Get out of Dodge with Erica Vetsch!

I’ll start off with a secret. I’ve never read a Western. But I won A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas by my friend Erica Vetsch and how could I not read it?
You know what? It was good. Really good. Another secret? I didn’t realize this was where we get the phrase, “Get the heck out of Dodge.” Also? I said this for days after reading it! My husband nearly told me to get the heck out of the house!
So…let’s talk Erica Vetsch. She writes one of my favorite blogs. I always learn something and I always leave smiling. Her Friday Five proves we have tons in common! If you don’t follow her blog, you won’t regret popping over there and joining the site!
 Erica is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
JP: Minnesota? Wow that’s gotta be cold right now! But enough about weather. Your novel includes real historical figures, which is so neat. How much research did you do for those people, setting, and the occupation of Addie?
EV: I did a boatload of research. I knew nothing about photography in the 1870’s, so I had to start from ground zero. I also read lots of biographies of Bat Masterson and histories of Dodge City. There is so much folklore surrounding Dodge, thanks to Gunsmoke, that it was difficult to wade through what was true and what wasn’t.
JP: Gunsmoke! That was in Dodge City? I droned when my dad watched that!  I did NO droning when reading your book! Which character did you relate to most and why?
EV: Probably Miles, because we both want to please people and we’re less than bold about sharing our faith.
JP: I could identify with him very much and I keep wanting to correct the spelling of his name! My son’s name is Myles. Okay, moving on.  What one thing other than writing are you passionate about?
EV: At the moment, homeschooling. I’ve homeschooled for many years now, and I’m down to one child at home. We’re deep into his 10th grade year, geometry, biology, American Lit, etc. Also basketball which is ruling our lives at the moment. He’s having a great time, and so am I, except for a serious case of bleacher-butt.
JP: OMG! I so know! Karate bleachers leave me walking like Frankenstein and trying not to cry when I stand up. It bugs. Speaking of, when did you get the writer’s bug?
EV: I’ve always been a story-lover, reading copiously and spinning stories in my head. A few years ago, I tried my hand at writing some stories down, and I was well and truly caught. I can’t imagine not writing now.
JP: Tell us your favorite line from the story and tell us why?
 Spoken by Bat Masterson “…If you don’t bring in the killer yourself, Miles, you’ll never have the respect of this town or the cowboys who ride in here. You might as well hang up your badge and get out of Dodge.” I LOVED being able to use “get out of Dodge” as originally intended.
JP: Loved that line! A lightbulb went off in my brain at that moment. Though, I added heck for some reason. LOL Name one place you’d like to go that you’ve never been and why?
EV:  I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand. When I was about 14 I discovered Essie Summers romances. They are all set in New Zealand, and I’ve read every one of her 51 novels. I would love to visit the settings of her stories. She was a big influence on me and my dream of wanting to be a writer.
JP: Wow! That’s like me reading all of Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High books! But not really. What genre do you like to read? Do you write that genre?
EV: I love to read historical romance and mystery and the best of both worlds for me is historical mysteries with a touch of romance. Authors like Ellis Peters, Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry, Kathy Lynn Emerson. I would love to write more mystery, but it’s so hard to keep track of all the criminals and clues!
JP: If you could pick one villain from any book to be for a day, who would you choose?
 EV: Probably Moriarty because how cool would it be to match wits with Sherlock Holmes and be able to hold your own?
JP: That could possibly be the best villain pick yet.  Well played, Vetsch! Since we’re talking characters, who would play your characters?
Miles Carr
EV: I didn’t use to use pictures, but with the last few novels, I’ve found it very helpful. Easton Corbin was the template for Miles Carr, Amy Adams played Fran Seaton, Dylan Bruno was Jonas Spooner, and once I saw the cover art for A Bride’s Portrait, Alyssa Milano (but with blue eyes) became the template for Adeline Reid.
Fran Seaton
 JP:  Was it Alyssa? I thought it looked just like her! Well, I’ll be! Great choices, Erica. What would your characters say about you if they had the chance?
EV:  Probably “Stop being so mean to us!”
Bat Masterson for real
JP: LOL! Well in their defense, you were! Tell us what you’re working on now?
EV:  My next novel is called A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA. Here’s a brief overview:
Jonas Spooner
With her brother already on the front lines in France, Meghan becomes a Harvey Girl in Needles, California. Ready and willing to wait on the hundreds of doughboys heading for Europe, Meghan deems this service her way of contributing to the war effort. When her brother is injured in battle, she enlists the Harvey Girls into sewing a Red Cross signature quilt to raise money for wounded soldiers.
Horse breeder Caleb McBride makes his living by selling stock to the US Calvary and keeps his pride by remaining a loner. When Meghan meets Caleb, she senses something mysterious and wounded about him, piquing her curiosity. But when the townsfolk scorn him as a coward and profiteer, Caleb feels her pity and becomes even more guarded.
When Needles is hit with an influenza epidemic, the Harvey Girls’ hotel is made into a temporary hospital. While tending a stricken Caleb, Meghan discovers his shameful secret. Will both Caleb and Meghan find a way to kill their pride before their chance at love rips apart at the seams?
JP: Sold! That sounds intriguing! Thanks so much for coming by today, Erica. I truly loved your book–the plot, the solid characters, their quirks. I’ve already loaned it out! 
 Here’s a sneak peek at A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas.
Quench your craving for good fiction with this wonderfully written Old West adventure. Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reid is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer? Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one? 
Before you go, Erica, would you like to ask everyone a question?
How do you feel about finding historical characters mixed in with your fiction? Love it, hate it, depends on the story?
You can connect with Erica on her blog, facebook, twitter, and the web

