heart's desire in the process?

Oh, I love that premise, Anita! Which character in your novel most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Actually, I was very interested in one of the smaller characters. I love Wiley Flat. He was such a surprise the way he showed up and revealed himself to me. Almost as if he really did exist. There are so many times I've thought it would be fun to attend a party and have all my characters show up. I could watch them interact with each other, and see what happens. Reminds me of the movie Stranger Than Fiction.

One of my favorite movies. And I agree with you about those interesting secondary characters. They may not have their own book, but they'd certainly liven up a party. Why will readers enjoy your novel?

I poured my heart into this story, so I hope readers find it entertaining and inspiring. So far the response to the book has been very positive, and all the reviews have been wonderful. I'm very grateful for that kind of reaction to my work.

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

Oh, wow, what a fun and dreamy question. PhotobucketThe heroine could be played best by Reese Witherspoon.

PhotobucketAnd it would be fun to see my hero played by Brandon Routh. In fact, in the novel I mention that the hero looks just like Superman. So, Brandon Routh would be perfect in the role.

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

Readers have told me they love my characters. I grew up in a small town full of unique and memorable people. Maybe that past helped me to know how to build a character. Also, it helps that I am a people-watcher!

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Conflict. But in Love Finds You in Humble Texas I found a way to make that one element easier for me. I decided to create some built-in trouble by having two sisters fall in love with the same man. I can assure you there was enough natural conflict to fill a tome!

Yes, that's an excellent conflict.

This month I'm asking authors about character creation. Say a new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In a few sentences, give her your advice.

People are complicated. They are full of contradictions and quirky habits and messy thoughts. So, one helpful exercise might be to create a list of facts about your characters--things that define and reveal who they are. Examples might be: I love licorice ice cream, because it makes me feel sixteen again. When I was a kid I was afraid to go into the cellar--still am. I lick my plate, because it feels a little bit defiant. I buy baby shoes, even though I've been told I can't conceive.

You should know your main characters well enough that you can write out a long list of these peculiarities as well as the history behind them. Some writers fill out a character analysis sheet before they begin, and other writers discover these attributes as the story rolls along. Either way is fine, but it's important that your characters have lots of human qualities--things that make them engaging, complex, and loveable. Sorry, Trish, that was the long answer.

But a very helpful one, I think. Now I'd like you to choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.

It has to be food, since I love to eat. I'm probably a bowl of rainbow Jell-O. I think people would describe me as a colorful person, but I'm also a little scared of life. So, it doesn't take much to make me jiggle.

Hmm. Yes. I think parts of me identify with that one.

What is the last book you read that impacted you?


Well, I didn't finish the last book I was reading. It was well written, but it was so sexually explicit and sooo far from anything I'd call enlightening or pleasurable, that I tossed it in the trash. Whatever I write I want it to be something I can give my daughter to read without feeling embarrassed. In a way, that last book--which found its way into my non-recycling bin--did influence me, reminding me once again about my mission to write books that are entertaining as well as redemptive in nature.

What are you working on now?

For the moment, I am in between books, putting all my efforts into the promotion of Love Finds You in Humble Texas.

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

I'd love for you to drop by my web site, and please feel free to sign my guest book. I'm at www.anitahigman.com

And I hired the amazing Circle of Seven Productions to do a book trailer for me, so I'll let the narrator tell you a bit about Love Finds You in Humble, Texas. Click here.

Thanks so much, Anita, for telling us about yourself and Love Finds You in Humble, Texas. Readers, Anita has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, March 26. To enter, leave a comment for Anita, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Monday, when we'll meet novelist Eileen Rife, author of Restored Hearts. And we'll draw the winner of Margaret Daley's book, Poisoned Secrets. You can still enter for that drawing under Margaret's interview, below.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Margaret Daley and Free Books!

Maggie Ridgeway spent years searching for her birth mother, but when the past is revealed, the shocking disclosures could tear her life apart.

Before we meet today's author, I'd like to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Deborah Raney's book, Yesterday's Embers, goes to:

a_d_kanady@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Margaret Daley, author of Poisoned Secrets, (Love Inspired Suspense, March 2009).

PhotobucketMargaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL's Inspirational Readers' Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines. She has sold sixty books to date.

Wow, sixty! You're amazing, Margaret. Tell us about Poisoned Secrets.

PhotobucketMaggie Ridgeway has spent years searching for her birth mother. And now, thanks to an anonymous tip, she's finally found her. Taking the apartment across the hall from her mother's family, Maggie is determined not to leave until she gets some questions answered. Who is her father? Why did her parents abandon her? And what item in her new apartment is provoking multiple burglaries? After an interrupted break-in leaves Maggie unconscious, the building's owner, Kane McDowell, promises to protect her. But then he learns who she really is. When the past is unveiled, the shocking disclosures could tear Maggie and Kane apart.

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

I was most interested in Maggie because she wanted to find out about her birth mother and her family. Her adopted mother had never really wanted her, and Maggie was searching for answers about why her birth mother gave her up for adoption. I've known people who were adopted who searched for their biological parents.

Me too. You would always hope the search would end happily, but sometimes it doesn't. Why will readers enjoy your novel?

This is a story about forgiveness on many levels. Kane must forgive himself, his fiancee and Maggie. She must forgive her birth mother and to a certain extent her birth father. In the middle of all the family drama there is a murder that occurred that threatens Maggie's safety and beliefs.

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

PhotobucketHugh Jackman for Kane. PhotobucketAnd Kate Hudson for Maggie.

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

The plotting because I love to put a puzzle together and that's what plotting is--one great big puzzle.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Description--every time I go back through my story, I layer it in but I don't particularly like to read much description so it's harder for me to write than other elements of a novel.

I'm with you there. But I think it can be an advantage when you have a feel for what constitutes too much description.

This month we're asking about crafting characters. Say a new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.


She has to care about her character first. If there isn't enough to the character, she must go back and deepen the back-story and add more to the character's background, especially to support her goals and motivations.

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

A book because I love to read a good story.

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

The Bible--it always has an impact on me every time I read it. But also The Purpose Driven Life. I really got a lot out of that book.

What are you working on now?

A Love Inspired Suspense called Cowboy Protector that will be out next March.

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

I have a web site: www.margaretdaley.com
I have a blog: margaretdaley.blogspot.com
To purchase the book: Amazon.com

Thanks, Margaret, for telling us about yourself and Poisoned Secrets. Readers, Margaret has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Monday, March 23. To enter, leave a comment for Margaret, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Thursday, when we'll meet novelist Anita Higman, author of Love Finds You in Humble, Texas. And we'll draw the winner of S. Dionne Moore's book, Polly Dent Loses Grip. You can still enter for that drawing under S. Dionne Moore's interview, below.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

S. Dionne Moore and Free Books!

When Polly Dent Loses Grip on the treadmill and has a fatal fall that's ruled an accident, LaTisha Barnhart uncovers a plot that'll put your teeth on edge.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of A.K. Arenz's novel, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, is:

caree21@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist S. Dionne Moore, author of Polly Dent Loses Grip (Barbour, March 2009).

Photobucket
Me? You want to know the status of my bunions? Actually, my bio says it all. I'm a bunion-free supermom, able to leap loads of laundry in a single bound, homeschool my daughter, and help my pastor husband, all with a deadline looming. No problem-O.

You are an amazing woman--no doubt about it. Now tell us a bit more about the novel's plot.

PhotobucketPlot! I knew I forgot something! Just kidding.

Polly Dent Lose Grip on the treadmill and takes a fatal fall that is ruled an accident. Helping her mother-in-law move into Bridgeton Towers Assisted Living, but the scars from LaTisha Barnhart's surgically removed bunions tell her something's afoot. The residents' gossip is revealing all kinds of motives for murder. Gertrude Herrman is out looking for love in the form of Thomas Philcher's fat wallet, and Polly's fall eliminates her competition once and for all. Otis Payne, the venerable director of Bridgeton Towers, is over a barrel when his wife demands cash, or she'll carry on without him. Mitzi Mullins's penchant for rhyme puts her in direct line as perpetrator of the crime, and Sue Mie's mistake seals Polly's fate.

