Friday, June 29, 2007

FIRST: Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins

Song Stuck on the Brain: Lonesome Polecat from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Okay, I know it's not the first until Sunday, but since I don't typically post on the weekends, I'm going to give you all a headstart.

July's FIRST post features Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins. I reviewed this awesome book earlier, but now you can read the first chapter. Enjoy!

It is JULY 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

and her book:

Coral Moon
(Zondervan, 2007)


Brandilyn Collins is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Web Of Lies, Dead of Night, Stain of Guilt, Brink of Death, and Eyes of Elisha just to name a few.

Brandilyn and her family divide their time between the California Bay Area and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

She maintains an informative blog called
Forensics and Faith where she daily dispenses wisdom on writing, life, and the Christian book industry.

Brandilyn also hosts the blog
Kanner Lake: Scenes and Beans where you can read entertaining and eclectic posts about life in Kanner Lake from Bailey, Wilbur, S-Man, Jake, and other of your favorite characters from the Java Joint. Coral Moon is the second book in the Kanner Lake Series.


Chapter 1

Kill tonight—or die.

The words burned, hot acid eating through his eyes, his brain. Right down to his soul.

Only a crazy person would obey.

He slapped both hands to his ears, squeezed hard against his head. Screwed his eyes shut. He hung there, cut off from the world, snagged on the life sounds of his body. The whoosh of breath, the beat of his heart.

The words boiled.

His skull hurt. He pulled his hands away, let them fall. The kitchen spun. He dropped into a chair, bent forward, and breathed deeply until the dizziness passed.

He sat up, looked again to the table.

The note lay upon the unfolded Kanner Lake Times newspaper, each word horrific against the backdrop of a coral crescent moon.

How did they get in here?

What a stupid question. As if they lacked stealth, as if mere walls and locked entrances could keep them out. He’d been down the hall in the bedroom watching TV, door wide open, yet had heard nothing. Hadn’t even sensed their presence as he pushed off the bed and walked to the kitchen for some water.

A chill blew over his feet.

His eyes bugged, then scanned the room. Over white refrigerator and oak cabinets, wiped-down counters and empty sink. To the threshold of the kitchen and into the hallway. There his gaze lingered as the chill worked up to his ankles.

It had to be coming from the front of the house.

His skin oozed sweat, a web of sticky fear spinning down over him. Trembling, he pulled himself out of the chair. He clung to the smooth table edge, ensuring his balance. Then, heart beating in his throat, he forced himself across the floor, around the corner, and toward the front door.

It hung open a few inches.

They were taunting him.

He approached, hands up and fingers spread, as if pushing through phantoms. Sounds of the night wafted on the frigid air—the rustle of breeze through tree limbs, distant car tires singing against pavement. He reached the door, peered around it, knowing he was a fool to seek sign of them. The air smelled crisp, tanged with the purity of pine trees. The last vestiges of snow dusted his porch, bearing the tracks of his footprints alone.

He closed the door and locked it. As if that would do any good. He sagged against the wall, defeated and sick. How stupid to think they would leave him in peace. Hadn’t he seen this coming? All the events of the last few months . . .

Shoulders drawn, he made his way back to the kitchen and his inevitable fate. Each footstep drew him away from the life he’d built, reasoning and confidence seeping from him like blood from a fatal wound. His conscience pulsed at what he had to do.

The message sat on his table, an executioner beckoning victim to the noose. He fell into the chair, wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. He read the words, fresh nausea rising in his stomach. No misunderstanding their commands. They had a chess score to settle. He was their pawn.

He pushed back against the chair, arms crossed and hugging himself, the way he used to do as a boy. Dully, he stared at the window, seeing only his own pitiable reflection. For a long time he watched himself, first transfixed in fright, then with the evolving expression of self-preservation.

If he just did this one thing, his debt would be paid. They’d leave him alone.

For another hour...two…he sat, forcing down the queasiness as he thought through dozens of details. How he should do it. What could go wrong.

By the time he rose near midnight, he’d laid his plans.

Gathering the necessary items, shrugging on a coat, he slipped out into the cold and soulless night.

Copyright 2007 by Brandilyn Collins.

Used by permission of Zondervan.
CONTEST: Don't forget to enter to win Traitors by Andrew Snaden. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends June 30, 2007 at midnight.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Farewell Friends...

Song Stuck on the Brain: Hushabye by The Beach Boys

I've spent the whole day saying, "Yay, tomorrow's Friday! I'll be homefree soon." Then it dawned on me. I have one very good reason to be sad tomorrow. It's no longer Stargate night.
Last Friday was the season finale for Stargate Atlantis. It will be returning in September 07. However, Stargate SG-1 is finished. The series finale left Angel and I heartbroken and yes, even teary last Friday night. There will be no more episodes with the intrepid adventurers Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, Cam Mitchell, Teal'c, and Valla.

Yes, there will be at least two SG-1 movies to continue the saga (two guaranteed in 2008), but it's just not the same. The show could have gone another 5 years, easily. As much as I love Stargate Atlantis and will probably enjoy the new proposed spin off, it just won't ever be the same again.

How do you say goodbye to a group of people that you've invited into your home week after week for 10 years? They're no longer characters and actors, they're family. And for that, I dedicate this post to the best and longest running SciFi show to date: Stargate SG-1.

Good-bye team, I'll miss you.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CFBA: The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel

Song Stuck on the Brain: If Everyone Cared by Nickelback

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

Jerome Teel
(Howard Books June 5, 2007)


"They aren't hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings..."

Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying attorney that actually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the 'right' side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president's nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.

"Jerome Teel has crafted an intriguing political thriller...nice twists and turns to keep you reading. he paints vivid mental pictures that bring characters and locales to life."
--Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee's 7th District


Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of '06.

Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children...Brittney, Trey, and Matthew...and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Life update

Song Stuck on the Brain: Carrie Anne by The Hollies

This is going to be a really long week. Next week is vacation, I'll have 9 straight day off of work -no bats (Yes, we actually have had a bat problem recently. He's been living in a crack in the cave ceiling and pooping in the floor, much to the dismay of our janitor. I believe his exact words were, "Dumb 'ol Bat!" We sealed the crack up today, hopefully that will be the end of that.), no cranky customers, no alarm clock. YAY! The week leading up to it however is CREEPING by like molasses in January.

