Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day: Don't Let the Stories Die

I wanted to post something about Veterans Day, but I received this wonderful e-mail from author Tricia Goyer, with permission to post.

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From author Tricia Goyer:

In 2000, I got my idea for what came to be my first historical novel, From Dust and Ashes. Wanting to know more about the 23 men who liberated Mauthausen concentration camp, I contacted the 11th Armored Division who put me in touch with six of the veterans. These men then invited me to attend the 59th reunion of their division. I wasn't expecting that at all. I thought they'd point me to a good research book or allow me to interview them over the phone.

I felt SO unworthy to meet with these men. I knew very little about WWII, and I didn't want my inexperience to show. Not to mention the $1000+ for airfare, hotels, rental car for a book I didn't have a contract to write.

I urged a friend to go with me, and I've been so thankful we went. The men were caring and opened their hearts to me. They shared stories with me that they hadn't shared with anyone before. They laughed. They cried. They took my hands and thanked me for caring about their story. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks.

When it came to writing my novel, I wasn't writing about fictional characters. I was writing pieces of Charlie's story, bits of Arthur's experiences. The memories that made LeRoy cry made it into my book. The snapshots that Tarmo carried around in his mind for 60 years transformed into scenes in my novel (and the novels to follow!).

I get many letters from readers who say that my novels come to life on the pages--that's because the men's experiences came to life to me as I looked into their eyes and saw glimpses of young heroes. Also, the following year I went to Europe and walked the streets of the SS housing with a man who'd been nine-years-old when the camp opened near his home. Again, I "saw" the story in his eyes as he shared--this time from someone on the outside.

There was an added benefit to this diligent research that I didn't expect. After my second novel Night Song came out I received a letter from a veteran. He made a list of twenty minor research points that I'd gotten right, and then he asked, "One thing I didn't understand was the faith element of this story. Can you tell me more about your faith in God?"


Because I had done the research, I'd was able to share about my Jesus with a veteran who has since passed away.

One more fun thing I didn't expect. One of the men I met at the reunion was Pete. Pete was a medic--the one medic I met. Years later I received a letter from a reader who had read From Dust and Ashes. She was a survivor of Mauthausen--actually, she was born there. When she was 3-weeks-old she was close to death. When the gates were open a medic spent a full day lancing and cleaning infected boils on her skin, saving her life. She asked me if I knew any medics. I knew one, and I passed on his phone number. It turns out Pete was the one who saved her life! They have since met on numerous occasions.

If I hadn't gone to that reunion I wouldn't have met Pete, and I wouldn't have been able to connect him with Hana--what a God thing!

Of course, I do have regrets concerning research, too. In my most recent series on the Spanish Civil War I received a letter from a SCW veteran who said he was willing to help me with research. The letter got put into my "very important" pile on my desk and weeks and months passed. I pulled it out again, and I planned on calling him when I heard from someone else that this man had passed away. That has happened more than once with men who offered to be interviewed, and I'm always regretful of the "one more story" I missed. After all, once gone they are gone for good.

If you have a veteran in your life ... today is the perfect day to reach out--to listen to his or her story. Don't let the stories die, when you have a chance to make a difference.

Below are photos of a few of the men I've interviewed.

To read some of their stories, go to:

To see more photos (including real photos from the liberation of Mauthausen) go to:

Enjoy, and go find a veteran and hug them!

At the Banquet

Tricia with Shelby & Orville

Tricia Interviewing Alvin

Women & Children at Mauthausen

Ovens at Mauthausen

Tricia With Ray Buch

Medics loading the wounded.

World War II memorial

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Life, Unsripted

Here's the scoop, straight from Tricia Goyer about her latest nonfiction book: My Life, Unscripted.

The Facts of Life was teen girl drama at its finest. Yet today's teens know life if NOT like the movies. Real life means real drama ... something teens face on a daily basis. Yet, do teens have to let their lives be molded by every wave of emotion?

My Life, Unscripted empowers teen girls to write their own script and direct their own life by using God's Script as a guide.


One of the reasons I was excited to hear about Tricia's book is because I have a teenage daughter. In fact, my daughter was one of the many young women who helped Tricia on this project. I loved hearing the sound of her fingers clicking on the keyboard as she answered Tricia's questions.

Another reason is that I was a teen girl yearrrrs ago. But I still remember the drama of the teenage years. Pressure about who you were supposed to be, how you were supposed to act, how to dress, who to hang out with. And how to handle the many curveballs life threw your way unexpectedly. Yes, I was a Christian teen, but still the battles raged. Lots of time I felt alone.

I wish there'd been more resources like this back in the 80's when I was a teen.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Montana Mistletoe!

Welcome to Kim Sawyer, Lisa Harris, Lena Nelson Dooley, and Debby Mayne. They're chatting about their latest release, Montana Mistletoe, available now from Barbour Publishing.

What is the premise of the collection?

KIM: Four childhood friends from Mistletoe, Montana--the town that celebrated Christmas year-round--make a pact to find true love by their 28th birthdays. But career commitments get in the way of fulfilling the pact. When love arrives in unexpected packages, will each girl recognize the gift?

