Let’s Talk: 20 Things You May Not Know About Me

My dear friend and critique partner, Jackie Layton, tagged me in this fun game between bloggers, so I’m duty-bound to oblige. 🙂  In case you’re curious, Jackie’s answers can be found here.

So without further ado, 20 things you may not know about me!

1. How tall are you?
5’9″ in my bare feet. I was always the tallest among anyone my own age, often even the boys! But that wasn’t such a bad thing…

2. Do you have a hidden talent?
Probably not so much! I grew up riding horses, started my first year of college as a piano major, and make a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies.

3. What is your biggest blogger pet peeve?
I like a blog post to have substance! Not just ramble on paragraph after paragraph until I want to shake my iPad and say “Get to the point!”

Which is probably what you’re doing as you read this blog post. 🙂

4. What is your biggest non-blogger pet peeve?
Probably bad manners. I’m from the South, after all…

5.What is your favorite song?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. (Did I tell you I was a music major in college? That means I love music!) Currently, one of my favorite songs is Blessings by Laura Story. What a powerful way of looking at life!

6. What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
I wish I could answer this. Truly. But I’m afraid I haven’t been to Etsy.com since the site was first created, how many years ago?

7. What is your favorite way to spend time when you are alone?
Write, write, write!

8. What is your favorite junk food?
Oh my. Anything sweet, especially chocolate.

9. Do you have pets?
Let me count the ways! Two dogs, two cats, and three horses for now. I’m firmly resisting my husband’s constant pleas for another dog. 🙂

10. What are you #1 favorite fiction and non-fiction books?
Non-fiction would have to be the Bible.

Fiction…there are too many great books to choose from. Some of my favorite authors include Deeanne Gist, Karen Witemeyer, and Lisa Wingate.

11. What is your favorite beauty product?
Concealer.

12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Do I have to go there?

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coffee!

14. What is your favorite movie?
The movie of all movies: Pride and Prejudice. Depending on what mood I’m in, I’ll watch either the 1995 version staring Jennifer Ehle, or the 2005 version staring Keira Knightley.  There are pros and cons to both!

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Well, I was homeschooled, so…

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I would want to live around family, and I love South Carolina. I’d love to have a second home somewhere out West, though. Maybe Montana?

17. PC or Mac?
PC

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Now that it’s cold, my husband has begun carrying my work bags to the car every morning and starting the engine so it can warm up. Wow! 🙂

19. Favorite celebrity?
Country artist Gary Allan.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be friends with?
Well…it would most likely be one of my favorite authors. Yes, I have a bit of the fan syndrome. 🙂

So now, Dear Reader, I want to know about you!

Pick one of these questions and answer it by leaving a comment. Please!  🙂

Spies and Spunky Heroines – The inside scoop from Author Carole Brown!

It’s a pleasure to introduce you to another amazing and accomplished author, Carole Brown 

Her debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, has finaled in multiple awards, and I’m so excited to have her on the blog today! 

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Carole loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

So grab a mug of coffee, your chocolate of choice, and enjoy!

Hi Carole, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, With Music In Their Hearts?

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Love to!! Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately, even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

It’s available on Kindle or in Print!

What was your inspiration behind this novel?

We knew a minister who served during WWII. It was said “he was a civilian spy.” He never confirmed it or denied it as far as we knew, but it made for a fabulous plot. My mother served as the inspiration behind the character of Emma Jaine Rayner. She gave me the interest and love of the period by passing on stories and sharing pictures. I fell in love with the 1940s!

What spurs you to write? 

I’ve always believed in doing what you love to do. It makes me sad to see people “slaving” away at jobs they dislike (although I certainly understand that circumstances can prevent any other action). Since a child I’ve loved books and from elementary school up, I’ve written–from the first item I remember–a caveman family’s journal–to suspense and mystery children books and now to penning my own suspense and mystery books. Why would I do anything but what I love?

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

Probably Emma Jaine. I wanted her to show gumption and determined to see her boarding house business succeed–and I like to do all I can to succeed with what I attempt.  I also gave her a loving and caring heart for her family and the others in the boarding home–and I’ve been told I’m a very caring person. Sometimes though it’s hard to see that what are good qualities can also be used wrongly. Emma Jaine was so determined to care for her sisters and her father that what she thought they ought to do and pursue became a selfish act.

Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own?

I think so. Although I write suspense, I like to give a touch of sweet romance and a touch of whimsy when possible. I’m not a big fan of lots of romance in books so coaxing my couples into even a light kiss is quite an accomplishment for this author. Having said that, I do believe Christian romance will give a book a human, sweet touch that lightens a mood and leaves a satisfied taste in the reader’s mind.

The whimsical part comes in with odd happenings or items. For example, in one of my novels I have a very unique pet for the protagonist. The pet (or so the protagonist believes) has the ability to help her with her detecting. (You can decide for yourself, if you ever read the book!)  In my mysteries, I give the male protagonist a grouchy personality with a love of words and fishing. Although cranky he adores his wife. His attitude and way he approaches their mysteries is endearing.

