Interview and giveaway with Author Staci Stallings!

Today I have my author friend, Staci Stallings, as my guest. Staci is giving away a copy of her ebook To Protect & Serve (The Courage Series, Book #1) to one lucky reader! Here is a bit about her book (and by the way, don’t you just LOVE the cover? And just wait until you read the blurb!)

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. He’s not afraid of anything, and no situation is too dangerous to keep him on the sideline if lives are at stake.

Lisa Matheson runs a semi-successful ad agency that’s on the brink of falling apart. Her employees are incompetent and her schedule has become exhausting. When she takes on a client with a brilliant idea for a big conference, she thinks that maybe, finally this is her lucky break. However, the fire station wasn’t what she had in mind for finding conference speakers. When she falls for a handsome but shy firefighter, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have…


I haven’t yet read this book, but I have to say it does sound soooooooo good! Let’s take a minute to chat with Staci…

Welcome back, Staci. How did you come to be a writer? Was this something that you always knew you wanted to be or did you arrive at this point later in life? I’ve always loved words.  It fascinates me how you can take 26 letters and 10 numbers and fashion millions of different stories.  Stories fascinate me as well.  Think how many people have inhabited this planet, and every one has a different story–a unique experience not shared by anyone else who has ever been here.

When I was in my teens, I loved the Sweet Dreams series of teen romance novels.  I loved watching two people meet, become friends, get together, fall in love, and go through all the ups and downs life throws at them together.  So when I got older, quit teaching, had my first child, and then found myself at home for HOURS alone, I followed my heart down both paths and began writing my stories.

You have been a huge encouragement to fellow authors and have even started a Grace & Faith blog that features writing tips and guest interviews. Can you share with us a bit about that? I contacted author Karen Baney to see if she might want to form a group of Christian writers.  She was very interested.

Within six hours we had a Facebook group for authors, a Facebook page for readers, and a Twitter account.  Within a week we had 40 authors signed up, and we never looked back.

Over the course of the next couple months, I did things I never would have guessed–setting up two other blogs, learning to use Twitter and Facebook, and watching the group be a connection point for over 120 authors.  During those first few months, I said on many occasions, “God, You’re going to have to do this because I don’t know how.  Please show me what to do.”  And He did.  Over and over, He stepped in to show me exactly the next step at exactly the right time.

The truth is Grace & Faith is God’s group.  I just happen to be the one He told to set things up, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Very cool! I’m excited about your latest book. What was the inspiration behind it? My newest book is called, “To Protect & Serve.”  It tells the story of a Houston firefighter named Jeff Taylor who is a firefighter’s firefighter.  He’s not afraid of anything, and if there is a chance of pulling a life back, no matter how dangerous the situation, Jeff is going to go in there and do his best to save that life.  Well, he falls for a serious control freak who thinks that if she can control everything, life will be wonderful.  The only problem is… she can’t control Jeff and the death wish he seems to have.

This particular story was so odd in how in came to me.  I had actually started writing another story, and I had chosen a well-known singer from a “boy band” that was popular at the time for the hero of that one.  I had recently hired a young woman to help with my kids, and she had gotten interested in my books enough to be following along in the process as I wrote. 

There are a couple of things I do with each book.  First, I compile a soundtrack.  These are songs that fit the theme or the mood of the book, and I play it as I write.  The second is I find pictures of my characters on the ‘net, put them together, and print them off.  As I write, I study them trying to capture the facial expressions, clothing choices, and body language of the character (I don’t download just any pictures, but specifically the ones I feel LOOK like the character I have in mind). 

Well, I had been doing those two things for this character in this other book, and my babysitter was looking at the pictures and watching the videos of the group singing… and she fell in love with one of the other guys in the band.  She kept saying, “You really should write one about him.”  I tried to explain that I was working on Story 1 and didn’t have time to work on a different one.  But she persisted to the point that one day, I asked God, “Okay. If I did write one about him, what would the story be?”  And almost without pause, the story flooded into my mind.  In a day I had 20 pages written, and that’s how “To Protect & Serve” was born.  (Side note:  I still haven’t finished Story 1, and that was 8 years ago. Funny how God works like that.  🙂

Speaking of books, what is your favorite book in the Bible? I think my favorite book is John.  I love how everything in John is a coming together of the rest of the Bible.  He tells stories that aren’t in the other Gospels like the wedding in Cana and the washing of the feet that are so profound and tie so many other stories in the Bible together. It is clear by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that John understood the history, the message, and the meaning of Christ, fully human, fully divine, and how His life changed everything about everything.

