Welcome all readers and writers to my blog. I encourage you to post your comments and hope that you enjoy the site.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Introducing Karen Witemeyer.....

I am excited to announce my Interview with Karen Witemeyer.
What an amazing author! She has three books available right now and another coming in 2012. Her stories are captivating and touching! I recommend them to everyone. I read Tailor-Made Bride first and absolutely loved it. Karen was kind enough to reply to my request for an interview so I read To Win Her Heart and Head in the Clouds so that I could review each of them for her. The reviews will follow her interview.
Karen has also graciously offered a copy of To Win Her Heart for a giveaway! Comment to the question at the end of this post and a winner will be selected to receive a free copy of Karen's newest book!

Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself?
I'm a deacon's wife and an incurable romantic who believes this world needs more happily-ever-afters. So, in order to help meet that need, I combine my fascination for bygone eras with my passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels full of love and laughter. I'm also an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bake a mean apple cobbler. I live in Abilene, TX with my hunky, computer nerd husband and three children who are kind enough to put up with Mom's imaginary friends.

Tell us a little bit about To Win Her Heart?
To Win Her Heart is a story about second chances and about learning to see one another through the eyes of grace instead of eyes clouded by prejudice and past hurts. Here's the official blurb:
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets. . . .

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Levi’s renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

1.     When did you begin writing?
I first started writing with the intent to publish in 2003 while I was still a stay-at-home mom. I originally thought I could help supplement the family income with my stories but soon realized that it would take years before I could actually make any money at it. That same year, I went back to work full-time outside the home. The writing bug had bitten hard, though, and I decided to continue the pursuit even though there were more demands on my time.  
2.     What was your first published book and when did you publish it?
My debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, released in June 2010 and I proud to say that it went on to be named a finalist for both the RITA and the National Reader's Choice Award in the Best First Book categories.
3.     How many books do you have in print now?
I currently have three books in print: A Tailor-Made Bride (June 2010), Head in the Clouds (Oct 2010), and To Win Her Heart (May 2011).
4.     In To Win Her Heart, Eden Spencer and Levi Grant have reading books in common. They meet many times at the Library that Eden runs. Did you spend a lot of time in the library as a child? What was your favorite book/author?
The library was like a second home for me when I was growing up. I have vivid memories of checking out stacks of books at a time, taking them home, devouring them, and then coming back for more. I read everything from Little House on the Prairie to Encyclopedia Brown to The Black Stallion.

