Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Happens on a Mississippi Night? Ask Daphne. She'll tell you.

I love to share new authors with you. DM Webb (Daphne) has come to share a little about herself with us as we close out 2011 and move in to 2012.  Daphne lives an exciting life! You won't want to miss reading about it as she uses her active lifestyle in the creation of her books. What could be better than that?

 DM Webb lives, along with her two sons and a variety of pets, in the beautiful state of Mississippi. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Her studies in art and sociology coupled with her many jobs ranging from bookstore clerk to volunteer firefighter/EMR has produced a plethora of ideas for upcoming books. You can find Daphne here:

~~Two brothers, one death--the bond of brotherhood faces its greatest challenge against resentment and guilt.~~

Can the love between two brothers eventually win against pain and guilt?
When Firefighter David Boyette’s fiancée perishes in a car fire, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death.
Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman’s love, and a small child’s devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him?
Together the brothers must decide if the bond of brotherhood is stronger than resentment and hate.



Chapter 1

The white gravel drive, with its mailbox reading Dean and Leigh Boyette, wound down to the stately brick Georgian house. David had never driven the familiar ride with such apprehension. He was the prodigal son returning home—minus the guilt.
Rocks crunched beneath the tires as he brought his old, beat-up Chevy truck to a stop. He sat there, hands on the wheel, taking deep breaths. Sweat coated his palms. It had been three years since he last sat in this drive. Letters, phone calls, and e-mails had kept him in touch, but now he was back in Jasper City for good. He was an adult, for crying out loud, and he did not need to be running home like a small child.
The door creaked, testimony of the truck's age, as he opened it and stepped out onto the driveway. His boots, like the truck, had seen better days. So had he.
Old possessions. Old clothes. Old beyond his thirty-five years. Just plain old.
David grabbed his duffel bag from the bed of the truck and trudged the few steps to the front door. He sidestepped the fat tomcat asleep on the porch's step. Fat Tom, big, yellow, and lazy.
"Mornin', Fat Tom," David whispered.
Fat Tom opened one eye in greeting and then rolled over, perfecting cat arrogance.
David cocked his head. The door knocker was new, outlandish, and bulky. Mom's idea. He lifted the clown and let it fall against the metal plating. Yep, that heavy clank would get someone's attention.
So he did it again. And again. And again.
Someone yelled. "Coming!"
The clown went up and then down.
"I said I’m coming!"
Again David lifted the clown and let it plummet.
"Coming!" This time the voice screeched.
The door jerked open, and the woman, plump, beautiful, and smelling of jasmine, screeched again. This time in delight. "David!"
His feet practically left the porch as his mother pulled his tall frame down to her, enveloping him in a strong hug. "Oh my goodness! You said next week, David! Oh my goodness!"
The mantra nearly brought him to tears as she kept him in a bear hug, rocking gently.
"I couldn't wait, Mamma." Her gray streaked hair muffled his voice. "I had to see you."
She finally pulled back. "Oh, I have missed you. You look tired. And shaggy. Look at that hair. You would think it was the 70's again." She pulled at him. "Come in, silly! Go put your stuff up and get to the kitchen. I got to fatten you up again."
             David bent to kiss his mother's cheek. "I've missed you, Mamma. And your cooking."
"Your sister will be here in a little while, along with Marty Junior. She will be so surprised to see you."
His mom practically skipped back to the kitchen as David climbed the stairs. Once again the familiar felt strange. Same pictures still hung on the wall. The handrail still wiggled. New rosy carpet covered the floor.
He turned right and stood in front of his bedroom. His dad had painted over the green stripes that he put on the door so long ago. He peered inside. A wave of sadness surged over him.
Same full size bed. Same curtains. Same old furniture. But none of his life before remained. When he left, he had screamed, shouted, hurled curses, and said he would never return. Now his room was a guest room. His things must have been packed away in the attic or the storage building out back–his things that had once occupied the new home that he would have shared with Rebecca, things that David had moved into this room before he left it all behind. He forced a swallow past his dry throat and blocked those thoughts.
The duffel bag bounced once when he threw it on the bed. He sat beside it and buried his head in his hands. Weariness, that old cliché, washed over him and entered his bones.
He was too tired and too empty.
As exhilarated as his mother was to see him, and his father and Darlene probably would be also, he doubted Jeremy would welcome him back. Resentment, borderline hate, still flowed between them.
"Your things are in the attic."
That deep, melodic voice had never changed. It commanded attention and brimmed with affection.
David smiled at his father, who leaned against the door frame. "Hey, Dad."
"Come here, Son." His dad took two long strides and pulled David into a tight embrace. "It's so good to see you home, Son. Let me look at you." His dad held him at arm's length. "You look tired. Beat up."
            "I am tired."
"What happened in St. Louis?"
David shook his head. "Nothing, Dad. Nothing at all."
"You needed home." His dad could read him just as well as that well-worn Bible of his.
"Yeah. I needed home."


