Saturday, September 22, 2012

How about a little chat with JOANN!

JoAnn Carter lives in Vermont with her wonderful husband of 19 years, four children and Ginger, the best dog in the world. 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. She is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats. To contact her, please write

Want to write a series? Read what JoAnn has to say...and be sure to leave a comment below to get your name on the list to win a copy of her brand new book!

by JoAnn Carter
Shirley, thanks for having me over to your wonderful blog for a visit. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. And… to all you readers, welcome! I’m thrilled and honored that you’ve taken the time to stop by for a little chat.
Shirley has invited me to talk about the inspiration behind the ROARIN’ TWENTIES SERIES. I love that idea because perhaps you are someone who would like to try your hand at writing but you’re not quite sure where to start.
Lean a bit closer and, writer to writer, I’ll tell you something strange. There are times when inspiration comes from the most mundane task or when you’re least expecting it. It’s this tiny spark that you may not think much of at first, but there it stays, sometimes hidden in the recess of your mind for a while before it blossoms into something special. Beware… don’t be on the lookout for any grandiose thoughts. In fact, honestly, it may not start at much. This type of inspiration is like that little, tiny grain of Faith – only the size of mustard seed – but as Scripture tell us ~ it can move mountains.
Wow! How fun is that?! So, I want to encourage you today, if there’s a thought or idea that God keeps bringing to mind, don’t brush it away. Why not explore it? Ask some “what if” questions, then jot down different case scenarios of what could happen if you were to start a plot. Who knows, it will be the musings for that book which is inside of you.
That’s pretty much what happened with this series for me. My husband’s family was up for a visit and we were doing some fun touristy things in Vermont with them. Mind you, the idea of finding a subject to write about wasn’t even in my thoughts—I was only trying to be a good hostess. Anyway, off we went to visit the Shelburne Museum where a beautiful steamboat, the Ticonderoga, had been restored and on display. As soon as I stepped into this boat, I fell in love with it. While we walked around I read and soaked up every sign there was expounding on her the history. That's when one fact totally captured my imagination—my mustard seed. In 1923, the first female stewardess was hired. It didn't take long for those “what if questions” which I mentioned above, to start rolling around in my mind.
The concept for THE FLOATING PALACE was born. That tiny seed didn’t stop there though. It has carried this series through all the way to the Pine Barren’s of New Jersey. You see, I fell in love with the 1920’s. History came to life for me like never before as I studied the time period and the folks who lived in them. In my research, I came across the fact that T.B was a huge issue in this era. Wouldn’t you know -- in the township that I grew up in as a child/young adult, Pemberton Township, New Jersey, housed a Sanatorium, Fairview.
I’d rather think it was providence. Book Two: Mercies in Disguise, is set right there in the heart of the Pine Barrens.
To wrap up this trilogy, I was visiting my folks, who still live in the Pine Barrens. They invited me to go to the annual blueberry festival held at Whitesbog in Browns Mills, NJ. I drove down the windy, dirt road that led there, took one look at the restored village building, and my heart sped up. I felt as if I were right there, looking through Dede, the main character’s eyes. That was it – mustard seed 3 -- the perfect place for the last book, Shifting Sands.
Hey, do me a favor okay? If you are a newbie to this writing stuff and have a thought or a seed and that grows into a story, let me know. I’d love to hear about it!
--It’s my pleasure to introduce to you The Roarin’ Twenties Series~
·        The Floating Palace
ELLIE DUNKLING’S life long dream has been to work on one of Lake Champlain’s steamboat, the Ticonderoga. There’s only one problem. Men, not women, are hired to work on ships. Ellie, however is determined to change that. After all, it is 1923 and far from the dark-ages.

Captain PHILIP LAWHORN is a man’s man. When Champlain Transportation Inc. informs him a woman has been hired to work on his ship as stewardess, he’s anything but pleased. First, he doesn’t appreciate the fact someone’s hired on his twenty-eight-member crew without his knowledge. Secondly, how is he supposed to handle this company mandated—sure to be—disaster?
·         Mercies in Disguise
Abigail Madison finally finds a man who captures her affections – Ticonderoga's steamboat pilot, Stanley Fisher. But will the tender shoots of love have a chance bloom after a serious illness strikes and threatens their happiness?

