Saturday, July 30, 2016

Author Spotlight: Award-winner Susan Page Davis How One Author Turned Her Great-Aunt's Journal into a Popular Novel

This week, we're pleased to feature the winner of the July Clash of the Titles competition. Susan Page Davis is the author of more than sixty published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and also a winner of the Carol Award,  the Will Rogers Medallion, and was a finalist in the WILLA Awards and the More Than Magic Contest.

A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Her historical romance The Outlaw Takes a Bride is a finalist in the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Awards. 

Her latest accomplishment is having her brand new June release, River Rest, be chosen as the July Clash of the Titles victor.

We asked Susan to tell us a little about writing River Rest. Here's what she had to say.

CBA: What made you choose the setting for your story?

SPD: My great-aunt left a journal she wrote in the 1920s and ’30s. It gave such a vivid picture of life in rural Maine that I wanted to write a story in that setting. I decided to push it back to 1918, near the end of World War I, because of the added tension and also because my grandfather (Aunt Belle’s brother-in-law) served in WWI. He was drafted close to the end of the war, and I adapted some details of his story to fit in for my heroine, Judith’s brother. River Rest is purely fiction, but many of the events in it were inspired by things that really happened in my family.

CBA: Do your characters have anything in common with real people?

SPD: In real life, my grandmother (Aunt Belle’s sister) was a schoolteacher before she married my grandfather. Judith has a lot in common with both my Nana and Aunt Belle. She loves her bird feeder, she learns to make quilts, and she cooks many of the same things my Nana served. Her life on the farm is a lot like theirs was. I love Judith because she keeps on, even when she is tempted to fall into depression as her father did. She knows people are depending on her, so she perseveres.

CBA: You mention your story was inspired by your great-aunt's journal. What's the best thing you learned from reading what she wrote?

SPD: My Great-aunt Belle, who wrote the journal, died in 1939, long before I was born. She was 55, and she died from complications of appendicitis. I never got the chance to know her, and I would love to be able to sit down with her for a cup of tea. As a side note, I had acute appendicitis myself in 1985, and it was no fun then, with modern medicine to help me out. Aunt Belle noted so many cultural things in her diary—who she voted for, the famous boxers of the day, the way the neighboring farm boys were building tractors out of truck chassis, and all the community events and gossip. She never had children of her own, but she doted on her nieces and nephews. I think I would have loved her.

Thanks to Susan for her insights. You may visit her at her website at: .

River Rest sounds like an interesting read. Here's more about the book:

Unable to depend on her father to heal the crumbling family, Judith is afraid to trust the mysterious neighbor, Ben, who lives with his own grief.

Maine, 1918

Judith Chadbourne gave up her teaching job after her mother’s death to help her father with her five siblings. But when her father sinks into deep depression and her brother Joel is drafted, the household chores and farm work may overwhelm her. Neighbor Ben Thayer offers to buy their farm, shocking Judith and angering her father. An outsider from New York, Ben seems rich and mysterious, but his heart aches from his own loss. Judith accidentally breaks the antique crystal Christmas ornament her mother loved. The splintering star echoes her family’s shattering. Ben’s efforts to help make Judith suspicious, but when Joel falls critically ill at the army camp, Ben’s aid brings the beginnings of trust. After the armistice, and the community and family start to recover from the strain of the war, but Judith learns independence is lonely. When Ben is injured, she is the only one who can help him. Can love take her beyond the frozen Maine winter?

If you're into period romances, be sure to check this one out! A plethora of people voted this into their TBR pile. You might want to join them!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer's Sizzlin' with Competition

Whispers in Purple is excited to bring you this week's Clash of the Titles CLASH, with some great authors and their books 

Summer's Sizzlin'

Vote for your Fave!

Scroll through these THREE new reads and vote below 
for which you'd pick up first to read while sippin' iced tea.
It'll be a tough choice! But somebody's gotta do it. May as well be you!

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt

She’s won an all-expenses-paid, luxurious wedding — all she needs now is
the groom! Winning a destination wedding would be a dream come true …
if Caron Hollister and her boyfriend, Alex were already engaged — and if
her ex-boyfriend, Kade, wasn’t back in her life, causing her to wonder
“what if?” when she thought she was ready to say “I do” to someone else.

Rescue Me by Sandy Nadeau

Risking her life to save him is easy. Risking her heart to give him a second chance is impossible.

River Rest by Susan Page Davis

Unable to depend on her father to heal the crumbling family, Judith is
afraid to trust the mysterious neighbor, Ben, who lives with his own
grief. When Ben is injured, she is the only one who can help him.


