Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"GateKeepers" First Chapter

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Do I really have to wait until July for the next one?!?!?! Keep an eye out for my interview with Robert coming up in a few days and he is doing 2 giveaways in connection with that as well - come back to check that out!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Robert Liparulo

and the book:


Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)


Robert Liparulo has received rave reviews for both his adult novels (Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall) and the first two novels in his Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults (House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods). He is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book #1)
Watcher in the Woods: (Dreamhouse Kings Book #2)
Comes a Horseman

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544984
ISBN-13: 978-1595544988


Tuesday, 6:58 P.M.

Pinedale, California

Xander’s words struck David’s heart like a musket ball.

He reeled back, then grabbed the collar of his brother’s grimy Confederate coat. His eyes stung, whether from the tears squeezing around them or the sand whipping through the room, he didn’t know. He pulled his face to within inches of Xander’s.

“You . . . you found her?” he said. “Xander, you found Mom?”

He looked over Xander’s shoulder to the portal door, which had slammed shut as soon as Xander stumbled through. The two boys knelt in the center of the antechamber. Wind billowed their hair. It whooshed in under the door, pulling back what belonged to the Civil War world from which Xander had just stepped. The smell of smoke and gunpowder was so strong, David could taste it.

He shook Xander. “Where is she? Why didn’t you bring her?”

His heart was going crazy, like a ferret racing around inside his chest, more frantic than ever. Twelve-year-olds didn’t have heart attacks, did they?

Xander leaned back and sat on his heels. His bottom lip trembled, and his chest rose and fell as he tried to catch his breath. The wind plucked a leaf from his hair, whirled it through the air, then sucked it under the door.

“Xander!” David said. “Where’s Mom?”

Xander lowered his head. “I couldn’t . . .” he said. “I couldn’t get her. You gotta go over, Dae. You gotta bring her back!”

“Me?” A heavy weight pushed on David’s chest, smashing the ferret between sternum and spine. He rose, leaped for the door, and tugged on the locked handle.

He wore a gray hat (“It’s a kepi,” Dad would tell him) and jacket, like Xander’s blue ones. They had discovered that it took wearing or holding three items from the antechamber to unlock the portal door. He needed one more.

“Xander, you said found her! ”

Xander shook his head. “I think I saw her going into a tent, but it was at the other end of the camp. I couldn’t get to her.”

David’s mouth dropped open. “That’s not finding her! I thought I saw her, too, the other day in the World War II world. . .”

“Dae, listen.” Xander pushed himself up and gripped David’s shoulders. “She saw the message we left. She saw Bob.”

Bob was the cartoon face and family mascot since Dad was a kid, drawn on notes and birthday cards. When David and Xander had been in Ulysses S. Grant’s Union camp the night before, Xander had drawn it on a tent. It was their way of letting Mom know they were looking for her.

“She wrote back!” Xander said. “David, she’s there!”

“But . . .” David didn’t know if he wanted to scream or cry or punch his brother. “Why didn’t you go get her?”

“Something was happening on the battlefield. They were rounding up all the soldiers and herding us toward the front line. I tried to get to her, but they kept grabbing me, pushing me out of camp. When I broke away—“ Xander’s face became hard. “They called me a deserter. That quick, I was a deserter. One of them shot at me! I barely got back to the portal.” He shook his head. “You gotta go! Now! Before she’s gone, or the portal changes, or . . . I don’t know.”

Yes . . . no! David’s stomach hurt. His brain was throbbing against his skull. His broken arm started to ache again, and he rubbed the cast. “Xander, I can’t. They almost killed me yesterday.”

“That’s because you were a gray-coat.” Xander began taking off his blue jacket. “Wear this one.”

“Why can’t you? Just tell them—”

“I’ll never make it,” Xander said. “They’ll throw me in the stockade for deserting—if they don’t shoot me first.”

“They’ll do the same to me.” David hated how whiney it came out.

“You’re just a kid. They’ll see that.”

“I’m twelve, Xander. Only three years younger than you.”

“That’s the difference between fighting and not, Dae.” He held the jacket open. “I know it was really scary before, but this time you’ll be on the right side.”

David looked around the small room. He said, “Where’s the rifle you took when you went over? The Harper’s Ferry musket?”

His brother gazed at his empty hand. He scanned the floor. “I must have dropped it one of the times I fell. I was just trying to stay alive. I didn’t notice.” He shook the jacket. “Come on.”

David shrugged out of the gray jacket he was wearing. He tossed it onto the bench and reluctantly slipped into the one Xander held. He pulled the left side over his cast.

Xander buttoned it for him. He said, “The tent I saw her go into was near the back of the camp, on the other side from where I drew Bob.” He lifted the empty sleeve and let it flop down. He smiled. “Looks like you lost your arm in battle.”

“See? They’ll think I can fight, that I have fought.”

“I was just kidding.” He took the gray kepi off David’s head and replaced it with the blue one. Then he turned to the bench and hooks, looking for another item.

“Xander, listen,” David said. “You don’t know what’s been happening here. There are two cops downstairs.”

Xander froze in his reach for a canteen. “What?” His head pivoted toward the door opposite the portal, as though he could see through it into the hallway beyond, down the stairs, around the corner, and into the foyer. Or like he expected the cops to burst through. “What are they doing here?”

“They’re trying to get us out of the house. Taksidian’s with them.” Just thinking of the creepy guy who was responsible for his broken arm frightened David—but not as much as the thought of getting hauled away when they were so close to rescuing Mom. “Gimme that,” he said, waggling his fingers at the canteen.

Xander snatched it off the hook and looped the strap over David’s head. “Where’s Dad?”

“They put him in handcuffs. He told me to come get you. That’s why I was here when you came through.”


“And one more thing,” David said. He closed his eyes, feeling like the jacket had just gained twenty pounds. “Clayton, that kid who wanted to pound me at school? He came through the portal in the linen closet.” He opened one eye to see his brother’s shocked expression.

“How long was I gone?” Xander said. “Where is he now?”

“I pushed him back in. He returned to the school, but he might . . . come back.”

“Great.” Xander glanced over his shoulder at the hallway door again, then back at David. “Anything else I should know?”

David shook his head. “I guess if I die, I won’t have to go to school tomorrow.” He smiled weakly.

The school year—seventh grade for David, tenth for Xander—had started just yesterday: two days of classes. Mom had been kidnapped the day before that. David couldn’t believe they’d even gone to school under the circumstances, but Dad, who was the new principal, had insisted they keep up normal appearances so they wouldn’t attract suspicion.

