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, November 30, 2009

Margaret Daley and Free Books!

Single mother Lisa Morgan isn't ready to share her past or her heart and neither is police detective David Russell. Can the true meaning of Christmas bring them together?

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, by Lauraless Bliss, is:

sherrinda@ . . .

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 revisit with novelist Margaret Daley, author of Together for the Holidays (Love Inspired, November 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 Holt Medallion, 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-six books to date.

Margaret is currently the Volunteer Officer for ACFW. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She served as vice-president for two years in WIN-ACFW and is still on its board as an advisor. She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired last year, she was a teacher of students with special needs for 27 years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community.

Please tell us a bit more about Together for the Holidays.

PhotobucketA single mother with a traumatic past, Lisa Morgan only wants to raise her son with love and values. But lately the boy is struggling. When his basketball coach becomes a reluctant role model, Lisa is relieved. Until she learns that David Russell is also a cop. She's not ready to share her past--or her heart. And neither is the world-weary detective. Yet as Christmas comes closer, the true meaning of the holiday brings them together in ways they never dared dream.

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

Lisa Morgan because she is flawed more than most heroines. She had a rough life and didn't always make the right choices, but she is trying to live as the Lord would want her to. It isn't always easy for her.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

It is a heartwarming story about the true meaning of Christmas.

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

PhotobucketClive Owen for David.

Ah, be still my heart.

PhotobucketAnd Gwyneth Paltrow for Lisa.

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?

I actually do both. I do have a framework (outline) but a lot of times I write as I go, too. I know my peaks in the story but have to fill in the valleys that lead up to the peaks.

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

Disaster Status by Candace Calvert. This book will be out in January and is a wonderful glimpse into the life of an emergency room nurse (as well as a fireman). Interesting characters with interesting problems.

Who is an author you admire? Why?

James Rollins because his books are pure suspense/adventure. I love those combinations in a story.

What are you working on now?

My third book in my series about home schooling. I've titled this Dad Lessons but that might change. The first two books are Love Lessons (April 2010) and Heart of a Cowboy (July 2010). The last one is scheduled for November 2010.

You're always so prolific, Margaret! Such an inspiration, by the sheer fact that you meet so many deadlines. Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

You can visit my web site at www.margaretdaley.com and read excerpts from my books and learn about the ones recently released and soon to be released.

You can purchase my books anywhere online or at a local bookstore. They are also available in places like Wal-Mart. You can go to my web site and follow the link to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or eHarlequin.

Thank you, Margaret, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Margaret has offered to give a copy of her novel to the winner of our drawing on Monday, December 7. 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.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Check back this Thursday, when we'll meet Janice Thompson, author of Fools Rush In.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Booksigning Event and Free Books!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you all! By this Saturday you may want to take a break from turkey sandwiches, turkey tetrazinni, turkey curry, and Uncle Jasper, the family turkey. If so, may I suggest a fun event for those of you in the general Maryland/Washington/Virginia/West Virginia area?

I'd like to draw your attention to a multi-author book signing on Saturday (November 28). The event will feature the following authors and their books:





Lisa Samson
Wanda Dyson
Cathy Goehlke
Rita Gerlach
Candice Speare
Melanie Jeschke
Tracy Higley
Joyce Magnin
Loree Lough
Jeanette Windle
Dave Greber
Gayle Roper
And me!

Borders Books and the Virginia Avenue Church of God are sponsoring the event, which will include gift-basket door prizes, a Starbucks coffee/pastry bar, opportunities for photos with the authors, as well as plenty of signed books for yourself or people on your Christmas list!

And the Hagerstown Mall is across the street if you'd like to continue shopping after you've found all of the signed books you need for your gift-giving.

If you have a Facebook account, you can view a related video, HERE.

I hope to see you there!

Now, I want to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Mary DeMuth's novel, A Slow Burn, 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!

Be sure to check out Lauralee Bliss's interview, below. There's time to leave a comment to enter the Monday, November 30, drawing for her novel, Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Check back on Monday, when we'll revisit Margaret Daley, author of Together for the Holidays.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lauralee Bliss and Free Books!

The mail order bride encounters the tradition of My Fair Lady when a man of means takes a penniless orphan under his wing and falls in love.

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for Wild West Christmas, signed by novelist Vickie McDonough, is:

dheath211@ . . .

