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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cry Wolf

Dear Readers, I am sick, coughing nonstop, my whole chest is sore ... so I will not try to to think of anything catchy to say. Check in next week. (Year!)

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010


I'm a lover of movies. I frequently spend Christmas going to the movies, but few of them are worthy of the holiday.

But here below, in no particular order, are some of my favorite Christmas movies.

Although not a personal favorite, my daughter Jolene's favorite movie qualifies under this subject: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack the Pumpkin King tries to take over Christmas, with nightmarish results.

On TV, I always enjoyed watching Homecoming, the Waltons story that spawned the TV show. The Waltons always carried me back to a time where faith and family triumphed over the difficult circumstances in which they found themselves.

Also on TV, I loved the various Christmas episodes on Touched By an Angel that featured Randy Travis. I felt like I had been touched by an angel when they sang the Hallelujah Chorus.

It's a Wonderful Life. I can't imagine Christmas without this Jimmy Stewart classic. It always helps me focus on the difference my single solitary life can make--and renews my hope.

A Christmas Carol--which has been done and redone many times, but I still like the first one the best. I love the introduction of Scrooge's sister.

And of more recent vintage--Elf--which makes me want to believe.

I've left out some obvious ones ... let me see to start with that I HATE A Christmas Story, which always appears on Top 10 Christmas movie lists. Not for me.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

What do I hope to see this Christmas? Perhaps I will want to voyage to Narnia aboard the Dawntreader.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Books

I'm an author. Of course I have to take about Christmas books!

I've even contributed to the genre: Snowbound Colorado Christmas (with my Book of the Year finaling novella, , Dressed in Scarlet); Wild West Christmas; and A Woodland Christmas.

Three stories stick in my mind as ones I have read, reread, and love beyond belief. A fourth is a sentimental favorite, introduced to me by my mother. So here they are in ascending order:

4. Sentimental favorite: A Pickwick Christmas, from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Mom had the story on tape, and before long, I could quote the lines as well as she could. A tale of a quintessential Victorian Christmas.

3. The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry. This story (plus O'Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief") is one of the reasons I love the story form. And if you've never read
Gift of the Magi, find it. An amazing story of love and sacrifice that captures the spirit of Christmas.

2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. One of my seminary professors ended every fall semester by reading this YA book. If you've never encountered the Herdman family and the Magi who brought ham to the Messiah ... you're in for a treat.

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. What can I say? Simply the best Christmas story known to man, aside from the truth of Christmas, which makes a grand story but best of all is true. From Fezziwig's Christmas, to Tiny Tim, to Scrooge's reformation--the images live with us all.

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories? Several more came to mind as I wrote this, but I decided to leave it with the first impressions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


What draws you to writing historical romance?

For many years going through regular school, I tried hard to find something to enjoy about history class. There were moments and tidbits, but on the whole, the classes were rather boring. Nothing but facts, names, dates, events, etc. Nothing personal, and no connection to what happened or who lived during those times. So now, as a historical fiction author, I seek to create stories people will love while weaving history throughout the book. When readers finish one of my books, they’ve usually gotten a history lesson without realizing it. And that’s the highest testament someone can give me about my books.

Michigan Brides is set, obviously, in Michigan. Do you have personal ties to Michigan? What can we expect to learn about Michigan’s history from this book?

No, I actually have no personal ties to the state. In fact, I had to seek out location advice and research details from a friend I know who lives there, as well as the Detroit Historical Society. As for Michigan’s history, you’ll learn a lot about the city of Detroit, the factories, Mayor Pingree’s Potato Patch farming, and Henry Ford with his Model-T and the invention of the Assembly Line.

I believe you and I began writing for Heartsong Presents about the same time. Tell me how that came about.

My journey began many years ago. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade with several accolades from both my teacher and my fellow students. It was even entered into a ‘Young Writers of America’ contest and placed but didn’t get selected for publication. Ever since I learned to read at age 3-1/2, I’ve been telling stories, and I could often easily keep a captive audience. Writing seemed to be a natural progression from the verbal.