In my story, All I want for Christmas. . .is You, Kathy Morgan has gotten caught up in the corporate world of writing advertising jingles at a San Francisco advertising company--a far cry from the simple world of Mistletoe. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected bonus gives her the opportunity to return to Mistletoe for a trip down "Memory Lane" where she can consider the marriage proposal of long-time co-worker Chad. But postman Erik Hoffman becomes a distraction that makes her wonder if she needs to evaluate more than Chad's proposal...perhaps more than romantic love, she needs the love of Jesus in her life.

What’s it like working with three other authors on one story?

LISA: One of the best parts of working with other authors is the time spent brainstorming and being creative together. It’s fun to work with new people, make friends, and enjoy the creative process. On the other hand, it is tough to put together a story, set in the same town, with the same characters. You have to pay attention to details to insure the integrity of the story.

Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

KIM: I really enjoyed taking Kathy on her journey to discovery of faith. It's pretty easy to get caught up in our work and forget the needs of our heart to love and truly know God. Writing her story was a good reminder to me to keep my priorities in the right order: God first, family second, and work third.

What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

DEBBY: We don’t have as much control as we’d like.

Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

LENA: I love what I do. I believe I’m fulfilling God’s purpose for this season in my life. As long as that’s His plan for me, I will continue to write books. As for dreams, my agent is marketing a women’s fiction proposal for me. It would be a breakout novel into the next level of writing. I’m looking forward to the time when an editor buys it. Others will follow.

There are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

LISA: Be professional. Be diligent. And don’t give up. Join a crit group and a writer’s group. That will help with the frustrating times of rejection, and add to the joy of a sale.

If you want to learn more about the authors of Montana Mistletoe, check out Cecelia Dowdy’s blog on September 12th at

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the book and a $30 gift certificate to For more information, visit our official Montana, Mistletoe blog at by October 1st!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tesser Well!

One of my favorite authors has passed away. I can't remember who lent me a copy of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time many, many years ago. But I own several copies now, and one of them is autographed. Now I treasure it even more. Once I discovered Madeleine L'Engles's writing, I went on to read the rest of the Murry family series, and I also met the Austins, and read The Young Unicorns, and learned to enjoy the O'Keefes in Dragons in the Waters. Through these families and their stories, I saw the battle of good and evil, the glory of God and His power, and how He weaves events together seamlessly for good. But her books were not preachy, although they tackled some difficult subjects. Evil sometimes came in pretty packages, and the Holy was often seen in the base and rejected...a lesson to us all.

A snippet from A Wrinkle in Time:

With the last vestige of consciousness she [Meg] jerked her mind and body. Hate was nothing that IT didn't have. IT knew all about hate.

"You are lying about that, and you were lying about Mrs. Whatsit!" she screamed.

"Mrs. Whatsit hates you," Charles Wallace said.

And that was where IT made ITs fatal mistake for as Meg said, automatically, "Mrs. Whatsit loves me; that's what she told me, that she loves me," suddenly she knew.

She knew!


That was what she had that IT did not have.

She had Mrs. Whatsit's love, and her father's, and her mother's, and the real Charles Wallace's love, and the twins', and Aunt Beast's.

And she had her love for them.

But how could she use it? What was she meant to do?

If she could give love to IT, perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love. But she, in all her weakness and foolishness, and baseness and nothingness, was incapable of loving IT. Perhaps it was too much to ask of her, but she could not do it.

But she could love Charles Wallace...

...Charles. Charles, I love you. My baby brother who always takes care of me. Come back to me Charles Wallace, come away from IT, come back, come home. I love you, Charles. Oh, Charles Wallace, I love you.

Tears were streaming down her cheeks, but she was unaware of them.

Now she was even able to look at him, at this animated thing that was not her own Charles Wallace at all. She was able to look and love.

And... if you want to find out more, then you'll have to read the book. :)

Tesser well, Madeleine. I trust you had a safe journey Home.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I slithered out of bed at 5 AM, knocked on the kids' doors, and one of them got up with me to see the lunar eclipse. Wow. No, I didn't take the photo on the left. A guy by the name of Ted Phillips did, and this is about how the moon appeared where I live. The night before, the family and I had made a trek to Wal-Mart. The full moon lit up the sky like a silver dollar. Cliche, but it did.
Then when we got up at 5 AM, this is how the moon appeared. Dark, brooding, shadowed, mysterious, as if someone had dropped a veil in front of it to block the glow of the sun--oh wait! That was us, on Earth.
Can you imagine what seeing a lunar eclipse meant to those centuries before us? Yes, I know that scientists finally figured out there are orbits, that the Earth moves around the sun and the moon circles around the Earth. But to the common people, to the superstitious. I wonder if they thought the world was ending, or that the shadowed moon foretold great judgment would befall them. However, they simply didn't understand what was going on in front of their eyes. Then, hours later, the shadow would pass and the silver glow would return.
How many times do we not understand what's going on in front of us? Lord, this is disastrous. Lord, what's going on? I can't see Your goodness. How can this work for Your glory? I just don't understand.
These are the questions and statements that don't surprise our Father at all. It's true. We don't understand. But if we trust Him like we say we do, we'll keep trusting and waiting. Either we believe He's all-powerful and all-knowing, or we don't. How much do we try to figure out, or handle on our own and mess up even worse? I admit there are tough questions, those vicious unanswered why's that echo back. Right now, I try to stop asking, and instead say, "I trust You. The moon is shadowed and it can't mean anything good. But I trust You."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm So Excited!

