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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Spotlight: Sanctuary Cove - Chapter Excerpt


SANCTUARY COVE
by Rochelle Alers

Sometimes love is the simplest choice of all.

Still reeling from her husband's untimely death, Deborah Robinson needs a fresh start. So she decides to pack up her family, box up her bookstore, and return to her grandmother's ancestral home on Cavanaugh Island. The charming town of Sanctuary Cove holds happy memories for Deborah. And, after she spies a gorgeous stranger in the local bakery, it promises the possibility for a bright, new future.

Dr. Asa Monroe is at a crossroads. Ever since the loss of his family, he has been on a quest for faith and meaning, traveling from one town to another. When he meets Deborah, the beautiful bookstore owner with the warm eyes and sunny smile, Asa believes he has finally found a reason to stay in one place.

As friendship blossoms into romance, Deborah and Asa discover they may have a second chance at love. But small towns have big secrets. Before they can begin their new life together, the couple must confront a challenge they never expected . . .

With nearly two million copies of her novels in print, Rochelle Alers is a regular on the Waldenbooks, Borders and Essence bestseller lists, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gold Pen Award, the Emma Award, Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.

For more information, please visit Rochelle's website at www.rochellealers.org/

Chapter One

Barbara, are you sure you don’t mind looking after Whitney and Crystal for
the week? You know I can always take them with me.”

“Deborah Robinson! Do you realize how many times you’ve asked the same question and I’ve given you the same answer? No, I don’t mind at all. Now go before you miss your ferry. And no cell phone calls from the car.”

As the boat headed in a southeast direction she stared at the island shorelines of Kiawah, Seabrook and Edisto Islands before the ferryboat slowed, chugging slowly and docking at Cavanaugh Island. She was the las“Thanks for everything,” Deborah whispered, hugging her friend. “I’ll call you from the island.”

Deborah ran across the front lawn, jumped into her car, fastened the seatbelt and pulled away from the curb. Smiling at years of happy memories as she drove through the back streets of Charleston, Deborah made it to the pier before sailing time. She drove onto the ferry, turned off the car, and got out to stand at the rail, instantly refreshed by the cool breeze. This time her return to the small community of Sanctuary Cove wouldn’t be for a weekend or mini-vacation, but to air out the house she’d inherited from her grandparents in order to make it her home and to look at a vacant store she’d rented where she’d open her bookstore.

Two blasts from the ferry’s horn echoed it was time to sail; a man on the pier tossed the thick coil of hemp to another worker on the ferry, freeing it; below deck engines belched, coughed, and rumbled. There came another horn blast and the ferryman deftly steered the boat through the narrow inlet until he reached open water.

Resting her elbows on the rail, Deborah watched as steeples and spires of the many churches rising above the landscape disappeared from view t one off the boat, and waved to the captain as he tipped his hat.

Driving off the ferry, she felt herself blinking back tears, remembering the last time she’d come here. It had been Thanksgiving and she, Louis and their kids had decided to celebrate the holiday at the Cove rather than in Charleston. Louis never could have imagined as he’d carved turkey that a week later he would become embroiled in a scandal. That he would be seen in a compromising position with one of his female students.

Despite declaring that he was simply comforting her, and there was nothing improper going on between him and the student, Louis Robinson was suspended pending a school board hearing. Tensions and emotions were fever-pitched as Charlestonians formed opposing factions while Louis awaited his fate. Deborah blamed those who were quick to judge her husband for his death, and all of their condolences fell on deaf ears when the truth was finally revealed. The truth had come too late. She’d lost her husband of eighteen years and Whitney and Crystal their father.

Slowing and coming to a complete stop, she reached for a tissue and blotted the tears, praying for a time when the tears wouldn’t come without warning, or so easily. It took several minutes, but after taking a few deep breaths, she was back in control.

Stepping on the accelerator, Deborah drove slowly along the paved road, boarded on both sides by palmetto trees and ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss.

She maneuvered onto the quaint Mail Street and suddenly felt another
rush of sadness, but this one was not personal. Like so many small towns across the United States she realized the Cove was slowly dying. She noticed more boarded-up storefronts; the sidewalks were cracked and even the Cove Inn, a boardinghouse and one of the grandest houses on the island, needed a new coat of white paint.

Deborah drove into the small parking lot behind Jack’s Fish House. After only a cup of coffee earlier that morning she needed to eat before throwing herself into the chore of cleaning the house. There were more than a dozen cars in the lot; some she recognized as belonging to local fishermen.

The winter temperature on Cavanaugh was at least ten degrees warmer than in Charleston, so she left her wool jacket in the car. Reaching for her purse, she walked up from the lot to the entrance of the restaurant, an establishment that was known for serving some of the best seafood in the Lowcountry.

The familiar interior of Jack’s Fish House hadn’t changed in decades. Tables hewn from tree trunks bore the names and initials of countless lovers, ex-lovers, and those who wanted to achieve immortality by carving their names into a piece of wood. Only the light fixtures had changed, from bulbs covered by frosted globes to hanging lamps with Tiffany-style shades. A trio of ceiling fans turned at the lowest speed to offset the buildup of heat coming from the kitchen each time the café doors swung open. The year before the Jacksons added a quartet of flat screen televisions, primarily for the fishermen who went out at dawn and returned midday with their nets laden with crabs, oysters, and shrimp.

Deborah walked past restaurant regulars and few strange faces to sit at a round table for two in a far corner. The mouthwatering aromas coming from dishes carried by the waitstaff triggered a hunger she hadn’t felt in weeks. She knew she’d lost too much weight, and although she cooked for Whitney and Crystal, she would take only a few forkfuls before feeling full.

Suddenly, a shadow fell over the table and her head popped up. Luvina Jackson, wearing a pair of overalls and a bibbed apron, arms crossed under her ample bosom, gave Deborah a sad smile. Her gray hair was covered with a hairnet. “Stand up, baby, and let Vina hold you. I’m so sorry about Louis.”

Deborah couldn’t hold back tears as she sank into the comforting softness of Luvina’s well-rounded figure. The smell of yeast and lily of the valley wafted in her nostrils, a fragrance Luvina had worn for as long as Deborah remembered.

“Thank you, Miss Vina.”

Luvina rocked her back and forth. “You know the Cove would have turned out for you if you hadn’t had a private service.”

“I know that, Miss Vina. But I would’ve lost it if the hypocrites who were so quick to judge Louis would’ve shown up to pay their so-called respects.”

“All you had to do was say the word and we would’ve been there for you with bells on. Ain’t no way we gonna let dem two-face, egg-suckin’ vultures hurt one of our own. We would have turned it out.”

“Then we all would’ve been on the front page of The State or The Post and Courier, not to mention footage on the local television news,” Deborah murmured.

“I just want you to know we would have been there for you, baby. How are your kids doing?”

Easing out of her embrace, Deborah met Luvina’s eyes. “They’re coping as well as they can. But kids are kids and they are much more resilient than grown folks. They’re spending the week with friends until school begins again.”

“Thanks goodness for that. Enough talk. I know you came in her to git somethin’ to eat. Whatcha want?”

