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Monday, January 26, 2009

When are you going to get published???

“Oh, it’s fine. Now when are you going to get published?”

Most of my blog readers know that I’m a writer. I’ve written and published over 200 articles and reviews. I’m also working on my own Christian fiction books. I’ve been given the go ahead from Steeple Hill to rework a few parts of my book Malicious Intent and then send it back to them for consideration for their Love Inspired Suspense line. It’s a long shot, but at least I’m in the ball game again. :) They receive between 500-1000 submissions a year and only publish 48 of those. See what I mean. Long shot. LOL.

Most of my friends have dozens of rejections lining their office walls. One of my close friends, Cara, did have success pretty early on, but still... a lot of hard work went into that success. So it was with disappointment but also a degree of realism, that I accepted my first and only rejection two years ago. It was when I submitted Prescription for Murder to the LIS line. Since that rejection, I’ve taken some time off from both papers I was writing for and even slowed down on my book reviews. All in an attempt to focus my energy on the books I’d started.

During that same time, I took a job as a freelance reader for Harlequin/Steeple Hill. A job that I love. I thought that being a reader for one of the lines I was targeting would give me some insight into what they’re looking for. There is some truth to that, as I do believe I have gathered a better understanding of the line and what makes a book work or fail.

Here’s the funny part. I’ve read numerous manuscripts for Harlequin in the last couple years. Each time feeling pretty comfortable in my evaluation of those manuscripts. Why then, is it still so hard to evaluate my own book? Seriously. I’m at a loss. I kind of think it’s because I know the story so well I read between the lines as I’m reading. I know what my characters are thinking. What they’re seeing. Smelling. Unfortunately, Jane the reader can’t do that. So, while I love my job and hope to keep it for quite some time, sadly, I’m not sure how much it’s helped me in my own writing.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is also one of their readers and I’m looking forward to her opinion of my manuscript. If you don’t have the good fortune to know a first reader or even a published author, join a writing community (like ACFW) or critique group. If that’s not an option, find a friend who loves to read. A friend that will be brutally honest with you. Not someone who will pat your back and say the nice things you want to hear. Because that won’t help you at all. I remember a long time ago I asked my mom to read one of my books and she just said, “Oh, it’s fine. Now when are you going to get published?” So not helpful. :0/

On the other hand, I have a published author friend who is very tough on me. When she sees a problem, she’ll tell you. But when something is good, she’ll tell you that too. I need that. I can work with a critical eye. I can’t learn or work with “Oh, it’s fine. Now when are you going to get published?”

Friday, January 23, 2009

My favorite recipe...what's yours?

I'm so tired of trying to come up with food my family will eat. It's not just my son, though he's a picky eater, my husband is just as picky. Tanner (the son) eats very little meat. He lives on peanut butter. If he's hungry he'll go get a spoon of peanut butter. He knows it has protein and he's convinced me it's better than junk food. :0/ He's almost 10 and he's starting to talk about being a vegetarian. We'll see... My husband on the other hand loves meat, potatoes, and bread. I really shouldn't have so much starch so it's hard to find something we can all eat and enjoy.

We eat a lot of Mexican food, breakfast for dinner, grilled chicken, etc...Tanner can't eat rice so that's out. He literally can't eat it. Tim would eat steak or roast every day if I'd let him. Grrrr. I need help, people. :) Any ideas? I'm open to suggestions. :)

In the spirit of sharing, here's one of my favorite dishes I got from the Neely's that we all seem to be able to eat. I use half the lemons and a little extra olive oil and garlic. I also like it better with Angel Hair pasta, but the penne is good if that's all you have. :)

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken
Prep Time: 10 min Inactive Prep Time: hr min Cook Time: 25 min Level: Easy Serves:
3 to 5 servings 1 pound dried penne
2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.

Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before serving top with Parmesan.
Now come on...share.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Centurion's Wife

Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)


Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.

Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.


Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


Kaye Dacus


Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder


I loved this book. Mostly because Dacus did a marvelous job in creating a memorable cast. There are so many rich characters to fall in love with in this series I found myself wishing I could join in on their weekly family dinners.

It was obvious the author would be able to continue the series by taking us on a journey through the lives of these fun cousins/siblings.

Also, something worth mentioning—you could tell the author was educated in writing/literature. She did such a good job in staying within the rules of good writing. For a first book, it was much more polished than most. I also loved loved loved the cover. Barbour did a great job with this one. :) Hope to see more like it from them.