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

Definitely LaTisha, She's so unpredictable. Anytime I team her up with any other character, there's bound to be something fun happening. And when she gets together with Hardy? Ha. Those two are made for each other!

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

Because it measures about eight inches in height and makes the perfect backscratcher when you just can't reach the middle of your back any other way.

I love a practical author. What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? Explain.

I can hear my characters voices. I hear Hardy as clearly as I hear LaTisha. Dialogue comes easy to me, but I also take great pains to make sure the voices of each character are unique. After all, no two people look alike or talk alike. Good characterization begins with knowing a character's backstory and forming their dialogue accordingly.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Setting. I often go back in edits and write in sensory and setting.

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

No two people are alike. Knowing a character's backstory is key to knowing how they will act and react in your novel and also gives rise to their unique vocabulary and dialogue. Flat characters are characters that the author doesn't get to know well enough before they begin writing.

What are you working on now?

A romance. Ashton made the biggest gamble of his life and lost everything, now he's back to reclaim the heart of the woman whose life he shattered.

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

www.sdionnemoore.com. I'm always running a contest. Plus, I've just started doing Podcast lessons on writing. Short snippets of information that will change the way you approach your writing. I've just finished a series on Backstory, and have started a new series on Characterization.

Since the Heartsong Presents Mysteries book club is closing this summer, I'm also directing people who are not members of the club to email me personally if they'd like to purchase a copy of Polly Dent Loses Grip. You can contact me through my Website, above. We're hoping that Barbour will release all three LaTisha mysteries as a 3-in-1. Your Goose Is Cooked, the third and final book in the series was contracted, so the only way anyone will see it is if it is chosen to release as an anthology.

We'll pray to that end, Sandra! Thanks so much for telling us about yourself and Polly Dent Loses Grip. Readers, Sandra has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, March 19. To enter, leave a comment for Sandra, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Monday, when we'll meet novelist Margaret Daley, author of Poisoned Secrets. And we'll draw the winner of Deborah Raney's book, Yesterday's Embers. You can still enter for that drawing under Deborah's interview, below.

Monday, March 9, 2009

You Named Your Character What?

Wondering what to name your heroine? Her manly hero? Your villain?

Hopefully you'll use more sense than the people I featured in my Christian Fiction Online Magazine column this month. Give it a look and take advantage of some of the name sites I've found helpful when naming my characters.

Then join me below in welcoming Deborah Raney to Reading, Writing, and the Stuff In-Between!

Deborah Raney and Free Books!

When tragedy leaves Doug DeVore with five children to raise alone, he welcomes the help of the children's daycare teacher, Mickey; but too late, Doug and Mickey realize they've said "I do" to something neither of them bargained for.

Before we meet today's author, I'd like to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Mary DeMuth's book, Daisy Chain, goes to:

b.werts@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Deborah Raney, author of Yesterday's Embers (Howard/Simon & Schuster, March 2009).

PhotobucketDeborah Raney is at work on her eighteenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award and Silver Angel from Excellence in Media. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her newest books are the Clayburn Novels from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, including Remember to Forget, a 2008 Christy Award finalist. Deb serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas.

I'm so thrilled to have a chance to feature you, Deb! Please tell us a bit more about Yesterday's Embers.

PhotobucketTragedy has left Doug DeVore with five children to raise alone. When Mickey Valdez, the children's daycare teacher, lends a helping hand, sparks flicker between them and quickly ignite. But romance and real life are two very different things, and too late, Doug and Mickey realize they've said "I do" to something neither of them bargained for. Now they must find a way to untangle their knot of hasty choices without breaking the hearts of five precious children--or their own--in the process.

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

I found Mickey Valdez fascinating because she grew up in a typical small Kansas town, but always felt like an outcast, having the Latino coloring and Catholic upbringing of her Cuban-born father. Yet she longed to fit in and belong in her Swedish-descended mother's world, in a close-knit town where everyone seemed very different from her.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

I think readers will enjoy this book for the same reason I enjoyed writing it: it is a chance to explore what we would do if we were in the characters' shoes. Besides that, I think readers will like the romance that grows between Doug and Mickey--even through the really tough times they face, wondering if their love can survive.