Faith Readers Group Review: The Christmas Note

Laughter, the smell of coffee brewing, a hint of chocolate in the air, and a mystery cake! What a great way to start off the new year with the Faith Readers women’s book club. Debra teased us on the facebook page and offered up a prize if we could guess what she was bringing. The hint: It’s from the book.

No one guessed it. 🙁 BUT…we still got to eat it! Hummingbird cake! Yummo and she even told us the story behind the Hummingbird cake.  

Our December pick was The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere. Many of her books can be found as Lifetime TV movies. After reading this book, we know why! It was made for a warm, fuzzy holiday flick.

It’s the kind of book you can cozy up on the couch with a quilt, a cup of coffee, hot tea, or cocoa and smile.

As we discussed the book, some of the comments were comical, some serious, others insightful. Here are a few:

Could you identify with any of the characters?
 “I could identify with the mom. She was a good mother, but she wasn’t Suzie Homemaker. They had cookies, but they were slice and bake. I can handle that.”

“I could sort of relate to Gretchen, but I don’t know if I could be as nice as she was when Melissa kept acting so rude. In fact, that would be the point I told the kids, ‘We don’t talk to the neighbors keep moving.'”

What character did you least identify with?

“Melissa because she came from such an abusive background. My heart broke for her.”

“Gloria, the mom’s friend. She was kind of out there. I’m not sure anyone acts like that.”

A few shook their heads. “No, we know people like that.”

What theme did you take away from the book?

“God’s hand is at work no matter happens in your life.”

“Sometimes you have to look back to see where God was.”

“I think she got her point across, but she overdid it. I mean one or two coincidences are fine. But every time you turned a page it was a new one. Not believable.”

“Yeah, that was ridiculous.” 

*Note to writers: Pay attention to these reviews! They aren’t from writers who joined a book club; they’re die-hard readers and they know what they like. I make notes every month! Don’t put too many coincidences in your  work! And by the way, they’re totally right! There were waaaaay too many!

Our rating out of 1-5:  
3 1/2 stars

Our next book for the month of February is in the romance category. We’ve voted on Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones.

Here’s a peek at The Christmas Note

“Gretchen Daniels has recently moved into a condo with her two children to be closer to her mother, Miriam. As they build a life together in their new community, they notice a mysterious young woman, Melissa McCreary, who lives next door. She has few possessions, little personality, and keeps to herself. One day a local landlord who is looking for Melissa knocks on Gretchen’s door for assistance. Melissa’s mother has died and in the coming weeks the landlord needs Melissa to empty her mother’s apartment. Gretchen reaches out and offers to help Melissa, but the apartment is a gut-wrenching shamble of a home. There is little worth saving except for a few photos and a note that is discovered on the crate beside the bed. It is unfinished, but in the two scribbled lines, Melissa discovers secrets about her family that she never could have imagined. Can two very different women embark on a journey that explores a long-buried need for forgiveness, hope, and redemption?”
Have you ever read a Christmas novel? Any favorites?  

Sweetly…and How to Gain Loyal Readers

Tell me that’s not a fantastic cover! Sweetly is a companion book to Sisters Red, both mainstream Young Adult novels by the sickly talented Jackson Pearce.

My daughter is a hard sale when it comes to books. 

One day at the library, she settled on Sisters Red. A paranormal book about two sisters who hunt Fenris–werewolves. And not the good kind that protect young girls, but lure them with their hot looks and devour them. 

After hours of searching the library, my daughter couldn’t put this one down. Unlike me, who will give an author a chance through about 100 pages, Bailey won’t. You get one shot. One page. Sometimes, literally, one line. Period. I’ve tried to encourage her to keep reading, because it might get better, but that’s not her style. 

She’s now read Sisters Red, 3 times! I haven’t had the chance to, because Bailey is the kind of reader all of us writers want! She told all her friends and they checked the book out. One downloaded it on her kindle. For her birthday, she asked for Sisters Red and the companion, Sweetly. So that was part of her gift. She’s loaned out Sisters Red to her piano teacher!

Word of mouth works best!

Jackson Pearce was a stumbling accident at the library. She’s now a household name around here. And if Bailey has her way, the region will know about Jackson Pearce. There won’t be a book written by her that Bailey won’t jump on the chance to not just read, but to own!

