Interview and giveaway with Margaret Brownley!!!

I am super-duper excited because I have author Margaret Brownley as my guest this week! Margaret is a New York Times Bestseller and she is going to be giving away a copy of her new book Dawn Comes Early. This book is already on my TBR list and after you hear about it, you’ll want to add it to yours too!

Margaret is giving away a copy of Dawn Comes Early to one lucky commenter (sorry, but U.S. residents only for this giveaway). Read on for the blurb…

Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. -Eleanor Walker

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest book for a fresh start at a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory. She hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a much harder life. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch in 1895, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early . . . every day. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn’t expect to meet Luke Adams either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn’t recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

Isn’t this just a fantastic cover? And now, let’s take a minute to meet the author behind the book…

Thank you, Margaret, for being my guest this week. What was the inspiration behind your latest book? The idea for Brides of Last Chance Ranch series came to me after reading an old newspaper article in the New York Times dated 1891. A group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Milford formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry.  Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one who remained unmarried the longest.  Thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and sincerely hope no one had— but the concept intrigued me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

Dawn Comes Early is the first book in the series. So what does a disgraced dime novelist know about cattle?   According to the hero, “Not a dern thing—and that ain’t all she don’t know.”

Speaking of books, what is your favorite book in the Bible and why? My favorite book of the Bible is Luke because it presents the most vivid description of Jesus’ life.

I love the book of Luke too! How does your faith influence your writing? Faith is an essential part of who we are and that shows up in every aspect of our lives.  One of my frustrations in writing for the secular market was not being allowed to explore a character’s faith (or lack of it).  I don’t think it’s possible to fully develop a character without including his or her relationship to God. 

Everything that happens to us changes our faith in some ways, sometimes for the better, but not always.  The same is true of our characters. We know to hold a protagonist’s feet to the fire, but sometimes forget to show how the experience affects spiritual matters.

You’ve written many books! Do you have a favorite? My favorite book is always the one I’m currently working on, which happens to be the third book in the Brides of Last Chance series.  Once a book is completed I tend to put it out of my mind.

If you suddenly were given one million dollars to start a new charity, what type of charity would you launch and why? It would have to be something with children. More money is given to animal causes than children’s charities and that bothers me.  I love animals (and there’s a lovely dog named Homer in Dawn Comes Early), but I love children more.

I definitely agree with you, Margaret. Children are so precious and need to be cared for and protected. How can readers connect with you? I’m on Facebook and Twitter and you can reach me through my website: http://www.margaretbrownley.com

Margaret’s bio: Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, “Maybe God’s calling you to write fiction.”

So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit

The first book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series “Dawn Comes Early” will be published March 2012.  The book will be followed by Waiting for Morning and Afternoon Tea.

Margaret’s also excited to announce that her non-fiction book “Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Hope and Healing” will be published in July—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
Thank you so much for being my guest, Margaret. It’s been an honor to have you share about your book with my blog readers!

And now, here’s all you have to do for a chance to win a copy of Dawn Comes Early…leave a comment for Margaret (and yes, anyone can enter, but confirmed subscribers receive two entries, so be sure to sign up to follow this blog, then check your email and confirm your subscription to be added to the subscriber list! Sorry – this particular giveaway is open to U.S. residents only). Giveaway ends on April 5, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

Don’t forget to join me each Thursday for interviews and giveaways from some of my favorite author friends!

Author Spotlight/Book Giveaway with Laura V. Hilton!

I’m excited to welcome my friend, Laura V. Hilton, back to my blog for a book spotlight and giveaway! Read on to find out more about Laura’s new book and how you can enter to win your own copy.

Laura’s latest book Promised to Another will soon be released by Whitaker House and is the third in her Amish of Seymour series. Following is the blurb…

Annie Beiler is a spunky, spirited schoolteacher, but she’s struggled ever since the man she was promised to “jumped the fence” and left the Amish of Seymour. To make matters worse, she’s in danger of losing her job because she took her students on an unauthorized field trip.

Soon after Joshua Esh moved from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Seymour, Annie Beiler caught his attention. He’s disheartened to discover that she is promised to another man-Luke, who left the Amish but vowed to return one day and claim “his” Annie. So, Joshua mingles with all of the girls but Annie, not wanting to rock the boat.

Before long, Luke and Joshua are fighting over Annie, and God alone knows what will become of this triangle of tension.

I caught up with Laura to ask her a few questions…

What prompted your interest in writing about the Amish community?  Well I love reading Amish books.  I read somewhere to go check your bookshelves to see what genre of books you keep and then write that genre.  Hmmm.  Not sure that’d work for me.  I have chick lit, contemporary, women’s fiction, children’s, YA, Amish, suspense, historical…..   LOL  But then my agent suggest I “try” Amish fiction.  I thought about it, prayed about it, and well, I knew I had Amish background, but wasn’t sure I could do the Amish justice. But I gave it a shot.

