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Friday, December 21, 2007


My friend Jennifer Tiszai, who's new to Indiana this year, mentioned going to a basketball game on her blog today. It made me laugh thinking about my son Tanner's own little basketball catastrophe this week. He loves playing Upward Basketball for our church's team. It's such a positive environment for him to learn the game.

Last year he had a coach that wasn't overly strong on the coaching part but he was kind and encouraging to the kids and for the age group I thought that was sufficient. This year Tan has a coach that loves the game of basketball. You can tell that this man was or is an athlete. He's still very trim and sporty and exhibits all the qualities of the most passionate "college" coach. Right down to making them do a push up if they miss the basket. Too bad he's teaching 1st and 2nd graders. Anyway, my son, who if you're new to my blog you may not know he has asperger tendencies, is very quirky. He's soooo modest it worries me what's going to happen when he gets older and has to shower in front of classmates in gym.

Anyway, he's on this team and the coach decides he's going to have the kids play shirts and skins. And guess who was on the skins team? Oh man! Tanner was soooo upset. He wanted to quit that night. I'm not a mother that lets her kid quit on a whim. He signed up for the team, he'll finish the season. My only concern is will this overly zealous coach ruin my son's love of the game or could it possibly help loosen him up a bit? Hmmm, I'll keep you posted. :)

Distant Heart by Tracy Bateman

This week the CFBA
blog tour is proud to introduce
Distant Heart.

Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westward Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She lives in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.
In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Think Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

LOVE INSPIRED WEDNESDAY...Meet Debra Clopton and win a copy of her newest release...Operation Married by Christmas

I'm back with Love Inspired Wednesday's and this week I have a good one. I just finished Operation Married by Christmas. . . This is the second Debra Clopton book I've read. I started with Meeting Her Match right after the ACFW conference in September. I was so impressed with Debra's honest and real presence that I was eager to see if her style of writing matched her sweet personality.

Meeting her Match was very good. I was immediately drawn into the fictional town of Mule Hollow and right away ordered Operation Married by Christmas to see how Debra progressed with the lovable characters.

I wasn't disappointed. I loved Operation Married by Christmas. A story about a young woman who has left three men at the altar and comes home (wearing the wedding dress from her most recent escapade) only to run into the first man she left at the altar. It would seem that she never got over her love for him and the story is about the two of them coming to terms with their hurt and fears. It's a wonderful story of forgiveness and even how to take responsibility for our own actions, even when we feel we're the one wronged.

I'll be posting reviews of these books soon, but for now, I'd like to introduce Debra Clopton. :)

Debra, tell us about yourself. Your family, day job…basically, anything you want to share.

I write full time now and love it. I was married to my high school sweetheart for 22 years but have been a widow for four years now, a fact that has greatly influenced how I approach my writing. I have two wonderful sons ages 20 and 22 and in April will add a daughter-in-law to the family!

Boys are wonderful, and how fun that you're going to have a daughter soon. :)

What made you want to write a book? And why romance?

I’ve been an avid romance reader most of my life, I love happy endings. I despise books that don’t end well or someone I care about dies in the end. This sort of thing leaves me as stressed out at the end of the book as I may have been when I started it and that isn’t why I read. Also, I love that true romance edifies marriage between a man and a woman. To me a great romance makes a woman appreciate her mate and can help a young girl look for heroic qualities as she searches for her future husband. I want readers to read my books and say “that’s the kind of man I want to marry”. I love writing heroes who make the heroine feel safe, strong and fulfilled. My husband did that for me and so my heroes are modeled after him. Plus, I love writing romance that is fun and I try to never let it get boring!

I agree. I hate being frustrated when I'm reading. Who wants to feel stressed out when they put the book down? Now, what’s a typical day in your life and share your writing schedule with us.

I’m usually at the computer by 7 drinking a cup of coffee and checking email. By 8 or 9 at the latest I’m writing. I write all day, taking breaks every hour. I write at least 8 hours a day and many days, especially if I have a deadline, I write 12 hours or more. I love it!

Tell us about your writing journey and the day you found out you’d sold your first book.