If you suddenly were given one million dollars to start a new charity, what type of charity would you launch and why? That’s funny because in one of my recent books “Deep in the Heart,” that actually happens to my characters.  🙂  If it happened to me, I would put the money toward helping children who have dyslexia caused by vision issues, which could be upwards of 90% of what causes dyslexia (having trouble reading). 

My son went through this horrible and frustrating issue.  When he was in kindergarten, we had signs that something was wrong, but we didn’t know what it was.  Then in first grade, he hit a wall. He even started having mini-seizures (didn’t know at it at the time, but his eyes were straining so hard, it actually shut down his brain for seconds to keep it from “overheating”).  We were practicing 10 spelling words for six hours a week, and he’d get a 65 on the test.  And no one could tell me what was wrong or how to fix it!

Finally, in second grade, God got my attention and pointed us toward Vision Therapy.  Turns out my son’s eye muscles were weak and very taut, so he couldn’t sweep them across a page to read.  Instead, they jerked and didn’t go end-to-end on the page.  He also couldn’t take details in  visually so he was either memorizing or guessing in order to “read.”  In fact, he was left trying to memorize every single word as a unit three times for each word–once to read it, once to write it, and once to spell it as if none of them had anything to do with the other. Talk about frustrating.

What I’m learning is just how many kids this issue affects–up to 20% in every classroom, and they, like my son, think it’s THEM.  They are labeled “slow” and sometimes “lazy.”  Homework takes hours, and they can’t get it finished in class because they are so distractible. Moreover, very few teachers know anything about Vision Therapy, so they will keep saying (if the child seems to be trying), “He’s smart.  He’ll get it.”  Except they don’t.

So my charity would help kids with this directly by providing Vision Therapy in schools, and it would help get the word out to parents that if you see these signs, there is help and here’s how to get it. 

I have a nephew who has struggled with that, so I agree, that would definitely be a worthwhile cause. Staci, can you share with us something silly about yourself that your readers might like to know? On the ‘net and in my writing, you might get the impression that I’m some kind of SuperMom/SuperWoman who can do everything well.  Ha!  Ha!  The truth is I’m a terrible cook.  I recently had to look up the word “Yech” for something I was writing, and several of my writing friends said they’d never heard the word.  I told them, “That’s weird because I hear it every night from my kids at suppertime.”  I’m also terrible with keeping my house.  I “organize” in piles.  There’s a pile on my desk that could avalanche at any moment.  Piles of bills and books and school stuff and papers I don’t know what to do with but can’t throw away on my kitchen table. I have three piles of laundry on my freezer, piles of clothes to be washed in both bathrooms and the hallway….

I told my son the other night that although I’m a great Mom, I’m a horrible housekeeper.  He agreed… and he’s nine!

LOL, I love that! What project(s) are you currently working on? Oh, gracious.  (This could explain why my house is a wreck, but here we go…)  I’m writing one story about a dyslexic writer that’s almost finished.  I’ve just started another story about popularity in high school.  I have 16 books out on Kindle and Nook that I’m marketing.  I’m doing cover design for the books coming out in the next six months as well as editing, and formatting those books.  I’m final-editing and finishing covers for three books coming out in print.  I run three blogs and the Grace & Faith Group.  I’m on a retreat team for a retreat that will happen the first week in June, and I’m directing VBS plays for the following week.  I’ve got a big book signing coming up in July.  Then… I have three kids (16, 13, 9) so final school projects and activities, concerts, awards banquets, etc.  My husband and I have two companies that I do all of the finances for both so taxes, bank statements, bills in, bills out.  Oh, and then there’s that house thing….  🙂

How can readers connect with you?

My Christian living blog, Spirit Light Books is at:  http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com

My Christian Romance Novel site (where you can read the first chapter, an excerpt, and reviews for all of my books):  http://ebookromancestories.com

All of my books can be found at:  http://stacistallings.wordpress.com

Twitter:  @StaciStallings

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576

Thanks so much for having me, Penny!  I’m so honored to count you as a friend!

Thank you, Staci, for being my guest. You are an amazing author and such an encouragement to other writers!