It's not that work has been bad, I'm just really ready for some time off. I plan to work on my latest novel during part of that time. My current WIP is more of an Inspiration Chick-lit or Women's humor novel. I took a chance and entered the Get Your Stilletto in the Door contest because the initial response to the early chapters has been so positive. However, now I have to finish the MS, just in case by some rare and wonderful twist of fate, I actually get a request for the full. I have the book outlined by chapter and all the characters are done, so maybe by November I'll have a finished rough draft. This book has been really different than any of the other's I've written. Now I'm hoping someone (read agent or editor) likes it.

In addition to working on a new book this summer, I've been asked to help plan an All Alumni Reunion for our highschool. It's 15 year anniversary is in 2008. I've started that rolling, as long as we can get clearance on locale and such, we're looking at early summer of '08. That seems like a long time from now, but in the planning scheme of things, not so much. If we can pull it off though, it should be pretty cool.

Of course thinking about a giant class reunion got me to wandering down memory lane. When I saw this Cathy Cartoon, I had to post it. It's so me. Maybe a giant reunion will be enough of a push to finally stick to a diet... .

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CFBA: Reluctant Runaway by Jill Nelson

Song Stuck on the Brain: This One's For the Girls by Martina McBride

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
(Multnomah, March 2007)


Stolen Indian artifacts...A murdered museum guard…

A missing woman…A baby in danger…

Only Desiree can unearth the horrifying secret that links them all.

Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs doesn’t mean to get in danger’s path. Really she doesn’t. But when a friend is in trouble you don’t just walk away. No matter what your overprotective FBI agent boyfriend says! So when Desi and Tony’s date at a presidential ball is interrupted by a frantic Maxine Webb, Desi doesn’t hesitate to jump in.

Soon Desi is neck-deep in a confusing array of villains. Did Max’s niece run away or was she taken? Is she still alive or the victim of a perverse ritual? And who wants her infant son–and why?

Then Tony’s organized crime case collides with Desi’s investigation, throwing them both into the path of something dark and sinister. Something that craves blood...

From the streets of Desi’s beloved Boston to the mountain desert of New Mexico, Desi and Tony must rely on God to thwart unseen forces–and save a young woman and her baby from a villain more evil than any of them can imagine.

"A fresh voice, strong heroine, and unique plot make Reluctant Runaway a can't-put-down read. Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an author to watch in the realm of romantic suspense!"
- SUSAN MAY WARREN award-winning author of In Sheep's Clothing


Jill Elizabeth Nelson is a member of the CFBA. Her blog, Artistic Blogger, addresses issues about art, art theft, antiquities preservation, and the art of fiction writing. She takes art seriously - when she's not having fun with it, that is. The To Catch a Thief Series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms.

The first in the series was Reluctant Burglar , second is Reluctant Runaway. In January 2008, she will reveal the third book, Reluctant Smuggler. Jill is thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft - deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Jill and her husband, Doug, have four children and live in Minnesota.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Review of The Restorer

Song Stuck on the Brain: Getting to Know You from The King & I

Day 2 of the CSFF blog tour for:


My Review:

Susan Mitchell is a harried mom of four kids and the wife to super fab hubby, Mark. Worried that his wife's stress level will be her undoing, he builds her a 'Moms Only' room in the attic where she can escape the crazy day to day madhouse and spend time with God's word and her journal. Sounds great, but in her very first visit to the attic, Susan hears voices whispering under the eaves. While searching for the source of the voices and hoping she's not gone round the bend, she's sucked through a portal into an alternate universe.

Thrown into a strange land and gifted with extraordinary abilities, Susan discovers she is the long awaited Restorer. Everyone believes she's been chosen by The One to save their land and turn their hearts back to the Verses, or word of God. But Susan doesn't feel qualified or able to do the task set before her. She's just a soccer mom, can God really use her to save this world?

I am so psyched by this book. I loved Sharon's Becky Miller books, but in my opinion, Sharon has outdone herself. The Restorer is fantastic. I suppose in some ways it's not fair to compare the Becky Miller books to The Sword of Lyric series. I mean the Restorer is Fantasy after all, but the plot and characters are just so phenomenal. The alternate world Sharon created seems more real to me than the one Susan left behind in her attic. And plot twists! I reached the halfway point in the book and about dropped it when I discovered the big secret Susan's husband was hiding. Fantastic. I never saw it coming.

This book is so compelling on so many levels. It's exciting as an adventure story. The sword fights and intrigue keep you turning pages frantically. Then there's the spiritual aspect. Just like Kathy Tyer's Firebird Trilogy, the scripture verses and spiritual insights are so flawlessly interwoven with the story that one would be lost without the other. I found myself wanting to learn the scripture verses so that I can speak them as well. The spiritual elements are just so moving and beautiful.

Now I'm counting the days until September 10th when book two, The Restorer's Son is released. I'm desperate for more of this world that Sharon has created. She just made my favorite author list.


Monday, June 18, 2007

New Contest to win Free Book - Traitors by Andrew Snaden

New contest

Enter to win a copy of Traitors by Andrew Snaden.

About the Book:

Russian and Chinese smugglers are conducting a deadly traffic in drugs and people. But before federal agent Sam Perkins cracks the cartel, an internal leak eliminates his key witness. Now as thousands of freighters head for U.S. ports, can Sam stop the one that carries a devastating cargo?

Read an excerpt here.

How to Enter:

Click on the book cover at the top of the sidebar to email me your entry. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends Saturday, June 30th at Midnight.

Good Luck!


CSFF: The Restorer by Sharon Hink

Song Stuck on the Brain: "Give me gas in my Ford, Keep me truckin' for the Lord..." I was teaching this old camp song to the kids today and it got stuck. There are several verses, but I could only remember two.

Today the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring:



Susan Mitchell needed a change—any kind of change. Nearly twenty years of marriage to her college sweetheart, Mark, had given her two teenagers and two grade-schoolers, along with miles of unmatched socks, sticky countertops, and the ever-growing hum of sheer bedlam. When had she become so . . . insignificant? Hadn’t God once had a plan for her?

