Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some Say Life's a Paradox. Hmm. WHAT CAN THAT MEAN?

We end April and begin the month of May with a paradoxical moment with Author, JoAnn Carter. Come join me and learn all about her.
JoAnn lives in Vermont with her wonderful husband of 18 years, four children and Ginger, the best dog in the world (she says). She enjoys being with her family & friends, writing, reading, and cooking.

In the past JoAnn has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse, an apple orchard guide and as a substitute teacher. (What a combination!) She is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats.

SDC: Welcome to you, JoAnn. Before you tell us about your newest release, please fill us in on what keeps you going.

JC: I'd be happy to but first let me say what an honor and privilege it is to be here with you today, Shirley. Thank you for this opportunity to visit you on your blog. Now onto your great question... what keeps me going is the knowledge that God can use this fallible person, and her fallible pen to somehow accomplish His purposes in the midst.

As I write, I pray for the people who will come across this story. I pray that they would be encouraged and their faith would grow or become challenged by something they read.

At the same time, God is teaching me things about Himself, myself, and the world around me. What He has taught me through this writing journey leaves me... well, speechless. J

SDC:  That's great. What are some things that people have shared with you that they say has influenced them greatly by one of your books? 

JC- Oh, this is such a fun thing to think about, yet one which I don't usually take time to. I'm going to quote Wendy, a reader of BY THE BOOK. She said, "Ms. Carter has also done a terrific job of weaving the issue of forgiveness into the plotline in a way I think anyone can relate to. After all, don't we all struggle with forgiveness? I know I do...and Ms. Carter has gently, and convincingly urged me through her writing to ask God for help forgiving someone I need to forgive."
Isn't that awesome? Yet, I can't take the credit. It wasn't anything I did—it is simply one of those God things!

SDC: Don't you love the comments we receive from those who become such a part of our lives? What would you think is the main them that weaves together your stories?

JC: I guess I would have to say it's the importance of our relationship and commitment to Christ.

SDC: I couldn't agree more, JoAnn. Now, onto a little about your publishers. Who was your very first  and how did you come about this company? How long ago was it? Tell us about all your publishers, if you don't mind, and why you chose them, or you think they chose you.

JC: My very first publisher in 2005 was By Grace Publishing. (They since have gone out of business.) Although it wasn't the best experience ever for several reasons, it did give me the nudge I needed at that time to keep going and striving to improve my writing skills. After that, the door opened at White Rose Publishing. I currently have five books published with them and two "free read" stories. I must honestly say that the owner of WRP is an amazing Christian woman who strives to walk the walk. It's been a real blessing in many ways.

Then at the end of last year, at the recommendation of a friend I queried Desert Breeze Publishing. They contracted a three book historical series that I'm super excited about. The first book will come out July 15, 2011. After that, I query'd two other projects that they accepted, one being this story which I'm soon going tell you about, PARADOX. This book will release the 15th of May.

SDC: You've had some interesting experiences there! What’s your favorite Bible verse or verse that has sustained you recently and why?

JC: Our family is preparing to take a short-term mission trip to Mexico. I know that may sound crazy with all the drug related issues they have been having, but this is where we really feel the Lord is calling us to serve. Between that and the happens in Japan as well as the unrest around the world I've been pondering on, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."— Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)

SDC:  I truly love that verse. Thanks. After you let us know where we can reach you and where we can find your books, tell us about the book you would like to share with us today and also which one you are planning to donate. Also, what question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner?

JC: Oh, man... I'd love to hear from everyone! Visitors and viewers can reach me by one of the following ways...
Visit JoAnn's Web site
Email JoAnn
Connect with JoAnn on Facebook

You can find my books at a variety of places, Amazon.com, B&N, Christianbook.com, White Rose Publishing, Desert Breeze Publishing and other e-publishing retailers.

Here is a bit about Paradox...

Lilly Holland’s passion is flowers-not people. All she’s ever dreamed of was a peaceful life surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. The exact opposite of what life is like at the touristy Holland Lodge in the small town of Paradox. So, why does she feel like God is nudging her to go? He, if anyone, should know better than ask this of her.

Ric Walker, Holland Lodge’s grounds keeper, is Lilly’s only link to sanity. His steady presence and strong faith encourages her through this trying situation. However, that sanity is threatened as she realizes her feelings for him are changing into something more, something deeper.