I wrote often, but it wasn’t until I was a Senior in high school that I got the ‘bug’ to write. My English teacher saw potential, and as an author herself, she encouraged me to pursue the talent further. However, I became more focused on finishing my education and getting my degree, so my writing took up residence on the back burner.

It wasn’t until 1997 when I wrote my first fan fiction and received a lot of encouragement and feedback that I realized I might be able to make something of this ability. It took me another 5 years and encouragement from Tracie Peterson (one of my favorite authors) before I took the step professionally to begin a career by joining a national organization called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), then known as ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers).

I did everything I could to improve my skills and develop my craft. I bought writing books, studied a wide variety of fiction, conversed with other writers and authors, attended conferences, purchased audio recordings of workshops and presentations, and soaked up as much information as I could handle. Almost 5 years later, I sold my first book and took a rather scary step into the world of authorship.

When I received the notification that my first book was actually going to be bought, I can’t begin to describe the elation and the excitement. The first thought that went through my mind is, “I have to tell someone!” Since the hour was late, and everyone had gone to bed, I logged online. The only one signed on was the man who is now my husband. Some people would call that ironic. I call it God. One of the biggest moments of my life, and the first person I tell is the man I would marry just 8 months later. Amazing!

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

I’d have to say being voted the #1 favorite new author in 2009 by the reader’s and being a top 3 finalist, placing 2nd, in the 2009 Annual Reader’s Choice Awards. It’s wonderful to write and be paid to do what you love, but it’s ten times more amazing to have the readers love your work and be touched by your words that they vote you a favorite. A true testament to God’s gift being used to its fullest.

Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

Honestly? I get or set a deadline. (grins) You’d be amazed how inspired you get when a deadline is looming, whether it’s a personal one you set for yourself or one your editor sets for you. But yes, the deadlines set for you on a contract tend to hold more weight and motivate much more.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

It’s made me even more grateful that I’m able to do what I love and bless others in the process. It’s humbling and an honor to use the gifts God’s given me to inspire those who read my books. And it’s the best feeling in the world to receive a letter or email from a reader telling me one of my books met them exactly where they were at the time, speaking to their heart. How amazing to be called to this career.

As for an aspect that hasn’t changed much, the only one coming to mind is the knowledge I have to stick to my guns and plant my rear in the chair. That I have to write, write, write, in order to keep moving forward. I also have to maintain a teachable spirit and never stop learning.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

I just signed a contract for a new 3-book series set in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware during the Gilded Age and turn of the 20th Century. In all 3 books, an antique book brings each hero and heroine together in ways they never would have imagined, irrevocably intertwining their lives with each other. The first book is set to release in late summer 2011.
And readers can always find me at my web site: There, you’ll find links to my Facebook page, readers group, Linked in profile, blog, and much more. Come on by! I love to hear from my readers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

News Flash

For more of my special Christmas memories, check out the 12 Books of Christmas at A giveaway of A Woodland Christmas is included.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


The calendar has turned and the month of Christmas is upon us!

For years, I confess, I thought of Christmas as less important than the Resurrection to my faith. And true, Jesus came to earth to die for my sins.

But at an advent service where the pastor spoke about "GODISNOWHERE" which can be read as "God is nowhere" or ... triumphantly ... "GOD IS NOW HERE!" I began to capture a glimmer of the miracle of the incarnation. God Himself came to earth! God truly understands my humanity because He put on human flesh.

And so, this month, I think I will focus on Christmas--all month--all the special memories. This is my first Christmas without my mother, and my son celebrates Hannukah (Happy Hannukah, everybody! It's this week.) So I expect my own celebration will be quiet. But there is so much to remember and ponder upon.

I will start with ... of course ... music. (Did you expect me to say favorite Christmas books?!) Here are some of my favorite memories ...

Christmas and music have gone together for me since I was a child. I played piano well enough in junior high to accompany our school's Christmas program. I was also playing piano at church, playing through every carol in our hymnbook to the point where even now I can almost play them by heart.

