Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Characters to Meet!




Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! One of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories,  Joanne Sher and myself, are introducing favorite characters in our short stories, and I recently had the privilege
of interviewing these special characters.

Christmas Treasures is free on Kindle through the 29th! Find it HERE.


Part of the Job by Joanne Sher
Joanne Sher, author

Favorite character: Mom (like most of them, she doesn't have a name ;) )

Mom loves order, keeping in touch with her family and friends, her husband, all three of her kids, and things going just so. When she sets her mind to something, it WILL get done - often in record time - no matter the distractions.

Questions for your character to answer:

1) Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?

As long as the family is there - and there are no surprises - I love every Christmas. I have to say, though, my favorite was just a few years ago, when my youngest was just a couple years old. All the kids woke up at 6 on Christmas morning, and we'd just gotten the presents under the tree a couple hours before - and had fallen asleep in chairs in the living room. They each climbed on our laps to wake us, and we snuggled up and opened presents together. So nice!

2) Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

There is nothing I love more than the annual Christmas card stuffing, stamping and sealing assembly line. It really gets me in the Christmas spirit. Each of the kids, and my wonderful husband, have a role, and it's a great family activity. We break out the Christmas music and work quickly, like a well-oiled machine. The kids pretend to hate it, but I know they're just teasing. I mean, what's not to like? And besides, we're done in just an hour, and we always have hot chocolate afterward.

Special Assignment by Kathleen Rouser

Favorite character: Lucy Meriwether

Lucy Meriwether is a police detective in the suburbs, in her late twenties, who has had her heart badly broken. She seems to lack maternal instincts, but when an orphan is left in her office for the Christmas holiday, she turns protective.

Questions for your character to answer:

1) Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas was the year before my dad left us. I was twelve and I have good memories of the five of us being together. Mom and Dad even stopped fighting for a few days. We laughed and joked while we decorated the Christmas tree together. After a candlelight service on Christmas Eve, we picked up Grandma Meriwether, so she could spend the night with us. She gave me the game Clue that year for Christmas and I’ve loved solving mysteries ever since.

2) Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

I used to love making cut out Christmas cookies with my little brother and sister after we wrapped presents. Add Mom’s special hot cocoa to drink with freshly baked cookies and it was such a treat. Sometimes we’d watch a Christmas movie like Miracle on 34th Street too, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been all together. My family has all moved away. It just isn’t the same since we were kids.


Monday, November 24, 2014

And More Favorite Character Interviews!



And More Favorite Character Interviews to Enjoy!

Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories,  Karlene Jacobsen and Karen Campbell Prough, are introducing to us their favorite characters in their short stories, and I recently had the privilege of interviewing these special characters.

Wake Up by Karlene Jacobsen

Title of your Stories: The Quilt, Wake Up, and Under the Tree
Favorite character: all of my stories are written in 1st person, and only one is named. My favorite, though, I think is the sister who’s surprised by her brother in Wake Up.
Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are:

Questions for your character:

1) Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?
My favorite Christmas? I’d spent the entire night cooking and cleaning, and wanted to sleep, but my family had other ideas. I can’t share too much because it’ll ruin the story, but the surprise my family gave to me was beyond amazing and over-the-top the best year of my life.

2) Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?
I love to find that one thing that would bless members of my family more than anything. It’s so easy to grab the shopping list and fill it, but is a whole ‘nother game to observe and find a way to fill their hearts’ desires as best I can. It’s all about touching the heart and soul, making those I love feel special and wanted and treasured.




The Littlest Wise Man by Karen Campbell Prough

Title of your Story: “The Littlest Wise Man”
Favorite character:  Most readers would probably choose Brian, the little boy in my story. But I picked Kevin, the young father.

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Kevin, my favorite character, is a strong but tenderhearted young man in his earlier thirties. In this story, he has gone through a very heart-breaking day. He must keep his son, Brian, from finding out what has happened to their little family—so close to Christmas. But within a few days, Kevin realizes what a blessing the three-year-old son is and how wise a child can be.

Questions for your character:

1)   Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?

“Well, I think I’ll choose a Christmas from my past—when I was about the age of nine. I grew up out west and our family lived on a big cattle ranch. That year I received a present that surpassed my wildest dreams. I got a new pair of cowboy boots, skillfully tooled with handsome designs. They made me feel grown-up, like one of the popular bull riders at the rodeo. When I opened the box, the scent of new leather was something I knew I’d always remember. It was a white Christmas that year—snow as deep as my waist—but I wouldn’t wear my new boots outside. Nope. I didn’t want to ruin the smooth sheen on them.”

2)   Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?          

“Well … yes, we have had a tradition in years past. When my wife and I got married, we moved to the east coast. That meant we weren’t near my parents and couldn’t go home for Christmas. Her parents had been killed in a plane crash years before we married. So we had to start our own tradition. It’s simple, but a tradition we looked forward to, just the same. We always set aside one night, sometime in the weeks before Christmas, and we forget about going out to eat or doing Christmas shopping. She and I go cut a perfect tree at one of the tree farms around here. We light a nice pile of wood in the fireplace and decorate the tree by firelight and candlelight. Then we cuddle together on the couch with mugs of hot cocoa and dream about the new year to come. Of course, Brian joined us a few years ago. He filled an unexplainable void in our lives. But this year … life handed out just about more than a person can handle. Tears don’t wash away pain. Wasn’t sure about the importance of our tradition.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grateful?