What is your next project?

  • Release date for the second book in my Alex and Denton Davies cozy mystery series is planned for late winter, 2015.
  • I also am working on Book 2 of the “Spies of WWII” series, called, “A Flute in the Willows.” It’s about the second daughter, Josephine Rayner Patterson, who is quite different than her older sister and quite capable of getting into more than a little bit of trouble.
  • And, of course, I have other books I’m working on as I’m able, including a contemporary suspense series and a 1800s very light suspense book.

Wow, you’re a busy lady! Thanks for taking a few minutes to stop by and chat with us!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Carole!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Always Content? You’re Crazy!!!

So much has happened in the past month, I’m sorry I’ve been remiss in posting on my blog!

I’m excited to say my debut novel, The Lady and the Mountain Man, is off to a good start, selling over 700 copies in its first six weeks!

God has blessed it and I’m so very thankful!

It’s been a busy year for us, with lots of ups and downs. For me, it’s easy to follow the emotional roller coaster, but I’d like to share something God’s been teaching me lately. Sometimes I can be hard-headed, so when God wants me to learn one of His truths, He often has to use lots of in-direct and very-direct object lessons.  Continue reading

Lillian Duncan – Murder, Mayhem, Mystery – Oh My!

I’m excited to introduce you to another amazing Christian author, Lillian Duncan! I love her tagline: Stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!  So pull up a chair, settle in with a mug of coffee or chocolate, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes chat with Lillian Duncan!

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Hi Lillian, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m very happily married, was a school speech-language pathologist for more than 30 years. I’m now retired and blessed to be able to focus full time on my writing.

Now, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, Redemption?

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Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.

Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.

She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.

To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.

REDEMPTION is the third and final book in my Sisters by Choice series. It brings the series full circle and gives closure for those who’ve read all three books, but can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read the others. Full disclosure demands I give a warning that you’ll probably want to read the others after you read this one!

What was your inspiration behind this novel?

Jamie is missing in the first book-DECEPTION. And in REDEMPTION, we come to learn more about Jamie and her spiritual struggles. But the main story is about a missing child who Jamie is determined to find—no matter the danger to herself.

What made you begin writing in your genre?

It’s the sort of story I love to read. Lots of suspense and lots of romance! Who wouldn’t love a book like that?

What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

My love of stories keeps me writing. The ideas and characters can come from most anywhere and at any time. I never know when that next story will pop into my consciousness.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a story for a friend who’s asked for an endorsement. The story is a glimpse into the life of German Baptists.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?

On vacation! Doesn’t matter what sort of vacation. Apparently rest and relaxation is good for creativity!

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

Maven Morris without a doubt. She’s a crime-fighting speech pathologist featured in my DEADLY COMMUNICATION series. Like me, she’s a speech pathologist, short and has Bell’s palsy. Unlike me, she’s very nosy and adventurous. That means trouble for her!

Name one crazy thing you’ve done that is sure to surprise us.

I’ve recently taken up hula-hooping as part of my exercise regime!

I love it! Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own?

My books are sort of like the Energizer bunny–they start out with a bang and just keep going and going!

What’s one of your favourite parts about being an author? What do you like the least?

Everything! It took me 15 years to get my first contract so I love being a writer. My least favourite thing is marketing. I’m an introvert and so it’s not easy marketing myself—but I’m getting better at it.

What’s your next project?

Nowhere to Belong, the third in my Deadly Communication series, should be released early next year. Along with that I’m working on the third book in the series.

Thanks, Lillian! And did I hear a rumor that you’re doing a fun GIVEAWAY?

Yes! To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.

So hop on over to TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com  to enter. Leave a comment on the post REDEMPTION and you’ll be entered to win.

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Lillian!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Coffee, Chocolate, and a Fantastic Book – Ane Mulligan is My Kind of Gal!

I’m honored to introduce you to another amazing author, Ane Mulligan! You’re going to love her eclectic humor – both here, and in her new release Chapel Springs Revival. So grab a mug of coffee, your chocolate of choice, and enjoy!

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Hi Ane, can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Those provided a plethora of fodder for my Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). I firmly believe coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. I live in Suwanee, GA, with my artist husband and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find me on my website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Now, can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?

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Chapel Springs Revival is my debut novel:

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

What made you begin writing in your genre?

I love stories about women’s friendships and sisterhood. I adore my women friends, and I found my birth sisters in 2009. That story is on my website. So, it was natural for me to write women’s fiction.

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?

While Claire has a bit of me, she’s more a composite of 3 wonderful ladies, who let me borrow bits of their delightful personalities. I gave Claire my tendency to move too fast and have “accidents” because of it.

Name one crazy thing you’ve done that is sure to surprise us.

When we were young, we rode a fully chopped Harley. I rode on the back, but here’s a photo of me posing with Hubs’ chopper. Biker AneWe had gone to Lake Isabella for the July 4th weekend and camped next to the Hell’s Angels and shared our breakfast with a couple. I was shaking in my boots, but they turned out to be a nice couple.