Finally, they're releasing DVD of one of my most faaaavorite books growing up--Little Women. The best screen adaptation I've ever seen was the TV miniseries from 1978, starring Susan Dey (after The Partridge Family), Meredith Baxter Birney (pre-Family Ties), and Eve Plumb (after The Brady Bunch). Um, I'm not sure I even remember William Shatner starring in the film, so I have no idea why it's important that his name is on the DVD cover, other than he's been able to sustain a career by making fun of his own over-acting. Anyway....
As a story purist, I'm often disappointed when I see how books often translate poorly to movies. Sometimes it can't be helped. Screenplays only allow you 1 minute per page of film time, and it's challenging to take a 300-page novel and condense it to less than 120 pages (or minutes, rather).

So I received an e-mail notification from that my favorite version of Little Women is finally releasing! I'm going to preorder it, and try to get my daughter sit down and watch it with me when it releases in October.The only thing is, I sure hope it lives up to my memory of how excellent the miniseries was when I was 11. We'll have to see. As best I can remember, none of the other versions--even the one starring Winona Ryder--captured the true essence of the story for me. But still, at last it's coming, and I'm so excited. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two Degrees of Elvis

Okay, I never dreamed I'd be writing an Elvis post on the 30th anniversary of his death. I was only 9 when he died. That summer I got a new baby sister, Star Wars Episode IV came out in theaters, and there was more drama in my home over whether or not I'd be allowed to go to the movies to see a "PG" film. I remember hearing the news about Elvis' death, and my parents explained what happened. I do remember feeling sorry for his little girl.

But a couple of weeks ago, I learned an interesting tidbit. A 70-something-year-old Army retiree who attends my church was Elvis' First Sargeant when Elvis was at Fort Hood. The Fort Hood area is a melting pot, Army families comin' and goin', some staying until they retire, like Brother Mitchell. He shared that Elvis never liked to put on airs. When the officers' wives would call and demand that Elvis come and perform for this and that function, Elvis would never get on the phone to speak to them. He'd refuse to go. "No, First Sargeant. I won't do it."

He'd rather sit around strumming his guitar, singing with the NCO's. The regular people. He didn't forget where he came from. (Okay, when I heard this story, I first thought, "Holy cow, I know someone who knew Elvis!" I have to admit that much.)

So how does a handsome young man, full of gifts from God, with a world of promise in front of him, change to a tragedy splashed across the news, even 30 years later? I don't know. Too much fame, too fast? A church that rejected him? No mentor to guide his raw, vibrant energy that drew people to him? I've also heard in Elvis' final years, when he came to the end of the fame and fortune, he'd have one of his closest friends play hymns and gospel songs on the piano, to soothe his torn soul. Something--no, Someone--from his roots was calling to him.
We can only ignore the call for so long. I wonder if someone had tried to reach out to him, to say, "It's not about the fame or people's expectations. It's not about having money to burn and then some. It's not about getting religion, either. It's about knowing God, loving Him, and loving others."
On Monday night, I heard a woman speak. She's the director of a children's home in East Texas, and she admitted to the group she was having a hard time getting her thoughts together. One little girl kept interrupting.
So, she talked to the girl. "What would you tell these people?"
"I'd tell them that God loves them. Because that's all they really need to know." Simply spoken by a child.
But take it from that point on. God loves us enough to want to pull us out of the pits we find ourselves in. Even if they're pits of our own making. Even when we don't deserve it. Every morning we wake is another chance of mercy straight from Him. We still have another chance to do things over, to enjoy the love and companionship that no one on this earth can give us.
I never considered myself a fan, but, Elvis, I wish I could have met you to tell you that. The rest would have been up to you.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

In A Pickle

Would you believe our thermometer never hit 100 in Texas during the entire month of July? I've been here 15 years now, and I can't recall that ever happening. Of course, this first week of August has started making up for the balmy summer so far.

Anyway, I spent last week finishing my edits for A Suspicion of Strawberries that releases next March through Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. One thing I appreciate about the editing process is that I have great input from content editors. These aren't proofreaders, per se, but they review story elements such as character, plot points, and in this case, elements of mystery and police procedure. I listened to what my content editor had to say very carefully. In the end, the decision is mine whether to make certain changes, but if I'm smart and trust what this person has to say, I'll dig into these areas and make them even better. Which is how I ended up in a pickle. And, making pickles.

My in-laws live on 32 acres and each year my father-in-law plants a huge garden. This year we ended up with a least 8 mammoth cucumbers. I like to eat cucumbers, but not that many at a time.