Overall, can’t wait to read the next one and I've definitely added this writer to my list of favorites. Stop by later this month as I’ll be having another drawing for books. This one will be included. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My review of Sweetwater Gap

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

Sweetwater Gap
Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)


Denise Hunter
A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.
When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom-freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sweetwater Gap, go HERE

My Review: The book starts with Josie receiving a call from her brother in law that she needs to come home and help her sister run the family orchard. Nate is a good man, but he’s tired of Josie being so selfish and not pulling her own weight.

Because Josie loves her sister, she decides to go home and convince Laurel to sell. Josie eludes that some impending doom is coming and Laurel will be better without the responsibilities of running the orchard on her own. Giving us the sense something is wrong with Josie and she might not be able to help run the orchard much longer.

Orchard manager Grady Mackenzie is hiding a little hurt of his own. He doesn’t trust women easily and he sure doesn’t trust Josie once he hears her trying to convince Laurel to sell the orchard. An orchard he now owns a small portion of. Owning an orchard has always been his dream and if Josie and Laurel sell, he’ll lose his dream again.

Grady starts noticing something is wrong with Josie. At first he thinks she just can’t pull her weight, but then realizes she’s ill. After a number of run-ins, the two of them become somewhat friends. When Grady finally gets Josie to confess she’s sick, Josie makes him promise not to tell. Thus, forming a tight bond between the two of them.

I won’t go any farther with the synopsis because I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but let me just say, I am declaring Denise Hunter the queen of romance. She has a way of using such subtlety and still leaving us breathless. Fabulous!

I also love that even though it’s a women of faith book, Hunter didn’t feel the need to beat us over the head with a bunch of "Christianese". You know what I mean. Those long winded sections we all find ourselves skimming over…there were no sections to skim in this book! This was a great, clean, romance novel, with a great message. What more could you ask for?


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby it's cold outside. . .

We got our ice that was predicted, but we're still waiting on the snow. I love snow. I need snow in the winter. It makes me feel all cheery. :) I know...I'm weird. But seriously, winter without snow is just depressing. Besides, Tanner is dying to go sledding and I confess I'm looking forward to it myself. If we get to go I'll post some pics.

Now, as much as I love winter, I was cleaning out my digital camera and found all kinds of vacation pics that I forgot about.

Thought I'd share a few. Of course these are of Tanner. This first one makes me a little sad. Being an only child I get how lonely it can be sometimes.

Vacationing with the parents is fun, but can be a little boring. However, the next one shows how fun my little boy is and how even without a bunch of siblings, you can have a blast. :)

Next year, we're taking a friend along. That should be interesting.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pardon the weird header picture. I'm playing around with some changes.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Perfect Match

(Tyndale House January 1, 2009)


Susan May Warren


Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart.
(This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.


2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year

A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars


Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I LOVE CHAI TEA!!! It should be on my tombstone, I love it so much. LOL. But man it can get expensive at those coffee shops. That's why I love this recipe so much. I found it in a magazine then tweaked it to my taste. Tanner and I made it for Christmas gifts this year and it seemed to go over well. I have a container of it at work so I can make a cup whenever I want. Let me know if you try it.

Spiced Chai Mix

TIME: Prep/Total Time: 15 min.
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened instant tea
1 1/4 cup vanilla powdered nondairy creamer
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

In a food processor, combine all dry ingredients; cover and process until powdery. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
To prepare 1 serving: Dissolve 3 tablespoons of mix in 3/4 cup boiling water; stir well. Dollop with whipped cream if desired (Uh, yeah, I desire) Yield: about 5-6 cups mix (26 servings).

Also, if you want it richer make it with steamed milk or half milk half water. That’s more like the coffee shop type. :)

Wanted by Shelley Shephard Gray

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Avon Inspire (January 6, 2009)


Shelley Shepard Gray


Hidden is Shelley’s first foray into inspirational fiction. Previously, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio where she writes full time. Shelley is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and is part of the Telecare ministry, which calls homebound members on a regular basis. Shelley looks forward to the opportunity to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

This is the second book in the Sisters Of Heart series. The first was Hidden.


Twenty-year-old Katie Brenneman has always quietly fancied Jonathan Lundy. So when the brokenhearted widower asks her to help him take care of his two young girls, Katie knows it will be a trying time-yet she cannot pass up a golden opportunity to get to know this man better.

Just as she's settling into her new life, a message arrives from Katie's past, threatening to expose her darkest secrets. During her Rumspringa, her running-around years, she experimented with activities forbidden in the Amish way of life. Frightened by how far she'd strayed from her values, Katie ran back home, vowing to cut all ties with the outside world. Now her transgressions are coming back to haunt her, just as Jonathan seems willing to welcome her into his heart.

Will the past destroy Katie's chances for love? Or will Katie finally allow herself to accept God's love, forgive her past...and receive everything she's ever wanted?

If you would like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Wanted, go HERE