If you have trouble viewing the entire survey, click here to load a dedicated page to the survey.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Jumbled Bible Stories

by Peggy Blann Phifer @pegphifer

The Bible is a magical repository for story ideas. Every story in there is a metaphor with limitless possibilities for retelling.

But let's think out of the box.

For Example:

1. Place Lot's wife at a school board meeting in Kansas.

2: Tempt Adam with a Corvette rather than an apple.

3: Turn Job into a bus driver and give him a test that even God couldn't dream up.

I mean no disrespect with thiese ideas, but take a few minutes to exercise your writer's imagination and have some fun.

What can you come up with? You don't need to use the suggestions above. Come up with your own situations.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Up Close and Personal w/author Linda Shenton Matchett

Good morning, Whisperer's! We're winding down the month of July, GASP! So soon? Anyway, we're pressing on, and I'm delighted to bring you an innterview with author Linda Shenton Matchett, and a peek into both her life, and an her exiting book release. Won't you join us?

Freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett has had a wide and varied career that includes stints as a Human Resources professional, youth center director, B&B owner, and dining services manager. She loves history of all kinds, and serves as a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII. A member of Sisters in Crime and ACFW, Linda writes historical and mystery fiction. She was a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2013 and 2015 Genesis contests. She makes her home in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region with her husband Wes and fur-baby, Ben.

Hi, Linda, welcome to Whispers in Purple. It’s great to have you here. Let’s chat a while.
PEG: How do you start your day?
LINDA: I’m an early riser, but not necessary coherent right away, so I head to the shower to wake up. Then I wander to my office for my devotional and prayer time. After that, I do a quick check of email and social media. I only allow myself fifteen minutes for that, otherwise I’d never get anything done. Then I start writing whatever is on my schedule for that day (my work in progress, blog posts, or any freelance assignments I’ve got in the hopper).

PEG: What five words best describe you?
LINDA: Christian, Humorous, Driven, Organized, History Junkie (That’s two words. Should I hyphenate it to make it count?!)

Peg: How long have you been writing?
LINDA: I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. My parents gave me my first tablet and a set of pens for my birthday that year. The pens ran out of ink long ago, but I still have the tablet full of stories and ideas. I quit writing for a while during college and my years working in Corporate America. In 2002, I rediscovered my love for writing when my husband and I moved to New Hampshire.

PEG: What authors have inspired or mentored you?
LINDA: I have been incredibly blessed to be mentored by several excellent authors. Eva Marie Everson was my mentor for two years during my Christian Writer’s Guild classes. Then I participated in a three day writer’s retreat with Hallie Ephron, Susan Hubbard, and Roberta Islieb, where I got one-on-one coaching as well as specific feedback/critique on the manuscript I was working on at the time. I see them each year at the Crimebake Conference, and they check in to see how things are going. Always the teacher, Hallie never fails to respond if I email her with a question. The author who first inspired me was Betty Smith who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read the book as a young teen, and it impacted me immensely. That was when I knew I wanted to publish stories to make a difference in other people’s life.

PEG: What is your favorite food?
LINDA: Dessert!
PEG: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
LINDA: Hmmm. Good question. Many folks would probably say it was leaving my well-paying corporate job to move to New Hampshire to purchase and operate a Bed and Breakfast. Some days, I might agree with them!

PEG: Describe your writing process.
LINDA: I am definitely a plotter, but my stories are character driven. I tend to write about women in unusual jobs primarily during WWII: war correspondent, photojournalist, Land Army girl, USO volunteer, to name a few. I decide who they are and create their entire history, then I determine the “what if” about them. Once I’ve done that, I outline the story start to finish and flesh out the other characters as they appear in the outline. When the outline is complete, I make a list of the items that need to be researched. After the research is complete, I start writing the story. My process sounds regimented, but my characters have been known to wander off the path. When they do, I follow where they take me.

PEG: Okay, let’s talk about your book:
Title:  Love’s Harvest
·       Publisher: Amazon (indie published)
·       Release date: March 30, 2016
·       Genre: Historical Romance
·       Buy Links:

PEG: Tell us a little bit about it and how you came to write it.
LINDA:  Love’s Harvest is a fictionalization of the book of Ruth set between 1923 and 1946. Many years ago, I read Francine River’s Redeeming Love, a fictionalization of the book of Hosea set during the old West. It is an amazing story I read every couple of years. Since originally reading it, I’ve wanted to use the same concept and toyed with idea of doing a fictionalization about Priscilla and Aquila, but the story never solidified. Last year, I was studying the book of Ruth when members of my group blog suggested we write a collection of novellas. I immediately knew Ruth was my story, and the WWII era would be the perfect time period in which to set it. After that, the other plot pieces came together quickly.

