Saturday, October 19, 2013

And The Winner Is...

Jasmine! Congratulations on winning a FREE copy of Celtic Knot. Like me, Jasmine prefers print copies and I've got one on the way to her.

Thank you to all who dropped in to read my excerpt and leave a comment. I am grateful for all the visitors! If only I could afford to give you each a free book. Alas, the Lottery has not yet seen fit to give me the winning ticket! However, you can get Celtic Knot as an eBook for only $3.99. It's available for all eReaders. For Kindle, you can go directly to Amazon; for others, you can shop your favorite online retailer or go to Smashwords (they let you choose your preferred format, so even Kindle readers can shop there, too).

Happy Reading, Everyone!!

I'd be thrilled to keep in touch with you on my Facebook page, too. I usually post news about Christian book bargains, new releases from my friends and favorite authors, and funny stuff that may or may not related to writing. And, of course, it's where you'll be able to find out first what I'm up to with new novels! Here's the address:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Excerpt from "Celtic Knot" by Tammy Doherty

Today I'm offering an excerpt from my third novel, CELTIC KNOT. After reading it, be sure to leave a comment. Next Friday, I'll randomly choose one person from all the comments to win a FREE copy of 'Celtic Knot' - either print or eBook.


Before Abby could respond to her daughter’s obvious infatuation with this stranger, the front door banged open and heavy footsteps rapidly crossed the store. A small grimace crossed Abby’s face before she could stop it. With a pang of shame she saw that the stranger noticed her sour expression. He turned away without comment.

“Where’s my girls?” a deep voice boomed.

“Boone!” Millie squealed and threw herself at him.

Boone caught up Millie, twirling her about in the open space in front of the counter. He set her down carefully before turning his attention to Abby.

“Abby, I been looking for you this morning. Thought maybe you would like to join me for breakfast.”

“Good morning, Boone.” Abby forced herself to be cordial. It wasn’t as if she didn’t care for Boone, just not the way he wanted her to. “I’m afraid Millie and I already had our morning meal.”

Pshaw,” Boone dismissed. “You couldn’t possibly have eaten yer fill.”

For a split second, Abby felt grateful to God. The feeling passed quickly. “Oh, but we did eat our fill and then some. We shared breakfast with the Stantons.”

This time Boone frowned. “The preacher’s family? What you doing over there?”

“Jennifer and Millie are friends, if you must know.” What she really wanted to say was that it was none of his business.

Out of the corner of her eye, Abby saw the stranger make his purchase and move to leave the store. He politely pretended not to hear the conversation even though he was less than three feet away. At the same time, Boone became aware of the man’s presence.

“You,” Boone pointed. “You new in town?”

“Could say that,” Kyle answered vaguely.

“Ya’ are, or ya’ could say that, which is it?”

“Both, I reckon.”

“Look, mister,” Boone stood toe to toe with Kyle, their eyes level with one another. “I’m the law in these here parts an’ it’s my job to know about newcomers to town. An’ I ain’t partial to your wiseacre answers.”

“Well, I guess that makes us even, ‘cause I’m not partial to your lewd, nosy attitude.” Kyle held Boone’s gaze, as if daring the other man to make something of his answer.

Boone stared back, unblinking. He wouldn't back down from a stare-off. Most cowpunchers either worked for Raymond Bigelow or were just passing through Prophecy. Bigelow hands generally knew their place when it came to Boone Warren. Rambling men were naturally intimidated by Boone’s large size and the way he carried himself. This man was quite obviously not intimidated or impressed.

Tension thickened the air as each man waited for the other to back down. Abby noticed that while Boone’s gun rested in its customary place at his hip, the stranger was unarmed. If Lachapelle noted this fact he made no sign that it mattered. And though she well knew how apt Boone was with his fists, she began to wonder if perhaps this newcomer might be able to best him in a fight. She wasn’t willing to find out the answers to any of these questions.

“That’s enough,” she scolded sharply. “I’ll not have such a show of childish violence in front of my daughter.”

Even the sharpness in her voice did not break the staring match. Abby frowned and forced herself between the two men, shoving Boone backwards. He broke eye contact with Lachapelle and turned his gaze to her.

“I’m ashamed of you, Boone Warren.” Her voice was quiet, yet forceful. “You really must learn your manners.”