Since I was a little heavy, even then, in 8th grade I played Santa Claus in our Christmas play. (Oh, dear.) And then there was the year our church choir tried to perform Night of Miracles by John W. Peterson--we didn't--but that's when I first encountered the moving song, No Room.

I started college singing alto and then discovered I was truly a soprano, so I've learned both parts of Handel's Messiah. How well I remember sharing my copy of the music with Wesley, a Jamaican who sang tenor.

Fast forward several years, to watching my own son sing the solo in his school's Christmas program. And later, writing a musical for our church choir called "Christmas Around the World." I had discovered a book with hundreds of Christmas carols, and we managed to find music from all the continents (except the Antartic). We even sang ... in Portuguese, French, Spanish, German.

Carols, caroling, piano music, programs ... rehearsals ... joy bursting forth in song!

Two years ago, I narrated a cantata for the first time. This from the girl who
hated Speech class! And discovered that in the process of learning how to sing, I had learned how to speak well.

Last year, I was asked to play at the annual ladies' Christmas brunch at my new church ... and became instantly recognizeable as "that lady who plays the piano."

This year, I am one of the narrators of our Christmas program, as well as singing a solo. The title Christmas Offering, and my prayer is that my words, my voice, will be an offering to the God Who Came.

Please share some of your favorite Christmas music stories.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Today it is my privilege to welcome Laura Greiner to my blog. I met Laura through the Christian Authors Network.

Laura Greiner has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Denver and a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado. Laura is an author, women’s event speaker and she teaches college courses in Sociology. Laura also is a Bible study leader and hospice volunteer. She and her husband, Bruce, have three children and live in Golden, Colorado. Laura loves to hike and mountain bike ride and spends a lot of time with her family up at their Winter Park cabin. Laura also loves to travel and has a heart to do mission work with her family.

**Laura is giving away a copy of TruthDare to one of my readers.**

Laura, your two books, Where Women Walked and TruthDare, both contain true inspirational stories. How long have you been collecting stories and what inspired you to write about them?

I have been collecting stories since I can remember! As a little girl I use to read books about martyrs and saints because even then I felt the stories move me closer to God. I am an avid believer in the faith-breathing impact of real life stories that tell about the messy stuff in life. I think they take us “farther up and further in” to God as C.S. Lewis put it in The Last Battle. And that is what TruthDare is about. It is a collection of stories about men and women who dared to live the Truth they believe in the midst of everyday messy life.

In TruthDare, you dare us to live as if we truly believe the things we proclaim. What are some ways your life changed as you worked through this manuscript?

My faith grew stronger as I wrote the book. I wove pieces of my own spiritual journey with the true stories in the book and it was a faith-building, cathartic process. The people I write about in the book were also major faith-boosters!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently not working on a new book. I have been in a major writing mode for the past several years and now I feel like I am in a God-appointed season of waiting on Him. I also have felt Him move me into arenas where I am working with people instead of just me and my computer all day. I am teaching at a local university and I am also working part-time as a victim advocate. I feel that this work is not separate from my writing but an important part of it.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

I think TruthDare has been my most satisfactory experience because it was the first time I allowed myself to be myself. It is raw and real whereas in the past my writing has portrayed a more polished Laura.

Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

Being inspired revitalizes my writer’s soul. I am inspired in different ways at different times. Sometimes I am inspired when I am alone and the Holy Spirit is whispering to me. Sometimes I am inspired by deeply sharing with another person. I love to read really good writing to stay inspired too. I soak in words and how they are put together. I love reading memoirs and learning from and connecting with people I have never met but feel like I know.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

I try and stay away from success because it messes with my mind. It takes me off the simple, obedient path I long to stay on. I have found success diverts my attention away from Christ. I am sure writer’s can do it well, but I have yet to figure out how to be totally consumed with Christ if I am out promoting my book. It just gets all muddled for me. I even struggle being Christ-consumed when I go out and speak. Try as I might not to worry about how well I did, I inevitably do.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

They can find me at