PEG: Give us the back cover blurb.
LINDA: Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her?

Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation?

Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money?

Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.

PEG: Where can folks find you on the Internet?
·       Website:
·       Book Trailer:
·       Facebook Author Page:
·       Pinterest:
·       Google+:
·       Goodreads:
·       Other:

Thank you, Linda for being my guest and sharing a bit about yourself. God’s blessings on you and your writing journey.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Featuring the 2016 Clash of The Titles Laurel Award Winner



This year, At First Sight took home Clash of the Titles's sixth annual Laurel Award. Over the course of six weeks, the novel's first chapters were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined At First Sight to be the worthiest to receive the 2016 Laurel Award.

Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt congratulations to author Delia Latham for her exemplary writing. We wish God's richest blessings on her future work.

About At First Sight :

Reagan Massey has gone through a great deal of trouble to make her cousin irresistible to the visiting single minister but things get a little sticky when Reagan falls in love with Cord Phillips herself… 

Cord doesn’t believe in marital bliss after seeing the mockery his parents made of their vows. He’s promised himself he’ll live as the Apostle Paul lived, dedicating himself solely to God. When his heart turns traitor, Cord has to completely rethink his position on love. 

Things around Riverbend House of Worship take on some humorous, heart-touching, soul-stirring twists and turns, with Reagan and Cord so busy getting in God’s way that they can’t see the path He has laid out for them to travel…together.

At First Sight is part of the Pure Amore bundle of 12 novels that celebrate purity. Use the code Laurel2016 to receive the bundle at 50% OFF. (expires 31 July 2016)



Delia in her own words:

A born-and-bred California gal, I grew up in a little community called
Weedpatch. Nope, that's not a typo. It's a few miles southeast of
Bakersfield, and in the...well, I won't say how many years since I left
there...Weedpatch has even found its way onto a map or two.

Writing has been my passion since third grade, when I won an essay
writing contest and took home the coveted prize: a beautiful bed doll
with an overstuffed pink, quilted satin skirt. Remember them? Huge,
padded skirts, some (like mine) with flat cardboard bottoms to
accommodate display. The doll's feet were hidden away somewhere in all
that finery, never again to see the light of day.  These fancy ladies
were most often used as centerpieces for beds, and that's where mine
went - smack in the middle of my unimposing bed in my unmatched,
Salvation Army-furnished bedroom. It was the most elegant item I had
ever owned, and I was one proud little lassie.  (Ahem ... surely
someone  else remembers those dollies?)

Winning that contest made a profound impact on my young psyche - enough
so that I never stopped writing. From those first little songs and poems
and (very bad) short stories, I graduated to Staff Writer for a large
daily newspaper; freelanced for an upper-scale regional magazine; and
finally began writing fiction...which was my goal all along.

Connect with Delia online:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Visit with Author Renee Blare ♦ Giveaway

I'm thrilled to introduce you to author Renee Blare. A writer yes, but so much more. She is an amazing woman, as you'll discover as you read through her bio and her answers to my interview questions.   Oh, yeah, Renee is also offering a giveaway! See below for the details. 

Renee Blare: Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she's been counting pills ever since. While writing's her first love, well, after the Lord and husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains with her husband, crazy dogs and ornery cat, she continues to serve her community as a pharmacist while penning her Christian stories any chance she can get. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.

♦ ♦ ♦
Hi, Renee, thanks for being my guest here on Whispers in Purple. I’m looking forward to this little tête-á-tête today, discussing you, your writing, and your brand new book. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Peg: First off, how do you start your day?

Renee: Early…LOL I wake up about 6:00am every morning and hop in the bathtub. I love a hot soak while I pray and relax a sore body. I always wake up stiff and sore. My knees and shoulders hurt. The Lord and I chat while I get ready for work or my day, whatever I have planned. If I’m off, I usually spend some time with my husband before I hit the keyboard.

Peg: What was/is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how did you overcome it, or are overcoming it?

Renee: My biggest obstacle at the moment is chaos. Heehee…we just moved and I can’t find a thing. My office is packed into a multitude of boxes. But as far as the most difficult? I would have to say time. I work forty hours a week…sometimes more…at a high stress position as well as live with a disabled husband. Writing/critiquing/editing/promoting isn’t always my first priority of the day although it is extremely important to me. I learn (please notice the tense of that word) to balance my life with God’s guidance, strength and help.

Peg: What’s the #1 thing on your bucket list? Why?