Well, at least Mark had a plan: for an attic hideaway free of iPods and science projects and cookie crumbs. But before Susan can finish her first journal entry, she finds herself pulled through a portal into a world grappling for its soul and waiting for a promised Restorer. Someone does have a plan for her—one she never would have imagined. While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture full of unfamiliar technologies and taboos, she faces unexpected battles, mind-poisoning enemies, and a profound spiritual journey. Her adventure will forever change her family, her faith, and how she experiences love—from the One.


Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime she’s pouring her imagination into writing. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel in 2006. In April, 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She and her family make their home in Minnesota.


Read the first chapter of The Restorer here. Be sure to visit Sharon's blog and website too. She's got a lot of fun information.


I haven't read this one all the way through... yet. But I have to say I've been really excited to see how this one reads, because I loved her Becky Miller character. If you'll remember I've posted about The Secret Life of Becky Miller before. Sharon has a great writing voice, and this book looks to be just as fun to read. If you've read The Restorer already, I'd love to hear what you think of this exciting new series.


Be sure to check out the other blog tour stops.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goin' with the FLO

Song Stuck on the Brain: Be kind to your web-footed friends. For a duck may be somebody's mother. That lives in the forest by the swamp, where the weather is cold and damp. Well you may think that this is the end. Well it is.

Hello, chickies! This is Flo again, and I'm guest blogging today. Summer is here and it's a good time for vacations and travel. I thought I'd share my top picks for travelin' tunes. So, here they are, in no particular order.

Flo's Picks for Best Bird Songs of All Time:

Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day
Bird Dog - Everly Brothers
I'm Like a Bird - Nelly Furtado
The Birds & The Bees - Gary Lewis & the Playboys
Free Bird - Lynard Skynard
Bye Bye Blackbird - Joe Cocker
Kookaburra - traditional Aussie song
Birds - Elton John
Mockin' Bird Hill - Migil Five
Birds of a Feather - The Raiders
Blackbird - The Beatles
Free As a Bird - The Beatles
Hush Little Baby - Traditional Lullaby
Birds - Neil Young
Oh, and you can't forget the Chicken Dance. Catchy little dance number.

If you want to fill out your ipod a little more, add these great bands as well:

Counting Crows
The Byrds
The Eagles
Partridge Family

Let me know if I've missed any other great bird songs. I still have room on my ipod. And don't forget I'm always around to answer your questions (even though no one seems to have had any for a long time) just click my picture in the sidebar and ask away.

Bye Bye, ya'll,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rubber Ducky Remixed

Song Stuck on the Brain: For most of the day it's been "Freak Parade" by Big & Rich. Someone mentioned this morning that today is Flag Day and that song just popped right into my head. Apparently in my world it's Fly Your Freak Flag day.

Freaks were applenty today, too, and my 'Stupid People Patience Reserve' started on empty. However, the day did get better, so I can't complain too much. Besides, I'm as much a freak as anyone else.

Did you know that they've changed the Rubber Ducky song on Sesame Street? One of my co-workers played the new clip for me and I'm so sad. I like the original better.

The new version is cute (and now stuck on my head), but it's just not the same ol' Ernie.

Makes me feel old to realize that the Sesame Street I grew up with has changed so much.

I found more funnies today that made me laugh.

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I've felt like this on more than one occasion...

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You kind of have to know my dad to find this one hysterical. He's a life time Boy Scout, Mr. Prepared, Survival King... or just call him PackRat. He saves all the condiment packages and keeps them in gallon size ziplock bags, because he might need them. He keeps some in the car, but he keeps them in the house too. Shoe is sooo channeling my father.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

CFBA: As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana

Song Stuck on the Brain: Bring Him Home sung by Val Jean in Les Miserables. Such a haunting melody and a beautiful prayer. LOVE it.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
(Revell June 1, 2007)


Contemporary Struggles...

...A Single Mom and College-Ages Son.

Leigh Scott is a widowed, single mother who wants the best for her son Jeff. She would like him to graduate from college, land a secure job, and start a family. However, Jeff, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age, has a God-given compassion for people. And his non-judgemental acceptance of all has unintended consequences.

Jeff starts dating Jessica, a girl with a questionable past and seemingly non-existent future. Soon, Jeff's grades drop as quickly as his sober determination to achieve the goals he's worked toward all his life, and Leigh finds herself caught ina relational tornado

To complicate matters further, Leigh is an author with a looming book deadline, a father battling cancer, and her former boyfriend and first love, a strong Christian Native American, coming back in her life.

Arana weaves a multi-layered, emotional family saga that brings the peril of judgement, the need for forgiveness and the gift of love to light.

"Nikki Arana wrings the heart and exalts the soul." -Romantic Times


Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of highly-acclaimed inspirational women's fiction who weaves today's social, political, and spiritual issues into her novels. She has received numerous awards, including the Excellence in Media 2007 Silver Angel Award for The Winds of Sonoma.

The book was based on the true love story of how Nikki met her future husband Antonio as he was cleaning the stalls of her parents' Arabian horses. Nikki and Antonio have been married for over thirty years, have two grown sons, and live in Idaho.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CFBA: Diva NashVegas by Rachel Hauck

Song Stuck on the Brain: Multiple... it started out with This Land is Your Land, progressed to Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head by B.J. Thomas (they're not, but it's humid enough for them to condense on my head), and I'm now singing I'll Fly Away. Which is very much what I'd like to do. I'm ready for vacation.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

(Thomas Nelson May 8, 2007)


Even if you are not a lover of country music, you can enjoy this fun look at the Nashville entertainment industry.

What do you do when the past you’ve been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?

Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She’d rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents’ death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery.

When a former band member betrays Aubrey’s trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey’s private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past-someone she’d hoped to forget.

All the moxie in the world won’t let this Diva run any longer.


Rachel is the author of many books. Her current release, Diva NashVegas is the second in a series which began with Lost in NashVegas. She is also a Blogger and a CFBA member! She lives in Florida with her husband. Visit her great profile and learn more.


"Hauck once again takes us into the country music world, this time through the experiences of mega-star Aubrey James. Aubrey's life journey is filled with flaws, as well as a great deal of joy, and real life locales makes this highly original story authentic. The extra tidbits - from Aubrey's liner notes to quotes from the "media" at the beginning of the chapters - add extra sparkle to the plot." - 4 Stars, Melissa Parcel, Romantic Times Book Club


Monday, June 11, 2007

Smile... Tuesday's coming

Song Stuck on the Brain: Wind it Up by Gwen Stefani

It's Monday... in every way. So to lighten the mood and put a smile on your face, here are a few funnies to tickle your funny bone.