I read Sweetly. I started at 7:00 p.m. and at 11 p.m., I knew if I didn’t put it down I’d be exhausted the next day. But I thought about it while I was working. At noon, I came home, made a sandwich and went straight to my room to finish it.

5 stars.

What does a 5 star rating mean in my reader world?

From page 1 I was sucked in. The very first line! The characters were fun, unique, interesting, hilarious. The dialogue was real, witty, and flavorful. The emotions were deep.  I didn’t not skim pages. I couldn’t or I’d miss something and frankly, I wanted to hang on every word. 

The romance was well written, the theme? While not a Christian book (there are a few curse words, one scene that alludes to sex (not graphic at all), and a sprinkle of taking the Lord’s name in vain, the theme was about making changes, overcoming fear and not staying in the same place forever. A positive theme. This may not be something you want your young teen to read because of those things. I used my parental discretion; some of you may have just thought, “Oh, so she doesn’t have any.” I do. Some… 

The mystery! As a voracious reader, I can pretty much guess what’s going to happen in most books. I could not figure out what was going on to save my life in a good, good way! Is she a witch or not? Is someone I care about going to die? Why are they after XXX? I did figure out 2 small things, but the big twists, I never saw coming, therefore I could. Not. Stop. Reading.

Also the fact that chocolate was involved in the story line added numerous points! 🙂 
And when I put the book aside, I knew I’d become a faithful reader–like my daughter. I thought about the book and marveled over the genius. And when the piano teacher brings back Sisters Red, I’ll suck that one down too.

In a time when fairy tales are popular i.e..Grimm & Once Upon a Time, Sweetly is a timely book. A modern day Hansel & Gretel. 

Here’s a peek!

As a child, Gretchen’s twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch’s forest threatening to make them disappear, too.
Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They’re invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.
Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past– until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn’t gone– it’s lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak’s infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.
Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.
What about you? Do you give an author a chance to woo you, or do you expect to be wooed on page 1? Why or why  not? 

Faith Readers Group Review: A Stranger’s Wish by Gayle Roper

A rain and snowy mix falling steadily, temperatures dropping in the low 30s and wind stinging like a horse’s tail against your face.

That’s the weather these ladies fought to get to book club, but homemade bread pudding, coffee cake and piping hot coffee with hazelnut creamer, good friends, and laughter  made it worth the trek to the Cornerstone cafe to discuss faith and fiction. We missed those who couldn’t come and always make book club night special! 

What’d we read? This month was Amish fiction. Many, including myself, had never read an Amish story. Oh, we’ve bought their bread and cheese and wondered. We may have watched an episode of Law and Order when one got killed on Rumspringa, but never read a story.

 So this was an experience. Especially for many who enjoy a fast-paced thriller with romance that makes us want to fan ourselves but not so edgy we have to take a trip to the altar on Sunday. But seriously, are we responsible for our subconscious dreams? Another blog. Another day.

We chose A Stranger’s Wish. It sounded mysterious. A key given to a Englishwoman. Not from Britain, as I thought at first. But what Amish people call, you know… us.

Here were some of our thoughts:

“I liked how the Amish parents didn’t give up on their son, even when he chose not to become a devout member.”

“I liked the main character’s quirkiness and her creativity.”

“I wanted more meat, but this book was mostly light-hearted and quick.”

“I thought there was going to be a bigger twist, but then it wasn’t and I was disappointed.”

“I couldn’t relate to the characters. Any of them.”

I asked, “Did you discover anything interesting about the Amish?”

“I didn’t realize the Amish were so works-based and not faith-based.”

“I think they should live by faith and drive a car. Seems easier.” 

I admit, we giggled at that. 

Overall, I have to say, this wasn’t the groups’ favorite read, but we didn’t hate it. And we all said we’d read more Amish fiction! After taking a poll, the rating for this book came in at 2 stars out of 5. 

We chose (out of 14 Christmas novel choices) to read A Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere for December, who we have never heard of. Have you? 

Do you read Amish fiction? Or write it? What fascinates you about these books or doesn’t? Here’s a peek at A Stranger’s Wish:

Englischer Kristie Matthews’ move to an Amish family farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, starts on a bad note as the young schoolteacher is bitten by a dog. A trip to the local ER leads to an encounter with an old man who hands her a key and swears her to silence.
But when Kristie’s life is endangered, she suspects there’s a connection to the mysterious key. While solving the mystery (and staying alive), Kristie must decide whether her lawyer boyfriend, Todd Reasoner, is really right for her….or if Jon Clarke Griffin, the new local man she’s met, is all he seems to be.

Lisa Jordan, Lakeside Reunion, and a Happily Ever After

Sweet like cotton candy, warm and delightful like maple syrup, funny like little girls giggling over boys. Those are things that come to my mind when I think of Lisa Jordan.
Lisa’s blog is one of the first one’s I found when I came into the blogosphere and Happily Ever After is a great title and fits her perfectly. 

Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories that feature both comes naturally to her. She has been writing contemporary Christian romance for more than a decade. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, released in November by Love Inspired. Her second novel, Lakeside Family, will be released in August 2012 by Love Inspired. Happily married for twenty-two years, Lisa and her husband have two young adult sons. When she isn’t writing or caring for children in her in-home childcare business, Lisa enjoys family time, romantic comedies, good books, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. Visit her at to learn more about her writing.

JP: Because Lisa was so intriguing to me, and fun and helpful and we have a few things in common, like NCIS and working in the childcare industry, I had to buy this book. When did you get the writer’s bug? May I say, I’m so very glad you did!
LJ: After reading Danielle Steel’s The Promise when I was 16—I wanted to give readers the same heart-sighing happily ever after.
JP: Mission Accomplished, my friend. Mission Accomplished. Tell us one favorite line from Lakeside Reunion and tell us why?
“He shoved his hands in his front pockets and rocked back on his heels. “I should probably apologize, but that would be a lie. I’ve wanted to do that since I pulled you over in that ugly blue car with the broken taillight.”
LJ: I don’t want to spoil why Stephen says that, but to me, this snippet shows Stephen as an alpha male who knows what he wants. He respects Lindsey and does his best to honor her wishes, but sometimes he just wanted to sweep her off her feet and leave her breathless. And he’s not going to apologize for doing it.
JP:I know why! I know why! And I happened to have loved this snippet of dialogue. There were so many others I loved as well. So tell me, do you listen to music while you write? I always ask this because I must have music when writing and I think everyone else should too, ha!
LJ: Yes, I listen to music while writing. I subscribe to Pandora so I listen to different stations while writing certain scenes. The mood of the music helps pull me deeper into the scene.
JP: I knew I loved you for so many reasons! Yes! I’ma Pandora fan. Ya’ll need the Levi Kreis station. Awe-Some! Tell everyone why you write romance?
LJ: I’m a happily ever after girl who believes in true love.
JP: That pretty much nails it! And I’m a fan of happy ever afters and true love too. But with love comes pain. Was there a scene you found difficult to write in Lakeside reunion? Why?
LJ: Several scenes were challenging to write because they forced me to tap into the inner core of my emotions. When my characters cried, I cried. I had to force myself to go to that place and feel the same sense of heartbreak. Pain hurts for a reason, which is why so many of us keep it buried. But it can be freeing too.
JP: So true, Lisa. I know you became your characters because it showed in your wonderful writing. I’ll tell you a little secret…I cried when they cried too. I laughed a lot as well. Okay, the violins have stopped, so moving on. Christmas is coming! What do you think your main characters will be doing  for Christmas? What about you? Do you have a holiday tradition?
LJ: By Christmas, Stephen and Lindsey will be newlyweds and celebrating with their families.
I’m all about family, so my Christmas will be spent surrounded by those I love. We have several little quirky traditions such as I always buy them socks and underwear and wrap them up. On Christmas Eve, our boys are allowed to open one gift. When our youngest son was very little (4 or 5), he opened his one gift on Christmas Eve to find underwear, and he exclaimed, “Unnerwear? No fair!” So every year, when they open socks and “unnerwear,” we all say, “Unnerwear? No fair.” Silly, yes, but it always makes us smile.
JP: LOL! I love that. “unnerwear, not fair” Christmas at your house sounds like lots of good fun and many laughs! A picture perfect holiday. Speaking of pictures, do you hunt down any of your characters from the internet? Care to share what your hero and heroine look like with us? Or would you rather leave it to the readers’ imaginations?
LJ: I always use pictures of actors, actresses, or models so I have a visual of my characters as I write. When I use an actor or model, I’m going by their physical aspects only—not their personality type or what I read online about them…yes, I’m shallow and read
JP: I think some of the best story ideas come from What? It’s research and Lisa will vouch for it, won’t you LJ? See! Neener neener neener! Okay, who is Lindsey and Stephen. Show us! Must know!
Lindsey Porter
For Lindsey, I pictured her as Charleze Theron. For Stephen, I used Australian model Ian Lawless as his visual character.
Stephen Chase 
 JP: Um, yes, indeed! I can see that. Completely. You wrote them well. Okay,I’m so playing out a particular scene from your book in my head with these guys. I may have to go back and read it again, even though I did see them a lot like this.  