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 Lauralee Bliss, author of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire (Summerside Press, October 2009).

PhotobucketLauralee Bliss has always liked to dream big dreams. Part of that dream was writing, and her career began with small creative works as a teen just for fun. After several years of hard work, the dream of publishing was realized in 1997 with the publication of her first romance novel. Since then, she's had over a dozen books published, both historical and contemporary. Lauralee's desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart. Lauralee makes her home in Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of your novel.

PhotobucketSara McGee is not what Tom Haskins expected. The artist knew he was taking a risk when he reluctantly agreed to advertise for a mail-order bride but Tom assumed the woman who answered his ad would be more refined than the penniless and uneducated Sara McGee. Tom takes Sara under his wing but he knows he can never marry her especially now that he's suddenly receiving attention from accomplished pianist Annabelle Loving. While Tom's sister is bent on transforming Sara into a lady, Sara knows she can never compete with Annabelle. Nonetheless, she finds herself drawn to the lovely mountain town of Bethlehem and to the artist who brought her here. But without a marriage to Tom, Sara knows she cannot stay. As preparations for Christmas transform the tiny town, will Tom come to understand the message of the first Bethlehem--that the most precious gifts don't always come as they're expected?

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

I like the hero, Tom Haskins. He brings to life the beauty of the White Mountains in his paintings (and since I love photographs, paintings of this area from the 19th century do capture my eye) but also, he is not a typical hero with everything together in his life. He struggles with God's will but ultimately discovers what he must do through prayer and seeking the guidance of others.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

The story is set in a beautiful area--the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which are wonderful to visit anytime of year. They will enjoy following the adventures of Sara McGee as she struggles to find her way despite her difficult life as an orphan on the streets of New York City. And I believe they will also identify with the hero, Tom, who may not be perfect at the onset but chooses to embrace God's will for his life and not the way of the world.

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?

I am a SOTP writer--that is, a seat of the pants writer. I think up the initial idea then I sit down and write the book, allowing ideas to flow as I write. This can be difficult though when editors demand a full synopsis of a book not yet written, as I am likely to change the idea as I write. Thankfully most editors are adaptable to changes.

Yes, we heard about that same side-effect from other SOTP writers this month!

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


Getting ideas for a book comes fairly easy to me. I'll get the idea from an event, a person's life, or something else I've seen and say to myself--I want to write that!

Writing a chapter by chapter synopsis is tough for me, especially if the book is not complete. For a SOTP writer, this can be extremely challenging. But it makes for a good book later on when you sit down to write it. Everything is there before you . . . you just fill in the blanks.

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

A backpack. A backpack equates adventure. Adventure equates the need to trust God for whatever steps one takes in life. And as an avid hiker (and I completed the entire Appalachian Trail where I carried a backpack for six months) it's also a part of me.

I like that, Lauralee. As a relatively non-adventurous gal, I admire that.

What is the last book you read that moved you?


I just finished reading Rebel with a Cause, the autobiography of Franklin Graham. Although it was published a while back, I found it an easy and interesting read. I liked it that no matter what struggles Franklin faced early on, neither his parents nor God Himself ever let go of him or his true destiny. And God bought him out of his past to embrace a high and holy call.

What are you working on now?

I'm just finishing the second installment in a contemporary romance series set in the lovely and intriguing state of Utah for Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. The first book, Love's Winding Path is based on the biblical story of the Prodigal Son and takes place in Moab, Utah, including rafting on the Colorado River. Sign up for my newsletter via my web site to find out the release date, which should be around January/February. You won't want to miss this book, especially if you have known a prodigal in your life.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

Readers are welcome to visit my website at www.lauraleebliss.com to learn more about my books and writing, along with my other interests.
And my blog www.blissfulwritingthoughts.blogspot.com
Book link: www.amazon.com

Thank you, Lauralee, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Lauralee has offered to give a copy of her novel to the winner of our drawing on Monday, November 30. To enter, leave a comment for Lauralee, 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 check out Mary DeMuth's interview, below. There's time to leave a comment to enter the Thanksgiving Day drawing for A Slow Burn.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mary DeMuth and Free Books!

Devastated by past choices, Emory Chance searches everywhere for the healing and love she needs, but she pushes nearly everyone away.

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for my novel, Too Good to Be True, is:

pepsi324@ . . .

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 A Slow Burn (Zondervan, October 2009).