Abigail Madison, a gentle quiet spirit, has always dreamed of a life away from her mother’s controlling ways. Even more than that, she’s dreamed of finding someone with whom she could share her life with. However, her shyness is often taken as aloofness and no marital prospects were anywhere to be found. What was to become of her hopes?
Stanley Fisher, the Steamboat pilot of the Ticonderoga, was drafted and fought in World War I. The experiences he lived though on the battlefield left him wounded -- but not in a way that the naked eye could see. Yet, when he meets Abigail, he yearns for a love like his best friend and Captain of the Ti, Philip found in Ellie. However, with his recurring nightmares from war, what does he have to offer to this special woman?
·         And finally, Shifting Sands, this week’s release…
Dede White is going to shut down the Fairview sanatorium, no matter what. Her beloved aunt died because of doctors like James Riley and she’s not going to let him trifle with any more lives. But -- James Riley isn’t what she thinks. Unfortunately, Dede doesn’t figure this out until she’s done her best to shut his sanatorium down. She might not be able to repair the damage she’s done, and even if she is, will he be able to love her back.
Purchase Links:
Desert Breeze Publishing:'-Twenties-Book/Detail.bok
 As well as other e-book retailers
 Question for book drawing~
Have you been inspired to write something lately? What has been your “mustard seed”?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Intriguing Secrets and Ashes Around the Rodeo -- Hmm?

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She’s had 6 books released since 2010 with three more to come. Find her books at,,, and Her latest title, Rodeo Ashes will be available at Walmart, Kmart, and Meijers in Oct. Learn more at and .
Shannon looks forward to sharing a copy of her newest book to one of our responders. We look forward to your comments.
The question for the week to you:  What do you enjoy the most about Westerns?

Lacie Gentry, a young widow and mom, is struggling with the aftermath of her husband’s tragic death. When she bumps into former classmate Quinn Remington, her future is undecided. She accepts a job teaching kids to ride at Quinn’s neighboring ranch, hoping to revitalize her life with an old pastime but soon sees in Quinn a chance to move forward with new love. . .if she’s ready.
It’s been years since Quinn has seen lovely Lacie Gentry—the girl he always admired in high school but never came close to dating. By the time they met, Lacie was engaged to rodeo star Mel Gentry then happily married. Now Lacie’s closer than ever. The attraction is still there, but so is a secret that might end any chance of romance.
Can they rise from the rodeo ashes?
     "How did I fall for this?” Lacie Gentry squeezed the steering wheel of her parked SUV until her fingers went numb.
     “Because I’m the biggest idiot in Texas. And to top things off—I’m talking to myself.”
     Movement at the curb in front of her car, and strains of a cry-in-your-beer country song twanged out the open bar door. Please let it be her friends, ready to head home. She looked up into the leer of a man.
     Oh goodness, what if he comes over here? Without taking her eyes off him, she found the lock button. The loud click broke the spell, and he turned away.
     Her breath released in a huff.
     She couldn’t stay here like a sitting duck, waiting for some carjacker. Or worse. She’d never heard of anything good happening inside or outside a bar. Maybe she could go somewhere else and wait. But if she did, how would her friends find her when they got done with whatever they were doing in there?
     She waited until the man drove away, scanned the Fort Worth parking lot three times, unlocked the door, and bolted to the bar. The August night air hadn’t cooled one iota, but a chill moved through her.
     Safer inside or out? At least there were witnesses inside.
    She scurried into the bar as if wolves waited in the shadows. But the wolves were inside.
     A dishwater-blond man swaggered over to her. “Hey beautiful, I lost my phone number. Can I borrow yours?”
     She sidestepped him and searched for a quiet corner.
     One of her friends had plastered herself against a man in a booth. Big-time public display of affection. Lacie averted her eyes and spotted a corner. She hurried to the table.
     No one notice me. No one notice me. No one notice me.
     She scanned the bar for her other friend. There on the dance floor with a man—if you could call that dancing.
     Lacie’s hand flew to her heart. What had she been thinking, getting in the car with these two? That they were grown women with sense and decency now? Wrong.
     A painfully skinny man stumbled in her direction. She looked down at the table in front of her.
     “Hey baby, I hope you know CPR, ’cause you take my breath away!” He leaned close enough for her to smell the liquor on his breath.
     “Excuse me.” She inched past him, searching frantically for an escape.
     A neon sign proclaimed Gals, and she ran for the safety of the ladies’ room.
     The door swung closed, and she surveyed the dingy bathroom.
     A denim-clad woman swayed to the country music as she stood at the sink applying lipstick. She missed her mouth, giggled, and tried again.
     Lacie found a clean, empty stall. Lord, if You’ll get me out of here safely, I’ll never be so stupid again. She dug her cell phone from her pocket.
     She couldn’t call her sister. Star would tell Mama. And Mama had told her never, ever, ever step foot in a bar. She never had. Until now. Twenty-seven years old and her first time in a bar.
     She grabbed a wad of toilet paper, shut the toilet lid, covered it with three paper liners, and then sat.
     Call Rayna and Clay? Lacie would never hear the end of it.
     Her friends already thought her too trusting and naive. They didn’t need any more ammo to convince her to move.
     No choice. Just wait it out. Besides, even though Marcy and Geena hadn’t acted as friends, Lacie couldn’t leave them here without a ride home.
     Rayna and Clay would ask questions if she came in really late, but she’d come up with something, and Max was fine with them.
     Half the time she still thought of her son as Little Mel, even though she’d changed his nickname to Max over a year ago.
     The door opened, followed by a moan. High-heel-clad feet stumbled to the stall next to Lacie. Heaving and splashing liquid. A foul odor emanated.
     Lacie’s stomach lurched. Covering her nose and mouth with one hand, she wrenched the door open and bolted for the exit.
     She ran into something solid then stepped back away from the wobbly man. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
     “That’s all right, darlin’. Can you give me directions?”
     “To where?"
     “To your heart.”
     Lacie rolled her eyes and blew out a big breath. Hmm. . . drunk guy or hurling woman in the bathroom?
     “Here’s your Coke, sweetheart.” A man’s deep voice, over her right shoulder. A calloused hand clamped on her elbow. “I found us a table right over here.”
     She spun around to give him a piece of her mind and met celery-colored eyes from her past. Quinn Remington.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Lady of Grace You'll Want to Meet

