Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just around the corner with Lillian...

With Christmas just around the corner, we are sharing with you, a little about Lillian Duncan, who is looking forward to sharing one of her books with one of you for a Christmas giveaway. If you like suspense romances, you'll definitely want to read about Deception!

Read on...

Lillian Duncan lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband, four parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Whether as a speech-language pathologist, an educator, or as a writer, she believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word. Lillian believes books can be entertaining without being trashy. She writes the types of books she loves to read, suspense with a touch of romance. Her newest release is PURSUED and her fifth novel, DECEPTION, will be released later this year. 

Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious relationship issues. They haven’t spoken since Jamie ruined Patti’s upcoming nuptials years ago. When a niece she knows nothing about telephones, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her mysterious disappearance. Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister.

As the investigation grows more dangerous, Carter begrudgingly admits the safest place for Patti is at his side. Each step in their journey leads them closer to the truth but pulls them further down a road filled with danger and deception, where each will battle for survival and the lives of countless Americans.


Women didn’t leave their purses—for any reason. She’d heard of women running back into burning buildings to get them.

Maybe Jamie was using a different one at the moment, Patti reasoned, trying to reassure herself. Patti opened the Gucci handbag. Just the usual things: a brush, makeup, some gum.

She opened the billfold. Her breath faltered.

Inside were several credit cards and a driver’s license. The license showed the address of the house Patti was sitting in at the moment.

 It was Jamie’s current purse.

Patti’s concern moved up several notches from mild anxiety to apprehension.

Why would Jamie walk out of the house without her purse or her child? She stared down at the license, barely able to breathe.

Her heart reached out to Jamie’s. Where are you, sis? Are you in trouble?

Nothing. No answers. No connection with her twin. Tears dripped on the license she still held. It didn’t matter. Patti knew the answer.

Jamie hadn’t left this house willingly.


One of my favorite Christmas gifts as a child was a Barbie Doll. My older sister found them before Mom wrapped them. As far as I know, she never knew we took them out and played with them.

What's your favorite Christmas gift from childhood?

You can find Lil at her website and blog: 

Congratulations to Glenda Parker of Broken Bow, NE

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's All a Matter of "THYME"

Historical writer and renowned author-contributor of many articles over at Today's Christian Woman and elsewhere, Pamela Meyers is here with us to close out the Thanksgiving holidays and take us into the Christmas season. I'm thrilled to get to know Pam a little better here at the blog. I'm sure you will be too as you learn of her books and background and get a chance to win a copy of one of her books for yourselves. What a great Christmas gift that would be for one of you. Let's meet Pam together.

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Pamela S. Meyers currently lives in Arlington Heights, Ill. She served on the Operating Board for ACFW 2005-2009, and is president of her local ACFW chapter. Her debut novel Thyme for Love releases November 14, 2011, and her historical that is set in her hometown, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, will release in June 2012. She has published articles in Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Computing, Victory in Grace, and Ancestry. She is also a contributor in the compilation book, His Forever.

SDC: Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts, Pam. Before we get going, what would you say your theme scripture is as a writer? One that explains your  vision and makes it plain to the readers why you write?

Pam: Wow, that’s a good question. I can’t say that I have one scripture that is a theme. One that jumped out at me as I waited for God to move in my writing was Psalm 37: 3-4 in the New King James Version: Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

God gave me this scripture while I was at a writing conference and feeling very discouraged. The bolded words jumped out at me. It was as if God were saying this is where you are for now, but look back at how I’ve been faithful to you. Let that fill you and at the right time, after you have delighted in Me, I will give you the desires of your heart.

SDC:  Oh, I love that. And I can definitely see how God could minister that to you in a special way. Tell us about your publisher now and your experiences in working with them. Please include more about what you have coming out soon.

