Sunday, June 28, 2009

Announcing the Launch of Seriously Write

My good friend Dawn Kinzer and I have just launched a new blog entitled: Seriously Write.

Our mission is to help writers succeed in spreading the message God has given them through their writing.

Each day will be dedicated to a different topic. Take a peek:

Manuscript Mondays -- focus on the craft of writing
Net's Notation Tuesdays -- I get to offer thoughts on writing
Writer's Journey Wednesdays -- we'll highlight writing organizations and helpful blogs, post articles offering advice, and generally cover stops along the writing journey
Dawn's Devotional Thursdays -- Dawn gets to share her devotional writing thoughts
Fortifying Friday -- we'll encourage writers as they jump into the weekend by posting guest authors' encouragements, success stories, etc.

Click over and check it out! Seriously Write.

If you're a writer and would like to offer pieces to coincide with the topics listed for Monday/Wednesday/Friday above, please leave a message in the comments or email me at annette [at] annetteirby [dot] com. We're actively seeking submissions as we schedule through the summer.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guest Author: Allie Pleiter

I love the colors on Allie Pleiter's next Steeple Hill Love Inspired novel! Today she's dropping by to share a bit about her book and her own story of writing and coping when life sends you a whole list of troubles. Here's a blurb for her new book:

Everyone in Middleburg, Kentucky lines up for baker Dinah Hopkins’s cinnamon rolls. Everyone except her handsome new landlord, Cameron Rollings. The jaded city man doesn’t like anything about small-town life--from the fresh air to her fresh-baked snickerdoodles. And he clearly considers Dinah as quirky as her eccentric oven. The way to Cameron’s heart is not through his toned stomach. But the Lord led him to Kentucky Corners for a reason. And Dinah plans to help him count his bluegrass blessings.

And now, a peek behind the scenes of this author's writing life:

The Baker's Back-Up Tools

Chicago has had day after day of cool, dreary rain this summer, and I’m astounded how the weather affects my mood. Now granted, I’ve had a bunch of challenges eating away at my good mood lately, but I’m amazed how the rain destroys my endurance and patience. On a sunny day, I can be the cheeriest of optimists. Douse me for a week straight, and not so much.

Ticking off errands isn’t that difficult, even in a bad mood. A trip to the grocery store can always include a Lindt chocolate bar (yesterday’s adaptation). Writing, however, seems so very hard when I’m feeling weary. Creativity always seems to take more energy than productivity, doesn’t it?

What’s a girl on a deadline to do?

I’ll share a secret that I learned my first year as an author. Two weeks before my first manuscript re-write was due, my mother died unexpectedly. This, as you can well imagine, destroyed my creativity for weeks if not months. I was running on emotional empty, but I still had to “make art.”

I learned (and honestly, I can’t recall where) that the trick to these situations is containment. To trick my brain into thinking my problems weren’t beyond my capacity. They probably were, but obsessing about a crunch I couldn’t change proved useless. So I sat down—probably with a very large, very hot cup of coffee—and wrote EVERYTHING down. Everything I had to do (which was a whole lot, believe me). I’m pretty sure it took six or seven of those yellow legal pad pages. That seems counterproductive, but once you get it all on paper, you feel like you’ve contained it. You can see the edges this way.

Step two was to find an index card and pick five things—and ONLY five things—I could manage. Again, I gave myself edges I could see. I couldn’t contemplate all my problems, but I could stomach the thought of living through five. I wouldn’t look at the giant yellow pad again until my little white card of five tasks was done. Some days I could master a card in a day. Other times it took me a week to make it though one card. But each completed card gave me confidence, a sense of achievement, and a toehold against the storm of stuff that threatened to overtake me if I gave it the chance.

Dinah, my heroine in BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS, gets to learn from my experience. You’ll recognize the cards and the list as they make their appearance later in the book. That’s because Dinah’s a baker, a high-sensory gal like me. And, like me, she’s got a whopping load of stuff to do and not a lot of good mood to go around.

Prayer is essential, but a yellow legal pad and a stack of index cards aren’t a bad back-up, too!

Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. An avid knitter, harp player, and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University, and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; BECOMING A CHIEF HOME OFFICER and FACING EVERY MOM'S FEARS, and now novels for Steeple Hill. She is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella. Find Allie at her website.

BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS releases July 1st! Can't wait to read it. Allie's writing voice is fresh, fun and so enjoyable. (as you saw in her blurb and article above) Her coffee-focused, Seattle-based story "The Perfect Blend" is written first-person and reads fast. I love her writing! And just for fun, if you peek at "A Perfect Blend," you may see a name you recognize from this blog in the acknowledgments. Fun! A first.

Thanks for dropping by today, Allie. We wish you the best!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tour de Force by Elizabeth White

Today on Net's Book Notes, I'm featuring Elizabeth White's Tour de Force a delightful read about a ballerina, a new ballet and a choreographer with a passion for God. I loved this book! Here's the back cover copy:

A Passion for Dance

Gillian Kincade is a soloist with Ballet
New York, a sought-after guest artist, and a committed Christian. Though she may be an anomaly in the world of dance, Gilly believes her devotion to God isn’t compromised by following her dreams. Then she meets Jacob Ferrar.

A Passion for God

Jacob is the brilliant young artistic director of the Birmingham Ballet Theatre and a born-again Christian. When he offers Gillian the lead in his latest ballet she accepts, knowing it won’t necessarily further her career, but it will touch her soul.

Becomes Love’s Tour de Force

On the chaotic road to opening night, Gilly and Jacob develop a deep professional respect for each other and begin to fall in love. Then their brilliant first performance is destroyed by a terrible accident, and suddenly both must face an uncertain future. Together, they dance the fine line between personal vision and God’s will, listening for the guidance of the Father’s heart.

Elizabeth White is the author of Controlling Interest, Off the Record, Fair Game, Fireworks, and the Texas Gatekeepers series for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line. She lives in Mobile, Alabama.

And now, my review:

As a girl, I dreamed of expressing myself through dance, one day, professionally. I would choreograph twirling dances to Mom’s 8-tracks. So reading this novel, set around dance, captivated my imagination. Elizabeth’s focus on Jesus, and Mary’s extravagant worship of Him, touched my spirit. Sometimes, I find a book which specifically lends itself to movie material. This book reads like a movie and I believe it would make a fantastic visual impression.

Beyond the dance and the delicious spiritual themes, Elizabeth penned a believable and fun romance. Her heroine was fun and outgoing, strong and sensitive. I related with her even as I marveled. The hero, a dashing Englishman, came across as heroic in his sacrifice to care for his orphaned nephew. His relationship with that little guy was a delightful element to this novel.

The author had a way with words which kept me turning pages. I want to see this ballet she invented (Perfume), and I’d love to read more of her novels. Love how she ministered to readers and shared her heart through the story’s content. Satisfying. Delightful. A pure gem of a read. Highly recommended.

For more information, see Elizabeth's blog. Click here for a list of other bloggers on this tour.

Happy reading!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt

I hadn't planned on reading Cheryl's book for review (simply because my shelf is packed. :). I think I received it as a contest prize at some point, or maybe through a writer's conference. But I'd heard so many great thing about her writing (and I've become a friend through our writing circles) that I had to read it. I'm so glad I did!

Here's the back cover copy of A Soldier's Family.

On A Crash Course With Love... She was the woman of pararescue jumper Manny Pena's dreams. But he'd stuck his foot in his mouth the last time he met Celia Munoz. Now, grounded after a parachuting accident, he was desperate to make amends with the beautiful widow. But Celia wasn't having it. The last thing she needed was another man with a dangerous job--even if he had given his life to God. Yet Manny's growing commitment to her and her troubled son began to convince her that perhaps she should take her own leap of faith.

Last year, Cheryl volunteered (again?) at the ACFW conference as one of the coordinators for our meetings with editors and agents. Her calm presence made a difference, that and the fact that we'd already "met" online. I'd won a critique from her for my manuscript and the way she gently handled the interaction (always better to be gentle that first critique since you don't know where the other writer is coming from) truly blessed me. We became fast friends because I loved how her heart reflected Jesus and so appreciated her advice and wisdom.

So, what a gift to read her book and find her writing to be so delicious!