Very fascinating! I love discovering how other authors have chosen the genre in which they write.  So…can you tell me what role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?   Well, I’m a quiet shy person, so I struggled with acceptance and finding my place in the world. Still do at times. I’ve found that even seemingly outgoing people have issues they struggle with where they find they don’t quite fit in.  We are all made from a different mold.  So, finding your special niche or gift where you fit is a topic that always seems to make it into my stories – so far.

I have been wondering, and I’m sure others are wondering as well…do you want to be Amish?   No, I don’t want to be Amish. I’m too attached to air conditioning.  And being able to go someplace w/o hitching up a buggy to a horse or finding a ride.

Would you please share with us your bio? Sure! Here is my “official” bio:  Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college.  Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book Patchwork Dreams in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House released in April 2011, the second book, A Harvest of Hearts in September 2011, and Promised to Another in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

Laura loves to connect with her readers through her blog, where she also writes book reviews.

Thank you so much for for joining us today, Laura. It’s always a pleasure to have you as my guest!

And now, my wonderful blog readers, you have a chance to win Promised to Another. The rules to enter are super easy! Leave a comment for Laura (and yes, anyone can enter, but confirmed subscribers receive two entries and be sure to remind me that you’re a confirmed subscriber!)  Giveaway ends on March 8, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

I will be announcing the winners of Fay Lamb’s book and Shellie Neumeier’s book this Friday, so if you haven’t entered to win Shellie’s awesome book, there’s still time by going here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/author-spotlightgiveaway-with-shellie-neumeier/

Join me each Thursday for author interviews and giveaways. Also, join me on Mondays for Movie Mondays, where I review movies, and on Tuesdays for my humor posts.  If you enjoy humor, please check out my most recent humor post Extreme Bathroom Makeover!

Interview and Giveaway With Author Zeke Lam!

I am honored to have Author Zeke Lam as my guest this week. Zeke is the author of the new book subMission: Heeding Only His Voice. He is giving away a copy of his book to a commenter on this post. Read on to find out more about Zeke and subMission: Heeding Only His Voice

What is the greatest challenge that the Church is facing today? Zeke Lam suggests that one word is the greatest challenge:  submission, or the lack thereof. It is not external forces that nullify the testimony of a Christ-centered believer, but rather the failure to humbly submit to the voice of the Lord. This book will help you to live a surrendered life abiding in Christ.

*Is the approval of God more important to you than the approval of man?

* Is the presence of God evident in your life?

*Do you fiercely protect your intimacy with Christ?

*Do you desire to live a life of truth, free from the lies of the devil?

*Is God’s divine character visible to those around you?

Learn how to submit your life wholeheartedly to the Lord so that you can dwell continually in the secret place—a place of intimacy, surrender and joy.

I was thrilled to interview Zeke and learn more about his book and his ministry.

Hello Zeke! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us more about yourself. I am 27 years old and have been married to my beautiful wife, Kathleen, for 6 years. We have three children (4, 2, and 2 months) that we love very much. I have ministered since the age of 18 as a youth minister and evangelist. In addition to this, I operate a small business which constructs ornamental concrete such as flower pots, bird baths, etc. I also help out with the family furniture when time permits. We are passionate to see Christ glorified through our lives, and constantly remain seek to use our lives to share the Gospel. This has led our family all over the world.  Our most recent “adventure” involved us literally driving to a town in Texas, renting an apartment, and seeking the Lord. Although we knew nobody or anything about the place, God gave us an entire church fellowship in 2 days! This turned into an incredible 7 month stay that is surely not finished yet.

What an awesome testimony of how the Lord worked in your life! So, what motivated you to write this book? Compromise is way too commonplace today. I have seen it in the church, in families, and in my own life. If revival is to take place in or society, God’s people must be willing to operate with the level of obedience and submission God requires. Mixing our opinions with God’s commands or desires is the very recipe for disaster. If we will fully release ourselves to Jesus Christ, and be willing to follow Him the way He commands, a shift will take place in our society! Ultimately, shortcomings in my own life with regards to submissions sparked this fire.

What do you hope this book accomplishes? My hope and prayer is that Christians nationwide will be challenged to step into a realm of Scriptural obedience that will spark revival!

Awesome! So, did you learn anything (or did God show you anything) as you were writing? I certainly experienced moments where I was convicted about the level of submission I lived under. God revealed to me the importance of denying any and all voices that seek to lure us from His presence. Submission to Him will position us for spiritual greatness!