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

What a fun question!

PhotobucketI picture Doug as a younger Daniel Craig (the new James Bond).

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Mickey would be played by Jessica Alba (only with violet blue eyes, because Mickey got her Swedish mother's Liz Taylor eyes!)

Yeah, I'm not adept enough to Photoshop violet blue eyes onto our girl Jessica, so we'll have to use our imaginations. What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you, Deb? Explain.

Definitely the rewriting/editing is easiest and most fun for me. I really struggle with the blank page, and find the process of refining my story, deepening character, etc. to be much more rewarding.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

See above. The blank page. Terrifying!

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

Give us some little details--but not just for the sake of adding details. Put some meaning behind that pinky ring she won't take off, or that perfume she wears every day, or the reason she insists on taming her curly hair. You can show us so much about your characters' interior by the little details we see in their physical appearance or mannerisms.

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

Wow! You really made me think with this one, Trish. I'm going to choose a teacup. A gaily painted, but badly chipped, teacup. Like the teacup, I'm terribly flawed, but hopefully I can still be used to fulfill the purpose for which I was created, whether that's to offer a cup of hot tea to a thirsty friend, hold a fresh-cut rosebud to brighten someone's day, or to be a receptacle for spare change or lost buttons.

And we'll all apply our own symbolism to the spare change/lost button part. What is the last book you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

Roxanne Henke's On a Someday was such a touching story about living life in the here and now, not worrying about tomorrow, but living purposefully each day. As my husband and I approach the empty nest at lightning speed, this book seems profound. It has a lot to say to young adults just starting out, too. But all contained in a page-turning story, mind you. This is not a how-to book, but a novel with characters so real I fell in love with them and thought about them for days after I finished the book.

I love those characters that stay with you! What are you working on now?

I'm closing in on "the end" of Almost Forever, the first in a new series for Howard/Simon & Schuster. The Hanover Falls Novels will tell the stories of the survivors of a tragic fire that took the lives of five heroic firefighters in a small Missouri town.

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

My website is www.deborahraney.com and you'll find links there for purchasing any of my books.

Thanks, Deb, for telling us about yourself and Yesterday's Embers. Readers, Deborah has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Monday, March 16. To enter, leave a comment for Deborah, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Thursday, when we'll meet novelist S. Dionne Moore, author of Polly Dent Loses Grip. And we'll draw the winner of A.K. Arenz's book, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma. You can still enter for that drawing under A.K.'s interview, below.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A.K. Arenz and Free Books!

Has Glory hit her head one too many times, or is there really a foot dangling out of that carpet?

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Lyn Cote's novel, The Desires of Her Heart, is:

spunky82@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist A.K. Arenz, author of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (Sheaf House, 2008).

PhotobucketMother of two grown daughters and grandmother of four, A.K. Arenz has been writing since she was twelve.
Her earliest publication was in the small, family-owned newspaper where her articles, essays, and poems were frequently included. From this early beginning, she honed her skills through university courses, studying Writer's Digest how-to books on the craft, and through frequent submissions. In the mid-nineties, her writing earned her a stint with a well-known New York literary agency, and, although it failed to produce the hoped-for results, her determination to press forward eventually led her to Sheaf House.

As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, A.K. has found the fellowship of both published and non-published members an inspiration. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats.

What a great writing opportunity as a child, A.K.! Now tell us a bit more about the plot of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma.

PhotobucketReduced to watching new neighbors move in as a form of amusement, Glory Harper is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, bored and itching for excitement. She just doesn't expect it to come in the form of a foot dangling from the end of a carpet as it's carried into her new neighbor's house.

The problem is getting someone to believe her. When the police recognize Glory as the woman whose skateboarding accident resulted in a multi-car pile-up, her believability quotient lowers. Just when she thinks she's finally gotten someone to take her seriously, Glory realizes Detective Rick Spencer, a Harrison Ford look-alike, appears more interested in her than in her story.