Lot of good it did, David thought, thinking of the cops downstairs.

“I don’t know,” Xander said. “Dad would probably figure out a way to get your body there.”

David’s expression remained grim.

“You’ll be fine.”

“Don’t get taken away,” David told his brother. “Don’t leave with me over there. Don’t leave me alone in this house when I come back. Don’t—“

Xander touched his fingers to David’s lips. “I won’t leave,” he said. “I’ll go see what’s happening downstairs, but I won’t leave. No way, no how. Okay? Besides—“ He smiled, but David saw how hard it was for him to do it. “You’ll have Mom with you when you come back. Right?”

It was David’s turn to smile, and he found it wasn’t so hard to do. “Yeah.” He turned, took a deep breath, and opened the portal door.

The 6th Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is...

The 6th
Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is

"Amber Morn"
by Brandilyn Collins

The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”

Okay, for anyone that has never read Brandilyn Collin's books - this is a great book to start with. That may sound odd since it is #4 in the series, but I had not read all of the other 3 books (and I read the first one, Violet Dawn, back when it first came out so it has been awhile!). Amber Morn is the perfect end to the series because she takes all the people that had been the supporting characters in her other books and turns this one into an ensemble piece with everyone participating. It is an incredibly unique book and I just loved it! It made me want to go back and read the other 3 books, but they weren't necessary in order to enjoy this one. Oh, and in typical Brandilyn style, there is a twist that takes your breath away toward the end. Her tagline isn't "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..." for nothing!

Let's meet Brandilyn...

1) "Seatbelt Suspense" is your brand, and "Don't forget to b r e a t h e ..." is your trademark line. I talked to a lady the other day that asked if one book she wanted to read was as scary as Brandilyn Collins’ books, her comment being that "When the lady got in the hot tub and there was a dead body in it... that was almost too much for me!" I think you got to her, Brandilyn... where do your ideas come from?

The question is—did this gal read Violet Dawn anyway? Some folks think they’ll be super scared in reading my stories, but find they’re more thrilling than they are scary. Big Honkin’ Chicken Club members are being converted to reading my books on a regular basis. :-)

But to answer your question—my ideas come from life. I’m always paying attention, looking at the world through my novelist’s eyes. That now infamous scene in the opening of Violet Dawn came from my own imagination as one night my husband and I stepped into our hot tub, with the cover pulled halfway back. Now, no one else might think how I think, but I’m a suspense novelist. So into my little brain popped, “Whoa, it’s so dark out here. A body could be under that other cover half and I wouldn’t know it—until I felt it …”

2) You have an amazing series with Kanner Lake (which includes the above scenario) "Violet Dawn", "Crimson Eve", "Coral Moon" and now it wraps up with "Amber Morn". "Amber Morn" is an ensemble piece where the secondary characters from Kanner Lake get thrown into one scenario and they all become the stars of a very awful situation. How different is it writing an ensemble vs. a hero/heroine?

Good question. Amber Morn was my first ensemble cast, and I found it very difficult. First, there were a lot of POVs (points of view). Not only did I have a POV for each hostage, but also for the hostage takers plus the negotiator who had to try to get every victim out of there alive. Also, because Amber Morn is the final of the series, there were numerous personal events in the lives of the hostages that needed to be brought to a close.

I did something else different in Amber Morn—a build-up to the inciting incident (the first big event that sets off the story). The inciting incident in this story is all the characters at Java Joint being taken hostage. Normally in my “Seatbelt Suspense” stories, I’d put that event in the first chapter. But there were too many characters—and all their personal issues—to set up adequately in the midst of a hostile takeover in the coffee shop. So I chose another technique—that nerve-tingling pull of the roller coaster up a steep, steep hill, building tension during the climb. Readers knew once they reached the top of the first hill and dropped over the edge, they’d have to remember to breathe. During this pull I jump back and forth between the bad guys planning their attack, and the Java Joint characters arriving at the coffee shop for their celebration party, oblivious to the tragedy that is coming closer and closer.

3) Are you really done with Kanner Lake? Is it all over? Will we never see these quirky characters again?

Well, you never know. If you’ve read my Hidden Faces series, you know that a character from that series is mentioned in Kanner Lake. And to go back further, the last book of the Hidden Faces series (Web of Lies) incorporates the protagonist from my series before that—Chelsea Adams. In my mind all my characters live on. Any one of them might turn up anywhere.

But for now, four nationally-watched traumas in little Kanner Lake is enough. I mean, what else can I put those poor folks through? They deserve a rest.

Bailey and all the folks at Java Joint who came through the hostage crisis are doing well, by the way. They send their regards. They’d love to have you visit. Just remember—don’t sit on Wilbur’s stool.

4) Just recently your new book "Dark Pursuit" came out and the whole book takes place in around 24 hours. Was it crazy trying to get everything into such a tight timeframe? You had a similar tight time frame in Amber Morn. Is it easier to keep it tight and contained instead of spreading things out?

Most of my books are like that—the action takes place in a day or maybe two at the most. The Violet Dawn trauma takes place in only about 14 hours. (However the resolution chapters may take place a few days to a few weeks later.) Yes, it is easier to maintain suspense when the action is pretty much nonstop. It’s hard to hook a chapter when someone’s going to bed for a restful sleep.

5) In all your books you have this knack for leaving clues in plain sight that take the reader, slap them upside the head and spin them around before they have a chance to straighten it all out in their heads - how do you plan stuff like that? Do you plan it from the beginning or do you start at the end and work backwards?

I know the main plot points from the beginning. I have to know the twists and how it ends in order to write in the dual technique I use—writing everything to make readers assume one thing, when in truth something else is going on. This type of writing is difficult, because every line and word must fit into both totally different scenarios. There’s no way I could pull that off without knowing where the story is going.

6) What do we have to look forward to from you next?

Next year you’ll see three books from me. Exposure, my next adult stand-alone, releases in May. Exposure is about fear—what would you do if your worst fear came true? It does for Kaycee Raye. This is another twisting, mind-blowing story that I think will really keep my readers hopping.

Also next year the first two books of The Rayne Tour series will release (in April and October). This is a young adult suspense series, co-written with my daughter, Amberly (who’s now 19). The protagonist is Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star. Shaley lives in a world of backstage passes, limos, paparazzi and lights—until murder rocks her world. You can read more about The Rayne Tour series here.

7) Where can readers find you online?

