Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Destiny's Dream Blog Tour

No newsletter in December. It'll be back in January, so do come back!

In the meantime, I'm in the midst of a blog tour to promote Destiny's Dream, Book One in my Solomon's Gate Series. I'd like to invite you to follow along with me, from stop to stop. Leave comments at the various stops to get your name in the Daughters of Destiny Contest over and over again. Plus, I've built in numerous other ways to earn entries, so be sure to visit my website and decide which ways work for you.

I'll look forward to seeing you at more than one blog stop along my tour route! ;)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Getting Closer...

I've been talking about my upcoming series based around a Christian dating agency for some time now. In the last newsletter, I mentioned that White Rose Publishing had contracted all three books in the Solomon's Gate collection.

This month, I have cover art to share with you! Isn't it beautiful? Destiny's Dream is first in the series, and I've been told that I'll have a release date within a week or so. Kylie's Kiss will follow Destiny's Dream, and Gypsy's Game winds up the series.

I hope you're all planning on picking up your own copies of these books. They'll be available in paperback - and in e-book, so you can read it on your Kindle if you prefer.

Now...on to this month's newsletter. I have a special treat for you. I've interviewed TWO wonderful authors this month. Carla Stewart is our spotlight author, and I'm shining a mini-spotlight on Vickie McDonough. Both of these ladies are wonderful people in addition to being talented authors. I know you'll enjoy our chats with them.

Diana Rahe Taylor provides the devotion. What woman couldn't learn a lesson of faith from Samuel's mother, Hannah? My review this month is Daughter of Scarlet, by my friend Bonnie Winters. Bonnie has an amazing gift for bringing Bible stories to life through fiction. This is the story of Rahab. I loved this book, and I know you will too. Be sure to check out the new and upcoming titles. And, last but not least, you'll want to see if YOUR name is in the winner's slot in the Contest section.

As always, thank you for being a Bookshelf subscriber! I look forward to your comments.


Notes of Devotion: Diana Rahe Taylor

Diana Rahe Taylor

1 Samuel 1-2:1-10

Hannah is my heroine. I, to some degree, identify with her plight. I say to some degree because barrenness doesn’t carry the stigma today in our culture as it did in hers. However, I remember those dismal times when I thought I would never have a child. Like Hannah I prayed for conception, but unlike Hannah, my faith floundered. God didn’t seem to be listening.

Because of some physical problems, the doctor told me I would probably not have children, and even if I got pregnant wouldn’t carry the child to full-term. I was eighteen at the time. With no immediate prospects of marriage, I tucked the diagnosis away with only a little concern. A couple of years after Charlie and I married, the physician’s comment came back to haunt me.

Charlie was headed to Vietnam—a war where casualties were high and his chances of being killed or maimed were infinite. I wanted his baby. If something happened to him, I wanted a child to preserve his memory. I wanted it bad enough to beg the doctor for fertility drugs. The doctor, whose name has long since disappeared from my remembrance, refused my request. I can look back now and admit his advice was good, but at the time I was very unhappy.

After a year on the front lines and after being wounded twice and awarded two bronze stars for valor, Charlie returned home, not unscathed, but whole. After another year of trying to get pregnant, we applied for adoption, which incorporated another long wait.

The longer the wait, the more I struggled. I couldn’t go to baby showers; I cried my way through Mother’s Day celebrations. I hated talk about formulas, teething, and jubilant comments about a baby’s first year. I avoided walking past the church nursery. While I felt God had let me down, I did pray. In fact, in my journal is one such prayer. Sometimes I read it as a reminder of my limited faith and God great goodness.

The scripture says that Hannah was in “bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” (1 Samuel 1:10 NKJV). It’s an emotion I truly comprehend. But what speaks most to me from Hannah’s story is her tremendous faith-filled prayers. I wish I could say the same about mine.

Hannah was a woman who beseeched God with purity, believing God would give her the desire of her heart. Her heart was breaking, but her connection with God didn’t waivered. When Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, down-sized Hannah’s broken-spirit, saying, “Am I not better than ten sons?” Hannah took it to the Lord. When Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife, ridiculed Hannah and dangled her own motherhood before Hannah, Hannah took her anguish to the Lord. And when Hannah relinquished her first-born son, though just a toddler, into Eli’s care at the temple thus fulfilling her promise to the Lord, she rejoiced in the goodness of God.

Oh, that all of us would grasp the power of faith in our loving Lord. The Apostle Peter said, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 4:6-7 NKJV). Peter’s exhortation continues with this warning, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 4:8 NKJV).

Like Hannah, when our souls languish in desperation, we can bring it to God, believing he will respond with love and kindness. Let us heed Peter’s advice and not waver in our faith or give Satan the power to destroy God’s name and our testimony. God never forsakes us or fails us. We can trust Him, because he cares for us. His goodness is guaranteed. Let us follow Hannah’s example and become women of faith.

Author of Note: Carla Stewart

I am so pleased to welcome Carla Stewart to The Bookshelf. This author has recently released her debut album, Chasing Lilacs, and already has a second ready to release next year.

Carla, we’ll be talking about your writing journey, and I also have a few just-for-fun questions. First, however, I’d like you to tell us a little about Carla Stewart, the lady next door.

I am literally the lady next door, walking my little doxie in my neighborhood, dashing out to the curb in my night gown to put out the garbage (I do check to see that no one is looking), and pulling weeds in the flower bed. The only difference in me and my neighbors is that while they flit about to jobs or lunch with friends, I’m chained to the computer. And I love it! I never dreamed I would be enjoying my empty nest years so dearly.

