Saturday, 29 December 2007

Coming in 2008 from Rachel Hauck & Thomas Nelson

Sweet Caroline ~ releasing February, 2008

Life's menu isn't offering many choices for waitress Caroline Sweeney until she inherits a lowcountry Cafe the same time her best friend offers her an international challenge.

But giving up ownership of the Beaufort Cafe is not as easy as serving up a steaming plate of hot Frogmore Stew. The people she cares about most consider the Cafe a close friend and if she surrenders the Cafe, she betrays them.

Caroline seeks answers from a God she hopes exists while falling for a handsome Deputy. But love eludes her until local boy-turned-country-music star, Mitch O'Neal, returns home to find his root and his faith.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, Caroline discovers her faith, destiny, and that everything in life happens just in time.

Love Starts with Elle ~ releasing June, 2008

Doesn't the cover look fabulous? I will post the synopsis when it becomes available :)

Check out the Thomas Nelson website more of their 2008 releases.

News on Trish Perry's next release!

I was delighted to discover that Trish Perry will have another book available in July, 2008 but it will be a follow on book in Sally John's Beach House series. Here's what the publisher Harvest House is saying:~

Following up on Sally John’s bestselling Beach House series (The Beach House and Castles in the Sand—nearly 45,000 in combined sales) is a brand–new Beach House book from veteran Harvest House novelist Trish Perry.

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, he’s surprised to see Tiffany 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.

I'll post the cover of Beach Dreams as soon as it becomes available!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Finding Marie by Susan Page Davis


Marie Belanger, a naval lieutenant’s wife, unexpectedly finds a computer flash drive in her carry–on luggage at the airport. Moments later the woman she had been sitting with on the plane from Tokyo is murdered. Suddenly her journey from San Francisco to her home in Maine becomes a nightmare as Marie is forced to run for her life. Her husband, Lt. Pierre Belanger, contacts his best friend, George Hudson, and together they set out on a search for Marie that spans the country. As hard as they try, they seem to stay one step behind their enemies, who are just one step behind Marie.

My take:~

Susan Page Davis has crafted another engrossing espionage novel filled with intrigue, faith and love. Pierre and Marie Belanger return from the first book in this series, Frasier Island together with George and Rachel Hudson. It is however, Pierre's brother, Andre and Marie's sister, Lisa who provide the romantic spark in this novel. While their life long angst with each other was over a little too quickly, their relationship is both fun and appealing. The dramatic tension Marie feels as she tries to outrun her assailants is excellent and Pierre's despair palpable. Finding Marie is a wonderful addition to any romantic suspense devotee's bookshelf.

I am delighted to report Harvest House has contracted a third novel in the exciting series.

Harsh Pink by Melody Carlson

Reagan Mercer thought life was good and could never be bad. Well Reagan thought very wrong ……………… life had just turned upside down and has become like a roller coaster. Reagan and her mum have just moved from Boston in to a new city that they know nothing about. Nothing is worse then moving to a new school, but making the top cheer leading team and kicking Kendra the Queen bee out of her spot, starting at a new school is not going to be as easy as Reagan thought.

But when Kendra and her army of copycats start to befriend Reagan, Reagan goes for a wild ride and she starts to play along. Between everything that’s been going on at school, Reagan forgets about the meaning of responsibilities and forgets about her Nana who needs to be loved and cared for.

But will Reagan make the right choice when she really needs to. Or will she stoop to Kendra’s level and do what is the ‘cool’ thing so she can stay in the in-crowd.

I always love a good book that has been written by Melody Carlson. But some of the best books that she has written are the ones about people facing problems that most of us think are very insignificant. Teenagers struggle with lots of little things everyday and most of the time these little things actually are the cause of all the big problems that tend to occur. Popularity, friends and school are the three biggest things that a lot of teenagers struggle with and are pushed to the side. This is one of the reasons I appreciated Harsh Pink so much!

I love the way Reagan’s character changes in the end to a much nicer person who cares about everyone and not just about herself. Reagan learns to do what’s right and not judge people because they are the way God made them. She also learns not to be so harsh and picky when it comes to friends they may not have the same style in clothes as her, or be able to afford designer brands but are still great people. I really loved the book, it’s one of the best I’ve read and I loved it most because the title has the word ‘pink’ in it!

Available now from NavPress

Guest reviewer:~ teen Chloe~Anne

A sneak peek at Camy Tang's Single Sashimi

Zondervan has once again produced fabluous cover art ~ I knew it was Venus' story just by looking at the model! Here's a peek at the story:~

Single Sashimi

Drake Yu. Why would Drake call her after ... what, five years? Six?

Venus heard in his voice that resonance that was almost a growl, that titanium-hard determination to get what he wanted. And he usually got what he wanted. The voice said: "I want you to work for me."

