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!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vickie McDonough and Free Books!

A geeky computer engineer is out of his element when he must accompany his young niece on a two-week wagon train tour in the Wyoming wilderness, but when problems occur from the start, he helps the pretty wagon master try to figure out who is sabotaging the tour.

Before we revisit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of M.L. Tyndall's The Blue Enchantress is:

bousmama@ . . .

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 talk with novelist Vickie McDonough, author of A Wagonload of Trouble (Heartsong Presents, September 2009).

PhotobucketVickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has written 16 novels and novellas. Her Heartsong books, The Bounty Hunter and the Bride and Wild At Heart both placed third in the Top Ten Favorite Historical Romance category in Heartsong Present's annual readers' contests. Her stories frequently place in national contests, such as the ACFW Book of the Year contest and the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest.

Vickie has also written books reviews for over eight years. She is a wife of thirty-three years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty three-year-old girl. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of A Wagonload of Trouble.

PhotobucketAfter attending college in Denver, Bethany Schaffer has no desire to return to her family's guest ranch in the mountains of Wyoming. But when her dad calls and asks for help, she goes anyway, only to find the ranch is in financial distress and mysterious events are putting their property and guests in danger.

Evan Parker is completely out of his element. Despite a pressing deadline, he agrees to accompany his niece on a two-week wagon train tour with her American history class. The deeper the group goes into the wilderness, the farther out of his comfort zone Evan finds himself. To make matters worse, the pretty gal heading up the tour thinks he's a geek extraordinaire, but he can't help his attraction to her.

As the adventure progresses, danger escalates. Can Bethany and Evan uncover the perpetrators before someone is seriously injured--or the ranch is driven into bankruptcy?

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

Evan. I had a lot of fun putting Evan in circumstances that made him squirm. My husband and one of my sons are both computer guys, so I know a lot about what makes them tick. I thought it would be fun to take a Beta male computer geek and toss him out in the wilderness with bugs and critters--some place where his cell phone didn't work and he didn't have power for his laptop--and he had an urgent deadline approaching.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

It's suspenseful, funny in places, and has a heart-tugging romance about two people who are complete opposites.

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

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Though he's a bit older than Evan, I used Michael Weatherly of NCIS and previously of Dark Angel as my model for my hero. In Dark Angel, he played more of a techno-geek character than he does in NCIS, but he had the look I wanted. Cute, spikey hair that often looks rumpled, killer smile.

Goodness. I've never watched either of those shows, so this was a new face to me. Cute.

PhotobucketJessica Price had the look I was going for in Bethany. Blond hair, brown eyes, sweet but spunky.

This month we're discussing dialogue. How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?

Listen to dialogue around you when you're in a restaurant or another public place. People don't talk in complete sentences, so we shouldn't write it that way. Still, when writing dialogue, it needs to make sense. Don't overuse dialect or meaningless chatter, but use dialogue to move your story forward and to accomplish something with it.

If you could spend an hour with any author from any time, who would that be, and why?

Oh, that's really a tough question, but I'd like to spend an hour with Tracie Peterson and learn about researching stories from her. I love the historicals that she writes and the interesting settings and events of the day that she uses.

What is the last book you read that impacted you?

I just finished reading Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio, by Lisa Harris. It was an interesting book with some good suspense. It was the story of two people, both who needed to forgive someone but found that difficult to do. One character especially was driven by revenge and nearly let it ruin his life.

What are you working on now?

The Anonymous Bride. It's a long fiction book that will be published by Barbour and is due to be released next April. It's the story of a marshal who suddenly has three mail-order brides arrive in his small town, each expecting to marry him. The only problem is: he never ordered a bride.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

My website is www.vickiemcdonough.com and you can see the covers of all my books and read a little about each one. I do a quarterly drawing and anyone who signs my guestbook is entered in a drawing for a free book.

I’m also a regular blogger on www.bustlesandspurs.com

Please include the link for purchasing your book. Once my book is released, readers can purchase it here: www.heartsongpresents.com/

Or, if they prefer, they can get it on Amazon: Amazon.com

Also, if they’d like an autographed copy, they can email me at fictionfan1@cox.net

Thanks, Vickie, for visiting us again and telling us about A Wagonload of Trouble. Readers, Vickie has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Monday, September 7. To enter, leave a comment for Vickie, 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. The odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

This Thursday we'll talk with Diana Brandmeyer, author of Hearts on the Road, and we'll draw the winner of Nicole O'Dell's All that Glitters.

And before we close for today, two items:

You have a chance to win a copy of Sunset Beach on Stormi Johnson's blog. See her August 27 post and click on the number after the word "Comment" at the top of the interview.

Also, if you need a copy of Too Good to Be True and have been unable to get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, contact me at trish@trishperry.com. I have plenty of copies, and I can offer the discounted price of $8 per signed copy, which includes postage.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nicole O'Dell and Free Books!

Drew Daniels finally has what she wanted--popularity and a cute boyfriend--but now she's faced with a difficult choice that the reader must make for her.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Tammy Barley's Love's Rescue is:

iamstamping@ . . .

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 Nicole O'Dell, author of All that Glitters (Barbour Publishing, August 2009).

PhotobucketNicole O'Dell is happily married to her husband Wil, with whom she is attempting to restore an old Victorian home. She is the mother of six wonderful children, the most recent additions being triplets, born in August of 2008. Along with her six kids, Nicole is very proud to have birthed a unique teen-fiction series called Scenarios: Interactive Fiction for Girls. It has been a true labor of her love--in the most literal sense. The completed manuscripts for Truth or Dare and All that Glitters, the first two books in the Scenarios series, were submitted from her hospital bed as she awaited the arrival of the triplets. The third and fourth books in the series, Magna and Making Waves will be released in April 2010.

Wow. I wasn't even willing to listen to the soothing music of Enya while in the hospital awaiting the birth of my most recent child (17 years ago), let alone go on the Internet and submit manuscripts.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of All that Glitters.