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to do what you love to do? Would you share a little with us about how you got started as a writer? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I’ve always wanted to write a book. Always. But I kept waiting for the kids to grow up, for my job as a nurse to settle down . . . the usual “when I have more time” excuses. Only when I turned fifty, I realized I was running out of time if I was going to write very many novels. That was the first aha moment. The next came when I was wrestling with whether or not I wanted to quit my job where I drove sixty miles to work one way. All those hours on the road gave me time to think and pray about becoming a writer. Then I read the verse in Matthew that says, “Let your yes be yes and your no, no. Anything else is from the evil one.” I knew God had planted the desire to write in my heart so my struggle was not with Him, but from the doubts and fears planted by Satan. I quit my job and a year later had finished my first novel which shall remain forever unpublished, but I was on my way. I’ve never looked back.

Your story and mine share many parallels. We’ll have to chat a bit at the next WIN meeting. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

They usually arise from the legendary “what if.” Chasing Lilacs came from my childhood curiosity about “nerve” problems as they were called in those days. I wanted to explore what it would have been like for a young girl to have a mother with those problems. The story was born.

For my novel which comes out next summer (see below), the inspiration was a newspaper article about the renovation of the Big Ten Ballroom in Tulsa, a landmark from the early jazz era of Tulsa. I wanted to have a former jazz singer recall what her life might have been like. The story evolved from that.

And it sounds fascinating! How much time do you spend writing?

I’m on the computer ALL day long, but when I’m working on a novel, I try to spend a dedicated 3 to 4 hours on just that without looking at email or FaceBook or Twitter. Some days work better than others.

What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?

Network with other writers. Find a writers’ group and attend a conference. It will inspire and educate you and save you a lot of time in the long run.

Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

You can’t polish what hasn’t been written.

Good one! Tell us about your newest release, and what inspired you to write it.

Oops, I already gave you a hint of that above. What I didn’t tell you was that Chasing Lilacs is set in a petroleum camp very much like the one where I grew up. I chose to set it there after making a visit to the camp which is now a ghost town. The emotions flowed from me as I stood on the street where I’d lived and remembered the magical childhood I had. In that moment, the theme of the book—the power of community—washed over me. After that, I couldn’t NOT write the story.

What can we expect from you next?

Broken Wings releases next June and is the story of an unlikely friendship between two women, one an aging jazz singer, the other a young paralegal who is engaged to an abusive attorney. A strong nostalgic thread weaves past and current events together. I’m very excited about this book and can hardly wait for its release.

I look forward to it, as well. Now for those off-the-cuff questions I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question, what question would you ask of whom?

I don’t want to get too serious with “off-the-cuff” questions, but the disciple I most relate to is Simon Peter—he was hand chosen by Jesus and he tried to be a good follower. I know he had faith, but he was weak, as I often am. So with that in mind, I would ask Peter, “What was your visceral reaction when the cock crowed three times and you knew—you knew you were the one who had denied Christ?”

Wow. I can’t even imagine what he must have felt! Carla, what books are on your bedside table right now?

I’m almost finished with The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Next up will be Susan Meissner’s Lady in Waiting and Alice Wisler’s Hatteras Girl. I’ve also just purchased three Elizabeth Berg novels that look very tempting.

What word annoys you more than any other?
Oh, don’t get me started. How about "my bad" or "doable." And "paradigm." Ugh!

LOL! What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

It has nothing to do with writing, but I would love to have the ability to fly. I sometimes dream I hold out my arms and soar around the room, over the clouds, and it’s so effortless and freeing. Funny for someone who’s afraid of heights, no?

I seriously think most human beings have had that same dream. I know I have. Now…share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

"Between you and I." And I’m not sure if it’s a grammatical error or just using the wrong word, but misuse of "effect" and "affect" drives me crazy! Nuts!

Isn’t it funny how certain words antagonize certain people? It makes me want to choke someone when I hear the (un)word “et.” You know, “Have you all et supper yet?” (((Shudder!))) Another one is saying “retch” instead of “reached.” Gag!

Thank you for hanging out at My Book Bag for awhile, Carla! I have enjoyed chatting with you. Where can readers find your books?

Everywhere books are sold! Most stores have me in the Christian fiction section, but in a surprising and lovely turn of events, Barnes and Noble has Chasing Lilacs in the Fiction and Literature section. Very cool to be on the same shelf as The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Cool indeed! Thanks again for being with us.

About Carla:
Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. Carla launched her writing career in 2002 when she earned the coveted honor of being invited to attend Guidepost's Writers Workshop in Rye, New York. Since then, her articles have appeared in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, and several regional magazines and anthologies.
More recently, Carla received two American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis awards for unpublished authors. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, great books, and weekend getaways with her husband. Chasing Lilacs from FaithWords (Hachette) is her debut novel.

Contact Info:

Author of Note: Mini Interview - Vickie McDonough

It’s a pleasure to welcome Vickie McDonough to The Bookshelf. Vickie is chiming in as an additional spotlight author this month, and you are in for a treat! This author’s sense of humor and lively writing style are amazing, and I know after chatting with her here, you’re going to want to look up her books.

Welcome to The Bookshelf, Vickie. Tell me…who is Vickie McDonough, the lady next door?

My favorite color is green, I love steak and fried chicken but don’t eat any kind of fish. I used to be an avid Coke fan but rarely drink one now as I’m working on losing weight. I love wearing jeans and hate dresses—believe it or not, I only own two dresses and neither of them fit since I’ve lost weight. :) I grew up attending a Pentecostal church and have been a Christian as long as I can remember.

I’m a wife of 35 years and mother of four grown sons. My oldest son, a restaurant manager, is married, and he and his wife have a four-year-old daughter, my only grandchild. My #2 son works at Walgreens, #3 son is deploying to Egypt next Sunday with the National Guard, and #4 son is a sophomore in college. I’m primary caregiver to my partially handicapped mother, so I go over to her house frequently and run errands for her. I also pick up my granddaughter from school and watch her two afternoons a week.

