Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Interview with Sandra Bricker

In celebration of Sandie's new release, she's making a guest appearance today. Love Finds You in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California released October 1st through Summerside Press.

Welcome, Sandra. Good to have you here again. Tell us about your novel, Love Finds You in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Drawing inspiration from Hollywood classics, Annie Gray decides to start living the life of her dreams. So she moves into a picturesque bungalow and becomes a private investigator's assistant. When her screen-worthy plan starts to crumble, she lands in the arms of a leading man who is NOT Humphrey Bogart!

We’d love to know more about how you came up with the idea for your book.

Well, I’d pitched something for the Love Finds You series set in Shepherd, Montana, which they bought. However, Carlton Garborg, the owner of Summerside, had taken a golfing vacation to Carmel and came home with visions of a book set there. For some reason, maybe because I’m from California, he asked if I would consider changing the setting from Shepherd. Frankly, I thought he was out of his mind, and wondered if he’d been hit in the head by a golf ball! My book was all wrong for Carmel, or so I thought. But once I visited the place myself, I realized immediately that this was a divine connection. My book was meant for a location like Carmel! It didn’t take long to rewrite it, filtering in those dreamy ocean spots and the amazing artists’ culture of Carmel village. By the time I did the final read-through, I couldn’t even remember anywhere else but Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Tell us more about Annie Gray, your main character.

I adore Annie. She has a lot of me in her. She has a passion for classic films, she’s a little odd, but her deepest desire is to have a life that means something. And she has a key influence in the guise of her faithful dog, which of course I do as well. She also has a circle of very close friends, each of them contributing something vital to her growth and, over the course of the book, she learns a lot about the realities of love in comparison to her girlhood fantasies of what it should be.

What is your favorite scene in your novel?

Hands down, it’s the scene where Annie has just started her new job as a private investigator’s assistant. On her first stakeout, she makes the key mistake of interacting with the person she’s following. While she’s doing so, her dog goes missing from her car and, when she finds him (based on the true-life antics of a friend’s beagle) … Well, let’s just say I loved writing that scene!

I’ve read that you have a new devotional for women coming out in the spring, also published by Summerside Press. Tell us about it.

Thank you so much for asking! Last year, I worked with Debby Mayne, Andrea Boeshaar and Loree Lough to put together Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry. It was a pretty big hit with people, and Summerside asked me if I’d be interested in putting another one together with a new group of authors. So together with Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck and Trish Perry, Debby Mayne and I co-authored Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days. Like the first one, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I am a survivor of the disease, and it was particularly poignant this time around because Diann Hunt was going through chemo treatments for ovarian cancer during the writing process! I’m a 6-year survivor of stage 3 ovarian cancer, and I had no good reason for surviving except for the intervention of a healing and grace-giving God. To this day, there is still no reliable diagnostic tool for the disease, so it’s a cause very near and dear to my heart. The cherry on top of all of this is that Diann was declared cancer-free recently. It’s been such a rewarding experience, on so many levels.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the sequel to January’s novel, The Big 5-OH!, which will be called The Big 4-OH!, followed up next year by The Big 3-OH! I’m really excited about the series, and it’s been so great getting reacquainted with the characters from the first book.

Thanks for visiting, Sandie! Always a pleasure to host you!


To learn more about Sandie, visit her website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer is a skillful new author--one to watch! What's not to love about that cover??

Let's begin with the summary:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind. When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate. When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

And now, my review:

Karen used symbols well in her novel—clouds, Gideon’s story from the Bible, and even Esther’s famous line, “For such a time as this.” In the course of the story, all of these worked.

She’s a skilled romance writer. Though there were a few places which lagged in the story, I felt overall the pacing kept me interested. Not only that, but she threw in just enough twists to surprise me.

Her heroine is a witty, strong, capable teacher-turned-governess whom we get to watch mature from flighty to competent. Our hero is well-drawn. What’s not to love about a man who adopts an orphan, in order to honor a dying stranger’s request?

The other issue is the orphaned girl is a five-year-old mute who has experienced great tragedy in her young life. I enjoyed this psychological aspect in the story as well, how the author wove in some deeper elements this way.

The author’s use of humor had me lol-ing a few times.

Overall, a very entertaining read. Lovers of historicals and romances will enjoy this second book by Karen Witemeyer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

Every now and then you run across a story that is so true-to-life, with characters real and layered up with history. This was such a book.

Let’s begin with the back cover copy:

Centered on a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, The Mailbox blends intriguing folklore and true faith with raw contemporary issues that affect every woman.

When Lindsey Adams first visits the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach, she has no idea that twenty years later she will still be visiting the mailbox--still pouring out her heart in letters that summarize the best and worst parts of her life.

Returning to Sunset for her first vacation since her husband left her, Lindsey struggles to put her sorrow into words. Memories surface of her first love, Campbell--and the rejection that followed. When Campbell reappears in her life, Lindsey must decide whether to trust in love again or guard herself from greater pain. The Mailbox is a rich novel about loss, hope, and the beauty of second chances.