PhotobucketDrew and Dani Daniels are identical twin sisters. Getting ready to enter high school, Drew announces she's ready for a change. She's tired of being one of a pair and is hoping for some individuality. Dani's hurt, but realizes that her sister has to make her own path. A spot on the cheerleading squad, her first boyfriend and newfound popularity all force Drew to make a very difficult decision. The reader decides the path she'll take.

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

I can relate most to Drew. Several of her choices were things that I actually experienced. I was famous for rolling my waistband to turn a knee-length skirt into a mini before I got off the bus. And, the hidden baggie full of makeup? Guilty!

Oh yes, that brings me back, too, as I'm sure it does a number of my readers.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


The unique feature of being able to make a choice to determine the ending gives readers the opportunity of really getting into the story. They feel more personally affected by the consequences and rewards that follow their choices.

Yes, I remember my son reading interactive novels when he was very young. He loved them.

This month we're looking at refining dialogue. How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?


Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it's conversational. Have others read it, too. I had several young girls read through my dialogue to make sure it sounded authentic. Who knew teenagers don't say "way cool" anymore? Without my "authenticators" a "way cool" or two may have slipped into my books. Oops.

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?

Dialogue is actually my favorite part. I like tweaking it and twisting it to make the story rich, get more information out and let my characters shine. But, I struggle with the action beats interspersed in the dialogue. In books three and four, I've focused on making those action beats much more about showing rather than telling.

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

I'm looking at my digital camera. I think I'm a lot like it, actually. I try to capture what I see in my mind, and preserve it with words. My camera has a little wheel to turn to set it to take pictures at the beach, at night, of moving objects, etc. I have to turn the knob in my brain so I can place myself in different situations and adjust my thinking to suit the characters. It has a great memory, as do I. But, it can only hold so much data and then it has to dump everything. For me, that's called a meltdown.

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

I recently re-read Deadline, by Randy Alcorn. He has such an amazing gift for writing about heaven. It's always a poignant and beautiful reminder that this world isn't home. I sob every time I read this book.

What are you working on now?

Magna, book three, and Making Waves, book four, have been submitted and are in the final editing stages. I've also completed the outlines for Scenarios for Girls books 5-8 and am waiting for direction on how to proceed. I'm also in the very early stages of developing an idea for another series for the same age group.

Busy lady! And you with one-year-old triplets and three other kids! That leaves no excuses for the rest of us, does it?

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?


My website is www.nicoleodell.com. There’s also a website for girls called www.scenariosforgirls.com. You can purchase All that Glitters at bookstores or online at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com

Thanks, Nicole, for visiting with us and telling us about All that Glitters. Readers, Nicole has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, September 3. To enter, leave a comment for Nicole, 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.

This Monday we'll revisit with Vickie McDonough, author of A Wagonload of Trouble, and we'll draw the winner of M.L. Tyndall's The Blue Enchantress.

Monday, August 24, 2009

M.L. Tyndall and Free Books!

A woman searching for love in all the wrong places tries to erase her past and learn to behave like a proper lady in time to attract the love of an honorable, god-fearing man who wants nothing to do with her wanton ways.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Rita Gerlach's Surrender the Wind is:

carolynnwald@ . . .

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 MaryLu Tyndall (writing as M.L. Tyndall), author of The Blue Enchantress (Barbour Publishing, August 2009).

PhotobucketM.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King's Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of The Blue Enchantress.

PhotobucketStill grieving the loss of her mother--and private tragedies of her own--Hope Westcott plays the part of a dutiful admiral's daughter. But longing for the love and acceptance she never felt at home, Hope plunges into Charles Towne society . . . and an illicit affair with Lord Falkland.

For Captain Nathaniel Mason, wealth means security, so he is determined to build his shipping business--ignoring God's call on his life to become an impoverished pastor. He also ignores his attraction to the frivolous, vain Hope Westcott.

Hope's adventure seeking lands her in the hands of an unscrupulous ship captain who wants to sell her to the highest bidder. When Nathaniel sees Hope on the auction block, will he listen to God and sacrifice his ship, cargo, and security to save her?

From the Carolina Coast to the Caribbean, through stormy seas and shipwreck, can Hope and Nathaniel put aside their painful pasts, listen to God's voice, and find true love and acceptance?

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

The heroine, Hope Westcott, interested me the most, but I knew she would from the beginning. Her story is very closely linked to my own story before I became a Christian, so I could feel her pain, her emptiness and her desperation as if they were my own. She's a woman who's been damaged by the world, who feels she is worthless due to events in her childhood, and she's craving anything to fill the emptiness in her soul. As I wrote and followed her through the pain and then through the gradual awakening to God's love, it was as if it was happening to me all over again.

Yes, as I read your summary, I thought about how many women would identify with Hope's past. I'm glad to see you were able to open with a heroine so clearly lost with regard to love versus mere sexuality--not all publishers would be willing to risk that. Kudos to Barbour.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


It's a great adventure that starts out on an auction block on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, then heads out to sea where a hurricane strikes the ship my characters are sailing on, shipwrecking them on an island, then the story passes through a port on Jamaica and ends back out at sea for a ship battle. Intertwined throughout the action is the story of a young girl who has made some bad choices, who believes her only value is in her appearance, and who desperately wants to find love and self-worth. I believe it is the yearning of many young women today who get confused by the ads bombarding them telling them that their only worth is in the way they look. The story is also a great romance between a man who wants to avoid loose women at all cost and a woman with a sordid past and the transformation each of them has to go through to finally be healed and love each other freely.

It may sound funny for me to ask about appearances on the heels of that description, MaryLu, but I ask this of every novelist: If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?

PhotobucketDefinitely Cameron Diaz for Hope because she's a bit of a seductress but with a very sweet, innocent side.

PhotobucketI'd love to see Jack on the TV show Lost play my hero, Nathaniel Mason.

I would have liked to post a picture of Matthew Fox with appropriately longer hair, but the only one I could find was a pretty cheesy mullet. I think we can all imagine him with longer hair.

This month we're talking about dialogue. How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?