He dipped his head as if apologizing, but only to Abby and only for a moment. His anger was barely veiled as he looked again at Lachapelle. “Make sure you're on your best behavior when in my town. I don’t tolerate any hooliganism. Understood?”
Be sure to leave a comment with your email or contact information. And if you'd like to see what I envision the characters and locations look like in CELTIC KNOT, check out my Pinterest board for the novel: I'd love to connect with you on my Facebook author page, too!

Don't want to wait to start reading CELTIC KNOT? Download it now for $3.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or for other eReaders check out Smashwords.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Interview with Millie Finnigan from CELTIC KNOT

It's my week in the Grace Awards Book Launch spotlight and I've decided to give you all a character interview. Be sure to come back later this week to read an excerpt from Celtic Knot. Both the interview and the excerpt are sure to leave you wanting more, and I'm offering a special on Celtic Cross and Claddaugh, the first two of my historical romance novels. Check below the interview for details and where to buy your copies!

First, a little about Celtic Knot:

 When widow Abby Finnegan meets ranch hand Kyle Lachapelle, she figures he’s as deceitful as her family. But Kyle is a Secret Service operative working undercover, and Abby has a disturbing connection to his counterfeiting case. Abby’s protecting her heart while Kyle can’t afford the feelings stirring in his. Love is out of the question…or is it the answer?

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Millie Finnigan. Millie's mother, Abby Finnigan, is the heroine of CELTIC KNOT.

"Welcome, Millie. Have a cookie and tell us a little about yourself."

photo ©BLMcKinney
Millie grabs a cookie but waits to eat it. "Hi, I'm excited to be here today. Let's see, I'm seven years old and I live with my mother in Prophecy, Colorado." She takes a bite of cookie, not talking again until she's finished chewing. "My real name is Millicent but Momma only calls me that when she's cross. I try not to make her angry 'cause she works real hard and hardly ever smiles. Momma has a pretty smile but sometimes her eyes seem to look far away and her face gets sad."

"Why do you think she's sad?"

"It's as if she's looking at a photograph in her memory." Millie fidgets with her dress, dropping her gaze a moment before continuing. "Remembering Daddy, I think. He died when I was four. That's when we moved back to Prophecy. Momma says that Daddy called me his little blessing. I don't hardly remember him. Sometimes that makes me sad."

Girl With a Hoop (1885) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"What makes you happy?"
A smile brightens Millie's countenance. "Playing with my best friend, Jennifer Stanton. Her pa is the town preacher an' her folks are real nice. They always treat me like family. Pastor and Mrs. Stanton worry about Momma an' me, 'cause we don't always have money for nice things. But Momma takes real good care of me."

"Doesn't your grandfather own the largest ranch around Prophecy? In fact, he owns most of the town. Why doesn't your mother ask him for help?"

Millie shrugs. "Momma's family isn't very nice. I've never even met my grandfather. Once, I heard someone say that Raymond Bigelow, that's Momma's father, is so mean an d contrary he makes Satan look angelic. All's I know is my uncle Clayton is scary. He says things like teaching the whelp proper respect. That's what he calls me, the whelp." She shudders. "I don't like him."

"I'm sure your mother stays away from Clayton, then."

"We try but Momma works at the Silver Streak Saloon, as a maid. Uncle Clayton goes there a lot and he looks for Momma. He likes being mean, an' not just to her. I can't understand why Boone is friends with him."

"Who is Boone?"

"He's our sheriff. Boone's real nice. He always wants to buy me stuff but Momma won't let him. She says she don't want to be beholden to him." Millie scrunches her nose. "Not sure what that means. I do know Boone wants to marry Momma. He might be a nice daddy. Still, I want Momma to be happy. She never smiles for Boone, least ways, not the kind of smile she gets when Mr. Lachapelle is around."

"Kyle Lachapelle? When did you meet him?"

"He came into the mercantile one morning when Momma was buying supplies an' things." Millie leans forward to whisper, "He likes lemon candies just like me." She sits back in the chair, speaking in her normal voice once more. "An' he stood up to Boone, didn't let anyone push him around. Later, he walked with Momma and me and he was a real gentleman. I hope he comes around more, 'cept Momma told him she don't want to be his friend. I hope she changes her mind."

"I sure hope so, too. Millie, it's been a joy having you here today. Do take one of those lemon candies from the jar for later. Yes, you may take one for Jennifer as well. Thank you for visiting."