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And now my awesome readers, here’s all you do for a chance to win a copy of this awesome ebook…leave an encouraging comment for Staci Stallings,  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!) Giveaway ends on June 14, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

Winners galore!!!

A friend recently told me that she refers to the month of May as “Mayhem.” I’m beginning to agree! This month has been a crazy one, but after a brief hiatus, I’m glad to be back here blogging and announcing some great news!

I’m excited to announce some winners from my past giveaways. First off, the winner of Stephen Bly’s Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot novel is…

Faith hope & cherry tea!

Congratulations and Janet Bly will be in touch with you soon!

Secondly, the two winners of my Starbucks giftcard and a choice of one of my books are…

(drumroll please…)

Ladette Collins Kerr!

and

Abigail Richmond!

Congratulations, Ladette and Abigail! I will be contacting you shortly for your snail mail addresses.

Thank you everyone who entered. I am so thankful to all of you, my blog readers. I appreciate you more than you know! Stay tuned for more wonderful giveaways.

If you haven’t already, be sure to enter the giveaway for Cynthia Simmons’ fantastic Bible Study workbook here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/guest-post-and-giveaway-with-author-cynthia-simmons/ The giveaway ends on Thursday and this really is a fantastic book! Then, join me this Thursday when I’ll be hosting one of my favorite author friends – a writer of contemporary Christian romance.

Next up, Part 2 of Why I’m Not a Cowgirl. If you haven’t read my humor post, Why I’m Not a Cowgirl – Part 1 yet, it’s here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/why-im-not-a-cowgirl-part-1/

Have a blessed week!

Guest post and Giveaway with Author Cynthia Simmons!

This week, I am excited to welcome Author Cynthia Simmons to my blog. Cynthia will be discussing anger and how to deal with it from a Godly perspective. She will also be giving away a copy of her Bible Study Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame.  All the details about entering (and it’s super easy!) are explained below. But first, let’s visit with Cynthia…

My husband and I raised five wonderful kids. But being a parent is tough, especially if you homeschool like I did. I’d pass out school assignments and chores to each child. Then I juggled housework while monitoring their progress. By the end of the day, I would be so tired I wanted to stare off into space. It didn’t take much for me to lose my temper at that point. Perhaps the boys would scuffle and knock over one of my orchids. Sometimes the kids would quarrel and call each other names. I’d long to explode, but wanted to please God. So, I couldn’t say or do the things that popped into my head. Here’s what I learned about responding the right way.

In Ephesians 4:26 the Apostle Paul said, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This verse contains three commands. The first one is to be angry. That’s passive tense, meaning something happens to you. It could be translated ‘allow yourself to be angry.’ Let me explain why. In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…These men understood the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament passages teach us respect for people and their property. When a child overturns one of my orchids, he wrongs me, creating a debt. Something needs to be done, and anger supplies the energy surge.

 I learned it’s important to let anger rise, but we can’t stop there. The second command is “do not sin.” Ouch! This part is hard because I wanted to lash out. However, God calls us to rise above our human tendencies. That person bears the images of God, so I must measure my words. Self control comes into play. I think of moving away and looking at the situation from a high mountain to get some perspective. Rather than unload insults, I must treat that individual with respect. I remember talking until I got myself out of a jamb. If my first words were, “How childish,” then I’d say, “But I know you want to grow up to be a godly man. So when you mature, you’ll make better choices.”

Now I’ll tackle the third command. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” This is a metaphor which means not to harbor anger. When the sun sets we all know a new day is coming and yesterday is left behind. In order to keep anger alive, you must feed it by reliving the event over and over. Just like food left in the refrigerator too long, anger turns to bitterness when stored. Instead, I need to put it aside and choose not to even the score. Ephesians 4: 32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Follow the example Jesus set, and let go of anger.

I wanted to be a good parent and instill godly values in my children. That meant I had to handle anger God’s way when my kids upset me. If I blew up that would hurt them, and that’s not what I wanted.  Instead, I learned to channel the extra energy with God’s help and lots of prayer.

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Wow! I love the Godly wisdom that Cynthia has shared with us. And now, let’s find out a bit about her  Bible Study that deals with that very topic…

What’s wrong with our world? Shouldn’t a God who claims to be all powerful and flawless prevent suffering? How can we continue to believe when storms rage on in our lives? If you’ve ever had tough questions like these Struggles and Triumphs Study Guide is the book for you. Author Cynthia L. Simmons will guide you toward answers with her unique and enlightening approach. Her twelve-week Bible study for ladies comes from stories of real women as told in Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame. As you study, you’ll come to understand God’s perspective on timeless issues that impact your life. The carefully chosen Scriptures combined with interesting historical information will challenge and encourage you.