You can read about my books, including their first chapters, at my web site. I blog Monday through Friday at Forensics and Faith. There we discuss writing techniques, the Christian fiction industry, the Christian journey and life. You can also find me on Facebook. And follow me on Twitter.

A final note for my Kanner Lake readers. In case you missed the breaking news on Forensics and Faith—S-Man’s science fiction novel, Starfire, is going to be published. For real. In a crazy fiction-turns-into-reality twist, the publication date is just about the time Starfire would have released according to the timeline in Amber Morn. Read more about Stuart Stockton’s Starfire and its release here.


Okay, readers Brandilyn has offered a copy of Violet Dawn for our drawing! She wanted to make sure that the winner was able to start at the beginning of this great series! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what kind of mystery or suspense you like and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Brandilyn and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 7th Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is...

The 7th
Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man" by Claudia Mair Burney

This book is a laugh out loud, mystery that will keep you going from beginning to end. I love the characters, the dialogue is absolutely brilliant and this book and it's sequel "Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz" are fantastic. You start with a single 30 something forensic psyshologist who has never actually been to a bad crime scene, her 40 something sister who is a medical examiner and then throw in a good looking, tall drink of water named Jazz who just happens to be a homicide detective. Mix that up at a crime scene and come away with Amanda Bell Brown starting in on an investigation dealing with cult leaders and their influence over people while crushing on some Jazz. There is some deep insight into some dark stuff while some amazing flirtation and sweet nothings between Bell and Jazz and her sister Carly is there to protect her. What a great book!

The description reads:

Amanda Bell Brown knows that life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But when she turns thirty-five with no husband or baby on the horizon, she decides she's gotta get out and paint the town -- in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime -- and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes -- especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wreaking havoc on her birthday, but will her sleuthing leave her alive to see past thirty-five?

Now let's meet Claudia...

1) I was blown away when I read "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man", I have never laughed out loud so much while reading a book - ever! I had to keep stopping and reading sections out loud to my husband so he'd know why I was giddy. Who did you base this fantastic character on? And are they really that funny or is that you coming through?

Thanks for your kind words, Janna. I love to imagine readers cracking up when they read my books. They actually ended up much funnier than I intended them to be, but what can you do? Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man was my first book, and the opportunity came to me very quickly. I so cheated and gave Amanda the name of my great-grandmother, and as far as character goes, she was essentially me! Life is very funny for me, even when I don't want it to be.
2) Now lest my readers get the wrong idea and think that these are just funny "ha-ha" books, I should clarify that the dialogue is hilarious, but the situations - not so much. The first book deals with cults and how the leaders gain control over others, that was some pretty heavy stuff. How did you research that?
It wasn't that hard. Just as I built the character of Amanda after me, I gave her my background of abuse. I've experienced some pretty tough situations, Janna, and I modeled some of the "bad guys" after people I've been involved with, including a man who had very cult leader type behavior, including a penchant for polygamy. From there I read my old college text books about the personality disorders in religious people. I also bought forensic science books designed for writers. I have a whole collection of them.
3) I love the secondary characters that round the book out - Amanda's sister and Jazz, the detective. Some of the scenarios they are dealing with are pretty interesting - like Jazz's ex-wife. This leads to some theological discussion (Can you remarry after divorcing...) that made me think. Do you find it difficult to show both sides in a discussion like that?
Jazz and Carly were absolutely built on people I know. Carly is my sister, Carly. As for Jazz, the way he looks and talks is like a certain fine man in my life, but the Catholic thing was something I added, I had no idea why at the time. I guess I just wanted to write about someone with a different take on spirituality, because so much Christian fiction is the same old, same old. I wish I knew more about the subject of Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage when I broached it in those books. I never meant to have that thread. In my original story, Jazz was still married but separated from Kate, and fell in love with Amanda by mistake. Couldn't sell the book like that, so I made him divorced, but it changed the nature of the conflict considerably. I hadn't expected that. I also wrote a Catholic character without knowing a great deal about Catholics at the time. I did too much assuming, I'm sad to say. Divorce isn't the unpardonable sin, and remarriage doesn't doom one's soul, but marriage is a sacrament. Not to be taken lightly, just like Jesus taught. There is healing, and forgiveness, and circumstances that genuinely merit divorce, but yes, devout Catholics would feel very strongly about that. Any Christian should.
4) I've recently read "Wounded" and it is in a whole different vein than the Amanda Bell Brown books. How did that book come about?

For some reason, the phenomenon of stigmata fascinated me. It both drew and repelled me. I didn't understand this bloody, bizarre way to share in Christ's suffering. I didn't understand sharing in Christ's suffering, but I wanted, no, I needed to explore it. Like Gina Merritt, I'm bipolar, with constant pain from fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndrome. I wanted to deal with the fact that God wasn't healing me, but rather, loving me in my affliction. I wanted to let people know it was okay if they were suffering. It didn't mean they lacked faith.

5) Did I read somewhere that I have another Amanda Bell Brown book to look forward to?

Yes! The third in the series picks up six weeks after the second left off. We see Rocky reaching out to reconcile to Bell, and unwittingly plunging her into what my great-grandmother would call, "a world of trouble." We get a very different kind of villain in this, and you get to see if Amanda gets her man or not.

6) What other projects can we look forward to from you?

I have two more books in my Exorsistah series coming out, and I'll be writing my first non-fiction book, a fun book about the teachings of Teresa of Avila. I may have comic books in my future. A long shot, but anything is possible, right? Some things are in the works. That's really all I can say about it right now.

7) Where can readers find you online?

My net home is my blog,, but if you don't want "too much information" you probably shouldn't go there. It gets pretty personal. I do have a dot com, simply You can find some info about my books there, and my book blog,
If you would like to win a copy of "Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man" from Claudia then leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what book has made you laugh recently and you will have 1 entry in the drawing!
If you tell someone else (especially your best friend) about this interview with Claudia and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck! And to sweeten the pot - we will have a 2nd drawing for the other book we talked about in the interview "Wounded" so there will be 2 winners!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 6th Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...

The 6th
Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is
"Heavenly Places"
by Kimberly Cash Tate

I heard good things about this book and knew I needed to check it out for myself - what I found blew me away. Here we have a cast of characters that focuses on Treva, a wife and mother but mainly a career lawyer, who has her world pulled out from underneath her when they make a move for her husband's sake and she can't get her career going again. She is "forced" into a Bible study by her sister with 4 other women who she can't stand, barely tolerates being a mom and resents (and rightfully so) her own mother. Throughout the course of the book we get to sit in on the Bible study of Ephesians (very insightful), deal with many cultural issues (abortion, incest, modesty, career vs. family, etc...) as well as many spiritual issues (forgiveness, our Father's love for us, forgiveness, power of prayer, forgiveness, importance of the Word of God, forgiveness, etc...) and oh, did I mention forgiveness? There are too many things to even point out in a little 'ol review, but I was blessed by reading this book. I highly suggest finding a copy of this for yourself as I will be re-reading this one over and over. It is labeled as "African American Fiction", but I fail to see how the themes of forgiveness and God's love don't speak to everyone. Excellent book!
Now let's meet Kimberly...