I always read over my dialogue out loud. It helps me catch anything that sounds fake. But essentially, you want to make dialogue sound like everyday speech between people, along with all the interruptions and half-sentences like the way people normally speak but with one important exception. Interject tension into each sentence. In other words, most everyday speech is boring. Things like "How are you?" "pass the sugar" etc... Dialogue in your story must never be boring, must be stuffed with tension, must be unique to each character, and must always advance the plot.

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?

The easiest part for me is the first draft of my story. I put my headphones on and immerse myself into my story and into my character's heads and then just type away. This is the most creative part for me and probably what I'm best at. I turn off my left brain, activate my right and just let it run wild. The hardest part of writing for me is the editing that I need to do when I go back over what I've written. This is when I need both sides of my brain to work simultaneously and most often they don't get along!

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

A book. I think a lot of people try to judge me by my cover but they are most always wrong about who I really am.

Speaking of books, what was the last one you read that impacted you? How did it affect you?

The last book I read that truly impacted me was Francine Rivers' The Mark of the Lion Series. I highly recommend it. It is the story of a young Jewish girl who is taken to Rome as a slave in the year 70 AD. Her love of God and the way she impacted the family she served constantly reminds me to be a better witness to everyone I meet.

What are you working on now?

I'm just beginning a new series set during the War of 1812 set in Baltimore called Surrender to Destiny. In fact, I'm heading to Baltimore next month to do some research.

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

Please visit my website at www.mltyndall.com or my blog at crossandcutlass.blogspot.com

To order The Blue Enchantress go to Amazon.com or www.christianbook.com

Thanks, MaryLu, for visiting with us and telling us about The Blue Enchantress. Readers, MaryLu has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Monday, August 31. To enter, leave a comment for MaryLu, 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.

This Thursday we'll meet Nicole O'Dell, author of All that Glitters, and we'll draw the winner of Tammy Barley's Love's Rescue.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tammy Barley and Free Books!

A headstrong Southern woman falls for her kidnapper . . . a rancher she blames for her family's deaths.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Camy Tang's Deadly Intent is:

msgtspfox@ . . .

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 Tammy Barley, author of Love's Rescue (Whitaker House Publishers, July 2009).

PhotobucketTammy shares the family lines of James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickenson. With that background, she says it's no wonder she writes Western Romance.

Tammy has lived in 27 cities and towns in 8 states, including the South and the West. She's ridden horseback on beaches and in mountains, including a ten-day ride halfway across Arizona with twenty-two other adventure-loving enthusiasts. On one freezing morning atop Four Peaks, she discovered the benefits of chunky but hot three-day-old cowboy coffee, which became a comical scene in Love's Rescue.

Chunky coffee. Mmmm gooood! Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love's Rescue.

PhotobucketA Dividing Conflict: In 1863, the War Between the States is dividing more than a nation. To escape the conflict, Jessica Hale and her family flee their Kentucky home and head for Nevada Territory. Her brother, Ambrose, committed to the Confederates, rejoins the Kentucky militia and is disowned by his father. But the worst is yet to come.

A Heroic Kidnapper: When Unionists presume the family to be Confederate sympathizers, they set a devastating fire to their home. All alone and then "kidnapped" by cattleman Jake Bennett, Jessica is taken to a ranch deep in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. Can she overcome her resentment toward Jake for failing to save her family?

The Depths of Love: When Jake launches a plan to help Jessica's brother escape from prison camp, she sees him for the honest, good-hearted Christian man that he is and now knows the depth of his love for her. Through the lingering smoke and smoldering ashes from her ruined home and murdered family, will Jessica see a future with Jake?

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

Surprisingly, the heroine's older brother, Ambrose. I chose most of my male character descriptions, and partly their personalities, based on actual black-and-white Civil War photos of men who fought, some who died, in the Civil War.

PhotobucketA photo of one soldier, Isaac I. Stevens (pictured), gripped me in a Somewhere in Time way that I just couldn't get out of my head. Sadly, the man died at Chantilly on September 1, 1862. He was only in his mid twenties, and yet there's directness and intensity in his face that tell me he was prepared to fight for what was right, no matter what it cost him. By his expression, he may have sensed it would cost his life. He's someone I would like to have known, and he's someone whose life and sacrifice can now be remembered 150 years after he died, since through one romance novel and this interview, his memory lives on. So I loved making this man into Ambrose. I loved thinking of Ambrose as my own brother. That made writing his scenes and his character real to me. Ambrose's character has touched others as well; a number of readers asked if I will be writing his story. I may.

My first novel (as yet unpublished) featured quite a bit of the Civil War. I know what you mean about that Somewhere in Time atmosphere while you research the soldiers of that particular war. My hometown (the setting of my novel) was a Civil War hotspot, and I'm constantly amazed when I walk around and look at homes and buildings that were actually used by men and women who lived through that conflict.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


Because Jake Bennett looks like Hugh Jackman's character in Australia.

'Nuff said; we'll move on.

No, seriously. Continue.


Love's Rescue places you into the saddle of a running horse and slips you into the cool water of a purling river on a sweltering summer night. I strive to write in such a way that you feel like you are there.

A quote from Pam Meyers's book review blog, www.pammeyerswrites.blogspot.com:

"As I walked alongside Jess's soul-journey from despair and hopelessness to abiding joy and hope restored through her relationship with God and with Jake, I found I didn't want to put the book down. Tammy's beautiful way of bringing out setting and making it come alive caused me to feel like I was right there with the cattlemen as they wrangled calves, cut the herds and chased down stampeding mustangs. I was also there as Jess found herself restored through her coming to peace with what had happened to her and her family."

Also, no other love story has been set in the historic Honey Lake Valley. No other hero and heroine have fallen in love through surviving drought, working a horse and cattle ranch, greenbreaking mustangs, and battling the dangers of fires and thieves. And no other Western romance incorporates the ways of the Paiute Indians and characters--men of honor--who are white, black, Mexican, Irish, and Chinese, true to ranches of the West.