Do you believe people struggle with the idea of “submission”? If so, why? Yes, we all struggle with the idea of full submission. It means releasing our control and desires to the Lord. When we do not feel in control, it creates an emotion of insecurity. This insecurity is what makes us resists submission on many levels. When it comes to submitting to our Lord Jesus, we must reject these emotions, and faithfully surrender our lives.

Your subtitle mentions obeying only God’s voice. What are some ways people can hear God’s voice? God desires to interact with us in ways we could never imagine. The Holy Spirit is very much alive and active, but the question is, will we allow ourselves to get in position to hear Him. He speaks through the Scriptures, His written word. He speaks to our hearts as we intimately seek Him daily through prayer and fasting. He can speak through people and situations around us. God is not limited to anything and can therefore speak any way He chooses. The only real issue is that which restricts and hinders us from hearing.

Can you give us your official bio?

Zeke Lam is the founder of SUBMISSION Ministries—a ministry devoted to seeing lost souls encounter God and live lives fully surrendered to the risen Christ. A graduate of Liberty University, Zeke’s deep passion for following Christ’s will has led him through many years of youth ministry and itinerant evangelism. Both of these experiences have enriched and fueled his desire to hand others the keys to a Christ-centered life. Zeke resides in Virginia with his beautiful wife, Kathleen, and a growing family of future world-changers.

Where can readers find a copy of your book?

It can be purchased at a variety of places, including http://www.amazon.com/subMISSION-heeding-only-His-voice/dp/193748100X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326986277&sr=1-1

I have definitely added this book to my TBR list! So, where can readers connect with you?

At my website at http://submissionministries.org/

Thank you so much for being my guest this week, Zeke. It is an honor to have you here.

Be sure to leave a comment for Zeke about what the Lord has been teaching you lately for a chance to win this fantastic book. The giveaway ends on Thursday, January 26. As always, entering is super easy and anyone  can enter! (U.S. residents only, please).  Please let me know that you are a confirmed subscriber and you’ll receive two entries!

Day 8 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Matt Patterson & Stephanie Shott!

We’re winding down on the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway celebration with only three giveaways to go! Have you had the chance to go back and leave comments on each posting for a chance to win the books for the past seven days?

Today I have two more awesome authors: Stephanie Shott and Matt Patterson. Their Christmas memories are well worth the read and be sure to have a tissue handy when you read Matt’s memory!

I have had the honor of being Stephanie’s guest on her awesome website at http://www.stephanieshott.com/ Both Stephanie and Matt are giving away a copy of their books, so be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!

A winner will be chosen on December 18 and winners from all of the giveaways will be announced on Monday, December 19, so be sure to go back and enter! Anyone in the U.S. can enter, and confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

 

Below is the blurb for Understanding What Matters Most: The Book of Ecclesiastes by Stephanie Shott:

Ecclesiastes, Understanding What Matters Most is a six-week Following God workbook study that begins with a history lesson explaining how Solomon became king and then takes the reader into a verse-by-verse study through Ecclesiastes. The study offers a unique woman s perspective to an of avoided and misunderstood book of the Bible.

I have had the honor of reviewing Stephanie’s book and loved it and learned so much! You can read my review here: http://www.amazon.com/Ecclesiastes-Understanding-Matters-Following-Discipleship/product-reviews/0899570240/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#RDCPHHIWATSFA

Below is the blurb for My Emily by Matt Patterson:

This book tells the story of a hurting family, an amazing little girl and a mysteriously faithful God. Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think. She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think. The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”

 And now, some wonderful Christmas memories from Stephanie and Matt…

Ornaments, Vacations, & Memories by Stephanie Shott

I love Christmas! The sites, the sounds, the lights and the smells – all declare the most wonderful time of the year. But when our children were growing up, our Christmas season always began in October. That was when we took our annual vacations to the mountains where we would hike the Blue Ridge trails and meander through the quaint little shops in Waynesville.

It was there, in a mom and pop shop called Cedar Hills Studios, where we would pick out a few special Christmas ornaments to add to the others that would adorn our tree each year.

They were beautifully simple and simply significant. Each one inscribed with a different name of our Lord. Names like, Messiah, Word of God, High Priest, Christ and I Am, would dangle from the Douglas Fir in the corner of our room.

We talked about what each name meant and how great our God really is. We marveled at His majesty and were humbled by His humility. Those ornaments became prompts of praise and reminders of the babe in a manger who chose to begin His journey to the cross in a cradle.

Suspended from the branches were Scriptures declaring, “Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) and “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

All ornaments that call our attention to the true meaning of Christmas. A Savior is born who offers hope to all mankind. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Lamb of God became the sacrifice for our sins. The Redeemer came to purchase us back from the slave block of sin and make us His own.

Amazing love! Amazing grace!