1) You have written a beautiful book in "Heavenly Places". I know that I was moved to tears, laughed out loud and spent many moments re-reading a section and going "Wow, what a great way to put that!" Where did your idea come from for this book?

Thank you so much, Janna, for your support of this book. I can’t claim to have come up with this idea on my own. I never even thought I would write fiction, so I wasn’t looking for ideas. But God has a way of leading us, doesn’t He? For a time, it seemed I kept running across books or articles about women who had experienced feelings of unworthiness in childhood, which they never quite got over. I would think, If only they knew how God thought of them. Before long, this character, Treva, formed in my mind, with all of her struggles of inferiority. From there, I just had to pray continuously about how to deal with them! :-)

2) Why did you decide to label this book "African American Fiction/Religion" (according to the back of the book)? It would seem that doing so would narrow the field of who would seek out the book to buy it... why not just have it "Fiction/Christian/General" or "Christian Women's Fiction". Because of the label I count myself blessed to have found it and read it, and even my mother-in-law (who read and loved it as well) said that she wasn't sure she would have read it if I hadn't told her it was wonderful, just because it specified African American she took that to mean that she wouldn't understand it.

You know, great question. The publisher comes up with the label, but I do wish the book had been marketed more broadly. I’ve gotten feedback from women from all walks of life who feel the book spoke to them in a profound way. I believe the themes and the ministry in the book transcend any one particular audience. I’m so glad you found the book!

3) Actually the book was very eye-opening to me with the relationship between Treva and her mom (or lack thereof) and the different reactions according to the shade of their skin. Have you dealt with that personally in your life?

I haven’t dealt with that on a personal level, thank God, but it did exist in my extended family. I had a great-grandmother who looked almost white, who married a darker-skinned man, so some of her children were very light and some were very dark. She seemed to favor her lighter children over the darker ones (my grandfather was one of the darker children), and the favoritism reached down even to the grandchildren of her lighter children.

4) One of the aspects of Heavenly Places that I loved was that as the group of ladies went through the Bible study of Ephesians, it was kind of like we got to do the study as well - what prompted you to pick out Ephesians for the Bible study?

That’s another one of those awesome God-aspects about the book. I didn’t even know there would be a Bible study in the book. Remember those prayers I was praying about how to bring Treva through her struggles? I knew she needed to be changed by the word of God, but I wasn’t sure how to do that within the story. One day, a group Bible study came to mind, and it was so clear that I remember saying to the Lord, “Really? Well, what will they be studying?” Right away I knew—Ephesians. I had studied that book in depth and it had become a favorite book of mine, so much so that I had even memorized it so I could write it on my heart. It deals with knowing who we are in Christ, and that was at the heart of Treva’s struggle. I knew that she—and anyone—could be changed by that book.

5) I saw one of the themes of this book as being Overcoming Feelings of Unworthiness and that is such a universal problem for women in general... what would you like women to take away after reading this book?

I would like women to know that they have each been fearfully and wonderfully made, that God molded and shaped each of them, and that that truth alone gives them immense value. I also pray that women take away the message that the Bible is life-changing. It really does speak to every aspect of our lives.

6) What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future, what projects are in the works right now and will we see more of Treva?

I actually have a just-released book entitled, “More Christian than African-American.” The subtitle is, “and other ways Jesus turned my life upside down.” This is my own testimony of God’s goodness and grace in changing my life in ways I could have never imagined. It was originally published in 1999, and this is an updated and revised version. I’ve also completed a second novel, which is a different story entirely than “Heavenly Places.” But you never know…you may see Treva and the other ladies in the book down the road.

7) Where can readers find you online?

They can find me at From there, they can also e-mail me. I love to hear from people!

If you would like to win a copy of "Heavenly Places" from Kimberly then leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) and tell me what you do to enter the Heavenly Places and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Kimberly and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

The 7th Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...

The 7th
Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is
"Havah, the story of Eve"
by Tosca Lee

I thought that "Havah" would be this nice little historical fiction book about Eve and I was looking forward to it. I had no idea what I was getting into...WOW! The scope of this project was huge - we are talking covering about 900 years where we have a little fact in Genesis and a lot of speculation. Tosca manages to take all of that and make Eve a real woman who engineered the downfall of man, birthed the world of man, helped form civilization, went from paradise to life as we have never known it and yet dealt with many of the issues we still deal with today. Tosca makes Eve real in a way that I have never thought of her. The hard thing is that like most Biblical fiction books - it can become hard to separate truth from fiction in our heads, but most importantly this book will make you want to go back and reread Genesis and figure it out. It is beautifully written and will make you think about your real roots.

Now let's meet Tosca..

1) "Havah" is an amazing book. I can't even imagine how many hours of research it took. Did you have any idea of the scope this project would take when you started it?

No! Not at all. Or I’d probably have chickened out. I just had no idea of the scope of research alone—let alone the writing--at the time I proposed the book with my single page prologue.

2) What led you to undertake Eve as your leading lady?

Several years ago, I was contemplating Eve’s experience and what her voice might sound like—Eve, as an old woman, retelling her story. I put it away for a few years until I sold my first book and my publisher (NavPress) asked me what else I had, and then frantically dug it out. It was really the only other idea I had to offer them at the time.

3) Reading Havah made me want to go back and read the book of Genesis again to try and determine fact vs. fiction. Does it feel weird to know that a lot of people will start taking things you wrote as fact like we readers often do when we read a fictional account of a Bible story?

That’s definitely weird, and I hope that people won’t accept my version as fact, but examine the scriptures for themselves. The good thing that happened to me in writing it is that I had to ponder a bunch of tough, tough questions.* And I wish that for everyone, even if it’s not for a project like a novel, but only for their own contemplation. Unfortunately, the Adam and Eve story is one most of us know so well that it’s become a clich├ęd part of our culture. So if people revisit Genesis after reading Havah, I’m glad for that.