Renee: My bucket list? Mmmm…you’re not going to believe this but I don’t have a bucket list. As I said before, my husband is disabled. The morning I woke up to the other half of my soul in a crumpled heap at the bottom of our stairs, my life changed…our life changed. We don’t take anything for granted anymore. We enjoy every moment of our lives together. We don’t spend our time wishing for things we don’t have…or dreaming about things we should have. Oh, we’ve had some awesome vacations…to the Bahamas, Cancun, but the most amazing times are in the mountains next to our home. The fishing trips to the lakes a stone’s throw from our backyard. Why? Because we’re together. Still, I understand your question. And if I could do one thing before I die, what would it be? I would have to say, view this planet from space. This world is unique…beautiful. As a certain character in a funny movie once said—“I’d like to hold it in my hand like a ripe blueberry.”

Peg: Your ‘big girl’ job is as a pharmacist. How do you keep a balance between that and your writing life?

 Renee: Very carefully! As I said before, time is a big issue. My husband helps me though. He tells me to get off Facebook or asks me how much I’ve edited. He’s my accountability partner in many ways.

Peg: What five words best describe you?

Renee: I’m the golden retriever of human beings. LOL Loyal, lovable, kind, playful, and forgiving.

Peg: Fun question: Let’s say you always wanted to join the circus some day. What would be your job, and why?

Renee: I have no clue! I guess riding the elephants. Why? ‘Cause elephants are cool!

LOL! Okay, let's talk about your book:

Title: Through Raging Waters
Publisher: Prism Book Group
Release date: July 8, 2016
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Purchase link(s): Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
All Romance Ebooks:

Back cover blurb/synopsis:

If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same...

A warm spring and early rainstorms melt the snowpack. Spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin.
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again.
She isn’t a hero. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings amidst her mother’s keepsakes, she faces more than just the river rushing outside her door. Now, she must discern friend from foe…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she's ever loved.

Can two people find each other through raging waters? 

Peg: I realize this is Book Two in the Snowy Range Chronicles. Can you tell us how you came to write this series, and a thumbnail capsule about the first one?

Renee: Sure. I wrote the first book, To Soar on Eagle’s Wings five years ago. I lived in Texas at the time and it was the first novel I ever wrote. I was so homesick at the time. I missed the wide open spaces and mountains of Wyoming. I did what I always did when I was depressed…I buried myself in my books. The problem? The book I bought off Amazon wasn’t what it professed to be. My husband listened to me complain for about an hour and told me to write my own. I did. The Lord blessed me through that book. Not because it was well-written, but because it wasn’t.

I was a new writer and it showed. So I joined ACFW and learned. I still am! I must have rewrote that first book five times. As for the series? Seven books are on the board and have been since the first word hit the page. Through Raging Waters is the second and, except for a slight change of title, continues the Fitzgerald saga that To Soar started.

To Soar on Eagle’s Wings launches the series with the story of Rachel Fitzgerald and Steve Mitchell. It also introduces you to their home of Timber Springs, a small mountain town at the base of the Snowy Range. The Fitzgerald’s are reeling from the loss of their matriarch while the start of Spring Break releases a crime spree on their mountain paradise.

Peg: Where can folks find you on the Internet?

Renee: Please stop by my website! Sign up for my newsletter, The Winding Trail for all the latest news and updates. You can also stop by my blog, Renee’s Inspirational Moments for weekly features and posts at I’m also a founder of The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction so if you love Christian Fiction, you need to check out this blog!

I’m also on social media and you can visit my website for all the links. See ya there. J

About the Giveaway: Renee is offering a e-book copy of Through Raging Waters to one of you readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below with your name and contact information. This way we can contact you if you are the winner. Giveaway ends Thursday, July 21, at Midnight, CDT. Names will be selected through a drawing via and will be notified via email on Friday, July 22.

Peg: Thanks so much, Renee, for spending this time with us. It's been an interesting, and enlightening visit. I am awed at all you do. God bless you as you work for Him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Q & A with Author Kelly Irvin ♦ Giveaway, too!

The tagline for this blog is: Where Writers and Readers Connect. It's also a place where writers can connect with other writers. And that's what we're doing today. Author Kelly Irvin is–to me–a new writer, and I'm eager to get to know her and learn about her writing journey.

Kelly Irvin is the author of The Saddle Maker’s Son, the third novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins. It follows The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing. She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

A former newspaper reporter and public relations professional, Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.

Hi, Kelly, welcome to Whispers in Purple. So happy to have you drop in for a visit. Let’s chat a while.

Peg: How long have you been writing?