Watch the trailer at: http://youtu.be/HOP9HY7xTXU

Purchase the book at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-simmons/struggles-and-triumphs-workbook/paperback/product-20038687.html

About Cynthia: Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers.  “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.

And now, here’s all you have to do to enter! Leave an encouraging comment for Cynthia 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!) Giveaway ends on May 24, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

I will be announcing the winners of the Stephen Bly book and the Starbucks giftcard/choice of one of my books giveaway soon, so stay tuned!

And the winner of Shannon Vannatter’s book is…

Yay! I love announcing winners! The winner of Shannon Vannatter’s awesome contemporary romance novel chosen at random is…

Ingrid!

Ingrid, Shannon will be in touch with you soon. Thank you, everyone, for entering! Join me each Thursday for more giveaways. This Thursday, I am honored to have Jennifer Fromke as my guest and she’ll be giving away a copy of her fantastic new novel A Familiar Shore.

Until then, if you haven’t yet done so, you still have time to enter to win Linda Yezak’s contemporary romance Give the Lady a Ride at https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/book-spotlight-and-giveaway-with-author-linda-yezak/

I’m also giving away copies of my own Montana Skies Historical Romance novel to three lucky winners. The details are here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/three-chances-to-win/

Have a wonderful rest of your day!

Book Spotlight and Giveaway with Author Linda Yezak!

I’m excited to bring you yet another fab giveaway! This time, my author friend Linda Yezak is here for a book spotlight of her latest book Give the Lady a Ride

Patricia Talbert is a high-class social coordinator from New York. Talon Carlson is a rugged bull rider from Texas. He thinks she’s too polished. She thinks he’s insane.

 Opposites aren’t quick to attract when the lady who enters the cowboy’s world is on a mission to sell the ranch. But a box of letters changes her mission-letters of unshakable faith and a love deeper than anything she’s ever experienced.

 Soon she finds his integrity appealing. Her spunk draws him in. He has the faith she craves; she may be the love he longs for. But faith and love aren’t achieved in a single weekend.

 To buy time to explore the possibilities between them, she issues a challenge: “Teach me to ride bulls.”

 From here on, they’re in for the ride of their lives.

If you love contemporary romance, you will want to read this book!

And now, here are the super-easy details on how you can enter to win a copy of Give the Lady a Rideleave an encouraging comment for Linda (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!) Giveaway ends on April 26, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.

Finally, let’s learn a bit about the woman behind this fabulous book!

Linda W. Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses, and since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she includes horses in each of her novels, from her contemporary western romance Give the Lady a Ride and her current work, The Cat Lady’s Secret, to her work-in-progress, a contemporary western romance series tentatively called “Family First.” Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers.

Thank you, my awesome readers, for taking the time to enter this giveaway.  Be sure to join me each Thursday for special giveaways and be sure to stop by on May 3 when I’ll have a very special giveaway in honor of my blog’s anniversary! Until then, have a fantastic rest of your week!


Interview and giveaway with Author Nicole O’Dell!!!

I am super excited to have author Nicole O’Dell as my guest this week. She is a prolific writer and the founder of NOW Ministries.

Nicole is giving away a copy of her new book The Embittered Ruby.  Read on for the blurb of this awesome new book…

Sixteen-year-old Carmen Castillo desperately wants her parents to restore their marriage so she can return to her once-lavish life. But when her dad lets his new girlfriend turn Carmen’s bedroom in a dressing room, her last bit of faith in her parents, and in God, shatters. Her only hope is to create a family of her own with Nate—no matter that his political family finds her ethnicity distasteful.  When that plan fails, Carmen packs up her resentment and anger, and heads to Diamond Estates seeking healing for her embittered soul. Concluding there is no such thing as ruby slippers, Carmen wonders if she’ll ever find happiness and wholeness.

And now, let’s find out more about Nicole…

Welcome, Nicole! It’s great to have you here. Please tell me a little bit about you, aside from being an author and speaker. I’m married to Wil and have six kids. Three of them are three-year-old triplets and the others range up to 20 years old. We live in an old Victorian monstrosity that we’re rehabbing slowly but surely. I am enrolled in college in pursuit of my teaching degree, and will finish the first part next year. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do with it, but it’s something I started a while back, so I wanted to finish it.