* A sample of many of them is on my blog at:

4) The beginning of the book really through me for a loop, it took me a little while to wrap my head around those opening chapters because it seemed so abstract - the more I thought about it the more I realized that was perfect though - how else would you write the realization that someone has of coming into existence when they don't know language? How crazy was it to write the beginning of Havah?

That was one of those first points (of many) where I thought, “What have I done? What have I taken on?” I was overwhelmed at the thought of describing waking to life, perfection, the absence of language, communion with God, the first human error and its ramifications. The scope of the story horrified me. In the end, I could only close my eyes and imagine, and write, and study, and imagine some more—and pray. I prayed on my knees many mornings before starting. I had to.

5) Where did you get the idea for what the mark of Cain actually was, because that was mind blowing in and of itself - what else would keep people from killing Cain - it is kind of like Jesus saying, "Any of you who are without sin can cast the first stone..."

Yes! Thank you for picking up on that. The mark of Cain was one of many questions that plagued me through the telling of this story. We just aren’t told what it is. Some believe it might have been a brand, but that didn’t seem like it, in and of itself, would keep away relatives bent on blood vengeance. Some said it was something like a dog, or that Cain’s skin color changed. That was intriguing to me, but I wasn’t sure it seemed like enough to do more than set him apart, or even frighten others—which might incite violence against him. But the idea of seeing your own guilt in a mark that is like a mirror… no one wants to look at that. We stop persecuting others when we realize our own guilt. So that was the thing that made sense to me.

6) What is your next project that you are working on and when can we as your readers look forward to seeing it in stores (I know, I know, this one has just come out... but still...)?

I’m taking a break right now, but will probably have something in the works by spring. I spent much of this last year exhausted between my consulting job, writing deadlines, publicity, and some changing life circumstances. Also, you face a lot of spiritual opposition in undertaking endeavors like this. So I have really needed this rest.

I haven’t been one of those authors who can knock books out every six months, but I’ve had the fortune of being received by the most loyal and patient readers. It is a privilege to write for them. As soon as I begin the next book, (whatever it is—I’m still contemplating), I will do my best to write a story that is hopefully worth the wait.

7) How can readers find you online?

I can be reached at My websites are:,, and I’m also on Facebook, Shoutlife, and MySpace.

Dear readers, do not miss out on this book. For a chance to win a copy from Tosca do this:
leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what your favorite Bible story is and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Tosca and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The 8th Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...

The 8th
Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is
"Every Good & Perfect Gift"
Sharon K. Souza

I was thrilled to get to read this book, it is what I would categorize as women's fiction and is Sharon's debut novel. Based on this book I am anxious to see what she will accomplish for her 2nd novel. "Every Good & Perfect Gift" is a great book that draws on real life experiences and deals with some heavy issues such as infertility, illness, friendship and faith. Sharon manages to take these heavy issues and infuse them with humor and feeling. It is not a usual thing for me to find a book that grabs me from the first paragraph and doesn't let me go until the last page (as I'm bawling). This book does that, and its not a mystery or a suspense - usually I think of women's fiction as being a slowly developing work in character development and a continuously, unraveling plot line - Sharon's book breaks that mold in the manner of jumping right in with both feet. You will meet Gabby and DeeDee and follow their path with them as they show that true friendship breaks all conventional stereotypes and is truly a blessing from God.

Now let's meet Sharon...

1) One of the best opening lines in a book of 2008 was in "Every Good & Perfect Gift" - "Gabby, I want a baby." Before page 3 I was completely hooked and into the story. What was your inspiration for this book?

I wanted to write a story about extreme friendship between two women, and came up with what I thought was the best way to express that, using the issue of infertility. But that was just the springboard to bring awareness of an illness that a very close friend was diagnosed with a few years before I wrote the book. I didn't know such a thing existed until the diagnosis came back for Evie.

2) Not enough women have the kind of friendships in their lives that this book shows us. I believe that God made women to need other women in their lives to fill a place that husbands often times can't (just because of the way we are wired). Do you have this kind of friendship in your life?

I totally agree that women need friends, and that they fill a place husbands can't fill. Young married women especially are so busy raising a family and all that entails that friendships tend to get put on the back burner. I understand the dynamics of that, having been a wife and mother with 3 children, 3 years apart. It was a busy, busy time. I lost contact with the friends I'd had in high school, and didn't have time to cultivate new ones. I went through a period of time when I didn't have one single close friend, and didn't even realize how much I was missing until the Lord brought new friends into my life. By then I'd come to understand the value of friendship, and those friends have been very important in my life. The beautiful thing is that our husbands were also close friends, and so were our children.

I've recently reconnected with my three best friends from high school. The connection has been marginal with one, a little better with another. But the third friend, whom I only reconnected with a few weeks ago, was as thrilled as I was to be in communication again. I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me in all three cases to get in touch, and I hope to minister in each of their lives as the Lord leads.

3) You bring some heavy issues into this book, but handle them incredibly well... infertility, choosing not to have children, Alzheimer's and of course stress in marriage among other things. Yet this book is not heavy and depressing, but rather uplifting and inspirational - how did you strike such a balance?

I try to keep in mind as I write that reading a novel is a luxury for many women today. They take some of their precious time to spend in the pages of my books. I want to make that experience worth their while. I want them to enjoy the story, the characters, and to take something away from the book. But I don't want to burden them in the process. Adding humor to a heavy topic makes the topic more palatable. And bringing inspiration to the situation is what my writing is all about. The reader may not be dealing with the exact same issue, but they can still find the hope they need to get through whatever issue they are facing.

4) I re-read the last chapter to refresh my memory since it's been over 6 months and 100 books since I read "Every Good & Perfect Gift", and it pulled me right back in and made me teary-eyed all over again. That is masterful. What would you like readers to take away with them after reading this book?

It's easy to feel forsaken when we go through difficult trials, such as illness, loss, or betrayal. Gabby needed to be reminded that the Lord has promised never to leave nor forsake us, and I know from personal experience that he won't. Romans 8:18 says, "I consider that our present sufferings [no matter how hard they are] are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." I think about that when difficulties come, and I'm encouraged by those words, as it was intended I should be. I want to remind readers that something infinitely better is on the horizon, and we have to keep looking and moving forward. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25 & 26). I do, and it gives me hope I want to pass on to others.

5) You have a new book out, "Lying on Sunday" - tell us a little about that.