I was a tomboy most of my life, preferring sports to dolls when I was young, and as a teen, riding horses and my motorcycle over girly stuff like dressing up for the prom. I enjoy gardening and have flowers blooming almost year-round. I love reading historical fiction and traveling.

In case you can’t tell, I’m a detail person. I’m organized and don’t like clutter. I got my quirky sense of humor from my dad, who loved to tease and play jokes on people. If you meet me in a large group, I’ll probably be very quiet, but among my friends, I talk up more and crack jokes.

Wow! I feel like I know you so much better now. :) How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve read Christian fiction for over twenty-five years, ever since I discovered my first Janette Oke & Tracie Peterson books. One day, a story started running through my mind and wouldn’t go away. It got to where I couldn’t sleep at night, so I decided to write it down in hopes of making it go away. I finished that book and quickly wrote another one. Those books will never be published, but God used them to get my attention and to see the new direction He was taking me. Now, I’ve been writing almost ten years and have just sold my 27th book. That amazes me more than anyone.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

Inspiration is everywhere. In nature, in books I read, in something my granddaughter said, but my main inspiration comes from believing I’m walking the path God has for me at this time in my life. I pray as I write that God will speak through me—that I will be a tool He uses to touch readers’ hearts.

Give us a brief glimpse into “a day in the life of Vickie McDonough.”

In the early morning, I eat breakfast, go for a walk with my husband, and tend to chores and emails. My goal is to start writing by 10, but I don’t always make it. I normally write two – six hours a day, depending on whether I have to run errands for my partially-handicapped mom, babysit my granddaughter, or do family things. Then there are more emails, ACFW board stuff to do, and sometimes more writing. In the evenings, I may watch a little TV, read, or work on research or other writing-related stuff.

Busy some? Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

Read your manuscript out loud or listen to it through a verbal reading program like Natural Reader. You’ll hear mistakes that your eyes pass right over when you’re reading, because you’re so familiar with the material. I always try to do this before I turn in a manuscript or proposal.

What’s your newest release, and what inspired you to write it?

Second Chance Brides, book two in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, released the first of September. It’s the sequel to The Anonymous Bride.

Shannon and Leah, two mail-order brides, came to Lookout, Texas, as mail-order brides. They both expected to marry the town marshal, but when he married another woman, they were stuck in Lookout, without any means to support themselves. I just had to find out what happened to them, plus my editor wanted another book in the series, so I wrote Second Chance Brides. A contract and deadline are great inspiration.

I also have another book that just released, Christmas Mail Order Brides, a Christmas novella collection. It tells the story of four mail-order brides who travel the transcontinental railroad to marry men they’ve never met. The other authors in this collection are Susan Page Davis, Therese Stenzel, and Carrie Turansky.

What can we expect from you next?

Next year, I have a historical Heartsong trilogy set in South Carolina that will be coming out. Two of the books are set in the 1700s and one is in the late 1800s. The titles are Mutiny of the Heart, Indigo Dreams, and Dueling Hearts.

Sounds like lots of good stuff for your readers to look forward to! Where can we find your books?

Most of my books are available online at and Some of the more recent books are available in Christian book stores and Wal-Mart.

About Vickie:
Award-winning author Vickie McDonough has lived in Oklahoma all her life, except for a year when she and her husband lived on a kibbutz in Israel. Vickie is the author of 20 books and novellas, including the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. Historical Christian romance is her favorite genre to read and write. Vickie is currently the ACFW treasurer and a founding member of WIN, an ACFW chapter in Tulsa, OK. She is a member of RWA, CAN, Women Writing the West, OKRWA, and OWFI. Vickie’s books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, and the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY contest.

Notes on Writing: Amy Deardon

Designing the Story’s Plot
by Amy Deardon

The plot describes the outward shape of your story. This is what people usually think of for a “story,” and what they will describe to you when you ask what a book or film is about. Unlike nonfiction in which you clearly present the material without leaving hanging questions, in fiction you should always have at least one, preferably many, intriguing bits and uncertainties throughout. The reader or viewer will eagerly continue to discover the answers to these points.

There are three large components of the plot that move it forward:

1. Story Goal and Story Question

Before you start writing, you need to know your STORY GOAL, which is the thing that your protagonist wants to accomplish during the course of your story. This goal needs to be something unequivocal, something that clearly is attained, or not, by the end of the story. Whether this goal is attained or not becomes the STORY QUESTION.

For example, in Lion King, Simba is the young (lion) heir to the throne when Scar engineers Simba’s father’s death to seize control. The story goal is for Simba to regain ownership of the kingdom. Failure occurs if Scar remains in control. The story question is: will Simba become king?

In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond is falsely imprisoned, then escapes and gains an enormous fortune. The story goal is that he wishes to take revenge on those who stole his youth, his career, and his fiancée. Failure occurs if the wrong doers get away with a great evil. The story question is: Will Edmond be able to suitably punish the guilty (without losing his integrity)?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is a hobbit who comes into possession of the One Ring, which is the focus for evil power and greatly desired by many. The story goal is that Frodo must destroy this ring. Failure occurs if the ring is not destroyed. The story question is: Will Frodo be able to destroy the One Ring?

2. Stakes

You also need to decide why this story goal is so important to your protagonist. If it isn’t important, he could just go home and eat dinner instead of knock his socks off to achieve. What horrible things might happen if the story goal isn’t achieved?

For example, in The Lion King if Simba does not become king, Scar will govern as a tyrant, and irrevocably ruin the Pridelands and let the hyenas take control.

In The Count of Monte Cristo if Edmond cannot wreak an appropriate revenge, great evil will go unpunished.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, if Frodo fails to destroy the One Ring, Middle Earth will fall into chaos and horror under Sauron’s dominion.