Here's my review of "A Soldier's Family" ---

Celia Munez has a reason to hold a grudge. A reason to hold onto fear and a reason to clutch unforgiveness, but this heroic heroine has this to say, at least to one of those rights:

“. . . I refuse to clench my heart around something as vile and destructive as unforgiveness.” (see pg. 199 of A Soldier’s Family)
Let’s start with the title of Cheryl’s book, shall we? Love it when a title has double meaning. Celia Munez’s husband died in the line of duty. She’s left to raise a teen-aged son. Special agent Manny Pena’s wife and son both died as well. He’s left with no one. As Manny steps in to fulfill a meaningful role in Celia’s son’s life, he is courting the soldier’s family. And if Celia ever surrenders her heart to trust again, Celia and her son can become a lonely soldier’s family.

Cheryl penned a beautiful, fast moving, sometimes light-hearted read with poignant moments and LOL breaks included. Neither her story, nor her characters lack layers, and I was pleasantly surprised more than once at an unexpected turn of events. Loved those surprises.

Being a Steeple Hill Love Inspired novel, this is a quick read, but it packs spiritual punch. I’ve met and corresponded with Cheryl on a few occasions. She has a heart of gold (if I may use a cliché). Her story demonstrates this, and I was blessed with her message(s) of hope in Jesus’ love and mercy. I believe readers will take away a fresh sense of God’s mercy and the importance of forgiveness, but mostly a new determination to trust God. Cheryl writes that her character was “stunned at the power of God to reprogram a human heart.” (see page 210) From fear to trust. Fantastically hopeful, don’t you think?

I loved her voice, prose, action, layering, characters, plot and surprises. I highly recommend this story and hope to read the rest of her Wings of Refuge series. Check it out. Visit her beautiful website at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

See "Comments" for Winner

Hey readers and contest participants--see the comments under the Julie interview for the winner's name! Thanks for reading!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman

I am thrilled to host good friend Julie Lessman here at Net's Book Notes today. We're featuring her novel "A Passion Denied," Book Three in her Daughters of Boston series.

Recently she and I discussed the passionate nature of her novels. There has been a little "controversy" around her writing, but for the most part, readers are eating it up. I personally love her writing, though I did have some questions for her following this third book. You'll also get the scoop on her upcoming series!

Wanna win an autographed copy of one of Julie's books? Read on for details about our BOOK GIVEAWAY.

Here's the blurb from A Passion Denied:

Young Elizabeth O'Connor is the little sister John Brady always longed for. But she wants much more than that from her spiritual mentor. As she blossoms into a beautiful young woman intent on loving John, he must push back the very real attraction he feels for her. His past just won't let him go there. Unfortunately, Lizzie won't let him go anywhere else--until she discovers he is not all that he seems. Can true love survive such revelations? Full of the romance and relationships Lessman readers have come to love, A Passion Denied is the final book in the popular Daughters of Boston series.

Has she fallen in love with a man who cannot love her back? Elizabeth O'Connor has been like the little sister Jo
hn Brady always wanted, sharing his love of literature and his thirst for God. But in the throes of the reckless Roaring Twenties, Lizzie has grown up. Suddenly she wants more from the man who has been her friend since she was a child. When this shy little bookworm blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving John, she discovers that his past won't let him return that love. But Lizzie refuses to give up--until his shocking secrets push her away. Can true love survive the betrayal and deceitful of a painful past . . . or will it be shattered like the fairy-tale dreams of a girl in love? Brimming with romance, longing, and redemption, A Passion Denied, will quicken your pulse and gladden your heart with a riveting story of the true power of love. Julie Lessman is the author of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed and is the recipient of ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her family.

And some info on Julie:

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.

And now, for a conversation with Julie:

Welcome, Julie! So glad you could drop by. From the moment I picked up A Passion Most Pure, opened to the first page and began the journey into your series (The Daughters of Boston), I knew I was in for a read like few I’ve ever seen. The trademark of your fiction is passion, sensuality. You portrayed marital passion wholesomely, and believably (I might add, having been married only a few years younger than the married parents in this series.). I liked the novel very much. The Christian romantic fiction marketplace has been careful to maintain strict boundaries around portrayals of sensuality and passion, even in romance. What you’ve been able to do is push the envelope, giving readers a more real depiction (for good or bad—in other words, the characters can make wholesome decisions or not, but if not, you painted the bitter consequences). I read books One and Two with interest, noting your veering from the norm. Book Three (the one we’re featuring today—A Passion Denied) seemed to go further than the others. For me, the issue with this most recent book was the seduction element, which I felt occasinally pushed the limits further than the others.