And while we enjoyed sharing those destiny-altering truths with our boys, my favorite event of each Christmas season is the quiet moments when no one is home but me and Jesus. Only Christmas lights illuminate the room and in the silence of that place I seek His presence.

Each ornament a purpose to praise Him. Every Scripture reference a reason to rejoice. And every year, those moments with Him are the most precious of all!

As I glance through those ornaments of adoration, I remember when and where we bought them. I remember those vacations long ago that made this momma’s heart smile big time. I reflect on walks to the waterfalls, vacation cabins and irreplaceable time with my boys.

The years have gone by and my boys are now men. Those family vacations have been replaced with busy schedules and periodic family get-togethers. I miss our October trips to the mountains and the family traditions we created together, but every year, those ornaments become reasons to rejoice in our Savior and sweet memories of our vacations and Christmases filled with faith, family and fun.

Gifts by Matt Patterson

We all love Christmas gifts, don’t we?

I love giving Christmas gifts.

If you ask 100 people to give their definition of a “gift,” it’s quite possible to get 100 varying responses. Personally, the greatest gifts I have received in this life have come from some of my greatest trials.

Nearly 25 years ago, our first daughter Emily was born. The birth of a young couple’s first child almost certainly falls under the “gift” category.

We would learn the morning following her birth that Emily was born with Down syndrome. Beyond the initial dismay and sadness, emotions quickly turned to joy and happiness. Our angel was truly a gift from God.

Two years later, Emily would be diagnosed with leukemia. Three-plus months of chemotherapy were followed by tests, transfusions, remission, relapse and eventually, death.

One of my fondest Christmas memories took place only a couple years ago. I was stumped on what to get my wife and two daughters. A surprise type of gift – something they wouldn’t expect.

On Christmas Day, after all gifts had been opened, Bonnie and the girls started to clean up the loose boxes and shredded wrapping paper. It was then I stopped them.

“There’s just one more gift,” I said. “Wait here.”

I brought in three gift bags. I told them that they had to be opened simultaneously.

Each reached into their bags and pulled out a ring box. Of course my daughters were thinking diamonds. I love their naïve hearts.

At my prompting, each opened their box. Silence and confusion followed.

My wife Bonnie said, “Wait, what is …”

Our youngest, Kimberly jumped in, “This isn’t my birthstone.”

It was Lauren, our oldest daughter, who spoke up that it was Emily’s birthstone.

“I want each of you to have a daily reminder of her,” I said.

To this day, those rings remain on their fingers.

Matt loves to connect with his readers at http://www.my-emily.com/  My Emily is available at http://www.amazon.com/My-Emily-Matt-Patterson/dp/1449951554/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323658364&sr=1-1

Be sure to leave a comment below about a Christmas that has special meaning to you and that you will always remember for a chance to win!

Back in Business (Devotional)

Penny Zeller, Christian Author 

I am honored to have talented fellow author Jo Huddleston as a guest on my blog today sharing a wonderful devotion about God’s sustaining power in our lives…

Back in Business

By Jo Huddleston

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every work(2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)

Relaxing in my den one July afternoon, I glanced out the window to discover my colorful impatiens weeping for attention. The scorching heat had drained the tiny flowers and leaves into withering ugliness. Choking in the high humidity, the flowers begged for their daily watering I’d missed yesterday and today

Pushing fatigue aside, I rushed outside to their rescue. I let the garden hose’s thin spray gently cool the plant, drench its soil and soak deep around its roots. I continued until the hanging basket overflowed, water splattering to the parched ground below.

After supper I checked on the impatiens. To my delight, the flowers that had drooped their heads near death a few hours earlier now perked up like it was the cool of an early spring morning. They’d become their old selves, displaying vivid colors as proudly as ever before. They were back in their business of adding beauty to their surroundings.

I was reminded how the same thing can bring us down in our Christian living. If we neglect our commitment to God, even for a day or two, we give Satan the opportunity he’s waiting for to destroy us. When we don’t do daily Bible study, meditate with God, spend time in prayer with Him, we are neglecting necessary maintenance of a Spirit-filled life.

Just as I didn’t care properly for my impatiens, if we don’t tend our relationship with God on a regular basis, we’ll have to start a rescue procedure. We’ll have to renew our efforts, get back in a balanced lifestyle with Christ.

But it can be done. My withering impatiens revived when they received what they needed. They again burst forth, fulfilling their purpose of creation.

Without God’s daily sustaining power, we will fall short of God’s purpose us. We will wilt when facing temptations and disappointments. We can actively pursue His direction by listening to His voice through the Bible, through prayer, and through fellowship with other believers.

We don’t have to spend our days in wilting uselessness for God. God can refresh us. He still provides our needs daily just as he did for the wondering Israelites following Moses’ leadership. His grace is sufficient for us. Then like my flowers, we can be back in business with God, living as he intended. Are you depending on God’s grace to provide your needs? Are you seeking His grace daily?