Lying on Sunday is the story of Abbie Torrington, a woman who's lived a charmed life right up until the story opens. Then her world is rocked in the most unexpected ways. We follow her journey as she discovers the life she thought she was living turned out to be a lie. We follow as she discovers the real woman beneath the facade recreated in her husband's false image. And we follow as Abbie learns that the truth really does set you free. Lying on Sunday is about betrayal, which comes in many forms. I trust this book will speak to women who have experienced the sting of betrayal, no matter how it was manifested. And I hope it will remind us all that there is indeed life after betrayal. I heard the story of a young woman who was brutally raped, and yet she had such a positive outlook. When asked about it, she replied, "He took an hour of my life; that's all he's getting." What an incredible attitude, and what a beautiful way to keep that man from taking anything more from her. Lying on Sunday is all about breaking free of the shackles that keep us from experiencing life at its fullest. It's another story of extreme friendship, and a story about the intricate and complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

6) What is coming up for you next so we know what to be looking for?

I've just completed a novel entitled Unraveled, and am at work on my next book. I hope to have details very soon as to the release date of Unraveled. You can visit my website for more information.

7) Where can readers find you online?

My web address is I'm also excited to announce the launch of a new blog I'm participating in called Novel Matters. You can find it at Novel Matters is the cooperative effort of myself and six other writers. We'll be talking about issues that relate to writers and readers, and what makes good fiction, well, good. I hope you'll check us out.
And readers, look forward to my review of Sharon's newest book "Lying on Sunday" soon - I'm very excited to read it! If you would like to win a copy of "Every Good & Perfect Gift" from Sharon then
leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me who your best friend is and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else (especially your best friend) about this interview with Sharon and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

Honorable Mention for Most Life Changing Book of 2008...

Honorable Mention for
Most Life Changing Book of 2008
"Bringing Home The Prodigals"
by Rob Parsons

*******A giveaway of this book has been added at the bottom!!!******

This book is easy to read and full of true life stories, but it just gripped me and contrary to a lot of non-fiction books (where I usually have to digest in small portions as opposed to fiction that I will sometimes indulge in the entire book at one sitting) I had trouble putting this book down. It was wonderful - touching, sincere and with a deep feeling of being very personal to Rob and making it personal to us. The irony is that I don't really have any major prodigals in my life... my parents and in-laws are all saved as are my siblings and their spouses and even my children are all on the right path and loving Jesus right now. I know I am blessed in that aspect, but I also know that there are prodigals all around me and this book even helps to deal with that.
I am blown away by the heart of this book and Rob Parsons for the lost, even the lost who never left home. This book is timely and relevant to where the church is right now.

Rob mentions how we are leading people to Jesus and they are coming in the front door even as prodigals are leaving out the back door because of the older brother's critical spirit.

On page 105 he says... If your prodigals do come home, pray with all your hearts that they meet the father first and not the elder brother. Oh that elder brother! The one who did his sinning without ever leaving. The one who needed to "come home" every bit as much as his brother but who could never grasp what the heart of real love is - both to give and to receive it. For a non-fiction book, it is a very easy read but it will blow your mind!

This interview will give you an insight into Rob's heart for prodigals and why he wrote the book, but I was not able to contact him personally. I would strongly suggest reading this book if there is anyone in your life that is a prodigal right now (including yourself). For more info on Rob and to read the first chapter of this book check out my original post about this amazing book here...

Q: You have presented the message of this book to heartbroken people around the world. Was their suffering the driving force behind the writing of this book?

A: Well, it’s true that I have never been able to get some of those people out of my mind. But this message is not just for those whose hearts are breaking for their prodigals. In fact, Bringing Home the Prodigals is not just about praying for our prodigals to come home. It is about asking us to consider the characters of our local churches. Is it possible that by our attitudes, our concern with rules and regulations that are not on God’s heart, or by our ingrained spirit of the elder brother (or sister!) from Christ’s parable of the prodigal son, we have made it easy for some to leave? Perhaps we have kept them out of mind while they are gone and, tragically, made it harder for them to return. Could it be that we have inadvertently “created” prodigals?

Q: How does this message apply to Christians who may not personally be dealing with a prodigal situation in their family?

A: The message of Bringing Home the Prodigals should catch the imagination of all who care about evangelism. The truth is, most of us know ten people who may never have been to a church whom we’d like to invite to an evangelistic service—but we all know a hundred prodigals. The numbers are enormous. When the prodigals come home, we are going to have to pull down our old church buildings and use aircraft hangars. If you care about church growth, then care about His message. There is nothing as frustrating as seeing people come to Christ through the front door of the church and losing others in almost the same proportion out the door at the back.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the lives of those who will read this book?

A: This book is not written principally to give advice, although I will share the lessons I have learned from many whose hearts have cried out to God for those they love. My hope is that it will be a book that will release readers from false guilt stemming from their prodigal’s choices, bring them hope of their cherished one’s eventual return, and, above all, lead them to prayer. At the end of every chapter is a prayer and reflection; each one is written by someone who has cried for a prodigal and who has come to believe that, ultimately, God is our only hope. At the very end of the book, we will each bring our prodigals to the cross of Christ, just as thousands of people have done in Bringing Home the Prodigals events around the world.

Q: How do churches “create” prodigals?

A: It is a great tragedy that in the modern church so often we judge each other by rules and regulations we have devised ourselves, which have nothing to do with following Christ. So often, it is with this unwritten code that we “create” our prodigals. Each of us is tied more closely to our culture than we can possibly imagine. Sometimes this cultural perspective allows a person to be written off as a prodigal for something that is completely acceptable in another cultural setting. My American friend Dr. R.T. Kendall summed it up for me. He told me that when a group of German Christians saw some American Christians with all their gold and diamonds on, they were so shocked they dropped their cigars in their beer.

Q: In the context of this book, what does it really mean for a prodigal to “come home”?

A: I believe that church attendance is important—almost every Sunday of my life I am in my own church—but church attendance is not the only way to decide whether someone is a prodigal or not. In Christian circles, we tend to assume that following Christ and being a church attendee are essentially the same thing. But there are other important factors to consider. Does this person love Christ? Does he care for the poor? Does she stand up for injustice when she sees it? Can he forgive, or does he harbor grudges? Is there any evidence that slowly she is becoming a little more like the One she follows?
We desperately need God’s wisdom in dealing with this. We dare not get it wrong, for if we do, we not only allow some in deep spiritual need to remain in their complacency, but we also drive away those who never did turn their back on God at all. I fear there are many children who hear regularly from their parents that they are praying for them to return to God but who really need to hear their encouragement for the things they are doing that please God.

