Monday, August 03, 2015

Moments of Truth

Do you have a BFF? August 1st was Girlfriends Day. I've always enjoyed my girlfriends. After all, they think like me and can unravel what I say. My BFFs and I can both speak at the same time and hear each other. If I start in the middle of a story, they understand where I started and where I'm going. 

Husbands can't do that. They have to know the beginning to understand the middle. But that's because they think in boxes, opening one at a time, but never two. 

Well, I read a book recently that if you have a BFF, y'all will love! AND, be sure you check out the website where you can get your story of your BFF. 

by Sandra D Bricker

Moments of Truth is a tale of five BFFs, each of them at a different stage in life; from a middle-aged couple with a stalled romance to an abandoned wife with fear of moving forward on her own. When these best friends join forces, they discover Girl Power just might be the new super power!

The characters in Moments of Truth by Sandra D Bricker, are some of her best. It’s a story of women helping each other through life’s mess. I loved these gutsy ladies and the not-quite-so-gutsy. There are moments when you’ll be reaching for your box of tissues and others that leave you laughing out loud, but you’ll remember Bricker’s characters long after you close the book.

And now YOU can tell your story of your friendship with you BFF at the Moments of Truth website: I hope I’ll be reading your story soon!

You can pre-order Moments of Truth for less than $10. Click here.  

Leave a comment for Sandie and she's going to choose 10 people to get to read chapter 1. Then Like her Facebook reader's page and leave a comment there. 

Saturday, August 01, 2015

New Christian Fiction Releases

August 2015 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary Romance: 
Be My Valentino by Sandra D. Bricker -- Now that the whole truth has come out about her husband's double life-including the fact that she and Jack were never legally married-Jessie is standing on her own for the first time in her life. As she struggles to put Adornments, her rental store for designer labels, on the map in Tinsel Town, her relationship with private investigator Danny Callahan gains momentum. Can Jessie afford to put her faith-and heart-into another relationship when she's so obviously handicapped in the good judgment department? (Contemporary Romance from Abingdon Press) 
One More Wish by Robin Jones Gunn -- As Christy blows out the 26 candles on her birthday cake, she closes her eyes and makes a wish. Could this be the year that she and Todd finally have a baby? As her closest friends announce they are expecting, Christy's heart carries an ache for a child of her own. On their way home from Sierra's wedding, Todd opens up the discussion of adoption and soon a simple invitation turns into a life-changing season. Christy's patience and understanding are stretched beyond her limits, and she finds herself holding not just one baby in her arms, but two. Everything Christy and Todd thought about family and hospitality shifts as the two of them dare to make one more wish and believe that God's timing is flawless. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Island Dreams by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- When a land developer comes to Wildflower Island Chase fights to keep the island the way it is. But there is a problem, he's falling for the developer and if he stops her, he may never see her again. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) 
An Unexpected Family by Jill Kemerer -- After five years apart, Tom Sheffield is shocked to find his ex-wife, Stephanie, on his doorstep. The news that they share a child he's never met sends him reeling. Four-year-old Macy has his eyes, his mouth and, from their first encounter, his heart. Things with her mother are much more complicated. He doesn't understand what went wrong between them or why she kept their daughter a secret. And he's afraid of falling in love all over again. Yet he feels a glimmer of hope that somehow he can convince Macy and Stephanie to stay in Lake Endwell-and with him-for keeps. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) 

Historical Romance: 
Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman -- She used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself. Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House) 
Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin -- In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim's destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, could their friendship blossom into something more? Or could the dangers they face keep them apart? (Historical Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group) 
12 Brides of Summer, Novella Collection #3 by Margaret Brownley, Miralee Ferrell, and Pam Hillman -- Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime! Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives. Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch with the third release in this collection. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing) 

Romantic Suspense: 
Smokescreen by Jodie Bailey -- When her life is on the line, Ashley Colson is rescued by the last person she ever expected to see again. Military officer Ethan Kincaid might have disappointed her once in the past, but now he's the only person who can keep her safe. They're under the gun to decode top secret files that can save the life of a friend who is in enemy hands. But the killers will pull out all the stops to get their hands on the files...and Ashley. With time running out, can they put aside their past and find the answers that could give them a future? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) 

Midnight on the Mississippi by Mary Ellis -- As a newly minted PI and a New Orleans stockbroker encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail and death threats, danger swirls around them like the mysterious black water of the bayou. (Mystery/Crime from Harvest House Publishers) 
The Bones will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks -- A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensics expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter. (Suspense/Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan]) 

Speculative Fiction: 
Take and Give by Amanda G. Stevens -- To escape the oppressive Constabulary and gain freedom in a newly formed country, four people must embark on a road trip fraught with danger and distrust. (Speculative Fiction from David C. Cook) 