Get your copy of Celtic Knot in print or eBook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or for other eReaders go to Smashwords. As a bonus, for anyone who hasn't read Celtic Cross or Claddaugh (or maybe you'd like an eBook copy), I'm offering both novels FREE this week only!! To download your free eBook, go to Smashwords and at check out use coupon code UJ48L for Celtic Cross and UR99Q for Claddaugh.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Be Swept Away to 1746 India in “A Heart’s Home”

This week's Grace Awards Book Tour spotlight shines on A HEART'S HOME by Laura J. Marshall. I'm happy to offer this excerpt for readers to get a taste of this Christian Historical Romance novella set in 1746 India.

Excerpt from A HEART'S HOME:
Braddock sat for a long time, his head in his hands. Asyra had cleansed his forehead with the cool water. Her image had wavered as he watched her walk away and spread the blanket on the dirt floor. He heard her praying quietly, wishing he was closer to overhear. He joined her with silent prayers, for them to cast off safely from India…for Asyra…for his brother…and his own entangled heart.
He moved from the chair, almost sliding to the floor and stumbled to the bed. His head hit the hay, sharp ends digging into his face. He flipped to his back and fell into a deep sleep.
When he awoke, all was quiet in the small house. He could hear gentle snoring from Mrs. Campbell. The heat was oppressive, it clung to him and pushed him to his feet. As he straightened, he noticed Asyra awake and seated in a chair by a window at the back of the house. She had the burlap tucked up an inch and her nose stuck out the window. He grinned at the childish gesture, coughing quietly to announce his presence.
She turned, smoothing the burlap with her hand and met his gaze.
Braddock motioned to the blanket on the floor.
“Did you rest at all?”
“Yes, I slept just fine. You?”
“If I had awakened in heaven itself, I wouldn’t be surprised. I slept as if I were among the dead.”
She laughed quietly at his description, a small dimple appearing in her left cheek.  She quickly sobered as she saw Mrs. Campbell roll over.
“It looks to be late afternoon. The heat will ease.”
“We’ll be against the wind most of the way home and wishing for this heat come November.” He spoke quietly, not wishing to break the spell of time with her.
“Do you remember England at all?”
“I was but a babe. My father told me some of mother’s estate…the lush gardens and green pastures. He said there were woods so thick you could get lost.”
“It’s true. There’s an enchanting forest with its fill of plants, trees, and fauna. There’s one spot in particular, just a small path to the south of the estate that leads to a God-made haven, where honeysuckle climbs the trees and carpets the forest.”
Asyra seemed to roll this over in her mind. “It sounds beautiful….a-and what is fauna?”
“Animals native to our region….the migrant cuckoo, the roe deer.”
“I-I’m very interested in your herbs and flowers.”
“I’ll see you have books to study.” As she broke his gaze, he recalled what she had said about reading. Her eyes clouded with worry.
“I have your mother’s bible, in the bag. We’ll teach you to read before we reach England.”
“That’s a high order.”
“We can do it…together.” The word slid over his tongue and his heart responded. It expanded and seemed to hesitate in its beating. Together. He and Asyra. His eyes fell to her white teeth worrying her lip. Her soft pink lips parted. She caught his gaze and fell still.
“Th-thank you for bringing the bible.” She stood and walked to the door, taking the bucket with the white willow over to the basin and placing it on the ground. “And the willow.” She bent her head and he saw a tear fall as she took a small cup, dipped it into the pitcher, and wet its roots.
Braddock felt like the air was being squeezed from his lungs. He crossed the room and stood behind her. She barely stood as tall as his shoulder. He looked down as an ankle skimmed into view, the bells quietly jingling. It was funny how the sound had become so commonplace now, part of his days and his memories.
He touched her arm and she turned, falling forward and against his chest. He could feel her silent sobs being wrenched from her very soul. She gulped a deep breath and put her face back against him so he couldn’t see her.
“I’m here. I won’t leave you.”
“Y-y-you can’t promise me that.”

“I can and I will promise you.”

Get your copy of A HEART'S HOME at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

About the author: Laura J. Marshall is a full-time mom of five boys. When not on active duty, she is the best-selling author of The Battle Cry Devotional series and inspirational fiction (historical romantic suspense and contemporary romance). She operates a popular blog called The Old Stone Wall which hosts and promotes Christian and clean books and encourages interaction between authors and readers. See more at

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Read an excerpt of DARKEST HOUR!

