Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CFBA Tour: Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Kathleen Y'Barbo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.

ABOUT THE BOOK

May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fianc├ęs died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: The Last Bequest and The Map Quilt by Lisa Lickel

Welcome to the CBRB, Lisa! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for having me here. I’m a Wisconsin writer, a history buff too and live in a cool old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. My husband and I have two grown sons who are married. I belong to the Wisconsin Writers Association and edit the literary magazine, so I get to meet lots of great authors and aspiring authors. I enjoy reading, travel and watching movies when I have time.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I’ve never minded writing; however, learning the mechanics of proper, effective, and appropriate writing was something a bit frightening. It never occurred to me to sit down and try to write an entire novel until I was nearly finished with the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice Course. After I started targeted writing, I haven’t been able to stop.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

My first attempts at novels were the product of the coursework and my imagination. Very soon afterword I learned that to sell, a writer must be somewhat mercenary: that is, go where the market is. There was a new opportunity opening in writing cozy, or lighter side, mysteries that I took advantage of, and soon sold my first book. Since that was a mystery, I continued to write them, but I also wanted to explore deeper characters and situations so I wrote a few novels that aren’t “genre,” like mystery or strictly romance.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

I have the same obstacle that every other writer has: how to reach the optimum amount of readers. There are few who make the elite pinnacle; the point at which they no longer have to court publishers, but can basically sell any idea. It’s still a stumbling block to me, but I’m working to overcome it by continuing to practice my craft, learn and grow as a writer, and work at making connections within the industry.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

I stay home to work now. I still don’t have any kind of regular schedule which is both good and bad because I enjoy volunteering and need to be available for my family. Writing which, to me, is my business that includes professional editing, mentoring and the hugely time-swallowing marketing, has forced me out of my small world of eating, sleeping and being local, into the international world of clients in Korea, Africa, and Asia, as well as all around the United States and Canada. That’s exciting, to see what’s going on around the globe.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

I claim Hebrews 10:23 because it’s a testament that, while grace is a free gift, I am also responsible for holding onto the faith I profess. I’m not always good at it.

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

You could probably ask me this every month and I’d have a different answer. The last book I felt this way about was from a debut author from Alaska, Eowyn Ivey, who wrote The Snow Child, based on a Russian fairy tale. The nuances of language, layers of character, even punctuation, told the story so eloquently. As you say, truly spectacular.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Lately?  I’m still sticking to my attempt a few years ago to undergo major surgery with only a spinal so I could experience the procedure. The surgeon said yes, then they fooled me in the operating room and put me out anyway. But she told me about it later.

Please tell us about the featured book.

We’re looking at the first two books of the Buried Treasure mystery series today, The Last Bequest and the sequel, The Map Quilt. These are lighter mysteries with a running thread of romance. Since the series had initially required romance, I had to be somewhat creative inventing a new romance for each of the following books, while still using the same main character as a principal sleuth. Judy, a teacher, inherits the farm when her great aunt passes away mysteriously. She meets the boy next door, Hart, falls in love; they work at figuring out who murdered poor Aunt Louise, and by the second book, are married and expecting a child. I introduce Hart, the husband, who gets to tell some of the story as it’s his boss who’s killed, and his invention that’s stolen. The romance then, falls to his widowed mother and the chief of police, and he’s not too happy about the whole thing, but needs to work with the chief in order to solve the murder and get his missing property back. The books also feature great cats, Carranza, in the first book, who plays a significant role to help discern who is trustworthy. Carranza’s son, Pancho Villa, picks up his role in the second book, when Carranza goes missing. The third installment, The Newspaper Code, is at the publisher. No release date has been established yet.

Can you please give us the first page?