Deborah smiled. Even though she’d been born and raised in Charlest
on, coming back to the Cove and listening to the different inflections interspersed with the Gullah dialect made her feel as if she had come home. “Do you have any okra gumbo?”

Luvina’s broad dark face, with features that bore her Gullah ancestry, softened as she smiled. “I jest put up a long pot earlier dis mornin’.”

Deborah returned Luvina’s smile. She liked Jack’s okra gumbo because they fried the okra with oil to reduce the slime and added corn to the savory dish. “I’ll have a bowl with a couple of buttered biscuits.”

“Do you want rice?”

"No, thank you. But I’m going to order something to take home for dinner.”

“Whatcha want fo’ dinner?”

“Anything that’s good, Miss Vina.”

Eyes wide, Luvina stared at Deborah. “Now you got to know that everything we makes at Jack’s is good. Have you been gone so long that you forgot that?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Let me put somethin’ together for you. You like oxtails?”

“I love them.”

“Good. Then I’ll fix you some oxtails with ham hocks. I’ll also give you some rice, because you need some meat on your bones. Collards and a slice of my coconut cake should fill you right up.”

“That’s sound good, Miss Vina.”

“Rest yourself and I’ll be right back.”

When Deborah sat down, closed her eyes and pressed the back of her head to the wall behind her, she realized she was hungry and unbelievably tired. Tired from the stress that had worn her down like a steady rush of water over a pile of rocks.

Her parents had come up from Florida for the funeral and had all but begged her to move down there, but Deborah told them she couldn’t uproot Whitney and Crystal. Whitney was in his last year of high school, and fifteen-year-old Crystal would have problems adjusting and making friends at a new school. Crystal had taken her father’s death much harder than Whitney, who’d grieved in private.

Her musings were interrupted when Luvina’s granddaughter walked over to the table with a large glass of sweet tea and a plate with two biscuits. “Sorry about Mr. Robinson, Miss Deborah. All the kids cried for days when we heard he’d drowned. He was the best math teacher in the whole high school.”

Deborah smiled at the girl, who lived on the island but went to high school with her children. “Thank you, Johnetta. How are you?”

“I’m good, Miss Deborah. Right now I’m applying to nursing school up north, but my momma and daddy don’t want me to leave the state, so I have to apply to one here.”

“Charleston Southern University has a school of nursing. You can live here while you’re taking classes. That would save you a lot of money.”

Johnetta smiled, displaying the braces on her teeth. “You’re right. I could take the ferry or get my father to drop me off when he goes to work.”

“That sounds like a plan.”

“Thank you, Miss Deborah. I’m going to go and bring out your food.”

Deborah stared at the tall girl, who’d at one time admitted she liked Whitney, but he’d acted as if she didn’t exist. She’d wanted to tell Johnetta that Whitney was more interested in sports than he was in a relationship with a girl. It wasn’t as if he didn’t like girls, but sports and academics were his priority.

Johnetta returned with a bowl of okra gumbo and after the first spoonful Deborah felt as if she’d been revived. The soup was delicious, the biscuits light and buttery and the sweet tea brewed to perfection. She’d tried over and over but whenever she brewed tea it was either too strong or too weak. Too strong meant adding copious amounts of sugar or too weak made it taste like sugar water.

She finished her lunch and paid the check, reminding Johnetta she’d come back to pick up her takeout order. Leaving Jack’s, Deborah strolled along Main Street, stopping to stare through the windows of stores and shops. Grass had sprouted up through the cracks in the sidewalk. There had been a time when there were no cracks and the only thing that littered the sidewalks or curbs was sand and palmetto leaves. The sand-littered streets added to the charm of the town, but dead leaves and debris were swept away by shopkeepers every morning.

She continued her stroll, turning onto Moss Alley, and then came to a complete stop. Moss Alley was appropriately named because of the large oak draped in Spanish moss on the corner. Shading her eyes, Deborah peered through the glass window of a store that had once been a gift shop. The
space was particularly wide, but deep enough for her bookstore. And what made it even more attractive was it had a second floor – space where she could store her inventory.

A flutter of excitement raced through her. It was perfect for The Parlor. It was off the main street, but on the corner where anyone walking or driving by would notice it. With hand-painted letters on the plate-glass, a colorful awning, and furniture resembling a parlor, it would generate enough curiosity to draw in customers.

She walked down the street, stopping at the opposite end of the block. Smiling, she waved through the window of the Muffin Corner at the woman behind the counter, who beckoned her.

She opened the screen door and was met with tantalizing aromas of fruit and freshly made cakes, pies, and donuts. Lester and Mabel Kelly had opened the shop the year before. Both had worked as pastry chefs for a hotel chain, but had tired of the frantic pace of baking for catered parties and returned to the Cove to open the Muffin Corner.

Mabel Kelly flashed a gap-tooth smile when Deborah walked in. Coming from behind the counter, she hugged her. “How’s it going, girl?”

Deborah returned the hug. “I’m good.”

Pulling back, Mabel narrowed her eyes. She and Deborah were the same age, thirty-eight, but there was sadness in Deborah’s eyes that made her appear older. “I’m sorry about Louis, Debs. It’s a damn shame folks accused him of something he didn’t do, and would never think of doing. I can tell you that folks here were ready to get in their cars and start some mess Charleston hasn’t seen in a while.”

“I know that, Mabel.”

“Is that why you decided to have a private funeral?”

“It was one of the reasons.”

“You know I called your house but some woman named Barbara answered. Damn, you thought I was trying to set up a lunch date with President Obama the way she interrogated me. In the end, I told her to let you know I’d called.”

“She did, Mabel. And, I do appreciate you calling.”

“Can I get you something?”

“No thanks. I just came from Jack’s.”

Physically Deborah and Mabel were complete opposites. Mabel was barely five foot and had what people call birthing hips, yet she’d never had any children. She said she didn’t want any because she’d helped her father raise six younger siblings after her mother got hooked on drugs. The year she’d turned fourteen her mother had taken the ferry to Charleston to score and never came back. There were reports that someone had seen her in Savannah, strung-out, but it was never confirmed.

The wind chime over the door tinkled musically. “Excuse me, Debs,” Mabel whispered. “Let me take care of this customer, then we’ll sit and talk.” Her smile grew wider. “Afternoon, Asa. Can I get you to sample today’s special along with your black coffee with a shot of espresso?”

“No thank you, Mabel. I’ll just have coffee,” she heard the man reply.

Deborah sat, enjoying the aromas of the shop before her gaze lingered on Mabel’s customer. He was a tall, slender, middle-aged black man. Though he was dressed casually in khakis, long-sleeved light-blue button-down shirt, and black leather slip-ons, Deborah couldn’t take her eyes off the handsome stranger. He didn’t look familiar, so either he was a newcomer, visitor, or tourist. Cavanaugh Island didn’t get many tourists during the winter months, but the balmy seventy-degree temperatures attracted a few snowbirds from the northeast and Midwest.

Without warning, he turned and caught her staring. Their gazes met and fused, and they shared a smile. He continued to stare and Deborah couldn’t control the rush of heat in her face; she lowered her eyes and didn’t glance up again until the wind chime tinkled when the door closed behind the very attractive man.