As promised, here is a peek into DARKEST HOUR by Nike Chillemi. I know you'll be hooked! Download the full novel for Kindle or Nook today!!

DARKEST HOUR by Nike Chillemi

(From Chapter one…)

A black coach resembling an ambulance drove into the lot. An older man in overalls pulled a collapsible gurney out of the back and raised its bed to hip level. Its chrome gleamed.

The night orderly and two nurses getting off the night shift stopped to watch.

The brown-haired man pointed to the gurney and his voice carried. "They finally allocated some funds my way. Makes transporting much easier. Oscar and I used to carry them on a stretcher. My back sure is grateful to the board of supervisors."

The detective laughed. "Don't you county guys have all the dough you want?"

"Who're you kidding?"

The gurney's wheels rumbled across the gravel parking lot. The older man pulled on the straps of his overalls."Hank, you ready to move the body?"

The stylish man nodded. "Let's do it." They lifted the body onto the gurney and the man in overalls covered Dr. McCloud with a white sheet. Blood seeped through and began spreading.

Lucinda gasped, took another step back, stumbled, but managed to keep her footing. She straightened her spine. She still had to go into that building and work a full day. She had a son to support.

The detective nodded toward the body. "By the size of the hole in his chest, I'd guess he was shot with a pistol, maybe at close range. I need to have the bullet as soon as you recover it."

"Then by all means, you'll be my guest at the autopsy."

"Gee, thanks." The detective shook his head.

The debonair man chuckled, turned, and approached Lucinda.

A tremor ran down her back. More questioning, and all she wanted to do was run and hide. She sniffled and wiped her nose with the side of her index finger.

He reached into his inside pocket and offered her a folded white handkerchief. "It's rough if you've never seen anything like this. I'm Hank Jansen, the medical examiner, by the way."

Lucinda's gaze followed the gurney to the black coach. "He was my boss."

"You work at the hospital for Dr. McCloud?"

"Yes. I... I'm his secretary... was, I mean. And Dr. Hinsey's too." She couldn't believe the doctor's life had ended this way.

Detective Daltry barked, "Hank, can I speak with you?"

"Excuse me." The medical examiner stepped away.

"Wait." Lucinda quickly refolded the handkerchief and handed it back to him. She didn't know this man. Wouldn't begin to know how to return the white cotton cloth. "Don't forget this."

"Take it with you. The day's not over. Things could still get rough." He smiled.

"No, I can't take your hankie."

"Listen, I'll pick it up the next time I'm at the hospital. You say you work for Dr. Hinsey?"

"Hank," the detective called, impatience sharp in his tone.

"Yes, Dr. Hinsey is the head of the maternity ward. I'll launder it and have it ready for you."

The medical examiner nodded and smiled. "It's a date. I mean, I'll stop by and pick it up." He turned and trotted toward the detective.
Lucinda slipped the handkerchief into her purse. She headed for the main entrance of the hospital, bent and picked up a fountain pen in the gravel lot.

She pivoted and advanced toward the two men.

The detective made a chopping gesture with his hand and raised his voice. "I'm not fooling, Hank. Don't go putting another notch in your belt. She's a witness."

"Can't a fellow do a simple act of kindness?"

"I'm warning you, stay away from her." The detective spun around and nearly collided with Lucinda.

Heat rushed to her face, and she couldn't meet either man's gaze. If the ground would only open and swallow her. She held the pen out to Detective Daltry. "Uh...I…I'm sorry. I think you dropped this."

See - you want more, don't you! Get the rest on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Visit Nike on her blog to find out about future novels, and other fun crime writing stuff: Nike Chillemi~Crime Fictionista

Monday, August 26, 2013

Betrayal everywhere! Can Lucinda trust Hank in her DARKEST HOUR?

This week I'm thrilled to be showcasing DARKEST HOUR the latest novel from my critique partner and partner-in-crime, Nike Chillemi. We met many years ago through ACFW, quickly discovering we share a warped sense of humor. She calls me "Blondie" and I call her "Red" (when I'm not calling her "fearless leader"!).