3. Obstacles

If your protagonist can simply go and achieve the story goal, there is no story. All stories need multiple obstacles, both internal and external, that hold the protagonist back from getting what he wants. An important rule for writing is to NEVER MAKE IT EASY ON YOUR HERO.

For example, in The Lion King Simba is a little cub who runs away when his father is killed. He must grow up, learn that he needs to fight for his kingdom, then battle hyenas and ultimately Scar. Internally he must overcome feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

In The Count of Monte Cristo Edmond must learn to live alone in prison, then to escape, then to find the men responsible to wreak his revenge. His revenges are elaborate and full of twists. Internally Edmond copes with rage, power, and losing and gaining love. He also grapples with the role of mercy mixed with justice.

In The Fellowship of the Ring Frodo must make his way past the Nasgul and fights Orcs, rough terrain, Gollum, and other varied creatures and problems. Internally he finds carrying the Ring of Power an almost unbearable burden.


There is obviously much more to a plot than just these three plot components. However, if you don’t get these right, you won’t HAVE a story!

AMY DEARDON is a skeptic who came to faith through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. Her first novel, A LEVER LONG ENOUGH, is about a small military team that travels back in time to film the theft of Jesus' body from the tomb. Her newest e-book pulling together writing entries from her blog, including how to write a subplot and how to publish on Kindle without knowing HTML, will be released in a month or two. She can be reached through her website at

Notes in Review: Daughter of Scarlet

Stolen from her family, Rahab has been forced into harlotry by a harsh master since childhood. Only the luxurious surroundings of her home on the Jericho wall bring her comfort—certainly not the silent, unhearing false gods she’s been taught to worship, nor the friends she does not have. Despised and scorned, she lives in sad solitude, save for the men whose needs she is forced to satisfy, and the master who communicates most effectively through physical and mental abuse.

Until the day Salmon and Amos barge into her home. Narrowly escaping death at their hands, Rahab ultimately offers them sanctuary and helps them escape the soldiers who come in search of the two Israelite spies. They leave with a promise of safety for herself and her family when Israel defeats Jericho and claims its land. After instructing the young woman to hang a scarlet cord from her window to ensure their promise is kept, the men depart. One of them takes with him a piece of Rahab’s heart.

And they do keep their promise. When Jericho is overtaken, Rahab and her family alone are saved. Still, Rahab’s burgeoning love for the God of Abraham is put to the test when she finds herself ostracized by Israel, condemned for a past she had no choice in, and forbidden the love of the one man to whom she would give her heart.

No one makes a Bible story come alive better than Bonnie Winters. Daughter of Scarlet is amazing—riveting action, heart-tugging emotion, authentic detail. I became Rahab in the pages of this book. I felt her pain, her joy, her love … her healing.

A must-read for any woman who feels sullied by a tainted past. Rahab’s story beautifully depicts God’s love for the “mottled sheep.” Absolutely unforgettable!

Reviewed by
Delia Latham

Contest Notes

The drawing for this edition of The Bookshelf will be held on the last day of November. (There will be no Bookshelf in December.) Winner will be announced via e-mail in early December.

The winner will receive Valeria’s Cross by Kathi Macias & Susan Wales, and a $10 gift certificate to White Rose Publishing.

(Click on the cover to read my review of this book)

The August/September winner of Third Time’s a Charm and a $6 gift certificate to White Rose Publishing:



Note: You don’t need to “do” anything to enter the newsletter drawing each month. If you are subscribed to The Bookshelf, you will be automatically entered. Here’s how to subscribe: Use the icon on my website’s Home page, or the link in the Navbar (top of page) on that site, which will put you on my e-mailing list. You will then receive an e-mail link every other month when the newsletter posts, as well as occasional updates or announcements between posts.

Note: The books given away in these drawings are in excellent condition, but most have been read once for review purposes. Some may be Advance Reader Copies, sent to me for review before their final edit, so you might come across typos or formatting errors. They are handled carefully and you will receive them in great condition.

New & Upcoming Titles


Vanishing Act
Liz Johnson

Vanishing Act is the story of Nora James, a young woman who sees her father shot in an alley. Afraid for her life, she hides in tiny Crescent City, Colorado, changing her name, appearance, and job. It worked for months ... but now her luck has run out. A ruthless assassain is on her trail, and soon Nora will be found out. But this time she has FBI Special Agent Nate Andersen by her side. The handsome agent would give his life to protect his assignment, but he's weary of giving his heart ... until a deadly confrontation leaves him with both on the line.

When the Snow Flies
Laurie Alice Eakes

Audrey Sinclair Vanderleyden sets her heart on fulfilling a promise to her deceased husband to continue practicing medicine, despite opposition from their families. But the old physician from whom they bought a practice stands in her way and refuses to honor the contract. Audrey must either give up medicine and return to her family, or marry a near stranger.
A gunshot wound robs Nathan Maxwell of the ability to continue practicing medicine. He must find another purpose in his life. Marriage isn't an option; only a desperate woman would want a blind man for a husband. Audrey is desperate, but marriage to Nathan isn't the salvation of her medical career she thought it would be. For Nathan, the union challenges loyalties and exposes what he's lost.

Seaside Romance
Tamela Hancock Murray
, Darlene Franklin, and Lynette Sowell

Relive yesteryear’s glory days in Capernaum Island, Providence, and Newport, Rhode Island, through the eyes of three young women on the tide of love. Judith lives at the lighthouse her father operates, but when an old friend returns, will his fears keep him from reaching her? Becca’s first day on the job as a maid ends with a marriage proposal to a business tycoon, but can she trust his sincerity? Francesca is being pressured to enter a prestigious marriage, but can true love be within her reach? Enjoy this delightful collection of historical romances.