Pam:  OakTara Publishers is a fairly new small press that is co-owned by Ramona Tucker and Jeff Nesbitt. Both have been in the publishing industry for many years. They are growing and can be checked out at their website: . I had a unique experience when after my agent, Terry Burns, told me Ramona wanted to contract me for Thyme for Love, I learned she and Terry would both be at the Write to Publish Conference which is held close to my home. I suggested I come over to the conference for lunch and Terry arranged for Ramona and I to meet. She actually gave my contract at that time and I have a photo of me signing it while Ramona looked on.

SDC: How fortunate that was for you. And there again we see God at work in your life! How else do you thread faith, love, and hope along with the reality of life work together in your stories?

Pam: I try to weave the spiritual thread organically into my stories. The last thing I want is for the thread to be seen as contrived or preachy. My characters struggle with faith and trials and like so many of us, they sometimes lash out at God, but learn through the process that God has their best interests at heart and can be trusted to see them through.

SDC: Such a great way to get the message of your story out to the readers. How long did you have to wait before getting published the first time?

Pam: I first had the seed planted in me that I could write for publication by a writing professor when I was in an accelerated adult program to receive my bachelor’s. That was in the mid 90’s. I dabbled at fiction writing, wrote a few published magazine articles, and then in about 2000 began to seriously pursue fiction publication. So it was basically about eleven years.

SDC:  Never too long a wait -- never too short. Instead, just the amount of time God saw that was necessary. I'm going to switch gears for a moment, Pam. Right now as I ask this question, I have a candle lit at the corner of my desk, and classical music playing in the background. The scent and sound keeps my creative juices flowing, but I have a difficult time sitting all alone for too long at a time before I have to go say hello to my husband. Does a room or special place or thing play any part in your story writing and how?

Pam: Ever since I contracted I saw a need as never before to have a home office that was functional. I had a small corner of my bedroom set aside with a computer desk and a file cabinet. But I hated sitting there and ended up doing most of my writing on my couch. A couple months ago I decided to turn my dining area into an office and got rid of my large dining table, replacing it with a small drop-leaf. I actually love having more the feel of a office and have been able to develop a stronger work ethic by actually “going to work” every morning and working until late afternoon. I do take a break to exercise and/or run errands about midday.

SDC: How does your family and the ministry with your church correspond with your time to write and do research for writing?

Pam: I am single and both my parents are deceased. So I am not distracted by demands of family, but I have a lot of writer friends and church friends. I am blessed in that way and my friends do respect my writing time and basically “leave me alone” to do it when asked. I’ve been so swamped lately with marketing my new book and editing another book from Summerside Press called Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (my hometown) that will be out in June, that I’ve had to step back from one of the ministries I’m involved in at my church. Hopefully, that’s temporary.

SDC:  I'm blessed to hear how your church friends respect your time. So often, people do not realize that writing time is not always an easy process, and it does take a considerable amount of our day. We very much need that to be able to do the work we've been contracted to do. What question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner of your newest book coming out?

Pam:  What is your favorite genre of fiction to read?

SDC: Thanks so much. Please include your URL and where people can find your books.

Pam: You can read about me at my blog/website: . Right now it’s my blog only, but I am hoping to get material from my website moved over to it soon. Also you can check out my book trailer for Thyme for Love at:

Thyme for Love can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Please note that Amazon is currently stating the book will not ship for 6-9 weeks. This is in error. Amazon does have books We are working to get that corrected. Kindle and Nook editions will be out in a couple weeks.


Congratulations to Bethany Schweitzer of Columbus, OH. Your book is on its way!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Thanksgiving Reflection

by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD

            Perhaps at no other time during the year do we focus on giving gratitude than on Thanksgiving Day. While giving thanks is appropriate on this traditional national holiday, giving thanks can and should be a part of every single day.

            Scripture commands us to enter God’s gates with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4). This means that the first step to entering God’s presence is to give thanks. The giving of thanks ushers us into the vestibule of Heaven and leads us to the edge of its courts. We then enter the courts of Heaven through praise.
            So thanksgiving precedes praise. In a very real sense, it prepares us for praise. Praise, in turn, puts us in the very midst of God’s presence because the Word tells us that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
            But it all starts with giving thanks. 

