Friday, August 29, 2008

Mall of America Book Signing

I'm excited to announce that this fall, 127 Christian authors (including myself--what a thrill) are converging on the Mall of America for a book signing and author panel. Here's the info. If you're in the area (Bloomington, Minnesota), please drop by and see us:

What: Booksigning and Author Panels at the Mall of America (Bloomington, MN)
Who: 127 Christian novelists
Where: Bloomingdale's court, 1st floor
When: 1-3 p.m., Saturday, September 20, 2008
Why: To meet your favorite Christian authors

Here's the list of authors who will be participating:

Tamera Alexander
Jennifer AlLee
A.K. Arenz
Diane Ashley
Karen Ball
Janet Lee Barton
James Scott Bell
Joseph Bentz
Terri Blackstock
Robin Caroll
Patricia PacJac Carroll
Jeanie Smith Cash
Eleanor Clark
Debra Clopton
Gloria Clover
Brandilyn Collins
Mary Connealy
Lyn Cote
Kathryn Cushman
Margaret Daley
KM Daughters
Susan Page Davis
Mary Davis
Janet Dean
Megan DiMaria
Brandt Dodson
Lena Nelson Dooley
Cecelia Dowdy
Sharon Dunn
Wanda Dyson
Lynette Eason
Meredith Efken
Leanna Ellis
Sharon Ewell Foster
Miralee Ferrell
Tina Ann Forkner
Darlene Franklin
Jonathan Friesen
Rhonda Gibson
Terri Gillespie
Debby Giusti
Beth Goddard
Cathy Gohlke
Rene Gutteridge
Cathy Marie Hake
Rachel Hauck
Roxanne Henke
Cynthia Hickey
Patti Hill
Sharon Hinck
Joan Hochstetler
Steven Hunt
Angela Hunt
Denise Hunter
Annette Irby
Jennifer Johnson
Jenny B. Jones
Golden Keyes Parsons
Deb Kinnard
Julie Klassen
Kathleen Kovach
Harry Kraus
Patti Lacy Maureen Lang
Jeanne Marie Leach
Tosca Lee
Julie Lessman
Michelle Levigne
Sherri L. Lewis
Elizabeth Ludwig
Christine Lynxwiler
Richard L. Mabry
Sharlene MacLaren
Gail Martin
Debby Mayne
Vickie McDonough
Andrew McGuire
Susan Meissner
Becky Melby
Dana Mentink
Amber Miller
Judith Miller
Sara Mills
Siri Mitchell
Nancy Moser
Janelle Mowery
Elizabeth Musser
Mark Mynheir
Jill Nelson
Mae Nunn
John Olson
Donita K. Paul
Trish Perry
Marta Perry
Allie Pleiter
Cara Putman
Deborah Raney
Sandra Robbins
Paul Robertson
John Robinson
Martha Rogers
Cynthia Ruchti
Gail Sattler
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Shelley Shephard Gray
Virginia Smith
Lynette Sowell
Candice Speare
Kathryn Springer
Denice Stewart
Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Michelle Sutton
Camy Tang
Donn Taylor
Janice Thompson
Cindy Thomson
Missy Tippens
Carrie Turansky
ML Tyndall
Amy Wallace
Susan May Warren
Linda Wichman
Beth Wiseman
Cheryl Wyatt
Kathleen Y'Barbo

Many authors will have freebies to give away and some may have gift baskets and contests. With a group this big, you can bet there'll be chocolates. **grin** Hope to meet you there!!

Book Review: All Through the Night by Davis Bunn

I had the pleasure of meeting Davis at the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2005. I appreciated his heart for writers and his wisdom in regards to writing. But I’d never read his work. (except for those paired offerings with Janette Oke, for example)

But lately, I got wind of the new release: “All Through The Night.”

Here’s the back cover copy:

A loner, trying to forget. A community—and a woman—who need for him to remember...

Broken relationships and unfulfilled promises scatter themselves across Wayne's past like burned-out craters. His background in military special-ops is something he's trying to forget. But when he gets himself sweet-talked into helping a quirky group of seniors who've been scammed, he discovers it will take a lot more than muscle and nerve. Breach a conman's high-security estate to recover stolen money? No problem. Become part of community? Love again? Not on your life.