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This one just made me think of my dad and brother. They were always giving wet willies.

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This one's just priceless. My niece used to complain about wearing underware when she was about 4. She claimed they gave her "tommy wedgies" (Atomic wedgies... the ultimate in wedgihood.)

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Sure does feel that way, doesn't it?

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I can completely sympathize here. I miss Heroes too. Not sure I'd resort to costumes, but when season 1 hits DVD, you can guarantee I'll be first in line to re-watch it straight through. Got to be prepared for season 2's premier.

Smile, Tuesday will be here soon.

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations, Delia L.!

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Delia won all five books featured in last weeks A Week With Glass Road PR contest.

Thanks to everyone that participated in the contest and visited. Be sure to come back regularly. A new contest is always in the works.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

GRPR WEEK: Crime & Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann

Song Stuck on the Brain: Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw

Welcome to the final day in a Week with Glass Road PR. Today's featured book is:



Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNEBRASKA HOUSEWIVES STUMBLE INTO CRIME FROM 1960s
Cyndy Salzmann’s Friday Afternoon Club is hip deep in Crime & Clutter

“When life gets sticky, dip it in chocolate,” say the six feisty members of the Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) whom fans of Salzmann’s first book, Dying to Decorate, fell in love with. Luckily, the FAC always has plenty of chocolate on hand. At one meeting, the dog was poisoned with chocolate. (She survived, thankfully, although the carpet wasn't so fortunate.) Another time, they decided to highlight their own hair, resulting in pumpkin-colored stripes. But while carpets can be cleaned and hair color restored, this coming April, the FAC girls are about to find themselves in the middle of a sticky situation with ominous consequences.

Club member Mary Alice keeps a perfect house, cooks perfect meals, and documents everything about her perfect world in her coordinated scrapbooks. Therefore, everyone is astounded to learn that she's hiding a decrepit 1963 Volkswagen mini-bus that she refuses to talk about. It doesn't take long before M-A's secret is out. She's a flower child, born on a commune to hippie parents. The van is all M-A has left of her father. But as the gang helps her sift through the junk, they stumble upon a deeper mystery.

Set in both the present day and the turbulent 1960's, Cyndy Salzmann takes her readers along on a journey filled with as many twists and surprises as there are recipes and household tips. The novel is full of hints such as how to create a sweet-smelling house using vinegar, baking soda, and soaked cotton balls. It even has recipes ranging from Vegetarian Lentil Stew to Pesto Cheesecake. And, of course, there are chocolate recipes enjoyed by the FAC girls.

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Cyndy Salzmann is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the author of three nonfiction books on home management, one of which focuses on getting rid of clutter. She speaks nationally on the topic of home management and has a weekly radio spot airing on Moody station WDLM. Her novels celebrate life while making her readers laugh at the dilemmas faced by millions of modern women.


1. How many days do you wear your blue jeans before they go in the laundry?

Jeans are so much more comfortable on the second day. Plus, laundry is the bane of my existence. I am always behind. My only solace comes from Gen 2:25, “They were naked and not ashamed.”

2. How many sizes of clothing do you have in your closet? In storage?

I sometimes think I should have those little size rings in my closet 8, 10, 12, “none of your business.” : )

3. What is your comfort food?

My mom’s fried chicken and cream gravy. Especially in the summer when she serves it with homegrown tomatoes, green beans fresh from the garden and creamy mashed potatoes. Maybe this is why I should have those size rings in my closet…

4. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Dark chocolate?

Definitely dark chocolate now that researchers say it is a “super food” that’s better for you than blueberries. Plus I just found out that Harry & David sells dark chocolate covered blueberries. I can just feel the vitamins coursing through my body when I pop one of those babies into my mouth. : )

5. What’s your favorite mode of communication? E-mail, Instant Message, Land Line Phone, Cell Phone, Old-Fashioned Snail Mail Letter?

I adore receiving a snail mail note or letter. There’s something special about seeing someone’s handwriting and knowing they took the time to write and post a letter. However, thoughtless person that I am, I always use email.

6. What’s your idea of a day of relaxation?

Massage. Pedicure. Lunch. Movie. Bath. Bed. Ahhh…

7. When you are stressed, who’s the first person you call?

I have this reminder on my fridge… “Go to the throne before you go to the phone.” But I usually call my hubby at work to whine – unless it’s Friday. Then I can make it to 4:30 and whine to my FAC friends.

8. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My husband and son’s channel surfing. I want to scream, “Just make a decision and stick with it!”

9. Who would play you in the Cyndy Salzmann movie of the week?

My friend Marilyn recently told me that my new hairstyle makes me look like Renée Zellweger. (Marilyn is now my very favorite friend.) So, I guess I’d have to let Renee at least audition for the part…

10. If you could do one thing over in life, what would it be?

Work less. Play more. That is so shallow…


1. A chocolate recipe

Triple Chocolate Pecan Brownies

1 package brownie mix
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Add remaining ingredients to batter.
3. Put batter in greased 9 x 9 pan. Bake 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

2. A household tip

Uses for salt…
• Add a pinch of salt to your coffee basket before brewing. This will make the coffee less acidic tasting.
• To clean silk flowers and plants, place them in a large bag with one cup of salt. Shake vigorously for a few minutes. Your plants will come out dust free.
• Remove rust from household tools by making a paste with salt and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Apply to rusted area with a dry cloth and rub.

3. An organization tip

Too many books?

If you find your shelves overflowing with books, consider donating them to your church library. If you want to read a book again, you can always check it out.

Another handy tip is to slip a box in your closet to stash novels you've read. Then when a friend or family member who likes to read stops by, pass it along.

For the books you do decide to keep, categorize them according to subject so you'll be able to find the book when you need it.


Enter to win all five books featured in a Week with GRPR. Just click on the image in the sidebar to email me your entry. The contest is open to everyone, but ends Sunday, June 10, 2007 at midnight.

Hurry, you don't want to miss out!

A little humor to brighten your day

Just for fun...