            Giving thanks, moreover, is essential in nurturing our relationship with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. If you are a parent, you understand how an expression of thanks from your child warms your heart, especially since such expressions may be the exception rather than the rule. You also understand how a complaint from your child disheartens you,  leaving you feeling sad and discouraged. So it is with our Heavenly Father. When we thank Him, we warm His heart. When we complain, we hurt Him.
            Determine today that you will make the giving of thanks a priority not only in your relationship with God but also in your relationships with others. Let your expressions of gratitude be a balm to the downcast soul and an elixir of life to your own. Most of all, let your thanksgiving be a sweet fragrance rising up continually to our Heavenly Father, filling Him with joy and delight.         
© 2011 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD.

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Her latest book, You Were Made for Greatness!, is available as an e-book on Amazon, Smashwords, and other Kindle venues. You may contact MaryAnn through her website at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hmm...Indiana Jones meets missionary love? Is that food for thought or an introduction?

It's so much fun to introduce you to debut authors, and this week we have another delightful guest, Debbie Kaufman, who is anxious to tell us all about her debut book, The Doctor's Mission. Follow me, as we step into my blog and meet her together.

Debbie Kaufman has always found a good book to be a great escape.  Years ago she failed to heed her mother’s advice when told to get her nose out of a book.  Instead, she parlayed her reading addiction into writing award-winning fiction.  Originally a Kentucky girl, Debbie now lives in Georgia with her own romance hero, her husband of over thirty years.  Her first novel is a Love Inspired Historical titled The Doctor’s Mission (Nov. 2011).

SKC:  It's wonderful to meet you, Debbie. Now, we are anxious to hear about your new project. Tell us about it.

Debbie:  I’m involved in promoting my first published book, The Doctor’s Mission.  Love Inspired Historical just released it this month, and it is a missionary romantic adventure set in the jungle of 1918-1920 Liberia, Africa, featuring the cannibal tribes of the time. I describe The Doctor’s Mission as a bit of “Indiana Jones meets missionary love.”

SKC:  What keeps you going on days that you don't necessarily feel like writing?

Debbie:  On those days that I really don’t want to put myself in front of the computer screen, I’ve usually fallen back on the reward system.  I set a goal, and if I make it, I allow myself something I want.  For me, that’s usually reading time, something that is at a premium since I published. 

However, yesterday I read a review that a reader left me on Amazon for The Doctor’s Mission, and I found a more mature motivation.  After all the wonderful things this reader said, she ended with this: “I didn't want this unique journey to end. I keep imagining where the author might take us next time!”  Reading that comment made me realize that I had a responsibility and my motivation level is now very high.  I can’t afford to let someone down now that I’ve put that first book out there. I may occasionally still need to reward myself in the short term, but now I’ve got my eyes on longer range goals.  

SKC:  That's a good system, Debbie. Thanks. Starting and ending a book is often the most difficult, for many writers.  Describe how you come up with the beginning and end to your story.

Debbie:  The beginning usually comes to me like watching a movie.  Something sparks an idea, and I see a scene and its setting in strong detail—sights, sounds, feelings, everything.  Then the real work begins as I plot out where to go from there. 

Because I plot, I pretty much know the ending before I get more than a couple of chapters on the page. Sometimes when I get stuck going forward, I take a big leap and actually write the ending before the middle.  I’ve even been known to work backwards from there!

SKC:  What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book?

Debbie: Gosh, Shirley, it’s hard to choose just one thing as the key!  There are so many elements to a good book, but since you’re asking for only one, I would say the key is to never take the easy way out.  Don’t go for the cliché, the trite, because it cheats the reader. When you’re writing, it’s so easy to want to quit and say something is good enough so that you don’t have to rewrite that page/scene/chapter again. You’ll never get a truly good book by doing taking the easy way. 