PhotobucketAuthor of three parenting books and four novels, Mary E. DeMuth helps readers 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.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of A Slow Burn.

PhotobucketEmory Chance needs to find who killed her daughter Daisy and unravel the mystery behind a sickening premonition--a man with a snake tattoo. The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, A Slow Burn is a suspenseful story about courageous love, the power of forgiveness, and the bonds that never break.

From the Back Cover: "Beautifully and sensitively written, her characters realistic and well-developed. Mary DeMuth has a true gift for showing how God's light can penetrate even the darkest of situations." -- Chuck Colson

She touched Daisy's shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.

Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy's murderer--a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy's death continue to mount, Emory's safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can't shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy's disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?

The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.

What difficult subject matter, Mary. Just reading this small part makes me so sad, as a parent.

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


Emory Chance because she's so hurt that she hurts others easily without thinking about it. She's lost empathy. But as I continued writing her, I came to love her. She's so frail and needy, so much like all of us.

Yes, I imagine your book is a reminder that we can't always be sure what has happened to cause people to be unsympathetic to others, or callous, or any number of negative traits.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


If they like seeing an impossible woman find grace, they'll enjoy the book.

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

PhotobucketHixon: Samuel Jackson

PhotobucketEmory: Charlene Theron

Since you didn't mention Hixon before, I'm intrigued to read the book and learn what his role is!

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?


The crazy method. I have an idea of the story arc, the characters and the climax. Then I write the book by the seat of my pants.

Yeah, that's crazy, all right! You're a dyed in the wool pantser--and successful with it! I admire that.

What is the last book you read that moved you?


Columbine, by Dave Cullen. Just finished it last night. It worried me and made me sad, but the writing is beautiful. I truly admire great journalists who take mountains of information and distill them down.

Wow, that's one I'll probably never be able to read. It's so hard to shake that kind of sadness, because the story isn't made up from a writer's imagination. Besides Cullen, who is an author you admire?

I deeply admire Marilynn Robinson. Her writing is stunning. I want to be like her when I grow up.

What are you working on now?

Research for a yet to be placed memoir and another southern novel.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

Slow-Burn-Defiance-Texas-Trilogy

For those who want to be published: www.wannabepublished.blogspot.com
For those wanting to share family secrets anonymously: myfamilysecrets.org
My personal blog www.relevantblog.blogspot.com
My website: www.marydemuth.com

Thank you, Mary, for visiting with us and telling us about A Slow Burn. Readers, Mary has offered to give a copy of her novel to the winner of our drawing on November 26, Thanksgiving Day. 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.

Be sure to check out Vickie McDonough's interview, below. There's time to leave a comment to enter the November 19 drawing for Wild West Christmas.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vickie McDonough and Free Books!

Although horse-trainer Sarah Ames is stunned when her pa hires the part-Mexican Carson Romero to take over her job on the ranch, she gradually becomes attracted to the handsome drifter. But when cattle go missing, Carson seems the prime suspect. Has Carson stolen Sarah's heart as well as some prime longhorns?

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for Sandie Bricker's novel, Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, is:

ecspiers@ . . .

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 revisit with novelist Vickie McDonough, author of the novella, A Breed Apart, in Wild West Christmas (Barbour Publishing, September, 2009).

PhotobucketVickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has had 16 novels and novellas published. 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 Presents' 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. The first book in her first long fiction series, Texas Boardinghouse Brides, will release next year. Vickie has also written book reviews for over eight years.

She is a wife of thirty-four 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 Breed Apart.

PhotobucketWild West Christmas is an anthology collection. It contains four novellas by four authors (Lena Nelson Dooley, Kathleen Y'Barbo, Darlene Franklin and me), and they all focus on the Ames sisters, who live on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Each sister has a special talent such as roping or tracking, and since there are no boys in the family, the sisters help run their father's ranch.

My story is titled A Breed Apart, and my heroine is named Sarah. Her passion is training horses, and she's an expert at it. Her father wants her to be more like her oldest sister and learn to tend the home, but Sarah hates being inside doing womanly things. When her pa hires half-breed Carson Romero to replace her, Sarah almost loses her identity. But when cattle go missing soon after Carson's arrival, she suspects him to be an outlaw. As she watches Carson, she realizes he has a gift for working with horses and a unique style. Intrigued, she wants to know more. Is it possible for a man so talented to also be an outlaw?