—–

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories and teaches at writers’ conferences. You can visit with her at http://www.johuddleston.com.

Interview and Giveaway with Dawn Byrd!!!

Hello everyone! As you know, I usually do author interviews/giveaways on Thursdays. 

However, due to severe ongoing problems with my computer, I had to change my day to Monday for this week only.

So…I have a special treat for you. Please welcome fellow author, Dawn Byrd, as a guest on my blog! Dawn is giving away a copy of her latest book. Read on for the details…

I am excited about your new release. Please give us a short blurb about your book. 

India McGuire had no idea that a long, lost love from years ago would breeze back into town the night she accepts an engagement ring from another man. Should she keep the ring and the stability that comes with it or risk everything and follow her heart?

 Product Details

What was your inspiration behind writing this book and what do you hope readers will take away from your book?

When the idea came to me, I was studying WWII and wondered what would happen if a young man goes away to war and returns to find his girlfriend engaged to someone else. Not too many pages into the story, the WWII era just didn’t feel right and it became a contemporary romance. I hope that readers will take away how important it is to ask for God’s guidance when it comes to matters of the heart.

One lucky commenter will win a wonderful prize. Can you tell us about the giveaway?

This Time for Keeps is available right now only in E format. We’ll be giving away a gift card for a free download.

Ooh, awesome, Dawn! So…do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In otherwords, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals?

Since I love my day job so much, I hope to continue to work it and Lord willing, I’ll still be writing. I’d like to find the perfect agent somewhere along the way.

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why?

I would start a charity that had something to do with animals. There are way too many abused and unwanted animals in the world.

Can you share with us something interesting about you that most people do not know?

I used to ride my own Harley Davidson. I’ve owned three motorcycles, the most recent a Harley Screamin’ Eagle V-Rod. I gave up riding in order to have more time to write.

What’s next on your writing agenda?

Here’s my release schedule for 2012:

January- Zoe Mack & The Secret of the Love Letters

April- Shattered Identity (the sequel to Mistaken Identity)

June- Zoe Mack &  The Case of Fatal Attraction

December- Zoe Mack Book 3 (as yet untitled)

Sounds like you’ve been busy! I am doubly excited about all of your releases!

Where can readers connect with you? (website, blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg6faoavpGI

Amazon: The link will not be up until it goes live. Could you please copy and paste it for me?

My Publisher: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-218/This-Time-For-Keeps/Detail.bok

My website: www.kdawnbyrd.com

My blog: www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com

Thank you so much, Dawn, for being my guest. It was wonderful having you here.

Ok everyone! Don’t forget to leave a comment to win a free download of Dawn’s new book! Remember, those who are subscribers receive two entries. The giveaway will end on Monday, November 7.

Special guest post with author Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Today, I have a special guest on my blog – gifted author Jennifer Hudson Taylor. Many of you may recognize her name from her book Highland Blessings.

Jennifer is here today to talk about her latest book Highland Sanctuary, which releases next month and is already available for preorder and promises to be an excellent read. 

So…here’s a warm welcome to Jennifer!

My Photo

Caithness, Scotland – The Setting of Highland Sanctuary

When I decided to write Highland Sanctuary, I wanted a setting that wasn’t as well known in Scotland. I had heard and read many novels set in Galloway, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. When I discovered Caithness, while researching historic castles, I found my ideal setting. 

Caithness, is a now a county in the far northern tip of Scotland, nestled against the sea. Formerly part of the shire of Inverness, it gained independence in 1455 when the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of the justiciary or sheriffdom. 

It’s beautiful–and different from the rest of the country. For instance, the land is open and flat, lacking trees and forest, known as moorland and covered in peat moss. A few hills are scattered about, but not the kind of mountains often associated in photos of the highlands. Caithness contains plenty of lochs and bog areas. 

In Highland Sanctuary, I created the fictional town of Braighwick and the wee Village of Braigh, referred to many as the Village of Outcasts in my novel. This gave me the freedom to create the people and layout of the town, as needed for the purposes of my story. Braigh Castle was based on the ruins of Brough Castle.  (http://www.caithness.org/caithness/castles/brough)

While my characters spoke the same English with a slight Scottish brogue as in my debut novel, Highland Blessings, it’s worth noting the language variations in historic Caithness. The area was first inhabited by the Picts, whose language is unknown. By 800 AD the Norse occupied Caithness, and later the Gaelic speakers colonized the area from Scandinavia before the English arrived. Therefore, variations of Norse, Gaelic and English was spoken in different areas of Caithness. 