Page one of The Last Bequest:

Chapter One

Judy Winters made divots in the lawn with her church shoes, the ones with the high heels she saved to wear once a week. She stopped her frenetic crisscross pacing under the clothesline to look at her trail. Hah! She could dethatch the entire yard if she kept walking. She needed a few minutes away from everyone in the house. Just a few minutes to grieve alone. And to think about poison.
Hand at her brow to shield the sun’s harsh light, Judy surveyed her late aunt’s farm. The half-acre surrounding the house sure could use work. What had Aunt Louise Jamison done these past two years to allow her once lovely yard to decline into crabgrass and thistles? Birds might enjoy the seeds, but no one could say she’d let the place go. Only a recent lawn-mowing kept the dandelions from taking over. Judy brushed a tear off her cheek, wondered inanely who had mowed since Louise’s death.
Louise reported feeling not up to par a week ago, and July had offered to come for a visit.
“Nothing to worry about.” Aunt Louise and assured. “Better that I rest, and I don’t want you catching whatever bug I’ve come down with, Judy dear.
And then the shocking phone call came from her aunt’s solicitor, Gene Reynolds. “Sorry to inform you, Miss Winters, but your aunt, Louise Jamison, has died.”
Before Judy could catch a breath, Reynolds continued in his monotone, “Looks like an apparent case of poisoning, according to initial reports.”
What was the saying? That Louise bought the farm Judy shook her head. What a horrible way to occupy her thoughts with her closest living relative freshly buried.
    She continued to meander in the yard. Walking might keep her from wailing in grief in front of all these people. Louise had been all the family Judy had ever really known.
Gene Reynolds approached Judy as many of the guests were leaving. “Miss Winters, again our condolences.” He took her hand into his pudgy moist one. Judy steeled herself not to shudder. “I have the legal paperwork regarding Louise’s estate to go over with you, at your convenience.”
Reynolds’s pupils flickered just enough for her notice. He has something to gain. Sometimes Judy’s ability to decode body language came in handy. She’d picked up the trait in one of her continuing education courses and never seemed to be able to shake it.

Page one of The Map Quilt:

The Map Quilt starts with a prologue, but I’ll give you Chapter One.

Chapter One

Judy Wingate awoke with a start. Shaking her head, she realized she had been dreaming. Foggy images rolled through her mind of pioneer women doing…something. Hmm, teaching that Wisconsin history unit to her elementary school students, combined with her pregnancy, made for the most colorful nocturnal dramas. She eased the covers back, groaning with the discomfort of a full bladder. An internal kick made her grimace and rub her huge belly. 
“Ugh! Two forty-five in the morning. I can’t believe I gotta get up again.” She set her feet on the floorboards, trying to rise delicately so as not to rouse her husband, Hart.
Judy headed downstairs with her eyes half-closed, holding onto the rail with both hands. The stealthy pet housecat, Pancho Villa, stopped her up short. “Pancho—outta the way—coming through,” Judy muttered as she danced around him. “We have got to get that second floor bathroom done.”
Yawning, Judy blinked and hoped she could fall asleep again easily. She could not afford to be groggy in front of her fifth grade students, who were already squirrelly this close to the end of the school year. She rubbed her arms and went to run a glass of water from the tap while she looked out the window. Something did not feel right. She frowned and rubbed at the kicks from Hart’s little soccer player, practicing on her ribs. She went through the mud room to the outside door and breathed deeply while she watched the waning moon near the horizon.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

You can access my social networking and schedule from my web site, www.lisalickel.com.

Thank you! I am delighted to be here, and thank you again for a fun interview.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
  Lisa has generously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of The Last Bequest and a print copy of The Map Quilt! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CFBA Tour: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Buy At Amazon
"When her prodigal brother Reef's return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon's career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself--and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada's rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step"


A daunting mystery and warm romance, Shattered by Dani Pettrey lived-up to its great anticipation generated by readers like me who read and enjoyed Submerged by Dani Pettrey. The McKennas welcomed me into their loving family a second time and dragged me on an even greater adventure than the last time I visited them. Every step of Karli Davis's murder investigation, I was there– tracking leads, finding clues, and being as disappointed and confused as the McKennas were when a lead didn't pan out. The reason as to why Karli was murdered came as a surprise to me.

Watching Piper and Landon's budding romance grow was sigh-worthy. And it was great to see Landon surrender his life to the Lord. For some reason, I was somewhat more invested in Darcy St. James and Gage's romance than in Landon and Piper's. Maybe because Gage was such a troubled soul and Darcy was so different than Meredith, Gage's former love. And I can hardly wait for Jake and Kayden's love story– there's so much mystery surrounding the both of them!