“I like what you’ve done with the shop,” Deborah said to Mabel when she joined her at the table.

“We don’t have a Starbucks here in the Cove, so Lester and I decided to offer something other than regular coffee to go along with the muffins. Business has really picked up since we put in the tables. We mostly get retirees who order their favorite muffin, coffee, and read the newspaper whenever it gets too hot to sit in the square, or during rainy weather. It’s a big hit, especially with the snowbirds.” Mabel bit her lip. “If it wasn’t for the snowbird businesses in the Cove would really have a hard time staying open.”

“It’s that bad?” Deborah asked.

“Just say it could be better. Most of us are hanging on by the skin of our teeth, waiting for the summer season. Take Asa Monroe, the man who just left.”

“What about him?” she asked. For a reason she couldn’t fathom, Deborah wanted to know more about the stranger who unknowingly intrigued her.

“He rents a suite at the Cove Inn, been here about six weeks. He eats lunch at Jack’s, sends his laundry out and comes in every day for his black coffee with a shot of espresso. Multiply that by twenty or thirty snowbirds and it’s enough revenue to keep small shopkeepers afloat until the summer season.”

Deborah nodded. “I noticed a few more vacant stores since the last time I was here.”

“The gift shop closed up last month.”

“I just rented it.”

A beat passed before Mabel said, “You’re kidding?”

“No, I’m not. I’m moving to the Cove and –”

“Permanently?”

Deborah nodded again. “Yes. I’m also moving my bookstore. I called the chamber and they gave me a listing of the vacant stores. Once I found out the gift shop had closed, I realized it would be perfect. It has more square footage than my Charleston store and having a second floor is a bonus.”

Mabel leaned closer. “What about the kids?”

“Nothing’s going to change, Mabel, except that they’ll live here instead of in Charleston. They’ll still go to the same high school and hang out with their same friends.”

“What are you going to do with your house on the mainland?”

“I’m putting it up for sale. I know the real estate market is soft,” Deborah said quickly when Mabel opened her mouth, “but I’m willing to accept a reasonable offer because I don’t want to rent it.” She glanced at her watch, then stood up, Mabel rising with her. “I have to get back to the house. I’ll drop by in a couple of days.”

“How long are you staying?”

“I’m leaving New Year’s Eve. I promised the kids I’d be back in time to bring in the new year with them.” Extending her arms, Deborah hugged Mabel.

She left the Muffin Corner, stopping again at the vacant store on Moss Alley that was soon to be the new home of The Parlor bookstore.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Jill Williamson


Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. Growing up in Alaska led to a love of books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

How did you start out your writing career?

I had left the fashion industry and was searching for the plan God had for my life. Since I had a pretty interesting childhood/life story, I thought God could use me as a motivational speaker for teens. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. I was working on all that when a new Harry Potter book came out, and a new barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether the books were safe for Christians to read. The debate inspired me to write a teen novel for Christians.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That stem cell research is so complex… the things they can do. It’s amazing. And frightening. And amazing all over again. And more controversial than I ever imagined.


What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I want teens to consider that God is real and that he has a purpose for every life on this planet.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Martyr for sure. He is smart and kind, but totally naïve about the world outside the lab. So he questions things like colors and animals and marriage, but doesn’t hesitate to stand up for what he believes is right. And it was fun to write his loving, selfless character in comparison with Abby’s by the book, it-has-to-be-my-way personality. Martyr sure showed her a thing or two.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How people are still discovering my first book years later. That books have a life of their own. People pass them around and it never stops, even after a book goes out of print. It’s a pretty incredible thing.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the very beginning and the very end. Coming up with new ideas and finishing the novel are my favorite parts of the writing process. It’s the actual first-draft writing that is a lot of work for me.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. That the belief, “If I could just get published, then I would be satisfied” is not true. It’s human nature to never be satisfied. Publication doesn’t change that. We must find out worth in God, not what the world deems a success or failure, because there will always be another potential success or failure just waiting to consume us.

2. That even bad reviews are a good thing. I’ve had many people tell me that they bought my book because of a bad review. If only I’d known that might happen back when I got some of those first horrible reviews that I ached over for a month!

3. That no matter the size of the publishing house, it’s still up to me to do what I must to market my book.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do have fun when you write. And don’t let “being published or not” define your self-worth.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writers don’t get paid much, and that they don’t get paid at all when you buy their books used on Half.com or Amazon.com. If you have a favorite writer, purchase at least one of their books new each year to support them.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I think I might like to be Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings. She is awesome on so many levels.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Read! And also spend time with my family and play my guitar.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I talk with them on my Facebook page and my blog. I also invite them to ask me questions through my website. And I love speaking at schools, libraries, or camps so I can talk to my readers face to face.

Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s
literature the focus of your career?

My husband is a youth pastor, so I’ve been working with teens with him for thirteen years. I adore teenagers. But I read some of the books that they were reading and I wanted to offer something more, stories that were exciting and fun that also included God, his truths, and didn’t offend him. Teens deserve more. They deserve books that will entertain and inspire.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know that my God created me and loves me and has a plan for my life.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Sure! My next book, The New Recruit, is about a teenage boy who joins the agent development program of a spy organization and travels to Moscow on a training mission. It’s scheduled to release October 2012 from Marcher Lord Press.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

You can connect with me on my Facebook page, or on my website, www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.



Replication: The Jason Experiment

Abby Goyer is forced to move to rural Alaska when her father unexpectedly takes a job in a remote laboratory called Jason Farms. Suspicious of her father’s decisions, she investigates and finds more than what she was looking for when a strange boy shows up at her door. Martyr, one of fifty-five identical clones, escaped from the underground lab at the farm with one wish: to see the sky before he fulfills his purpose and “expires” on his eighteenth birthday. Abby tries to help Martyr see that God has a purpose for his life, one that is different from the one the scientists originally planned for him.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Sandra Ardoin

Sandra Ardoin’s work has been published in various forms, but fiction allows her to share the stories that run through her imagination. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the author of “Get a Clue” in Family Ties: Thirteen Short Stories. Contact Sandra through her website at www.sandraardoin.com. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

How did you start out your writing career?

I began by writing greeting cards and poster quotes. My first sale was a poster quote for Argus. I also wrote devotions and still write four-line light verse now and then. My first love, though, is fiction. After my daughter was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, I began writing short stories for children. I’ve done that for several years.

What did you learn while writing this book?

It wasn’t what I learned while writing the story. It’s what I learned by having it published in Family Ties: Thirteen Short Stories. On rare occasions, I’ve sold “all rights” to stories, which is the way I sold “Get A Clue” to My Friend in 2007. When the editor, Diane Lynch, called and asked to use it in a book collection, I was astounded. What I learned is that what we think may be a done deal or of no real use to us anymore could be the beginning of something new and exciting.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Children need good, clean, fun stories they can enjoy and relate to, something that builds families up in their minds instead of tearing them down. Family Ties is about family relationships and building stronger ones.

