Welcome to my little bit of cyber-space. It is my prayer that all who enter here may be richly blessed by the God of all grace. All praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Guest blog by Jennifer Johnson

I am so happy to showcase Jennifer on my blog. As she says below, we have been critting for each other since 2002! Thanks to Jim Peterson for suggesting it! And since she is the same age as my oldest daughter, I also consider her one of my daughters (and sisters) in the Lord. She is so precious to me, and as you read below, you will see some of the reasons why!

Hello! I’m Jennifer Johnson, author of fifteen books (three will go to print later this year). Rose and I have been writing buddies for the past eleven years, since before either of us was published. I’m thrilled she would allow me to visit with you all on her blog.

My latest release is titled Shoebox Surprise. Main characters, Mirela Adams and Josif Sesely were born in Serbia to mothers who were the best of friends. When her parents pass away, missionaries from the US adopt her. His family moves to Tennessee to find a better life, and the two are separated.

But Mirela has never forgotten the shoebox filled with toys, hygiene products, and candy that she received when she was a small girl. She accepted Christ as a result of that gift. With the help of her church in Tennessee, she puts together hundreds of boxes each year. Her local newspaper runs an article about her ministry, and Josif’s mother reads it. Mirela lives only forty-five minutes from the Sesely family, and Josif’s mother sends him to find out if she is the child of her deceased friend from Serbia. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens! J

Shoebox Surprise was so much fun to write. My inspirations for the story made it even more precious. In 2009, I received an email from a woman named Mirela. She lived (still lives) in Serbia. She wrote that she had become a Christian in 2008 and that many of her friends and family had rejected her. A missionary had given her several books to read to encourage her faith, including mine. She’d been blessed by the story and wanted to send me an email of thanks.

Well, talk about touching a girl’s heart! I was thrilled. I mailed her every story I’d written (still send them). We emailed each other and became facebook friends. Though she felt blessed by my stories, she could never imagine how much her words blessed me. I mean, that is why I write! To encourage Christians in their faith…and to do so to a woman who lives half a world away!!!! All I can say is God is so good!

My second inspiration for the story was a woman from my church. Andy was in charge of the shoebox ministry. Under her direction, church members donated various gifts and hygiene items throughout the year. In November, the church would come together to fill hundreds of shoeboxes to be sent to Operation Christmas Child in Boone, North Carolina.

Because of those two ladies, an idea was born, and Shoebox Surprise was the result. I hope you enjoy the book!

I’ve been married to an awesome guy for the past 21 years. My high school sweetheart who’s supported me in every endeavor I’ve ever dreamed to try. His name’s Albert. Here’s a picture of us in Cancun for our 20th anniversary!

I’ve got three amazing daughters. I’m serious; they’re pretty cool. My oldest daughter is 20 and a senior in college. We are planning her wedding next December. She’s marrying a terrific man, Derek. Here’s a picture of my oldest daughter and my future son-in-law, the night he asked her to marry him.
My second daughter is Hayley. She is a senior, planning to attend college in the fall. She’s a terrific young lady, kind and sensitive, willing to give you the shirt of her back…or one of her sister’s shirts if you need it. LOL! Here is one of her senior pictures.
My youngest daughter is Allie. She’s in the eighth grade at the middle school where I teach. She was one of my students last year. She’s a great gal and an awesome soccer player. She’s exceptionally fun-loving, and this picture suits her completely!
As I mentioned, I’m also a seventh grade language arts teacher. Spending eight hours a day with 150 thirteen-year-olds is challenging, possibly a little ludicrous, but also highly rewarding. I love my students. I love being able to share my love of words and stories with them. Love the new Hunger Games series. A big fan of Jordan Sonnenblick and Jenny B. Jones and Melody Carlson. If I’m going to be honest with you, I have to admit a little more. I’m also Team Edward. Here’s proof.