So I decided to make pickles out of most of them. This requires simmering the pickling agent--vinegar, sugar, a bunch of spices that cost enough to make me want to go buy just a few jars of ready-made pickles instead--and soaking the cucumber slices and sliced onion in salt and ice for a few hours.

I dutifully worked on my edits, then hit a wall of doubt. Nearly every writer hits this at some point. Am I doing this right? Is the world in my head making sense on paper? Will I confuse some poor reader? Did I get the ending as good as it can be? And the yucky voice They're going to hate it. or: You'll never write in this town again.

I quit thinking so hard, put my laptop aside to cool off, and went to make pickles. No one ever said getting cucumber spears into jars was easy. You can see above. I gave up trying to make them as pretty as Vlasic jars. But while I was canning and getting the jars sealed, my story didn't leave my head. The end worked itself out. I remembered areas to go back and check for continuity. Getting my hands busy on something else, and keeping active freed my brain to untangle the story knot. Next time you find yourself spinning your mental wheels, trying doing something else for a change and the knots will work themselves out eventually.

And I hope, in a few weeks, these pickles will be yummy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

God Shed His Grace On Thee

Okay, July's almost over. So where'd it go? We left on the 6th for vacation, returned on the 14th, then out-of-down company descended on the 20th. They just left this morning. My work life and writing life surround the computer, so I made myself set my laptop aside as much as possible. That's hard to do for a writer. We can be such reclusive types. And now my brain's full after our vacation with stories and characters, now to finish my edits on my mystery.

One of the highlights of vacation for me was revisiting Washington, D.C. after 20 years. We drove up through Virginia and entered through the south end. I-95 winds and winds through the trees and suburbs, and then you merge onto 395. You can't see the city across the Potomac River. Not just yet, anyway. But I knew it was coming. I could feel it. That, and the map CJ held told me so. It was 4:59 p.m., probably the worst time to be entering D.C. But we were, because I wanted the kids to see the skyline spread before them.

Suddenly, we crested one last burp in the road and I gasped--there was the Washington Monumen, the Jefferson Memorial--and then the Capitol! Tears came to my eyes. The buildings and monuments dominated the skyline.

"Look--Zach! What's Hannah doing? --Hannah!" I was fairly shrieking and forced my attention back to the road. "Zach--take those pictures!"

"She was sleeping." Zach started using the digital camera.

"Look--look-look!" Goosebumps popped up on my arms. We prepared to cross the Potomac, but of course I had to put on the brakes as traffic crawled across the bridge.

God shed His grace on thee. On us. And He has. We are a blessed nation, yet a troubled one. The more I saw for those four days in D.C., the more I saw how much we need Him. E pluribus unum. Out of the many, one. We are many peoples forming one nation. The trouble is, some of the many are rising up wanting to divide. I saw how hard it is for us to agree on many things, as we sat in the House of Representatives gallery and listened to House members debate a bill. I'll have more to say on that later.

But y'all, we must pray for our leaders. So many issues clamor for their attention. And politics is politics. Just like I told Hannah, "This is how it starts in junior high. Some people want pink decorations for the dance. Others want blue." There are issues worth speaking up for. And some are just dance hall decorations.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Sad Summer Commentary

Before I get to the Sad Commentary on the summer, I have to announce I've been given a Rockin' Blogger Girl award. Thanks and a hug to Chris Lynxwiler--love ya!! :) Someone reads these musings of the mundane, so, here I is. :) I'm giving this award to Cara Putman and Gina Conroy. You've blessed me through your writing and your gift of friendship. You ladies rock! I pray God keeps meeting your needs and giving you the desires of your heart! :) I thought of you two and the fun our anthology team had planning our Washington, D.C. proposal--as I head there next week. Nothing like doing the research backwards... :)

Now, about the commentary. On July 4th, my new bathing suit STILL had its tags.

This is where the summer's gone. Back around the end of May, I think, I finally found a new swimsuit. I won't go through the process of finding the right suit. That's worth about a month of posts. Or maybe not. It's so not fair how easy it is for a guy to get his swimming trunks.

My son stands at the racks of swimming trunks. "Blue and red...yellow and green with blue...solid blue. Hmmm. Okay. I like the blue and red. Here's a medium. I'm done!" He throws the swimming trunks in the shopping cart. This takes less than 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, my daughter and I go to 3 or 4 stores. Right top, wrong bottom. (What's with the 5,000 string bikinis in the stores, I ask you?) Wrong size. Wrong color. Oh, NO, you're not going out swimming looking like that? (What happened to the simple pink Barbie bathing suit with no shape??!)

Finally found a nice tank top and bottoms. Found mine with a little less drama, too. This means I only went to one store for my bathing suit.

This is the sad part...I finally snipped the tags off my suit yesterday. Haven't been swimming yet. Sigh.

Soon, though! I want a pool so bad. I don't mind the work, either. But vacation's coming soon!