What is your next project?

Chapel Springs Survival, the second book in the Chapel Lake series. It came from something one of our sons did—got himself a modern day mail order bride—without our knowledge until after the fact. I promised retribution, and I put it in a book. Insert a mother’s vengeful laughter here. Of course, in real life, she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

Thanks, Ane! It was great to talk with you!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Ane!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Excerpt from upcoming release: The Lady and the Mountain Man

I’m so excited to officially announce my novel releasing Sept. 23rd, The Lady and the Mountain Man!

The Kindle version is available now for pre-order at amazon.com/dp/B00MQB7F4U. First, here’s a preview of the back cover text, then at the end of this post I’ll share a sneak peek at the scene where Gideon and Leah first meet.


Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds a city girl standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains—his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.

But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?

And now, an excerpt from the book itself. Leah has just arrived in St. Louis:

Stepping from the train, Leah twisted her head to take in the sights, but what she saw brought her up short.

Water.

She stood in front of a vast lake. Not as large as the bay in Charleston had been, but close. On the other bank, far in the distance, a city rose from the murky depths like an Irish Sea monster.

“That’s a lot of water.” The baritone voice came from just behind her, and Leah whirled to find herself staring up into the emerald eyes of a man unlike any she’d ever seen. A full beard covered his face, making it hard to distinguish most of his features. Except those piercing green eyes. He looked to be a few years older than her, but probably not over thirty. His blue work shirt was clean and pressed, and accentuated the breadth of his shoulders.

The man didn’t meet her gaze, but stared out over the water as if he were seeing far beyond. Then his comment registered in Leah’s awareness.

“Yes, I suppose it is. Do you know what it’s called? I thought we were far away from an ocean or any of the Great Lakes.”

“The Missouri River.” His voice was rich, and he still didn’t look at her.

Leah arched a brow, then turned back to study the water before her. “It’s a river? I’ve not seen one so wide. Is that St. Louis on the far shore?”

“Yep. The ferry’s loading up now.” He took a step, then motioned for her to precede him. The other passengers were moving forward, too, pressing toward the flat boat at the edge of the water.

“This way to the Wiggins Ferry,” called a man with an official-sounding voice. “Only five cents to ride the ferry across to St. Louey.”

The strong presence of the tall, green-eyed man stayed close as the crowd swept them onto a wooden pier and forward, toward a mustached man collecting fares at the entrance to the boat.

Just then, she remembered her trunks, which she hadn’t seen in several days. “Excuse me, sir,” she said to the attendant. “Will my luggage be brought across on the ferry?”

“Yes’m. You can pick ’em up at the yonder dock.”

“Thank you.” She dipped a slight curtsey and was pushed forward by the crowd boarding the boat. The rocking of the craft in the water was like being on the train again. Leah turned back to mention it to the man with the emerald eyes, but he wasn’t behind her. Why did that make her feel even more alone?

She took up a crowded spot by the rail where she could see both banks, but her eyes drifted over the other passengers. There he was, standing in a quiet corner away from the swarm of passengers pushing toward the boat’s edge. The crowd pushed in on her, too, so Leah gathered her nerve and moved toward the empty space next to the man. It was a bold move on her part, approaching a stranger she’d only just met and didn’t even know the name of. But something about him intrigued her. Maybe he’d think she was just moving to a less congested part of the boat’s deck.

Leah stepped up to the rail in the empty space between the man and an elderly couple. He turned his green eyes toward her in a nod, then gazed back over the water. He certainly was quiet.

“Are you from St. Louis then?” She infused a casual air into her tone.

“No, ma’am. Montana Territory.”

That might explain the wild aura that surrounded him. Leah wanted another good look at him, but couldn’t risk being caught staring. “How interesting. And were you visiting the East for pleasure, sir, or for business?”

“Settling my wife’s affairs.”

Leah’s heart plunged at the words, but she forced herself not to examine the reason. “Is your wife traveling with you?” She turned a casual eye to his face as she spoke.

His focus stared straight ahead. “She died.” The richness was gone from his voice, leaving behind flat steel.

Leah swallowed, her chest tightening with the effort. “I…I’m sorry.”

She swallowed again. All other words fled her mind, leaving behind the desire to reach out and touch him. Offer some kind of comfort or support. She knew what it was like to lose a parent. But to lose a spouse, the pain must be unbearable.

Before she could think of something else to say, some way to ease the somber mood that had sunk over him, the official-sounding voice called over the crowd. “Make a line, folks. Make a line an’ we’ll have ya off the ferry in no time.”

The man with emerald eyes turned from the rail and touched a hand to his hat. “Good day, ma’am.” He never once looked at her as he strode toward the line gathering at the edge of the boat.

By the time Leah found her own place in line, he was twenty feet or so ahead. As she stepped onto firm land, she watched his hat disappear into the crowd. Something inside Leah wanted to run after him.

But she didn’t move. Just stood, watching the spot where he’d vanished.