Oh wow! Three-year-old triplets? You have your hands full! So, what was the inspiration behind your latest book? The Embittered Ruby is book two in my Diamond Estates series which is loosely based on my on experiences at Teen Challenge as a teen. This story was inspired by the lives of a couple of the teenagers I knew while I lived at TC. All three books in this series are kind of a conglomeration of the people I met and the stories they told about their lives leading up to coming to Teen Challenge. They’re all very different stories, but at the heart of each of them is the need for Jesus.

That’s neat that your book is based loosely on your experiences at Teen Challenge. I’ve heard wonderful things about that ministry. Switching gears here,  what is your favorite book in the Bible? I’d have to go with Isaiah and Hebrews. I love the history and depth of Hebrews, and I love the book of Isaiah–just about everything you need to know about the past, the present, and the future is in there.
Please tell me about your teen ministry. When did you first come up with the idea? Choose NOW Ministries is dedicated to working with parents and teens to battle peer pressure, prepare for good choices, and unite families. It encompasses the website ministry of columns and resources I’ve pulled together with other experts and people passionate about families, and the radio ministry which consists of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk. www.choose-now.com or www.choosenowradio.com.
As for when I came up with the idea, I don’t know that I did, actually. It just kind of grew out of what I was doing. First the books, then the radio show, then some speaking events, etc etc. It developed organically until one day it all kind of clicked together under one umbrella: Choose NOW Ministries. It was definitely a God thing.
I have such admiration for you regarding the difference you are making in the lives of teens. Without giving a name, can you tell me about an email or letter from a teen whose life was changed through your work. Well, we get emails weekly from teenagers who write into my Girl Talk column with a dilemma for my daughters and I to address. It’s painful to see so many needs out there. Some of the things today’s teens have to face are so intense–which is why I write the types of stories I do. I often hear from teens who tell me that by reading one of my books or something on my website, they made a better choice when faced with peer pressure.
But the most treasured letters are from girls, and even moms, who say they made a commitment to God after reading one of my books. That’s what it’s all about.
It is awesome to see how God is using you through your writing. Speaking of ministries, if you suddenly were given one million dollars to start a new charity, what type of charity would you launch and why? Right now, on the heels of finishing this series (book three is already complete), I miss thinking about Diamond Estates. I think I’d pray about starting one just like that. It would be from a blend of my own experiences as a teen and the heart and soul I poured into this books series.
Oh, great. Now I want to do just that!
I think that would be a worthwhile charity! Can you tell us what project(s) are you currently working on? I have several more book releases this year starting with Rainbow’s End, a novella anthology set in the Ozarks that releases on 5/1, and a non-fiction series for parents called Hot Buttons. The first two books in that series release on 6/1. After that, there are four other releases in 2012. It’s a busy year!
I’m also currently editing some work and praying about a proposal that’s out there waiting to find a home. 🙂
That’s exciting about your upcoming releases! How can readers connect with you? Everything you could want to know about me is at www.nicoleodell.com or www.choose-now.com. I hope you’ll visit and check things out. There’s so much there including columns by some of your favorite authors and speakers as well as my Girl Talk column and more. Plus, I’m giving away a KINDLE TOUCH preloaded with my books. You can enter right there on my home page.  I’m also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicoleodell and twitter @Nicole_Odell.
Thank you again, Nicole, for being my guest. It is an honor to have you here.
All right, my wonderful readers, here’s all you have to do for a chance to win a copy of The Embittered Ruby…leave a comment for Nicole (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! ) Giveaway ends on April 12, 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!

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!

And the winner of Cherry Blossom Capers is…

First of all, I want to thank everyone who visits my blog and enters to win these fantastic books by these awesome authors! I really appreciate you!

Secondly, I am so thankful for random.org, which helps me decide who wins these fantastic books! If you haven’t used random.org, it is so easy – just plug in the number of entries (in the case of my blog, those who are confirmed subscribers receive two entries) and wah-lah, it gives me a number for the winner!

So…without further ado, the winner of Cherry Blossom Capers by Gina Conroy, Cara C. Putman, Lynette Sowell, and Frances Devine is…

Cindy Regnier! Congratulations, Cindy! Gina will be in touch with you soon.