 What would your characters say about you if they had the chance?
LJ: My characters would say I have grasshopper syndrome—my thoughts bounce all over the place. I can be thinking about a scene, but something in that scene could trigger something I need to put on my grocery list. While I’m thinking about my grocery list, I’ll go downstairs to the freezer in the basement to check the status of something, but when I get there I may be distracted by laundry or see something in my craft nook. If you’ve read Laura Numeroff’s books—If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, etc—then welcome to my brain.
 When I do need to be focused, I do stay on task.
JP:  That’s hilarious. I usually just wander into a room and instead of getting distracted, I can’t remember why I’m in there. But in all seriousness (I was serious about doing that btw),what would you like readers to take away most from your debut novel?
LJ: God loves us unconditionally and offers second, third, fourth chances if we draw near to Him with a heart begging forgiveness and accept His free gift of grace.
JP: Amen! And they will. A beautiful story of grace and forgiveness! What can readers expect from you in the future? Are you continuing the series? Please say “yes”!
LJ: Lakeside Family, my second novel, which features Josie, Lindsey’s step-sister, will be released in August 2012. I’m writing my third book in the series, which I’ve titled Lakeside Promises. I love Shelby Lake and have a whole series planned for the different characters. 
JP: Woohoo! I can’t wait, and readers, please buy this book. If you love happy endings and lots of swooning romance, you’ll adore this book. Here’s a peek:

Lakeside Reunion: Bed-and-breakfast owner Lindsey Porter prays she won’t run into Stephen Chase when she returns to Shelby Lake. Five years ago, the cop jilted her to marry another woman, and Lindsey fled town. But no sooner does she hit city limits than Stephen pulls her over for a broken taillight. Despite the past, he’s still able to stir up Lindsey’s old feelings for him. Now a widower and single dad, Stephen recognizes a second chance when he sees one. And he’ll do anything to make Lindsey trust in God and take a risk for love—again. Read an excerpt of Lakeside Reunion
JP: Told you it was one to grab! Lisa is doing a something really cool with the launch of her book. Tell them about your creative idea, Lisa!

LJ:  I’m holding a scavenger hunt to promote my Lakeside Reunion release. Plus, blog commenters on my blog hop will be put in a drawing for fun prizes—breakfast basket, Love Inspired Authors basket, autographed copies of Lakeside Reunion. Visit my LakesideReunion Contest page for more information.
                  The token for this blog is a kiss.
JP: Thanks for coming by today, Lisa. Before you go would you like to ask everyone a question? They are the besto at commenting and making you feel welcome, aren’t you, everyone? See!
 In Lakeside Reunion, Lindsey needs to let go of a fear to have her second chance at love. What have you done or what do you need to do to release a fear in order to follow your heart (not necessarily romantically…could be a heart’s desire)?
You can connect with Lisa and find out more about her scavenger hunt and Lakeside reunion through:

Lynda Lee Schab Is In The House with Debut Novel Mind Over Madi!

Think sunshine, giggling, chocolate, friendship, and holding hands. 

All things that make you want to be there. Where is there?

Mind Over Madi!

I have the honor today to interview Lynda Schab after reading her debut novel, Mind Over Madi

The book was incredible. I read it in a sitting and a half. Only because I knew I had to get up early and I couldn’t drag it all day since naps weren’t going to be in order.

I connected with Lynda through her fun blog, On the Write Track. You should join the site.  Thanks for letting me read your debut novel, Lynda, and thanks for coming by to chat with us today about the book and you! 

JP: So…tell everyone what Mind over Madi is about? 

LS: Madi McCall is a 38-year-old mom of three whose insecurities are destroying her marriage. When she suspects her husband Rich is cheating with the mother of one of his fourth grade students, she kicks him out of the house and he moves in with his bachelor brother. Madi is then forced to take a deeper look at herself and her insecurities. She does this with the help of a counselor, her best friend Sylvie, and a few cartons of Edy’s Dibs. At a 20-year get-together with former high school classmates, Madi runs into “the other woman” and things come to a head. It’s a lighthearted story about taking a true look at ourselves and accepting God’s grace when we think and do dumb things.

JP: I loved the first person present tense. I was right there with Madi through her antics, every Dib she shoveled in her mouth, and through her discoveries. I can also relate to some of Madi’s insecurities, as I think most women can. Which character is most like you, and why?

LS: There is a lot of me in Madi. Insecurity is something I’ve always struggled with. As a child, I was very shy. As a teenager, I was insecure about everything, which resulted in a lot of rebelling and contributed to hundreds of my mom’s migraines, I’m sure. As an adult, early in my marriage I experienced some of the insecurities Madi deals with, regarding her husband and his faithfulness. That isn’t something I deal with anymore today, but I still have similar insecurities about what others think of me, as well as doubts about God’s love for me. Other ways I’m like Madi is that we share bad eating habits, a love for coffee, a tendency to waste hours of time playing computer games, and an insane fear of spiders.
JP:I raise my tacquito and nod in agreement to bad eating habits. Let me wipe the grease off my fingers so I can ask the next question. Okay, I love the tiara on Madi’s head (on the cover, people, look alive). I know why it’s there, but you tell it best! 
LS: Madi’s therapist challenges her to think of herself as a princess – the daughter of the King. Madi has never thought of herself this way, and throughout the story, there are references to various Disney princesses as Madi tries to figure out which one she most relates to. I had fun with the theme, even giving “the other woman” the fairy tale-ish name of Fawn Witchburn.
JP: I loved that by the way, and my very favorite line in the whole book has to do with the crown. I will never forget it. Brought tears to my eyes. It was lighthearted, but the subject matter was poignant. Great job! What’s next for you? 