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, is a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist. A Promise for Miriam earned a spot on the June 2012 Christian Retailing Top Ten Fiction list. Chapman writes Amish fiction for Abingdon Press, Zondervan, and Harvest House. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
Vannetta Chapman 
I'm surprised how often readers ask me, "Where do you get your ideas?" I have a hard time turning off my writer's brain, and it seems that ideas for new stories are everywhere.
  • People I know
  • People I don't know
  • News stories
  • Music
  • Memories
  • Photographs
You can see, no one is safe from turning into a story! For my current release, Material Witness, I came up with different parts of the story from different places.
My "material witness" who sees the murder is a handicapped Amish boy. I taught for 15 years, and I worked with quite a few "special needs" children. They are incredibly bright, strong, resilient people. I also have a stepdaughter who is handicapped. So I know firsthand what parents go through as they try to raise these children to be independent.
Another side story I wove into Material Witness is John Wayne's movie The Cowboys. This is the 1972 movie where John Wayne uses a group of boys to help him move a herd of cattle. WHY would I include John Wayne in an Amish novel? It just so happens that the new version of True Grit (with Matt Damon) was filmed very close to where we live. In fact, Matt Damon stopped in our town to buy flowers. It was a BIG DEAL for this small Texas town. That started me watching old John Wayne films, and suddenly those young boys reminded me of young Amish boys--perhaps because of their innocence.
And music is just a huge inspiration for me. As soon as I heard the Eric Church song "Homeboy" I HAD some of the main characters in this book. It's a song about one brother's love for another, and how he wants him to come home.
It took me about four months to write this book. I keep a pretty strict schedule, determined to write so many words a day. This keeps me from being too stressed when a book is due! I have no trouble sitting down and "imagining" all day, but it is hard for me to stay inside working when the weather turns pretty like it is now. I work more hours than I did teaching, but it is totally worth it.
One scripture that helped guide me through this story was Ephesians 5:20 "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." You'll find this verse in all of my Author's Notes. It helps me to focus, to remember that I am thankful for the opportunity to share stories about God's grace, and most importantly--it reminds me that all I do, I do in the name of Christ.
                               Let's find out what Material Witness is about.  

Tragedy strikes on the opening night of the Fall Crafters Fair when a woman is killed in the parking lot of Daisy's Quilt Shop, and the only material witness is one of Melinda Byer's boys. The investigation takes a more bizarre turn when detective Shane Black becomes convinced the killer was actually after Callie.
This time it's a madman loose in the largest crowd of the year, and he's looking for something or
someone. If they can't figure out what, one of Deborah and Callie's close circle of friends may be next. Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, an Amish boy whose handicap makes him stronger, one brave dog, and a possible hidden treasure ... this time it's nonstop action, danger, and a dash of romance.

Would you like a chance to win a copy of Vannetta's new book? Check out her reflection question. We would love to hear what YOU have to say. (Winner will be selected from a random drawing later in the week.)

Vannetta wants to know. I love fall festivals, cooler days, and watching old movies--all of these things are included in Material Witness. What is one of your favorite old movies?
you can order your copy of Vannetta's book and find out more about this great author at any of the following links.