I also remember our school library. In third grade, I recall seeing a book on the shelf with such a crazy title that I just had to try it. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. I'm sure I had read books without any illustrations before, but this book gave me an epiphany. I could actually visualize everything that happened through my imagination. No pictures required. If the author could get me to visualize Whangdoodleland, anything was possible.
5.     In To Win Her Heart, Levi Grant has a speech problem. He avoids using words with an “s” sound to prevent people from making fun of him. How difficult was it to write all of his dialogue without using the “sss” sound? By the way, I’m really impressed that you accomplished that!
Oh my goodness. This was the trickiest thing I have ever done. Those S's sneak in everywhere. I couldn't use "Mr." because when it is said, there's an S sound. C's can sound like S's. And how can you talk about anything in plural? It was extremely limiting but a fun challenge at the same time. I did miss a few that my editors spotted, but what really scared me, was that I found 3 during the final galley review. Heart attack! I had missed them. The editors and copy editors had missed them. Only by the grace of God did I snag those last few before the book went to print. I don't think any got by us, but if someone spots one, please let me know.
6.     In To Win Her Heart, The characters are faced with the reality of their past and how difficult it is to overcome poor decisions. Explain the message that this delivers to the reader and why is that message so important?
This is the timeless message of redemption through Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become a new creation. New. Clean. Without blemish. This is an incredibly difficult concept for our human minds to comprehend. We remember our blemishes all too well. And so do those around us. Yet God promises to remember them no more. We must learn to trust in this promise, to stop dwelling on past sins, and live our lives with a heavenward focus.
7.     In To Win Her Heart, Eden Spencer has to face the town’s scrutiny over her choice to take in someone who doesn’t fit their idea of a “model citizen.” How did this speak of Eden’s character that she was willing to take Chloe in, despite the ridicule she received from the townspeople?
This was a true time of spiritual growth for Eden. Up to this point, she had been very concerned about how others perceived her. She hated to be whispered about and strove to keep her reputation above reproach. And when Levi first presented her with the idea of taking Chloe in, she resisted. It would be easier to just buy the girl a train ticket. She'd still be acting with Christian charity while not having to sacrifice her position in the community. However, when challenged, she realized that laying a cheap gift on the altar isn't much of a sacrifice. God calls us to be living sacrifices, to look out not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others. By choosing to take Chloe in, Eden not only helped a young girl, she matured as a woman of faith by sacrificing something precious in order to do what was right.
8.     If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If money was no object, I would love to tour the castles of Germany. I love mountain settings, romance, and fairy tales. What could be more romantic than the castle that inspired the home of Disney's Sleeping Beauty situated in the Bavarian mountains? I get dreamy-eyed just looking at pictures of Neuschwanstein. I'd also like to see elegant Eltz Castle and historic Wartburg Castle. Wartburg is one of the oldest preserved castles as well as a place where church reformer Martin Luther lived and translated the Bible into German. How awesome would that be to see? My daughter would love touring the castles and my husband would dutifully ooh and aah, but I might have to bribe my boys with a ski trip or something to get them to tour the castles with me.
9.     What is one piece of advice that you can give to other writers?
RUE - Resist the urge to explain. I constantly remind myself of this one. So many times I want to make sure the reader understands my intent, and I'm tempted to explain the meaning of what just happened in the story. However, the rule of RUE has helped me edit out those unnecessary words. Trusting the reader to understand is a leap of faith. Yet we have smart, savvy readers. They don't need the message spoon fed to them. A few might miss my subtle imagery, but others will see it and appreciate it. A heavy hand just comes off as preachy. A joke explained is no longer funny. And dialog rehashed is boring. If I RUE as I write, I won't rue my wordiness later.
10.      What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Definitely the correspondence I've had with readers. Hearing that my stories touched someone makes all the hard work worthwhile. That is why I write, after all. To encourage women of faith in their walk with Christ. We all need an excuse to smile now and then, or a place to escape the havoc of our own reality. If I can provide a little joy or entertainment for someone, I am blessed. But every once in a while I get a message from a reader who mentions how a character really spoke to her during a difficult time in her life, or that the theme of one of my novels encouraged her to be a more godly woman. Those are the comments that stir my soul and send me to my knees in thankfulness that God could use such an ordinary vessel in such an extraordinary way.
11.     What is in the future for the characters in To Win Her Heart?
Unfortunately, there will not be a sequel. However, back in June I ran a fan fiction contest and invited readers to submit an epilogue for two of the secondary characters: Chloe and Duncan. Nancy Kimball won the contest, and I was very pleased with her ending. It is posted on the fan fiction page of my site. It's not a full sequel, but it is a fun little extra for those hungry to see more of the happily ever after.

Book Review of To Win Her Heart
I cannot say enough good things about this book!
Edens Spencer has had her heart broken, and thus swears off relationships. Her kind heart and love of books leads her to run a library out of her home. When Levi Grant strolls into town to be the new blacksmith her heart betrays her decision to remain alone. Problems in his past come back to haunt Levi as he tries to start his life over and he can't see how a woman like Eden could love him, especially if she knew about his past.
This story is one of hope, faith, love, and forgiveness as Levi tries TO WIN HER HEART!
What a great read!! I could not put this book down. It captivated and consumed me. I always know when a book is good because I make excuses to get to read it or I read it when I should be doing other things. I almost ruined a perfectly good batch of brownies because I was reading while cooking......you know this was a good one!!!

SO.... Readers, I pose this question to you for a chance to win a copy of To Win Her Heart.......
When I am reading a really good book I put off housework to get just a little more reading time in, or I will flat iron my hair and read at the same time..........
How do you know when you are reading a really good book? What are your tell-tale signs?

Post a response to this blog telling us the answer to this question and one winner will be selected!! I will announce the winner by October 15th!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Janice Hanna Thompson: Part II