Rarely in historical romance have two such dissimilar people been so right for each other, or a love been so strong. Jake and Jessica complete each other. Where she is reckless, he is patient. Where he is empty, she is vivacious. He is her strength. She is his laughter. Jake saves her from death; Jessica shows him what it means to live. They engage in a battle wills during a rarely seen Thornbirds-like fight for survival while they resist an impossible love.

Its Christian threads color this story like no other. Faith elements focus on the core Christian theme of living a resurrection faith, its presentation uniquely Western. A boy looks up into the night sky and sees the stars as the walls of heaven. A dying Paiute woman whispers, "Weep not for your dead; but sing and be joyful, for the soul is happy in the Spirit-Land." And Jessica, moved by Jake's heaven-bound viewpoint, adds an epitaph to her family's tombstone: I can't wait to see you again.

Simply put, I wrote Love's Rescue to impact and linger in the hearts of those who read it, and so readers may live the adventure.

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

What a fun question!

PhotobucketHugh Jackman (you knew that was coming, right?).

Hugh. Oh, Hugh. I just had to stop a moment and say that. Did I find a great picture of him, or what?

And what about our heroine, Tammy? Who do you envision for her?


Believe it or not, the gal on the book's cover. I pictured Jess in my mind, and I searched for days trying to find a magazine photo of a model who looked like Jess to help me visualize her, and I found one that was close, but when I saw the book's cover for the first time, I thought Wow. That is Jess.

She really is lovely. And she has a future in film when your book goes to Hollywood, right?

This month we're talking about dialogue. How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?


Find people who speak and sound the way you imagine your characters would speak and sound, and spend a lot of time listening to them. Record them, if they're fine with that. Jake is a cattleman; he doesn't talk a lot, and he doesn't butt into anyone else's privacy. Mostly he observes life around him, and melds into the landscape. I rode horses at a stable in Arizona for a long time. I grew used to mannerisms of speech, what wranglers talked about, what they didn't, and how they chose their words. For my Chinese character, I listened closely to a Karate instructor's way of listening and of speaking halting English, and some of the words he used. For my Irish character, I listened to people who were Irish, and observed their word choice, and the way they verbally connected their thoughts. And so on with each character. I used living examples so I could actually hear the characters' accents and word choices in my head. Of course some of that was tailored to fit the historic West. I also read old diaries from the time and place. Those were just as helpful.

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?

Easiest: Placing the reader into the setting, into the character's corset, moccasins, or heavy woolen coat. It's easiest because that's what I determined I wanted to provide readers that would be real and enjoyable for them and would also be uniquely my style. I worked on it for a year before that technique started clicking into place.

Struggle: Writing humor. I laugh the most when I'm tired, and then things I find funny aren't always funny to everyone else. I did include different snippets of humor--you can't be a female main character at a ranch full of men and not have off-the-wall humor--but I'm waiting to hear from readers as to whether they enjoyed the occasional laugh.

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

Oy--this feel to anyone like a Rorschach test?

Very astute, Tammy. We'll be analyzing your answer in a future blog post.

Hmm. Let's see. A size sixteen steel-toed boot resting on a forested mountaintop in the breeze. (That'll give the shrinks something to talk about.)

Yessssss. Clearly you have mother issues. Really, though, why that object choice?

I am determined, tenacious (different people use different adjectives and similes, as you can imagine), and I love seeing, hearing, feeling, and taking in God's creation in a big way; I love the peace it brings.

Some of my favorite "God moments" have been while simply contemplating Him while surrounded by nature. I get you. But we might both be crazy.

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


It's a book titled Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the stunning autobiography of a slave born in 1813, Harriet Jacobs. There are some images I'll never get out of my mind. I don't recall Uncle Tom's Cabin impacting me the way this book did. It'll definitely make my writing of the time and the lives of slaves far more real than I've been able to recreate to date.

What are you working on now?

Book two of The Sierra Chronicles, Hope's Promise. Jake and Jessica Bennett learn there was more to her parents' deaths than they knew, and both the ranch and Jessica are in danger. Now they must quickly find the murderer . . . and discover for themselves how far they will go for love.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

Here’s my Web site: www.tammybarley.com. If you're a Western or prairie romance fan, on the second half of the home page is a list of most CBA Western and prairie romance authors, their latest releases, and links to their Web sites, all in one place.

On the Bookshelf page of my Web site, www.tammybarley.com/Bookshelf.html, you will find the book trailer for Love's Rescue, links to where Love's Rescue is available online (here’s one: , and the information about entering the drawing to win a one-week vacation for two to a Western guest ranch resort in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Yep, you read that right.

If you are a ShoutLifer, I’m at shoutlife.com/TammyBarley. I'd love to see you there.

Thank you so much, Trish! I'd love to hear what inanimate object represents you and the blog readers--what a hoot!

Great idea, Tammy. But I must remain enigmatic, ever the woman of mystery. Still, that would be a fun contest to hold sometime--to see which commenter identifies with the most interesting or weird inanimate object.

Thanks, Tammy, for visiting with us and telling us about Love's Rescue
. Readers, Tammy has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, August 27. To enter, leave a comment for Tammy, 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.

Be sure to read my interview with Rita Gerlach, below, and enter a comment to take part in this Monday's drawing for her novel, Surrender the Wind.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rita Gerlach and Free Books!

When a patriot of the Revolution unexpectantly inherits his grandfather's estate in faraway England, he inherits more than an isolated manor house by discovering an English girl's love, and uncovering a plot that leads to kidnapping, murder, and abduction.

Before we meet today's novelist, I want to announce that the winners of the signed copies of my novel, Too Good to Be True, are:

carlyberd@ . . . and jssmcg@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you both today for your snail mail addresses, and we'll get your books 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 Rita Gerlach, author of Surrender the Wind (Abingdon Press, August 2009).

PhotobucketRita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. She has published three historical novels, and is editor of Stepping Stones Magazine, an online website focused on marketing, and the promotion of writers. Her fourth book Surrender the Wind, an inspirational historical romance set in Virginia and England, was released by Abingdon Press in August 2009.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Surrender the Wind.