LS: I am currently working on book #2 in the Madi series, titled, Madily in Love. Now that Madi and Rich are working things out, she attends a class at church to try to put the romance back into her marriage. But with her mother-in-law living with them, Madi’s new job, and issues with her kids, things don’t exactly go as planned. It’s a fun book that will look at finding peace –and romance – in the middle of chaos. 

JP: Amen to that, sista! 
LS: There will also be a book #3. I have the title and the premise, but I’ll save the details for later, when I have the plot worked out.
JP: Can’t wait! You’re going to be busy! Do you have a “day” job?

LS: I do freelance work, but I also work in a warehouse as part of a pricing group for Meijer. It doesn’t sound all that glamorous (and it’s not!) but I actually enjoy the physical work. It’s a nice change from the mental strain that freelancing and creativity can cause. If I got a couple of additional regular writing gigs, though, I wouldn’t mind staying home full time to do what I love to do most.
JP: I bet not! With work and a family, what’s your writing process? 

LS: Honestly, I don’t have a typical process. As this is my debut novel, I’m on a learning curve. While writing MIND OVER MADI, I basically wrote when I felt like it, with no set schedule. Now that I have contracts for the next two books in the series, which my editor wants to publish 6-9 months apart, I’m doing everything I can to learn how to organize my time effectively. But I do tend to work better on a deadline, so hopefully that will work out for me. We’ll see!
Lynda, I know you’re floating in the clouds and that is such a cliched statement. But everything I can think of is a cliche to so, I’ll say this: Congratulations! 

Connect with Lynda at her website,
her blog, facebook, and twitter!

Have any questions for Lynda?
What Disney Princess or Prince if you’re a guy, are you?

Some Good Reads


For the past two weeks I’ve been downing books like shots, trying to read everything I can think of in the inspy romantic suspense/mystery market. I may have missed a few so if you know of anyone else, please leave me a comment!

I’ve enjoyed all of them. Each author has a unique writing style. Some books  a little darker than others, which I personally prefer as a reader. I went into reading them with a writer’s eye, but some of the books swept me up, I stopped looking for pacing, scene set ups, etc…I simply became immersed in the stories. Which is good! 

Below are the books I’ve read and I’m starting with my favorite(the rest are in random order), even though I enjoyed all of them. All great authors. Something about this particular story grabbed me and held on. Probably because of the darkness of the story line and the abundance of romantic tension.  Here is the 2nd book in Lynette Eason’s Women of Justice series.




Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping, torture, and rape. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself–though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself get close to a man, FBI agent Dakota Richards, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact–her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those year ago. Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love? 
 The next book I thought was good, very dark story line, but no romance–which is probably why I liked Lynette’s book better is The BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker. What I love about Dekker is his subtle symbolism. I caught onto quickly, as most Christians would, and I thought the ending was perfect, but I read some reviews–mostly by non-Christians and they didn’t like the way it ended. BUT I think it’s because they didn’t catch the symbolism. How could they? 
I wasn’t terrified like when reading a Gerritsen novel (Rizzoli & Isles) but it was creepy at times and I like creepy. Mostly I loved the symbolism. And of course, Dekker’s reason for writing the book. I encourage readers to read the “letter to readers” at the end of the book. It made me cry. 
They call him BoneMan, a serial killer who’s abducted six young women. He’s the perfect father looking for the perfect daughter, and when his victims fail to meet his lofty expectations, he kills them by breaking their bones and leaving them to die. 
Intelligence officer Ryan Evans, on the other hand, has lost all hope of ever being the perfect father. His daughter and wife have written him out of their lives.
Everything changes when BoneMan takes Ryan’s estranged daughter, Bethany, as his seventh victim. Ryan goes after BoneMan on his own.
But the FBI sees it differently. New evidence points to the suspicion that Ryan is BoneMan. Now the hunter is the hunted, and in the end, only one father will stand. 
The next book was a new author for me: Irene Hannon. Many of you may have read her Heroes of Quantico series, but I had never heard of her. Sad on my part, I’m sure. Irene has really researched her stuff and is very detailed. Her romance is fun and I enjoy the banter between friends on the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) For sake of space only, (I’ve read 2 book in the series so far) I’ll put my favorite one to date. 
After he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press starts to settle. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive–and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time? A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense, and intrigue, An Eye for an Eye is the exciting second installment in the Heroes of Quantico series.
And of course it wouldn’t be right not to read Dee Henderson. I’ve read her O’Malley series and enjoyed all of them, but I haven’t read all of her Uncommon Heroes series. Dee Henderson has a nice blend of romance and suspense. Her stories aren’t creepy or dark, but I love the way she constructs deep characters. I haven’t met one of them I don’t like (unless I’m not supposed to like them). Here’s the book I read in the past couple weeks: 
Dee Henderson wraps up her Christy Award-winning Uncommon Heroes series with a riveting story from the home front. When someone snatches his cousin’s wife and son, FBI agent Luke Falcon hunts the kidnapper. He has never worked a case involving family, and it’s tempting to let his hardened exterior weaken, given the circumstances. But he has to be strong if he’s going to bring them home. When the ransom delivery doesn’t go down as planned and the bodies start piling up, so does Luke’s frustration. He fears that innocent people may not survive this crisis, and neither will his relationship with Caroline Lane . But her rock-solid faith proves to be a far better shelter in the storm than all his law enforcement training and experience.
I’ve read DiAnn Mills, and am reading Breach of Trust at the moment. I’ve already read, Attracted to Fire and did a review here. I’ve read a couple of Robin Carroll’s books. I did a review on Deliver Us from Evil here. I have the other in her evil series in my TBR pile. I like both of these authors as well.
So tell me…who am I missing? Have I tapped the inspy romantic suspense and mystery market? Is there someone out there writing about FBI/evil killers with a heap of romance that I simply haven’t found yet? And of course, have you read any books by these authors? 