Nike's first three novels in the award-winning Sanctuary Point series have been well received. Readers look forward to strong female protagonists and truly heroic male protagonists. As she frequently says, Nike likes her villains to be bad. All of her characters come alive in each story, feeling as real as the people you meet out on the street. Below is a short interview with Nike. Come back Wednesday for a sneak-peek excerpt of DARKEST HOUR.

Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on, shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he's a ladies' man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner. 

Hank Jansen, the county ME who's had his share of pain and loss, doesn't know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she's too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can't deny he's fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there's a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.

Nike has graciously answered a few questions for my blog:

Blondie (that's me!): Is there anything that happened in the writing of this novel that surprised you?

Red (that's Nike!): I thought my heroine Lucinda Byrne had two sweet grandparents who would stay in the background and just...well look sweet. However, Nellie and Daniel Walsh took me by surprise. I hadn't planned on Mrs. Walsh having crippling arthritis and on that illness becoming a sub-theme in the novel. So, I had to research how severe arthritis was treated in the 1940s. As his wife's role in the novel grew and blossomed, Mr. Walsh also made himself known as an elderly gentleman of honor and dignity with quite a backbone. Then I began to depict them engaging each other as a married couple. They weren't content to remain in the background. They insisted on coming to life.

Blondie: How did you develop the plot for DARKEST HOUR and how did you come up with the name?

Red: In my Sanctuary Point series, one novel flows out of another. Main characters in one novel will appear as subordinate characters in the next one. Hank Jansen, the Nassau County Medical Examiner, first appeared in my Christmas/New Year's novel in the series, GOODBYE NOEL. Then he popped up at the murder scene in PERILOUS SHADOWS. I got to like him and thought he'd be a terrific hero. He is the most flawed of my heroes, but like all my others, he seeks to right injustice. So, he needed a heroine, but I wanted a gal who would be put off by him at first. So, I created a widow with a young son who is dignified and protective of her family. At first she thinks Hank is a ladies' man and too cavalier for her taste. Then, of course, he grows on her. It helps that he's practically the only one who thinks she's innocent of murder. The name DARKEST HOUR came to mind because things in this story get so scary for the heroine.

Blondie: When we first meet Hank Williams it would never occur to us he'd take any personal risks to help a young woman he hardly knew. How did you create this character?

Red: That's right. Hank wouldn't be seen as a man to go out on a limb for anyone. It's not that he's cowardly. He's got a backbone. It's just that he's been so hurt in the past he doesn't extend himself for other people. He's as surprised as anyone when he decides to help Lucinda Byrne. Perhaps it's because his professional opinion has been ignored, and the one thing he's got left is his career. Then he begins to see her as someone who's being unjustly hurt. He can certainly identify with that.

Be sure to visit again on Wednesday to read an excerpt from DARKEST HOUR. If you haven't read any of Nike's other novels, you can get them at Amazon or Barnes and Noble when you pop over to order DARKEST HOUR!

Author Bio:
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with multi-published author Naomi Musch

Naomi Musch writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history, or along more contemporary lines.

Central to her stories is the belief that God blesses messes, and He delights in turning lives around. For that same reason, besides her fiction writing, Naomi spent five years on the editorial board of the EPA award-winning, Midwestern Christian newspaper, Living Stones News, writing true accounts of changed lives. While pursuing her fiction-writing endeavors, she spent a year as an editor with Port Yonder Press. She continues to enjoy writing for magazines and other non-fiction venues that encourage homeschooling families and young writers.

I met Naomi through the Grace Awards and count her amongst my writing friends. She's one of those people who actually "gets" my quirky sense of humor :D I'm so excited to help Naomi launch her newest novel, Paint Me Althena. Here's the blurb:

When still life artist Ethan Day discovers a fantasy painting by Althena Bell in a consignment shop, he's sure he's found Ava, his wife who abandoned him and their two little girls three years ago. Finding and rescuing her are one thing, but forgiveness and second chances are impeded by outsiders, and conflict between Ava's search for identity and Ethan's new faith might break the safety net he offers.

You've said that the idea for Paint Me Althena came to you in an unusual way. How did that happen?