PhotobucketAfter a harrowing escape from the British, patriot Seth Braxton finds his father dead at Yorktown. Battle scarred and grieving, he endeavors to settle down for a peaceful life along the Potomac by restoring his father's land.

Thinking he will forever stay in the secluded wilderness, he learns he has inherited his grandfather's estate in England. Seth is torn between the land he's fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister, Caroline, who was a motherless child at the onset of the Revolution, taken to England.

With no intention of making his stay permanent, Seth journeys to England. When he arrives, he finds his sister in the throes of grief after being told her baby has died. In the midst of tragedy, he meets Juleah. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal his heart, and she becomes his wife, enraging the man who once sought her hand.

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

Juleah for several reasons. Her independence and womanly wisdom unfolded as the story moved forward. Her compassion for others, and her love for Seth, was unwavering. Also, Juleah's father has dementia. My own father suffered with Alzheimer's and passed away on New Year's Eve 2007, the anniversary of the day he met my mother in 1939. Working this subplot into the story drew me closer to Juleah, and helped me through a period of intense grief. I identified with the heartache she felt, as well as the compassion and love she had for her father and the way she comforted her mother.

I'm so sorry about your dad. I know it can't have been easy to write about that.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


My goal as a storyteller is, and always will be, to give my readers a period of respite from the stressful world we live in.

I use strong narrative to paint the setting, and dialogue that is true to the historical period, where characters are engaging one another--not just chitchatting. My storyline keeps moving forward, and my chapters end on cliffhangers. By the end of Surrender the Wind, every loose end is tied, every question answered, and I give my readers a vision of what happened to them afterwards.

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

PhotobucketFor Juleah, I would cast actress Natalie Portman. She has that 'period' look.

PhotobucketIn the role of Seth, it's hands down for British actor Dan Stevens. I'm sure he could pull of a colonial accent.

How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?

In order to write well, you must read well. Read bestselling fiction within your genre and observe how these authors create great dialogue. Read books on writing. One I highly recommend is Between the Lines, by Jessica Morrell.

What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?

Writing overall is hard work. But the thing that comes the easiest for me is writing narrative. I love writing about a setting, in such a way that my readers see, hear, taste, and touch, what the character's senses are experiencing.

The hardest part is when I experience writer's block. But I have come to realize that writer's block, or 'writer’s pause' as I like to call it, is caused by distractions and stress. It is a part of life, and so the best thing to do is to keep working, but not force the writing.

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

I would choose a quilt. I've made several and I know the time and effort that goes into making one. I'm looking at one now that is draped over my quilt rack. It is a kaleidoscope of colors. It isn't perfect, but is warm and lends comfort on a cold night or a rainy day. It's taken time and a lot of effort for me to get to where I am today as a published author. I'm diverse in experiences like the colors that merge in my patchwork quilt. I am warm and I'll lend comfort to anyone that is in need. In fact, I'd wrap you up in my quilt and sit down with you on my overstuffed couch, and have some honey-sweetened tea and a long chat.

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

It's been a while since a novel had an emotional impact on me where it moved me to tears. But the one novel that I revisit time and again is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. It affects me as a writer to strive to write my best. It affects me as a reader in this way. Jane is so real to me, and my heart aches for her as she goes from the abuses she experiences in her childhood, to her yearning for love, and her deep devotion to Mr. Rochester.

What are you working on now?

Not to give away the plot, but it is another historical set along the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, then on to England. Each of my novels have these settings, both in the colonies and England. It's my trademark so to speak. This novel will be a stirring tale about fidelity and forgiveness, faithfulness in marriage, and bravery in the midst of danger.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

My website is ritagerlach.com I welcome visitors to post on my guestbook.
My blog ‘InSpire’ is: inspire-writer.blogspot.com
And Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers and Readers: steppingstonesforwriters.blogspot.com

Thank you, Trish, for this interview. Blessing to you and all your readers.

Thanks, Rita, for visiting with us and telling us about Surrender the Wind. Readers, Rita has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Monday, August 24. To enter, leave a comment for Rita, 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.

Be sure to read my interview with Camy Tang, below, and enter a comment below her interview to take part in this Thursday's drawing for her novel, Deadly Intent.

Also on Thursday we'll meet novelist Tammy Barley, author of Love's Rescue.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Camy Tang and Free Books!

Massage therapist Naomi Grant becomes a suspect when she discovers one of the clients bleeding to death in her family's elite Sonoma spa.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Barbara Dickson's Mountains for Maddi is:

bockoverve@ . . .

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 Camy Tang, author of Deadly Intent (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, July 2009).

PhotobucketCamy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own . . .), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Deadly Intent, Camy.

PhotobucketSCENE OF THE CRIME

The Grant family's exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation--not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon's reputation is at stake . . . and so is Naomi's freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect--Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim's ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn . . . and whom can she trust?

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

The hero, naturally! I fall a little in love with each of my heroes when I write them.

Devon has a good heart, and he's very successful in his business as an orthopedic surgeon, but he has a very hard father. His father's personality and the pressures he put on his son has made Devon rein in his emotions. He is close to his warm, fun sister, and she is the reason he goes to the Joy Luck Life spa to see his ex-wife--to retrieve his mother's Tiffany necklace so his sister can wear it for her wedding. Of course, things go awry when his ex-wife kind of sort of dies at the spa . . .

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

1) It's set in a spa!
2) Devon is totally hot!
3) Did I mention the spa?
4) Naomi (the heroine) is cute and fun.
5) Naomi is a massage therapist!
6) Naomi is a massage therapist in a spa!

I see. And where, exactly, is the novel set?

Just kidding. All right, Camy, if you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?


PhotobucketI pictured Devon Knightley to look like Alex O'Loughlin from the (sadly, cancelled) TV show Moonlight.

PhotobucketFor Naomi, she is half-Japanese, half-Caucasian, so she looks a little exotic, but not too much so. I pictured her to look like Natalie Portman.