For now, back to my tagged swimsuit, non-swimming life... :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dad's Day Book Giveaway

I'm doing a drawing on June 1st, just in time for Father's Day... so share a comment with your own Dad story and I'll put YOUR name in the hat for a chance to win a copy of Brothers of the Outlaw Trail.

Dad never had sons, so being the oldest child, I learned a lot of "guy" stuff. How bait a hook and cast a line, and reel in a fish. How to scale and fillet what I caught. Then when I got my first car, Dad took me out to the driveway. "The life of your car is in the oil. You need to know how to change the oil and filter." So he taught me how to drain the old oil, change the filter, and put in new oil. Change the air filter in the car. How to check the tires and fluids. Mom made sure I knew the "girl" stuff. How to mend, how to cook.

Dad is the oldest of five boys, so once my sisters and I came along, living in a female-dominated household was probably a bit overwhelming for him at times. But Dad didn't let on if he ever had no clue. (One of my friends was a host parent for a teenage foreign exchange student. She has no children of her own, and commented about feeling inadequate. I told her that was normal, in some respects. But I digress.) Not flawless, not perfect, but Dad did his best. Despite any inadequacy I never sensed from him.

Some Saturdays he would work on Wallops Island, Virginia in one of the weather observatories. This was back in the glorious 70's, when our country's enemy was a far-off threat called the Soviet Union and we had no idea what "war on terror" meant. On those Saturdays, Dad would tote me along to the base. We'd be waved past the guard booth and would head to the narrow strip of research buildings. I never knew what he did there, but I sure had fun running from one end of the building to the other. The teletype machine fascinated me as data came in from other parts of the country.

Dad inspired me with a sense of adventure, of wanting to know more, to explore the back roads and seeing what we found. He had magazines like National Geographic around, and got me a whole set of books by Jacques Cousteau. Like my Heavenly Father, he opened up a giant world to me. No matter that I wasn't a son. I was his child, and he wanted to pass on to me what he held important. Don't forget. Share a Dad story! :) If your Dad isn't here anymore, honor him with a short memory. Or maybe you never knew your dad, or the memories aren't quite as positive. God fathers the fatherless. He sends us people for fathering moments. He's not bound by genetics. And neither are we. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Diva Nashvegas!

Lits come in all shapes and sizes, but I've got to say my favorite is Southern chick lit filled with bittersweet humor. Today I'm taking a break from my Dad's Day theme to feature Rachel Hauck's newest release, Diva Nashvegas. Here's a little bit about her book, and an interview with my friend...

For the past decade, Aubrey James has ruled the charts as the queen of country soul. She rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parent’s death – Gospel music pioneers Ray and Myra James. While her public life, high profile romances and fights with Music Row execs writes juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey’s is a media mystery.

When a close friend and former band member betrays Aubrey by selling an exclusive story about the Diva to a tabloid, Aubrey knows she must go public with her own story.

Inside NashVegas sports anchor, Scott Vaughn, is not prepared for the assignment of interviewing a country super star. Especially not one he dated, then abandoned. Yet, his boss leaves him no choice. His career and the future of Inside NashVegas depends on the success of this interview.

When Scott shows up at her home for the first session, Aubrey threatens to back out of the deal. But, it’s too late. Instead, she bravely opens her heart as Scott probes into her life and discovers a future of faith, hope and love by letting God heal her past.

(Lynette's note: One of the things I love about this book is that Rachel didn't protect Aubrey. But Aubrey rises to the challenge. Writers, don't be too NICE to your characters.)

About Rachel:
Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel serves the writing community as Past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the Advisory Board. Visit her blog and web site at

Leave a comment on her blog and be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barns & Noble. Two names will be drawn.

And now, a chat with Rachel about Diva:

Q: What inspired Diva NashVegas?
A: The idea to write about a singer came from a conversation with my editor, Ami McConnell. At first, I created the Diva to be a wanna-be star, but after thinking the story through, I decided she had to be an established artist, a superstar.

Q: How do you research a diva?
A: Not easy. I read a lot of bios, and spent time with Christian artist, Kim Hill. She was a blast and a great help. I loved hanging out with her. I also got some inside scoop from record producer and fellow Thomas Nelson author, Matt Bronleewe.

I talked to an entertainment lawyer and search music business forums for answer to some of my questions. The hardest detail to find was about artist and record label disputes. We all know it happens, but why? The only reason I could find was "creative differences." This answer did not cover enough detail for me. I couldn’t create a legitimate scene with Aubrey and her record label President arguing over "creative differences."
Thankfully, I found a forum on the internet and a kind gentleman gave me eight detailed reason why an artist would enter into a dispute with her label. Saved the day!

I also researched foster care and television production for elements of the story. Kelly Sutton and Molly Day, a TV personality and producer respectively in Nashville were enthusiastic resources.
After that, I only had my imagination.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from the book?
A: First, a great read. I hope they can be transported into Aubrey James’s world. Next, a message that life isn’t always fair, but we have the power of choice in our response. God is always there for us, even when we don’t feel He is.

Diva NashVegas was difficult to write. I had a few crisis, but when I finally submitted it to my editor, I wrote in my email, "I love Aubrey James." She really came to life for me in the end.
My editor loved her, too. I’m confident she’ll capture readers.