You know how you sometimes have a dream that seems really exciting, but when you wake up it doesn't make any sense? Well, I had a dream about this story. It was one of those like-watching-a-movie kind of dreams, and it was fraught with tension and romance. A scene of a young woman fleeing a Victorian to get away from someone she cared about but feared -- that especially got my heart beating. When I woke up, I thought, "Wow, that was some dream." I expected it to fragment apart at any moment, but as I thought about it, I realized it made sense. It wasn't the jumbled mess that most dreams seem to wind up being. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end -- a real plot. So I grabbed a notebook and started writing the synopsis. I'd never dreamed a story from beginning to end like that before. Of course I had to flesh out a lot of the details, but it sure gave me an instant overview.

That's some dream! I wonder what you had on your mind that made you dream such a story.

I think I've figured that out, and it actually became the main theme of the book. It seemed I'd been made aware of several women, some young, some older, who were thinking of leaving their families. I think my dream materialized out of my mind trying to process why they'd do such a thing. Ava, the protagonist in Paint Me Althena, ran away from her husband and children and lived for three years under the alias Althena Bell. (She has a reason for the unusual name she chose.) In my story, she had to come back and wants a fresh start, but that would be quite a hurdle to overcome for both her and her estranged husband, not to mention her children's feelings. Plus, Ava/Althena still had to be likeable. I think it works. I think readers will really care about Ava and understand her.

Can I ask why she did abandoned her family?

She had self-image issues mostly, which is another theme that found its way into the story. She didn’t feel she deserved the life she had -- or rather -- she was made to feel that way by one of the antagonists in the story.

What about Ava's husband? He must have felt greatly wronged. Will readers care about him?

Oh, he did feel wronged, and readers might rightly wonder why Ava would ever leave him. He's a great dad in the early stages of a growing career as a fine artist, not to mention he's -- ahem -- quite good looking. At least his young widow friend Jackie recognizes all those traits...

 Ah, I see. The plot thickens.

It does indeed. Thickened twice over, because another man has entered Ava's life too, and he has no idea about her past, that she's married, or that her name isn't really Althena.

Don't you usually write historical fiction?

Usually. Readers might be familiar with Empire in Pine my 3-book romantic historical series. Paint Me Althena is my second contemporary. I like to focus on writing romantic women's fiction in whatever way the story needs to be told. I like to tell stories that deal with the messes we make in our lives and the sorry outcomes that we sometimes have to deal with. But the main point is that God can clean them up if we'll hand Him the mop. Does that mean everything always works out for everyone in my books? No, because characters, like real people, sometimes have to live with certain consequences. But happy endings? Oh, yes. They have to be there, because I believe the very best stories always inspire hope. 

Where can readers find Paint Me Althena or your other books? 
Here are a few links:
Barnes & Noble
Also available at Sony, Deeper Shopping, Christian Book, Koorong (Australia),
Wesley Owens, Kobo, All Romance eBooks, iTunes, Books on Board, Google eBook store.

Enter the contest on NAOMI'S BLOG to 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mystery, wine and a sip of romance at the Fredrickson Winery!

This week the Grace Awards Summer Book tour spotlights ENTANGLED by Barbara Ellen Brink. For mystery, wine, and a touch of romance visit the Fredrickson Winery. Great summer reading set in the beautiful Napa Valley.

ENTANGLED is the 1st in the Fredrickson Winery series. Here's a little blurb to wet your palate:
One lost summer is time best left forgotten... 

When Minneapolis attorney, Billie Fredrickson, inherits her uncle's small California winery, she has no intention of actually moving to the west coast and starting a new life. Her only thought is to get it off her hands as quickly as possible. But her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle's will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting questions that no one is able or willing to answer.
A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone's way of pulling the welcome mat out from under Billie's feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper.

Secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery's innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root. But disturbing the past lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother's. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure or will she run home where everyone is Minnesota Nice.

Barbara is offering a GIVE AWAY on her blog. Click here to pop over and find out how you could win a copy of her 3rd Fredrickson Winery novel, SAVOR.

To purchase ENTANGLED visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Barbara Ellen Brink is the award-winning author if SPLIT SENSE, The Fredrickson Winery series, ALIAS RAVEN BLACK, and the Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy. Check out Barbara's blog and her Amazon Author page.