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

Carson, my hero. Why? Carson is half Scottish and half Mexican and has faced being a half-breed all his life. Being part Mexican and living in historical Texas was a fete all its own. He's a good man living a difficult life, and I enjoyed writing his story.

It must have been fascinating, Vickie, to write about the problems of the past with regard to peoples' views on multicultural heritage. Certainly prejudice still poisons pockets of American society, but the idea that someone of mixed race would stand out as a "half-breed" seems so odd (and sad) today. I'd love to read how Carson fared.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


For one, it has a Texas setting, which remains popular among readers. It's exciting and has four romances with Christmas settings. Also, I think readers will enjoy seeing how the different authors incorporated the sisters into all the stories. It's hard to write a character that you didn't create, but all of the authors in this collection did a wonderful job.

Yes, it's impressive that your stories intertwine like that. That can't have been easy. But that makes for a good collection!

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


PhotobucketMarco Sanchez, who played Carlos on Walker Texas Ranger, is who I based my hero on.

PhotobucketA young Stephanie Zimbalist was the model for my heroine, but she'd be too old to play Sarah now.

We'll make Stephanie a young chick for our purposes. I wish it were that easy in real life.

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?


I'm kind of in-between outlining and writing by the seat of my pants. I've written eight books for Heartsong Presents, and they require a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book before they'll buy it. Because of that, I learned how to create a skeleton of my novel. I found that was very helpful when it came time to write the book. I know just what goes into each scene, but there is still plenty of room for creativity.

Wow. I always find I expand on my original outline, as additional plot turns demand, so I'm impressed with your foresight.

What is the last book you read that moved you?


I recently reviewed a book called Leah's Choice, by Marta Perry. I don't normally read many books with Amish settings, but this one really touched my heart. Leah loved a young man who left the Amish community. She grieved his loss, but went on with her life. When he returns years later, she struggles all over again with her beliefs and her desire to be loved. This story inspired me to stand firm with my beliefs and convictions, even when things may look greener across the way. Compromising what I believe to get something I may want isn't the answer.

Such a tough dilemma for so many of us Christians!

Besides Marta Perry, above, who is an author you admire?


There are so many, but one author I've read a lot recently is M.L. Tyndall. Her books are packed full of action and adventure. Her heroines always end up in dire circumstances and must rely on their wits and faith to survive. One thing Ms. Tyndall does that you don't often read in Christian fiction is the use of supernatural events. She sometimes shows the answer to her heroine's crying out to God in an unusual way, by a supernatural act.

What are you working on now?

I finished The Anonymous Bride, which is the first book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series and am currently writing the second book called Second Chance Brides. Basically, in Second Chance Brides, there are two women leftover from a bride contest to see who will marry the town sheriff. These two women are the losers, and I wanted to tell their stories and see that they have a happy ending.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

Readers can find out more about my books at my website: www.vickiemcdonough.com

I’m also a monthly blogger on the Bustle and Spurs blog, which features articles and books focused on the Old West.

PhotobucketI also would like to mention that I’m in another Christmas anthology that released last month. It’s called A Blue and Gray Christmas and features four romances set in and around the Civil War. The other authors are Carry Turansky, Tamela Hancock Murray, and Lauralee Bliss.

Wild West Christmas can be purchased at www.Christianbook.com and www.Amazon.com.

Thanks for allowing me to be a guest again!!!

Thank you, Vickie, for visiting with us and telling us about Wild West Christmas. Readers, Vickie has offered to give a copy of Wild West Christmas to the winner of our drawing on Monday, November 23. 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.

Be sure to check out my post about Jane Austen's Emma, below. There's time to leave a comment to enter the November 19 drawing for my novel, Too Good to Be True.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Emma and Free Books

"Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them...."

Before addressing the book from which that quote comes, I want to announce that the winner of Julie Lessman's novel, A Passion Denied, is:

gcwhiskas@aol.com

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 Everything Austen Challenge, I read Austen's Emma and then re-watched the Douglas McGrath 1996 film adaptation of the novel.Photobucket

I have such respect for Austen in her ability to portray the rigid class system of Georgian-Regency England through her heroine without leading us to completely dislike the girl. You can't help cringing when you listen to Emma tell the naive Harriet Smith she would have to quit their friendship if Harriet didn't marry well enough. But Emma's actions in other regards show she is not so wrapped up in class distinction to truly allow something like that to happen. Her threat is actually an immature attempt to manipulate Harriet in a way Emma thinks will ultimately lead to Harriet's happiness.