Q: What is your writing day like?
A: It varies, but I try to settle down from my morning routine by noon and focus on writing. Some days it’s earlier, and some later. If I’m approaching a deadline date, I completely clear my schedule and work twelve hours a day or more.

Email is my weakness. I’ve modified the Lord’s prayer some for writers: "give us this day, our daily word count, and delivers us from email."
Seriously, I’m like an email junky. Half the time no one emails me, I just have to check and see. Secretly, I’m hoping a Broadway or Hollywood producer will email me wanting to make a movie or play out of one of my books.

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: For a long time, but not seriously until the mid-90’s. Then I quit for awhile because my corp job became more demanding, then one day in 2001 the Lord began to open doors and by the end of 2002, I had my first book contract.

Q: Name your favorite TV show of all time.
A: I have no idea. Friends, I guess. Gee, do I want to admit that? I don’t agree with the shows moral philosophy, but I love the comedy, the writing and friendship element of the show. Same with Cheers, or MASH. Wait, I just remembered, I love, loved, loved, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That is my all time favorite.

Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: Actually, he was hit by a bus. I witnessed the whole thing, pulled my car over, checked his ring finger (empty) then gave him CPR.

Of course I’m making all that up. Hit by a bus? He’d be dead.

I met him at church. He was the youth and singles pastor, and the only guy who didn’t wear a pocket protector or have duct tape holding his glasses together. Husband was cool, and we had a lot in common, but mostly what attracted me was his heart of David – a man after God’s heart. He’s a man of prayer and the Word, high integrity and after being friends for eighteen years, he’s my best friend and makes me laugh.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: Look for "Sweet Caroline" from Thomas Nelson March 2008. This is a story of inheritance and finding courage to do what you really want to do in life.

Q: How do you get your ideas.
A: Burn up my last brain cell thinking of something. Then I call all my friends and cry, begging for help. I pray a lot.

Seriously, I believe God has a lot of ideas and He’s most kind to share them with us. I look for what is on His heart.

Q: Besides writing, what goes on in your life?
A: I’m a worship leader at my church, and with a prayer and worship ministry, Fire Dweller. Until August 2006, Husband and I were youth pastors. We handed the youth church over to a younger couple last summer, and I’ve been taking time to see what else God has for me. It’s nice to have a light schedule for the first time in many years.

Recently, I learned of a volunteer program where I can read to children and rock babies. So, I’m going to give time to that ministry. I’m very excited.

Q: Any parting words.
A: Sure, thanks to the authors on the Diva NashVegas blog tour. Thanks to all the readers. I appreciate you. Stop by my web site and leave a blog comment or email me and I’ll add your name to a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. If you tell me you bought the book, I’d love it.

...And you can order it HERE!
So, y'all... stop by Rachel's web site: and leave a comment on her blog. She'll be glad to hear from you!

Coming next week...more stories about Dad!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dear Dad!

Father's Day is coming soon, so I want to take a few posts and talk about dads. At the end (probably around June 1 or so), I'm going to give away a copy of Brothers of the Outlaw Trail.

My dad is a cool guy. We had so much fun when I was a kid growing up. Dad worked for contractors on Wallops Island Virginia, so we lived less than 30 minutes from the beach. It's probably one of the reasons I find myself missing it the older I get. We'd go fishing, catch crabs and dig for clams and oysters, then come home and cook everything. I can still taste the melted butter and crab, and the salty taste of shell as I sucked the sweet meat from a claw.

One of my favorite memories is when we had a fun day of picnicking by the shore. Somehow Dad found a rowboat, and we piled in. This was before my youngest sister Amy was born, and Mom held Cat (#2 sister) on her lap. I of course had to be watching Dad row us across a small inlet to the other side.

Then one of his oars caught in the sand below--slid right out of his grasp. The rowboat skewed to one side. Dad tried using a single oar, but it too was getting pulled into the water by the suction of the surf. In true Dad fashion, he jumped over the side of the boat and started tugging us to the other side. Just like Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, Mom said. I remember us laughing and laughing. I'd never seen the movie, still haven't, but the fact Dad was playing the part of a hero as he pulled us to shore stuck with me.

No, he's not perfect and I know he'd admit that. But this is one fun vivid memory I have.

What's yours? Share a short memory, and I'll put your name in the hat for a drawing for Brothers of the Outlaw Trail, just in time for Father's Day. :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Faith, huh?

I battle with being a control freak. I'm quick to see it in others because I recognize it in myself. Can't keep my mouth shut sometimes or keep my fingers out of the pie because, by golly, someone NEEDS my help. Yeah right.

I was having an inner conversation with the Lord the other day about faith. I want to believe more, I want to trust more. Especially when repairmen were in and out of the house, I realized I wanted someone I could trust. Don't fix something because it's kinda sorta old and you can get a few hundred bucks out of me. Fix something because it's broken.