Will Lilly learn that Paradox is more than a town’s name, but rather a divine place where God can reveal His power, bring healing, and love, just when she thinks all hope is gone?

You can pick up your copy on May 15th, right here: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-168/JoAnne-Carter-Paradox/Detail.bok
As for the book to give away today, how about if you are the winner...you pick? (After this interview week is over and Shirley picks the winner) just head over to my webpage Visit JoAnn's Web site and you can choose any book there.

So, here's the (first part of the question...) Would you be willing to help me spread word about Paradox? You can do so by sharing the link to this blog post on your FB, Twitter, blog, etc. then come back here and let us know where you posted it.
READERS: Don't stop with that.  I would like to ask you the following -- and be sure to think hard about your answer: WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORD PARADOX, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO YOUR MIND?

Write in and share your answer. I hope to draw your name in a few days to to win a copy of one of JoAnn's books! Remember to keave email address for me. THANKS SO MUCH. AND THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

JC: And thanks again, Shirley for having me here today. Thank you (in advance to the) guests and friends for stopping by! You are such a blessing to me.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That Really Good News

To many, this is Holy Week. And there is a message in that, which keeps a person going from day to day.
Perhaps you are one of those. But do you really know why  you celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus?

Author, Linore Rose Burkard knows why she does, and she has graciously offered to share that purpose with us.

Cheer Up! These Things Are True
By Linore Rose Burkard

One Sunday my pastor gave our church some truths to consider which can make any dark cloud seem just a little brighter if you think about them. The key is to really consider the meaning of these
four immutable and perfectly beautiful truths:

If you are a child of God (and not everyone is, you know) then you can say the following

1. I am CHOSEN

These things are true for the Christian no matter he or she feels;
no matter how low they feel they've gone;
no matter what they've done;
no matter what they think.

A person who has placed his or her faith and trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior is always, at all times, irrevocably

  • CHOSEN (called out from the crowd; set apart; picked specifically for God)
  • ADOPTED (Removed from their old life and into God's family; they have a new
    identity; a new name; a new reason for being.)
  • REDEEMED (living for a purpose; given meaning to their lives; freed from
    the chains of their past or their history)
  • FORGIVEN (made ready for heaven; no longer held guilty for sins--as long as there is ongoing prayer and asking for forgiveness.)

    This really is GOOD NEWS.
copyright 2011 Linore Rose Burkard

Be blessed with a glorious Easter, everyone.
 Shirley Kiger Connolly

Thursday, April 14, 2011

She calls herself the Unconventional Adventurer. I wonder if that applies to more than a few of us.

Have you been thinking about the upcoming Resurrection celebration just around the corner?  I have.

This is the time of year that my husband thrills over most. Together, he and I remember with clarity and focus what the Lord did for us when He died on the cross and then rose for our redemption. It's because of His great and unselfish love, not only for the two of us who are undeserving but for every person in the world, that makes us treasure this time of year so much.

I often wonder how many take time to really think about the significance of that and of what He did and why.

With Easter to look forward to, I am blessed to be able to share with you, not one, but two authors who will reflect on their personal joys of this time of year from their individual perspectives, as they reflect a bit about themselves and about this special time.

This week we have Bella Steele with us  -- a delightful Christian sister who is also a part of Faith, Hope, and Love, a Romance Writers of America Chapter, we are both blessed to be a part of.

Annabella “Bella” Steele lives in SW Ohio but her heart is elsewhere–Kentucky her home state and any western state you care to name. She retired from the world of business to write and has published seven short stories and novellas under the name of Billie Warren Chai. Now a stay at mom with two teenage boys, who she thinks are devastatingly handsome, and their father, she stays busy writing her stories and crocheting. After a serious illness she thanks God for every day she has with her family.
Bella Steele, well known to many of you avid romance readers, is blessed to be more than an author with the gifted talent of making words into stories. Bella enjoys making use of her  talent of working with her hands -- somewhat like the Dorcas we all know from the New Testament, and turning it into a ministry unto God.

Please join me in welcoming her to A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Shirley: Tell us about yourself, Bella.

Bella: My spiritual journey has taken me down many paths and God has patiently shepherded me along. I grew in a Southern Baptist Church, went to American Baptist next, then I joined the Church of Christ and Presbyterian churches. I’m currently studying to convert to Catholicism. I love to savor religious art as part of my religious experience.