Not this time ... If it was a choice between Drake and McDonald’s—she’d choose french fries. She’d never work for him again. It would take an act of God.

Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister’s startup, the offer to become Chief Technology Officer tempts Venus to think the unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again ... except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake’s wealthy family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in the game industry. It’s also a short job—only a few months—so Venus won’t have to stand Drake’s presence for very long.

But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma’s determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane. With the encouragement of her three cousins, Lex, Trish, and Jennifer, Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful transformation ...

Releasing August, 2008 from Zondervan

I have just finished reading Camy's Only Uni, releasing in February, 2008 ~ a fun yet thought-provoking novel with twists and surprises you just must read! Look for my review in the new year.

Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury

After losing his beloved mum to illness, eight year old Cory Briggs has two great loves in his young life, his foster mum, Megan Gunn and the San Francisco 49ers. When the opportunity arises for Cory to meet some of the 49ers players through a foster kids’ pizza night at a local youth centre, Cory believes God has answered his prayers, especially the one about the father he has never met.

Derrick Anderson is a man with a big heart and a bigger faith, coming to the end of his career as a 49ers quarterback. A commitment made to his little boy when tragedy struck, keeps him going despite the damage to his body and the frustration of trying to reach out to the arrogant and reckless new kid on the block, explosive quarterback, Aaron Hill.

Aaron Hill loves the adulation his career has given him and indulges in all the trappings his celebrity and good looks afford him including women at his beck and call. With an agent willing to protect his client no matter what the cost to others. Forced to improve his bad boy image by helping Derrick with his foster kids’ projects, Aaron reluctantly acknowledges the futility of his lifestyle but does he have the strength or inclination to change his ways?

Between Sundays is a fascinating insight in to the desperate plight of many foster children, the responsibilities and temptations that come with fame through sporting success and the beauty of a life given over to God and his plans.

Karen Kingsbury skilfully engages the reader in to the lives of two highly successful athletes in Derrick and Aaron, revealing one to be self absorbed and enamoured with his own celebrity leading to a life of excess and the other, a man of faith, using his fame to effect change in the lives of foster children. The contrast is obvious and her message clear but is not judgemental, another tribute to her talent as a writer.

A further contrast to these men is the sacrificial love of one woman, Megan Gunn, who has little in the way of financial means but her love has transformed a young boy and positively impacted the lives of many other lonely and directionless children. Pleasingly the road to friendship and romance for Megan is not all smooth sailing nor is Aaron’s investigation of faith. As always, however, with any Karen Kingsbury novel, the transforming power of God’s love is revealed and the final pages bring joy and hope to your heart.

As seen at

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas joy!

Trust everyone had a wonderful celebration of Jesus' birthday :) My family had a great time sharing together, opening pressies and eating great food ~ what a privilege it is for us :)

My blogging friend Deena posted on the joy of Christmas beautifully ~ read her Christmas greeting here.

Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Love

God's Gift of Love

by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Love. It seems as though everyone these days is either in desperate avoidance of it, in the heart wrenching process of losing it, or in the giddy throes of finding it. Some have given up on it while others believe they will know it when they see it. All of us hope when it’s our turn, the love we get - and give - will be unconditional.

But can flawed humans really offer unconditional love?

Oh, we try. If you’re a parent you know the depth of love you felt the first moment you saw that precious baby of yours. Then there’s the feelings you carried up the aisle to join your beloved at the altar. Or perhaps love to you is counted by the nights spent at a parent’s bedside. The thread of love winds through each of these, and yet it is the rare parent, spouse, or child who would admit to having loved perfectly. We are human and sadly flawed, even when we act with the best of intentions.

There is only one unconditional love that never fails. Only one love that never turns a blind eye, says the wrong thing, or procrastinates rather than acts. The love of the Father, our Heavenly Father, is perfect in every way. Not only is His love unconditional, but He also loves us in spite of who we are and not for what we are. How wonderful to know that the God of the universe loves us.

Not just love in the way we see it, the stars-in-our-eyes crazy-about-my-baby love, but a depth of feeling exponentially more than anything our flawed but well intentioned hearts could imagine.

So today, when you’re reminded of that tiny baby, Jesus Christ the Creator-made-flesh, think of the love it took to accomplish this holy miracle of unconditional love. To put on the fingers and toes of an infant and come to us as Savior was the beginning of a love story that has no end.

Kathleen Y’Barbo

Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of Beloved Castaway and countless other books. For more information visit

Monday, 24 December 2007

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas

God's Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas

by Cyndy Salzmann

It was enough to curl my toes. And a quick glance at the other mother’s in the audience told me I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So what horrendous experience caused such a reaction from a room full of moms? A violent or sexually explicit movie? A challenge from Doctor Phil to “get real” and ‘fess up about our parenting faux pas? Or a pan of the audience spotlighting a really bad hair day?