Duey is our plumber and a great guy. Fixed our hot water line, but while under the house he said he noticed the other lines were old too. Gave us an estimate, just in case in the future we'd like to reline the other areas like the main bathroom, master bath. I appreciated that. I trust Duey.

Do I trust God like that, not questioning and arguing?

On another level, when I fly to a conference, do I sit there and hover over the pilot's shoulder, making sure he's doing everything right? I happen to be one of those people who like to know how things work.

And life doesn't always work that way. God doesn't always fill me in. Why should He? (Yes, it was kind of a Job moment. Where were you when I made the universe, etc.?) But all He says is, "Come closer. Get to know Me better. I'm more reliable than your plumber and more trustworthy than a pilot to get you where you're headed."

So get closer, and get more faith.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ice Cream and Box Fans

We bought some low-cal vanilla bean ice cream tonight, and an extra box fan for the front window. Our A/C is still not working, but everything else is looking up. We're trying a new electrician who can (we hope) figure out why there's no power going to the compressor outside. So I'm feeling more like my Schatze cat, although I'm a tad warm.

The days have been cloudy and the forecast for next week is mostly/partly cloudy. We're doing okay without air conditioning. Right now I can also say that we're blessed that it's not August in Texas, but only May, where the weather still can't decide if it's still spring or pseudo-summer.

Awww (changing subjects)...Phil went home on American Idol. Not that it's bad. Sometimes the winner isn't the only one to walk away with a contract. Just like in writing. He was really coming into his own, and I just wish he'd found his niche sooner.

Speaking of finding a niche...I need to get busy--on writing that is. One of the plagues/blessings of being creative is that ideas drop into my lap--or head--quite often. What I'm trying to do is sift through them, pay attention to ones with promise, and let the others go. Or at least sit until it's the right time. In the writing business, timing is everything. My time is also precious.

Which leads into the fact that I went to the doctor today and saw my favorite PA. I've got an infection in my gum where I lost a filling, and found out I need to be on blood pressure medicine again. That, and some pounds have crept on. (Now I can't say I didn't know...I had a sneaking suspicion when my 'big' jeans didn't feel so big anymore.) Time to get cracking on exercise again too. Which means I need to get my rear end off the chair!

(Learning to) praise Him in the storms! :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I long for a little glamour at the moment. I realize how much I have to be grateful for, how blessed and even spoiled I am, but right now I'd like to have a little quiet. One thing going on the fritz at a time, thank you very much.

It started with the hot water heater pipe springing a leak, and draining under the house...

...the pump did its thing, forcing countless gallons from under our house and out into the yard...

And then, the same week, the washer went caput...

Thankfully, it was just a broken plunger in the lid switch. One switch kit later ($29) and after some help from our buddy Mr. Muller ($10), we were back in business after four days without a washer and two teenagers.

AND during this same week, we discovered that the electric to the A/C compressor outside won't work. We think it might have had something to do with the water under the house zapping a connection somewhere. But the A/C guy looked at it, and said the electrician needed to check our breaker box.

However, we've known this breaker box has needed upgrading. We need to do it we can get our A/C back, among other things.

I'm praying for this kind of peace in the midst of aggravation:

I love Schatze. She is a dear, sweethearted cat. They say cats lounge like this when they know they're safe and secure. Not a care in the world. I need that kind of peace!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sneak Peek: A Big Apple Christmas

Okay, so it's not exactly the Christmas season, but I noticed that Amazon has the cover up for A Big Apple Christmas, which releases in September 2007. Again, Barbour has done a bang-up job on the cover. I love it!

Another inspiration for that Christmas feeling is the fact that we've had SNOW here in Texas. Yes, snow! The day before Easter, even.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Valley of Betrayal ~ by Tricia Goyer

Every once in a while I like to feature an author and their book, and today it's Tricia Goyer with her latest release, AValley of Betrayal.

I love historical fiction...done well, and this story pulled me into its images, sounds, scents, and textures. Sophie, a young American with romance in her heart and stars in her eyes, arrives in 1930s Spain and her journey is very different than she imagined. I became immersed in the story of the Spanish people--on both sides of the conflict--and the Americans and others who must make difficult choices as they struggle just to survive.

Tricia's research is impeccable and thorough. If you're aspiring to write historical fiction of any kind, you need to check this book out. Read it first to experience the story as a reader, and then go back and take notes.

A Valley of Betrayal brings to life a story not often told. At first I didn't know there was such a thing as the Spanish Civil War, nor did I know its impact on Europe afterwards. The book left me anticipating what comes next.

One of the challenges historical writers face is finding something "new" to write about. those of us who like to write historical novels should, like Tricia, keep our ears open for that something new. Chances are if it's new to us, it'll be new to someone else. Then we need to listen for the characters that emerge from history, and tell their stories. Right now I'm researching what I think will be a unique historical novel. I hope my research and storytelling are as well-crafted and thought-out as Tricia's work in A Valley of Betrayal.

The Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series, I believe, will give readers the something new they're looking for. If you get the chance, pick this book up!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sources of Inspiration

One of the things I love about being a writer is unexpected sources of inspiration. This photo is me in front of "All Lathered Up", a store in historic Salado, Texas. They sell fabulous homemade soaps, bath salts, and scrubs. Every time I go, I come home loaded with enough soap to clean a town. Scents like Goats 'n Oats, Angel Tears, Strawberries & Champagne...the fragrance in the store makes me want to buy one of everything.

I first visited All Lathered Up when the ladies' group at church spent the day shopping Salado in June 2005. Back then, the business was housed in a quaint cottage in a series of small buildings. The sales floor, half the size of the store now, reminded me of a quaint nook filled with scents. I bought two things then, but remembered the store as one of my favorite Salado experiences.

In early January 2006, I decided to write a book proposal for a cozy mystery. I love arts and crafts and homespun businesses, so whittled down some choices for my heroine. Then I remembered the warmth of All Lathered Up, and I had Tennessee River soaps.

Why Tennessee and not Texas (besides the fact that Texas can be "overdone" as a setting)? In July 2005, my husband took us to where the Sowell family settled along the Tennessee River towns of Crump and Savannah, Tennessee, close to historic Shiloh. The trip brought him back to his unfamiliar roots, and let me see a culture I'd only read about. So Andromeda Clark came to have a soap shop in Greenburg, Tennessee, on the banks of the Tennessee River. She's trying to make her way and not let her background keep her from fulfilling her potential. Which brings me around to the soap again.

As I writer, I love it when experiences paint themselves into my stories. A quirky Tennessee town, a delightfully fragrant business, a woman who wants to stay far enough from her hillbilly roots yet remain unpretentious, and here comes a book series, rolling out of my head. Now the trick is to follow Andromeda's story to its end. I have another character who's ready for her chance. But one project at a time. And until then, I keep my radar on for inspiration!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Those three words, spoken by one of three people (mostly Randy, though). Thousands of hopefuls are whittled down to just over 100 on American Idol. Then 24. Then 12. I missed the ladies' competition tonight because we were out, and Jericho holds priority in our home over AI. Ah, well...

Did you see the tears, the dashed hopes, the bewildered looks of the ones who didn't make it? I understand the tears. I'm fiercely competitive and hate to lose, even against myself. I'm no stranger to disappointment.

The sheer number of auditions truly boggles the mind. Do tens of thousands of people really want to be a star? You know, there's the ones who get their few minutes of fame in ridiculous costumes. Or the non-singer. "Yeah, I'm terrible, but that's why I should be on American Idol!" (Huh?)

So often we hang our dreams and expectations on what won't really satisfy us. When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a TV star. That's what my mom wrote in my school days book that contained pictures and tidbits over the years.

What many AI hopefuls wanted is to belong, to know they're special. We dream of being a part of something big, something important. Whatever dream we cherish, we think, "Oh, if I could only make it to Hollywood, my life would be so much better!" We want to belong, to be accepted. We want to shine.

One of the things I'm learning is oh so simple, yet oh so hard to get: I've already made it to Hollywood. SomeOne hangs on my every word. To Him, I'm a superstar. Flawed, human, but worthy of loving. He's got bigger plans for me than any record label. He thinks I shine. Doesn't make sense, does it? But that's grace. That's real love. That's bigger than any idol. My disappointments in this life--and there've been many, should I choose to go back and think about each one--pale in comparison. My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above and beyond, more than I can ask or think. This bears me up through disappointments until the pain wears off and I go on.

Now that I'm done with that thought, I still have to say:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What I've Been Up To...

1. Working 40+ hours a week.
2. Writing. (e-mailed my Christmas novella to editor on Jan. 15; A Big Apple Christmas releases in September!)
3. Operating Mom's taxi.
4. Hanging out with my honey, playing house.
5. Doing a cool small group study on the Holy Spirit.
6. Researching new ideas and writing proposals. Critiquing for my awesome crit partners.
7. Watching some reality TV. Note: American Idol contestants, DON'T try the door on the left when you leave the audition room. It DOESN'T OPEN FROM THE INSIDE.

It amazes me how time slips so quickly through our fingers. You sit down for an hour, just to relax, and next thing you know, well--it's almost midnight.

With New Year's of course came resolutions. CJ and I have been eating better, and I can tell. Tonight's Super Bowl binge wasn't one. Now that we're trying to get a handle on our eating habits, I for one am going to work on redeeming my time.

What I want to do more:
Read more. Pray more. Study the Word more. Write more. Spend more meaningful time with my hubby and kids. Give more.

What I want to do less:
Be any of the following: Lazy. Selfish. Sarcastic. Suspicious. Preoccupied with trivial things. A worrywart. Procrastinator.

Time is easy to waste, and once it's used, I can't get it back again. While I seem like a busy person when I list all the things I do (much more than this list above), it's no excuse to drop balls or squander time. Just like nutritionists advise people to keep a food diary, I think I'm going to start keeping a time diary. While I can't cram 30 hours into a day, I also know there's moments I waste. Sometimes the shotgun approach to time management doesn't work. It becomes the equivalent of putting out fires.

If we don't manage our time, it definitely gets away from us! What are your methods of managing your time?