Oh, I wish I had known that when I read the book. I would have liked picturing Naomi looking like that. And I pictured Devon differently, too. This is one reason I like asking authors this question--it's fun to picture the characters the way the author does.

Here's the quick review I posted elsewhere about Deadly Intent after I read it:

Camy Tang has done a truly fine job with her first foray into romantic suspense with Deadly Intent. I don’t read enough murder mysteries. I can’t help trying to figure them out as I read them, and too often I do figure them out. But Tang had me smiling and turning those pages with her surprising twists. I loved not guessing the murderer before Tang wanted me to know. Well done, Camy! I look forward to your next.

Camy, how would you advise a newer author to make her characters’ dialogue ring true?


1) Listen in on dialogue between strangers--not your friends or people related to you, but strangers. Sometimes the dialogue of people close to you, especially family, can sound similar to your own, which makes it hard to write dialogue of different types of characters. Also, if your family's dialogue is rather unique, you may not have a good feel for how other people speak to each other, intonation, phrasing, etc.

2) Have other people read your dialogue back to you--don't read it yourself. Listening to other people saying your dialogue can help you better hear when dialogue is stilted or unnatural.

Excellent suggestions! What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?

I love characterization and plotting. It's really fun for me. I brainstorm in my head and throw ideas on my "idea wall," which is my closet doors covered with shelf liner so my Post-It notes stick to it. Then I plot the book with a synopsis and scene index. The scene index is really necessary for me, but that's the hardest part, because I have to be more detail oriented. It takes a lot of effort for me.

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

I like to think of myself as a really cute pink purse. Because it's cute and pink, and it can make anyone look cute and fun just by wearing it. Not that I think I can make someone look cute and fun by wearing me, but I would hope I'm a cute and fun companion.

I have to vouch for you there, based on the times we've shared at conferences. Definitely cute and fun. And often pink!

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


The Black Tower by Louis Bayard. Just a fantastic example of phenomenal writing and characterization and plot.

I read his Mr. Timothy, which was a spin on a grown-up Tiny Tim of Christmas Carol fame. Excellent writing!

What are you working on now?

My next heroine is December (isn't that a cool name? I borrowed it from a woman who was taking one of my online classes). She will be my toughest heroine to write so far, because her struggles will be so close to home. I've always struggled with my weight, and recently I completed the Couch to 5K running training program. I'm going to have December do the Couch to 5K, too!

I've never heard of the Couch to 5K, and I don't think I want to do it. But I'll be interested in reading about it! Where else can readers find you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book.

Visit my website at www.camytang.com for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 24 copies of Deadly Intent.

If readers go to www.camytang.com/romanticsuspense.html, they can find the link to click to Amazon or Christianbook.com to purchase Deadly Intent.

Thanks for having me here, Trish!

Thanks, Camy, for visiting with us and telling us about Deadly Intent. Readers, Camy has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, August 20. To enter, leave a comment for Camy, 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.

Be sure to read my Jane Austen blog post below, and enter a comment to take part in this Monday's drawing for my novel, Too Good to Be True. I'll give two copies away.

Also on Monday, we'll meet novelist Rita Gerlach, author of Surrender the Wind.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Walk with Jane Austen and Free Books!

"It's actually an uncomfortable thing to pursue one's dreams, however attractive they may sound. Perhaps this is why most of us only dream dreams and never live them."

Before discussing today's book (from which the above quote comes), I want to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Shelley Shephard Gray's novel, Forgiven, is:

virginiakeckler@ . . .

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!


PhotobucketFor this month's post for the Everything Austen Challenge, I read Lori Smith's memoir, A Walk with Jane Austen. Smith, the author of 2002's The Single Truth, takes the reader with her on a summer's journey through Austen's England. We not only experience the places Jane did, we experience the places her characters did. And we live inside Smith's head and life in the process.

I found the different perspectives enjoyable and fascinating in the ways they intertwined. Smith, like Austen, is a single woman making her living through her writing. Because of her admirable adherence to her Christian faith, she is a woman who waits, in contrast with many of her contemporaries. No tawdry summer fling for her (which is certainly not to say she doesn't experience summer love). So, while we know Jane's romantic fate, we await word on Smith's while she treks from Steventon to Chawton, from Chatsworth to Stoneleigh.

One of my favorite aspects of Smith's book is her Notes section at the end. I watched Roger Michell's 2000 film version of Persuasion during the week I read this book, so I was able to use Smith's Notes in order to see how her walk coincided with what I had just watched on film. It was a double Austen whammy, and I loved it. I plan to hang onto this book and do the same with the rest of my Austen Challenge experiences.

If you're a fan of memoir and/or a fan of Jane Austen, I think you would enjoy this book. Kudos to Smith for an honest, compelling journey.


Now, since I'm not giving away my copy of Smith's book, I'd like to give away two copies of my novel, Too Good to Be True. Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing. And if you'd like to be entered a second time, see my column on Christian Fiction Online Magazine and then E-mail me, telling me what item I said might protect us better than car airbags. I'll draw two names next Monday.

This Thursday, we'll hear from Camy Tang, author of Deadly Intent, and we'll give away a copy of Barbara Dickson's Mountains for Maddi. You can enter to win Barbara's book by commenting under her interview, below.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Barbara Dickson and Free Books!

A woman, diagnosed with a debilitating illness, is convinced no man would consider her marriage material, and does her utmost to evade a gorgeous doctor's romantic advances because she's convinced he'll head for the hills when he learns her secret.

Before we meet today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of Lena Nelson Dooley's Who Am I? in Cranberry Hearts, is:

faithfulgirl4@ . . .

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 Barbara Dickson, author of Mountains for Maddi (Crystal Dreams Publishing, May 2009).

Tell us about yourself, Barbara.

PhotobucketI was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992, but refused to succumb to the illness without a fearless fight. Forced to retire from my career as an IT software analyst, I quickly re-discovered my love of writing. My first book was released in May 2009 with five more novels waiting in the wings. I've taken up public speaking again after a 10-year hiatus. I became an MS spokeswoman this past spring, and have been given many opportunities to not only encourage those living with disability, but to educate the able-bodied as well. I am also an MS ambassador, and a member of WAMS (Women Against MS.)