The Newcomer
(Book 3, New Jersey Historical Series)
Laurie Alice Eakes

Killing Time
by K. Dawn Byrd

Mindy McLaurin, thinks it's the end of the world when she's incarcerated on trumped-up embezzlement charges. While in jail, she investigates the death of an inmate who allegedly died of an overdose. Mindy suspects foul play when her cellmate dies and she learns that both women had ingested the same drug. Mindy trusts no one, including Mark Stone, the handsome counselor she can’t stop thinking about. She faces many challenges, including constant interrogation by the Major and emotional abuse from the other inmates. Upon release, someone is stalking her and framing her for the murder. Can she prove to Counselor Stone that she’s innocent of all charges before she loses him forever?

Lost Island Smugglers
Max Elliott Anderson

Sam Cooper had just moved to Harper’s Inlet where he met Tony and Tyler. While Tony’s father was away on a buying trip, the boys took one of the rental sailboats out for a diving adventure. Everything went well until the biggest storm Tony had ever seen blew up from out of nowhere, and the boys found themselves stranded on Lost Island.

But, if they thought the worst had happened, they were wrong. The boys discovered a secret hideout that was used by men in high powered speedboats. Sam and his friends knew the men were up to something, only they didn’t know what. They had to find a way to stop them, but how? And, even if they did, the boys could never tell anyone about it. Lost Island Smugglers is a story with danger, excitement, and heart-pounding action.


A Suitor for Jenny
by Margaret Brownley

When looking for a husband, it's best to go where the odds are in your favor. And that would be Rocky Creek, Texas, 1880. But Jenny Higgins's plan to find husbands for her two sisters hits a snag when enthusiastic applicants fail to meet her stringent requirements. Rejecting her sisters' choices for mates and riding herd on her growing feelings for Marshal Rhett Armstrong, she refuses to give up. Jenny thinks choosing a husband is not a job for the heart. It'll take one strong and handsome marshal to convince her otherwise.

A Woodland Christmas
(Romancing America)
Tamela Hancock Murray, Ramona K. Cecil, Darlene Franklin, and Janelle Mowery

Four Couples Find Love in the Piney Woods of East Texas: Experience a nostalgic Christmas in the Piney Woods of East Texas where a traveling wood-carver dispenses wisdom that brings four couples to realize the gift of love. Can Bridget show Seth how to forgive? Will Mary see Joseph live up to his promise? Can Seth steer Emma away from the need for vengeance? Will R. C. help Gabriella find her grandfather?

Where Hearts are Free
by Golden Keyes Parsons

The odds are stacked against Bridget and Philippe reuniting. But God has a plan for them if they'll only believe.

It's 1687, in the burgeoning town of Philadelphia, and for seven years, Bridget Barrington has watched with growing affection as Philippe Clavell worked as an indentured servant for her father, a wealthy landowner. Her father rejects her request for Philippe to be a potential suitor as he has none of the qualities Mr. Barrington hoped for his daughter's future husband, the least of which is a respectable income. Heartbroken, Bridget accedes to her parents' wishes and gets engaged to a man she does not love. However, Bridget's husband-to-be does not love her, but only her wealth. But there's always light in the midst of darkness for those who have faith. This stunning historical romance concludes the gripping Darkness to Light series.


Hatteras Girl
Alice J. Wisler

There are two things that journalist Jackie Donavan dreams about--marriage and owing a bed and breakfast in Nags Head, NC. But why is the bed and breakfast she desires deteriorating, and why won't her relatives behave so that she can go out with the handsome realtor? Filled with quirky friends and relatives that help and hinder Jackie to and from her goals, Hatteras Girl, is about uncovering the truth while finding the way to your dreams.

One Year Alone With God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God
Ava Pennington

One year from now, will you be able to say that you know God better than you did before? One of the best ways to start is by learning what He says about Himself—the names and attributes He gives Himself. One Year Alone with God is a devotional guide to the names and attributes of God. It provides 366 life-changing, personal devotions exploring who God is, who we are, and how we relate to others. One Year Alone with God will examine each of 122 names and attributes of God from three perspectives:
1. How God describes Himself
2. How this name/attribute changes or strengthens our relationship with Him 3. How this name/attribute changes or strengthens our relationships with others

Wrangler in Petticoats
Mary Connealy

Sally McCellen finds herself injured and in the care of the biggest wimp she's ever met. Logan McKenzie paints pictures of the wild west—and claims he makes a living doing it. When the two of them see an elk she reaches for her rifle, he reaches for a sketch pad. The word DRAW means completely different things to them. When Sally falls off a cliff practically into his arms, he decides he's keeping her. So far her broken leg is keeping her close, but she's a quick healer and she needs to get some tougher help, because the outlaws who dropped her into Logan's arms are hunting hard for the one witness to their crime.

A Door County Christmas
Cynthia Ruchti, Rachael Phillips, Becky Melby and Eileen Key

A year ago, a Door County florist promised four single women that love would come to each of them when the Christmas cactus bloomed again. But as this Christmas nears in the sleepy tourist town, none of the women are holding their breath in anticipation of romance—not yet.

Head in the Clouds
Karen Witemeyer

When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger.


Wounded Spirits
April W. Gardner

Budding love struggles for survival between a white slave and her Creek master, but before it has a chance to bloom, will the feverish onslaught of racial hatred put an end to it …or will God?

The Master’s Wall
Sandi Rog

He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.
After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. David trains to become a skilled fighter. He works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.

A Daughter for Christmas
(Love Inspired)
by Margaret Daley

Dr. Max Connors had no idea he'd fathered a child thirteen years ago. Or that his baby girl had been given up for adoption. He locates his daughter in a small Oklahoma town and moves there, hoping to become a part of her life. But when he meets her widowed mother, Max is unsure how to reveal his identity. As he helps Rachel Howard with her plans to homeschool the girl, he's welcomed into the family. But with the holidays approaching, Max must tell Rachel who he really is. Can he make his dream of family come true by Christmas?