Over the years I have engaged in many handcrafts–including basket-weaving but now I stick to crocheting, sewing, and embroidery. I constantly look for patterns that reflect the spiritual picture inside my head. I created many beautiful angels using thread on canvas (count and cross-stitch) and have given them away to those who need comfort. Currently I’m crocheting and my pieces reflect the spiritual thirst I have.

Shirley: That sounds awesome. Tell us more.

Bella: As Easter approaches I am more aware than ever of the burden the Lord has placed on me to follow Him. The Heavenly Father sent his Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to redeem us from sin and guide our path. The suffering endured by Christ for all of us is unimaginable. I have no way to pay Him for his sacrifice and He would refuse it anyway.

He tells us in John 21:16 -- He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, FEED MY SHEEP.

(I believe) my writing and my handcrafts feed  Christ’s sheep. I could not do this without Christ in my corner. I was surprised to find, but I shouldn’t have been, that many crafters such as my self create items strictly to give them away.

A woman waiting with me at the VA Hospital was crocheting red, white and blue blankets for veterans. Others make tiny hats and booties for premature babies.

The woman I admire the most crochets christening gowns for premature babies and stillborn children. I can feel the mother’s pain at the loss of her child. It is hard–I had four miscarriages before my sons were born. God blessed me with them and I committed them to him as babies. They are now wonderful young men.

Shirley: I, too, believe that the gifts and talents we use, as Christians, are to be exercised for the glory of God, no matter what it is.

I've always loved to sing harmony and I learned to play a couple of instruments as a youth. When the Lord found me, He increased my talent with stringed instruments (primarily the guitar), and I began writing songs for Him from scriptures that I could play and sing on my Martin guitar for years as a worship leader. It became my ministry, Bella. I vowed later, that whoever I gave that guitar too, would also do the same.

The Lord re-directed my life in time to show my creativity with writing, and I've been there ever since. Every talent we have is a ministry from Him to be used for Him.

You mentioned the VA Hospital, Bella. Because I am a military mom, I can sense the blessing you received as you met with those other women because of what they do. Every man and woman in the military wrenches at my heart, which reminds me of the importance to pray for them.

Bella: Crosses are simple to make and easy to give away. If your readers will provide me an address (email me to bellasteele54@aol.com) I will send them a cross.

Shirley: You can be sure you'll hear from me too. What a treat especially this time of year. God bless you, Bella.

To read more about Bella's needlework ministry, please check out her blog over at artistwithahook.blogspot.com. 

And as I mentioned earlier, Bella also is a gifted author. If you, as a reader, have not had the opportunity to enjoy her writing, I'm including one of her books here for you to search out.
Bella: May God Bless (you) Shirley, for providing this wonderful service. May the peace of Christ be with you always.

Bella Annabelle Steele

Shirley: To the viewers this week. Drop us a line and tell us what you believe God has especially gifted you in and what you believe is your ministry. We'd love to hear from you. And don't forget to let me know that you'll be sending a note to Bella, so she can bless you with a stitched cross.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why She Wrote Masquerade Marriage or What Makes Her Tick. I'll Write it; You Decide

I'm delighted to be sharing Anne Greene with you for a few days, and a little bit about her exciting book, Masquerade Marriage. Have you ever wondered what makes a writer tick, and what gets behind an author's mind to help in the creation process? We're going to learn a little about that with Anne, who has decided to freely share about herself with us.
Shall we get started?

In Anne's early years she lived in a small farm town in Ohio, and has lived in San Diego, Chicago, and now lives in  McKinney,Texas, when she's not deployed with her husband. Anne has four grown children, and just recently returned from spending a year in Seoul, Korea where her husband served in the Military as a Special Forces Colonel (Green Beret). Anne loves to play sports, sail in the ocean, and travel, and has visited twenty-five foreign countries and every State in the US except Alaska. (Most importantly for us) writing is her passion.

Anne delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. She writes both historical and suspense novels. After falling in love with several countries and their people, Anne set a number of her books in exotic locations. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries, including three communist countries. A visit to Scotland resulted in her newest book release, Masquerade Marriage, published by White Rose Publishing.