Emma is wrong, of course. She's wrong so often in the story--especially about love--it's a delight to anticipate the consequences of her misjudgment.

Because I watched the film immediately after reading the book, I was able to see where Austen left off and McGrath picked up. Or, rather, where McGrath stepped in and either cut or added dialogue. I have to say, he did a fantastic job. His streamlining took nothing from the enjoyment of the story, and the few lines he added honestly did enhance the story's humor without detracting from the tone.

There were some casting choices for the film which particularly stood out in their perfection, in my opinion.

PhotobucketOf course, Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley (brother to Emma's brother-in-law) was ideal. No one plays the noble character better than Northam. And he's equally attractive when he's just a man. When he storms away from Emma, rejected (he thinks), his poorly concealed frustration is beautifully shown in his body language. And there is a scene in the book in which Emma suggests dancing with him:


"Will you?" said he, offering his hand.

"Indeed I will. You have shown that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper."

"Brother and sister! No, indeed."



In the film the way Northam delivers that last line is most definitely worth the price of admission. It added so much to the scene that I didn't quite get in the reading.


PhotobucketAnother excellent bit of casting was Sophie Thompson as the ever-talkative Miss Bates. McGrath cut quite a bit of Miss Bates' chatter for the film, which was an improvement. Austen did well in showing how unbelievably boring the woman's prattle was--to the point that I found myself skipping her longer passages. Thompson made you love the poor little thing right from the start, though. The effect added so much to the scene in which Emma is verbally cruel to Miss Bates. Very well done.

PhotobucketFinally, Juliet Stevenson as the horrible, self-centered Mrs. Elton was phenomenal as the woman you love to hate. Everything, right down to her haughty sniff, was perfect.

Pairing the book and the film was a joy. I recommend the experience to anyone interested in getting a really good Austen fix.

If you'd like to get in on the Everything Austen Challenge, here's the link: Stephanie's Written Word.

And once again I find myself without an author's book to give away. Looks like I'll have to give away one of mine again! This time I'm going to give a signed copy of Too Good to Be True to someone who leaves a comment below. Tell me--have you seen Emma or read the book? What did you think? Or maybe you saw Clueless, the modern adaptation of Austen's story? Or tell me which of Austen's books you have read. Any Austen-related comment will do! I'll draw a name, from the commenters only, next Thursday.

Be sure to check out Sandie Bricker's interview, below. There's still time to leave a comment to enter the drawing for her latest novel, Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sandie Bricker and Free Books!

Just in time for Christmas! Sandra D. Bricker, award-winning author of laugh-out-loud comedy for the inspirational market, invites you to join her for scripture and crossword puzzles, mayhem with the neighbors, ballroom dancing lessons, some rogue flamingos and a flying dog, New Year's Eve disco night . . . Oh! And unexpected love.

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for one of my novels is:

debbiejeanm@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address and to find out which one of my books you want, 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 Sandie Bricker, author of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida (Summerside Press, December 2009).

PhotobucketSandra D. Bricker has been publishing in both the Christian and general market for years with novels for women and teens, magazine articles, and short stories. With eight novels in print and five more slated for publication through 2010, Sandie has carved out a niche for herself as an author of laugh-out-loud comedy for the inspirational market. Her Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas won three readers' choice awards last year. Sandie was an entertainment publicist in Hollywood for 15+ years, and her client roster read like a Who's Who in the world of daytime soaps. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida, working a day job as a content editor.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of your novel.


PhotobucketLawyer Cassie Constantine has no plans to stay in Florida. She's there just long enough to sell her late husband's vacation house, and then she'll hightail it back to her gracious Boston colonial. But the place needs more work than Cassie bargained for. What's more, her widow status is like a target on her back and the elderly matchmakers around town manage to sidetrack her mission at every turn. Holiday is a landmine of golf tournaments, ballroom dancing competitions, shuffleboard and day trips. But the biggest obstacle of all: Richard Dillon, the stuffed shirt she's paired with on the dance floor. He makes her heart beat faster than the rhythm of The Quickstep.