And now, my review:

I’m a sucker for beach stories. Oh, and letters. This novel has both. You’ll experience the youthful love of the hero and heroine, watch them grow up and lose their way in relationships, and then be drawn back to the beach where they re-encounter each other.

Through letters, Lindsey’s been reaching out the Kindred Spirit every summer since she was fifteen. (How cool is this real-life mailbox??!) She’s looking for help, intervention, a listening ear. Eventually, she learns Jesus wants to offer this to her. As a Christian reading the book, I was reminded of the wonderful access we have to God, the invitation to tell Him of our hurts and problems.

Campbell was human and real. I think readers will appreciate how relatable he was—he wants to be competent, but he’s weak. Lindsey will be hard-pressed to trust him after everything he’s done. And readers will eat up their interactions as adults, revisiting the mailbox, revisiting their past.

I like “reunion romances”—where the hero and heroine get another chance at love. So, this love story appealed to me. And perhaps it was the fact the story covered a long span of time, or the setting, or the mailbox, but this book engaged my imagination in ways few do.

Whalen does a great job of writing fiction. (Learn more about her co-written nonfiction book here and here.) She’s skilled at story-telling. I look forward to seeing more by this author.

If you enjoy contemporary romances, beach reads and/or love-letter stories, you’ll enjoy this novel.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Christian Fiction Releases: October, 2010

Here the latest Christian Fiction releases as compiled by ACFW. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman -- A Romance from Abingdon. Will Annie find acceptance in the Amish community she left behind?

2. Brides of Arkansas by Janet Lee Barton -- A Romance from Barbour. Thwarted by mystery and mayhem, three women in historic Arkansas are roused by love when and where they least expect it.

3. Embers of Love; Striking a Match Series by Tracie Peterson -- A Romance from Bethany House. Deborah Vandermark desperately wants to fit into God's plan and 1880's Texas, but can the two coexist?

4. Emily's Chance; The Callahans of Texas, Book 2 by Sharon Gillenwater -- A Romance from Revell. Will cowboy and builder Chance Callahan be able to convince Emily Rose Denny that she can have love and a career?

5. First Love; Tombstone Treasures, Book 2 by Michelle Sutton -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Two former high school lovers play the roles of socialite and preacher as Tombstone actors and are reunited after four years of separation; but can they rebuild their love on a new foundation, this time around without falling into past behavior?

6. Legacy of Lies by Jill Elizabeth Nelson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. When a cop's widow discovers the bones of an infant buried in her grandparent's back yard, she teams up with the local police chief to help clear her family name.

7. Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho by Janelle Mowery -- A Romance from Summerside Press. Whoever said trouble comes in threes has never been to Silver City, Idaho, where peace and acceptance face off against chaos and rejection, and the winner is not always clear.

8. Love is Grand; Walk in the Park, Book Three by Annalisa Daughety -- A Romance from Barbour. National Park Ranger Ainsley Davis returns to her job at the Grand Canyon, a widowed mother who has become fearful of everything, including love.

9. Mirrored Image by Alice K. Arenz -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Sheaf House. The uncanny resemblance of a murder victim to eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase gives Detective Jeff McMichaels the haunting suspicion there is a link between the two women . . . a link that may only exist in the murderer's mind.

10. Mistletoe Prayers by Betsy St. Amant and Marta Perry -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Two heartwarming Christmas tales from your favorite authors.

11. Nipped in the Bud; Hometown Mysteries by Susan Sleeman -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Barbour. After Paige Turner finds a dead body on her construction site and the police think she killed him, can she prove her innocence and stay out of jail?

12. Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar -- A Historical from Moody Publishers. Rahab vowed never again to trust a man. God had other plans. Salmone was a man of faith, honor, and an enemy. An impossible marriage: an unforgettable journey of healing.

13. Prairie Courtship by Dorothy Clark -- A Historical from Steeple Hill. Emma Allen never knew, until she joined Zachary Thatcher's wagon train to Oregon country, what being a doctor really meant---or how much it could cost.

14. Seek Me With All Your Heart; Land of Canaan Series by Beth Wiseman -- A Romance from Thomas Nelson. Emily and David each come to terms with a past that follows them, testing their faith and resolve.

15. Seeking His Love: Love Inspired Series 593 by Carrie Turansky -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Haunted by false accusations, a former teacher tries to build a new relationship without revealing her troubled past.

16. The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund -- A Romance from Bethany House. A young Puritan maiden determined to save a motherless baby... and a grieving preacher who doesn't want another woman in his life.

17. Whisper on the Wind; Great War Series, Independent Read by Maureen Lang -- A Romance from Tyndale. Isa Lassone sneaks into occupied Belgium to rescue the man she loves; when he refuses to go, she joins his secretive work˜praying it won't cost both of their lives.

18. Wrangler in Petticoats: Sophie's Daughters Book 2 by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. When the two of them see an elk, she reaches for her rifle, he reaches for a sketchpad, the word DRAW means completely different things to them.