Kelly: All my life, it seems. But I didn’t get serious about writing fiction until I turned forty-five and realized if I didn’t write that novel soon it would be too late. I have a degree in journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter before going into public relations. I got married and had kids and suddenly I was middle-aged. I started writing in grade school and wrote plays, poems, and short stories. In high school I decide to pursue a career in journalism so I could get paid to write. I wrote nonfiction for thirty years before I did what I really wanted to do, which was write fiction.

Peg: Has your writing journey been as you envisioned it? If so, tell us a bit about it. If not, how is it different?

Kelly: It’s been far more rewarding than I could’ve imaged. I didn’t know how hard it would be to get published or I might never have tried in the first place. A little ignorance in this instance might be a good thing! I never imagined I would have success writing Amish romances. I started out writing romantic suspense but couldn’t break into the CBA. My agent challenged me to write an Amish romance and so I gave it a try. She sold the first one before I finished writing it. The rest, as they say, is history. It’s so rewarding to have readers share their love for a particular story or character. It’s amazing to be involved in the process from that first spark of a story idea all the way to seeing that book on the shelf and then hearing readers’ reactions. It’s a job like no other.

Peg: That's for sure! What sparks your creativity when feeling drained?

Kelly: A good night’s sleep usually does the trick. I wake up and the characters are chattering away. Sometimes a shower helps. Doing my exercises. Anything that gives me time to disengage my brain and let my thoughts wander and daydream. A writer needs time to think about nothing at all. Sometimes I sit in my office chair and stare out the windows to the street in front of our house. My husband will walk by and ask what I’m doing. I answer, “Writing.”

Ha! I do that, too!

Peg: What have you learned recently about yourself, and how has it affected your writing?

Kelly: I learned in January that I have ovarian cancer. I was previously diagnosed in November with primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), which is on the spectrum of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), but not generally considered fatal. Having both a chronic degenerative disease and a life-threatening disease really cause a person to realize that the time to accomplish goals and reach for dreams isn’t infinite. We might know that intellectually, but we seem to drift along as if we have all the time in the world. I want to make each day count. Make my writing count. Write as much as I can and as often as I can. And as well as I can.

Oh Lord, have mercy! How devastating for you. I have immediately added to my prayer list, Kelly.

Peg: How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Kelly: I believe everything we experience goes into who we are as writers. Our childhoods, our relationships with our parents, our tragedies, our triumphs, our faith, our fears. Those huge life events shape us. A good example is Love Redeemed, a finalist in the 2015 ACFW Carol Awards contest in the romance category. It’s about the loss of a child in a tragedy and the impact it had on her family members. I lost a brother in a boating accident many years ago so I know how devastating it is. I could write from that place. It can be a painful process, but one that reaches readers. You can pour all those feelings into the characters and it feels very real to the readers who see the world through the characters’ eyes. Every page has a piece of me in it. Every word, really. My voice and my world view are represented in each book.

Peg: Do you write in one place or switch off to different locations? Describe your favorite writing place.

Kelly: I’m fortunate to have a dedicated writing space in my home. My office is filled with books and family photos and office supplies and everything I need to make me feel like I’m in my element. But the truth is I can write pretty much anywhere. I retired from my job as a public relations manager for the City of San Antonio at the end of January. Prior to that I had a full time job for twenty-two years. For years I took care of my children and my husband as well. I took my laptop to work early and spent an hour writing in that office before my day started. Then I wrote for an hour at lunch. If I could I might write in the evening as well. I learned to put my fingers on the keys and go, no matter what else might be happening or where I might be. I didn’t have time to be finicky about it!

Peg: Let’s pretend: An anonymous donor has gifted you with a 5-day stay at a place of your choice, and you can bring four other contemporary friends (not family) with you.

               A: Where would you go, and why?

Kelly: A writers’ retreat in Amish country, specific location to be determined by the writers as a group. I would love to have the gift of time spent with other writers who are researching and writing in the same genre. We could discuss the challenges, learn from each other, lift each other up, and have fun with each other.

B: Who would you take with you, and why?

Kelly: There’s a group of writers who were all clients at one time or another of my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who passed away earlier this year. They all got their start with her. Some moved on, but that connection always remains. I respect each one of them and how they have progressed in their writing, working hard to do justice to the Amish way of life and faith. I would invite my fellow Texans Vannetta Chapman and Beth Wiseman as well as Mary Ellis and Amy Clipston. None of us started out writing Amish fiction, but Mary Sue is the common thread in our career. Everyone has written other kinds of fiction, but never abandoning this genre that has been so kind to us. We each bring something a little different to the table and we could learn so much from each other. It would be so much fun!

Peg: Tell us something about your book.