Actually, the event that caused such a panic among this audience of mothers occurred during the Christmas program at my daughter’s school.

Things started innocently enough when the girls marched out onto the stage swinging colorful shopping bags. Of course, they were adorable and the apples of their mothers’ eyes. The trouble began when the girls opened their mouths and sang…

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Scurry! Scurry! Scurry!

Worry! Worry! Worry!

Christmastime is here!

As I said, it was enough to curl my toes. Just the thought of all that hurrying, scurrying and worrying to prepare for Christmas gave me a full-blown a hot flash. No wonder depression peaks during the holidays. Faced with all that stress , I wouldn’t want to get out of bed either.

Once my hot flash ceded, I began to realize that this is just where Satan wants us – dreading the celebration of the most precious gifts to mankind – the birth of Jesus Christ. And frankly, it made my blood boil – almost bringing on another hot flash. I decided right then that he wasn’t going to get away with it.

We have a choice on how much hurrying, scurrying and worrying we do. And this year I hope you’ll make a commitment to join me in uncluttering your Christmas by jumping off the treadmill and keeping your eyes on the true reason for the season.

BTW- I have a tip sheet with practical ideas and advice to help you to simplify your holidays and focus on Jesus’ birth. Just contact me at and I’ll email you a copy.

Cyndy Salzmann is the author of Crime & Clutter, book two in the highly acclaimed Friday Afternoon Mystery series published by Howard Books. As America’s Clutter Coach, Cyndy is a popular national speaker and radio personality. Cyndy, her husband and three children, live in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information visit

Friday, 21 December 2007

On the tenth day of Christmas...

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Memories

God's Gift of Memories

by Marlo Schalesky

Memory is a powerful thing. We hear a song from our high school days and we’re transported to sweaty school dances and blasting the radio in our first car. The smell of brownies baking takes us back to pigtails and ponies. We drive by the house we lived in as a kid and remember the swingset in the backyard and how that rotten kid from next door blew spitwads through the hole in the fence.

Ever gotten sick on a type of food? You’ll never want to have that again. And don’t even think about naming your child after that whiny little brat that sat behind you in the fourth grade, even if your spouse loves that name.

Memory. It’s why we treasure photos, display mementos, keep in touch with people from our past. It’s why God set up festivals for the ancient Israelites and told them to erect memorials at significant places in their history.

Memory. It’s why the sight of a stuffed stocking takes me back to those early mornings in my childhood when my brother and I would wake up before dawn, run to the fireplace, get our stockings, and race back to my parents’s bed. Mom was always ready. Dad pretended to complain. And together, with lots of giggling and the thrill of anticipation, we’d pull out the gifts from our stockings one by one. Simple things, boring really. Candy. A toothbrush. Some silly plastic toy. Things that would be used up or forgotten in just a few short weeks. And yet, opening stockings is my favorite Christmas memory from childhood.

Why? I think it’s because good memories are not necessarily made from the “big stuff.” Rather, they’re fashioned out of warmth and happiness and times together. They’re woven with laughter, colored with simple, plain joy. They come from times when you experience love.

So, this year, I’m thinking about the memories I’m making now, for my kids, and for myself. I don’t want those memories to be ones of a Mom who’s running around with too much to do and too little time to do it. I don’t want them to be of hustle, bustle, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cards, and gifts thrown under the tree. I don’t even want them to be of the cool stable-and-horse set that my girls will unwrap on Christmas morning. Or the cheap kid’s guitar for my oldest (age 7), or the new “ooo-ahh” (stuffed gorilla) for one of my 2-year-old twins.

Because the toys will break, get old, get lost, or they’ll outgrow them. But they won’t outgrow the happy memories of family times together. The memories of decorating Christmas cookies with laughter and joking – those won’t get old. The times we make a gingerbread house together, or sit down and watch the Grinch – those won’t break. The simple things make the best memories. Times when we’re together as a family, having fun, enjoying the traditions we’re building together.

So, that’s my goal this Christmas, to weave memories of peace, love, togetherness, because that’s the best gift I can think of to celebrate Jesus’ birth -- Memories that bring a smile to the face of children . . . and to the face of the King.

For more about the power of memories in our lives, check out Marlo's next novel, Beyond the Night, releasing in May. A woman in a hospital bed, a man sitting beside her, and between them, a memory that can set her free. Find out more at:

Interview with Christine Lynxwiler

Christine Lynxwiler celebrated the Christmas season with her newly released novel, Forever Christmas - just perfct for holiday reading. Accordingly, the timing was perfect for my last author interview for 2007 and Christine and her novel fit the bill!

Read below for Chris's thoughts:~

On Writing...