Q: Who, if anyone, is really to blame for a prodigal child’s rebellion? Why do you feel it is so crucial for parents to release the false guilt they feel over the children’s choices?

A: Just like the prodigal son in Jesus’ story, our children are capable of making a decision—and they do sometimes decide to turn their backs on the Father and His house. Yet in spite of the fact that our children make their own choices, we often feel the guilt ourselves. So many parents are carrying a heavy load of guilt they have no need to bear. That’s not to say they have been perfect parents. They have just been parents—parents who have given this task their very best efforts. Even if they had the chance to go back and start over, the truth is they’d probably just make different mistakes. And what if they could have been perfect parents? Adam and Eve had the perfect father and lived in the perfect environment, but they chose a way their father didn’t want them to go. It’s time for parents to lay that guilt down. They have carried it long enough. By all means, they should ask forgiveness for those things they know they have done wrong as a parent. Then they can join the rest of us who have loved and guided our children as much as we could, but who, in the end, have to watch as they make their own decisions.

Q: What role does forgiveness play in a prodigal’s homecoming?

A: Although we love them, we sometimes still have to forgive our prodigals, for they may have treated us badly. They may have thrown our love, care, and most fervent desire for their good straight back in our faces. And we must forgive even while they are still hurting us. We may want to say, “If only he would stop that lifestyle, or give up drinking or the drugs,” or “If only she would get rid of the man who seems to be draining her of life, then we would forgive,” but we must forgive even when there is no evidence that they may change.

What is the alternative to forgiveness? It is rejection. And rejection often brings with it isolation, bitterness, and a pushing even further away of those we are trying to draw back. Forgiveness allows us to go on loving. But it is not Disney World. Forgiveness finds itself in the real world of deep hurts, dashed hopes, and broken promises. But there is no hope for our prodigals without it. And there may be another who needs forgiveness, for there are moments when we may have wronged our children. It may be hard to ask forgiveness of someone who is hurting you so much, but it is such a powerful thing to do. Sometimes it robs our prodigals of the very reason for their rebellion.

Okay, readers you have a chance to win this great book! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me if you have a prodigal in your life and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Rob and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The 8th Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is...

The Award for-
8th Most Entertaining Book of 2008
goes to...

"Before The Season Ends"
by Linore Rose Burkard

I absolutely loved this book. I don't believe I had ever read a Regency romance before and this one swept me away! If you are wondering what a Regency romance is... then think Jane Austen only Christian and you will have Linore's charming book. Here is the product description...

In her debut novel of what she calls “spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul,” author Linore Rose Burkard tells the intriguing story of Miss Ariana Forsythe, a young woman caught between her love for a man who doesn’t share her faith and her resolution to marry only a fellow believer in Christ.

Trouble at home sends the young woman to her aunt’s townhome in the fashionable Mayfair district of London. There she finds worse troubles than those that prompted her flight from home. Ariana is soon neck–deep in high society and at odds with Mr. Phillip Mornay, London’s current darling rogue. Then a scandal changes Ariana forever. Her heart, her faith, and her future are all at stake in an unexpected adventure that gains even the Prince Regent’s attention.

Will Ariana’s faith survive this test? And what about her heart? For it’s Ariana’s heart that most threatens to betray the truths she has always believed in. When she finds herself backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong young man, how can it ever turn out right?

Jane Austen readers and fans of Regency romances everywhere will love Before the Season Ends.

In what I believe is one of the feel good publishing stories of the year, Linore actually self-published her book originally (that is when I first read it) and then when Harvest House publishing company was looking for Christian Regency romances, they ran across Linore's book and asked to publish it! It has been repackaged with an additional chapter and is just wonderful. I am thrilled for Linore and think a story like this should give every writer hope! Let's meet Linore...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"

I cannot resist New York Cheesecake. (Italian cheesecake doesn't cut it; I like the creamy kind.) I don't think it's because I'm originally from New York, either. It's just the best cheesecake!

2) Tell us how you got started writing Christian Regency Romance... have you always wanted to be a writer?

I love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer's regencies. But after a time, I really wanted to read a distinctly Christian regency, and there just weren't ANY around at the time. I mean, none, nada. I kept waiting and hoping someone would write it, but I finally decided I would have to do it, so I wrote exactly the kind of book I wanted to read. It's a true regency, in that it has important benchmarks of the period, the language, and so on, but it also packs a powerful Christian punch! The book gives readers a sense that God is involved in daily life, and that happy endings are possible for everyone. But it keeps the tone and atmosphere of a regency, meaning fun-loving and light at heart.

3) Ariana is a beautiful heroine in "Before The Season Ends", is she modeled after someone you know (like yourself)?
Haha, definitely not! I suppose there is always a little bit of ourselves in our heroines--I don't think writers can avoid that. But Ariana is much smarter than I was at her age, in the sense that she speaks her mind when it matters. And I never, ever thought of someone I knew while writing her, so I would have to say she's fictional--as long as we understand that being fictional does not mean being unrealistic. She's a very sympathetic heroine, and readers can definitely identify with her.

4) I was absolutely captivated by Ariana's story in "Before The Season Ends" and so was my mother-in-law when she read it. We both read it in basically a single sitting because neither one of us could put it down. Was this your first book?

Yes, it was. I had started about four different regency stories, and a few of them were about halfway done when I chose to focus on Before the Season Ends. So it was my first completed book. The sequel, by the way, is finished, and it will be in bookstores by April 1, 2009. It's called, The House in Grosvenor Square, and I think you'll really enjoy it. My editor said it was "riveting."

5) What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

More regencies, first of all. But eventually, I'd love to branch out. I don't like to be too confined, in any way. In the past, I've written everything from poetry to children's books, and I also have a file stuffed with non-fiction book ideas. I'm a bit hopeless when it comes to keeping my focus on just one thing, but this should encourage other writers. If I can focus on one genre enough to fall in love with it and enjoy writing it--when I am a highly distractible person--so can they. So can you.

Thank you for visiting with us today - can you tell my readers how they can order your book - just in case they don't win a copy in our drawing :-)

It's been a pleasure, Janna. Thank you for having me. My book is available in bookstores right now, or online from,, and any online bookseller. If your local library hasn't got the book in stock, you can request that they order a copy. Christians should often request good Christian books from their libraries anyway. This helps keep the gospel in a place where readers may get a good dose of it without having to enter a church--which could be hard or untenable for them. One of my goals in writing this book was to include a gospel message in case it was read by unbelievers. So it makes a good, harmless but sneaky way to evangelize! (Wise as serpents, harmless as doves, that's us, right? )
Okay, readers you have a chance to win this great book! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what your favorite Regency romance is and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Linore and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - Good luck!