This is sort of complicated but here goes. I wrote for 13 years—three of those years right before I sold my first book I didn’t actually write, I’d felt God urging me to give my full attention to my family so I did. At the end of that time my husband, the love of my life, died suddenly and I became a widow. I thank God everyday for the gift he gave me when He pressed upon me the need to focus on my family during those 3 years. I always tell others if you feel God leading you to stop writing by all means pause your career. You can always go back, but God may have a reason for asking you to lay your dream aside for a little while. Wayne died on July 5, 2003 and in my grief, needing something to help me during those dark lonely hours I was now faced with, I started reading Christian fiction. But, and by no means am I putting these author’s work down--because their work is a blessing to many and meets a need out just wasn’t meeting my need. For me it seemed that all the Christian fiction I was reading was so heavy with the heartaches and “realisms” that the characters were suffering from that it was just too real to me and the fresh heartbreak I was dealing with. I didn’t need “real”, I needed escape, I needed something to help me smile. That’s when I felt compelled to start writing again. I pulled my last book that I’d written off the shelf, tweaked it a bit and sent it in. That was December of 2003 and, long story shortened, it was a romantic comedy about a wacky hairdresser who went to a small town in Texas to try and marry off all the cowboys! THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN was a Golden Heart finalist and Joan Golan of Steeple Hill was judging. Since my story was targeted toward their Love Inspired line I hoped it would catch her attention. It did and she had Krista Stroever call me the week it arrived in New York with an offer! LOL…I was totally surprised—I knew the finalist were going to the editors desk that week but I wasn’t expecting the call to come so soon if it came at all. As it turned out I was the first GH finalist to sell that year. So after all those years of waiting for the call I was totally caught off guard. But I was happy! However, the call was bittersweet to me in that it was only 7 months after my husband’s death therefore while I was thrilled I was also so sad that Wayne wasn’t there beside me...but I knew in spirit he was and is. The reason I go on about this is because God has a plan for all of us and on the day I got the call I knew God was opening a new window for me. In His timetable He’d given me a new path for my life at exactly the time that I needed it most. I know my purpose is to write fun books that touch the hearts of readers. I write to help my readers laugh and escape the harsh realities of life for the little while they are reading one of my books. I strive to build a world where they can rest easy. Truly, the day I got the call changed my life.

I read my first book by you just a couple weeks ago. Meeting Her Match. Even though I don’t know you personally, I felt like I could see you in Sheri. Do you put a little bit of your own life in the Mule Hollow Books? And what about Mule Hollow? Is there a Mule Hollow in your life?

Yes, I’m in all of my books in little ways…but definitely in the way my speaking voice comes out on the page! Talk about voice, you can hear me loud and clear so I get that all the time :). But also, you will see snap shots of some of my life in the books although believe me, my life isn’t quiet as exciting as my characters—for instance Sheri had an encounter with an alligator in MEETING HER MATCH and so did I but hers was a lot more exciting than my own experience! And about Mule Hollow it is completely made up. However the small town I live in is a wonderful place full of great people but it isn’t Mule Hollow. I love that readers really wish they could move to Mule Hollow and I’ve had several people write to me asking if I could fix them up with a cowboy--I love that! I’m thinking maybe I should start an online dating service or something!

LOL, hey, I bet you'd be busy. I also just finished Operation: Married by Christmas. It was very good. The romance was fabulous. I could feel their pain and longing in each page. You did a great job making us believe their backstory. What makes your romances so good or what’s the key to writing a good romance?

Thank you so much for the nice comment! And I love this question, Sabrina. I believe understanding the dynamics of why two people are attracted to each other is key in building a romance. It is obviously part physical—very important to the dynamics of the sexual tension that makes real life and books exciting. But, the glue that binds it all together runs so much deeper and I believe foremost that two people have to make each other want to be better people. Also, something about the person has to make you feel alive in a way no one else can—got to have those sparks! Also, each hero and heroine has to be someone your readers connect with or it doesn’t work as a book. To achieve this I study movies with great dialog and story and also the same with books that I read. But I think for me I get it better through movies. I study why the relationships work on screen and why they don’t and I think it helps me with my work.

Any tips or advice for new writers that you wish you’d have known back before you were published?

Okay, take this with a grain of salt since I am still learning and growing myself! But I believe you need to always be open to learning and to changing the things that will make you a better writer. Learn what works for you, be true to how you would say it on paper—that’s your voice. Many new authors strive to please too many critique partners and so they don’t stand out. So my advice is: learn your voice and what works with it, what makes it better and then hone that voice until it stands out not blends in! People always say, “But how do you do that? How do you know if you have a voice?” Like I said earlier everyone has a voice, a way they say things, the way they see things. You just have to figure out how to get that to the page in a captivating way and then there you go--you have a voice. Yeah, I know, easier said than done .

You’ve created a great little town in Mule Hollow. How many more Mule Hollow stories do you have planned?

Thank you, I’m hoping everyone wants to visit Mule Hollow! I’m working on book 10 in the series (praise the Lord!)and since readers have embraced the books we’re keeping it going for now to fill that demand.