Kelly: The Saddle Maker’s Son is a departure from what you will see in most Amish fiction for a couple of reasons. It takes place in South Texas where the only Amish community exists in the state. Bee County is not far from the Gulf Coast or the Texas-Mexico border, which lends itself to some very different story lines. In this case, I asked the question, what if an Amish woman discovers hiding near the school two young children from El Salvador who’ve entered the country illegally with the wave of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants who have flooded the border in recent years? How would they handle it? 

Publisher: Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian
Release date: June 14, 2016
Genre: Amish romance

Buy links:

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Rebekah Lantz feels betrayed and abandoned. Tobias Byler is bound by regret. Can two young runaways from a world away teach them the healing power of a true family?

Rebekah isn’t like her sister Leila, but no one seems to believe that. Ever since Leila made a decision that has haunted her family and their small Amish community, Rebekah has been held to a higher standard under her mother’s watchful eye. Boys avoid her. She simply longs for the chance to be a wife and mother like the other girls.

Tobias Byler only wants to escape feelings for a woman he knows he should never have allowed to get close to him. Moving with his family to isolated Bee County, Texas, seemed the best way to leave his mistakes behind. But even a move across the country can’t stop the past from accompanying his every thought.

A surprise encounter with two half-starved runaway children forces both Rebekah and Tobias to turn their focus on others far more desperate.

In doing so, they discover the key to forgetting the past may open the door to the love and the future they both seek.

Peg: Finally, where can readers find you? 

 ♦ About the Giveaway: Kelly is giving away a signed print copy of The Saddle Maker's Son to one reader of this blog post. Entering is easy . . . just leave a comment below, including your contact information . . . so we know how to reach you should you be the winner.

Giveaway ends Tuesday, July 19, at Midnight, cDT. Winner's name will be drawn and notified sometime during the day on Wednesday, the 20th. GOOD LUCK!

Kelly, thank you so much for being my guest today. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Featuring: Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson


About the book:

Colorado, 1881. Lydia Walsh is on the run. The quiet rancher she marries and expected to find safety and protection with turns out to have three siblings, next to nothing to live on, and is a crack shot who may or may not be one of the states best cattle rustlers.

Beau Harding wants to keep his family together and do the right thing by them. His mail order bride comes with her own set of baggage: two more mouths to feed and empty hearts begging him to fill. The job he took for some quick money gets him thrown in jail for rustling, and then to clear his name he takes on another job--and learns that his wife may have been the one plotting his family’s downfall all along.

What COTT voters had to say:

~Waiting to get a chance to read it Lucy

~Lucy Thompson, Great title, great cover!

~Mrs. Lucy Thompson, we wish you the best. 

~Lucy Thompson is not only a wonderful author but I've been blessed to being able to get to know her through Facebook. God bless you Lucy. Hope you win.'

~Lucy Thompson, loved the book.

~Beautiful cover picture and a great book Lucy Thompson!

~YAY Lucy Thompson. Keep up the good work!

~Lucy Thompson, I can't wait to read your novel Mail Order Surprise. It is the next book I will read. All the best for your future releases.

About the author:

Lucy Thompson is a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits.

She enjoys meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When she can be separated from her laptop, she is a professional time waster on facebook.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The late, great, Anthony Burger, Pianist Extraordinaire

If you love music as much as I do . . . especially piano music . . . then here's a treat for you to enjoy this weekend.

Anthony Burger (1961-2006) played piano for the Bill and Gloria Gaither Homecoming shows, and was accompianist to the Gaither Vocal Band until his untimely death at the age of only 45.

Make sure your speakers are up, sit back, and watch his fingers, his facial expressions, and the passion in his playing.

This is a gifted artist, taken from the world too soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Clash Champ--Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Congratulations to Becky Wade 
and her novel
Her One and Only
for taking home this month's Clash crown!


About the book:
After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Becky also has a FREE book sale going on RIGHT NOW!
Undeniably Yours

What Becky's voters had to say:
~I have read and loved Becky Wade's books for awhile now! She is talented and brilliant. I love having the option to read romantic fiction that is Christian based and clean for the soul. It's wonderful! Thank you!!

~I wouldn't even need a beach to want to read your book, Becky Wade!

~LOVE Becky Wade!! Loved the conclusion to the Porter Family Series!! Perfect book poolside or other Summer destination or really any place any time!! :)

~Even though I have only read one of the books on this list (I look forward to checking some more of these out) i want to thank all the authors for doing what they do. I believe God uses you to help others. I love reading because it can just help me escape sometimes and than start fresh and go forward. Also encouraging our relationship with God through seeing your characters growing in faith. Thank you for writing even when it toughs because it makes a difference and matters to people like me!!!