I'm married to a wonderful man and have five daughters through our blended family. I became a grandmother July 3. My hope is to touch the world, one heart at a time.

Wow, there's so much to congratulate you on there, Barbara. What a blessed life.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Mountains for Maddi.


PhotobucketMaddi Madigan, while on vacation, careens into Dr. Gregory Connor on a snowy ski slope. Entangled with Greg and buried in snow, her heart skitters, almost as far as her ski poles.

She soaks up the magnificent Rocky Mountain atmosphere over the next few days while avoiding an entanglement of another kind--romance. She bears the scars from a broken engagement, and is convinced men and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis don't mix; at least that's what her head tells her. Too bad her heart has other plans.

Greg, utterly smitten, pursues Maddi the same way he works--hard. When she lingers just beyond his romantic grasp, he rallies with dogged determination.

Can Maddi make it through the week without her heart ending up in a puddle of slush at Greg's feet? How hard should she try? Could Greg truly offer hope for a Happily Ever After?

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

I loved writing Dr. Gregory Connor's story. He's every woman's dream guy--a terribly handsome doctor with an amazing gentle bed-side manner, who wants to cure the world. When Maddi spurns even the slightest affection, he is flummoxed. I not only watch his love for Maddi grow with each tender encounter, I watched his heart break with each rebuff. I have MS and while I wrote the story, I imagined how sweet it could be to be rescued and loved by a man whose life mission is to find a cure. My heart ached for Greg at times in the book, especially when he is the lead suspect at the heart of a medical scandal. If the authorities prove the accusations, he could lose his license, his practice, and his life's work. I watched him struggle with his growing love for Maddi all the while desperately trying to save his medical career.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

Mountains for Maddi is a light, fun read, despite dealing with a serious topic. It's a story with a lot of heart, and more importantly, lots of hope. Greg's best friend Jeff, and Maddi's cousin Beth bring levity and humour to the story as Maddi faces misadventure after misadventure in her determination to keep Greg at arm's length romantically. From the opening scene where Greg rescues Maddi from a disastrous ski lesson to impromptu snowball fights amidst the splendour of the Rocky Mountains, there are many enjoyable moments as the week passes and the couple falls in love.

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

Photobucket Matthew McConaughey as Dr. Greg Connor.

PhotobucketAnd Reese Witherspoon as Maddi Madigan.

How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?

Imagine your characters in the scene you've created. Close your eyes and watch the scene play out in your mind. Listen to their conversation, the way they'd speak as if they were sitting across the table from you. Don't rush them as they work through their passions, motivations, and unwritten agendas. Watch their body language. Then open your eyes and simply write what you've just witnessed.

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

I find it easy to write dialogue. I imagine the characters in the scene and the conversation they might have, given what they want to achieve. The dialogue just flows out through my fingers onto the screen in front of me.

I sometimes struggle with building end of chapter conflict; the hook that draws the reader from the end of one chapter into the next. It's the difference between a reader saying, "I can’t put this down," and "I'll finish it later."

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

Hmmm, an inanimate object that represents me . . .

I'd have to say a mug. I have a lot in common with mugs. They are quiet, non-intrusive, yet have a story to tell, depending on where they were purchased. They are strong even when empty, and offer a warm tenderness when full. You can draw from their bounty and feel satisfied. But they are fragile enough that if you drop them, they'll break. I enjoy collecting mugs from around the world. Most of them are packed away in my garage, though, since I'd need a separate kitchen to display them all. Mugs hold a special place in my heart because they hold one of my most favourite comfort foods--tea. I drink several cups daily. A mug of tea sits close by me as I write, when I check my e-mail, and while I watch TV. I pick a mug that suits my mood at the time--do I feel adventurous like the ruggedness of Newfoundland? Or maybe I feel nostalgic for my British roots of England? Or maybe I'm missing my mom and want to use her favourite mug from Vermont. I'm always on the look-out for a new mug! (Picture Barb's husband rolling his eyes now . . . )

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

I'm currently reading Roughing It in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie. It's about life in Canada during the 1830s. I started reading it as research for a book I'm working on, but I've completely been drawn in by this young woman's account of life in Upper Canada. Just last week-end my husband and I drove to the very spot where Mr. and Mrs. Moodie set up a homestead in the "outback" of Canada. They lived an hour outside Toronto. It's amazing how much has changed, yet how much has spookily stayed the same. The lake where they lived is still there, and while one still feels as if they're in the countryside, the land is now coveted cottage country, the shoreline no longer dotted with remote emigrant log cabins. But other than for the actual small details of daily life--we don't take our wheat to the local mill anymore, and we don't eat squirrel--Mrs. Moodie's reflections of feelings, prejudices, societal norms, and the preciousness of children could easily show up in a book published in 2009. The Biblical saying, "There is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9) rings true.

What are you working on now?

I'm editing a three book series set in romantic Stonebridge Cove, a big-hearted town filled with enough small-town Nova Scotia charm to rival the innumerable stars hanging in the boundless sable skies above. I'm also working on a non-fiction book about GECO, a WWII munitions plant which employed over 6,000 women during the war, and had 5 kilometres of secret tunnels running under the complex, some of which still exist today. And, I'm working on a non-fiction narrative of the life of David Cragg, a widowed English farmer who immigrated to Toronto in 1833 with nothing but the clothes on his back, his eight precious children, and a fervent longing for a better life.

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

Readers can find me and my book on my website at: www.barbaradickson.ca. There's a link to my publisher on my welcome page. They may also go directly to the publisher's website at: www.mmpubs.com. As well, www.amazon.ca carries the book.

Thanks, Barbara, for visiting with us and telling us about Mountains for Maddi Readers, Barbara has offered to sign a copy of her book for the winner of our drawing on Thursday, August 13. To enter, leave a comment for Barbara, 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.