Julie: Annette, your assessment that A Passion Denied goes “further than the others” as far as the “seduction element” is probably true regarding this third book in The Daughters of Boston Series. The reason for this is that in this book, I am not only dealing with the romantic relationship between the unmarried hero and heroine, but also the romantic and obviously more intimate relationships between three married couples as well—the mother and father, Marcy and Patrick and the two married sisters and their spouses.

You see, when I fall in love with a hero and heroine in a series book, I hate to see them relegated to a shallow cameo appearance in the next novel. I desperately wanted to have a flesh-and-blood family who evolved with each successive book, just like the hero and heroine do. I guess like any author, I pour my heart and soul into my characters, literally, and I don’t like to leave them behind when a book ends. And, I have a strong desire to try and impart some of the valuable moral lessons I’ve learned in my marriage into the marriages of all my characters.

One of my biggest pet peeves in romance is when a story focuses primarily on 1.) Young People and 2.) Unmarried Couples. I’m sorry, but I am an older woman who has a passionate love affair with my husband, and frankly, I want to be able to write about the power and potential of having a relationship like that and the vital part that romance plays in a godly marriage. In book 3, because of the married couples, I was able to do that, which resonates with some readers, but certainly not with all.

It absolutely resonated with me. Thanks for explaining that. The Daughters of Boston Series contains three books so far: A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed and A Passion Denied. Great titles. Tell us about your latest book, and will it be in the same series? (I know it centers on Katie, one of the sisters in your series.)

My next 3-book series will finish off the saga of the O’Connors in grand style, but I must emphasize that this will be a BRAND-NEW series, NOT a part of The Daughters of Boston Series.

Book 1 (working title Refuge From the Storm) will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, who is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Book 2 (working title Far Above Rubies) will be about the eldest O’Connor brother, Sean whose love interest will be—guess who? Emma, Charity’s gentle and scarred friend from Dublin! And then book 3 (working title Beside the Still Waters) details the tale of the younger O’Connor son Steven, during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables. I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope will blow my readers away!

Sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to read them! Your bio mentions you have won ten RWA awards. Tell us about them. (i.e. were they the unpublished contest, or for short stories, or full length. Were any of your currently published novels among the winners?)

Yes, I won ten RWA awards, everything from 1st place to Honorable Mention in RWA unpublished contests for A Passion Most Pure (which was then A Chasing After the Wind) and a few for A Passion Redeemed (which was then Chaff Before the Wind), including The Golden Heart, The Maggie, The Molly, The Stepping Stone, The Jasmine and the ACFW Noble Theme to name a few.

Very impressive. Let’s talk about the recent “controversy” around the sensual nature of your writing. What’s been happening?

You know, Annette, I’m not really sure there’s any real “controversy” other than in my own mind when I receive a pretty harsh review. I know with A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed, there really wasn’t much “controversy” AT ALL, other than one or two 1-star reviews that clearly indicated displeasure with the passionate nature of my books. And I have to admit, I prefer the term “passionate” over the word “sensual” because for me, the first implies more of a “heart” passion (whether for God or for a loved one) versus the second, which indicates a more sexual passion ruled by the senses rather than the heart.

But with A Passion Denied, I do sense a faint undercurrent of “controversy,” real or imagined, that has given me pause. Not only with one or two harsh reviews (i.e. “In my opinion, smut is smut. Even if you slap God's name in it on occasion it's still smut.”), but in veiled comments in otherwise really great reviews that have made me question (again!) whether the level of passion in my books exceeds boundaries in the CBA. Clearly in the ABA, my novels would be nothing more than the tamest “sweet romance,” but I am an Inspirational author whose market is Christian women, so naturally I do not want to overstep any bounds in that market. Although to be honest, my real concern comes from overstepping bounds set by God, so I do pray about the direction of my writing constantly, both in my own prayer time and with my prayer partners. I truly believe that I have been called to write passionate romance for God—I feel it in my bones—but as with anything where fallible human beings are involved, I want to make sure that I am following God’s direction for my writing and not my own.

You and I have had conversations about this before. Please share with readers what your calling is in your writing. And please share how you came to understand your calling. (How God showed you your niche.)