A lawyer with her own painful past is intrigued by Wayne and asks him to take on another unusual case--Tatanya's wealthy employer believes he's been visited angel? Did a messenger from God in a pinstripe suit truly bring a divine warning, or is this merely another cruel hoax? Tatanya is willing to trust Wayne with her boss's life, but she's not sure she's ready to trust him with her own wounded heart.

With a financial analyst's skills and a warrior's tenacity, Wayne races to unmask dangerous forces hiding behind a corporate veil. But he will need all his resources--and then some--against an unseen enemy bent on destroying his fragile bid for a second chance at life...and love.

All he wanted was to put his past behind him. But now it's the only thing that will save them...

Just the front cover was enough to intrigue me. (What can I say? Covers do make a difference to me.) But suspense is not one of my favorite genres. Still, because I was curious and because this copy was due back at the library **grin**, I dug in. And I finished the whole thing in one weekend. Couldn’t help it.

First off, since I read so much by female authors, this was a such a different read. Now, I’m not comparing women’s suspense to Davis’ because I don’t read suspense, so I’m just saying—he writes like a guy! **grin** And part of that is the genre, I understand—short, quirky (though great) sentence structure; some holes in the narrative. But the pictures his purposeful use of words painted were phenomenal. One of his focuses in the book was on a hero’s heart—the heart of a warrior. We saw that plainly expressed in his lead male character—Wayne. Though the story wasn’t written first person, readers definitely get a sense that they were inside Wayne’s head and heart. With a cover like that, you’re expecting to learn about this guy’s regrets, and Davis did not disappoint. But he also portrayed hope in the story, and through a very masculine presentation, showed heroes still need God.

Every now and then a sentence simply danced on the page for its wit or wisdom. As a reader or a writer you can’t help loving that. Thanks, Davis, for a(nother) powerful read! You may have just picked up a new fan.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review: At His Command by Brenda Coulter

It's a privilege to post a review of Brenda Coulter's latest book (releasing in September) "At His Command."

Back cover copy:

In one short month, cheerful army nurse Madeline Bright has become the darling of Prairie Springs, Texas. And if ex-pilot Jake Hopkins isn't careful, she might just conquer his heart. She's young, pretty and blithe-spirited…he's older and jaded. But being around Maddie brings back too many painful memories. Jake still feels guilty about failing to save Maddie's brother in an army helicopter crash years ago. So no matter how much Maddie wants to be in his life, for her own good, Jake can't allow that. He'll never have a normal, stable life.

And sweet Madeline deserves nothing less.

Let’s start with the title. This is a fitting title for an army veteran’s story. But as Christian romance, this title fits in another, more meaningful and satisfying, way. (Read the book to see why.) Great work, Brenda!

Brenda’s message about surrendering our hurts to God was well communicated in her novel. And she had great command of her characters’ technical lives (i.e. their professions)—or at least she made the scenarios sound good to this civilian. As a reader, Brenda’s story elements roused my thankfulness again for our nation’s heroes and heroines. This book is part of the Homecoming Heroes, fittingly. Though Maddie Bright, her heroine, didn’t see herself as heroic, she was just that in her selfless giving to her patients and loved ones. The same was true of Jake's sacrificial service.

Now for the tougher stuff: Brenda had a fine line to walk in her characterization of Jake Hopkins, the story’s leading male. His history includes a tough decision in a war zone, which he regrets bitterly. Now he is consumed by guilt and estranged from God. The challenge was creating a likable character out of Jake. He was pushing Maddie away because he didn’t trust her with himself. So, behind the scenes, he was actually trying to protect her heart from his own. But, the way his resistance came across was harsh. Personally, I felt he was too callous with Maddie several times in the story, so much so, that when the two leads finally reconciled the potential romance wasn’t believable because he didn’t seem repentant enough. I think if he’d given in to at least one instance where he felt compassion after pushing Maddie away, that would have helped. I believe in grace and forgiveness. I was just frustrated by his interactions with Maddie and felt the story resolved too quickly for how much damage he had done in their interactions. Perhaps, too, the dynamic was amplified by the heroine’s sweet disposition, making Jake appear abusive in his interactions with her, at times.