SKC:  How do you create your settings, and do you take advantage of the area that’s around you or do you research and discover new places? 

Debbie:  I am a total research geek.  The Doctor’s Mission is set in 1918 Liberia, Africa. I read countless missionary journals, scholarly texts from a later Harvard expedition, and page-turned my way through anything with photographs from the time to create my jungle setting. May I just say that Google books and the Library of Congress are both my new best friends?

SKC:  After you finish your present project what plans do you have?

Debbie:  I’m working on a second Liberian missionary romance, and I have a third in mind with the same setting.  I’ve already had that “movie moment” for book three and know how it opens.  But, for book four, I want to turn to China.  I have some actual experience in China since my fourth child was adopted from there and I set up an international adoption program there in the 90’s. 

SKC: We appreciate that you are planning to donate a book to one of the readers here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. What would you like to ask our readers today?

Debbie:   Shirley, thanks for having me here this week.  I’d love your readers to tell us their feelings about a book’s setting: How important is setting to you? Any memorable ones you care to share? If you could choose a setting for a book, where would it be?

SKC: Please let us know where your book can be found and where our readers can learn more about you.

Debbie: You can find my books at , Amazon ( ),Barnes and Noble ( ­), Christian Book Distributors  ( or any local retailer that carries the line.
For more about me, my books, and missions, visit my website at
For an excerpt of The Doctor’s Mission: 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mysteries Come in the Most Unusual Places

While we share a little about the art of writing, and reflections that offer us encouragement here at  A Pen for Your Thoughts, we also love to promote other authors with interviews and reviews as well as excerpts from their upcoming books.

In the next few days we look forward to sharing with you more about the Award Winning Author, ANNE GREENE who 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. When Anne is not deployed with her husband, she makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Two of her four children live nearby. The well known Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor.

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 at   

Anne's upcoming release is called
A Texas Christmas Mystery.

 A lady Coastguardsman searches for a killer. An oil rig troubleshooter accused of murder races to clear his name. The murderer strives to silence them both. As Amber Meredith seeks to arrest Derrick Darbonne, sparks fly. She needs to solve her first case. But the handsome Cajun suspect makes her heart race and her toes tingle. Derrick has worked all his life for his high-paying, adventurous job. When his past threatens his future, will he endanger the woman he loves?

Join me as we get a hint at how the book begins.