I’m so excited about the three books I have coming out in 2008 with Love Inspired and yes they are all set in Mule Hollow! The first book (Jan 08) NEXT DOOR DADDY is very special to me. I feel like it is one of my best books to date. It is about a widow and a widower who both have loved and lost their soul mates. Their journey to loving again is to me a very special one. It is a little different than my other books since it is heart wrenching in parts, but I balanced this out with tons of humor so that it is in keeping with my normal style. To do this I added a daredevil eight year old and a houseful of wonderful animals that are sure to make readers laugh! That book is followed by HER BABY DREAMS in April, this book is lighter and the hero was totally fun to create. He just won’t take no for an answer! Then comes THE COWBOY TAKES A BRIDE in July and it has the spunkiest, heroine who is a down and out actress with big dreams and she’s hoping Mule Hollow will help make them come true. All are fun books but each one is different and I hope meets readers expectations. You can read about them at my website so please come on by and leave me a note!

I’ve enjoyed this interview Sabrina. Thanks for having me! I do hope readers will check out my website and my new blog where I put out my newest news. And if you haven’t been to Mule Hollow yet—I hope you’ll grab a book and come visit me and the gang! God bless you all.

Thank you so much, Debra. This has been one of the most fun interviews. You're so kind to share of yourself with us. Now if you'd like to win a copy of Operation Married by Christmas, email me the answer to this question. What is the name of Debra's dog. :) The answer is on her website. And please leave a comment for Debra. :) Happy Sleuthing.



Friday, December 07, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Hey all, just thought I'd share a couple pics. Here's a small glimpse of our Christmas tree. When my husband and I were first married we had a big tree with all white lights. It was decorated in red and silver and very elegant and classy. Then I had Tanner. :) All you parents see where this is going.
We now have all manner of homemade paper, wood, metal, and plastic ornaments. Of course now we have to have colored lights to go with the multitude of crayola color and you can't see it but we have a pretty snowman tree skirt that matches our homespun stockings. It's very pretty and charming but a true sign that a family lives here. :)
Crystal, if you're reading this, that's your bell you made me last year. Cara's angel is also somewhere on here.
And you can see that since we don't have a fireplace our stockings are hung by the Love Inspired books. :)
I'll post some pictures of us playing in the snow later this weekend. (Yep, I'm giving in and letting him play in the snow. Woohoo...progress!

Letting them grow up!

We finally have our snow and I love it. I'm one of those Midwest girls that needs snow for the holidays. Without it it just seems like any other time of the year. So we have this snow and it's pretty and fluffy and Tanner, my eight year old, is dying to go out and play in it. Sigh. Here lies the problem. My name is Sabrina and I'm an overprotective mom. LOL. Seriously, I love to go out and play with Tanner in the snow. Last year we got this great snowman kit that I'm dying to try out. We also have sleds and shovels and all kinds of fun snow gear. (Yes, I sled too!)

Sadly, Tanner's eardrum ruptured two weeks ago and I'm afraid he isn't quite over his illness yet. I'm worried that if I let him go out and play in the cold damp snow he'll end up really sick. He is furious with me. He stomped his foot yesterday and said, "Mom, you're still treating me like I'm 5 or something." LOL. I had to try really hard not to chuckle and grab him for a hug. Even when he's mad I still see my little baby. In reality, he finished is antibiotics and the doctor said he's healing fine.

I know he's growing up and I do need to coddle him less. But where do you draw the line? How do I stop seeing him as the little infant that I cuddled close for what seemed like such a short time? Sigh. If you have any great words of wisdom, I'll take 'em.

p.s. My little man didn't even ask for any toys this year for Christmas. He asked for a guitar. That's it. He said he just really really wanted a guitar. He thought if he gave Santa less options he was more likely to get what he wanted. :) That's my boy! Always thinking.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith

This week the

is introducing

Bluegrass Peril
(Steeple Hill December 4, 2007)
Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

WHO KILLED HER BOSS?Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril * * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *
This was a great book. I didn't know what to expect since I had read Murder by Mushroom by Virginia. (Which I loved, by the way) I wondered if she'd be able to pull off a suspense when she had only written a cozy for this line. Wow! She didn't disappoint me. It was a great, fast paced read that I devoured in one sitting. Virginia came across as a veteran suspense writer with this one. I can't wait for more from this great writer. :)
If you'd like to enter to win a copy of the book, leave me a comment and I'll draw a name next week. Also, next week is Debra Clopton's interview and free book drawing, followed by A Big Apple Christmas Blog Tour. Stop by often.