With numerable twists and plot curve balls, Shattered kept me flipping the pages– although, the scientific aspect toward the end of the book seemed somewhat forced and I would have liked it to be elaborated upon more. For those who read Submerged or enjoy a hard-to-solve mystery with a healthy dose of romance, be sure to read Shattered. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Much thanks to the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Monday, February 11, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley

Welcome to the CBRB, Lena! Thank you for being here! For those who were not able to enjoy your last interview, can you again give us a little information about you? 
 


I’m a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in Texas.
 
Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?

I read all kinds of books, except horror. Right now, I’ve been reading a lot of historicals. I also write several kinds of books: both historical and contemporary, all have romantic threads and strong spiritual threads.

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?

1.  I grew up on fish hatcheries.
2.  I’ve been in a made-for-TV movie.
3.  I was supposed to be a twin, but my twin didn’t develop beyond a mass of tissue, hair, and bone. I didn’t find out until I was in my early 30s.

What five things do you love/like the most?

1.  Jesus
2.  James
3.  My family
4.  Friends
5.  Dark chocolate
  
If you could meet one person (besides Jesus, because who doesn’t want to meet Him!), who would you choose?

Since there’s no time limit, I’d love to meet my mother, who died when I was seven years old. I’d like to meet her as an adult and ask her some questions.

What is your favorite Bible story?

The story of Esther. I’ve even written a dramatic monologue from Esther’s perspective and performed it for conferences and women’s meetings.

How do you choose your characters names?

Sometimes I use names of family members of friends. I also keep a list of interesting names I’ve heard to use for books later. If my character is from a specific ethnicity, I do research on that group for names in the time period when my character would have been born.

If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

Being an author is my dream job. Of course, I would have loved being a professional actress, too, or maybe a stand-up comedienne.

Do you have any books that are soon-to-be-released that we should keep an eye out for?

Book three of my McKenna’s Daughter’s series, Catherine’s Pursuit, will release in February. My many fans are anxiously awaiting its release.

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

Catherine’s Pursuit is book three in McKenna’s Daughters. This series is about the lives of identical triplet girls, who were born on one of the last wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Their mother dies giving birth, and the girls are separated. They don’t find out they have sisters until near their 18th birthday.

In book three of the McKenna’s Daughters series, Catherine McKenna begins a journey to find her lost sisters that turns into a spiritual journey for the entire McKenna family.

When Angus McKenna was forced to give two of his daughters to families in the wagon train, he promised he'd never try to contact them. Catherine made no such pledge. But when she sets out to find her sisters, she doesn't go alone. Angus sends Collin with her. Will they discover the two women---and love?

Can you please give us the first page?

Chapter 1

September 19, 1885
San Francisco, California

            Catherine Lenora McKenna could hardly believe the long-awaited day was here. Her eighteenth birthday.

            Now she was an adult, and her father would have to stop hovering over her as if she were a fragile china doll in one of his stores. She would be free. Holding her hands above her head like the ballerina in the music box on her bureau, she whirled in a circle that lifted the hem of her blue taffeta skirt to a scandalous height. That didn’t matter, because no one was here to catch a glimpse of her ankles anyway. Not even her personal maid, Julie, who had gone downstairs to grab Catherine a more substantial breakfast from the kitchen before she fainted dead away.

            Aunt Kirstin wanted Catherine to eat very light before her party tonight, where a sumptuous banquet would precede the ball. There would be presents to open as well. Catherine hoped her father planned a spectacular gift for her birthday ... maybe to send her on a tour of the Continent. Of course, Aunt Kirstin would probably accompany her, but at least, she would be able to see more of the world for herself, not just read about it.

            Europe should be beautiful in the autumn, or in any season of the year. Since both of her parents were born in Scotland, she wanted to visit there as well as London ... Paris ... Rome. She had read every book and magazine she could get her hands on, so she knew so much about Europe. A thrill of anticipation shot through her whole body. Visions of walking on London Bridge, or along Avenue des Champs Ellysees, or visiting The Colosseum danced through her head. Pictures she’d enjoyed studying with their Holmes stereopticon. She wondered if Father would accompany her or if he would allow Aunt Kirstin to be her only escort ... besides a few servants, of course.