Why Christian fiction?

I love to read. But back in the mid-90s, I still hadn't discovered Christian fiction. So I set out to write a story where the characters were Christian, not as the central theme, but just as a fact of life. And one where I didn't have to skip big sections of the book. It's funny, I feel so foolish when I remember how a kind secular agent suggested that I explore the Christian fiction world. I thought I'd invented this new genre, so I was amazed to find a plethora of good reads. But now I realize that if I'd found those books first, I might not have ever decided to try my hand at writing.

What occupied your time before the writing bug bit?

Reading probably. And being a wife and mom. I also worked full time at a variety of jobs, including telemarketing, chiropractic technician, sawmilling, and landscaping.

Of the many genres available, you chose romance ~ please tell us why?

When I first decided to write, I was reading a lot of Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey so I guess romance came naturally.

How do you writing with all your other daily responsibilities, including being a wife and mum? I

t's not always easy, but with deadlines, not fitting in writing is not an option, so we all work together at my house to make it work.

You are releasing a romantic comedy in 2008 ~ Along Came a Cowboy ~ a sneak peek please!

Along Came a Cowboy is releasing in May, 2008. Not sure if you mean share what the book is about or a literal sneak peek, so here's both - Dr. Rachel Donovan has one rule. Stay away from cowboys. So when rodeo star Jack Westwood rides into town, she steers clear. Until he shows up on her doorstep with an unexpected visitor and a devastating smile.

Chapter One

Babies complicate life, but the human race can't survive without them. Maybe I should write that on the dry erase board out in the waiting room--Dr. Rachel Donovan's Profound Thought for the Day.

Ever notice how some months are all about weddings? When you turn on the TV or pick up a magazine, everything is white tulle and old lace. Then there are what I think of as baby months. Unlike June and December for weddings, baby months can pop up any time.

And here in Shady Grove, Arkansas--just in time for summer, when the irises are pushing up from the ground, the new leaves are green on the trees, and the crepe myrtles are starting to bloom--we're smack dab in the middle of a baby month.

I finger the latest birth announcement on my desk. One of my patients just had her fifth child. You'd think, at this point, she'd be sending out SOS messages instead of announcements, but the pink card proudly proclaims the arrival of her newest bundle of joy.

Your publisher, Barbour, has recently signed you to a six book contract ~ congratulations! Any hints on what those books might be about?

I'm exploring that now with Barbour, actually. I'm a country girl so I seem to gravitate toward earthy type heroes. Which probably means there are more cowboys in my future. (Shh. . .don't tell my husband. Oh wait, he's a cowboy too, of sorts, so I guess it's okay.) And maybe even a farmer or two. Arkansas - the Barbour 4-in-1 that includes my complete McFadden Brothers series - is a wonderful seller and the heroes in it are four country boys. I expect we'll go in that direction. But I'll let you know when we figure it out!

On Forever Christmas...

How was the town of Jingle Bells born?

My editor requested a Christmas book proposal set in small town Arkansas. Within minutes, I could see Jingle Bells with all its little shops with Christmas theme names. People constantly ask me if it's a real town. I wish it was. It's a fun place.

I loved the anonymous notes and gifts sent to Kristianna ~ has that happened to you?!

Not really. But I love riddles and treasure hunt type games. And it seemed to fit the story really well.

What was your favourite scene to write?

Wow. That's a hard question. This was my all-time favorite book to write. I loved writing the scene where her parents came to visit for Christmas. All the scenes with her parents, actually. (I'm laughing at myself that I can't pick one scene. Usually this close to the writing experience, I'd still be having trouble finding a scene that I thought of as my fave to write. This book was a blessing.) And the ending was draining, but fun.

How do you choose names for your characters?

I usually name my heroines after people I'm close to--I've used all my nieces' names--but in this book I used my daughter's name as the heroine. I don't base my characters on the real people at all, but I love to use familiar names. For the hero's name, I try several on until I find one that fits.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of Forever Christmas?

Great question. But casting isn't my strong point. I see these characters in my mind and to me they're almost real. I hope readers will do the same. So maybe some of you will have ideas of what actors and actresses could play the main characters.

Please share with us your favourite family Christmas tradition?

My husband and I, along with our two daughters, have our “Christmas morning” whenever we decide to. Each year it varies, but we decide a week or two ahead so we can all look forward to it. We do this because we travel during the actual holidays to my parents and to his, where we meet our brothers and sisters and their families and have an amazing time. So Christmas for us is getting together with family, lots of love and laughter. Traditionally, we do try to help someone have a Merry Christmas that might not otherwise, whether that be by taking a couple of tags off the “angel tree” at Wal-mart and having a great time picking out gifts for the kids we draw or buying a toy or two for children we know personally who might not be getting as much this year. I want my girls to realize it's not all about us. And this year especially, I'm starting to think they really “get” that concept! Exciting.