Galveston, Texas
           Only one thing scared Derrick Darbonne. He had no fear of fire, hurricane, sabotage, high seas, drunken roughnecks, reckless roustabouts, brawls, or hard work. But losing the job he’d slaved all his life to obtain terrified him.
            He’d worked himself up from oaks draped with Spanish moss, murky alligator-filled water, and a tiny cabin on the banks of the bayou with no running water or electricity. He’d finally gotten to where he wanted to be. And now someone was trying to pin a murder on him. Some Christmas present.
            Derrick crushed the schematics he’d been scanning and jammed them into his pocket. He braced his legs wide on the steel floor of the oil rig and raised the powerful navigational binoculars. A Coast Guard cutter slashed a white wedge through the sparkling Gulf waters straight toward his oil platform.
            His jaw tightened, his spine stiffened, and he swallowed.
            Standing beside him, Joe Bridges, the MIC, Man in Charge, swore.
            If Derrick had been a swearing man, he would have joined Joe. Instead, he gripped the navigational binoculars tighter. “Third time this week. If I had anything to hide, I’d jump ship.” He smacked his hard hat so thoroughly his ears rang. “Thought so! That guardsman is a female.” Here was a Coastie bearing down on him with the authority to shut down the operation. The men would be out of work just in time for Christmas. What pretense to investigate the murder was the Coast Guard using this time?
             Derrick lowered the binoculars and frowned. “She looks familiar.”
             “Ever since you arrived for the routine inspection, Cajun, the Coast Guard’s been on our backs.” Scowling, Joe thrust out a hand for the glasses. “Then there was the murder. That’s the reason the big boss’s keeping you out here again, so long.”
             “Don’t I know it! I’m looking for a saboteur as well. Probably the same guy.” Derrick slapped the binoculars into Joe’s hand and tried to lighten his foreboding with a jabbing tease. “Now I’ve got to get the Coast Guard environmental crew out of your hair.”
            “Rib me, will ya?” Joe repositioned his yellow hard hat over his bald head and shook a work-hardened finger. “I’ll bet you I can get that Coastie to go for me and my shiny head before she goes for you and that Cajun accent of yours. Loser pays a hundred bucks.”
            “You want us to distract her with our masculine charm so she won’t sniff out any violations that could shut us down?” Derrick surveyed the rig’s two-hundred-foot deck looking for any OSHA or EPA trouble the Coast Guard might use to give a citation. Sunlight slanted off the metal plates causing enough glare to hurt his eyes. He didn’t like Joe’s plan.
             “You got it.” Joe grinned.
              Derrick gave a tight smile. He slid his gaze to the roughneck inside the glass-enclosed room, jiggling the joy sticks and pushing the buttons that worked the rig’s floor. The big man hooking a new drill in place beneath the five-hundred-foot drilling tower wore his safety equipment. No problem there.
              Derrick flicked his gaze over the new hire, the eighteen year old from Galveston. The kid’s long blond hair straggled from beneath his yellow hard hat. He was bent over washing sludge and mineral oil through sand to clean out the last drop of hydrocarbon before reusing the sand. Kid was a hard worker, already adept at his job. No laws broken. No environmental procedures shortcut.
             The rest of the roughnecks and roustabouts worked steadily. None violated safety measures. No oil spills or pipe breaks had occurred. The hole drilled through the sea bottom was clean and not yet exceptionally deep. They should hit oil soon. Joe Bridges had a salty vocabulary, but the boss man ran a tight rig. So why suddenly all the anonymous phone calls about regulation problems? Had to be the murder.
             Derrick needed to come up with answers.
             “Alamo Oil pays you a hefty salary to make sure things run smooth on all two hundred of its rigs.” Joe’s voice sounded more than a little jealous.
             “Don’t I know it.” Derrick ran a hand over the stubble already growing after his close morning shave.
            “Alamo doesn’t want to fork out any stiff fines or lose any drill time because of environmental pollution, safety violations, mismanagement, or accidents. So make sure that Coastie’s distracted.” Joe winked. “And don’t mention the murder. We’ve trampled that ground too many times with the Coast Guard already.”
             “Right.” Derrick rubbed the back of his neck. An uneasy feeling kept nagging him about the murder. Nothing he could put a handle to, but—too many clues led directly to him. Once the Coast Guard put the puzzle together, they’d come looking for him. He grunted. How had his personal helmet wound up grasped in the dead kid’s hand?
              Joe swore loud enough that the crew cleaning sand looked up. He lowered his voice. “That Coastie’s gonna cause trouble. I feel it in my bones.” His eyes, shadowed under his hard hat, looked wary. “We gotta keep her thinking about us, not her job.” He handed the binoculars back.
             Derrick frowned. “I think you’re just hard up for a date. You want a girl friend to share Christmas with.”
           As the Coast Guard cutter pulled alongside their offshore rig, Derrick focused the binoculars on the trim figure in her blue uniform. He’d not seen many women in the Guard, and none that looked so curvy…wow, hotter than a Louisiana mudbug boil. He loved that spicy crawfish dish.
           Dread inside his gut heightened. Sweat beaded his forehead. He got tongue-tied around women. “This can’t be good!”
            “Yeah. The broad’s probably a—”
            “It’s Amber Meredith!” Derrick fumbled the expensive binoculars, made a grab for them, and caught them just before they hit the deck. 