In “Get A Clue,” when family game night is changed to a different day, Jerome must decide between spending time with his family and doing the fun thing he normally did at that time. It’s a tough choice for him.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Jerome, of course, was my favorite. He struggles with a decision that, as adults, we would find minor, but to him is important. His sister Chloe plays a small part, but she’s so cute.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

A couple of things. First, the fact that editors find my stories worthy of publication. Secondly, that it’s so normal. It’s not much different than when I went off to my secretarial job. Sometimes I think, as writers, we put more emotion into our successes than other people do. I suppose it’s because we know how hard we’ve worked and what it takes to get that acceptance letter or contract.


What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the idea and challenge of creating a whole story around the snippets of images and dialogue running through my head. It may start with one line or one image, but if I can’t forget it, I have to find a story for it.

The down side of writing for publication is the waiting. Writers send out manuscripts, queries, proposals, then wait weeks and months to discover whether or not the project will be accepted by an editor or agent. I’m in the middle of that process right now. It’s not “unfair.” That’s just the way it is.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. Time. God is in total control of the pace of my career—not me. I knew this, but it’s become more real since I began writing novels for publication.

2. Time. Traditional publishing is a numbers game. It’s a matter of persistence. You can’t expect to put something out there and have it snatched up by the first publication or publishing house that receives it. It can take submitting over and over and over again. Even then, there’s no guarantee it will sell.

3. Time. After years of writing 800 to1200-word short stories, I had no idea how long it took to complete a full-length novel from first sentence to (my) final edit.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO hone your craft and learn to take constructive criticism. DON’T expect your words to be published exactly as you’ve written them. Even “Get A Clue,” after being published in the magazine, went through a re-editing process for the book.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

How hard it is to put those ideas floating around in your head into proper sentences that make a whole, compelling book.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Wow! I’ve read and enjoyed so many. With the disasters writers put their characters through, I’m not sure I’d want to be any of them.

I think Laura Ingalls. I loved reading her books when I was in elementary school and it’s a time in history I really enjoy.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I garden. However, the past three years have been spent writing full-time and I’ve had few hours to sow and reap. I read—voraciously. I especially enjoy historicals and suspense/thrillers. Lately, though, I’ve read quite a few of the young adult novels. I also enjoy hitting antique stores, although I’m getting to an age where I find too many things I grew up with.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

On my blog (http://www.sandraardoin.com/), I try to cater to readers of Christian fiction. I’ve joined Goodreads with the hope of connecting to other readers.

Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

Though my novels are aimed at adults, I’ve enjoyed writing for the 8 to12-year-old group. The stories and characters are fun and I think I relate more to that age than teens or preschoolers.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

Other than my salvation? I know nothing. LOL! It seems any time I think I know something for sure…that’s when I get into trouble.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

At this point, I’m looking for an agent willing to represent my novel A Lady Divided. It’s a historical that revolves around an unconventional and bitter southern widow who must join forces with an old enemy to prove she’s innocent of murder—twelve years after she took lives in the War Between the States.

The book I’m working on now is a historical involving an unemployed pastor and a female Jonah.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

They can contact me at the email address contact@sandraardoin.com. My website is http://www.sandraardoin.com/. I’m also on Twitter (@SandraArdoin), Google+ and Goodreads.

Thanks so much, LaShaunda. It’s been fun!



Family Ties: Thirteen Short Stories

This collection features stories about the rewards and the challenges of family life. While family interaction isn't always easy, healthy, strong family relationships are vital to the development of every child. Family Ties provides engaging stories for children that they will relate to and enjoy. Story topics include: a military father's absence from home; competition between siblings; annoying, younger siblings; having a difficult day; learning new things; dealing with grief and death; broken family relationships; the addition of a foster child into the family; embarrassing parents; making family time; visiting an Eastern Catholic church service, among others. The stories entertain and educate by providing discussion questions to keep children thinking and reading.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Precarious Yates


Precarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their mastiff. When she's not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

You can learn more about Ms. Yates and about the issues discussed in this novel by visiting www.precariousyates.com

Book 2 of Revelation Special Ops, Pharmacia: Those Magic Arts, is due out in 2012.

Thank you so much for interviewing me and learning all about The Elite of the Weak, a YA book about responding to human trafficking.


How did you start out your writing career?

I actually started my writing career in Ireland while working as a nurse, waitress, and missionary/church-planter. I lived there 4 years and published a fantasy novel (The Heart of the Caveat Whale) while there. Once a week I held writers' workshops for adults and taught creative writing to teens. When I moved back to America, I discovered that I had to relearn the writing industry. It had changed dramatically between 2005 and 2009. In November 2010 I sat down with the goal to write 50,000 words of my new novel, The Elite of the Weak, in a month. In the end I wrote 62,000 before December 1, 2010.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Oh, boy. Where do I begin? I learned so much on so many levels. First, I had to research about human trafficking. I knew quite a bit about the basic stats, etc, but I didn't know how widespread the issue was. I have yet to read about a country that truly has no slaves. All over the globe, human beings are exploiting one another. I also learned how some cultures contribute more to the problem than others.

I also learned how to balance family and writing. This was more delicate than I anticipated.

The third thing I learned was how widely accepted indie books are now as compared to 2005.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

When I was twenty-two and first learning about human trafficking, I was appalled not only by what I learned, but also by what I believed. Beforehand, I thought 1. slavery was eliminated across the globe; 2. most prostitutes chose their lifestyle.

I was wrong on both accounts. I was dead wrong.

When I sat down to write The Elite of the Weak, I geared it toward Young Adult. I wanted teens to not only be aware of the situation, but to know there are solutions to the problems. Organizations such as IJM (http://www.ijm.org/), Exodus Cry (http://www.exoduscry.com/) and Love146 (http://www.love146.org/) actively work toward rescue, restoration and prevention.

I witnessed some horrible things as a teen and believed I was powerless to do anything. The day I learned that I could stand up and say something was wrong, and have people take me seriously, was a great day. Teens have a powerful voice when they work for righteousness and sometimes they need to hear this truth.


Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I had a great time writing about Eva, the main character's mom. Both Hadassah and her mom, Eva, are strong women who don't let circumstances make all the decisions. Eva, who was a spy with the Mossad, inspired me even as I wrote.


What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I didn't expect to have so many people I didn't know show interest in my work as quickly as they did. This was a very pleasant surprise, especially since I'm an indie author and do most of my own marketing.


What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

This is easy! I love writing action scenes. LOVE IT! I'm not a fan of writing romantic scenes. There are a few here, and these went through heavy edits!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I had known that having a book out there is like having an infant! I hardly sleep, but I couldn't be happier.


Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do have lots of different people read your work and comment on it before showing it to the world. Don't take every bit of advice that comes your way, but rather trust that the story you need to write should be written.


What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It's a labor of love. Really. Truly. And we writers love to hear feedback from readers!


If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Probably Psyche, a character from my very favorite novel of all time, Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. She wasn't afraid to love.


When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I write more. Just kidding. I love to cook, to get my hands in the dirt, to play on jungle gyms with my daughter, to pray, to paint, to read and to spend time with my husband.


What do you do to interact with your readers?