In 1990, Anne graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas, Dallas. Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne and to view pictures from her extensive travel, visit her  (after this interview) at www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

She also has several other books you might find interesting on her website and her books can be purchased at http://www.WhiteRosePublishing.com

Shirley: Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts, Anne. Let's get to some questions and interesting aspects about you. First of all, why did you write Masquerade Marriage?                    
Anne: During a long visit to the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland I became intrigued with why Highland Clans no longer occupied the Highlands. You’ll find the surprising answer in my book Masquerade Marriage. I’m of Scottish ancestry as are so many Americans, and bagpipes music makes my heart sing. I fell in love with the awesome country and the friendly, complex people. So, being a writer, of course I had to write of what I knew. I love the clear fresh air, the handsome people, the amazing openness of the country, the castles, and the Scots violent, adventurous history. In the next few years I plan to add Cailin and Fiona’s love stories to Megan’s legendary love.

Shirley: How about describing your writing space for us?

Anne: I have the pool table room. The center of our big recreation room holds the pool table. Every other nook and cranny holds my glass u-shaped desk, computer, paper, and stacks of work to be done. I have five crammed bookcases, four crammed file cabinets, a comfortable sofa, six 20 x 24 pictures of my family on the walls, a bank of windows to my right overlooking the golf course. A desk and easel take up one corner of the long room where my art supplies and half-finished paintings wait. On lovely days I step outside my door onto the upstairs porch and work. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect writing space.
Shirley: Interesting to say the least. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Anne: That first, all-important chapter. So many things must be included, and yet the pacing has to keep the reader’s interest.
Shirley: What hidden talent do you possess outside of writing... something you do for fun, but are good at?

Anne: I’m really good at games. My family won’t play with me because I always win. I’m also a pretty good artist. Some of my pictures are on my website, but my best two aren’t finished yet.

Shirley: What genre would you like to explore that you haven’t tried to write in yet? Will you? What would you never see yourself writing?
Anne: I’d like to write Medieval and Biblical. Also, I’m thinking of delving into short stories. I doubt I’ll ever write about Vampires or Werewolves.

Shirley: Okay, how about this for a question, Anne? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Anne: In China I watched my dear husband eat a roasted Scorpion. In Korea I ate Kimchi, but didn’t eat the silk worm larva. Phew! In Australia, I didn’t eat Kangaroo burgers. In Viet Nam I ate some really good stuff and have no idea what it was.

Shirley: Well, I've never had Scorpian, but I have eaten Kimchi. Didn't like that one bit. But what in the world is the silk worm larva? Is that in Kimchi? Ugh. You also mentioned Kangaroo burgers. When I was in Australia, I didn't want to touch those either, but my husband and I did enjoy turtle soup. So tell us Anne, what do you like to do when you’re not writing...or eating?

Anne: Go to church. I never write on Sunday. I love being with my family. I enjoy going out, doesn't matter where. I like to travel. I like to take walks with my dog. I love spending time with my friends. Oh, there are too many things to number.

Shirley: If you could go anywhere to tomorrow, where would you go?
Anne: I’d like to go back to being twenty-one. LOL.

Shirley: What do you find most rewarding about writing, Anne?

Anne: I like the process. I like becoming the characters and living in the settings. I like the adventure of finding out what’s going to happen. I love working with words. I like to rewrite and polish. I like it all.

Shirley: You make that very clear by what you're sharing with us right here. If you didn’t write, what would you do?
Anne: I’d like to be an archaeologist. I’d love to spend time on a dig and unearth treasures of the past. I like the camping out with like-minded people who get their hands dirty and keep their minds agile. I’d like to sit around at night after a profitable day in the field and discuss larger than life characters who made a mark in time.

Shirley: What is you least favorite aspect of writing?
Anne: I love it all. I love the initial meeting the characters and finding out what they want to do. I love fleshing out backgrounds and settings. I love watching the characters and transcribing their actions to the page. I love rewrites and working with words to express exact meanings. I love polishing to see if I can make the story even better. My least favorite aspect of writing is the publicity part. It’s not enough these days for a writer to tell an awesome story, the writer must also sell that story to readers, and get her name known. That means book signings and making public appearances. That’s hard for most writers who would prefer to be sitting quietly at home rather than being the center of attention at some store or library.
 Shirley: I'm having so much fun learning about you, I must ask you a couple more things. Okay? If you could meet any two people in the world, who would they be, and why?
Anne: That’s a really hard question. I’ve already met the people in the world that mean the most to me, my husband and family. I love meeting new people who become my friends. I’m not star struck, so there are no famous movie, media, or sports figures I’d love to meet. I’m not avidly political, so there’s no president or politician I’d like to meet. I’ve already met many of the wonderful authors I read. I think I’d travel way into the future and want to meet my great-great-grandson and daughter to see if my Christian legacy remains with them—that is if the Lord doesn’t come first.

