Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Welcome Laurie Alice with me please ~
Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer. Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. Besides selling eight other books in the "sweet" historical romance market and CBA publishers like Barbour Publishing and Baker/Revell, she has also sold articles and essays.
She is an active member of RWA, Novelists Inc., and ACFW, and started the Avalon Authors group blog. A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, And a Bachelor of Arts graduate in English and French from Asbury College, she is an experienced speaker, and has made presentations at local and national RWA conferences, as well as local universities and libraries.
She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and assorted cats and dogs, but is soon moving to Texas, where her husband will begin his law career.

SKC: I noted by your website you are another writer who tackles more than one genre. Tell us what your plans are in the near and eventual future.

LAE: Whether my book is set in London in 1816 or in Iowa in 1876, the themes stay the same—nineteenth century historical fiction with strong female protagonists and lots of romance and varrying degrees of mystery and suspense. My next book out, The Glassblower, is scheduled for release at the end of November from heartsong Presents and is set in New Jersey in 1809. After that, I have a book coming out with Avalon set in Virginia in 1892, two more Heartsongs set in New Jersey, but later in the nineteenth century, and then my first mainstream historical, Bride of the Mist, is a 2011 release from baker/Revell. I have three other Avalon books coming out, too, all set in the 1890s in Virginia or nearby.

SKC: What keeps your mind from wandering away from the discipline of staying on subject each day, Laurie Alice?

LAE: I have to work really hard at this. One thing I do is keep the email and things like that shut down. I also try to get up early so I can take care of a lot when I know no one will interrupt me. Otherwise, I am terribly distractible.

SKC: I have observed some of your characters’ names and was amazed at how similar our name choices are in our writing. I love creative names like the ones you select. How do you decide to put your particular names to your characters?

LAE: I use a lot of sources for naming characters, trying to use names that were used at the time period and in the place of the story setting. I just turned in a proposal to one of my editors and she came back requesting that I change the names. I guess they were too period or too similar. In Family Guardian, my heroine's name is different. That I explain as part of family background and characterization.

SKC: You’ve had some great education behind you. Many of us who write don’t yet have that. I admire you so much because of this fact. How has your background influenced your writing?

LAE: When I was working on my MA in history at Virginia Tech, one of my main projects was about midwives in Early Modern Europe and America. I used that information and the fascinating stories I found for two of my contracted novels, though only one actually has a midwife in it. As for my MA in writing fiction, that taught me how to take a raw idea and turn it into a novel people want to read. I think my English degree from Asbury simply gives me a little literary edge that can be more of a hindrance than a help at times.

SKC: I understand you are moving to Texas, Laurie Alice. My husband and I are also as soon as our house sells which I hope is soon. What made you choose Texas, and where are you planning to live there? Do you plan on focusing any of your upcoming stories on that area?

LAE: Texas chose us. My husband just finished law school and will be working there. Because of the sensitive nature of his job, I'd rather not say what he'll be doing or where, but it will be a very different culture from the East Coast, where we live now, I know that. None of my stories are set there. So many great books set in Texas already exist, I think I'll leave those to the people who know the state better.

SKC: I like my authors to ask the readers a pondering question to both encourage them but also to get them to think about the field of writing. What would you like to ask our readers today? Do you have a book to offer one of our readers? If so, please tell us about that and be sure to let us know where we can find you online.

LAE: One thing I hear editors say to authors at conferences is: Write the book of your heart. Often, however, the book of one's heart isn't what the market wants. So here is something to ponder, something I pondered for a while before reaching my conclusion:
If you can't sell the book of your heart, are you willing to write what the market wants in order to be published?

I'm happy to give away a copy of Wild Prairie Roses, which is the compilation of three books in one by Lena Dooley, Lisa Harris, and Me. It's a reprint of my first Heartsong, Better than Gold. In each story, the heroines seek lost Civil War payroll gold and find much, much more.

You can find me at http://www.seizethechance.blogspot.com/ or my web site, which is grossly outdated right now, www.lauriealiceeakes.com

SDC: Thank you so much for coming by, Laurie Alice! It’s been a pleasure.