Well, it was great to spend a bit of time with you! You can visit me anytime at www.jenniferjohnsonbooks.com. I’d love to see you on Facebook (Jennifer Collins Johnson). Or email me at jenwrites4god@bellsouth.net. It was great to spend a bit of time with you! Here’s one last picture of my whole family on vacation last summer!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Blog by Tracy Krauss

Today I am happy to showcase another John316 friend, Tracy Krauss, and her new book.

"Why I Wrote AND THE BEAT GOES ON" by Tracy Krauss

Essentially, And The Beat Goes On is a commentary on the Creation vs. Evolution debate, while at the same time a redemptive story about one man’s inner struggles with faith. I became interested in the topic for the first time when I became a Christian and was faced with the huge discrepancy between what the Bible had to say about the origins of the universe and what mainstream scientific thought had to say on the subject. This led to much reading and research, which I later put into use when I decided to homeschool my own children. When I decided to write the book, I had already finished another novel called Play It Again – the story of an ex rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant whose one night stand has complicated outcomes and eventually leads them both to redemption in Christ. The protagonist’s son, Mark – a studious eleven year old who likes fossils and arrowheads – seemed like the perfect character for the this next novel. (Thus the tie in with the musical reference in the title) I am also a long time Sci-fi/fantasy buff, so I wanted to somehow include some references to the Nephilim – those mysteriously wicked people who lived before the flood.

My hope is that readers will first and foremost enjoy the book as a good story, for that is what fiction is supposed to be. I do not pretend to be an expert on the scientific aspects of Intelligent Design, but I have tried to include enough information to at least whet the appetites of those who are interested, without coming across as pedantic or bore readers with long scientific explanations. Many issues raised are left somewhat open ended, since it is my belief that intelligent people need to make up their own minds about what they believe, not just take someone else’s word for it. Also, I wanted to highlight the grace of God and point to Jesus as the answer to even life’s most difficult questions. The book is a mystery, a suspense story, and also a romance. In the end, I hope readers will be entertained, but also left pondering the bigger questions of the universe.


Tracy Krauss is a high school teacher by profession, and a prolific author, artist, playwright and director by choice. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has gone on to teach Art, Drama and English – all the things she is passionate about. After raising four children, she and her husband now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Spotlight on Donna Clark Goodrich

Thanks for joining us today, Donna. With your vast experience in the writing field I am sure you have much wisdom to impart.

Tell us about your favorite book as a child and your favorite book as an adult. Can you see a connection between those books?

I read so many books as a child (as my mother said, "Donna always has her nose in a book"), I don't know if I had a favorite. I read a lot of Nancy Drew mysteries and the Cherry Ames nurse series. Later one of my favorites was "The Little Engine That Could." I liked the idea that something others thought impossible, I realized I could do if I put my mind to it. As a teen I also liked the Lloyd C. Douglas series: "Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal," "Green Light," etc.

I don't know if I have a favorite book as an adult, but one that really inspired me was "You Can Tell the World," a book for writers by the late Sherwood Wirt.

I also read a lot of Nancy Drew books and loved The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. What is your favorite Scripture? Do you also have a favorite Scripture that encourages you in your writing?

My favorite Scripture is Isaiah 40:31. This dates back to 1958 when I made a big boo-boo in my new job as secretary to the book editor at a religious publishing house. I walked to church that night, sure that I would be fired. A minister prayed in the service that we would "wait upon the Lord," that we would "renew our strength," that we would "mount up with wings as eagles." Then he prayed, "And Lord, give us pedestrian grace that we would walk and not faint." (This led to a devotional book with that title.)

No particular verse re: writing.

If you could go to any place in the world to research/write a book, what setting would you choose?

Definitely Scotland! I've been there once and love it!

I'd love to visit there, too, as my husband's ancestry is Scotch/Irish. I often wonder if I would write if I had to do it the old-fashioned way without computers and spell-checks and email. Is there anything about technology that you don't like? Or anything about it that you feel enhances your writing?

Most of my published books and articles were done on a typewriter and an old word processor--an MTST (Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter). I've always said that computers didn't make me a better writer, but it made me a better editor as it's so much easier to make changes. I probably submitted a lot of things in my earlier years that could have used editing, but they sold anyway because--in the days before writers' groups and conferences--editors didn't have as many manuscripts to choose from. I look now at things I sold back then and cringe! They were written so poorly.