Grateful? Mom and Dad think I should be since I am a spoiled little cat—they say! I, on the other hand think I need just a little bit more. A little bit more time to sleep undisturbed, a little more food in my dish, colder water and more treats. That last one really bugs me, because ever since I started having tummy troubles I don’t receive nearly the amount of treats I deserve or enough food off my human’s plate. I think they should share, but they keep listening to the vet instead of me! Though Mom says my whining isn’t too attractive. Also, I think Mom needs to spend all day at home to cater to my every whim. After all, I give her a purpose to exist.

What’s that? Mom is trying to tell me something . . . hold on . . . Ahem, she mentioned something about how cold and wet out it is outside. Yes, I know, Mom, I don’t have to worry too much, I mean, at all, about where my next meal is coming from. Tell them I’m fed three times a day right now? Well, okay . . . I’m thinking.

Pause. Silence. (Mom told me to count my blessings.)

Perhaps I should me more grateful for what I have. Mom made me my very own pink blanket for the shelf underneath the foyer table. It’s right by the heat vent. It’s very nice to nap there in the winter when I don’t have a lap to park on. And my special wet food is very yummy. And the kibble is always good, especially when she opens a fresh bag. I have lots of cat toys and two humans to chase me and play with me. Nobody yells at me when I lick their face in the middle of the night, though I do get the distinct impression they’re a little annoyed. How my cuteness can be considered so annoying I don’t understand. Okay, Mom, you’re right I have l lots to be thankful for.

What about you? Do you sometimes forget about what you’ve been given, because you are focusing on what you don’t have, rather than on the Giver of all good gifts? Even Mom admits she sometimes does!


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17, ESV)




Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Favorite Character Interviews to Enjoy!

Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories,  Karen Wingate and Donna Hubbard Scofield, are introducing to us their favorite characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Jen Huckabee and Mary Ann Hopkins Hubbard this week.




The Christmas Gift by Karen Wingate    

Favorite character: Jen Huckabee
Karen Wingate, author

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Jen is a frazzled pastor’s wife and mother of two preschool girls

 Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Jen. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas was the time my husband traveled out to Arizona to meet my entire family the year after we were married. All of us were there at my mom and dad’s house. The gifts were small but the family fun was wonderful and Mom had never cooked such a huge spread. Oh, we were more stuffed than the turkey. My family opened their arms wide to Keith and made him feel right at home – even when Uncle Jim tried to plant a fake tarantula in his hair. My heart aches – I wish I had family around now.

Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?


Well, now that we are so far away from family – my husband is a minister you know – and our family is so young, we’re trying to establish new traditions, or at least borrow some from our childhood. I want to fix big lavish meals – just like my mom did. Keith says we’ll be eating turkey leftovers for weeks; after all, how much can two small preschool girls eat? My husband and I have already started one tradition – reading the Christmas story at the breakfast table Christmas morning.  What a wonderful way to set the tone for the rest of the day. And you should hear my husband read! Oh, what a deep rich voice. I never tire of hearing him speak.





Mary Ann's Gift by Donna Hubbard Scofield

 Favorite character: Mary Ann Hopkins Hubbard

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: 
Mary Ann Hopkins - a plain, shy girl who already knows she'll be the one left at home to care for the old folks, and help out when her sisters-in-law have babies. Because she wants a home and family of her own, she says yes when Henry proposes. She becomes the instant mama to the two children.

Please tell us about your favorite Christmas, Mary Ann. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas: Oh, for sure it would have to be that first Christmas I was Henry's wife and mama to the two little ones. The big smile on Angeline's little face, usually so serious, when she spied those dolly dresses I'd sewed to match her own, was precious. When Tommy ran to me and grabbed me around the legs and said, "Up, mama! Up, mama!" I thought my heart was going to burst with happiness. The knowledge that Henry was beginning to love me, and return to God, made me happier than I had ever been in my life.

Donna Hubbard Scofield, author
Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

A Christmas Tradition:  Every year I make honey cakes and gingerbread. I have to put them on top of the cupboard, because Tommy would eat enough of them to get a belly-ache. His pa would, too!

Henry always cuts a little cedar tree from our woods, and we put it on the kitchen table and decorate it with holly berries, feathers, yarn, tin-foil, and anything else we can find.

Most importantly, we always go to church on Christmas morning and listen to those precious words... together.

Leave a comment for a chance to win Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories. We love your comments!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And the winners are . . .

We have two winners from last week's book drawings!

The winner of Lynn Lovegreen's ebook, Golden Days, is Carlene Havel!


The winner of Dawn Crandall's ebook, The Bound Heart, is Anne! 

Congratulations to both of you on winning your prizes! Please contact me through the
comment section by leaving your email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com,
so that I may put you in touch with the authors. Thank you and happy reading!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Two More Favorite Characters from Christmas Treasures!



Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories, Elaine Stock and April Strauch, are introducing to us their favorite characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Russell and Miss Ava this week.


The Forever Christmas Gift by Elaine Stock 

Favorite character: Russell

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Russell is about 70, is a loner but not lonely because he has the spirit of Christ within his heart, yet he can use a good dosage of Christmas cheer . . . which comes from an unexpected someone.


Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Russell. Why was it your favorite?

Author, Elaine Stock 
I enjoyed all my holiday celebrations with my family. My folks adopted me and loved me so much. Before my niece and nephew took off on their own adult paths we had a merry Christmas in my tiny apartment, filled with hymn singing, sweets, gifts, and more Christmas tree than space allowed. It hasn’t really been the same since. It’s just me now. I attend church and have friends there, but somehow don’t feel right accepting their invitations into their homes for Christmas dinner.

Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?


I miss watching the faces of those who I gave gifts to—miss seeing their wide-eyed look of joy. I very much would like to share my Christmas again with someone, perhaps someone who needs to as much as I do. Meanwhile, I trust in God. He will provide.


Love is the Key by April Strauch

Favorite character:  Miss Ava


Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are:
She is an 88 year old woman who lives in a nursing home, Hampton’s Home for the Elderly. She’s a widow and mother to her grown son, Franklin.
Questions for your character:


     Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas was the year I became engaged to Richard. He came to my parent’s house while I was still sleeping. Unbeknownst  to me, he was hiding under the tree in his classic black and red flannel shirt. (Laughs) With a red bow tied around himself. (Coughs) He’s always been my best gift. (Wipes a tear.)

      Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

Drinking a cup of hot cider and reading the Christmas story by candlelight. Some of my best memories are when Frankie was little and he’d sit on my knee. Then, after he was grown and moved away, Richard and I carried on the tradition by sitting by the Christmas tree and reading aloud together….

Do you have a favorite tradition you'd like to share?
Leave a comment this week for a chance to win a paperback
copy of Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short
Stories. (Entrants outside the U.S. eligible for ebook copy.) 



Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview with Dawn Crandall - Writing Gilded Age Romance

Dawn Crandall didn't begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn's first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW's prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.


Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Dawn. Please tell us about your latest book:

One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?

What led you to write this story?

When I was in the middle of writing my first book in 2010 I kind of got to the point that I didn’t know how to get to the end. Nanowrimo (national novel writing month, every November) came up, and I decided I needed to get into someone else's head for a change. So I took Meredyth's character from The Hesitant Heiress and started figuring out what exactly was going on between her and Lawry (and Vance)—as evidenced in how they were behaving towards one another in THH. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could write another character from first person POV and have her not sound like Amaryllis Brigham in book one. By the following November I had an agent and my first book finished—so that’s when I dug out my 50,000 words from my 2010 Nanowrimo jaunt and started forming it into the novel The Bound Heart is now.

How do you schedule or find time for your writing? What does your average day look like?

Now that I have a baby, I write whenever I have the chance—which doesn’t seem that often compared to how I used to be able to write all day long! My average day is very baby-focused.

As a Christian author, what do you feel is the best way to weave God’s truth into your story?

With writing the character arc of my heroine, I also include a very strong spiritual journey arc as well. The main reasons anyone (my characters included) do anything is influenced by their personality, their past experiences and how they view God and His love for them. I love figuring this out for my characters. 

What is your favorite book of the Bible? Would you care to share why?

Romans is my favorite book—although it is incredibly deep and theological, I took a class on the entire book in college from a most amazing Bible scholar, and ever since then, it has been my favorite.

How has the Lord led you to become a writer? (What is your writing testimony?)

Ever since I was in 4th grade, the idea of writing a book has appealed to me. I remember my teacher had us choose some contact paper for the "cover" and then bound papers together for us—I thought that was so cool!! And I couldn't wait to fill it with a story!! Don't ask me what I ever wrote in that little book, but I do know that from then on my favorite time in school was when we were supposed to write something. :) I never thought of "being a writer" until I was in high school and (finally!) came across the kinds of books that thrilled me to read—Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott... and then later in college, books by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.


I'd made up some stories for my friends at the time and wrote out synopsis-like drafts, but nothing beyond that. At that time it was still just a dream of mine that I didn't know when I'd ever get around to actually being serious about. It wasn't until I married my husband in my late twenties and he found out the hidden secret of my heart... and believed in me 110% more than I'd ever believed in myself. He eventually had me quit working to focus on writing, and in 2010 I began writing The Hesitant Heiress (Book 1 of The Everstone Chronicles). It was pretty clear to me that I was on the right track when I had two offers of agent representation after attending my first ACFW conference in 2011 and then continued to either semi-final or final in the Genesis Contest with all three of my manuscripts in 2012 and 2013.  

Thank you for sharing about your writing journey with us, Dawn! 
Also find Dawn at: Facebook, her book review page, Pinterest, and Twitter.




Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Dawn Crandall's latest novel, Book Two in The Everstone Chronicles, The Bound Heart.