Bridge to Love
by Darlene Franklin


Michigan Brides
Amber Stockton

In a rapidly changing industrial world, three women react differently. Felicity’s noble deed puts her in danger. Annabelle tries to break through society’s stigma. Shannon stubbornly refuses to change. Can each woman find the faith and strength to weather their times and welcome love into their hearts?

The Blacksmith’s Bravery
(Book 3, Ladies’ Shooting Club Series)
Susan Page Davis

A reformed saloon girl and decent markswoman, Vashti Edwards earns the opportunity to drive stagecoach, but blacksmith Griffin Bane fears for her safety—and his growing attraction—as the line becomes repeatedly targeted by robbers. Can The Ladies' Shooting Club catch the bandits and bring the stubborn couple together?

Christmas Bodyguard
(Love Inspired Suspense)
Margaret Daley

Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho
by Angela Ruth

Stunt woman turned actress Emily Van Arsdale returns to her home state to film a rafting movie. She also plans to spend time with her mother, which brings on feelings of guilt for not having been more supportive after her father’s death. She considers moving home for good, especially after meeting rafting guide Tracen Lake.Tracen Lake is thrilled to be hired as a rafting consultant for the movie. Not only will the job bring in more business to his rafting company, but it will pay for the log cabin he’s dreamed of building. Unfortunately, he also has to deal with an actress who previously left Idaho to seek her fame, which reminds him of his ex-fiancée’s dreams of stardom.Throughout the filming of the movie, and through wakeboarding, fishing, mechanical bull riding at a rodeo, and family reunions, Tracen gets to know Emily’s heart. But when she is offered another film role, he fears she will choose Hollywood over him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wonderful, EXTRA Good News!

Since the last edition of The Bookshelf, I’ve received wonderful, fabulous, absolutely GREAT news to share. Those of you on my e-mail list will already have received it, but it’s definitely good enough to repeat. :)

I’ve been contracted by White Rose Publishing to write not one…not two…but three novels!

The Solomon’s Gate Series will be based around a Christian dating agency called…you guessed it—Solomon’s Gate. First up will be Destiny’s story. Destiny May is the young lady who founds Solomon’s Gate when she re-enters the work force after a five-year “hiatus,” during which she was her mother’s primary caregiver. In the course of getting Solomon’s Gate up and operational, Destiny finds her own true love in the form of Clay Gallagher—a mountain of a man with a heart to match, a shaggy head of hair, and an adorable crooked smile.

Destiny’s Dream takes a bit of a side trip into areas I’ve shied from in the past. I found myself infusing more suspense into this book, and discovered that I truly enjoyed the taste of it. I think you will too.

I’m currently working on book number two, Kylie’s Kiss. I’ll share more information about this one after Destiny’s story is in your hands. And Gypsy’s Game…well, that’s a ways off. But I have titles, storylines, and…most importantly, of course…contracts. Yes!

No release dates just yet, but when I have them, you’ll be the first to know.

I can't believe how much easier it is to write when I know I have a home for my work. That alone is good news! :)

On to this month’s Bookshelf fare. Our spotlight author is Debbie Fuller Thomas. I think you’ll enjoy our chat with her.

A year ago, Debbie contributed a devotion for the August 2009 Bookshelf. On a recent foray through past editions, I discovered, to my utmost surprise, that I never actually ran that devotion. I posted the title, along with Debbie’s name—even made reference to it in my editorial that month—but I didn’t get the actual devotion in place. How on earth did I manage to do that without any of y’all pointing out the empty place on the page? I apologize—to all of you, and more specifically, to Debbie. That article, “First Aid for the Soul,” is included in this edition.

I borrowed this month’s writing tips piece, by Jon Guenther, from Faithwriters. I found it very interesting, as I’m sure you will. We base our entire lives around Bible principles. Those of us who write Christian fiction (or non-fiction) do the same in our subject matter. Guenther’s article presents the biblical account of creation as a prime example of how to write setting.

My review is a little different from what you usually find here, in that I’m featuring a book of poetry. Connie Arnold’s book, Abundant Comfort and Grace, is packed with simple verses of exactly what the title implies—comfort and grace. Hope and inspiration. God’s love, mercy and kindness. It’s also an aesthetically pleasing book, thanks to the gorgeous photos by Gary Strader.

As always, take a peek at the new and upcoming titles. They’ll give you something to pick up and read while you’re waiting for the next Bookshelf Newsletter… :) And don’t forget to take a peek at the Contest post…your name could be in the winner’s slot.

Many blessings, dear readers!

Author of Note: Debbie Fuller Thomas

Debbie Fuller Thomas

I am pleased to welcome Debbie Fuller Thomas to The Bookshelf this month. Debbie, would you share a little with us about how you got started as a writer? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I wasn’t one of those writers who knew from childhood what they wanted to be. I never even considered writing until I was in my thirties and a neighbor asked me if I’d ever tried my hand at it. She wrote children’s stories for Sunday School papers and explained the basics about article and story submissions to me. I submitted a personal experience story to my denominational paper, and what do you know, they bought it! I thought that was pretty easy, so I continued to write short pieces but didn’t sell another story for about fifteen years. However, it gave me the writing bug and I continued to write during nap times at the home day care I operated. After all these years, I still have about the same amount of time to write every day as when I first began.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Since I write contemporary fiction, I find the most ideas in current newspapers and magazines. On any given day, a newspaper presents a slice of life, whether in a metropolitan area or a small town. Even the obituaries and crime logs can suggest material. The idea for Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon came from a story in People about two babies who were switched at birth.

How much time do you spend writing?