As a writer how have you had to grow and stretch out of your comfort zone?

I don't know if I have had to do that as I don't write much from assignment. I've turned down things I didn't feel I was either capable of writing or had any passion for, so most of what I write I really enjoy.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer that you wish someone had given you?

This would have to be three things. 1: You can be called to write and have a talent, but you still can learn new things every day. Take advantage of writers' books and conferences. 2: Join (or start) a local writers' group for critiquing and encouragement. We really do need each other. Carole Gift Page says, "Our family is called to love us, not to support our writing. They won't understand us like another writer does." 3: Sally Stuart says, "You can't write from an empty cup. Keep God uppermost in your writing."

All great advice, Donna. Do you want to add anything about your book such as how to order it?

My book "A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers" is my dream come true. It's taken from all the classes I've taught over the years. I always wanted to have something to give people who say, "I want to write. How do I get started?" The book can be ordered from Amazon, or from me at my email dgood648@aol.com or my Web site: www.thewritersfriend.net (This Web site also contains a lot of hints for writers, plus other books I've had published.) I also have a Student's Edition of the same book that contains writing assignments throughout. (I'm thinking of combining the two books.)

If I might add one thing that changed my writing life, and that's a quotation Harold Ivan Smith gave at a writers' conference I attended in 1980. He said, "We are called to write, and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment that we could have helped but didn't because we didn't write what God laid on our hearts to write." That took writing out of the hobby category for me and made it a calling. I feel I'm as called to write as a minister is called to preach.

Bio: Donna Clark Goodrich, freelance writer, editor, and speaker is a wife, mother of three and grandmother of two. She lives in Mesa, Arizona and enjoys teaching at Christian writers conferences. Author of 23 books and over 700 published manuscripts, Donna says, “I write devotional and self-help books to encourage Christians in their daily walk with God, how-to books to train writers, biographies to tell other people's stories, short stories and poetry for readers' enjoyment, and personal experience articles to share how God has helped me through life situations.”

dgood648@aol.com; www.thewritersfriend.net

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Two posts in one day!

I think I have only done this once before, but today's second post is due to my having company the past two days and forgetting I was supposed to post a winner until today. And the winner of a copy of Ann Gabhart's Words Spoken True is...Chris Newcomb!

Congrats to Chris! As soon as she sends me her mailing address, I will forward the info on to Ann.

And remember, everyone who leaves a comment anytime this month will have another chance to win this wonderful book. Drawing for that one on April 1st, and I'm not fooling!
Wednesday Visit with Margaret Brownley
If you love the humorous opening quote below as much as I do, then I am sure that like me you will want to order this book! And read below for a way to enter to win this book, an ipod and more!
More Love and Laughter from New York Times Bestselling Author--Margaret Brownley

“Daily Reasons to Smile” Contest

“I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”
—From Dawn Comes Early

Characters from Margaret’s new book will send you a reason to smile every day until April 11th. Join in the fun and you could win a book, potted cactus (the story takes place in Arizona Territory) or an iPod Nano and alarm clock docking station. To enter send an email to info@NancyBerland.com. Be sure to put “Reason to Smile” in the subject line. That’s it!

Tell us about your favorite book as a child and your favorite book as an adult. Can you see a connection between those books?
First I want to thank you for letting me visit today. It’s great to be here!

To answer your question Little Women was my favorite childhood book. I read it at age ten and pretended to be Jo, the writer. By age twelve I had graduated to adult books and my favorite was Gone With the Wind. Now my favorite books change on a yearly basis. Last year my favorite book was The Help. This year who knows?

I also loved Little Women and Jo. And The Help was one of my favorite books last year. I see a theme here, Margaret. We both like books with characters about female authors!

What is your favorite Scripture? Do you also have a favorite Scripture that encourages you in your writing?
My favorite “staring at a blank page” scripture is: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV.