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Yeah... That's it. I've got lots of me to go around. :)

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I've been tempted to do this a few times myself. :)

GRPR WEEK: Fair Game by Carol Cox

Song Stuck on the Brain: Bye Bye by Jo Dee Messina

Welcome to day four of a Week with Glass Road PR. Today's book is:



Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMYSTERY & MAYHEM AT WORLD’S FAIR
Best-selling Novelist Carol Cox Releases Fair Game

Dinah Mayhew couldn’t foresee the mystery and danger that would soon enter her life when she became a file clerk for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Neither could Seth Howell, the man whose eyes reflect a romantic interest mirrored in Dinah’s heart. But the arrival of Dinah’s cousin could be the frost on their romantic bloom.

Cousin Gladys is on the prowl for love and she’s looking in all the wrong places. Upon her sudden, inexplicable disappearance, Dinah and Seth begin searching for answers, only to find themselves trapped in a maze of secrecy and deception. Will they live to expose the truth or find themselves facing the point of no return?

Praise for Carol Cox and A Ticket to Tomorrow, book one in the series:

“Carol Cox is one of my very favorite authors...a wonderful blend of historical suspense and romance...and a setting so vivid I could breathe in the scent of Lake Michigan. Ms Cox owns the genre!” - Colleen Coble, best-selling author of Alaska Twilight

“...a book you don’t want to miss...vibrant, memorable characters and a poignant message of forgiveness. Well done!” - Judith Miller, author of First Dawn and Morning Sky

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CAROL COX is a native of Arizona whose time is devoted to being a pastor's wife, mom to her grown son, and a homeschool teacher to her young daughter. She also serves as church pianist and youth worker. She is involved in her local historical society and plans to write more historical inspirational romance in which her goals are to encourage Christian readers with entertaining and uplifting stories and to pique the interests of non-Christians who might read her novels.


1. What book are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the storyline?

Sure! Asking an author to talk about her books is never a problem. It's getting her to know when to stop talking that can be tricky. : )

I just turned in the manuscript for a title in a brand-new fiction series from Guideposts called Mystery and the Minister's Wife. There are five authors working on the series, and the one I've just completed will be book four.

Currently, I'm working on another story set at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair for Barbour Publishing. Like the first two, Ticket to Tomorrow and Fair Game, this one will have the splendor of the fair's White City as a backdrop. . .along with some of the less savory elements in Chicago's underworld.

The storyline revolves around Emily Ralston, a worker at the fair’s Children’s Building, and Stephen Bridger, one of the exposition’s Columbian Guards. When a little boy is abandoned at the Children’s Building, Emily and Stephen join forces to reunite the child with his family. Tracking little Adam’s family down proves to be more challenging than they expected when their efforts make all three of them targets of a cold-hearted criminal, and their lives—as well as their blossoming romance—are at risk.

And there’s good news for those who have followed the first two books--quirky Mrs. Purvis will be back, along with brief appearances by Annie and Nick from Ticket to Tomorrow and Dinah and Seth from Fair Game.

2. What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?

Like many of us, Dinah wants to serve God but isn’t sure about what He wants her to do. She has to learn to focus on Him, rather than circumstances, to guide her. She also discovers that He can use her willingness to serve despite her shortcomings.

3. How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it’s crunch time near deadlines?

After living through the crunch time for over twenty titles, my family is pretty well trained. : ) They know there will be days when I’m bleary-eyed and uncommunicative and they’ll have to take care of their own meals, laundry, etc. for a time. I appreciate their support so much! In return, I try very hard to be available for family time at some point during the day, even when the deadline is pressing hard. I don’t want to fall into the trap of focusing on what we’ll do together once the current deadline is out of the way and lose out on the precious time we have right now.

I recently gave a talk to our local ACFW group on time management. The preparation for reminded me that I knew what to do to make life run more smoothly, but didn’t always follow through on that. I’m working hard a planning my time better so those deadlines don’t crunch quite so hard.

4. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

My mother taught me to read at an early age, and books have been a major part of my life ever since. One I remember in particular was published in the 1940s and contained the history of the United States in mock newspaper format. As a little girl, I would spread the book open on the living room floor and spend hours poring over stories of long-ago events.

When she passed the book along to my son several years go, I thumbed through it again and discovered a story that grabbed my interest and wouldn’t let go. It contained only a brief mention of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but that was enough to set me off on a trail of research and discovery.

The World’s Columbian Exposition (the fair’s official title) may not be familiar to many of us, but we’re all quite familiar with the things that originated there. Juicy Fruit gum, for instance, along with Cracker Jacks and Shredded Wheat. All of those were introduced at that fair. So was the concept of the midway. The star of the midway, the Ferris wheel, was created specifically for the exposition. It was a huge structure, rising nearly 250 feet in the air and capable of carrying over 2,000 passengers at a time.

A setting like that is more than enough to spark an author’s imagination! Right away, I knew there were stories to tell, and characters starting appearing on the scene and taking on a life of their own. It has been an adventure to follow along and record their stories. It truly was a fair to remember!

5. Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

Currently, it’s all about focus and priorities. I keep going back to Jeremiah 29:11, where God reminds me His plans are to give me a future and a hope—not to burden my life and overwhelm me. My husband pastors two churches and runs a saddle shop in what we laughingly call his spare time. In addition to writing, I homeschool our fifth-grade daughter and help out at the shop a couple of days a week. With all we have going on, it’s easy to get sidetracked and put off doing things until later. But “later” never comes. When I procrastinate, I wind up in a time crunch that puts me—and my family—under a lot of stress. Remembering to keep God as my number one priority at all times is a must! In addition, I’ve posted some little signs in my office and at the top of the to-do list I keep on my laptop. These say “Focus!” and “Do It Now.” Small reminders, but they’re helping me keep on track.

6. Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?

In Fair Game, I can definitely see similarities to myself in Dinah. Dinah wants so much to be used by the Lord, but focuses on her weaknesses instead of her strengths. She has to learn that God is looking for obedience and a willing heart. It’s easy for me to focus on all my shortcomings rather than on what He can do if I’ll just step out of the way and allow Him to use me as He sees fit.