Again, thank you to all who entered. If you haven’t had a chance to enter this week’s giveaway, you still have time to leave a comment to win Fay Lamb’s Book Because of Me at https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/interview-and-giveaway-with-author-fay-lamb/ and this Thursday, I’ll be hosting one of my favorite author friends, Shellie Neumeier. She’ll be giving away a copy of her new book The Wishing Ring, which is written especially for tweens, so be sure to sign up for a chance to win a copy for your son or daughter!

 

 

Book spotlight and giveaway with Gina Conroy!!!

I’m thrilled to have my author friend, Gina Conroy, as my guest once again. Today, we are spotlighting her new release, Cherry Blossom Capers and you have a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment for Gina (U.S. residents only, please). For all the details, see below…

Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact. In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martini find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.

I haven’t yet read this book, but I think it sounds SOOOOO good!

And now, for some interview questions with Gina!

What inspired you to write this book? Several years ago when I was homeschooling, we took the kids on a cross-country trip up the east coast. I remember walking through Mount Vernon’s Mansion wondering if all the antiques were real and what would happen if one of them was a forgery? The mom character with her rambunctious kids came first, NOT that I would know anything about that sort of thing. Then came the snarky, but lovable, brooding security guard. Again, not that I would know anything about sarcasm…

What did you find the most difficult aspect of writing a mystery? Making all the clues match up and make sense in my head! The research and clue dropping had to be precise, and at times even I got confused as to whodunit. There was a lot of police procedure involved where I counted on my police officer friend, Steven Hunt, to educate me in all areas of background checks, firearms, and cop lingo. When it came time to reveal the villain, it took more mental power than I had imagined to make sure everything lined up with the facts. Just thinking about all the double and triple checking I had to do makes my head hurt.

Aside from writing, what else are you passionate about?I love to encourage fellow writers and people to pursue their dreams. In fact, I started the pursuit of another lifelong dream of mine. Ballroom dancing. While I won’t be on Dancing with the Stars anytime soon, I am enjoying the physical and mental challenge of dancing. Not to mention it’s a great work out and lots of fun!

Where can we find you on the web and what should we expect?  For a more personal account of my life and triumphs and trials as I pursue my dreams along side my kids’ dream, you can find me blogging at Defying Gravity.

I share my writing insecurities and celebrations, but also share fun stuff about my family like when my kids got a Disney audition call back! After all, my blog is all about helping people follow their dreams, and I have to include my own children!

Gina’s bio: Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer…Interrupted at http://writerinterrupted.com/  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God’s timing is perfect, even if she doesn’t agree with it! 😉 Her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity at http://www.ginaconroy.com/ginablog/wordpress/ she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Gina-Conroy/198614450154235 and Twitter at https://twitter.com/ginaconroy

Gina and the other authors will be guests tonight at 10pm EST at www.choicesradio.com or on iTunes–podcast available after tomorrow.

Want to have a chance at winning a copy of Gina’s new book? Here are the full details…

All you have to do is leave a comment for Gina.  Confirmed subscribers (be sure to check your email to confirm your subscription!) receive two entries.  The giveaway ends on Thursday, February 16, and a winner will be chosen at random. Entries are limited to those residing in the United States.

**Be sure to stop by each Thursday for book spotlights and chats with some of my favorite author friends. I have a wonderful lineup coming up in the next couple of months. On Mondays, I do movie reviews – you might want to check out this past Movie Monday review of Marriage Retreat at https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/movie-monday-marriage-retreat-2612/. On Tuesdays, I share humorous or inspirational postings about the everyday life of a wife, mom, and author. You can check out some hilarious spelling word sentences I unearthed in my daughters’ school notebooks here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/need-a-good-laugh/

Have a fantastic rest of your week!

 

And the winner of Zeke Lam’s fantastic new book is…

A winner has been chosen for Zeke Lam’s book subMission: Heeding Only His Voice.

And the winner is…drumroll please…

Donna Basinow!

Congratulations, Donna! Zeke will be in touch with you soon!

I would encourage everyone to check out Zeke’s book. It is available at many places, including on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/subMISSION-heeding-only-His-voice/dp/193748100X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328155637&sr=1-1

Thank you to everyone who entered! Please join me tomorrow for a chance to win the awesome new suspense novel by Peggy Blahn Phifer, To See the Sun.