Be sure to read my interview with Shelley Shephard Gray, below, and enter a comment below her interview to take part in this Monday's drawing for her novel, Forgiven.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shelley Shephard Gray, New Releases, and Free Books!

When an Amish farmer's barn bursts into flames, it sets off a series of events in one family's life.

We have a book to give away before we meet today's featured author. The winner of Sandra Robbins' novel, Final Warning, is:

thepeachykeenwriter@ . . .

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 Shelly Shephard Gray, author of Forgiven (Avon Inspire, August 2009).

PhotobucketShelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins' inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Hiddenwas recently named a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest. Wanted reached Number 10 in the Christian Book Distributers top selling fiction title list. Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time.

Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and is part of the Telecare ministry, which calls homebound members on a regular basis. Shelley looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

Over the years, Shelley has attended numerous conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Forgiven.

PhotobucketWhen a fire destroys the Lundy's barn, Winnie Lundy is injured trying to get the animals to safety. Confined to a hospital for weeks, out of touch with her loved ones who live too far away to visit, she must depend on Englisher Samuel Miller to keep her company. Though his family is part of Winnie's tight-knit Amish community, Samuel left years earlier to pursue a university education. Through their conversations, and Samuel's dedication to her recovery, a friendship forms. But despite her growing attraction, it can never develop into something more as long as Samuel chooses to remain in the outside world.

When Winnie returns home, she finds her brother struggling with his own pain. Cigarette butts were discovered in the debris of the barn and Jonathan is determined to find out who is responsible for destroying his property and putting his family at risk. But in this cohesive community, his suspicions could eat away at the trust and respect on which they depend.

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

I have to admit that though I dearly loved writing about Winnie and her romance with Samuel, and I loved investigating the idea of a person leaving the Amish community because of a love of knowledge and learning. That said, the person I was most interested in was Jonathan Lundy. Jonathan is a newlywed and was the hero of my second book, Wanted. However, it was his crisis of faith in this third book that really struck a chord with me. In Forgiven, Jonathan wants to forgive the person who burned his barn, but the person hasn't come forward…and Jonathan has to accept that he might never find out who did it. He has a tough time letting go and moving on . . . and I think that's a very honest emotion that all of us have struggled with one time or another.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

I hope readers will enjoy the fast pace of the book and the multiple story lines. I have four characters struggling throughout the novel! It's also the conclusion to my Sisters of the Heart trilogy. So readers who have read Hidden and Wanted will enjoy seeing the series' storylines wrapped up.

This month I'm asking authors about dialogue. How would you advise a newer author to make her characters' dialogue ring true?

Read the dialogue out loud. Wait a few weeks, and then read it again. Sometimes newer authors put too many tag lines (shouted, exclaimed, mumbled, whispered, etc). When you read the words as they're described, they might sound a bit over dramatic. For example, most people don't yell all that much.

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

I actually love to write the first scene of a book and to revise. I can always visualize how I want the action to begin, and it's always easy for me to try and make a book I've written better. Of course, that means I really struggle with the middle of the book! I have to give myself page minimums to write every day.

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

Hmm. I would have to say it would be a lamp. I'm a pretty stable person. I'm not very talkative, but I like the idea of getting myself across visually, like the lamp does when it illuminates.

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

I just returned from the Romance Writers of America National conference. I brought home lots of free books, and I've been reading those, just about a new book every three or four days. I'd say that those books have impacted me. Most were by authors I haven't read before, so it's always fun to try a new author. I also always enjoy reading what's recently been published. It helps me get an idea of some of the trends.

What are you working on now?

I am currently trying my best to finish Spring's Renewal, which is Book 2 of my new series, Seasons in Sugarcreek.

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

www.shelleyshepardgray.com
Shelley@shelleyshepardgray.com

Thanks, Shelley, for visiting with us and telling us about Forgiven. Readers, Shelley has offered to sign a copy of her book (as soon as it's released) for the winner of our drawing on Monday, August 10. To enter, leave a comment for Shelley, 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.

Be sure to read my interview with Lena Nelson Dooley, below, and enter a comment below her interview to take part in this Thursday's drawing for her novel, Who Am I?.

And this Thursday we'll meet Barbara Dickson, author of Mountains for Maddi.


Finally, take a look at the excellent novels releasing this month:

1. All That Glitters, Scenarios for Girls, book 2, by Nicole O'Dell from Barbour Publishing. The reader will decide if Drew Daniels does the right thing when sudden popularity causes her to forget about things that were once important to her.

2. Forgiven, Sisters of the Heart Series, Book 3, by Shelley Shepard Gray from Avon Inspire, a division of Harper Collins Publishing. Tragedy strikes when a brother and sister find themselves facing two difficult situations.

3. Surrender the Wind, by Rita Gerlach from Abingdon Press. When a patriot of the American Revolution inherits his grandfather's estate in England, he inherits more than a crumbling manor house.

4. Sweet Waters, Otter Bay Series Book 1, by Julie Carobini from B&H Publishing Group. Sweet Waters is the story of a newly-jilted woman who talks her sisters into moving back to their hometown only to discover family secrets that threaten the fairy tale image she'd always had.

5. The Blue Enchantress, the Charles Towne Belles Series book 2, by MaryLu Tyndall from Barbour. An adventure-seeking woman and a security-minded captain are shipwrecked together.

6. The Last Woman Standing, by Tia McCollors from Moody. A man, his woman, and his ex-wife search for love again.

7. Truth or Dare, Senarios for Girls Book 1, by Nicole O'Dell from Barbour. Peer pressure threatens to drive Lindsay Martin to doing something she doesn't want to do; the reader will decide.

8. Under the Tulip Poplar, by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver from Heartsong Presents. When Rebekah Taylor and Asher Landon struggle to find their ways to the other, will they allow God to direct bring their separate dreams together as one?

9. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Book #1 in the VA VA VA BOOM series, by Allison Bottke from David C. Cook. When life is a dance and Disco is a state of mind, it's Mamma Mia goes Vegas!

Happy reading!
 

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