7. Do you pre-plan character development and then let them run with the story, or do you plot the story in advance?

I’m definitely a plotter. It’s far easier for me to have a road map at the beginning of a journey rather than to try to find my way as I go along. But that just gives me a guide. It doesn’t mean I’m locked into a rigid outline. There are still plenty of surprises that come up along the way to keep things fresh and interesting.

8. Do you have an organized office and set times to write, or do you find yourself writing at unusual times or places?

At the moment, we’re reorganizing our storage space. As a result, there are crates of books stacked all around my office. Having to maneuver past them would normally drive me crazy, but I’m trying to live with it for the time being.

I do have a regular writing schedule, but having a husband in ministry means I have to be flexible. When a call comes asking us to visit a critically ill church member, I can’t turn that down because it conflicts with my writing time. When “life happens” and my schedule doesn’t work out the way I planned, I’ve learned to redeem the time by being ready to write whenever the opportunity arises, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a stretch.

That can mean working in places most people don’t consider the typical writing environment. Living in a remote area, we spend a fair amount of time on the road just to run errands and do shopping. Most of my books have large sections that were written while we were on the road. . .with my husband driving, of course. : ) We heat our home with a woodstove. There’s nothing like that old-timey feeling of warmth, but in the early mornings it can be downright cold in the house until the fire gets built up again. I’ve been known to curl up with my laptop on the wood box next to the stove and write until the place thaws out a bit.

The important thing is to be ready to seize those moments whenever—and wherever—they arise. Even small increments of time can add up to a considerable amount of writing accomplished.


Enter to win all five books featured in the Week with GRPR. Click on the image in the sidebar to email me your entry. The contest is open to everyone, but ends Sunday, June 10, 2007 at midnight. Don't wait hurry and enter today!


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Week with GRPR: Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky

Song Stuck on the Brain: These Boots Were Made For Walking by Nancy Sinatra. I just posted the CFBA book choice by Melody Carlson. If I wasn't singing this song I'd be shocked. Be sure and check out her book posted below today's GRPR post.

Welcome to day three of A Week With GRPR. Today's Featured book is:



Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHISTORICAL FIRE PROVIDES BACKDROP FOR MYSTERY
Marlo Schalesky Paints Compelling Word Picture in

Hinckley, Minnesota is going up in flames and a mysterious “being” sets up camp at the edge of town in Marlo Schalesky’s May 2007 release, VEIL OF FIRE. Coping with the loss of loved ones and belongings is hard enough, but Hinckley citizens are also encountering a monster. Or is it a ghost? Something didn’t burn up in the fire and Hinckley folks aren’t quite sure if that’s a good thing or bad.

Marlo Schalesky uses the facts from the worst firestorm in Minnesota history—the fire of 1894— as the backdrop for VEIL OF FIRE. Her lyrical prose is woven deftly into the harsh reality of a fire that consumed 400 square miles and killed 418 people in just four hours. Hinckley of today still isn’t sure what or who the monster was that the fire left behind. Perhaps, though, Schalesky’s story can solve that mystery once and for all.


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Schalesky is the author of four books and a regular columnist for Power for Living. She has been published in Focus on the Family, Decision, Moody Magazine, Today’s Christian Woman, Discipleship Journal, and others. In addition, she was named 2001 Writer of the Year at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference.

Cook Communications will be launching the “Sizzling Summer of Fiction” reading campaign with VEIL OF FIRE and other summer releases. Fiction book clubs and reader groups may contact Schalesky and schedule a time and date to interact via Internet or conference call. Downloadable reader’s guides are available at A separate “Bring an Author to Your Book Club” Internet page, will go live April 15, 2007.


1. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

People often ask where I get my ideas for my books. My answer? You never know! For Veil of Fire, the idea was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.

At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit’s story. Had to explore what it would be like to lose everything, even your identity. Had to hear the hermit’s voice in my mind, and hear the story for myself.

So, the writing of the book became for me a process of discovery, as I hope it will be for my readers. I hope that as the mystery of the hermit drew me, so too it will draw others to this story of how fire can change you, take from you, and in the end, may just set you free.

2. Can you explain the research process, since this is such a historical novel?

The research for Veil of Fire was particularly fascinating not only because of its link to my personal family history, but also because of the incredible first-person accounts of the fire that were written by people who were actually there. These stories are compiled into a book written entirely by survivors who recount their personal experience of living through the firestorm that swept through their town. I read about a man whose hat lifted from his head and exploded above him as he ran through wind and fire. I read about another whose horse raced beside the Eastern Minnesota train as fire billowed around him. The horse swerved into the smoke, and the man was never seen again. I read about a boy racing down the tracks, falling, and surviving as the fire roared over him. I read about fire on the surface of the Grindstone River, darkness broken only by bursts of flame, the St. Paul and Duluth engine backing up to Skunk Lake through blinding heat and smoke. I read about a train trestle disintegrating into flame moments after a train passed, about Jane Tew praying on that train, and the brakemen who saved them all.

Those eyewitness accounts, as well as information gathered about the fire from other sources, created the realistic feel of the fire and its aftermath in Veil of Fire. Plus, you can be sure that if something seems almost beyond belief in Veil of Fire, it will be drawn from an actual account that came directly from the research, so amazing were the real stories of the fire on that day!
Today, a number of books about the fire, as well as artifacts, photos, and other articles can be seen at the Hinckley Fire Museum in Hinckley.

3. What takeaway points do you hope your readers pull from this book?

Once, when we were children, we believed in miracles. The impossible was only a prayer away. Fairy tales were real, and dreams were free. Where did we lose the ability to trust? When did we stop daring to believe? What happened to us?

Life happened. Failure, discouragement, pain, loss. Somewhere, somehow, life burns us all. And we realize that this life we live is not the one we once dreamed. The realities of life scar us. Doubts rise. Fear whispers that hope is gone. And what was once a simple faith can fail in the face of that fear.

In the midst of life’s disillusionment, choices appear. Do we retreat? Hide our hurts far from probing eyes? Do we embrace bitterness and cynicism? Do we use deceit to try to obtain our goals? Do we give up, give in, forget that we ever dared to dream?

Or is it possible to reach the high places of faith in the low valleys of life’s reality? Can we still live a life of bold faith, of fierce hope, when fairy tales don’t come true? How do we live this life that God has given us when it’s not the life we dreamed?