Young Adult: 
A Perilous Assignment by JC Morrows -- The Order of the Moonstone is not just another shadowy underground resistance operation. They have a much more sinister purpose. Kayden is about to find out just how sinister. Go back to the very beginning with us... see how Kayden was chosen for her most important and most dangerous assignment yet. (Young Adult, Independently Published)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Conferences—Advancing Your #Writing Career

The best-selling author of more than twenty novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes to entertain. Her books have been recognized by the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more. She serves the writing community as the Executive/Conference Director for ACFW. Find out more about Robin at

Conferences—Advancing Your Writing Career

As a little girl, I had a dream—to be a writer. Life ensued. I went to college and graduated with a paralegal certificate, then realized I hated the legal industry. I wanted to experience life, so I went to work in the automobile industry. Stayed there, in customer service, for ten years. Let me tell you, THAT was an experience. Every now and then, I’d remember the dream and write a poem. Enter it in a contest, got a couple published. Then I got married and had my first daughter. I had such a busy life, how could I think of my dream? Until the day my little girl and I were reading, and I thought to myself, “I love reading, have always loved reading. I want to be an author, have always wanted to be an author.” I decided to do something this time. I enrolled in a Writer’s Digest fiction course. Completed it, and began work on a manuscript.

Life interrupted again. We moved—twice. I had two more little girls. But the dream didn’t die. And ten years after I completed my fiction course, I decided to do something again. I bought craft books. Joined writing groups. And learned about writing conferences. Before then, I hadn’t a clue that there were conferences you could attend to take workshops and classes to learn and study. Places you could go and be taught by nationally recognized authors. Events where you could meet with *gasp* editors and agents, face-to-face. Boy, was I hungry for that.

I attended some small, local conferences. Learned what a pitch was. Realized I was nowhere ready to pitch to an agent, much less an editor. Honed. Studied. Absorbed. It took me having gone to four conferences before I attended the “big” ones—ACFW National and RWA National.

At my first conferences I:
  • Met my critique partners face-to-face and our relationship changed from just writing partners to dear friends for life.
  • Met my mentor in person and realized I loved her just as much as I did on email and telephone.
  • Met my agent in person for the first time.
  • Pitched to the editor who ended up contracting my first book—the one I’d pitched to her.
  • Networked with editors who I just like hanging out with because they’re fun
  • Been blessed to have taught and encouraged other writers
  • Realized how much I NEED conferences to feed my writing spirit

Now that I’m published and have many, many conferences under my belt, I still wouldn’t miss going to at least one or two a year. Why? Because now I can:
  • Connect with my writing friends. There’s something special about hugging a friend and praying with them in person.
  • Network with others in the industry.
  • Visit with my agent and various editors I’ve worked with.
  • Get up-to-date information on this ever-changing industry.
  • Feed my writing spirit.
  • Learn new insights as well as brush up on my skills to hone my craft.

Want to advance your writing career? GO TO A CONFERENCE. Yes, it takes money to go. Plan ahead. Apply for scholarships. Sale the kids. (Ok, I’m kidding about that.) But the expense is worthwhile—you’re investing in your career. And for me? It’s investing in my mental stability to be around others in this crazy industry.

As a white water rafting guide, Katie Gallagher must battle the forces of nature on a daily basis. When sabotage becomes apparent on a weekend rafting trip, Katie must determine who she can trust—and who has their own agenda.

Hunter Malone has a mission on a business adventure trip on the Gauley River, a mission that didn’t include a spunky guide who could handle the class-five rapids better than he’d ever imagined. But can she handle the truth?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

She's a Southerner Through and Through

A Southerner Through and Through

You can take a southerner out of the south, but you can never take the south out of a southerner.

We are just the way we are. I have lived in the south my entire life. I was born and raised in Virginia, moved to Florida soon after I was married, moved again to North Carolina, then back to Virginia, and now reside in Alabama. Don’t go tellin’ me that Virginia is not the south. I’ve heard that enough times. It’s below the Mason-Dixon line and fought on the side of the Confederacy (though that might not be politically correct to say). It’s the south—well, most of it anyway. :) And I know Florida is mostly overrun with snowbirds, but it’s still a southern state. LOL

My momma taught me to say yes ma’am, no sir, please, and thank you to everyone. I guess she did, anyway, because I do. To everyone, or at least I try. I used to think it was only to those older than me, but now that I’m older, I say it to those younger, too. If a waiter or waitress refills my drink, I thank them. Though I admit it’s hard when my mouth is full. When someone holds the door for me, I say thank you. And even though I might not get thanked, I will still hold the door for someone else. It’s just polite.

In my novella, Mr. Christmas and Miss Scrooge, part of the Love in Mistletoe Springs collection, I have a character, a police officer, who was transplanted to Washington State from Alabama. I couldn’t resist adding a down-home kind of person to this northern story.

Margaret, my heroine, rushed to her family’s hardware store after hearing about a break-in. Todd is the manager of the store, and Mitch is the associate manager and my hero. Here’s a snippet of my southerner’s part in the story…

“Officer Johnson?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She hated the ma’am, but decided to ignore it. “What happened?”