On Matters Personal...

Do you read much yourself? If so, some favourites, please?

I do read when I have time. I love to read. Dean Koontz, Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers are among my faves. There are others that I won't miss anything they write. They happen to be my close friends, but thankfully, they're also extremely talented, so they truly are my top “have-to-read” authors, friendship aside - Tracey Bateman, Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, and Susan Downs.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I'm doing last minute Christmas wrapping. I bought Dean Koontz's new book, The Darkest Evening of the Year, for my husband for Christmas, though, and I'm sneaking short reading sessions in it before I wrap it. Shh. . .

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

This changes frequently. For a long time it was Steel Magnolias. Then Mulan, The Emperor's New Groove, and Remember the Titans. (I have eclectic taste in movies.) I love Stranger Than Fiction, because I'm a writer. That DVD would be a very cool gift for anyone who writes, btw. The line I quote the most would probably be from The Emperor's New Groove - Pacha and Kuzco (the llama/Emperor) are trying to make their way through some dangerous territory. They're tied to a tree branch, floating down the river when Pacha looks down. At his “Uh-oh” Kuzco says, “Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.” Pacha says, “Yep.” Kuzco: “Sharp rocks at the bottom?” Pacha: “Most likely.” Kuzco: “Bring it on.”

So when Kevin and I are in any difficult situation, either physical, financial, emotional, etc. I'll say “Sharp rocks at the bottom?” He'll say, “Yep.” I'll say, “Bring it on.” It's probably corny, but it makes us both laugh. J

Who inspires you?

My parents inspire me. They're in their late eighties and still going strong, trusting in God and encouraging their children and grandchildren. Inspiration comes from so many people that it's hard to make a definitive list. I'm inspired by people like you who care about Christian fiction. It makes the long hours, late nights, and takeout suppers worth it.

Please share some of your faith journey...

My faith is an evergrowing, everchanging thing. Just last night at Bible Study, I had an epiphany about “renewing our minds.” (Romans 12:2, I think.) I hope I never feel like I've “arrived” faithwise, until I'm in heaven. I want to be transformed daily.

Some essential Aussie questions...

When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?

A koala!

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

Barrier Reef

You are visiting Australia ~ do you say yes or no to some vegemite on toast?!

Um, probably no. Unless you explain what it is and it smells really good. LOL.

Any last words?

Thank you for having me. This interview has been fun. I love your insightful questions!

Thanks so much for sharing, Chris :) Just right for a Christmas interview - have a blessed time with your family remembering Jesus' birth.

To read my reviews of Christine's books, click on the titles below:~

Forever Christmas

Promise Me Always

Thursday, 20 December 2007

On the ninth day of Christmas...

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Story

God's Gift of Dreams and Story

by Melody Carlson

A dream doesn’t always seem like a gift from God, but sometimes I’ll experience one so vivid and amazing that I can’t help but think God is at work. I remember a dream that woke me in the middle of the night about ten years ago. I was so moved that I felt compelled to write it down. In my dream I saw a sweet angel who was distraught that Jesus was about to leave heaven to be born as a baby on earth. So she volunteered to give up being an angel and God transformed her into a magnificent star to light the night sky for the Big Event. I won’t tell the entire dream, but simply let it be said that the ending surprised everyone—including me. The story became a children’s Christmas book called The Greatest Gift (which is currently out of print). But as a result of that dream, I began to pay even more attention to my dreams. Sometimes I think that God simply uses them to show me things about my own life and sometimes my dreams wind up in my books.

Melody Carlson is the author of Ready to Wed, (Guideposts Books 2007). This story also involves a dream! For more information visit

CFBA Blog Tour of Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Distant Heart

(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)


Tracey Bateman


Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westward Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She lives in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.


In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

I love Tracey's books but with my daughter's birthday, Christmas prep and general busyness, I haven't got to it yet but it is going with me on my holiday!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The winner of Finding Father Christmas is...

Lovin' Life Liz ~ congratulations!

Please email me your snail mail addy at relzreviewz @ gmail . com

Loved all your favourite gift ideas - thanks for sharing! Can you guess mine??? What else but a good book - LOL!!

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner but I was busy celebrating my eldest daughter's 10th birthday :)

Interview with Deborah Raney

My book club's final selection for 2007 was Deborah Raney's Remember to Forget. We had a wonderful discussion and then read out our questions and the answers Deborah had graciously sent us. Here are our Q & A's which I know you will enjoy!