I blog a lot (http://precariousyates.wordpress.com/), but my favorite way to interact is through letters, e-mail, and Facebook.


Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

Most of the books for teens right now are paranormal romance. My goodness, there needs to be an alternative! Also, I love to read this genre. When I pick up a fiction book, it's almost always YA. I love the possibilities in this genre.


Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I can come boldly to the throne of Grace! I know that throughout my day, whether it's been a good day or a terrible day, I can pour my heart out to my Abba Father.


Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Ooh. Maybe. I think I can give you clearance, just this once. There's a sneak peek of book 2 at the end of book 1, but I'll tell you that about 1/3 of book 2, Pharmacia: Those Magic Arts, will be in a guy's perspective. His name is Matthew and he ends up in places no one else wants to be. Hadassah gets to visit a Russian palace and may even go on a shopping spree in St. Petersburg. Also, there is a whole section about Hollywood and I tackle some of the many issues of human trafficking there.


How can readers get in contact with you?

I love to hear from readers! My e-mail is precariousyates@yahoo.com
My website is: http://www.precariousyates.com/
On Facebook, I'm at www.facebook.com/precariousyates
Also, @precariousyates on Twitter.
And www.facebook.com/shulammite33

I'll have a snail-mail address soon. Be a part of the handwritten letter revolution!



The Elite of the Weak

Weak because their hearts are broken for the oppressed. Elite because they keep the code. Hadassah isn’t like the rest of her friends in high school. Neither is she like the kids in her church’s youth group. At least not when she’s in the African jungle trying to rescue an abducted child, or when she’s crawling through an air duct on a surveillance mission in Queens. She was born for such a time as this. She also wasn’t cut out to do this work alone. Book 1 of the Revelation Special Ops series.



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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: April W. Gardner


April W. Gardner lives in Georgia with her computer nerd Air Force husband, ten year-old bookworm son, and eight year-old art-loving daughter. The Gardners enjoy watching nature shows, visiting national parks, and eating popcorn and chocolate every Friday during family night. April writes her Lizzie stories for God, her precious children, and every other kiddo who loves a good adventure. She is also the author of the Creek Country Saga, an inspirational historical romance series for moms.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started out as a historical romance writer and have just recently branched off to children’s historical adventure. I’m still writing for adults, but feel it’s also important that our children have good quality faith-filled fiction. If it teaches history along the way—all the better!

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned so much that if I listed it all here, I’d never get to the next question! But the biggie--Not many know that a portion of Great Britain was occupied by the Germans during WWII. They invaded Guernsey Island in 1940 and stayed until 1945, the end of the war. Five years of misery. I learned this vital bit of WWII history from Ruth Davies, the dear lady who lived the experience as an impressionable nine-year old girl. Ruth is my real-life “Lizzie.”

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Children learn best through stories. Problem is, kids these days don’t have many “safe” stories they can read. Through the Channel Islands Resistance series, I hope to give them fun, clean stories that teach lessons about faith and family.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Andre Browning is Lizzie’s precocious little brother. From his bouncing blond curls to his carefree and trusting disposition, Andre is absolutely precious. He is based loosely on Ruth’s younger brother, Les.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

Interesting question! I’d never thought about it before, but I suppose it would have to be the longing to connect with readers and get their feedback.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

Finally being able to share a story that I’ve labored over and that’s dear to my heart is THE BEST. The worst? Marketing. Don’t even get me started on the drudgery of marketing!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. Writing is only the beginning of writing.
2. The quality of the book has little to do with the size of the publishing house.
3. My true value resides in Christ.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do constantly hone your craft. We never “arrive.”
Don’t give up. If you love to write, then do it, regardless of how “successful” you are.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Writers live in two worlds--the real one and the one inside their heads. Don’t be afraid of us. Embrace our weirdness.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Organize my home. Hang out with my girlfriends. Read!

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I blog! Come visit me at http://www.aprilwgardner.com/.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

In the words of Don Piper, “Heaven is real. Jesus is the way.”

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Lizzie and the Forbidden Crystals is the next book in the series. Lizzie and the gang discover contraband crystal production in their own backyards. Before long, they’re tangled in the middle of it, transporting them across town in their schools satchels. But what do the crystals do, and why do the Germans forbid them? If the soldiers catch the kids, it could mean immediate transport from the island, and those already taken to the horrid work camps in Germany have yet return.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I adore hearing from readers! They can reach me here:

aprilmarieg(at)gmail(dot)com
http://www.aprilgardner.com/
http://www.channelislandsresistance.com/


Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang
Lizzie Browning loves nothing more than her tiny, island-home of Guernsey, but when German bombs drop on her crystal beach, her peaceful world is shattered. For months, the big war on the continent has been nothing more than stories in the paper, but as the enemy takes over Guernsey, the war rushes to her doorstep. For Lizzie, younger brother Andre, and cousin James, the time to escape is now, and they know just how to do it.

Phillip Seifert, the odd boy from down the street, has all the markings of a genuine Nazi-lover. Lizzie knows better than to trust him, but he somehow manages to weasel his way into James’ good graces. Phillip joins the gang in their audacious escape plan, and Lizzie can do little more than pray he doesn’t get them all shot. But Lizzie soon learns that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way she expects. He might actually plan for them to live under Nazi rule…forever.



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Friday, December 23, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Deanna K. Klingel


Deanna K. Klingel lives in the mountains of western NC, with her husband Dave and golden retriever Lily. Although she enjoys doing many things, golf, traveling, reading, therapy dog visits, dog training and dancing, knitting, gardening, she finds she spends most of her time reading, writing, and marketing. The Klingels raised seven children and now have 11 grandchildren.

How did you start out your writing career?

I’m not sure exactly when and where writing became my career. I’ve always been a writer, but I was also raising my large family, moving frequently, and doing a lot of other things as well as writing. Eventually, when all the children were gone, I began to focus more on the writing, took a couple of lit classes at Brevard College, entered a few writing contests and won. I joined writing groups, went to conferences, and it just began to grow.

What did you learn while writing this book?

In addition to the American history I learned and relearned while researching, I learned a lot of editing skills, and I learned there are many ways to say the same thing. Try them all. A first draft is exactly that. It takes many to create a book.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

As with everything I write, my primary purpose is to write a good story that young people will want to read. This book had a second purpose, and that was to finish Avery’s war time adventure that started in book 1.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about? Assuming you mean in this book, it would have to be Mrs. Somebody. I love her. But, I also had a lot of fun with the honey man. Of course, Gunner was always fun. I enjoy canine characters. Avery was the driving force behind the story. I guess I loved all these characters. I had so much fun watching them come alive on my paper, I felt a sadness when I finally finished the final edits and sent it off. Felt like saying goodbye to the family. The Avery books were a lot of fun to write from beginning to end, and now I’m hearing the readers say they’re fun to read, too.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

The computer technology. It’s so wonderful to be able to delete, do over, save, edit, communicate with the editor. I can’t imagine doing this on a yellow pad. But, the computer technology is also the thing I hate the most. I don’t like sitting here in the corner, and when something happens with the computer, it’s so frustrating, and then I’d trade the whole thing in for a pencil and eraser. When the power goes out, work stops. Computer technology is the best of times, and computer technology is the worst of times for me.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known more about small independent publishers. I wish I’d known more about book awards in that they need to be submitted almost immediately hot off the press or the deadline will be missed. I wish I’d known more about the value of conferences.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do write something every day. Write from your heart. Don’t be afraid to write outside the box. Some editors say, “You need to be able to say your work is exactly like another one.” But, others will appreciate your uniqueness. Do take suggestions that will make your work better. But, you don’t have to compromise your values.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It would make conversations easier if they understood what a long—very long—process it is to write a book, and that the majority of us are not “rich.”