Faith Readers Group Review: The Chair by James L. Rubart

So what do you think? This is the front/back side to our book marks! Our church is blessed with a web designer, Jeff Redding, who designed this for us. We stuffed them in books to donate to local hospital libraries. If someone needs prayer, wants to join a local inspirational book club, or simply needs a book mark, they have it! 

Last night, we met for our 2nd book club discussion in our Cornerstone Cafe. We had home-made pumpkin dip with gingersnap cookies and a few other assortment of cookies for dipping. And of course, coffee! 

We settled in and over dessert we discussed 
The Chair by James L. Rubart

“So what is your final conclusion? 
Do you believe the chair has the power to heal?”

Each month I choose a genre and select 8-10 books within that genre, then we take a vote. Several women were outvoted in the speculative fiction category, but hey, we won’t always agree and that’s what makes book club interesting. (but those who got out voted ended up liking the book)
The Chair is about two brothers, Corin and Shasta, who haven’t spoken in ten years because of a tragic accident leaving Shasta paralyzed from the neck down. When an old woman brings Corin a chair claiming it was made by the greatest carpenter ever, Corin has his doubts, but when a little boy is healed from sitting in the chair, it takes him on a great journey of faith and hopefully answers to restoring the estrangement between himself and his brother, Shasta.
“Well how did you like the book? Did everyone here like it?” 
“I’ll admit, I really didn’t want to read this book. It’s a chair. Who wants to read a book about a chair? But…I was hooked to the very end. Out of 1-5 I give it a 4.”
“Me too,” another said. “I give it a 5 because it spoke to me personally. I was in the hospital waiting with my husband when I started reading this. They told me my husband may never walk again and for a few days he was paralyzed. And this year has been hard for my family, but God gave me the word ‘restoration.'”

No one scored The Chair below a 3 on the rating scale. 

The theme was restoration but 
not everyone saw that as the main theme. 

“I saw it as a journey of trust and faith. He had to dig to figure out what it was he believed and he was tested every step of the way.”

“I saw restoration.” Many agreed with this statement and the above.

Every one had someone to relate with.
“I could relate with Nicole.”
“I relate to Corin. I had an estrangement with my sister and even though I tried to mend it, she wouldn’t forgive me, but I was healed.”
I think we could even relate with Pastor Mark, hiding our weaknesses from others while desperately trying to find something to heal us inside from our sins. A quick fix when so many times healing and delivering is a process. Sometimes  God heals instantly. Sometimes He makes us walk it out.
“I could relate to Tori–the girlfriend. She was hurt in church and sometimes it’s harder to bounce back from a Christian hurting us than someone who claims no faith. We expect more from Christians.”
The Chair wasn’t what everyone expected. 
It was more.
I kept thinking, “Get in that chair! Put him in it!” And when something happened (I won’t give it away) it hit me that I was rooting for the chair…and not Jesus. Which shows how easy it is to take your eyes off the Healer and on the object. 
Here’s a peek at the chair:
When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe’s antiques store claiming to have a chair made by Jesus Christ, he laughs her off. But after she delivers an ancient looking chair made of olive wood three days later—with a cryptic message attached to it—he begins to wonder.
Corin’s world shatters as he searches for the truth about the artifact, and the unexplained phenomena that seems to come from it. And he’s not the only one who will do almost anything to possess the power that appears to surround the chair.
*Not every person made it to the discussion and some of them said they found it hard to get into, but liked it once they got going. One said, it simply wasn’t her cup of tea.

Discussion was great and I recommend, along with a lot of other ladies, The Chair as one of your reads, eve if it seems far fetched, hey, it’s fiction but the theme and the hope…well, that’s very real. 