Since I work full-time, I can usually get in about two hours of writing before work, and maybe an extra hour or so at night. Weekends give more time because the house is quiet on Saturday mornings and on Sunday afternoons. I’ve also use vacation days and holidays when I’m on a deadline.
What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?
I can’t overemphasize the importance of writer’s conferences and meeting with a local support or critique group on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be an expensive conference or a highly structured writing group. There are many excellent one-day conferences and workshops available and adult schools and junior colleges often have classes that teach the basics that apply to any genre. Sharon Souza, Katy Popa and I are planning a one-day conference in Auburn, California on Oct. 2nd at Bayside Auburn Church. Our website is It is also important to take charge of your education by reading the best writing books available, both ‘how-to’ books and books about the writing life.

Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

When I’m working on a new story, I start a new notebook or journal and keep it with me at all times to jot down ideas for characters, setting and plot. If it doesn’t have a pocket, I glue an envelope on the inside cover to save photos of people who may be my characters or any other snippets of information that may influence the direction of the story. I also have a ‘Night Note’ from Restoration Hardware which I keep on my night table. It’s a notepad which lights up when you pull out the pen and goes off when you replace it. It beats writing on your arm in the dark, as one fellow writer has been known to do.
Tell us about your newest release, and what inspired you to write it.

My second book is Raising Rain. It’s about four college co-eds in the early 70s who raise a child (Rain) together and the impact that the turbulent times have on their relationships and on Rain’s future. When one of them (Rain’s mother) is diagnosed with a terminal illness, they come together on a stormy weekend in Monterey and confront their past choices and mistakes. Some of them have mellowed and found closure, some have not, and for most, the wounds go deep. It’s really about finding understanding and healing for the past.

What can we expect from you next?

I tend to write about family relationships, and I’m working on a story of two sisters who hide a devastating secret all their lives. I’m letting each of them tell me their side of story, even though they don’t get along very well at times.

That sounds fascinating! Now for those off-the-cuff questions I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

My dad died when I was in my mid-thirties and there were too many grown-up life questions I never got to ask.

I don't think it matters how old a woman is when she loses her Daddy. There are always too many unasked questions...too many things left unsaid.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Jewel by Bret Lott, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I also picked up Pride and Prejudice, which I’ve never read. I absolutely love the miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and I’m finding it is very true to the book.

What word annoys you more than any other?
It’s more of a phrase than a word. I’m tired of hearing speakers say, “Let’s unpack this (idea, issue, etc.)” It’s already a cliché. Seriously, leave your baggage at home.

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

I would love to fly. Even in flying dreams, I can never get very far off the ground, but I love the feeling of weightlessness. I mourned the first time I realized that I could no longer handle those jaw-dropping roller coaster rides.
What is it about flying? I think almost every human being would like to do that. Most of us have dreamed about it.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

How hard can it be to spell words correctly? In a Word document, they are underlined in red.

I'm with you on that, one hundred percent! Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile. We've enjoyed having you here.

Debbie Fuller Thomas writes contemporary fiction from a historic Gold Rush town in Northern California. When she’s not working on her next book or planning children’s programs for her community, she enjoys singing with Colla Voce of the Sierras with her husband and catching up with her two adult children. Her debut novel, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award and the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year. Her latest novel is Raising Rain. Visit her website at or at where she blogs with five other upmarket fiction authors.

Notes of Devotion: First Aid for the Soul

Psalm 147: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars; he gives to all of them their names. ESV

Mia (not her real name) is a nineteen-year-old unwed mother of a toddler who has chosen to redefine herself. By her own poor choices and actions, she has estranged herself from her parents, friends, her child’s father and her adorable baby boy. Her mother is distraught, her child’s father is heartbroken and angry and her child is confused about who mommy really is. It breaks our hearts, too. In a lucid moment, she was overheard to wonder, “How did my life get so messed up?” Please pray for her – God knows her real name.

As long as there have been hearts, they have broken. Often these are not clean breaks, but complicated torn-tissue, splintered kinds of injuries with phantom pains that last for years - wounds that don’t heal cleanly without special attention by the Great Physician.

Whether it’s a series of repeated rejections for a manuscript, a child who has chosen poorly, a spouse who has disappointed, a job that has gone away, or a loved one who is suffering there can be real physical pain along with the emotional hurt. People who have worked and saved all their lives have seen their retirement savings slip away just when they needed it or struggled to save their homes from foreclosure. Sometimes it leads to undiagnosed depression, and sometimes it can even shake the faith of Christians who have faithfully served Christ since childhood.

David knew about being brokenhearted. Among other things, he knew how it was to grieve for a son who hated him and to never find closure this side of heaven. But through his pain, David adamantly affirms that God heals us and binds up our wounds, and in case we need convincing, he follows up with a picture of God strolling through the universe counting and naming the stars. I imagine David saying, “This Guy can totally do it.” To David, God’s healing is on par with managing the celestial bodies. It’s just as important and incredible and mystical, and He is fully capable.

So along with our prayers for finances, broken relationships, physical illnesses, and crises of faith, we should ask God to heal our broken hearts and to bind up our wounds. Right in the midst of our hurt and not waiting for resolution. He won’t necessarily take away our problems or change our situations. But these will be a little easier to face if we allow our ‘bones’ to be set so they don’t heal crookedly and our ‘sores’ to be salved so they don’t scar painfully by the hand of the One who manages the stars.

Notes on Writing: Jon Guenther

Copyright © 2008 by RjE Photography.
All rights reserved.

The Creation Story As a Guide For Setting

When you write a story I assume you must have some general idea of where that story takes place. If you're writing in a specific genre, such as science fiction, you might set the story in space (at least some) or maybe in a futuristic world. If you’re writing fantasy, you will most likely have to create an entire world peopled with mythical creatures and forests and marshes and castles. A Western? Well, that sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? I think you get my point and this is why I maintain that setting is one of the first things you’ll need to consider for your story, because the place where the story occurs is already there, from the very first word really, and with certainty from the first paragraph.