Overall, I’d say Brenda is a good storyteller and obviously didn’t cut any corners in regards to research. She painted real characters and kept them consistent. I believe in real story-lines and characters. But I also believe when a character repents, the reader should be in their head, feeling their deep remorse and watching them have a tough time getting what they want (i.e. realistic consequences). Not to watch him suffer, but for the sake of the heroine and our respect for her and for the sake of realism. If a reader didn't see this dynamic the way I did, the book has enough strengths to be a good read.

"At His Command" releases September 1, 2008. Visit Brenda at or her blog for writers at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Returning Author: Trish Perry

It's great to welcome back Trish Perry to promote her new book "Beach Dreams." Here's the synopsis:

Tiffany LeBoeuf recently lost her mother to cancer. Still grieving, Tiffany seeks rest for her body and soul at a cozy beach house in San Diego. A scheduling mix-up causes a double booking, and Tiffany ends up sharing the house with a woman named Eve. When Eve’s boyfriend, Jeremy, arrives to surprise Eve, Tiffany is surprised as well. He settles in at the beach house next door, and what happens after that surprises them all.

A fun, contemporary romance about how God uses even our mistakes to bring about His divine purposes. Beach Dreams is the perfect get-away read.

Here's an interview, which I'll follow with my review:

First of all, welcome back Trish! Loved your book "Beach Dreams." Let's start with a bit about yourself that maybe our readers wouldn't know:

I’m the middle child; middle girl. I was raised as one of five kids by my British mum and my WWII Air Force vet dad. I lived in Newfoundland (Canada), California, Colorado, and finally Virginia, which I’ve called home for the greater part of my life. I love it here. Most of my family still resides in Virginia, which is a bonus.

My late sister lived a rough lifetime of medical problems, which had a distinct bearing on our family lifestyle and our sensibilities toward the hardships of others. Her eventual death may have been a blessed relief for her, but it was a huge loss for us. The loss is what brought me to the Lord.

Both of my children are believers, which brings me such peace. I have a 29-year-old daughter, who is one of the coolest, smartest, most intuitive women I know. She’s blessed me with a remarkable grandson, now five. And my 16-year-old son is brilliant and funny, and he tells me daily that I’m weird (but I can hear the “I love you” in there when he says it).

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

Novels and films are constants in my life; if I’m home and not working, I’m usually absorbed by one of those. I love good stories. I enjoy varied styles of music. I love to sing and served on my church’s worship team until my writing schedule got so busy. I still serenade the neighbors on occasion, whether they want me to or not. I’m a self-admitted former disco queen, and I still love to dance. And I make sure to get together with girlfriends at least once a week. Socializing, dining, and laughing—it’s like having your batteries charged!

What has God been teaching you lately?

I’ve been blown away by how clearly He forgives my weaknesses. Things have occurred in my life over the past 18 months for which (right or wrong) I carried a burden of guilt. You know, that feeling of “how did I contribute to this mess?” Yet He has blessed me so abundantly in the midst of my feelings of conviction, that He amazes me daily with His obvious love. The blessings keep me humbly aware of how much I need Him. And they instill in me such a strong desire to serve Him and to follow His guidance and will.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I probably wanted to be an actor when I was a child. I memorized dialogue, imagined scenes, and studied actresses I admired. But I never went out for Drama in school. I was horribly shy and couldn’t imagine auditioning for anything. Still, I was well served by my obsession with dialogue and the visual exercises of creating scenes in my mind. Sometimes I still come up with my scenes and dialogue by simply visualizing them on screen or acting them out with imaginary characters. I try to keep these antics private, of course. I’d be in big trouble on one of those Big Brother type of reality shows.

Where are you headed next?

I’ve just begun work on the follow-up to Beach Dreams, which is tentatively called Sunset Beach. We’re expecting a June 2009 release, but that’s not definite yet. The book’s setting will be the same, but all of the characters will be new. I’m having fun with it!