Well, I thoroughly explain both my “calling” and how I came to it in a blog I wrote for The Seekers entitled “Life on the Edge …” (, but basically I feel I am called to draw people to an intimate relationship with God through “passion”—both romantically and spiritually. You see, according to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide (90%) consider themselves to be Christian.” The sad truth is that most of these women who do read romance wouldn’t choose Inspirational romance to save their soul.

Why, you may ask? Well, I can only speak for myself and my friends who wanted more heart-pounding, 21st-century realistic romantic tension interlaced with God’s precepts (i.e. on the "edge," like mine), which in years past, hasn't been overly prevalent in the Christian market. As a result, most of my friends, C
hristian and non, read secular romance, which, of course, generally promotes the world’s amoral lifestyle rather than God’s. What’s wrong with this picture? I mean if the world can take something that God created and use it to sell its amoral agenda, then why can’t Christians utilize this God-given passion to promote Him and His precepts?

(Note from Net: I couldn’t agree more.)

So when God tapped me on the shoulder in a beauty shop (figuratively, of course) while reading a 2001 Newsweek cover article on how Christian movies, books and music were on the threshold of exploding, I was nervous. Now is the time to finish your book, the thought came, and I knew that meant the book I’d begun at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. But romance? The "subgenre" that literary snobs (myself included) looked down upon? Yes, the thought came again, write for Me. Mmm … passion for God, an interesting concept. Thus was born my tagline and my ministry—Passion With a Purpose.

I mean, l
ook at the world today—it’s obsessed with illicit passion. Hollywood promotes adultery and unmarried couples sleeping together as sexy, and I can count on one hand how many young, unmarried women I know who are still virgins today, Christian or no. Why? Because passion is important! Not just to romance readers, but to everyone on the planet. We were created that way by a passionate God who analogizes His own depth of love for each of us in a very passionate love letter called “Song of Solomon.” And what happens? The world uses this beautiful, God-given gift to shove sin down peoples’ throats, and I, for one, am really sick of it. I want to use passion the way it was intended—to teach people God’s precepts and therein, His love. It’s the cry of my heart, and I hope and pray that for my readers, my stories of romantic passion translate into passion for God.

Oh, I love that connection and wholeheartedly agree. My own writing reflects as much! With your successful series so far, I’m sure you’ve had feedback where people’s lives have been changed. Please share a testimony (or more than one) where that is the case.

Gladly! My favorite story is about the day I was praying with my prayer partner and her 25-year-old daughter stopped by. Now this was a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time but knew that she had strayed from her Christian roots—living with her boyfriend before they got married, not going to church anymore, heavy drinking, etc. This young women proceeded to tell me that when she read my books, she actually got angry at me. Why? Because the spiritual parts convicted her so much that she wanted to throw the books out. But she didn’t, she said, BECAUSE the intense “passion” and romance so grabbed her by the throat, that she was compelled to finish the books. And when she turned the last page of A Passion Redeemed, she told me it had brought her up to a whole other level with God. I had tears in my eyes when I learned she is now back at church and trying to live for Him. Call me “edgy” if you will, but for me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Love that story! Anytime someone boldly goes where God is calling her, despite the resistance, I r
espect her. You’re out there on your own, it feels. Has your family supported you and where does your husband fit into your writing life?

Uh, yeah, it does feel a little “lonely” at times out on the edge in a market where my style of “21st-century realistic” and “edgy” writing may ruffle a few feathers. But I have to say that the opposition has been minimal and far outweighed by the positive. For instance, I received an overwhelming response of encouragement on The Seeker blog I mentioned above with 129 comments, all of which were positive except for two, and one of those changed her mind after I answered a few of her questions. Since the series came out last year, I have received over a 1,000 positive e-mails from readers, some that have reduced me to tears over the positive impact this style of writing is making in women’s lives. And, yes, my family has been an amazing support, as well, especially my artist husband who is not only my inspiration for so many of my male characters, but the glue that keeps me together (along with God) when my emotional nature wants to fall apart. And, you will be happy to know, Annette, that it is my husband who is the main factor in my decision to tone down my next series just a tad as far as the “passion” aspect.

I respect both of you and appreciate how challenging this must have been for you (walking out your calling together). Thank you for joining me today on Net’s Book Notes. It’s been a pleasure. How can readers contact you?