I really wanted to be able to have time to read Love Finds You in Groom, Texas before posting my interview with Janice Hanna Thompson but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to. But now that I have.... I'd love to share my review with you.
The book starts out with the backstory of Jake O'Farrell. He is the lone bachelor in the town of Groom, TX. It isn't because he wants to be single, he just hasn't found the right girl yet. Not for lack of trying since his sisters-in-law keep trying to play matchmaker.
Anne Denning is traveling from Denver with her two sisters by way of train to Dallas to live with her Uncle after the death of her father. She is really out of place in her world, traveling to a place she has never been to live with an Uncle that she barely knows and having to play both mother and father to her two young sisters. I really like Anne because she is such a strong character. Despite this adversity she manages to pull it all together to be the parental figure that the girls need.
A train derailment brings our hero and heroine together, aided by Jake's meddling mother, Maggie and Anne's little sisters, Emily and Kate. Without giving away the ending let me just say that the twists and turns that these two take are heartwarming and funny. The antics of the little sisters will have you in stitches, especially Emily, a writer with an imagination as broad as the Texas Panhandle itself! This girl can sure spin a yarn!
When I read the last page of this book I flipped back to the beginning of that chapter and read it again. It was so good that I wasn't ready to put it down and I wasn't ready to be done with the characters!
I emailed Janice and begged her to write a sequel for this. I hope she took me seriously because this was not meant to be a stand alone book. I could go on and on but I don't want to be a plot spoiler. If you haven't read the book yet, please do. It is amazing!! Thank you, Janice, for sharing this story with us. As always, your tale has left me yearning for more. I look forward to reading Love Finds You in Daisy, Oklahoma and your other future endeavors, I know they will be every bit as good as Love Find You In Groom, Texas!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meet Janice Hanna Thompson.....

Wow... what an amazing woman! I have had the pleasure of meeting Janice on more than one occasion and have read several of her novels. She is a wonderful person and her books are outstanding. I'm really excited to share this interview with you so that you can get to know her too. Her newest book is titled Love Finds You in Groom, Texas. For those of you who are not familiar with the Love Finds You line of books they are really wonderful reads. The stories are captivating and always leave me with a warm feeling. I have not read Love Finds You in Groom, TX yet as I just got my copy from Janice a few days ago, but I am really looking forward to it and after reading her other books, I know I am in for a real treat. Each of you has an opportunity to win an autographed copy of her book by answering the question that I post at the end of the interview. The best answer will be selected to win the autographed copy. Good Luck, and enjoy!

Love Finds You in Groom, Texas by Janice Hanna Thompson

Let's chat with Novelist Janice Hanna Thompson, author of Love Finds You In Groom, Texas.(Summerside/ Guideposts, June 2011)

Janice Hanna (also published as Janice Thompson) has published more that 70 novels and non-fiction books. She has also published more than fifty magazine articles and several musical comedies for the stage. Janice makes her home in the Houston area near her children and grandchildren.

Please tell us three random things we might not know about you.

My dad was the president of the University of Houston Cougar Cagers Club, so my birthdays, holidays, etc. were spent at basketball games. Our family traveled to Mexico with the U of H Cougars to watch them compete, which was great fun. When I was eleven, I got to play (for fun, of course) with the Harlem Globetrotters, who came to Houston for a visit. To this day, I love a good basketball game.

I once lied to a fellow camper at church camp, telling her that my dad (Billy Hanna) was William Hanna of Hanna/Barbara (Flintstones) fame. That lie still haunts me, though, to his credit, my dad did eventually work as a movie producer on our co-authored movie, Liars Moon. (Yes, it's true. I got to meet and work with Matt Dillon. Eat your heart out, girls!)

I occasionally bake wedding cakes. In 2009 I baked a lovely four-tiered white cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting that topples less than an hour before the wedding. I managed to piece together two very messy/ugly layers. Thankfully the bride did not murder me. It made for a great scene in a later book. (Nothing ever gets wasted, not even a mashed piece of cake.)

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, TX.

Always the groomsman, never the groom..... It's 1914 and Jake O'Farrell has gained an unusual reputation among the locals: He's played the roles of groomsman and best man in all four of his older brothers' weddings, but he's never been able to find a woman to capture his heart. And now with the upcoming wedding of his best friend, Jake will become the last single man in the town of Groom.

Anne Denning has made the difficult decision to move with her sisters to Texas, but a train derailment forces them to seek shelter in Groom, near Amarillo. Mrs. O'Farrell, hopeful that Anne will catch her youngest son's eye, invites the girls to stay at her home until the train is repaired and ready to pull out. Anne has no idea of the blissful chaos that lies ahead!

Tell us something interesting about the town of Groom:

Groom boasts a nineteen story high cross. More than 100 welders worked together to erect it in 1995. This is why I toyed with the idea of writing a contemporary novel!! I wanted to include the cross. Because I went with historical, I decided to give the heroine a small cross necklace to wear, one that symbolizes her faith (and alludes to the "bigger" cross to come.)

Groom is a wedding-themed book. Why do you write so many stories with a strong wedding theme?

I have four grown daughters- Randi, Megan, Courtney Rae, and Courtney Elizabeth. Yes, I really have two daughters named Courtney. (Long Story!) All of my four girls got married within four years of each other. We're told to write what we know. I know weddings, trust me! I helped coordinate all four weddings and even worked as a wedding coordinator at my church for a season. I was also tickled to be the "Wedding Planner Examiner" for the city of Houston for a spell. What fun! You'll see me writing about weddings for years to come, so hang on for the ride!