Shirley: How long have you been writing?

Anne: Masquerade Marriage is my second published book. I’ve been writing about ten years. Reading was my escape in my growing up years, and I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I graduated from the University of Texas cum laude with a degree in Literary Studies, but worked as a photographer and as a Real Estate Agent before diving in full-time to write. When I joined American Christian Romance Writers, the journey to writing got much easier. I have a wonderful critique group, and because of their annual conference, I’ve met many editors and agents. Finalling in writing contests gave me excellent feedback, plus got me my latest contract with White Rose Publishing. So, I recommend both contests and conferences.

Shirley: What is the most illuminating thing you discovered in researching Masquerade Marriage and which character was the hardest to get right?

Anne: I loved delving deep into Scottish history. I am both Scotch and English as are so many Americans. I know my American history, but my knowledge of Scottish history was spotty until I began researching for this period. I loved weaving the information I gleaned into the fabric of my story. So many heroic people lived during that tremulous time. I love reading and writing about courage. In fact, a reader can find that theme in every one of my books. I don’t try to get my characters right. I become the character. She/he tells me what is happening inside and what she plans to do about it, and then I just let her/him do it. That’s what so much fun about writing. I live each journey, each adventure of each character.
Shirley: What’s the take-away message you want the reader to find in Masquerade Marriage and what's next?
Anne: That God is in control. No matter how awful the circumstances in a person’s life, God doesn’t let anything happen to you outside of His perfect will. (For what comes next) I am working a sequel to Masquerade Marriage, as well as a number of other books. So just keep your eyes open for books written by Anne Greene.
Shirley: Before we get into the story itself, what, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Anne: Great question! The craft takes years to learn for most writers. Every element is important. But, I think the writer’s imagination is the most important. Her voice, what makes her who she is, and what she is passionate about. Of course, the most talented writer must learn about characterization, plot, vivid words, and all the ABCs of writing style.


Like a determined hero, the fugitive warrior strode through the door at the far end of the tiny stone kirk.
            Megan’s eyes widened. Her clenched jaw relaxed. Some of her dread dissolved.
            “Impressive.” Molly, Megan’s Irish maid, whispered from where they stood together in the vestibule.
            He stopped in front of the hand-carved altar and half-turned toward her. Megan pulled in an uneven breath. This Highlander, wearing formal kilts, was no scrawny lad grown older, nor was he a big, hairy Scot with a bushy beard. The tall, strapping soldier stood with legs braced as if about to do battle.
            Her heart skipped. Though she’d known Brody when she wore short skirts, this blond warrior was far more than she expected. Her pulse throbbed in her temples. Doubt niggled her brain. Brody was too tall, too obviously a Highlander. How could she hope to pass him off as a Lowland Laird? He appeared to have too big a chip on his shoulder to let her command him.
            Brody’s thick sandy hair swept the collar of his linen shirt. Lace-trimmed cuffs matched the white jabot at his muscular throat. A silver broach clapsed his crimson and black tartan to his wide right shoulder. His Claymore, dirk, and thick sword belt startled her.
            Megan suppressed a shudder. The English outlawed kilts. With his dress, Brody spat in the face of the English and further imperiled his life. Why?
            His intense sapphire stare blazed a trail across the empty wooden pews toward her. His eyes made her feel dizzy as if she just danced a fast reel with a lively partner.
            Molly grinned and handed Megan the bridal flowers.
            What had she gotten herself into? 

Shirley: I guarantee it's great! I'm in the middle of reading the copy you sent me now, and I'm loving it, Anne.
I also appreciate that you're going to be sharing a giveaway with one of our responders. What question would you like to ask?

Anne: I also write contemporary suspense novels. I have a sassy detective novel, a modern day cowboy suspense, and a Coast Guard mystery, all set in my home state of Texas in the works. Did you know parts of the Civil War were fought in the west? I have a novel in the pipes that is a second book of a family saga which occurred in Talaquah, Oklahoma. I also have a World War 11 Women Pilots love I’d love to know if you prefer historical novels to contemporary novels. I’m taking a poll, so could you leave a comment?