For November we’re reading Amish fiction. I figure Thanksgiving, bonnets…you know. We voted on A Stranger’s Wish by Gayle Roper. 
I’m looking forward to it as it’s my very first Amish book to read. Ever! I’m branching out!

Also a big thanks, to Rhonda Ritenour for awarding me with the Liebster blog award! Yay! Check out her blog, Ritty’s Adventures in Writing!
Happy Halloween! Will you be trick-or-treating tonight, Trunk-or-Treating, Fall festival-ing it? What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Must Read Monday: The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren

“If God would start playing by the rules, it would sure be easier to trust Him.”

I’ve had the opportunity to read Susan May Warren’s The Shadow of Your Smile. If you’re a Susan May Warren fan and stories from Deep Haven, you won’t be disappointed in this novel.

Plot and subplot are rich with drama, romance, and humor.

This novel is about a couple in their mid-forties, who’ve already had a tragedy strike their lives, now–Noelle Hueston is thinking about leaving her husband and starting over. One last kiddo to graduate and she’s making a new life, but an incident leaves her injured and her memory past college is gone. Funny, when she wakes up, she truly thinks she’s twenty-one! Which is sad and hilarious at the same time.

This main plot is about loving, forgiving, and starting over. A beautiful story of two married people who’ve grown apart through time and unfortunate circumstances.  I thought the ending to this plot was well done and I closed the book with satisfaction.

The subplot involved the couple’s oldest son, Kyle, and his love interest, another local from Deep Haven, but the tragedy that wrecked the Hueston family reached into Emma Nelson’s family as well. 

Susan May Warren has a unique way of describing using all the senses and when I read one of her books, including this one, I feel like I’m transported to Deep Haven. I live there as long as it takes me to read the book. I had lots of time yesterday, so I read it in one long stretch. 

This book is set to release in 2012. I recommend you nab it up when it does. You’ll enjoy winter in Deep Haven, the crackling fires, fresh powdered snow blanketing a story of lost love, found. 

I appreciate Tyndale giving me the chance to review it in return for my honest opinion.
Here’s a sneak peek at The Shadow of Your Smile: 

A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle’s memory. 
Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. 
But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

When it comes to romance, what season do you think is the most romantic? A hot steamy summer, spring with new blossoms sprouting, fall when nights are cool and the leaves are turning, or in winter when sleigh rides and hot cocoa beckon you to snuggle up with your honey? 

Some stuff…and my review of The Colonel’s Lady!

This is the sign inside our
favorite place to eat, The Flying Fish.
  I laugh every time I see it!
You can see why this is my
kind of establishment! 
So Saturday night, to end my birthday week, DH took me downtown to eat at our favorite place, but when I got there…SURPRISE! He’d been sneaky and invited our friends who made a fun spectacle of me! We ate lots of seafood and birthday cake.   


I’ve been blogging an entire year since last October! Truth is I wasn’t sure I’d even like blogging. “What would I say?”  “Do people really read blogs?” “What if no one likes me?” Turns out, I find all kinds of stuff to say whether it’s important or not, people do read blogs, and I’ve made some lifelong friends because of it! I love y’all! I appreciate you taking time to stop by and read whatever it is I’m writing about and then taking more time to actually comment! You’ve made it so much fun! And for you lurkers, keep lurking. I hope you laugh at times, are ministered to at others, and keep coming back. If you don’t like leaving comments, send me a private email! I’d love to know you’re hanging around. 🙂  

NOW…. A review of….

THE COLONEL’S LADY by Laura Frantz

In the last six months, I’ve just begun branching out of my normal genres of reading. I’ve only read a handful of historical romances. Most of them I’ve liked, but NOT The Colonel’s Lady.

I LOVED The Colonel’s Lady.

Laura Frantz grabbed me from the first page with a heroine who was fragile, yet strong. Naive, yet intelligent and I fell in love with her instantly.

Her hero, Colonel McLinn, well… sigh, dream, wow! Interesting thing about Colonel McLinn; he’s a red head. You don’t see that often with heroes. An Irish tall drink of water with red hair.

The tension between the two was superbly written, the angst for them to be together at an all time high and the twists, fun and delightful…and surprising!

The soft themes of forgiveness and trust blanketed each page in a way that was far from preachy. 

I sighed, swooned, and at the very end…in the words of Casey Herringshaw at her goodreads review “I couldn’t write this book review right after closing the final page of “The Colonel’s Lady”. Why? My heart was too full.” 

I lived at the Fort in Kentucky and near and in the stone house for days after reading this book. 

A romance to read. A book to keep. An author to follow.

My rating: 5 perfect stars

author, Laura  Frantz

Here’s a peek at The Colonel’s Lady
In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father’s place as scrivener. Before long, it’s clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realized the colonel has grave secrets of his own–some of which have to do with her father’s sudden death. Can she ever truly love him? 

Unrelated to the post, what is your favorite fall candle scent? I just bought Yankee Candle scents: Farmer’s Market & Pomegranate Cider!