These are the questions I wanted to explore in Veil of Fire. These are the questions which underlie each character’s journey in the aftermath of the great fire of 1894.

So, for those burned by life, for those who carry scars that cannot be seen, for those who have retreated for fear of more pain, this story is for you, this journey from the hidden places of pain to a new hope in the unhidden truth of Christ’s love.

4. Can you share with your readers something God has been teaching you lately?

Through some recent tragedies and through writing Veil of Fire, God is showing me that I cannot measure his love by my successes and failures, or even by my happiness. Who I am on the inside, how I am being shaped into the likeness of Christ, the character of my life – the color and beauty of it – are what are important to God. And to create that color and beauty, sorrow is necessary. Hurtful things happen.

So, I’m starting to understand that my life, too, is a story that God is writing. And since the best stories have conflict, disappointments, and plenty of action, I shouldn’t be surprised when my life takes a turn and my faith is challenged once again.

And yet, my sorrow matters to God, my tears are counted by him as precious. He does not leave me alone in my hurt. He touches me, he heals me, he creates beauty from the ashes of my pain.
So I’m learning to walk through the fires in my own life. And to dig deeper – not to answer the question of why but the question of who – who is God really, who am I, and who is he making me to be? Those are the questions that matter. Those are the things that help me to face my own fires, accept my own scars.

5. What book are you currently reading?

Why, the New Testament, of course . . . in Greek! Now, before you start thinking that loving Greek makes me too scholarly to write a decent novel, you should know that even though I just completed my Masters at Fuller (that’s a Masters in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary – so cool!), it wasn’t my desire for an “A” that made me fall in love with New Testament Greek. After all, most students get through Greek class as fast as they can and then forget it. I might have too.

But one day, as I was sitting there in class, learning forms and tenses, my professor happened to mention something interesting. “Did you realize,” he said, “that the Greek word for truth and the word for unhidden share the same root.”

Ah, in that moment an idea came to me, a little whisper from the heart of God. Truth. Unhidden. Truth. And I began to see the connection between truth and what it means for those who hide in their pain.

That idea became the basis for the theme in Veil of Fire. So you see, I can’t help loving the Greek. I can’t help wanting to read the New Testament that way. After all, who knows what I might discover next.

6. Which character in Veil of Fire do you most relate to, and why?

Even though I base no character on myself, they all reflect a little of me – my questions, my struggles, the issues that have shaped and molded me. In Veil of Fire, this is particularly true for the hermit in the hills. Just as the hermit questions God’s love, believes “I am Esau, unchosen, unloved,” so I too have struggled with those same feelings, doubts, and questions. I, too, have cried out to God, “Why don’t you love me?” For the hermit, it was a question born out of fire, abuse, and disfigurement. For me, it was a question that came out of failure, infertility, and miscarriage. So, in many ways, the hermit’s questions were my own, the answers mine, the external scars reflections of my internal ones, and in turn, I think, symbols of the scars of us all.

7. When writing Veil of Fire, did you plan the plot before sitting down to write the story, or did the plot develop as the story progressed?

I am a “headlights” writer, which means I can see the chapter I’m writing and a few chapters ahead. I may also glimpse a few “signposts” in the distance. The funny thing about Veil of Fire is that I wrote three quarters of the book thinking the hermit in the hills was one character only to find out as I neared the end that I was wrong! And the impact of that discovery was both a shock and a delight. Suddenly, I understood what God was getting at through the theme and nuances of character in the book.

And truly, while I may complain that it would be easier to write a book if it were all mapped out (it certainly would be quicker!), this sense of surprise and delight is one of things that I love about the writing process. I love when the story and characters take on a life of their own. I love to discover what God has been planning for a story all along. And I love to be surprised by a sudden turn of events. And I know if I’m surprised and delighted, my readers will be too.

8. What book project can we expect from you after Veil of Fire? Can you give us a sneak peak of the storyline?

After Veil of Fire, I’m writing 3 contemporary novels for Waterbrook-Multnomah. All of them are “Love Stories with a Twist!,” a new type of story that I think will knock readers’ socks off.
The first, Beyond the Night, releases in May 2008. With groovy 70’s trivia and a whopper of an ending twist, this one was as fun to write as it will be to read. Here’s a blurb about it:

They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.
A poignant love story . . .
A shocking twist . . .
Come, experience a love that will not die.

Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) meets M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. Watch for it next May!


Enter to win all five books featured in a Week with GRPR. Click the picture at the top of the side bar to email me your entry. The contest is open to everyone, but only lasts until midnight Sunday, June 10, 2007.


CFBA: These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking


Melody Carlson

(WATERBROOK Press June 19, 2007)


Willing to make the necessary sacrifices–even skipping the occasional latte–to ensure career success, 31-year-old Cassidy Cantrell "invests" in a chic pair of boots, certain they’ll make a spectacular impression and help seal the deal on a long-anticipated promotion from her Seattle employer.

But reality tromps all over her expectations. Cassie’s job is abruptly eliminated–and her love life obliterated, when her longtime boyfriend dumps her for a "friend." Her self-esteem in tatters, Cassie limps home to the resort town she once so eagerly fled–only to find her recently divorced mother transformed into a gorgeous fifty-something babe with a thriving social life. Cassie wrestles with envy and apathy as she considers the dismal shape of her own physique and romantic prospects. What will it take for her to jump back into life and regain her stride?

This sassy and hilarious novel leads readers on a romp through the wilds of relationships, romance, career, and spirituality, revealing that, while God’s plans may look drastically different than our own, it’ll always be a perfect fit.


Melody Carlson has published over 100 books for adults, children, and teens, including On This Day, Finding Alice, the Notes from a Spinning Planet series, and Homeward, which won the Rita Award from Romance Writers of America. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, make their home near the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Melody is a full-time writer as well as an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

GRPR WEEK: Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Song Stuck on the Brain: Worry About You by Ivy. It's off the 4400 soundtrack. Great song.

Welcome back to A Week with Glass Road PR. Today's book is:




After being shunned by her parents for marrying someone outside the Mennonite community, widow Marie Koeppler left her childhood home and never looked back. It was too painful. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, she's stunned to see her former beau walk through the doors of the truck stop where she waitresses. He brings unexpected news. Marie's aunt has died, and to everyone's surprise, she's left her house, belongings, and café to Beth, Marie's daughter. But there's one catch. To receive her inheritance, Beth must come and live within the Mennonite community for a period of no less than three months. Beth determines to live there so she can pay her mother back for all the sacrifices Marie made for her growing up.