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I wanted very much to write a book about Jeremy and Tiffany, who were secondary characters in my first two books (The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True). I started to write the third book with the same setting as my first two, but then Harvest House asked if I would move the setting to fit The Beach House Series, the first two books of which were written by Sally John. So I started over and made my east coast protagonists travel across country to sunny San Diego. It was fun to create that facet of their story—it added quite a few layers to the plot. In fact, the circumstances of their getting together was completely different than what I originally planned.

What are the major themes of the book?

The importance of seeking God’s guidance constantly surfaces in my stories—the different circumstances that drive my themes usually fit under that umbrella.

Situations aren’t always as they appear, for example, and we can be fooled or we can misjudge others if we don’t constantly seek God’s wisdom and guidance. And sometimes we can miss out on His blessings if we fail to see situations as He means us to.

Another theme that emerged was how difficult it can be when a believer is drawn romantically to a nonbeliever. I’ve touched on the subject before, but in Beach Dreams, the nonbeliever is someone who feels almost real to me (and many readers) at this point. I feel a renewed empathy for Christians in these circumstances. Again, God’s guidance and strength are so important.

With which character do you identify the most and why?

Certainly Tiff. I’ve never deliberately been mean, as Tiff was in my first two books, but I identified with her in Beach Dreams. She struggles continually to shrug off her less-than-Christian thoughts and desires, and that’s a constant in my life. Christ gave us a beautiful, one-line prayer in Gethsemane: “Yet not as I will but as You will.” Wow, that’s my daily battle—trying to surrender to His will. And I saw that in Tiffany.

Sally John wrote the first two books in the Beach House Series (The Beach House and Castles in the Sand). Was it difficult to write a book in a series, following someone else?

It was a new challenge, but Harvest House was clear with me that I had significant leeway in my approach. We didn’t want the book to disappoint Sally John’s readers by being wildly different from her style, but we also wanted to maintain a style my readers had come to expect. I think we accomplished a happy medium.

Why did you decide to bring back characters from your previous books?

There was such an unfinished feel for me with regard to Jeremy by the time I finished my first draft of Too Good to Be True. He had become so lovable, but he was still alone and spiritually lost. Both my editor and I hoped there would be an opportunity to do a third novel, with Jeremy and someone falling in love and Jeremy getting a clue about Christ. Because Tiffany had been such a pain in The Guy I’m Not Dating and for much of Too Good to Be True, it was fun showing how God could reach even her. So her development became intriguing to me, too. Surprisingly, I received requests from many readers to throw these two characters together. I’m not such a unique thinker after all!

Here's my review of her book:

Yum. I have to start there. First off, romantic comedies are a favorite read of mine. And I don’t see very many of them come along. So, as I found myself laughing aloud numerous times I kept thinking, this is so yummy. It’s a treat to be entertained and even delighted as you read. And the comedy is only part one of the reason I loved the story. Part two? The romance. Oh, yum. This story stood on its own, and I enjoyed watching these characters interact with each other in real ways. Trish Perry’s heroine (Tiff) was learning to walk as a Christian, learning to deny her natural response to situations and live for God. Readers will relate to that whole denying the flesh thing.

And the setting? Who doesn’t like a getaway spot as a setting for a book? Reading is often about escaping (and indulging your imagination), so why not escape to the beach?

I must also highlight the character development. Readers who come to the book looking for more than romance will find it here. These characters have to work through some stuff. And though I laughed at their antics (from the very first scene), I also teared up with their struggles.

I haven’t enjoyed a book with this much laughter for a while. Bravo, Trish! Bring on your next book!

You can find Trish at and buy her book at

Readers, she's offering a fun contest. Please respond to this question: How has God used a mistake you made-big or small-for His purposes? Post your answer here. Winner will be announced by Trish herself after 8/22. Prize is a fun beach tote with treasures inside (a necklace--see book for why) and other fun items.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Returning Guest Author: Susan May Warren

I'm so excited to welcome Susan back! She has graciously agreed to update us on her writing life and tell us about her third book in the Noble Legacy collection.

Welcome back, Susie. Please tell us about your book "Finding Stefanie."