“Don’t rightly know yet, ma’am. The alarm went off ‘round about nine-thirty. I rushed over, but didn’t see anyone. Mitch and Todd showed up shortly afterward. They’re checking the stock to see what all might be missin’.”

“I see. How can I get inside?”

“If’n you go around the broken glass by way of the street, the front door is best, ma’am.”

“You’re not from around here, are you, Officer?”

“No, ma’am. Born and raised in Alabama. The wife’s family is from hereabouts. We came up to help care for her agin’ folks.”

“That explains the accent.”

“Yes, ma’am. You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

She raised her eyebrows. Funny man. Old enough to be her father, but more polite than anyone she’d met in some time. “I’ll let you get back to your work. Let me know if you find out anything.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

So, even though this character was out of his normal environment, he brought his southern upbringing with him, applying the principle of politeness to a situation that could have easily gotten out of control because of the stress factor.

Now that’s not to say all southerners are polite or that northerners aren’t. I try not to do general stereotypes like that, but I know for sure and for certain that I love living in the south and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Even with all the heat and humidity. :-)

How about you?

The Mistletoe Springs animal shelter loses their grant, endangering the lives of countless stray dogs, cats, even birds and turtles. The community attempts to save the shelter by running a Christmas in July fundraiser. Groups of volunteers scramble to get all the details together while managing their personal lives. For ten people, love gets in the way. 

Mr. Christmas and Miss Scrooge Mitch Silverton agreed to be in charge of decorating for the fundraiser. And he needs his boss, Margaret Holberg, to donate her family's vast array of decorations to make the day unforgettable. BUT...

She's not sharing. Christmas is not a holiday she wants to celebrate in July, and saving the animal shelter is not high on her list of important things to do.

He wants her to share more than the decorations. He wants her heart. Will he succeed in changing Miss Scrooge into Mrs. Christmas?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I write character driven books, but they still need a plot. The difference is the decisions my characters make drive the plot. In a plot driven book, the events that happen drive the character to make a decision. 

So, it's not easy to plot a character driven book. At least not to me. I'm finding I'm actually more of a seat-of-the-pants writer than I realized. But I still need a plan. 

The book I'm working on now is the hardest of all the books I've written. One of the two main characters is one that has been in previous books in this series, but she's very shy and quiet. IT's taken a long time for her to even talk to me!

If you don't see a lot of me in the weeks to come, I'm banging my head against the wall, trying to get Lacey to speak to me!

But I could use some help. What do you do if your character isn't talking to you?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pizza Farm???

Once again, Steve Laube finds the best videos. Thanks, Steve!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Agent Queries ~ Some Tips on Getting it Right

I had to laugh at Karen Ball's post on their agency blog today. It's worth reading. Especially if you're a new writer looking for an agent.

When my critique partners and I got close to being ready to seek agents, we spent copious hours researching agencies. Since we all write different genres, we'd share what we learned.

The most important one is know what the agent represents. Not all agents take all genres. Imagine that! They have specialties, genres they either like, write themselves, or know very well. So don't send your children's picture book to one who likes only Sci-fi and fantasy. 

When you send a query letter, make sure you have the agent's name spelled right. I don't mind when someone spells my name wrong. But if I were an agent whom you were trying to impress, you'd better spell it right. 
So what goes into a query letter?

A great hook. For my debut novel, mine was "With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel." I had one editor tell me they would buy it by the hook alone. 

Then give a short synopsis. Think back cover copy here. You need to be able to tell what your novel is about in a couple of short paragraphs. For my sophomore novel, Chapel Springs Survival, coming out in December, here's the hook and the back cover copy:

A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art ~ can Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

With the success of her Operation Marriage Revival, life is good for Claire Bennett. That is until the mayor's brother blabs a secret: Claire's nineteen-year-old son, Wes, has married a Brazilian mail order bride—one who is eight years older than him. When Claire tries to welcome her new daughter-in-law, she's ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus. When family members begin to choose sides, will Claire and her family survive her son's marriage?

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Along with her new marriage, she has a dream to expand her business by adding guest rooms. Things are going according to plan. That is, until her groom's adult son moves in—on everything. Will her dream survive her stepson?

From the first sighting of a country music star in Claire's gallery, The Painted Loon, to the visit of a Hollywood diva, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing lifelong residents to flee the area. When her best friends, Patsy and Nathan, put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son's future at stake and the town looking to her to solve their problems, it's Claire who needs a guardian angel.

Then tell them a bit about yourself. They're looking to see if you have some platform. And no, I don't mean your shoes. How many people can you influence? How many books will you be able to sell, beyond your Aunt Mabel? 

It takes time to build that platform, so begin now. I talked about that before. You can read it here. 

So get to work on this queries, and be sure to read Karen's blog so you know what NOT to do.