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

Well, since my dog Sophie is a character in the novel, I'd have to say her! But of the fictional ones . . . there were so many to choose from in this book. Crazy neighbors like Millicent, the wheelchair-bound Marvin, and even the heroine Cassie. But I think the hero, Richard, interested me the most as a writer because he's such a dichotomy. He's one part stuffed shirt who plans everything, and one part grief-stricken widower bravely trying to make a new start for himself when his plans fall apart. I really love showing all the opposing facets of a character. When he began to loosen up because of Cassie's influence, I sort of fell in love with him despite my lack of attraction to him in the beginning of the novel. It's just like real life! You meet someone and have one impression of them, and then you start to get to know them and realize how much depth there is.

I think I've fallen for every one of my heroes.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


I hope they'll enjoy it because it's not your typical romance. The main characters are in their 50s, and there's a supporting cast as diverse as you can imagine. From a teenager with piercings and tattoos to an elderly group of ballroom dancers that flourish when they rediscover disco.

One thing I've noticed about living on this odd little planet called Florida is that the diversity among the residents is just astounding. Since Summerside really focuses on giving the reader a genuine regional experience, I tried to bring that into the story at every turn. For instance, I drew from local Christian radio, cuisine, wildlife . . . and then tried to filter it through the eyes of this very different cast of characters. Someone told me that "this novel personifies the word quirky," and I think that's a very nice assessment.

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

PhotobucketThe heroine Cassie would be played by Sally Field.

PhotobucketAnd Richard would definitely be played by Dennis Quaid. He has those "parentheses" around his smiles that Quaid has. That just knocks me out.

I'm with you there, Sandie. Very mischievous looking, even in a grown man.

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?


It's interesting that, when I started out as a screenwriter, I always wrote from a full step outline. This happens, then this, then this. But as a novelist, I really enjoy the freedom of making some general notes about plot, and then just flying out on the open road. I get inspired as I go along with the characters, experiencing things as they do. I'm not sure I could go back to that very structured process and still enjoy it the way I do.

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

Let me preface this by saying I do not like this revelation, but it has recently come to my attention that I write a better book when I'm on a deadline. I'm not certain, but I think it has something to do with being forced to write in larger chunks of time (like last weekend when I spent almost 20 hours at my computer over Saturday and Sunday!) rather than an hour here or an hour there.

What I struggle with the most is the unwritten rules that some writers seem to like to inflict on other writers. I understand the importance of knowing them; studying your craft is imperative to building and growing as an author. I just don't get that insistence sometimes fastened to the craft with so many hard-driven nails. Sometimes I find that the beauty of a really great story or rich, interesting characters can easily be missed when reading strictly for verbiage and (broken) rules.

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

I suppose I’d be a Thesaurus. I'd like to imagine myself sitting closed on a bookshelf near the window, enjoying the sun while swimming around in all those different ways to say things. Ahhh, words rock.

What is the last book you read that moved you?

Oh, that's easy. The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin. It's one of the first novels released by the new fiction line at Abingdon Press. Come to find out, this was Joyce's debut novel, and it was written with such expertise, humor and unexpected depth that I was really moved. I found myself several times laughing and crying at the same time and, if I can pilfer a line from Steel Magnolias, laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

Huh. I had no idea that's where that line came from. I thought my Associate Pastor's wife thought it up all by herself!

What are you working on now?


A deadline! My second book for Abingdon Press (Always the Baker, Never the Bride) will be released with the fall cycle in 2010.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?

My Web site: www.SandraDBricker.com
My blog: sandradbricker.blogspot.com
Group blog: bestilldevos.blogspot.com

Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will be released on December 1st. It can be pre-ordered through the usual suspects like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or via
Christianbook.com

Thanks, Sandie, for visiting with us and telling us about Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida. Readers, Sandie has offered to give a copy of her novel to the winner of our drawing on Monday, November 16. To enter, leave a comment for Sandie, 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 check out my interview with Julie Lessman, below. There's time to leave a comment to enter the November 12 drawing for her novel, (A Passion Denied).

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Also, here's a reminder about the upcoming multi-author booksigning taking place in Hagerstown, Maryland, on November 28. For details, go HERE. I'd love to meet you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Julie Lessman and Free Books!

A Love So True, a Memory So False . . . and a Passion Denied.

Before we visit with today's featured author, I want to announce the winners of three separate drawings for signed novels by our recent interviewees.