First, the synopsis of Remember to Forget:~

Who hasn't dreamed of getting a chance to reinvent yourself and begin a brand new life? That's exactly what graphic designer Maggie Anderson is offered when a terrifying carjacking leaves her stranded a hundred miles from her New York apartment—and her abusive boyfriend. When a kind stranger offers Maggie a ride, she begins a cross-country journey that ultimately lands her in tiny Clayburn, Kansas. Reinventing herself as Meg Anders, she is welcomed with open arms at Wren’s Nest, in exchange for helping Trevor Ashlock remodel the cozy inn. But can Maggie trust Trevor? Trevor has always been Clayburn's favored son, but tragedy has put his faith in crisis, and now he has trust issues of his own. Once Maggie realizes Trevor is for real, she falls for him...hard. But if she confesses all the lies she’s let him believe about her, she will lose his trust and destroy everything she's worked so hard to build. Meanwhile, Kevin Bryson isn't crazy about the fact that his girlfriend and erstwhile punching bag has disappeared. When he unearths a clue to Maggie’s whereabouts, her life may depend on revealing the truth to Trevor.

And now our questions...

How did you research the theme of physical abuse and how did you emotionally cope with that plus having to write it down?

Sadly, I have known two young women who were in abusive marriages. That was the beginning of my research. But I also studied the psychology of women who stay in abusive relationships, and those who manage to escape. It's a very complicated mentality and unfortunately, not as easy, emotionally, to "just leave" as it sometimes appears to an outsider. As far as coping with having to write such a painful situation, I've come to wonder if I'm able to write such heart-wrenching situations because my own life is so trouble-free. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a Pollyanna in real life!

I like your thought that Remember to Forget could be thought of as an allegory. Small-town life does remind me of church life - did you grow up in a small town?

I grew up on a farm! We lived eight miles from the small town where I went to high school. Then I went to college in a bit larger town, got married and my husband dragged me to New York City to live for two years. What a cultural shock for a little Kansas farm girl! But we came home to Kansas to raise our kids and now we've lived in several small towns. I couldn't love it more. These towns are the inspiration for my Clayburn novels series.

The 'coincidences' (or God-incidences) in the book remind me to keep on following the Lord's leadings even when we can't understand them or follow through sometimes. He sees the big picture! Do you experience these in your life and career and so get the ideas for your book, or do your ideas come from other writings or just from God?

So, so many of the themes and even specific scenes in my novels come from my own life experience. And yes, the older I get, the more I recognize "God-incidences" in my life. I believe that one of the joys of heaven will be the revelation of the unseen, intricate ways God wove together the events of our lives to achieve His purposes in our being.

I found the questions at the end of the book very thought provoking especially the analogies you used such as comparing Maggie's first encounter with the close knit community to a first encounter with a Christian environment and Trevor watching over Maggie as God would watch over us. I must admit when I read the book I only thought of it as an interesting and enjoyable story and did not think deeper than that until I read your questions. Did you plan the storyline of the book to fit these ideas and thus provoke deeper thought by providing the in-depth questions or did the story come first and the questions with their analogies were a result of the story?

I consider it quite a compliment that you enjoyed the story without thinking of the allegorical applications at first. The most difficult thing about writing allegory is not being too obvious. The idea for this story was conceived one weekend when I was frantic about a book deadline and my husband surprised me with a writing getaway at a bed and breakfast in tiny Lindsborg, KS. For some reason, I get SO much more work done when I go away from my home office. And this particular weekend was no different--until the second morning when I went for a walk through this little town reflecting on how safe and carefree life here seemed to be. That got the idea for Remember to Forget spinning in my head. When I came back to my room at the inn and started jotting down ideas, all of a sudden, the allegory clicked into place and from that point the story almost wrote itself. If I wondered about some plot point, I simply thought of the spiritual application, and there was my answer. I made my deadline on the other book, but best of all, I came away from that little writing retreat with a full-blown idea for a new book. Try as I might, I couldn't make the subsequent books work as allegories. J

Is writing something you have always wanted to do?

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series and absolutely fell in love with the stories. At the end of one of those books was a biography of the author with a line that said something like "Laura Ingalls Wilder was a little Kansas farm girl who grew up to write the stories of her life." At that moment it struck me that perhaps another little Kansas farm girl--me!--could someday do the same! I tucked that dream away and held onto it for more than twenty-five years before it finally came true in the form of a novel! But as a child, I wrote little stories and poems and essays and long letters to a pen pal--all excellent practice for novel writing!

You have touched on a few relationship issues in this book, was your main aim to encourage your readers to leave their difficult past and move on in life?

That's one way of putting it. But maybe deeper than that, I wanted to encourage people that no matter how much of a mess they've made of their life, there is always, always hope for a "do-over"--a chance to start all over again, become a "new creature," and make the second part of life, in essence, a redemption of the first. (Recognizing, of course, that it's Christ who does the redeeming, not us!)

Where did you get the idea to write such an emotionally upsetting story?