            “Where is Julie with my food?” Catherine huffed out an exasperated breath. “Am I going to have to go the kitchen myself?”

            She thrust open the door and hurried down the hallway, the sound of her footsteps lost in the thick cushioning of the carpet. At the top of the front stairs, she stopped to see if she could figure out where her Aunt Kirstin was before she sneaked down the backstairs.

            Peering over the balcony railing, she caught a glimpse of her aunt’s face through the partially opened door to the library. Her brows were knit together into a frown as she stared at someone in the room with her. Catherine had never seen such a fierce expression on her aunt’s face.

Where can readers learn more information about you? 


**********
GIVEAWAY!
  Lena has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Catherine's Pursuit (an eBook copy is available for international readers)! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

CFBA Tour/Book Review: Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl

Buy At Amazon
"Gentle and unassuming, Hope Kauffman has never been one to question the traditions of her Mennonite upbringing. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal he arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite the attempts of Hope and other Kingdom residents to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, while Ebbie insists Kingdom must remain true to its foundation. When Hope's safety is threatened by a mysterious outsider, she can't help but question what she's always been taught about the Mennonite tradition of nonviolence.

As it swiftly becomes apparent the threat Hope faced is only the beginning, the town that's always stood so strong finds itself divided. With tensions high and their lives endangered by an unknown enemy, will Hope and the people of Kingdom allow fear and division to break them or will they draw on the strength of the God they serve?
"

Unbreakable was even better than its prequel Inescapable! The first person writing was much  smoother and the plot more engaging. It was interesting to dig deeper into the characters of Hope Kauffman, Ebenezer Miller (Ebbie), and Jonathon Wiese. I quickly became invested in the character of Hope and shared in her concern for the safety of Kingdom. And her internal struggle as to which man God had predestined to be her husband became personal to me, as well.

What I enjoyed most about this book was its spiritual thread. The question it addressed– "What does it mean to 'turn the other cheek'?"– is fascinating, to say the least. What would I do if the lives of my loved ones were endangered? Seeing the different opinions on this questions being played out so realistically in Unbreakable  made it come alive for me. Just like Hope, I was torn between the two sides: nonresistance or resistance. Being "modern" (in the eyes of the Mennonites), I was fairly confident as to which argument I would side with... but my final opinion shocked even me. What's more is that the differing opinions were personified in Ebbie and Jonathon, the two people yearning for Hope's love. The author didn't shove any of the two opinions in my face; instead, she presented the two sides of the nonresistance/resistance argument and allowed me, the reader, to come to my own conclusion.

The romance was beautifully done. Not until the very end did I know who Hope chose to marry and I must say that I was very pleased with her choice:-) At first, of course, I was conflicted just as I was with the nonresistance/resistance issue, but I slowly came to realize which man was the one. Like I said before, the romance was beautifully done! And as to not spoil your reading pleasure, I'll just say that one of the men embodied Christ wonderfully. His faith and selflessness– you get the point;-) In fact, he is an official contestant for the CBRB Best Hero Award!

All this is to say that I enjoyed this book immensely. It definitely deserves 5 stars– if for no other reason than its skillfully delivered spiritual message– not to mention the romance. Unbreakable can be bought on Amazon.com.

** Thanks to the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review**

CFBA Tour: Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Redeeming Grace
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas;
1st edition (February 28, 2013)
by
Ward Tanneberg


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ward Tanneberg is a pastor/writer/novelist who has given more than 50 years to evangelism, youth, college and pastoral ministry, including two Pacific Northwest churches and 23 years as the senior pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin, CA. In 2008, he was named President/Executive Director of The CASA Network. Ward speaks extensively at 50+ retreats and ministry leadership events in the USA and elsewhere. When at home he meets weekly with a group of business and professional leaders. He and Dixie have 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren and a great grandson.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn't find you?

Those nine chilling words end Grafton's self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the world. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Redeeming Grace, go HERE.