The more Glory learns about her new neighbors, the more she realizes she's stumbled onto something bigger than just a murder case. But while she's following what seems to be the obvious path to the culprits, the real criminals are closing in.

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

All of them, really, but if I have to choose just one, I'd say Glory. She's daring, creative, and a lot of fun.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

When I'm at a book signing and asked this question, I always say that if you like to laugh and enjoy mysteries, you'll like my book.

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

PhotobucketGoldie Hawn for Glory--if she allows herself to be her age.

PhotobucketAnd who better for a Harrison Ford look-alike than Harrison Ford himself?

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

I love writing conversations. I've always been fascinated listening to and watching people talk, and trying to get that same rhythm down in a book is a challenge.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Just opening up and listening to the characters. If I try to intervene with my own thoughts about what should be going on, I get stuck--fast. It's not always an easy lesson to remember, though.

A new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In three sentences or less, give her your advice.

Stop treating the character as a character in a book and allow her/him to roam around in your head for a while. If you give her/him the opportunity to actually experience things along with you, pretty soon you start thinking of them in terms of a friend--or enemy, as the case may be.

Good advice. Certainly by the time one finishes a manuscript, those people are amazingly real, right? So your idea of ruminating is smart.

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


Um . . . I think I most often resemble a bump on a log--especially when I'm trying to write and nothing happens. That's not a pretty sight. Not much fun, either.

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

The Ezekiel Option, by Joel Rosenberg. Made me think--a lot. The End Times are a lot closer than we think.

What are you working on now?

The second in The Bouncing Grandma Mystery series, The Case of the Mystified M.D.

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

My website: www.akawriter.com
My blog: www.bouncinggrandmamysteries
My book is available through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Thanks, A.K., for telling us about yourself and The Case of the Bouncing Grandma. Readers, A.K. has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, March 12. To enter, leave a comment for A.K., below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Monday, when we'll meet novelist Debra Raney, author of Yesterday's Embers. And we'll draw the winner of Mary DeMuth's book, Daisy Chain. You can still enter for that drawing under Mary's interview, below.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mary DeMuth and Free Books!

Daisy Chain explores family secrets in a small East Texas town after Jed's best friend Daisy goes missing.

Before we meet today's author, I'd like to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Renee Ryan's book, The Marshall Takes a Bride, goes to:

vie@ . . .

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

And now let's meet novelist Mary DeMuth, author of Daisy Chain (Zondervan, March 2009).

PhotobucketAuthor of six books, Mary E. DeMuth helps people to turn their trials into triumphs. Mary has spoken at several national writers conferences and has had the privilege of teaching in the US, Europe, and Africa for various churches and church planting ministries. She's appeared on national TV in Canada, and WFAA's Good Morning Texas. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Rockwall, Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, where they planted a church.

Mary, tell us a bit more about the plot of Daisy Chain.

PhotobucketThe abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control--Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter's demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He's convinced it's his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed's pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he's been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story offering a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God's surprising redemption.

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

Jed, the main point of view character because it proved to be a challenge to get into a 14-year-old's head.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

They'll enjoy it because it's different. Twists in the plot should surprise, and the folks you thought would be redemptive might not end up being that way in the long run. On the other hand, some characters show a beauty only found toward the end of the book.

People who like books like Peace Like a River should enjoy the read. I like to call it literary suspense.

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

PhotobucketJed: Shia LaBoeuf (though he's getting older)

PhotobucketDaisy: Abigail Breslin

Hixon: Will SmithPhotobucket

PhotobucketHap: Chris Cooper

PhotobucketMuriel: Winona Ryder

PhotobucketOuisie: Kate Winslet

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

The initial flurry of fleshing out an idea (nonfiction) or a character (fiction). I love the creativity that comes in those genesis moments.

What do you struggle with in your writing?

Rewriting. It's just not as fun!

This month I'm asking our authors about well-rounded characters. Say a new writer is struggling to make her main character less "flat." In a few sentences, give her your advice.

Authors must to learn to "go there" in our personal lives. If authors skate along the surface of life, never mining what's beneath, they will inevitably turn out emotionally flat stories. Use your own angst to fuel your characters. It doesn't need to be the exact angst, but use the emotional landscape of your own to add texture to your characters.