LAE: Thank you for having me.
Congratulations to Jessica Nelson! I hope you are enjoying the book. Blessings everyone!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Please join me in offering a summertime welcome to Deborah! I have had the privilege of visiting with Deborah before. If you missed her last time, now is your chance!

Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. In writing the Seasons of the Tallgrass, a contemporary romance series for Zondervan, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there. The first book in the series, Snow Melts in Spring, is set to release this month.

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

DV – Daily reading God’s Word, my family and friends, my love of writing and my love of simple pleasures—walks with our dogs, gardening, music, breathing fresh country air and watching our children grow.

SDC: What theme do you run through all your writing and what kind of response to you receive from readers who have not yet come to know the Lord, or who have been influenced greatly by one of your books?

DV – Since I’m just getting started as a published author, I’m not sure I have an inspirational theme that carries through my books yet. Possibly forgiveness. I do have a country theme, which mirrors my brand Country at Heart. All of my books have rural settings with ranches, farms, and small towns and most will have horses in them.

SDC: I just got a copy of your book from Zondervan today. I'm looking forward reading it. How do you make faith, love, and hope work together in your stories?

DV – As a Christian author it’s fairly easy to include faith, hope & love in my stories. It’s like the glue that holds our lives together and can only be found in our Savior Jesus Christ. These elements come through in the lives of my characters through their every-day living—and if the characters are not believers, then the absence of this is clear.

SDC: How did you come about your publisher, Zondervan? How long ago was it?

DV – I met my editor, Sue Brower, at an ACFW conference several years ago. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped my “Seasons of the Tallgrass” series for a year and had a few bites but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heart breaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with agent, Rachelle Gardner with WordServe Literary, and we signed with Zondervan three months after that.

SDC: That's an interesting story! On a different note, tell us nw what’ your favorite Bible verse or verse might be that has sustained you recently and why?

DV - The verse I leaned on most this past year was “Be still and know that I am God,” as well as Philippians 4:13, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Isaiah 41:13.

SDC: I love te verse telling us to "Be Still." In fact I used it as a thread in my first historical. I understand you have a book you would like to share with one of our readers if we receive enough responders. Tell us 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?

DV – The book is Snow Melts in Spring. Mattie Evans, a young veterinarian in rural Kansas, saves a horse injured in a terrible accident. But she also finds herself tending the wounded relationship between a prodigal son and his ailing father. Love, conflict, forgiveness and renewal drive this first book of the Seasons of the Tallgrass series.

My question (for the readers at the blog here): Do you have a heart for country-life? Why or why not? If so, what inspires you the most?

SDC: That's a great question to get us all pondering. Thanks! Let us know where we can reach you and where we can find your books! We have greatly appreciated having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Deborah!

They may visit my web site http://www.deborahvogts.com/ or blog http://www.deborahvogts.blogspot.com/ or they can sign up for my quarterly e-newsletter, which gives all my writing updates in a short e-mail. Snow Melts in Spring is available for sale at http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.cbd.com/ .

Thanks for having me, Shirley.

READERS: Be sure to answer Deborah’s question above to try to win a copy of her book!

Hey, Everyone! We have a winner! Congratulations Lavon Lewis. I hope you are enjoying your book!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Welcome Betsy with me...

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her contemporary romance RETURN TO LOVE is under contract with Steeple Hill Love Inspired for a July 2009 release, and the sequel A VALENTINE’S WISH is contracted for a February 2010 release. Betsy has also been published in the Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, Kickboxing or Chocolate, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a B.A. in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Crosswalk.com. Betsy is a wife, author, new mother, and avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.

SKC: I think this is the first time I’ve had you over here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Betsy. What gave you the urge to write in the first place?

BS: Hi there! It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me! Let’s see, I started writing when I was a little girl. The urge has always lurked deep within me. I wrote off and on growing up, poetry, short stories, even attempts at full length novels, but got serious about it when I was about 18 or 19. That’s when I started attending conferences, making connections, creating blogs, networking, and joined the ACFW soon after that.

SKC: Ah! The joy of making connections! So tell us, who has been the biggest influence in your life with your writing?