~I just received a whole set of Becky Wade's books and can't wait to read them

~Becky Wade, I love your books. Keep up the great work

~I have loved all of Becky Wade's books! I am never disappointed with any of her books - I look forward to each next one. They are always on my to purchase list as soon as they come out - one of my new favorite authors! :)

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Look at the Author Behind the Story: Alice K. Arenz ♦ Portrait of Jenny

Please welcome my guest today, author Alice K. Arenz while she shares the story behind her new release: PORTRAIT OF JENNY. 

Not even a beautiful woman can save Richard Tanner from his past.

Following an explosive—and public—argument with his ex-girlfriend, artist Richard Tanner races into a rainstorm, gripped by a powerful migraine. He wanders to the gazebo in University Park, where he meets the beautiful and mysterious Jenny—a brief encounter that leaves an indelible impression on his mind—and in his paintings. 
When Detective Jack Hargrave accuses Richard of the brutal assault on his ex, he finds himself confronting demons of a past he doesn’t remember. A time when little Richie Tanner walked into University Park whole, was beaten and left to die…a time that may hold the key to his future.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦     ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Alice, I can’t wait to get inside your head about this book. It is so unlike anything you’ve written before—and I’ve read them all—this one totally blew me away! I don’t even know where to start this interview. But we’ve got to start somewhere, right? So, here we go . . .

Peg: Where on earth did the idea for Portrait of Jenny come from?

Alice:  First, I want to take this time to thank you for inviting me on your blog—it’s nice to be here. Especially for this novel!

Ok, to the question.  I’ve always said that my ideas, inspiration, etc., come from God. Jenny is no different in that matter than anything else I’ve ever written—published or unpublished.  I was first “given” this title what seems a million years ago as it was back in high school. What triggered it? I’ve no idea. The title came into my head with the admonishment that I wasn’t to forget it—there was a story here that would come later.  I never forgot the title or that promise.

Peg: Portrait of Jenny is told solely through the point of view of Richard Tanner. What made you choose a male protagonist?

AliceI don’t want to sound like a broken record, but have to restate that whatever I do isn’t me per se, but what God gives me.  That said, I remember mentioning to my husband (now ex), that I’d been given the name “Richard Tanner” to go along with that old title that was rumbling around in my brain. He knew that I usually wrote things in the first person and told me rather emphatically that there was no way I could write anything from a man’s point of view. I recall stating that if that’s how God wanted the story told, that’s the way it would be.  A definite point of contention. But then, he also didn’t really believe I “heard” from God on these things. Not that I blamed him; it does sound a little nutty.  Anyway, when I finally sat down at a typewriter, there was no preconceptions of what I might or might not write, or anything at all.  Like most of my work, what I feel is the best of my writing, comes without any conscious thought. By the time I quit that writing session, the first chapter of Portrait of Jenny had been written with Richard Tanner telling his story.

Peg: The presence of constant rain and thunderstorms add to the overall darkness of the story, and it works well. In fact, you might say “rain” was one of the characters. So, this may be like asking “Which came first . . . the chicken or the egg” but, at what point in Portrait of Jenny did the storms come into play?

AliceI write chronologically—totally a seat of the pants writer, as described above—so the answer would be immediately. And, I agree, the rain/storms are definitely lead characters. ;)

Peg: Okay, now tell me about Jenny, the elusive, ‘now you see her, now you don’t,’ who is herself one of the lead characters.

AliceJenny is mystery personified—as you said, elusive. From the moment she is introduced in the first chapter, the reader should be as intrigued by her as Richard is.

Peg: Well I certainly was!  So, Richard is an artist, and you depicted the process so expertly—at least I thought so. What kind of research did you have to do for those scenes?

AliceIn the late eighties/early nineties I watched every “learn to paint” show I could find to tape on my VCR. I painted in oil, acrylic, and sometimes watercolor. I’d pour over books on painting for beginners and was constantly writing things down, trying to learn a language that was so awesome and descriptive it produced a world all its own. I’d no idea when this fascination struck me that it would one day be used in a book. God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?!

Peg: Ah, that explains a lot! That brings me to the matter of the migraine headaches. Both my ex, my daughter and youngest son suffer from them, sometimes quite debilitating. How did you learn about them in order to write about Richard’s?

AliceFirst, from what I remember of my mother.  She would get them so badly that she would shut herself up in her bedroom. It would be so dark that you couldn’t see a thing. It terrified me.  Picture it: winter in Alaska—a cloudy day when there was little light anyway, blinds drawn, dark curtains pulled, and total silence as my baby brother and mom snuggled in that darkened room.  The memory is not something easily forgotten.  Years later, I discovered that migraines were a curse in my family. I don’t have them often, praise God, but I know what they can do to a person and those around them.