The winner of A.K. Arenz's novel, The Case of the Mystified M.D. is lucieinca@ . . .

The winner of Christa Parrish's Watch Over Me is faithfulgirl4@ . . .

And the winner of Marcia Gruver's Emmy's Equal is shryackmom@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact all three of you 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 talk with novelist Julie Lessman, author of A Passion Denied (Revell, May 2009).

PhotobucketJulie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline "Passion With a Purpose" underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Photobucket

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of A Passion Denied, Julie.

PhotobucketBook 3, A Passion Denied, is the story of Faith and Charity O'Connor's little sister, Lizzie, a shy bookworm who dreams of a fairy-tale romance. It unfolds a man's dark past and a young girl's shattered dreams . . . and the God who redeems it all.

Elizabeth O'Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God. But when his gangly protege blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him, he refuses to act on the attraction he feels. His past won't let him go there. Unfortunately, "Lizzie" won't let him go anywhere else . . . until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.

Note: A Passion Denied is the third book in The Daughters of Boston series, which is a series that I strongly recommend be read in order to get the most out of it due to a number of shocking surprises in books 1 and 2.

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

This is going to sound really silly, I know, but the character who interested me the most in A Passion Denied is a subordinate character named Cluny McGee, a charismatic fourteen-year-old street orphan that the hero, John Brady, takes under his wing. Poor Cluny is a rag-tag neighborhood runt who looks all of ten years old, but he's got such an endearing swagger about him that I fell in love with him right off the bat. Originally he was intended only as a one-scene bit part, but this cocky, little kid literally forced me to expand his role and weave him into the plot, pitting him against Katie O'Connor (the heroine's sister) as her worst nightmare. And, I'm happy to say, the nightmare continues for Katie O'Connor in book 1 of the next series, A Hope Undaunted, where Cluny McGee is the love interest she butts heads with once again.

That sounds so fun! I love it when characters surprise us and become more significant than we originally intended.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?


Grin . . . because as a drama queen, I tend to be more extreme in my expression of both romantic passion and spiritual passion, which I think is a unique combination in Christian romance today. What I mean by that is my writing is more romantically tense and descriptive than most of what I see in the CBA romance market, but I also feel that it may be more deeply spiritual as well. I don't just breeze across romance and God in my books with the mention of a kiss or a Scripture passage here and there, but both facets of life are deeply woven into the plot and the characters' lives as well, hopefully giving them a spiritual passion that rivals the romantic passion they always encounter.

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

PhotobucketFor Brady, definitely Michael Vartan, the lead in Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore. Here's the pic I like the most because he has that deadly-calm look in his eyes that Brady so often wears. Hubba-hubba!

Good choice, Julie! My son and I are just now watching the old Alias show (hey, there are only just so many TV viewing hours in a given time period--we were busy elsewhere in 2001). So I've recently developed a real appreciation for Michael Vartan.

PhotobucketFor Lizzie, I think Revell did a wonderful job with the cover model--she is exactly as I pictured her, but if I had to pick a movie star, I would go with Emmy Rossen.

This month we're talking about different approaches to writing novels. Some authors use outlines, some write as they go, some take a different approach altogether. Could you give us an idea of the method that works for you?

For the first two books, I was a dyed-in-the-wool seat-of-the-pants writer rather than a plotter, but trust me, with two 3-book series that chronicle fourteen characters in the O'Connor family from 1916 to 1932, I was forced to create an age/birthday/anniversary chart that would boggle the mind. In addition, I have created incredibly detailed synopses to help me keep all the plots straight for both primary characters and subordinates, which if the "pantster" in me has its way, may or may not end up in the final story.

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

The easiest? Oh, that's a no-brainer--writing love scenes, of course! I like tension, lots and lots of romantic tension, so when I write those scenes, my keyboard is smoking because my fingers fly. In fact, one of my friends wanted to know why I couldn't just write a nice, "sweet" love scene. Duh, because I would fall asleep! Even my husband noticed the fast and furious pace of my love scenes--he said he would be meandering along in a nice, easy passage and then, bam! A love scene would hit, and before he knew it, he was 20 pages down the road!

What do I struggle with? Groan . . . having to promote a book. Dear Lord, just let me write!

I hear you on the promotion thing, Julie. I think most authors would agree.