If you could go to any place in the world to research/write a book, what setting would you choose?
I write western romance and always wanted to set a cowboy story in Australia.

I love the idea of a "Down-under cowboy" story! Hope you get to write that one!

I often wonder if I would write if I had to do it the old-fashioned way without computers and spell-checks and email. Is there anything about technology that you don't like? Or anything about it that you feel enhances your writing?
I started writing on the typewriter and that was no easy task (I have the greatest respect for Shakespeare and his quill pen). My daughter talks about coming home from school and knowing immediately what kind of writing day I had by the amount of whiteout in my hair. In the olden days we also had to go to the printer to make copies and then it was off to the post office to send the manuscript snail-mail. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. Writers today don’t know how good they have it.

The only thing I don’t like about technology is seeing children and teens glued to their cell phones.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer that you wish someone had given you?
I wish someone had told me to enjoy the journey. Being published comes with its own challenges, so you really have to enjoy each step of the way or you won’t survive. Surround yourself with a support group and celebrate every success. Celebrate when you finish a chapter; enter a contest; pop a query in the mail; or sign up for a writing workshop. This is what kept me going the five years it took me to sell my first book and it will keep you going, too.

Please tell us about your book.

Dawn Comes Early
Brides of Last Chance Ranch
Heiress Wanted
Looking for hard-working, professional woman
of good character and pleasant disposition
willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona Territory.
Must be single and prepared to remain so now and forever more.
Arizona Territory:1895

Her latest dime novel banned, twenty-nine-year old KATE TENNEY finds herself without a publisher or other means of support. An advertisement for a woman willing to learn the ranching business seems like the perfect solution for a displaced western writer who has no intention of getting married—ever.

Trouble begins the moment she steps foot in Arizona Territory. The west is nothing like she wrote about in her books. Not only does she have to deal with a hard-nosed ranch owner, and nefarious outlaw, but a traitorous heart. Deserted as a child by her father, grandfather and others—even God— Kate does not trust men and has no intention of falling for LUKE ADAM’S charm. She’s determined to learn the ranching business and prove to the doubting ranch owner that she’s up to the task—if it kills her. Her faith tested by the harsh realities of the desert, Kate battles to hold on to the one thing that promises permanence—land.

If only she could stay away from a certain handsome blacksmith and his two matchmaking aunts.

You can also find Margaret on Facebook and Twitter!

About Margaret
Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit

The first book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series “Dawn Comes Early” will be published March 2012. The book will be followed by Waiting for Morning January 2013.

Margaret’s also excited to announce that her non-fiction book “Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Hope and Healing” will be published in July—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Today's guest blog and book giveaway of Words Spoken True by Ann Gabhart

I am so happy to welcome my friend Ann Gabhart back to my blog. And she has a special treat for all commenters. Besides the copy of Words Spoken True that I will give away to one commenter during the month of March, Ann is also giving a copy away to anyone who leaves a comment on her post here this weekend, so be sure to read and comment by Sunday night at midnight, and I will announce the winner on Monday, March 5.

Romance – the Spice in Storytelling

By Ann H. Gabhart

“I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence.” ~Theodore Dreiser

Don’t you just love springtime when the earth is awakening from its winter sleep? The time when seeds and bulbs dormant under the snow or cold ground are touched by the warming sun and begin the cycle of life all over again. It’s also the time when thoughts of romance awaken in many hearts.

Writers can’t wait for spring to reach for romance. They have to make spring awaken in the hearts of their characters and get them in romantic moods any time of the year since most fiction readers love romance in the stories they read. It doesn’t matter whether those stories are solely focused on romance or if they have more to do with mystery, suspense, fantasy or history. Romance has a way of making any story more enticing. That’s because romance can make life more enticing and that’s what we writers want our stories to be – a slice of life. When we read about characters falling in love, we sigh along with them. Our hearts get lifted by the vicarious thrill of falling in love ourselves. But generally in most stories, as Shakespeare said, the course of true love never runs smooth. That’s because writers don’t let it, and they don’t let it because if it’s all smooth sailing, you don’t have the conflict that keeps readers reading. So we make the waters murky. We head our characters toward a rocky shore or get them stuck on sand bars. We do our best to make the voyage to happiness challenging.