And don't forget to visit all the other Grace Awards Summer Book Tour Authors:

Mon, Aug 12 ~ Naomi Musch, PAINT ME ALTHENA

Mon, Aug 19 ~ Marcy Dyer, OUT FOR BLOOD

Mon, Aug 26 ~ Nike Chillemi, DARKEST HOUR

Mon, Sept 2 ~ DeEtteBeckstead, VICTORY

Mon, Sept 9 ~ JanalynVoigt, DAWNSINGER

Mon, Sept 16 ~ Kenneth Winters, THE LOST CROWN OF COLONNADE

Mon, Sept 23 ~ BJ Robinson, LAST RESORT

Mon, Sept 30 ~ Laura J.Marshall , A HEART’S HOME

Mon. Oct 7 - Tammy Doherty, CELTIC KNOT

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Today I'm happy to showcase Suzanne D. Williams. I first met Suzanne through Grace Awards and it turns out we like a lot of the same things - books, photography, Irish heritage, and more. Suzanne is the author of both nonfiction and fiction works and even writes a monthly column for about digital photography.  For the Grace Awards Summer Book Launch Tour, she's focusing on her novel THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LUCAS MCGILLEY, a young adult romance of first love and the importance of family. You can purchase this novel and Suzanne's other books at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Here's a blurb about the book:

“Go ahead and plan to leave,” Lucas said. “Hold onto your ticket. I’ll even drive you to the train. But I’ll do it with Sam and John and Charles and Will. With Marcus and James. Even with Jesse. And you’ll have to look us all in the eye as you board and decide what’s more valuable to you. Your plans in Atlanta. Your friend, Christine, who I’m sure is great. Or ten people who love you.”

The second of eight boys, Lucas McGilley spent his youth pulling pranks. Yet growing up comes hard, and he’s learned his lesson. Or so he thinks.

Then Iris Willow shows up for the summer, and along comes love, strife, and a terrible family secret. He needs her now, more than he’s ever thought possible.
But can he convince her to stay, or will she catch the train and be gone forever?

Suzanne has graciously answered a few interview questions so we can get to know her better. 

1) How did you come up with such an unusual name for your novel?

I woke up early one morning with that title in my head. I saw it like a headline. I am a graphic artist as well as a writer, so initially it came to me like the top of a newspaper. But when I made the book cover later, I decided to use a couple instead and give the title an old-fashioned headline effect.

2) Where did the storyline come from?

The storyline was originally a historical fiction. But because contemporary YA sells so well, I changed it. This enabled me to use a modern young couple on the cover and to include things like trucks and cell phones. But it keeps it’s “country” feel somewhat. I am a native Floridian and love to include descriptions of the landscape and lifestyle I am so familiar with in my books. This was the first YA I’ve written that I could really indulge myself in that and it still be contemporary.

3) What was the most difficult part of writing this story?

Remembering all those brothers – Jesse, Lucas, Marcus, James, William, Charles, John, and Sam.

I try to make each story unique in some way. Lucas being one of eight boys is definitely unique, but add in the challenge of having so many names in the text, giving each of them a personality, and the rapport brothers in a large family would have with each other, and I had to stop and think…a lot. Sam’s my favorite brother next to Lucas. Lucas, being the troublemaker, I needed a brother who’d continually stir the pot, so to speak, and he became it.

Here’s an unusual fact about the book, my editor is herself a mom of five boys, so she identified with the feel of the family, and that was a huge help to me in finalizing the story.

4) Iris Willow is a different name. What’s her part in the story?

I love naming characters. As a mom, I personally tried to give my daughter a normal name. After all, I grew up having to explain “Suzanne.” But when it comes to books, I can indulge myself and choose things outside of the box. In Iris’ case, I asked a friend to name a flower, completely at random, and then a tree. I then put them together. It was that simple.

It being a YA romance, I had to have a girl in the story, and since the story is set in a small town way off the road, it made sense to bring her in from the outside, where she’d be unfamiliar with the area. It also seemed a good idea she not be used to a large family, and that created the problems between she and Lucas, her reluctance to get involved, and the mystery of why exactly she was there.

5) What do you love about writing YA?

The innocence of it, two young people first falling in love, and the thrill that brings to the heart and the mind. The older I get, the more I appreciate this.

I nver set out to be a YA writer, and actually, write many other romance titles, but it’s the YA that I always come back to, which brings me the most joy and feedback. As a Christian writer, I add Bible morality into each story as well. Some have more of a Christian theme than others, but all have foundational truths behind them.

No one person’s life is perfect, and I try to reflect that in the mistakes and foibles of the characters, and write what’s best for that particular tale because what works for one doesn’t work for another. Yet when all is said and done, love always triumphs because that, after all, is romance.