SOUNDS GOOD, DOESN'T IT! Anne looks forward to offering a free book to one of our readers. Be sure to share a comment below and leave an email address to get your name added to the basket of potentials winners of this upcoming book! What a great Christmas present that would be! We look forward to hearing from you.

Congratulations to E.A. West of Middletown, INDIANA!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I'm thrilled to bring Jude Urbanski to you as she shares a little about her writing journey and plans to share some of her talent with you by offering one of her books to some lucky someone.

Jude  Urbanski writes both fiction and nonfiction. She weaves stories where heroes and heroines spin tragedy into triumph, always with a faith element involved. Passion for writing has always been a part of her life, but she’s been writing fiction for only the past five years.

SKC:  Thanks so much for being here with us, Jude. Where are you from and where did you grow up? Before you tell us more about your work, how would you say your upbringing relates to your writing?

JU My mother was a great story teller and passed on much of my family history in this way. Sitting around the living room and listening to her was a fond childhood memory. My many years spent as a health professional, a Parish Nurse and a lay spiritual counselor bring the healing aspect I use in many of my stories.  But, Shirley, I was born in the south and grew up in Indiana. I use the south as a setting for my books quite often.

 SKC: How do your get your brain into the creative mode?

JU My daily routine includes rising early (have always done this-not being virtuous), taking my thyroid medicine (ugh), brewing coffee and then having meditation and time in God’s word. Only after this am I ready to write. I listen to Pandora’s internet radio, usually to classical or jazz music, while I write.

SKC:   I love listening to the classical music station myself, while I'm writing. What inspires you to keep going?

JU The joy of seeing something I have written in published print. But even more importantly, having someone say they received some hope or thought from the writing.

SKC:  Oh, yes, I could put a thumbs up on that one. It is SUCH a joy to hear someone is reading your book and enjoying it at the same time. When did you know writing books would become the passion of your heart and what message do you filter in your stories, if any?    

JU Oh, I had started a novel probably 25 years ago, but it was only when I retired, I allowed myself to give my writing its needed time. I so admire young mothers who managed to write! My message I guess is there is always hope and it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

SKC:  I couldn't agree more. You are still a fairly new author like I call myself, and probably always will. What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book so far?

JU Yes, even though I’m on my fourth book, write a regular column and a zillion other little things, still feel a beginner. I never want to quit learning. The KEY though is having a compelling story and writing it well.

SKC:  How do you schedule your daily writing time, Jude, so that it does not interfere with your God time and quality time with family?

JU I mentioned I aim for meditation or quiet time before anything else. Of course, I don’t always get it accomplished.  You’d think since my husband and I are retired, we’d have all the time in the world, but not so! If you’re not retired, just wait. Or, maybe we just never change our paces. We are both very actively involved in church and community. We have a huge family we still wish to devote time to also. I don’t want my writing to overwhelm and discipline and choices are required to maintain balance.

SKC:  After you finish your present projects what plans do you have?

JU I desire to secure an agent and I have some other ideas of books. A few of my family members write or are in the creative arts and I want to be able to help in this area.

SKC: Sounds good. Okay, here is this. Tell me your first thoughts. A reader has come to your door to tell you she has a great story about her life that she would like you to put into a story. What would you tell her?

JU Shirley! Is this a trick question? I’d probably tell her to write it!

SKC:  No trick. But I loved your answer. Jude, it's been a pleasure having you here. Let us know what book you would like to share with us. And be sure to include here where readers can come find you or your books.   

JU I’m excited about the upcoming release of book one, Joy Restored, in my series, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing. It will be released in electronic format by Desert Breeze Publishing the middle of November. I loved writing this book! In fact, someone will be the lucky winner from this blog if they comment and leave an email address!

SKC: Thanks so much.

JU: To order the book, go to Desert Breeze Publishing and click on my name or use my blog or website.