I certainly did that to my characters in my new release, Words Spoken True. It’s the most romantic story I’ve written since I began writing for the inspirational market. It might be the most romantic story I’ve ever written. What makes it romantic? The interaction between the two main characters along with those obstacles that pop up to keep them apart.

At a conference once, I sat in on a class taught by Michael Hauge, who’s considered a story master in many writing circles. One of his rules about writing romances was to be sure the readers get to see the couple meet. To see the beginning. To watch the sparks begin to fly. For sure, you get to see the sparks fly when Adriane and Blake meet in Words Spoken True. Blake is the editor of a competing newspaper that is threatening the dominance of the paper Adriane’s father publishes. Since the two newspapers are warring for readers, Blake is considered the enemy and someone Adriane shouldn’t even like. A romantic attraction is out of the question. On top of that, she is engaged to the son of one of the more socially prominent families in Louisville. Yet, the attraction between Adriane and Blake is immediate. But the obstacles keep mounting one after another until the dramatic scene on a night that goes down in Louisville history as “Bloody Monday” because of the election riots. Even then, the obstacles don’t stop rising up in front of my couple to try to spoil their romantic happiness.

It was fun letting the romance have center stage in this book. In my Shaker books, while they are definitely historical romances, I often have to sneak any romantic scenes in a back door since the Shakers believed in celibate living. The Shakers not only had no use for romance, they considered such feelings sinful. In my Hollyhill books, a sweet thread of romance runs through all three books, but the main storyline is about the family and small town. Angel Sister definitely has romance. I think of that book as a parallel story. On one level is the story of the Merritt family while on another level running along beside it is the romantic love story of Victor and Nadine, the mother and father in the family. But in Words Spoken True, the romance demands the camera and lights, and even though the history is dramatic, the newspaper background compelling, and the idea of a serial killer on the loose suspenseful, I think it’s the romance that keeps the reader turning the pages to find out if Blake and Adriane will overcome those obstacles and have a chance to find love.

If you’d like to know more about Words Spoken True or any of my books, you can go to my website http://www.annhgabhart.com/. I enjoy meeting reading friends there and on my other social sites, my Facebook author’s page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-H-Gabhart/132862247566 or Twitter with a user name, annhgabhart. I also post a couple of times a week on my blog, One Writer’s Journal, http://www.annhgabhart.blogspot/.com about what going on in my writing or down here on the farm.

Thanks, Rose, for inviting me over to share a little time with you and your friends. I appreciate each of you reading my post and invite your comments. How important is romance in a story when you’re picking the books you want to read?

Good luck in the drawing for a copy of Words Spoken True

Thursday, March 01, 2012

March 1st bookdrawing...and the winner of Board to Death is...Peg Phifer! And read on for a review of the book you can win if you leave a comment during the month of March--Words Spoken True by Ann Gabhart.

Suspense with Lots of Sizzle!
Ann Gabhart said this book has more romance than most of her books, and I agree. And the romance sizzles from the moment Adriane Darcy meets Blake Garrett. But there are two problems--she is engaged to someone else and Blake runs a newspaper that rivals the one her dad (and Adriane) put out in Louisville, KY. Since this is the town where I was born and grew up the first eighteen years of my life, I enjoyed learning much about the early history during the newspaper wars and the political life of the mid-nineteenth century. But Ann weaves the facts into the story in such an interesting way that you'll want to stay up past midnight to finish it like I did!

And for suspense lovers, the newspapers covers several murders of young women in the city that builds to a very nail-biting scene near the end. I guarantee if you love romance and suspense you will love this book! And isn't the cover beautiful?!

I hope you will come back tomorrow to hear Ann's own words about writing romance. And you can leave another comment on that post for an additional chance to win this must-read book on April 1st! Please leave an email so I can contact you if you win. All those with US mailing addresses are eligible.