I sort of answered this question previously, but to add to that: Life seems to be emotionally upsetting! Though many of us live in the cocoons of loving family and friends, there are so many people hurting, so many people struggling. I wanted to write about a character who understood that kind of pain, yet found her way to a place where she could finally be wrapped in that cocoon of love and security.

Deb, when you are writing, do you feel that God is with you and speaking to you in the way Maggie heard the voice telling her to go to the river.

Excellent question! I don't ever want anyone to mistake my answer for me saying that what I write is divinely inspired. And frankly, most of the time the ideas and themes in my book come from my imagination (which is God-given, but not always God-led). That said, I do always pray that God will inspire my writing, that nothing I write would be hurtful to any reader, and that everything I write would line up with the truths in His word. And every so often--perhaps once in each book--I will get the feeling that God has, indeed, placed His hands over mine on the keyboard and helped me to write the scene.

Beyond that, though, because I have dedicated everything I write to Him, I believe God sometimes supernaturally uses my humble, stumbling, human words on paper to bless another person in ways that my human mind could never have fathomed. For instance, I've received notes from readers who were blessed by a scene or a paragraph that I felt was my weakest, most awkward writing. Yet God used a sentence or two to speak to someone's heart. That is the pure joy of writing for His glory!

How long did it take you to write Remember to Forget?

That's a difficult question to answer because of the dovetailing that goes on in writing. For example, I wrote about a dozen pages of notes and scene ideas that day at the bed and breakfast and added to that over the next few weeks as ideas continued to come to me, but my other contracts took precedence and I wasn't able to pour myself into the story for many months. Then, after the book was sold and I began working on it as my main work in progress, there were several times I had to set it aside and work on line edits of another book, or marketing for another, or prepare for a workshop I was teaching, etc.

I count that mulling, pondering time where I'm stirring up the pot of ideas in my head as necessary writing time, but if you're asking how long it took to put the actual first draft on paper, I'd estimate that it probably took 4-5 months. I wrote my first novel (without a contract) in 5 months, and spent another 2-3 months on rewriting and editing. Since then I've learned so much about writing, and I am getting a bit faster. If I had no other writing obligations and could devote a regular work schedule to only writing, I could probably "crank out" a first draft in 3 months. But the reality is that I spend close to half my career time on the business aspects of writing--speaking and teaching at writers conferences, booksignings, answering reader mail, keeping my website and blogs up to date, interviews like this one, as well as in-person or radio interviews, keeping the financial books, etc. I never dreamed there was so much "extra-curricular" work involved in a writing career!

How do you think of a title?

Oh, my! The answer varies so much from book to book. Sometimes the perfect title will just come to me, as with Remember to Forget. It just popped into my head that same weekend the story idea did. Other times, I brainstorm and write down dozens of ideas and cross out and rearrange and play with the words until I'm satisfied. One title, After the Rains, came when I was looking at song titles on the collection of 350 music CDs my husband and I own. (Titles can't be copyrighted, so it's perfectly ethical and legal to use the same title as another novel, or the title of a song or poem, etc. Of course if you give your book the same name as another author's, you're likely to sell more copies of their book than your own! Which is why song titles make wonderful book titles. J)

Having said all that, often the publisher does not use the author's title! My first publisher rejected every one of my title ideas and brainstormed with me to come up with an alternate. A publishing house will rarely "force" you to use a title you hate, but the author definitely doesn't have final say over their book's title. But I've been allowed to keep my last six or eight titles, so I must be getting better at coming up with good ones!

Occasionally a title will have to be changed for technical reasons. My novel A Nest of Sparrows was originally called The Road to Home, but shortly before it went to press, the marketing department realized it was much too similar to another book they'd published. So my editor and I went back to the drawing board at the last minute and I brainstormed with some friends for a new title. A Nest of Sparrows was my editor's idea and it resonated with me immediately. It's probably my favorite title of all my books--even though our then-twelve-year-old daughter scoffed: "It sounds like a book about birds!"

Which authors do you like to read and why?

There are SO many, it's hard to name only a few. I read both secular and Christian fiction. Secular because I think it's important to know what the ABA market is putting out, and because I don't want to become too distant from the way the secular world thinks and lives. But I read Christian fiction because it feeds my soul and entertains me in a way I don't have to feel guilty for later! J Some of my favorite writers in the CBA are Robert Elmer, Ann Tatlock, Robin Lee Hatcher, Angela Hunt, James Scott Bell, Roxanne Henke and my critique partner, Tamera Alexander.

What part of the day is your most productive writing time?