If you could be a character from any book you’ve read, who would you be?

Wow. Most of the really interesting fiction characters I can think of had incredibly difficult lives. I’m not sure I could handle their adventures. The interesting nonfiction characters are mostly dead! Maybe Death. He (or she) is the narrating character in The Book Thief. He was privy to a great deal, very compassionate and caring, but accepting; and he was already dead, so it didn’t involve pain. Yeah. I might be Death.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing in your spare time?

Spare time? That’s probably when I get the oil changed, get a haircut, take the dog to the groomer, clean bathrooms, do the laundry, go to the grocery store…that’s what I do when I’m not writing. That would be the spare time.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Readers can leave comments on my website, and some have. I have some interesting exhibit items on my table when I’m signing books at reenactments and museum events. It gets their attention and starts conversations. At school visits, we are totally interactive and all about them. Some of the students email me from time to time, and I respond immediately. At the reenactments, living history, sesquicentennial type events, I wear a reenactment costume. Kids like to talk about that. With another book, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, many of the signings have been in conjunction with a therapy dog seminar I offer. It’s very interactive and I sometimes have a dog with me. Dogs are great ice breakers and they interact naturally.

Our theme for this month is Children’s Books. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

I feel strongly about illiteracy. I want to write books that kids will want to read and surprise themselves when they discover they really do like to read. Stories are a great way to have history come alive and show kids some important aspects of their own history.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I am certain that God has led me to this place and provides the inspiration for my work. I told him not to be subtle, just tell me. He slapped me upside the head. That’s what I know for sure.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I’d be happy to. The next book will be out either December or January from Rafka Press, Phoenix. The title is Bread Upon the Water. This is a YA, nonfiction. It’s a true story set in Vietnam, about a boy who has a calling to the priesthood and must escape the communists in order to become a priest. It’s a hero story of incredible faith, courage, and adventure.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Deanna K. Klingel, 243 Country Club Estates, Sapphire, NC 28774; 828-743-1683; deannaklingel@yahoo.com; http://www.booksbydeanna.com/. I always respond to any of these.



Avery’s Crossroad: This is book 2, following behind Avery’s Battlefield, and covering the last three years of the Civil War, 1863-65, as Avery matures into a fine surgeon and an admirable man. The setting is Richmond and Alexandria, VA. The book title refers not to a place on the map, but rather a place in Avery’s development.

Journey Forth has created a wonderful book trailer that can be viewed on my website http://www.booksbydeanna.com/




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Thursday, December 22, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: K.Dawn Byrd


K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Mistaken Identity, her first young adult romance released on June 15, 2011 from Desert Breeze Publishing. She enjoyed writing it so much that she'll have four young adult releases in 2012. The sequel to Mistaken Identity, Shattered Identity, will release in June and a college-age romance/mystery series, The Zoe Mack Mystery Series, will release in January with others to follow in June and December.

K. Dawn is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog at http://www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com/, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook Christian Fiction Gathering group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444.

When not reading or writing, K. Dawn enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years while walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home and plotting the next story waiting to be told.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started writing about four years ago.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I was afraid at first that I'd have a hard time as an adult woman getting into the mind of a teenage girl. Apparently, I did a good job because several teens have emailed me telling me that Lexi, the bad girl in the story, reminded them of someone they knew.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hoped to show those Christian girls who are trying to live for God that they're doing the right thing. It may not be the most popular thing, but you do come out a winner in the end.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I had the most fun writing Lexi. She was spiteful and selfish. I would never want a best friend like her, but she was fun to write.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

I'm currently writing my ninth book and I'm surprised at how much fun it is to continue on. It's more than a hobby. It's a passion.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love writing "The End." It's such a sense of accomplishment. I hate editing.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I'd known how slowly the market moves. I wish I'd taken my time and spent more time learning to write before releasing earlier books. I wish I'd known more about marketing.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Don't write for fame and fortune because they may never come. Do write for the simple joy of placing words on the page.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I wish non-writers would understand when they call and ask what I'm doing and I say that I'm writing that I'm in no mood to carry on an hour-long conversation.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

That's a hard question. I'm really not sure. Okay readers, who would you be?

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Read. Take long walks with my husband. Love on my hairless Chinese Crested dogs. Maintain aquariums full of flowerhorns, convicts, blood parrots, Jack Dempseys, and firemouths.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a website, three blogs and I FaceBook and tweet.

Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

My first published books were romantic suspense. They were kind of dark. Someone has to die or be in peril. With young adult fiction, it's just plain fun! The books are light-hearted for the most part and absolutely a joy to write even when I tackle hard subjects.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that when I die I'm going to heaven.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next release is in January. It's the first book in The Zoe Mack Mystery Series and is called Zoe Mack and the Secret of the Love Letters. Here's the blurb:

When Zoe Mack moves in with her grandparents to start college, she's thrown into more mystery than she bargained for. Her cousin, Emma, is terrorized by a stalker who breaks into her house and leaves a photo-shopped image of Emma hanging from a tree. Nothing is as it seems and Emma soon learns that even the man she thinks she can trust is suspect.

Zoe can't wait to reunite with Nate, the bad boy who doesn't talk about his feelings much, but the passionate kiss he gave her last summer had to have meant something. When she arrives back in town and discovers that he's in trouble with the law, she must take matters into her own hands in order to clear his name. She has her hands full with a needy Emma, a cop who gives her the creeps, and Nate, the guy she desperately wants to call her own. Can Zoe solve the mystery, clear Nate's name, and make him fall in love with her?

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Email: kdawnbyrd@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.kdawnbyrd.com/
Blog: http://www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com/
Zoe Mack Blog: http://www.zoe-mack.blogspot.com/

MISTAKEN IDENTY

Eden Morgan makes a list of six goals to accomplish in order to have the best summer ever. Getting a boyfriend, which is perhaps the most important goal, becomes complicated when she and her best friend, Lexi, fall for the same guy. Since Lexi is popular, gorgeous, and always gets her guy, Eden thinks she doesn't have a chance.

Channing Johnson is everything Eden's ever dreamed of and she can't believe he just moved in next door. When he starts showing interest in her, she's overjoyed...until she sees him out on a date with Lexi. He says Lexi talked him into it to repay her for tutoring him. Lexi says they're in love.

Eden doesn't know who to believe and is forced to choose between her best friend and the guy of her dreams. Nothing is as it seems and no matter who she chooses, someone will get hurt.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Staci Stallings



A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.