Consider this line from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, which is the third sentence in the book: "They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the heart of the country, ten miles from the nearest railroad station and two miles from the nearest post office."

When we read further, we discover this Professor has a big house and servants. Right away we know that the four children are being sent to a large, spooky house that is remote from anything considered to be modern niceties of the time, which Lewis also informs us happens to be during World War II. We sense they are very small fish in a big pond, although we'll see them put into an even grander pond as the story progresses, a land called Narnia.

Now let's consider our created world. Talk about a setting! When God spoke the world into existence, He "set the stage" on which the drama of all mankind would play out; much like they dress a stage for a play, and now we come to the Creation Story as an allegory for this first chapter: setting. I've always chosen to view the Creation Story as sort of a painting, where God adds light and darkness, and separates it into day and night (Genesis 1:3-5); hence, we are given some reliable measure of time.

In the next few verses, God creates the heavens (or the water vapor in the form of clouds) and sky (v. 6) and the ground and oceans (v.7-10). In doing so, He separates the geographical boundaries, which gives us some idea of where we are. Having a good sense of where you are is crucial to the setting of your story. If you don’t know where your characters are, how do you know where they're going, or can go, or what their limitations are during travel?

Beginning with verse 11, God creates the vegetation, which includes plants and flowers and trees of every kind. This arrays the setting with personality and vibrant colors. This led me to conclude that setting, in many respects, is something you must almost treat like a character in your story. It has personality.

God then creates the sun and moon and stars (v. 14-18), which acts as the playing field for mood. These are also tools by which mankind will ultimately mark logical and appropriate calls to action. He will harvest in the spring time and reap in the fall. He will hunt and procreate in the winter. He will play during the summer when he’s not tending to his crops or watering his herds. Really, then, this part of the setting dictates the "seasons" in which mankind will conduct his life.

Verses 20-22 and 23-24 remain some of my favorite because this is when God created all of the animal life that abounds on the Earth. Okay, so I happen to be an animal lover. In a later verse (v. 30), God gives man dominion over all the creatures. Deep in my spirit I have always believed animals are an exemplary reflection of God’s love. Take dogs, for example, who love their owners unconditionally. Indeed, scientists have proven that an abandoned dog might well sit in the same spot until it starves to death on nothing more than a belief its owner will eventually return for it! Thus, your setting should contain some reflection of God’s perfect love for people. Make God’s creatures a part of your setting: they are everywhere and will lend authenticity to your story.

Finally, we come to the climax of the creation story beginning with verse 25, when God creates man and woman in His own image. The ultimate product of his passion, the author and finisher of our faith, proves beyond any reasonable doubt that He is a family man. That's right: God's a family man. Did you ever stop to think that a family may be part of a story's setting, and not necessarily just characters? I’m talking about the social aspects of a family life. A house. A car. A backyard, as well as the general nature of the family relationships. Believe it or not, families have much to do in determining social setting. A single mother of four kids on welfare isn't likely to be living on the coast of California or in the Hamptons. And what happens when a large congregation of single parents on welfare make up the primary populace of a given area? That creates a social setting of a type, yes? The makeup of the family unit, therefore, provides a deeper insight into the particular setting and its impact on society. If you're in doubt, I suggest reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I think you might change your mind.

Let me give you an example of how families play into social setting. If a young man in a shirt and loosened tie with a ratty suit coat draped over his arm trudges tiredly up the sidewalk at the end of the day, there's nothing terribly revealing about that—we could make any number of assumptions about his social setting. However, if we know that he’s headed for a single-story house in a middle-class neighborhood, and nearly trips over a tricycle on his way to the door, we have a much better picture of the setting. He’s probably a man who has just returned home from a long day at the office, and he’s so tired he doesn't see a little kid's toy blocking the pathway. A home where we can assume his wife and child anxiously await his arrival. Or maybe he's a single father.

In summary, the following elements are those you should include to give the characters a set on which the drama shall unfold:
  • Sense of time (e.g., day or night)
  • Geographic boundaries (e.g., the mountains or oceans or beaches or prairies?)
  • Character/nature of the setting (e.g., the colors and smells and foliage; are we in a jungle or a forest, city or village; on a ranch or in a high-rise apartment?)
  • Lifestyle/season of story (i.e., business or home setting; formal or informal; workaday world or life of luxury?)
  • Animals/fauna (e.g., gorillas in the jungle or house full of domestic cats; beloved pets or dangerous wildlife; human-animal relationships intimate or confrontational?)Family/social setting (e.g., suburban home of married couple or Manhattan condo of a divorced father; orphanage/reform school or dwelling of 10 siblings; sprawling estates or urban projects?)

Will all of these things appear in your story in detail? Not likely. However, they are the chief elements of setting for any story because they are those components God included when He created the world. And even if you’re setting this on another planet, someone had to create all of it. Why not God? Our world certainly proves He’s qualified for the job!

There's an old cliché: "All the world's a stage." Yes, very true. So open your eyes and observe; carefully consider the best setting in which to tell your story. Then get to work and start jotting down all the most interesting aspects of that setting, those things you can use throughout the storytelling. You might have to do this research via the Internet, since it's possible you can't actually go to the heart of India or walk along the northern shores of the Siberian continent. Still, the information is there if you look for it, and feel free to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. That's what writers do. And please don't feel you have to reveal all of it in the first few pages. Better to pepper the setting throughout the story where it feels appropriate, like you might season a slow-cooked roast. That way, the reader can sample a bit of the setting with every, delectable bite.

Copyright © 2008 by Jon Guenther. Reprinted with permission of the author. All rights reserved.