I get a lot of computer work done early in the morning. I began answering these questions at five a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving. J Early morning is when I update my website, answer e-mail, work on my speeches, etc. Then after my husband has gone to work, and our daughter to school, I do the housework and maybe a little gardening and get to my computer to write by 9 or 10, and continue until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. The final month I'm on deadline, I may need to go back to my desk late in the evening and write for another couple of hours, but as a rule, I try not to write after my family comes home (though I may work on other, less concentrated tasks like e-mail, etc. in the evenings.)

Have you always been a story teller?

I can remember setting up story times for my dollies when I was a very little girl, and building houses and towns with building blocks or drawing bird's-eye view maps of little villages and making up stories to go with them, so I guess the answer is yes. But I didn't write a full-length novel until I was 38 years old, so there's hope for anyone!

What is your ideal holiday?

Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday. I love the sentiment of love and a holiday for sweethearts, I love that the holiday is only one day, and then it's over. And I love that there's not a lot of decorating or preparation involved. My husband always sends me and our daughters roses for Valentine's (last year I got a gorgeous orchid that bloomed until July!!) and I bake him frosted sugar cookies in the shape of hearts. Very simple traditions, but I love it! Maybe part of that is because Valentine's comes in the middle of the long Kansas winter and adds a bright touch to the season.

Maggie was very attached to her cat. Do you have any pets?

Growing up on the farm we always had lots of cats (my brother and sisters and I counted over 20 one time!) because they kept the mice out of the barns and grain bins. So we saw many kittens born and I've loved cats ever since. This past summer was a very special one because of a stray cat who adopted us--and then presented us with a litter of four kittens. We enjoyed every minute of raising them, found homes for each one, and made an appointment with the vet to have Mama Kitty "fixed." But by the time the appointment came, she was obviously expecting again. So we raised another precious batch of kittens--five this time--and raised inside, so Mama couldn't trick us again! J Again, we were fortunate to find loving homes for the kittens, but we decided to keep one--a precious fluffy yellow and white kitty our daughter named Sundae. We already had a wonderful fourteen-year-old black cat when Mama Kitty came to us, so now we have three cats in the yard and I couldn't be happier! J

Do you map out your characters before you start or do they develop as you write about them?

Mostly they develop as I write about them. I've experimented with character charts and such, but for me, it seems to work best if I get to know my character as I go and then, as I discover their personalities, I go back and layer in those traits earlier in the book. I do always have a physical description of my character in the form of a photograph on a bulletin board near my desk. I find my characters in catalogs, magazines, or sometimes from real life. But their personalities develop as I go along.

Do you work solely on one book at a time or do you have a few ideas going at once?

Because of the way publishing works, I'm often forced to set aside my work in progress and go to a rewrite or line edit on another book. It can get confusing to switch between stories, but it's a necessary evil of the business. And then, as with Remember to Forget, sometimes ideas for a new book come while I'm writing a different story--often as a result of research for the first book.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm in the early stages of the first draft for the third Clayburn novel, Yesterday's Embers. The second Clayburn book, Leaving November, will come out in March, with Jackson Linder as the hero. He's fresh out of rehab and struggling to make something of his life.

What was your favourite scene to write?

I surprised myself by really enjoying writing that first scene where Maggie is carjacked in New York. I'm NOT a fan of suspense, and that scene is full of action--but I enjoyed it! I also loved the scenes where Trevor and Maggie are working together to renovate Wren's Nest.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of Remember to Forget?

Oh! That's fun to think about! J Let's see…I could see a young Aidan Quinn as Trevor, and Uma Thurman or Charlize Theron as Meg/Maggie. Wren is modelled after my childhood Sunday School teacher.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

I don't watch a lot of movies or television--I'd much prefer to be reading a book! But I loved the film Children of a Lesser God, and recent movies that really touched me were Miss Potter and Amazing Grace. One thing I do love about movies are the sound tracks! I often write to movie soundtracks and it enriches the experience of reading and writing immensely!

Please share some of your faith journey...

I grew up in a loving Christian family, and we attended a little country church where my Sunday School teacher made the Bible come alive for me. I've had a rich prayer life since I was a child. I went through a short (one-year) rebellion in high school, but even then I had an ongoing conversation with Jesus. (Lord, I know I shouldn't have gone to that party, drank that beer, said those curse words, lied to my parents. Please forgive me, etc.) I quickly found my way back to the Lord and dedicated my life to Him. He brought my Christian husband into my life shortly after that and we've been trying to live for the Lord as a family ever since. Sometimes I wish I had a more dramatic conversion story, but most days I'm very thankful for a steady walk with Him and a wonderfully ordinary life.

Any last words?

What wonderful questions! You've made me feel as if I'm sitting with you over a cup of coffee! For photographs of many of the things I spoke about, and more information on my books, please visit my website at

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your lives through my novels!

Thanks Deb - it was fun! For more, read my review of Remember to Forget, here and check out Deb's website for her upcoming stories.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...