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

A deck of cards. Sometimes I'm neat, all my corners and edges lined up. And other times I'm 52-card pick up--a disarray of queens and hearts and spades.

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

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. It made me want to make a difference in the developing world. If my books sell lots of copies, I'm funneling the funds to Africa.

What are you working on now?

The third book in the Defiance, TX trilogy, currently titled Defiance.

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

Book: Amazon.com

Websites: www.marydemuth.com, www.thewritingspa.com

Blogs: blog.myfamilysecrets.org, www.relevantblog.blogspot.com, www.wannabepublished.blogspot.com.

Thanks, Mary, for telling us about yourself and Daisy Chain. Readers, Mary has offered to sign a copy of her novel for the winner of our drawing on Monday, March 9. To enter, leave a comment for Mary, below. Leave your email address, 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 to this drawing and all future drawings.

And check back on Thursday, when we'll meet novelist A.K. Arentz, author of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma. And we'll draw the winner of Lyn Cote's book, The Desires of Her Heart. You can still enter for that drawing under Lyn's interview, below.

Finally, take a look at some of the exciting novels releasing this month:

1. A Hundred Years of Happiness, 2nd in the Summer Meadows Mysteries by Nicole Seitz from Thomas Nelson. A generous story of family, war, loss and longing . . . of the ways we hide from those we love, and the ways that love finds us anyway.

2. A Silent Terror by Lynette Eason from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Someone wants Marianna Santino dead. Ethan O'Hara is willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her alive.

3. A Test of Faith, Mystery and the Minister's Wife #3 by Carol Cox from Guideposts. When everything falls apart, can faith hold them together?

4. Breach of Trust Call of Duty #1 by DiAnn Mills from Tyndale. Paige Rogers, former CIA agent, must choose between protecting the lives of loved ones or bringing a ruthless killer to justice.

5. Candy-Coated Secrets, 2nd in the Summer Meadows Mysteries by Cynthia Hickey from Barbour. Who would have thought escorting an elephant down Highway 64 could lead to murder?

6. Daisy Chain, Defiance, TX series, book one by Mary DeMuth from Zondervan. The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance haunts the small town of Defiance, Texas. Fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper searches for answers in this gritty and compelling story of love and sorrow, revealing God’s hand of redemption in impossible situations.

7. Daniel's Den by Brandt Dodson from Harvest House Publishers. Daniel and Laura become the objects in a game of cat and mouse where they learn just how big the cat can be - and that it's no game.

8. Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer from Kregel Publications. An obsessive woman, a serial killer, and a sudden winter storm turn a sabbatical in the North Woods into a nightmare that the Thayer family may not escape alive.

9. If Tomorrow Never Comes by Marlo Schalesky from Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers/Random House. Kinna and Jimmy Henley never planned on infertility stealing their dreams, crushing their love. But it did. Now, their last hope lies with a mysterious woman rescued from the sea.

10. Love Finds You in Humble Texas by Anita Higman from Summerside Press. Two sisters fall in love with the same man.

11. Michal: A Novel, The Wives of King David series Book 1 by Jill Eileen Smith from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A princess falls in love with her father's worst enemy - will it cost her everything?

12. Poisoned Secrets by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Maggie spent years searching for her birth mother, but when the past is revealed, the shocking disclosures could tear her life apart.

13.The Hand-Me-Down Family by Winnie Griggs from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. For the sake of three orphaned children, two scarred individuals - one physically, one emotionally - try to work together to forge a new family.

14. The List by Sherri Lewis from Urban Christian. Four women on a quest to find Godly men based on a list.

15. Wind of the Spirit, The American Patriot Series, Book 3 by J. M. Hochstetler from Sheaf House Publishers. As the patriot cause falters, can her love bridge the miles that separate them--and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

16. Yesterday's Embers, The Clayburn Novels by Deborah Raney from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. Newlyweds Doug and Mickey must find a way to untangle their knot of hasty choices without breaking the hearts of five precious children or their own in the process.

Happy reading!
 

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