Thank you, Annette, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find us at


And now, my review of A Passion Denied:

Oh, how I enjoy reading Julie’s books, especially the first in the Daughters of Boston Series: A Passion Most Pure. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

One of her strengths is prose. She doesn’t settle for traditional wording (clichés) but rather invents new phrases. I should have carried a highlighter around with this novel, because I’d have used it a lot.

Julie’s work intrigued me. As a student of Christian fiction for nearly 20 years, I’d never seen anything like it. She pushes the envelope (see interview above) and honestly, I wondered how she’d “gotten away” with her story elements at times. But what I found was real, believable, "relatable."

A Passion Denied challenged me. I’ve become friends with Julie and had committed to reading this book for review. And I trust her (a key element for readers to have). Though all of her books have sensuality, this third book contained a strong element of seduction. Now, it’s not a traditional secular romance (i.e. no holds barred on sexuality) but it does push at the walls of CBA fiction publications. If you’ve read my own book (Love Letters) you will know I’m not afraid of writing passionate scenes. I’m unafraid of reading them, as well. What unnerved me about A Passion Denied was that seduction factor.

What I didn’t know as I read it was that Julie has a very specific calling. And as we communicated after I finished reading the story, she shared with me her heart (see interview). What a difference it made to hear this from her. Suddenly the intensity made sense. A show of hands please from any woman (Christian or not) who has ever read a conventional romance novel (secular). . . . I haven’t always had the moral reading standards I’ve adhered to now for almost 20 years. So, yes, I saw some elements from days of old. But imagine the impact such a novel (one which speaks of God redeeming someone’s life and his past, and other Christian themes) could have in someone’s life. Say a person picks up the novel, reading for pleasure, but finds she can’t avoid running directly into God and His ways. Julie does not glorify ungodly behavior. She shows the consequences of it. She also points readers directly to the Lord.

In my experience, I haven’t read other authors who are going where Julie is going, attempting to do what she is doing. And I believe God has her here “for such a time as this.” So, I applaud her courage. I plan to continue reading her work. I’ll continue to pray for her to have wisdom, and God’s direction, and that she will keep writing for His glory. May many lives be changed.

Readers, leave a comment for a CHANCE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY of any of the three Daughters of Boston books. You can name the one you’d like to receive if your name is drawn. I’ll hold the drawing late Thursday, June 11th. If you send someone over to leave a comment, have them mention your name and we’ll enter your name twice. Please leave your email address: yourname [at] wherever [dot] com.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander

My first experience reading Tamera Alexander's work was her fantastic Fountain Creek Chronicles series: Rekindled, Revealed, Remembered. If you haven’t read that series, pick it up. It’s delicious historical romance. I especially enjoyed Rekindled.

Now, onto today’s featured book: The Inheritance.

What’s it about:

An unexpected inheritance. An unknown future. An unending love.

Determined to tame her younger brother's rebellious streak, McKenna Ashford accepts her cousin's invitation to move west and to begin again. But she quickly discovers that life in Copper Creek, Colorado is far from what she expected. Shouldering burdens beyond her years, McKenna tries to be the parent Robert needs, instead of the older sister he resents. But an "untimely inheritance" challenges her resolve at every turn, while also offering a second chance to restore her trust--and perhaps even her heart. U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon is dedicated to bringing fugitives to justice, yet years of living on the trail have taken their toll.

When his path intersects with that of McKenna, he comes face-to-face with a past he never wanted to relive--and the one woman who can help him find the future he's been longing for.
As McKenna struggles to let go of her independence and Wyatt considers opening his heart again, they discover an inheritance beyond imagination. But it will come at a price.

Tell me about Tamera:

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Tamera's deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.

These awards include the 2008 Christy Award for Best Romance, the 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.

Released in February 2009, Tamera's The Inheritance, the first historical for the WOMEN OF FAITH fiction line (Thomas Nelson), debuted on CBA's Bestseller list (Christian Booksellers Association). The Inheritance, a standalone novel, is set in Colorado 1877 and is about a young woman's struggle to let go of her independence while she also discovers an inheritance beyond her imagining. Read an excerpt from The Inheritance here. (borrowed from her website's bio page:

And now my review:

Tamera’s cast of characters includes a strong heroine, a gentle but powerful hero, a rebellious brother, a dear niece, a kind doctor and a Chinese couple. Tamera effortlessly weaves an interesting ensemble cast into her well-written historical fiction.