What is it about your lead character that will make readers care about her?

Readers will care about Anne because she's been through so much and still chooses to move forward. They will also love her relationship with her younger sisters. She's the only remaining parental figure and takes that position very seriously.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

In spite of the lead character's tough situation, the story is filled with comedic elements. Anne's two younger sisters are a hoot. So is Maggie (the hero's mother). She's an Irish spitfire! I think readers will appreciate the romance between Jake and Anne. It is filled with all sorts of sweet and comic moments.

Why do you write comedies with strong take-aways?

Comedy is a great outlet. We comedians can get away with a lot more than other authors who play it straight. Want the reader to walk away with a little nugget of truth? Couch it in something humorous. I've found that light-hearted writing not only suits my personality, its the perfect vehicle for sharing the gospel.

Tell us a little about your hero. Is he true hero material?

Jake is a hunka-hunka Texas man! He's a railroad man who loves his job, loves his family, and loves the heroine. He's got a great sense of humor, which is perfect for this story, because the heroine's little sisters are loaded with antics! Jake has a lot to deal with: he's the town's last single man, which has made him the brunt of many a joke. His older brothers (all married with children) taunt and tease . Jake can never catch a break. Unless he's with Anne, of course! Then he catches far more than a break... he catches the woman of his dreams!

What are readers saying about this book? Have you had any feedback so far?

So far the book has all five star reviews on Amazon.com (Which makes me smile, of course) Here's a review I found that got me really excited:

5.0 Out of 5 Stars: A Delightful Read

This delightful tale of romance which emerges out of tragic circumstances is set in a wonderful town called Groom in the panhandle of the great state of Texas. It is a story of tragedy, love, and God's divine hand of providence that enters a situation just at the right time and changes everything. Young Anne finds herself on a train heading to Dallas with her two younger sisters after the loss of their father. When fate intervenes, the train derails and their future is forever altered. And then there is Jake, the last available young man in Groom who finds himself to be the recipient of many jokes about his situation, especially from his brothers. Jake's mother, Maggie embodies everything wonderful that Anne remembers about her own mother before she died. Throw in a mixture of the antics of Aunt Bets and the perceived sternness of Uncle Bertrand, and you have a story of new revelations and delightful outcomes.

How absolutely wonderful, in this day and age when problems seem to loom on every side and people have lost faith and hope, to read this story that is all about faith and hope. It is refreshing to read a story set in an era when one's word meant something, when prayer was the first course of action, when faith ruled our very existence, when people looked out for one another, even during hard times. Perhaps after reading this book, your faith will be renewed as well. - Cherri Taylor

What are you working on now?

I just turned in Love Finds You In Daisy, Oklahoma, a fun historical about a single woman in her late 30's who moves from the Gulf Coast to the landlocked state of Oklahoma to become the director at an orphanage. It's a love story, of course! She falls in love with the town sheriff, who has adopted two of the unruliest boys from the orphanage. I'm currently writing Wedding Belles, the first book in the Belles and Whistles series for Summerside/Guideposts.

I know that you enjoy teaching. Can you tell us about your online courses?

Thanks for asking . I enjoy teaching almost as much as I enjoy writing! For many years I taught creative writing at a school of the arts. These days I teach through my online courses. They're audio/video driven, which is great fun. I get to go into a recording studio to record them! My courses are as follows:

  1. Becoming a Successful Freelance Author

  2. Fiction Writing Master Course

  3. Navigating the Business of Freelance Writing

  4. Magazine Article Writing Master Course

  5. Creative Writing

  6. U.N.I.Q.U.E. - Finding Your Unique place in the Writing Industry

  7. Non-Fiction Book Writing (coming in August, 20011)

I understand you have a new VIP bookclub. Can you tell us about that?

Yes, I'm so excited about this, too! I came up with this idea several months ago: Why not create a "club" where members can each get a new Janice Hanna/ Janice Thompson book as it releases for a set price of $11 with shipping included. Books are autographed and mailed out to club members before they ever hit the stores. I also encourage my VIP members to leave reviews, as they are able to, on amazon, christianbook.com, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/. If people are interested in joining the club all they have to do is shoot me an email at booksbyjanice@aol.com with the words "VIP Bookclub" in the subject line and their address in the body of the email.

Where else can readers find you online?

I love to connect with my readers at the following places:

Where can I get the book?

Love Finds You in Groom, Texas can be purchased at any number of online stores, as well as my website, http://www.janicehannathompson.com/ (front page). Readers can always join my VIP bookclub.

Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!!

Now for the Giveaway.... One signed copy of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas by Janice Hanna will be given to the winner. The winner will be selected based on the best answer to this question and announced on August 15th on this blog. Please include your email address in your post so that we can contact the winner.

Comment to this post with your answer to this question:

Which character from a novel do you feel like you most resemble and why?

Thank you, readers, for participating and Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My First ACFW Meeting

I am excited to be attending my first American Christian Fiction Writer's meeting this Saturday. I really think that the people I meet there will be able to broaden my horizons as a writer! I am also looking forward to seeing my friend Janice Hanna Thompson there. I will get my copy of her newest book, Love Finds You In Groom, TX. I will be posting an interview with her and my official book review first part of next week. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, check out some of her other publications. She is an amazing author and a wonderful person. I guarantee you will enjoy her work!
I will also be hosting a book giveaway on my blog. Become a follower of my blog and post a comment on the Janice Hanna Thompson interview that will be posted next week and I will have a signed copy of Love Finds You in Groom, TX available to the winner of the giveaway.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting Ready for Summer.....

Summer times are usually the most laid back time of the year. The kids are out of school, there are no after school activities, Little League, Gymnastics, or Ballet, etc., etc...... While all of this is true for most, for my family summer time is the busiest time of the year. Owning an Air Conditioning company, our family has had to make concessions for the fact that we cannot plan vacations in the summer time, we cannot make weekend plans that will bring us too far away from home, and we never know when our work day will end. That being said, we have also learned to take advantage of every minute that we get to spend relaxing, because we never know when the next heat wave will keep us busy again. This past weekend was one of those times. My parents came down from Denver and we got to spend the time with them hanging out at the house by the pool and grilling burgers and playing board games. No pressure, no running crazy, no time limits..... what a wonderful weekend! I even took an afternoon nap, which is something I never get time to do! I have started my Monday inspired! I am going to use this summer to the best of my ability. I am setting a goal for myself to have my manuscript complete before the end of summer. I have eleven weeks until the kids go back to school. That should be plenty of time if I am diligent about writing two chapters each week. I vow to put all the other stories floating around in my head aside for the next eleven weeks and try to make some magic happen with the sequel to Footprints in the Sand. So, readers, check back with me as I give you status updates on how I am coming along and what is happening in Dawn and Kyle's story! I promise to keep you posted!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So Many Blessings.....

Hello Readers....
I am getting so excited! In exactly 30 minutes I will be having lunch with Janice Hanna Thompson! She is a very accomplished Author with over 40 books published, not to mention the plays she has written and produced and the Writing courses that she has available, plus her many other attributes. She is leaving today to go on a month long book tour and has agreed to stop in Madisonville for lunch. I hope to post some pictures and share some more information about our lunch together later in the week. In addition to this, please stay posted for an interview with her and a book review on Stars Collide, a new series that she is launching. The first book is available and the second will be released in the next few months. If you have read any of Janice's books, please feel free to post a comment here and I will share it with her.
More Blessings....
I have scheduled another book signing, this one at Hastings Bookstore in Bryan on Villa Maria. It will be June 17th (Friday) from 4pm-8pm. I invite you all to come out and visit with me and maybe buy a book and get it signed if you haven;t already! I look forward to seeing everyone there.
The launch of my book on Barnes and Noble and Amazon has really been great. If you haven't been to those sites I ask that you take a few minutes and check them out. Please click on the icon to let the publisher know that you want the nook book or kindle version so that we can hurry up and make that available. Thanks again!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tough Talk and Book Releases.....

So, I got to spend 30 minutes talking with Tony Gambone this past Friday. I really enjoyed being on his radio show. For those that aren't familiar with it I will post the link at the bottom of this post. We had a nice chat about my book and about small business and marketing. Thanks You for letting me on your show! I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had several hits to my website after the show. I hope everyone listening is sure to drop a comment on my guest book page. Book Releases..... Well, my book releases tomorrow through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, etc. I am really excited and also a little nervous. Up until now most of my sales have been through family and friends who are buying my book because they know me. It isn't exactly based on talent or a name that I have made for myself as a writer. Now that it is released through national channels I have to hope that people who don't know me will buy it. My writing has to stand on its own and make a name for itself. This is not to say that I will not be pushing it every step of the way and still be promoting it. So, If you are reading this, please, post a comment, become a blog follower, check out my website and leave a comment there, or email me. This is the only way that I will know what you think about my book. I am truly blessed to have God give me this opportunity. I want to make the most of it! Happy Reading......