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


Gosh, this is a really tough question, but the first thing that comes to mind is a waterfall. Why? Because I tend to be one of those people who are all or nothing, pouring myself into whatever I do with great force and passion. Whether it's brushing my teeth with a vengeance or piping dinner guests' initials into twice-baked potatoes, I can't seem to do anything halfway . . . especially romance! Even in giving compliments or encouragement, I tend to gush because if I like something or somebody, it just all comes pouring out. Unfortunately, the risky part of a waterfall is that whenever I open my mouth, I'm never quite sure what's gonna spill out.

All right, I'm going to have to check back with you about piping those initials into potatoes, Julie. That is just so Martha I don't know what to say.

What is the last book you read that moved you?


Well, I've read a ton of great romance books lately, but I guess the one book that really "moved" me was, ironically, a women's fiction, which is not a genre I usually read. It was Susan Meissner's The Shape of Mercy because several lines in that book brought me to tears on the spot when they pierced my heart with a truth I desperately needed at the time. Isn't that just like God?

Yes, it is. I love that. I have Susan's book and am dying to get to it (again, just so many reading hours available in a given time period). I've heard so many good things about it.

What are you working on now?


I am thrilled to say that my publisher has contracted me for another 3-book series entitled "The Winds of Change" that will finish off the saga of the O'Connors in grand style. However, I must emphasize that this will be a brand-new series, not a part of The Daughters of Boston Series.

I have just finished Book 1 (A Hope Undaunted), which is the story of the youngest O'Connor daughter, Katie, who is a pistol that comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Book 2 (A Heart Revealed) will be about the eldest O'Connor brother, Sean whose love interest will be--guess who? Emma, Charity's gentle and scarred friend from A Passion Redeemed. And then book 3 (working title Beside the Still Waters) details the story of the younger O'Connor son, Steven, during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after real-life prohibitions agent, Elliot Ness.

How fantastic to be able to carry on historically like that, Julie! Congrats on the contract. I'm sure your readers are thrilled with this news.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?


Trish, thank you so much for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Readers can contact me or read about my books or blogs at my website, www.julielessman.com. I am also part of a group blog called The Seekers, www.seekerville.blogspot.com, which is a blog devoted to writers and the publishing journey. My books can be purchased at Amazon.com or Christianbooks.com or any other online booksellers.

Thanks, Julie, for visiting with us and telling us about A Passion Denied. Readers, Julie has offered to give a copy of her novel to the winner of our drawing on Thursday, November 12. To enter, leave a comment for Julie, 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 here's a note just for those readers who are reading all the way through this post: I was doing the DisneyWorld/family thing this past week, so I didn't feature an author on Monday, as I usually do. Consequently, I don't have anyone's book to give away. I guess I'll just have to give away one of my own! So, if you're reading this and would like to enter a drawing to choose one of my books, just leave a comment below. You'll not only be entered in Julie's drawing for next Thursday, but, if you comment before Monday, you may end up being drawn for one of my books this Monday.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.

Finally, I don't want to sign off today without mentioning the following books that are releasing during the month of November.

1. A SILENT PURSUIT, by Lynette Eason from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Gina Santino has something someone desperately wants. Now, she's on the hunt to find it. Her deceased fiance's best friend, US Ranger, Ian Masterson is her only hope of staying alive while they race to be the first to discover the treasure her fiance left behind.

2. Chasing Shadows, by Terri Reed from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. An heiress turns to her former love, a cop, for help when she fears for her grandmother's life.

3. Close to Home, by Carolyn Aarsen from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A reunion of old lovers brings up the shadows of past tragedy.

4. Fit To Be Tied, The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs, Book #2, by Robin Lee Hatcher from Zondervan. Who says a woman can't do a man's job?

5. I'm So Sure, A Charmed Life, Book 2, by Jenny B. Jones from Thomas Nelson. Its prom time and someone is trying to sabotage the queen contest. Can Bella solve the mystery in time AND keep it together as her life goes public on a wrestling reality show?

6. The Bartered Bride, by Erica Vetsch from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Tempests rage, in the board room, the ball room, and on treacherous Lake Superior as two hearts set sail on a collision course.

7. Together for the Holidays, Fostered by Love series-book 5, by Margaret Daley from Love Inspired. Can the true meaning of Christmas bring two loners together?

Happy reading!
 

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