Finding Stefanie is the story of a woman who finds herself suddenly wondering where her dreams went. She’s a rancher and sacrificed her future to stay home and take care of the family ranch. However, with her brothers (Nick and Rafe) helping out now on the ranch, suddenly, she is wondering where she fits in. Add to that her new next door neighbor, Hollywood Heartthrob Lincoln Cash, who seems to be intent on bringing tinsel town to her small Montana town, and she’s pretty sure she’s a relic from days gone by. But Lincoln is hiding a secret, and Stefanie just might be the only one who can help him. And, well, vice-versa. Maybe, through Lincoln’s eyes, Stefanie will finally discover the woman God has designed her to be. With elements of suspense all back-dropped against the Big Montana Sky, it’s the conclusion to the Noble Legacy collection, and a story that women will (I hope!) relate to.

The earlier two books in the series were about Stefanie's brothers, ("Reclaiming Nick" and "Taming Rafe"). Would you say it was easier or harder/more fun or less fun writing about Stefanie as compared to say, Rafe (her twin brother)? What were the challenges (or perks) of being mostly in the POV of a male for books one and two, as compared to mostly being in a female POV for "Finding Stefanie"?

Well, both Rafe and Nick had pretty strong heroines, but Stefanie was the strongest by far, so getting into her skin was an adventure. I loved how strong she was – in fact, finding a hero for her was a real challenge. She didn’t need a “strong” man, because, well, Stef is pretty tough. But she did need a special kind of man, one who saw through her rawhide exterior to the beautiful woman inside, and of course, he alone could see who she really was. In Stefanie, I let out all the cowgirl inside me and freed her to wander about the page, to train horses and help the children and ultimately to save the world’s hero. I love writing male pov also, however – my biggest challenge is to make him sound like a guy. Because, usually, romantic heroes are a whole lot more talkative and vulnerable than our real heroes…so making those situations realistic in the book sort of involves me following my husband or teens around the house and asking, “would a guy…?” I have to say, I love writing both povs….

And you’re good at it! I love your characterization. I start reading your books and immediately I know I’m in good hands.

Are the novels in this series stand-alone, or would you recommend a reader start from book one? (Personally, I loved reading them straight through one after the other, but for our readers who are just learning about the series, what do you recommend?)

I designed the books as stand-alones, so anyone could pick them up and read them in any order. I called them the “Noble Legacy Collection” because they are really each their own stories, instead of each story building on the previous one. A lot of readers have started with Rafe, backtracked to Nick, and then gone on to Stefanie. But you can easily start with Stef and work backwards.

What's on your plate next? (i.e. what you're writing now and what will release next)

I’m so excited about my new series – I’m calling it the misadventures of PJ Sugar, PI-wannabe. It’s the story of a bad-girl gone good who returns to her hometown ten years after being run out of town for a crime she didn’t commit. She returns home hoping to start fresh, and ends up right back where she started – getting caught up in a murder, and eventually landing back in the county jail, again for a crime she didn’t commit. Can PJ Sugar ever escape trouble, or is she destined to be known as Nothing But Trouble. (And that’s the name of the book). I’m working on a fun website now, and will have it up with previews, etc, in a few weeks. It’s the first in what I’m calling the “PJ Sugar- Trouble” series. And it’s got all my favorite elements – romance, suspense, a strong spiritual thread and lots of good humor. It hits the shelves in February.

How can readers contact you?

Go to or, if you’re a writer, be sure and check out for your daily dose of writing tips.

Thanks for visiting again, Susie! We love having you here and reading your work.

Thank you so much for having me! Warmly ~ Susie

I recently read Finding Stefanie and loved it. Here's my review:

I enjoy Susan’s writing a lot. In fact, her earlier novel “Happily Ever After” remains one of my all-time favorite reads. And I devoured “Reclaiming Nick” and “Taming Rafe,” so I looked forward to this third book’s release in the Noble Legacy collection. And I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, Susan has an amazing handle on characterization. So right from the start you know her characters are going to seem real.

Specifically, I loved her secondary romance thread in Finding Stefanie. She let us watch 18-year-old Gideon’s tender-hearted interactions with Libby, a 19-year-old character. Susan has a deep understanding of the human heart and our motivations (good or bad). She always believably pens her wide spectrum of characters.

Her primary romance was delicious, too. Love those Beta heroes (mostly because it’s not the norm).