Another important development in Caithness that affected my story in Highland Sanctuary, was the established religion. By 1477, when my novel takes place, The Church of Scotland, a Catholic denomination, was well established in Caithness and throughout the country. Civil administration parishes were the same as the Church. The Cathedral in my novel is also a product of my imagination after I read about the history of Dornoch Cathedral and Halkirk Highland. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 introduced Protestant theology and in 1689 established the Presbyterian form of church government. 

Highland Sanctuary Blurb

Highland Sanctuary

Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

 Author Bio

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading. Jennifer’s fiction is represented by Literary Agent, Terry Burns with Hartline Literary Agency.

Website/blog: www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JenniferHudsonTaylor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jt4novels

Interview/Giveaway with Author Joanne Troppello and a winner has been chosen!

Yay! A winner has been chosen to win Joanne’s fabulous book! Congratulations to Charlotte Kay and thank you to all who entered!

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I am honored to have Author Joanne Troppello with me this week discussing her new book Mr. Shipley’s Governess. Joanne is a mystery and inspirational romance author and freelance  copywriter/editor located in Pennsylvania. She has graciously agreed to give away a copyof her ebook to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave an encouraging comment for Joanne for a chance to win. The giveaway ends May 5, 2011 and those who are subscribers will receive two entries. 

In a bit I will be announcing the winner of Laura Hilton’s book Patchwork Dreams, so stay tuned. In the meantime, would you please welcome Joanne Troppello….

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It is great to have you here, Joanne. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. I write romantic suspense and inspirational fiction and work from home as a freelance writer / marketing consultant.  I have two books published.  Shadowed Remembrances is a mystery novel and Mr. Shipley’s Governess is an inspirational romance novel, published through Wild Horse Press. I am contracted to work for several different companies, to write non-fiction, how-to articles each week.  I also work as a consultant for a local medical organization and I manage facebook and twitter accounts for different clients.  I love to write and read and spend time with my family.

Your recent release is titled “Mr. Shipley’s Governess.”  Please give us a short blurb about your book.  Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents’ deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her.

Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective.

When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.

What was your inspiration behind your book? I am a huge Jane Austen fan and love her classic romantic stories.  I wanted to write a contemporary love story with a classic feel.

Wow! I agree – I enjoy a good love story too. So, Joanne, what role does faith play in your writing? It plays a big role.  I’m a Christian and I want to write books that share the good news of salvation without sounding preachy.  In my books, I try to portray true to life characters that experience life’s ups and downs, but who are drawn to God’s love and restorative power. 

Speaking of faith, do you have a favorite Bible verse? I have many favorites, but one that has truly given me peace is Jeremiah 29:11-13, just knowing that God has a perfect plan for my life. 

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

That is one of my favorite verses too. Where do you see yourself in five years?  In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? I hope to still be writing books and enjoying my family and all that God is doing in our lives. 

And now, for the fun question…if you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? I would love to start a ministry to help orphaned children and those in the foster care system.  My parents adopted five children and growing up in a large family (my mom had four biological children also); I know what it means to be part of such a loving, God-centered environment.  I can’t physically adopt all the orphaned or unwanted children in the world, but having a million dollars would be a start to creating a ministry towards helping those children. 

I love that idea, Joanne. My youngest daughter has a heart for orphans as well and she insists she will be adopting them all, so I will have a zillion grandchildren, LOL! Can you share with us what’s next on your writing agenda? I just finished edits on my newest book, Bella Lucia, and submitted a proposal and first chapter to a publisher.  Hopefully, I’ll hear some good news soon from them.  Bella Lucia is classified as women’s fiction/drama and is a new type of genre for me to write in.  My first book was a mystery novel and the second a romance.   To occupy my time while I’m waiting, I’m editing another book I wrote a few years ago and never submitted, Island Honeymoon.  This is a romantic suspense novel and it is the first in a series.  

We will for sure be on the lookout for your next books. They sound great! In the meantime, where can readers connect with you?

Blog: http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/blog.html

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoanneTroppello  

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joanne.kerzmanntroppello  

Thank you again, Joanne for being my guest. It has been a pleasure to have you here.

Readers – don’t forget to leave an encouraging comment for Joanne by May 5 for a chance to win an ebook of Mr. Shipley’s Governess.

Interview/Giveaway with Author Laura Hilton and a winner has been chosen!

The winner of Patchwork Dreams is…Charlotte Kay! Thank you to all who entered!

I am pleased to have as my guest, Author Laura Hilton. Laura will be discussing her new book Patchwork Dreams, which is available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Patchwork-Dreams-Amish-Seymour-County/dp/1603742557/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303396103&sr=1-1

Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour V1) (Amish of Seymour County)

Laura has graciously agreed to give away a copy of Patchwork Dreams to one lucky commenter. If you subscribe to my blog or are already a subscriber, you’ll receive two entries. And now, let’s meet Laura!

Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools her children. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book Patchwork Dreams in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House will be released in April 2011, the second book, A Harvest of Hearts in September 2011, and the third in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

Welcome to my blog, Laura! Your recent release is titled Patchwork Dreams. Please give us a short blurb about your book. Patchwork Dreams Book 1 of The Amish of Seymour…Becky Troyer has committed the ultimate sin, and finds herself on the edge of her Amish community. Jacob Miller believes he was sent to the Old Order Community in Missouri to help out a distant cousin. Instead, he discovers he was part of an arranged swap–sending men from his Pennsylvania district to the Missouri district to bring new blood into the Amish community. Becky dreams of marriage, but doesn’t dare hope that anyone would choose her–not with her history. Can God use the lies that have affected Becky and Jacob to bring them together? Or will Jacob rebel and head home to his first love?

What was your inspiration behind Patchwork Dreams? Well, a long, long time ago I read a book by Beverly Lewis were the character was sent off to Ohio to get him away from his girl – he returned home in this series to marry the girl.  But then I thought – What if…. and I started thinking about the men that are swapped in this community. And that is where it came from.

What role does faith play in your writing? Oh, everything. I can’t write without praying first, that I will say what God wants me to say. And He seems to have a message He wants illustrated in every book.  

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Yes – Jeremiah 29:11.  For I know the plans I have for for you says Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorites as well, Laura!

Where do you see yourself in five years? I have no idea. In otherwords, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? Um.  Well, I’d love to have a few more books to my name and … whatever God has for me.  

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? Oh, I wouldn’t start a charity. I’d pray about it and give that million dollars to whatever organizations the Lord lays on my heart.  The church, a cancer foundation, other ministries… there are so many worthy ones already out there.

What’s next on your writing agenda?  I’m currently writing book three in The Amish of Seymour series, and have a few more ideas for future books simmering on the back burner.

Where can readers connect with you? (blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

My main blog is http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/ my review blog is http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/ and I’m also on Facebook.

Thank you, Laura, for being a guest on my blog!

Remember, if you leave an encouraging comment for Laura, you will be entered in the giveaway for a copy of her new book Patchwork Dreams. I’ve read and enjoyed this book, so you won’t want to miss this opportunity. Also, if you subscribe to my blog, or are already an subscriber, you will receive two entries. Giveaway ends April 28, 2011.

Author Interview/Giveaway With Melinda Evaul and a winner!

Yay! We have a winner of Melinda Evaul’s new release “Grow Old With Me.”

Drumroll please…the winner is Pegg Thomas. Pegg, Melinda will be contacting you soon by email. Congratulations! Thank you again to all who entered and don’t forget, for those of you who didn’t win, Melinda’s book is available on Kindle on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Grow-Old-Quilt-Trail-ebook/dp/B004IE9VEU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1301063336&sr=1-1 or the paperback version at www.melindaevaul.com

Please join me next Thursday when I’ll be hosting nonfiction author Stephanie Shott for an interview and another giveaway. In the meantime, check out the post https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-fifty-cent-prayer/ about God hearing our every prayer.

Below is the interview with Melinda…

I am thrilled to have author Melinda Evaul as a guest on my blog. I am in the middle of reading her novel Grow Old With Me and it is fantastic! Already it has earned the highest five-star rating  from me and I can’t wait to finish reading it. Plus, Melinda is giving away an autographed copy to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave a comment before the March 24 deadline. 

And now, without any further ado, I introduce to you – Melinda Evaul!

Melinda Evaul

Please tell us a bit about yourself.  Thank you for asking me to be a special guest today. It’s an honor to be your featured author. I appreciate the invitation to interact with your blog readers. Born and raised in NC, I’m a transplant to TN. I’m a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and Mimi to my three grand children. Life is busy in the town of Soddy Daisy. Yes, I get many questions about that name. It’s a suburb of Chattanooga. I’m a part-time RN in a doctor’s office. Most mornings you’d find me teaching water aerobics. During the afternoon, I’m at my keyboard, marketing my novel somewhere, busy with church activities, or rambling along some back road in search of quilt barns or interesting rural photos. If quilt barns leaves you clueless, visit my website and photo galleries after you read the rest of this post.

I love quilts and am amazed at the detail and time that goes into them! So, Melinda, tell us about your writing journey.  I won writing awards during my school years but I never considered pursuing it as a profession. I began writing when my mother needed full-time care and moved in with us. Her soap operas and game shows didn’t interest me. Writing became a pastime and a medium to share my Christianity. After my mother’s death, I continued the newfound career and my regular jobs. Several of my articles were published and I sought homes for two of my four novels. It’s an arduous task to find an agent or publisher. After much prayer and thought, I chose to form my micro-publishing company, Winding Road Ink, and have Snowfall Press print Grow Old With Me. I knew there was a good market for the book among quilters, the areas around Love Valley, and people who support agri-tourism along the quilt barn trails.