Peg: Back to Jenny. Without giving anything away, how did you come up with her and that whole concept?

AliceBeyond what I’ve already said, I don’t have an answer. She just belonged to that story.

Peg: You have a warning on the book about bad language and implied sexuality, which I thought was done well, by the way. What made you decide to write the book with that sort of content?

Alice:  Thank you. First, please know that what I’ve said here, that my words, the stories come from God. I am literally not smart enough to do the writing on my own. Not at all smart enough!  That said . . .
Ok, out of 150,000 words I counted 100 swear words—including “questionable” ones. This count was done on the final reading before going to the publisher. And trust me when I say that during the four previous readings, I’d changed many of these for others—on my own—only to realize that I had to change them back.  There was a lot of prayer going on here—A LOT OF PRAYER.  And a lot of time that was spent agonizing over things.  But I finally got it, LISTENED, truly listened when He said “Stop preaching to the choir. Let it stand.”  That’s when I was finally able to finish what we’d started.

As for the “implied sexuality,” you’re right, it’s there. Richard’s best friend, Chuck, is a womanizer, and proud of it. Richard frowns on Chuck’s activities, but they’re still friends. Richard also acknowledges his own desire for a real relationship.  So, yes, there is mention of sex, but NO SEX ACTS. Sensuality, yes, but NO SEX.

Peg: To date, Portrait of Jenny has six five-star reviews on Amazon. Congratulations! (I’ll be posting one, too, after this interview goes live.) But I’m curious. Was this a hard sell to your publisher?

AliceNo, it wasn’t.  We’d had several conversations about it, and she has always been there to reassure me.  It was published with the “warning” so that readers who were used to my totally Christian books would be aware of the content in advance.

Peg: I know you have extremely sensitive fingers and sometimes use the eraser end of pencils to write on the keyboard. So how did you manage to write such a long book, and how long did it take you to finish it?

Alice:  When the book was originally written in 1993—I think it was—I didn’t have those issues to contend with.  Some of it was written on the typewriter in my university office—pre-approved by my wonderful supervisor Dr. Betty.  We were beginning the recertification process on the state and national level, and while things were slow, she said I should “keep busy.”  After reading a manual on Word 11 (a DOS based word processing program), learning it and disseminating the info to secretaries and admins who would be assisting their chairs in the process, I didn’t have anything to do for a while.  Ok, TMI.  J

Anyway, between the typewriter and my DOS based Leading Edge computer at home, the book was written and then submitted to the agent I had at the time.  Fast forward to last September and me facing over 500 typed pages and wondering how with my hands and brain that doesn’t always work right, how was I going to ever get this book rewritten.  Answer:  my brilliant SIL Greg.  When I finally got around to asking him, it took maybe a week, if that long, for him to write a program that took the manuscript out of the old word processing program and into Word.  Then it was up to me to fix the formatting and start bringing it back to “life.” But I had a hang-up; I was worried that it wouldn’t be accepted by the people who’d come to know my writing—that they wouldn’t accept me.  Then, I stopped worrying about ME and remembered WHO had told me to get this book out of mothballs in the first place.  God.

I’m Irish and German; stubborn, hardheaded, a fighter (that comes in handy when you have so many chronic disabilities), and not always the best listener.  But I finally got it.  Finally understood.  So, in answer to how long this book took me—a lifetime.

Peg: Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t covered?

Alice:  Thanks for asking. Now, I have a question. What would happen if Christians only wrote books that appealed to other Christians? The searchers might not find what they need—no, make that WHO they need. And if a book has a character who is also searching, well then maybe . . .

Not every book is right for EVERY person.  Sometimes things can be light, funny, other times, dark and “stormy,” but they can all be good—even if they aren’t exactly right for you.  Change is inevitable.  It’s not always good or bad, just is—just like books and authors.  And sometimes, even when you’re not sure you’re doing the right thing for others, it just might be the “right thing” for you . . . That, my friend, is between you and God.  And I’m not ashamed of what He’s given me.

Thank you so much Alice, for your time here and for your frank and honest answers. I wish you well with this book. Your transparency is refreshing.

Romantic mystery/suspense Portrait of Jenny is the newest book of 2010 ACFW Carol Award winning author, Alice K. Arenz. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Award: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist), all re-released by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications. Last August, An American Gothic, also a romantic mystery/suspense, was released by Forget Me Not Romances.

Visit her at her website