BS: I owe a lot of it to Robin Jones Gunn. Her Glenbrook novel WHISPERS was the first Christian fiction novel I ever picked up. I found it on the floor in my older sister’s room under her laundry, believe it or not, one day and couldn’t put it down. I believe I was about 11 or 12 at the time. I have been hooked on Christian fiction ever since! Now Robin and I are friends and I’ve had a blast telling her all about the influence she had on me. She’s a dear woman and a talented writer.

SKC: You live in the south, as I've discovered. Do you place your settings often from the area in which you live, or do you venture out to other areas? And if so, how do you do research on different areas for setting purposes?

BS: You gotta love Louisiana humidity! My novels are generally set in the south. My July release RETURN TO LOVE and its February 2010 sequel A VALENTINE’S WISH are both set in New Orleans, where my husband’s family hails and also where he proposed to me. =) My most recent contract with Steeple Hill and WIP novel RODEO SWEETHEART is set in west Texas. I’m sure I’ll venture further up north in my writing one day but for now, the south works for me! And my characters! =)

SKC: And they all sound so interesting! I have a large Victorian style ladies bath that inspires me when I go in and stand at my antique brass sink and light a candle, or when I gaze romantically about at my period-style wallpaper and claw foot tub. Perhaps it’s because they get my creative juices flowing for some of my writing. Where do you get inspired, Betsy, and why?

BS: That sounds lovely! Setting often inspire me in the same way. I love driving down country roads and seeing abandoned outbuildings or shacks or old churches set off in a field. It gets my mind to whirring about what might be inside, about who once explored the building, its original purpose, how old it is….

Also, if I ever feel stuck in my writing, I pack up the laptop and head to Barnes & Noble. Being around all those published books and coffee always gets me “unstuck” ! =)

SDC: Great idea! Coffee...Barnes n Noble...and Bathtubs. Hmmm. So tell us, what is the last book you read and what did you learn from reading it?

BS: I read so much, let’s see, what was the last one? Oh yes, it was Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner. I really enjoy all of her novels, especially The Shape of Mercy. Susan is a fantastic author and I always receive a strong take away value after finishing her books. With BHB, the takeaway value for me was that sometimes that dreaded detour sign on our life’s road is a blessing, not a curse. We would miss out on so very much if we didn’t learn to detour along the path as instructed by God. The heroine in BHB learned the same lesson about love after being jilted 10 days before her wedding.

SDC: Sounds like we both do a lot of reading. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever catch up. But maybe I don't really want to. At least that way I always have something waiting! Where do you go from here and where can our readers find you and your books, Betsy?

BS: From here, I am busy busy busy with deadlines and contracts for more Steeple Hill Love Inspired novels. Readers can email me at betsystamant@yahoo.com, visit my author website at http://www.betsystamant/ or my blog at http://www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com/. I’d love to see you all there! =)

SDC: I'm sure everyone will want to come visit you! I know I will, Betsy. Thanks so much for coming here and sharing with us! It meant a lot to me, especially. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US. I like to ask many authors to ask the readers a reflective question to give them an opportunity to win a book. Oftentimes answers that come in encourage other readers and fellow writers...they certainly do me. What would you like to ask the readers today? And do fill us in on the book you have to offer one of these fortunate guests this week.

BS: Sounds great! First, about RETURN TO LOVE. The story is set in the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas. Gracie is the penguin keeper there and she is desperate to raise money to house a batch of homeless birds from upstate. Too bad her only chance at a successful fundraiser involves her childhood ex-best-friend, Carter - the man she’s loved—and hated—for almost a decade.

One of the neat things about this story is that during my research I made a lot of contacts at the Aquarium, and the actual penguin keeper on staff allowed me to use the names of the real birds currently residing there! So fun! =)

For my closing question, I’d like to ask readers this: If you could only read books in one particular genre for the rest of your life, what genre would you pick and more importantly, why?

SKC: Great QUESTION, Betsy! Okay, readers, here is your question. Send in your answers and you might just win one of Betsy's books!

Blessings to all, and thank you again, Betsy, for coming to A Pen for Your Thoughts. We really enjoyed having you!
Congratulations to Carly Kendall who now is the pleased owner of Betsy's book!
Thanks to everyone!