To learn more about what Suzanne, visit or link with her on Facebook at


Monday, July 29, 2013

Grace Awards Summer Book Launch!

Looking for a good book to read this summer, or even this fall? Check out the fantastic line-up of Grace Award authors featured in the Grace Awards Launch. From July 22nd to October 7th, we'll be highlighting some of the best in Christian fiction.

I'm getting off to a late start, so this week I'll be showcasing two wonderful authors. Their books are completely different so there won't be any conflict! Today in the spotlight is Tracy Krauss with her award-winning novel WIND OVER MARSHDALE. I had the pleasure of judging this book in the 2012 Grace Awards. Each character grabs hold of the reader and won't let go and there's a nice, low-key mystery/suspense plot as well. It's a real page turner! Here's back cover blurb:

Marshdale. Just a small farming community where nothing special happens. A perfect place to start over… or get lost. There is definitely more to this prairie town than meets the eye. Once the meeting place of aboriginal tribes for miles around, some say the land itself was cursed because of the people’s sin. But its history goes farther back than even indigenous oral history can trace and there is still a direct descendant who has been handed the truth, like it or not. Exactly what ties does the land have to the medicine of the ancients? Is it cursed, or is it all superstition?

Wind Over Marshdale is the story of the struggles within a small prairie town when hidden evil and ancient medicine resurface. Caught in the crossfire, new teacher Rachel Bosworth finds herself in love with two men at once. First, there is Thomas Lone Wolf, a Cree man whose blood lines run back to the days of ancient medicine but who has chosen to live as a Christian and faces prejudice from every side as he tries to expose the truth. Then there is Con McKinley, local farmer who has to face some demons of his own. Add to the mix a wayward minister seeking anonymity in the obscurity of the town; eccentric twin sisters – one heavily involved in the occult and the other a fundamentalist zealot; and a host of other ‘characters’ whose lives weave together unexpectedly for the final climax. This suspenseful story is one of human frailty - prejudice, cowardice, jealousy, and greed – magnified by powerful spiritual forces that have remained hidden for centuries, only to be broken in triumph by grace.

Sounds good, doesn't it?! You can buy it at Amazon or Barnes&Noble, or at Tracy's online store.

Be sure to come back on Wednesday for an interview with our next featured author, Suzanne D. Williams.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Visit to Old Sturbridge Village

This weekend, we visited Old  Sturbridge Village, which is about 20 minutes away from our home. The Village is a wonderful place to spend family time together just walking around and glimpsing life in the 1830s. Almost all of the buildings are original from that era but have been moved to this setting in order to portray a slice of early New England life. As you walk from the park entrance into the village, signs tell you how long ago the American Revolution took place and how long before the Civil War. While not exactly half-way between these historic events, OSV is about in the middle socially and economically.

If you write about Colonial America, OSV is one of the best places to visit for research purposes. The parsonage is decorated exactly as it would have been 180 years ago. Costumed interpreters answer questions inside the houses and businesses and there's even a working Tin Smith and Blacksmith. The Sawmill and Grist Mill both operate during the warmer months (they're water powered so ice hampers production). There are a couple of stores. We went into the Knight Store, a mercantile selling all kinds of goods. Look at the shoes! At the rear of the store was a room full of barrels for sale - possibly made at the Cooper shop down the road in the village.

Anchoring one end of the Village Green is the Towne House. We didn't go inside on this visit. What caught our interest, as it does on each visit, is this fabulous arbor. Can't you just picture a couple strolling through the gardens then sitting on a bench under this trellis?

At the Freeman Farm, visitors to the Village can go sledding, 1830s style (weather permitting). There wasn't enough snow on the ground this weekend - bummer! Though simple in construction, these sleds look like fun. A sign posted nearby subtly notes that this was a recreation enjoyed by boys. This is one of the reasons I'm so glad I was born in the 20th century.

Life in the 1830s wasn't as easy as we have it now. But families stayed together and helped each other out. The OSV website states: "In the early nineteenth century the land on which Old Sturbridge Village now stands was David Wight's prosperous farm, including sawmill, gristmill, and well-situated millpond." The story told is that David Wight borrowed some money from his father to play the Harvard lottery. He won - and paid off the mortgage on his father's farm as well as getting his farm set up to prosper. Family was important.