Honorable Mention for Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is...

Honorable Mention for

Most Entertaining Book of 2008

"Sandhill Dreams" & "Captive Dreams"

by Cara Putman

First up I have the honorable mention for Most Entertaining Book of 2008... maybe I should introduce a historical category, hmmm... Well, anyway - last year her debut novel "Canteen Dreams" was in the Top 7 for Most Entertaining Book of 2007 and just won Book of the Year in the Short Historical Novel category at the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference! This year she added 3 more books to her library including "Sandhill Dreams" and "Captive Dreams" to complete the Nebraska Dreams trilogy. If you like history you will love these books - Cara has picked out 3 amazing (and almost forgotten) parts of Nebraska WWII history and novelized them.

When I told Cara she was my honorable mention winner in the Most Entertaining Book of 2008 category she wanted to make sure she didn't make the list just because she's my older sister. In a way I suppose maybe she did, after all I might not have read them if I didn't know the author since I'm not a member of HeartSong Presents (the publisher), but the books and the history they exposed me too are why they won. I strongly encourage you to seek these books out - they are inexpensive, packed full of history, driven by wonderful romance threads and currently available at and (Canteen Dreams and Cara's mystery suspense "Deadly Exposure" are right now anyway).

1) Last year your first book "Canteen Dreams" came out and it just won Book of the Year in the Short Historical Fiction category for American Christian Fiction Writers. What was your reaction to winning?

I was so humbled and blown away -- and I have to say it was AWESOME to share the award with Mary Connealy, since watching her get the contract for that book at the ACFW conference in 2005 gave me so much hope that it could happen to me, too. The Book of the Year is becoming a well-respected award in the industry and to win the award at the same conference where I was awarded the contract two years earlier was pretty amazing. It was also awesome that you and Mom were there to enjoy the moment with me. :-) God continues to humble and amaze me with His gifts.

2) "Sandhill Dreams" and "Captive Dreams" complete the series that "Canteen Dreams" started. Canteen Dreams is set in North Platte, Nebraska during WWII and the canteen that the town set up for the soldiers that came through on trains. Sandhill Dreams takes us to Fort Robinson, Nebraska where the war dogs and horses were trained. Captive Dreams takes us to Holdrege & Kearney, Nebraska where Camp Atlanta (a POW camp) was. These are parts of history that most people are not even aware of. How did you find out about them?

Fort Robinson I knew about from a field trip there as a teen, though, in the oddest twist, the curator assured me I couldn’t possibly have remembered it. I guess it’s a modern mystery! Camp Atlanta I hadn’t heard about until I talked to you and Mom about my need for a third Nebraska based WWII story. It totally fit the bill because it was a little known fact and it completely intrigued me. That’s a key. If I’m not intrigued, it’s very hard to do the research necessary to get the details right and bring that slice of time alive.

3) How do you get into research for WWII historical books like this?

First, I choose WWII because I LOVE that timeperiod. That’s key for me. I love the music – I can get lost on-line watching YouTubes of scenes of folks dancing the jitterbug, finding the songs that topped the charts in 1941 or 1943. I love the movies. I love the clothes. Even the cars are pretty cool.

Then I have to find the event that hooks me. For Canteen Dreams it was the Canteen in North Platte – such a cool example of the lengths people were willing to go then to put others first! I loved the thought that half of the war dogs were trained at Fort Robinson, a hard to reach, little known fort in Nebraska. And the thought of prisoners of war in Nebraska – WOW! It was such a contrast to learn how we treated them and how they fared here… so different from our soldiers imprisoned by the Germans or Japanese. Each historical hook was a little different from the other books, and yet piqued my interest – still do in fact. I’d learn more even if I weren’t writing the book.

I love to go on site and visit the location. I changed the city location in A Promise Kept since I couldn’t get to Canton, Ohio to do research, it’s that important to me. I think I need to set one of these books in Europe!

4) You have a new series of Ohio books coming out soon, don't you? What parts of history will they focus on?

With A Promise Kept, the first book in the Ohio series, the hook came from learning that children evacuated from London came to the states. It was an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London that Eric and I almost skipped, but I am so glad we followed the prompt to walk through it. It’s title totally misled me! The second book has a top secret project and spy. I’ve loved Ultra, and now it gets to go into this book – I just plotted it and will write it this spring. I’m itching to start. And the third book has the all American girls professional baseball. I know enough to know what I still need to learn, but am already connected with the museum archivist who has access to all the documents I need. I can’t wait to race up to South Bend to explore his records.

Umm, can you tell I’m excited? J

5) You also had a contemporary mystery/suspense book "Deadly Exposure" come out this year. What do you like to write better - contemporary or historical - does one take more research than the other?

Oh, tough question! I love both. Seriously. I love the time period of the historicals. World War Two has fascinated me since I was a teen, so it’s a thrill to get to write about a generation I so admire. But I just wrote the sequel to Deadly Exposure: Trial by Fire. Honestly, I wondered if I could write suspense it had been so long and I’d written three historicals in between. I’ve got to tell you, I LOVED IT. They’re so different – but they both require research. At this point the historicals take more, but I interviewed a fire investigator for Trial by Fire, and loved the research angles.

6) Oh, and let's talk about the law book you just finished - how did that come about? And would you anticipate your regular readers to pick this one up and add it to their home libraries?

I’m sure tons of your readers would love to read the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. It’s a great sleep aid if you’re not in law school or taking the business law class somewhere. Seriously though, this book releases in May 2009. I call it my outlier, because fiction is what I see myself writing. But I was emailed by a fellow attorney who writes fiction Ron Benrey last February asking if I might be interested. His agent talked to me – and I honestly thought it was the longest shot ever. I mean, yes, I’m an attorney, clerked for a judge, and teach business law at Purdue, but there have to be others more qualified. But the publisher decided I was what they were looking for. It was a totally different style of writing, but I enjoyed it. And because it’s a Complete Idiots Guide, its as readable and fun as we could make it – though fun is probably a relative term for most. J

7) Where can readers find you online?

They can find me on facebook, twitter, at my blog ( and my website:

Thanks so much for having me!


Okay, readers you have a chance to win these great books! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what you like about historical romances and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Cara and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - We will give away Captive Dreams - when we pass over 25 comments then we will add in Sandhill Dreams and Canteen Dreams and the winner will get ALL 3 books (THE ENTIRE SET!) - Good luck!