How did you start out your writing career?
I've always had "movies" playing in my head. When I was young, I would put myself to sleep to them. The next night, I would remember where I had left off, "push play," and start from there. My writing career started because I kept "losing" favorite story lines, and when I finally had the time after my first child was born and I became a stay-at-home mom, I started writing them down. I gave those first few to some friends to read. They fell in love with them, and that's how it started.

What did you learn while writing this book?

How very vulnerable our kids are to the world and how diligent we must be in protecting them and listening to them. Their experiences are real, and we can't abandon them as we search for lives of our own. They need us as parents, as teachers, as adult friends to listen and to care and to help them--not to judge them or dismiss them.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Although it's about high school age students and they will enjoy it, I want it to accomplish two things: 1) to give the kids the courage to stand up to the very real evils they are facing but more so, 2) to tell parents and teachers and administrators to WAKE UP and stop putting our students lives and spirits on the line by trying to keep the veneer of "everything's okay" stretched over our schools. If everything is not okay, we need to get in there and do something about it. PC doesn't work when our kids are being shredded in the land of bullying and threats.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

This is probably going to brand me or something, but I loved Sean, the hero. I'm far more like Robyn, the heroine, who is going to get in there and do something to fix things. But I truly loved Sean, the bad boy who has a heart of gold. I loved him trying to protect Robyn and how he went all out, but still trying not to let her know anything was wrong. He was fun to write because he was edgy but so sincere and wanting to be the good guy.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

That life is still life. I still have laundry to do (should be doing some now, but this is more fun). And I still have dishes to do and still have to go get the kids from school and a million other "life" things that were supposed to magically disappear when I got published.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love getting lost in the stories--whether I'm writing them or reading them. I love to just sit back and watch my characters as they grow and learn. The other night I was reading one that just came out on Kindle, and in the scene the heroine was being really obstinate, and I was like, "Come ON, Elizabeth! Give him a break!" My husband looked at me really funny and said, "Didn't you write that?" I said, "Yeah, but she needs to cut him some slack already!" I love that.

What do I not like? Trying to let readers know I'm here without sounding like I'm some kind of pushy salesman. I love my readers and I love talking with them about the books. It's getting them to go, "This sounds really good" and taking the next step to buy it that is the toughest for me. If I could just give the books out, that would be great. Unfortunately, it doesn't work too well like that.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

To let God work and enjoy the ride. I do that a lot better now than I ever did. Five to seven years ago, I was into the "making it happen" thing. Brought me a lot of misery. Now, it's just "let's see what God has in store for today." That's a lot more fun and I'm a lot more successful as well.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do believe in your voice and your style.

Don't try to fit yourself into everyone else's boxes.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

How awesome it is to hear that someone liked your book. Good reviews make me excited about writing more, and some days that's worth gold to me. Problem is, most people read the book, like it, but never think to leave a good review or to write in and say they liked it. Years later, I'll say something on Facebook or something and they'll go, "Oh, I loved that book. I've read it five times!" I would love to have a way to get them to tell me that when they read it so I can ask 10,000 questions about what they liked and why.

Think about your favorite television show. Part of the fun is watching it. Part of the fun is talking about it. I really like to talk about my books with people who enjoyed them.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Cinderella--minus the stepmother, two stepsisters, and the mice! :) I just love the story of how she had this hard life, a sad life really, but she stayed beautiful on the inside. And although the dress and the glass slippers helped, if she was ugly on the inside, the Prince would never have fallen for her. I love that.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to Wii Snowboard. I love the sensation of going super fast down this wicked hill and jumping up on these things and doing these flips and jumps, and even crashing and burning. Then getting off and not having to spend six months in a full-body cast!

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Well, I'm on Facebook and I have a Contact Me page on my blogs. I reply to all comments on my blogs. I'm on Twitter. I do interviews on cool blogs like this one and talk to people there. Any way I can think to interact, I pretty much do and try.

Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

YA (Young Adult) is only one of the genres I write, but I love it. I think teenagers have some of the most challenging, interesting lives that we just don't see because too many times they are either caricatured as materialistic brats or dismissed as having nothing to contribute to the conversation of humanity. Far from either of those, I love the spirit and the energy teens bring to life. I love how imaginative they are and how they are just ready to take on any challenge. And I love how the ones I know care so much about life--theirs and everyone else's.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That God exists and that He's in our corner. Bad things happen. God doesn't cause those things to happen. Life takes care of that. Just like with parents. They don't cause the child to fall off the bike. Life does that. But a good parent is always there to pick the child up, to hold them, to make it better, and then to encourage the child to try again. They are also the first ones to cheer when the child makes that phenomenal leap into learning how. That's what God does for us, and that's what I know for sure.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I'll give you a sneak peek of another series for YA that I have out right now. It's a three-book series (The Faith Series), and it's about this group of friends in college and how that group was built. You start out with Rebecca Avery who is this really quirky, fun girl but who kind of blends in with the woodwork. She meets up with Eric Barnett in this hilarious scene (one of my all-time favorites!), and he's this guy who nothing seems to be working out like it is for all of his friends. We start off following them, and then as others are added to the mix, we go through all kinds of ups and downs in their lives.

Those books are: A Work in Progress, A Little Piece of Heaven, A Light in the Darkness

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I'm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/staci.stallings.author

Twitter: @StaciStallings
Email: staci_stallings (at) hotmail (dot) com
My blog: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com  and http://stacistallings.wordpress.com


Thank you so much for having me! This has been fun! Now, I guess I'd better go get that laundry done... *sigh*... but if you've read the interview and liked it, you can certainly leave a comment and then I'll have a reason to stay here just a little longer (I don't really want to do the laundry anyway!). That would be TERRIFIC! :)
THE PRICE OF SILENCE
Where do you turn when the watching eyes are everywhere?

Where do you go when no place is safe?

Who do you turn to when saying anything could get someone killed?

Who can you trust when “they” could be anyone?

Robyn Lockhart liked her simple but predictable life in the small Iowa town she grew up in. But when her mother moves them to the big city, Robyn has no choice but to brave the tumultuous high school she’s thrust into. Then, with barely a blink and as an outsider looking in, Robyn begins asking questions that no one seems willing to face. Is it possible to stay silent while simultaneously shouting from the rooftops that something is deadly wrong? And if you shout, beyond those watching every move you make, who will even hear?

“Stallings takes a much darker turn with this novel and she does so very well. The sense of desperation and anguish on the part of Robyn is palpable and you definitely find yourself sympathizing with her. Stallings has created a very memorable character here… an Atticus Finch styled hero who refuses to let threats stop her from seeking the truth and justice."
–Kevin Apgar, Fun With Dead Trees



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Monday, December 19, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Vicky Alvear Shecter

Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of three books set in the ancient world. Cleopatra’s Moon is her first young adult novel. Her other two books—Cleopatra Rules! and Alexander the Great Rocks the World—were written for younger readers. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University in Atlanta.

How did you start out your writing career?