I appreciate Susan’s heart to see people find God’s love for them. She skillfully weaves messages of hope and redemption into her stories. I also appreciate her servant’s heart toward other writers. She’s an encourager and teacher, a mentor and friend to many in the Christian writing community.

I'm looking forward to her next series!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

I approach every book I read as a writer, and there are a lot of rules when you write fiction--if you believe in rules.

The Shack breaks the rules, but it’s a magnificent read by a self-proclaimed “accidental author.” At times I didn’t want to put it down. At other times I didn’t want to pick it up. At times it was too much for me---a completely different way of looking at life. At other times my heart nodded with the truth God, in His beautiful grace, had already shown me. Encounters we’d already had. Loving visitations, heart to heart.

As a writer, I’d heard about this book from other readers. Actually, a 30-year veteran editor was the first to bring this book to my attention. She spoke of how it was a best-seller and self-published (though Hachette Book Group is getting involved now and helping spread the influence of this book). I later learned the story was too controversial for Christian publishers and too “Christian” for secular ones. I tend to steer clear of things controversial, and I resist getting swept up into the latest wave the culture is riding. But, when a dear and trusted friend, (the faithful, Jesus-loving keyboard player for our worship team at church) recommended the book (a friend, the best source of word of mouth marketing) I couldn’t justify my resistance as well.

What I found was wondrous. Impacting. Life changing. The epitome of using darkness to magnify God’s light. Of using the contrast of hatred and evil to show God’s goodness and amazing, life-giving love. I found a God encounter like I wouldn’t have anticipated and couldn’t have written.

Warning: this book isn’t for the faint of heart—both because it goes places in God you’ve never imagined and because it deals with tough subject matter—abusive fathers and the heart of a serial killer. There are words in this book, phrases which traditional Christian publishers have excluded from their books. But the wording fits the characters and is not used just for the sake of “spicing things up.”

If you’re willing, this book can bring amazing nuggets into you world. And you can leave this story wanting more of a relationship (or in your relationship) with Jesus, with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Wanting communion. Wanting love. Wanting freedom and having the means to get there. Wanting to forgive someone who hurt you and perhaps finally having the tools in God to do it. I found a friend in the midst of my own sorrows. I found freedom is waiting for me in love and trust. I’m glad I took the plunge and read The Shack. I hope you will, too.

If you’ve read it, leave a comment. What’d you think? What was your biggest takeaway? Mine? That whole expectation thing. I’m learning to live in expectancy in my relationship with God, not expectation. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean. What was your biggest a-ha?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Guest Author: Michelle Sutton

Today I'm excited to host a friend and fellow author, Michelle Sutton. She has been very busy for years in writing and reviewing Christian fiction. Authors know to send their work to her for her reviews are worth a lot. She has even reviewed "Love Letters" for me. A privilege.

Her first book will release in September. So before it comes out, let's talk about it. Here's our interview:

How long have you been writing?

It'll be five years next month since I wrote my first page.

Tell us about your book.

Annie had a great life and everything going for her. But she was lost (spiritually) and didn't know it. When her life was shattered one night by a vicious and meaningless attack, she had to reevalute what was important to her. Two brothers also fought for her affections and she was torn between them. No matter who she chose the other brother would lose, so it seemed like an impossible situation. But she discovered what real love was in the midst of her trial and in her darkest hour she sought the only one who could truly heal her heart.

Tell us the history of your story--like where you came up with the idea and how long it took you to write and anything else you'd like to share.

I based the story on a situation that happened to a friend of mine. It took me about five months (maybe less) to write the whole story.

With a family and all your online obligations (including the very successful and just launched e-zine "Christian Fiction Online Magazine") how do you find time to write?

Lately I haven't had the time to do anything but revise existing material. I'm plenty buried right now so I don't need to write anything new.

How can people get a hold of your book and when does it release?

My book officially releases in September but is available for pre-order now on Barnes and and You can also walk into any Barnes and Noble store and order it there.

Learn more about Michelle by clicking over to her website:

She also hosts writers at Edgy Christian Fiction Writers:

Thanks for dropping by, Michelle. It's been a pleasure! We wish you all the best!