As I mentioned before, I am really enjoying your debut novel “Grow Old With Me.” Can you give us a short blurb? Grow Old With Me is the first novel in my Quilt Trail Series. Here is a short blurb:

A modern day Beauty and the Beast meet in their fifties when a disfigured carpenter becomes a guest at a bed and breakfast in the western-style tourist town of Love Valley, NC.

Benjamin Pruitt plans to repair the town’s buildings before retiring to a solitary life. Sarah Campbell longs for freedom since her long task as caregiver has ended.

Can Benjamin and Sarah piece the tattered remnants of their lives into a beautiful design to warm their waning years?

I really like the plot line. Can you tell us about the setting? I set Grow Old With Me in the real town of Love Valley, NC. Most descriptions are true to the town. You’ll find pictures of Love Valley on my website. The characters and some structural details are fiction. Mosey Inn doesn’t exist. The house on the cover is many miles from Love Valley. I found that house while following a quilt barn trail. When we pulled in the drive, I discovered that The Unicoi County Heritage Museum in Erwin, TN was the exterior of the house I saw in my head while writing. A bed and breakfast near New Orleans inspired the interior layout of Sarah’s home.

The cover is beautiful. So, what advice would you give to other writers who want to publish a book? Be certain your readers can relate to your characters. Identify your target audience and establish roads to reach them. As publishers shrink their yearly acquisitions, the field for new writers becomes very narrow. If the traditional publishing route isn’t working for you, publish your own books. Be prepared to market your books via many avenues. In this day of e-books and POD companies, the cost can be reasonable and your story won’t languish in some draw or hard drive. I believe I have a book worth reading. God will place it in the hands of those He wants to reach with its Christian message.

What role does faith play in your writing? Huge! God gives every person talents and gifts. He expects us to use them. I enjoy writing about real life in small-town American. I love flawed characters that need God’s healing touch. I’m not in this for money or fame. (That seldom happens in the publishing world) God can reach someone through a work of fiction who would never open a Bible. My goal is to show readers a personal relationship with Christ in a non-preachy way. As I write, I try to find God’s theme for the book. The Holy Spirit leads me to write words that will honor our Creator and further God’s kingdom.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? I can’t say that any one verse is my favorite. God provides different verses to further my faith, strength, and spiritual growth on a daily basis. My focus verses for Grow Old With Me came from Heb. 4:15-16. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (KJV) Just think about it! Christ faced every tough question and temptation of life. God lets us boldly ask questions. He can equip us to face every need and never turns us away when we seek answers. What an awesome promise. That was the message Benjamin and Sarah needed to learn. I’ve faced some tough questions in my Christian walk too. My works of fiction allow me to share some answers with readers who face similar fears and questions.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? I don’t want to handle the stress of a huge writing contract. I’d love to keep writing Christian fiction and living my life much as I do now. That’s another advantage to self-publication. I’m under no obligation to fulfill a deadline or contract unless I self-impose one. Time with family and travel are high priorities. My children want to take a long excursion across America when the grand children are older. 

What’s next on your writing agenda? I have five books planned for the Quilt Trail Novels. Each book will focus on a different aspect of quilting and rural American life. Several readers have asked about recurring characters. Each book will be a stand alone held together by the common thread of quilts. I may bring a former character back from time to time. I’m still planning and plotting. I didn’t start Grow Old With Me with a series in mind. It happened as I became interested in Quilt Barn Trails and met people with stories worth telling. My target audience influenced my plans for the series. The next book in my Quilt Trail Series will feature a Christmas tree grower and a quilt barn painter.

I’m looking forward to reading the next books in the series, Melinda. Can you tell us where can readers connect with you? My website is www.melindaevaul.com and my blog, Road Ramblings, is located there as well. I send out a newsletter at least quarterly to update my readers about events, appearances, or happenings in the Evaul family. Readers can contact me through the website or my publishing company email windingroadink@att.net My FB page is Melinda Evaul-Author. I have an author page on www.goodreads.com I also post a monthly writing lesson for teens on Lynn Dean’s website www.aNOVELwritingsite.com

Can you tell us how and where readers can order a copy of Grow Old With Me?Readers can order Grow Old With Me as an e-book from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Grow-Old-Quilt-Trail-ebook/dp/B004IE9VEU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300372086&sr=1-1  or in paperback via my website at www.melindaevaul.com 

Thank you again, Melinda, for being my guest.  It was great to have you here. Now don’t forget, readers, to leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Grow Old With Me. Giveaway ends March 24.