First, let me say thank you, LaShaunda, for having me here! It’s an honor. To answer your question, I had always been a writer, but because I worked in business marketing, I approached writing as a trade rather than an art. When my second child was born, I took a break from writing. During the period she was in grade school, I reconnected with my passion for ancient history and so I began writing about that. I got trained as a docent at our archaeology museum here in Atlanta (at Emory University) and went from there.

What did you learn while writing this book?

It’s not enough to just “report” what was happening in a story, but to dig deeper into the emotional experiences of my characters.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hoped that people would learn about two fascinating figures in ancient history—Cleopatra Selene (the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony) and Juba II, a king of North Africa. Both have fallen into obscurity, which needs to be fixed!

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

Oh, that one’s hard because there were so many characters in this book. But I’d say, Selene’s little brother, Ptolemy Philadelphus, known as “Ptolly” in the book. I loved that little guy!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

How vulnerable I would feel about people’s response to my characters. Would they like them? Hate them? Suddenly, they were like my children and I hadn’t expected that.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love the imagining process (for me I have to imagine scenes before I write them down) because that’s when it’s the most fun. What I hate the most is the endless waiting. Once I’ve written something, I need to give myself some space from it, which requires waiting. Then there’s the waiting from an agent. Then the endless waiting to see if the book will sell. Then the waiting for edits from the editor. Then the waiting for it to come out! Nobody warned me how LONG the process takes and how much waiting is actually involved.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. (Your book) is only a story and there are many, many stories in this world.
2. But it is YOUR story, and so has a right to be heard.
3. Trust your instincts.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

1. DO search/dig deeper for the emotional core of the story. It’s too easy to focus on plot or “what happens.” For example, when Cleopatra Selene faced some devastating losses, I pulled up the feelings I remembered from childhood when I faced a family member’s unexpected death. I don’t have a thing in common with an ancient Princess of Egypt—except our shared humanity.

2. DON’T give up on yourself. When I first started on this novel, I discovered that a famous writer was about to release a novel on a similar subject. I was devastated and figured I’d quit. No point, right? But a friend insisted I keep writing because my story would be different. She was right. I’m glad I listened.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

For years, I’d been told to stop “living in my head” or to “get my nose out of books.” But these are the ways I cultivate my stories. And reading books—lots of them—are critical for writers! After getting published, it’s a little easier to do these things.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I’d have to say Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her confidence, her capacity for deep love, and even her acceptance of pain and sorrow are a wonder to behold.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Read!

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a blog (http://historywithatwist.blogspot.com) and am on Facebook and Twitter. I also love to do school visits and book clubs.

Our theme for this month is CHILDREN BOOKS. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

I’m not sure I set out to write for children per se, it just ended up that way. I have been accused (complimented?) of having a childlike curiosity and enthusiasm, so maybe that’s why it made the most sense.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know that I love my family. Beyond that, I know that what fascinates me so much about ancient history is that it shows us that no matter how much time has passed, no matter who we are or where we’re from or when we’re from, we are all the same inside.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I haven’t sold it yet, so I can’t. But I will say it will also be set in the ancient world.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I love to hear from readers. My email is valvearshecter@gmail.com and my website is www.vickyalvearshecter.com. And, as mentioned above, my blog is: http://historywithatwist.blogspot.com.


Cleopatra’s Moon is the story of Cleopatra’s daughter, Selene (Mark Antony was her father), the only one of the queen’s four children to survive into adulthood. Cleopatra Selene was taken from Egypt and reared in the home of her parent’s conqueror in Rome. She and her brothers were marched through the streets of Rome in chains in place of their mother. When nearly sixteen, Cleopatra Selene was married off to a North African king, where she ruled for decades. This is her story of survival and eventual triumph.

The LA Times called the book, “Magical.” PW said it was “fascinating” and “atmospheric.”




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Saturday, December 17, 2011

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Sanctuary Cove


SANCTUARY COVE
by Rochelle Alers

Sometimes love is the simplest choice of all.

Still reeling from her husband's untimely death, Deborah Robinson needs a fresh start. So she decides to pack up her family, box up her bookstore, and return to her grandmother's ancestral home on Cavanaugh Island. The charming town of Sanctuary Cove holds happy memories for Deborah. And, after she spies a gorgeous stranger in the local bakery, it promises the possibility for a bright, new future.

Dr. Asa Monroe is at a crossroads. Ever since the loss of his family, he has been on a quest for faith and meaning, traveling from one town to another. When he meets Deborah, the beautiful bookstore owner with the warm eyes and sunny smile, Asa believes he has finally found a reason to stay in one place.

As friendship blossoms into romance, Deborah and Asa discover they may have a second chance at love. But small towns have big secrets. Before they can begin their new life together, the couple must confront a challenge they never expected . . .

With nearly two million copies of her novels in print, Rochelle Alers is a regular on the Waldenbooks, Borders and Essence bestseller lists, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gold Pen Award, the Emma Award, Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.

For more information, please visit Rochelle's website at www.rochellealers.org/


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Friday, December 16, 2011

OPEN HOUSE - THANK YOU

We had a lot of luckers today, so I want to say thank you to our silent visitors for stopping by today.

I didn't give out all my prizes, so the next 10 who leave a comment will be lucky winners today.

I will give out the rest of the prizes next week, so stay posted here and on facebook for your chance to win some great prizes.

A big Thank you for the ladies who stopped by and shared some hot cocoa with me.

Have a great weekend.

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OPEN HOUSE - 2011


SORMAG's OPEN HOUSE




Welcome to our OPEN HOUSE.

Thank you so much for stopping by today.


Our chocolate bar includes a pitcher of cocoa, tea and coffee with lots of marshmallows and whip cream. If you need a cherry there’s a few of them too.

This year we have a chocolate fountain for dipping, cubes of pound cake, marshmellow treats and pieces of bananas, strawberries and apples.


The dessert bar includes Red Velvet Cheesecake,  German Chocolate Cake,  my specialty Turtle cake with extra Carmel and cupcake pops shaped like Christmas trees.

I know it’s early in the morning so I have a breakfast bar with a few bagels, glazed donuts and Christmas cookies if cakes are too much for you.

I’m looking forward to mingling with you all.


Prizes will be give every hour from (9:00 a.m - 5:00 pm)

There are two ways to win.  Leave a comment or answer one of the questions posted each hour. To be eligible make sure to leave your email in the comment.

Feel free to mingle with the other guests who drop by. Tell us how your holiday plans are going.

Listen to some music with us.

http://www.pandora.com/

Type in Christmas Song – Select Brian McKnight

Now you’re listening to the music at our open house - Enjoy

Authors feel free to tell us about your current books in our

On The Shelf Now  room.


We all know books make great gifts, so tell us what we're missing.

Check out our SPONSOR page. 

They've donated some great gifts this year.
Come on in and have some fun.

LaShaunda
SORMAG’s Editor/Hostess

P.S. I have doorprizes every hour. You have to leave a comment to win.



Do you eat roasted chestnuts or fruitcake?

What is your favorite Christmas smell?


What is your favorite Christmas memory?











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About Me

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I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

I’m available for:

Online promotion coaching
Lectures
Seminars
Freelancing
Contact me at:lchwriter@gmail.com

Serving Our Community 365 Days a Year!