Marie returns with Beth to help her adapt to the Mennonite lifestyle and finds more than her lost beau waiting for her. It isn't long before she finds herself wanting to remain. Beth, however, finds herself living under a shadow of suspicion when homes are broken into and antiques are stolen. Loyal to her daughter, yet missing the simplistic lifestyle, Marie is once again faced with a heart-wrenching decision.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kim Vogel Sawyer has written two novellas for Heartsong Presents and the popular novel Waiting for Summers Return. She writes gentle stories of hope, offering her readers encouragement. Bygones is the first book of the Sommerfeld Trilogy.


1. What sort of research was required to write a book like Bygones, to assure its authenticity?

You should see my "research book" shelves...full! LOL I did a lot of reading, but I also did some "on the street" research. Just a few miles from my hometown is a small, Amish-Mennonite community, so I wandered the streets there. I visited with a handful of young women who were willing to share some thoughts with me. Then I prayed it would be all right! I didn't want to perpetrate stereotypes or myths about this gentle, dedicated group of people. One thing I learned is that each different sect has its own set of "guidelines" concerning what is and isn't acceptable, so I finally just had to say, "Okay, this is what I'm using" and call it quits for my fictional community.

2. Why do you think readers have an interest in the Amish/Mennonite way of life?

There's a peaceful simplicity to their lifestyle that I think we who are caught up in the hustle-and-bustle full-of-technology world find intriguing. I would imagine nearly everyone, regardless of contentment in life, occasionally finds himself longing for a simpler time. They live their faith so openly with their distinctive clothing and modes of transportation--it just captures our attention. I found it interesting in my research to discover not all people are born to the Mennonite/Amish faith, but choose it later in life. So, there must be an appeal.

3. Which character in Bygones can you most relate to, and why?

It might seem a little strange, but I most closely relate to Henry Braun. I tend to be fiercely loyal and want to believe the best of those I love. I suppose I can also relate to Marie as a mother of three girls--I understand that mom/daughter bond and the desire to protect and provide for your child.

4. What’s your favorite writer’s block trick?

Prayer, followed by going back and rereading what I've already written. I ask God to open my heart to the characters again, and by going to the beginning, I can immerse myself in the story once more. I usually munch dark chocolate while I'm doing the rereading, too. :o)

5. What do you crave (beverage or food) when you are under “writer’s stress”?

Hm, I am a dark chocolate-aholic, so I crave it whether I'm under stress or not!

6. Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

I've been so amazed at the Holy Spirit's empowerment in my life. I am a bashful person--I've never liked being front and center or a part of large crowds--but writing kind of throws you out there. Your book is being read by people you don't know, and people are calling you to come speak, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. But God whispers, "Peace, be still," and reminds me I can do everything through His strength. Then, when I face that audience or read reviews, and somebody picks up something from the written or spoken words that's beyond the message I planned, I know God is at work behind the scenes, using my humble offerings to impact lives for Him. He's reminding me again and again I don't have to be perfect, I just have to be willing, and He can use this tarnished vessel. He truly is an awesome God.

7. What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Book of Boston: The Victorian Period as research. :o)

8. What would most surprise our readers about you?

I have a little bit of an ornery streak inherited from my meek, innocent-looking mother. LOL I love a good practical joke, and it usually catches people by surprise because they wouldn't expect it of shy, introverted Kim. Of course, now that I've stated that, I might have to curtail my joke-playing!

9. What book is coming out next? Can you give us a sneak peak into the story line?

The next story will be the second in the Sommerfeld Trilogy, called Beginnings. This story focuses on Marie's daughter, Beth, who has chosen to remain in the community of Sommerfeld to open her own business, but feels alienated from the community. Two men--one Mennonite and one "worldly"--will vie for her attention, and Beth must dig deep into her heart and new-found faith to discover where she truly belongs in the world. I hope readers will enjoy her journey of developing trust in both God and man.

10. Give readers one good reason why they should read Bygones.

I think those who read Bygones will leave with an appreciation for deep-rooted faith and a healthy respect for those who live differently among us as an expression of their faith.

11. What takeaway point do you hope readers pull from the book?

Holding onto anger leads to regret and pain, and it can have a trickle-down effect through the generations. Jesus told us to "forgive seventy times seven," and He said it because he knew the heartache of holding onto wrongs. While writing this story, I faced a situation that brought great pain--someone else's choice had impacted my family tremendously, and I admit to feeling bitter. But writing about Marie and her family helped me get a perspective on what could happen in my family if I didn't forgive and let go. It isn't easy, but it's necessary, and the positive results are well worth the effort it takes to say, "I forgive." I hope the story will help others move toward reconciliation if they harbor a bitter resentment toward someone.

12. Where did you birth the idea for this book? How did it come about?

Oddly enough, I was contacted by an editor at Barbour who had learned I have a Mennonite background. Barbour publishes Amish fiction, and they thought it would be interesting to juxtapose that lifstyle with the Mennonite. So I was asked if I'd like to submit a story using a contemporary Mennonite setting. I'd had no aspirations in that direction, but once asked, this character--Marie--just sprang to life in my head. The story went in about four different directions before playing out with the adult daughter, the beau-left-behind, and the faithful, prayer-warrior aunt. And, as I said, God used it to bring a sense of healing in my own heart during its writing, so I believe it was God-inspired.

13. If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?

I have always said if one of my books becomes a movie, I get to play somebody important! LOL In this case, I would have to be Marie--I'm "kind of" the right age. *ahem* And if I were Marie, then I would choose Mel Gibson or Tom Selleck as Henry, since John Wayne isn't available. *wink*

14. Are your characters from real life experiences? A compilation of people you know?

Since writing is personal, it's hard to avoid bringing real-life situations into the fictional communities and characters. In the case of Bygones, Lisbeth is a combination of an aunt with whom I spent a great deal of time when growing up (my Aunt Lois) and my mom, who is my biggest prayer warrior. Consequently, the character of Lisbeth is quite special to me. The other characters in this story are pure conjecture.


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