One of McKenna’s weaknesses is loving without setting limits. She’s raised her brother from his infancy, but he has chosen rebellion. Now, as a young man, he’s a formidable opponent. Enter Marshal Wyatt Caradon. He has some wisdom to dole out and some boundaries to enforce. Readers will understand both sides, I think.

Brokenness is Tamera’s theme in The Inheritance. She brings her characters directly to that place—McKenna almost loses everything. Again. Robert (her rebellious brother) has to face his failures. Wyatt lives in a state of brokenness as he overcomes a deep loss. I appreciated Tamera’s reference to dependence upon God and how brokenness brings sweetness to our relationship with Him.

She has written a beautiful historical novel I believe readers will love.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So Proud of My Friend

My good friend Dawn Kinzer's short story was published today in the June, 2009 edition of Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Check out the story here.

Congratulations, Dawn! Check out her blog and website.

BTW, this e-zine is chock full of great stuff for writers and readers: Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Christian Fiction Releases - June, 2009

Happy June!

Beach books are here and this month you've got a LOT to choose from. Congratulations to everyone on your new releases.

1. A Case of the Heart by Beth Shriver from The Wild Rose Press. An over zealous social worker develops a relationship with a cop while they keep her client safe from involvement in a drug ring.

2. A Dream to Call My Own, Brides of Gallatin County Book 3 from Bethany House Publishers by Tracie Peterson. Love and adventure still hearts in the rugged Montana frontier, while a killer threatens the peace and happiness of an entire community.

3. A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. reunion romance between a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ) and a pediatrician and first love from his past who fears their careers will push them apart again.

4. A Family for Tory/A Mother for Cindy by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Classics. Two stories that illustrate what happens when children decide to matchmake and bring two people together.

5. Above All Things by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill. Evette must decide if she can be a mother to her husband's 6-year-old mixed race child. A baby neither of them knew existed until a fateful phone call.

6. Child Finder by Mike Angley from TotalRecall Publications, Inc. An Air Force Special Agent discovers he has a psychic gift that enables him to find missing children, but the government's exploitation of his skills leads to murder!

7. Critical Care, Mercy Hospital Series #1 by Candace Calvert from Tyndale House. When a nurse initiates disaster counseling, the process re-opens her own emotional wounds--as God prepares her heart for a love that was nowhere in her plans.

8. Highland Masquerade, The MacTavish Chronicles by April Sanders from Tate Publishing. Victoria must disguise herself as a boy and accidentally falls into the hands of the man she loves in order to escape her evil uncle.

9. His Forever Love by Missy Tippins from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Can former high school buddies find love while fighting over "custody" of his grandmother?

10. Love Finds you in Revenge, Ohio by Lisa Harris from Summerside Press. Morgan finds herself torn between saving her sister's heart and losing hers to the man who jilted her seven years ago.

11. Love Finds you in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne from Summerside Press. The attraction between Amanda and Jerry is overshadowed by their sense of responsibility.

12. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell from Bethany House Publishers. Susannah Phillips obeys the rules. But when love interferes, she faces a choice: Follow the rules or follow her heart. (Watch Net's Book Notes for my review in the coming weeks.)

13. Nosey in Nebraska by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Murder, Romance, Comedy and a really big mouse.

14. Snow Melts in Spring, Seasons of the Tallgrass Series by Deborah Vogts from Zondervan. Mattie Evans, a young veterinarian in rural Kansas saves a horse inured in a terrible accident but finds herself tending the wounded relationship between a prodigal son and his ailing father.

15. Sunset Beach, The Beach House Series #4, by Trish Perry from Harvest House Publishers. Sonny Miller invites her mother and estranged aunt to a week at the beach, not telling one about the other; but they bring a few surprises of their own.

16. The Night Watchman, the Ray Quinn Series Book #1, by Mark Mynheir from Multnomah/Waterbrook Publishers. When the case of a lifetime is thrust upon him, retried homicide detective Ray Quinn must decide rather he’ll succumb to his depression and pain or use the God-given gifts he still has left to catch a killer. Crawling from the wreckage of his former life, Ray struggles to find healing and purpose as he tracks a madman.

17. Witness to Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When a TV reporter witnesses a murder--she thinks--only unearthing the sinister secrets of her painful past can save her from becoming the next victim.

Happy Reading!