Friday, December 23, 2011

Discovering the Miraculous

Join me this Christmas week as we read about the newest book that award-winning author, James L. Rubart has written, and that he is generously offering to share with one of our readers this blessed holiday season. THE CHAIR sounds like the perfect Christmas read. 

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, and award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing, helping authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, water skis and take photos.  No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at

If someone gave you a chair and said it was made by Jesus Christ, would you believe them?

When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe's antiques store and gives him a chair she claims was crafted by Jesus, he scoffs. But when a young boy is miraculously healed two days after sitting in the chair, he stops laughing and starts wondering . . . could this chair heal the person whose life Corin destroyed twelve years ago?

As word spreads of the boy's healing, a mega-church pastor is determined to manipulate Corin into turning over the chair. And that mysterious woman who gave him the piece flits in and out of his life like a shadow, insinuating it's Corin’s destiny to guard the chair above everything else. But why?

Desperate, he turns to the one person he can trust, a college history professor who knows more about the legend of the chair than he'll reveal. Corin's life shatters as he searches for the truth about the artifact and the unexplained phenomena surrounding it. What’s more, he's not the only one willing do almost anything to possess the power seemingly connected to the chair.
Excerpt from The Chair
By James L. Rubart
On Tuesday afternoon at five thirty, an elderly lady strode into Corin’s antique store as if she owned it and said, “The next two months of your life will be either heaven or hell.”
The corners of her mouth turned up a fraction. It was almost a smile.
“Excuse me?” Corin Roscoe stared at her over the mound of bills in front of him and stifled a laugh.
White hair, deep smile lines etched into her high cheekbones—she had to be at least mid-seventies. Maybe eighty, but she moved like she was in her forties. She wore a dark tan coat that bounced off her calves as she strolled toward Corin, ice blue eyes full of laughter. She didn’t look crazy.
“I’ve brought you the chair, you see.” She stared at him as if that statement would explain everything.
Corin brushed his dark hair off his forehead and slid off the stool behind his sales counter. “What chair?”
The woman looked around the store like a schoolteacher evaluating a new classroom of students. Her eyes seemed to settle on the pile of precisely stacked books from the 1700s.
“I love books, you know.”
Something about her was familiar. “Do I know you?” He took a step toward the woman.
“No.” Her laugh had a tinge of music in it. “I hardly think so.”
“You’re sure?”
“You’re a fortune-teller, right? And think a little heaven and a little hell is coming my way. Can’t I just subscribe to your newsletter?”
She drew a circle in the air with her forefinger, cherry red nail polish flashing under the halogen lights of Corin’s antiques store. “Probably an interweaving of the two realms. And I believe you’ll discover the hope of restoration. The final outcome will, of course, be your choice.”
Corin smiled. “You know, people think I’m a little crazy because of what I do for fun, but I don’t think I have anything on you.”
She didn’t react; only stared at him, utter confidence in her eyes.
The lady had a sophisticated air about her in contrast with her odd proclamation. Since opening the store in his late twenties, Corin had entertained seven years of the occasional strange customer, but this lady was more than unusual. Her confidence and striking looks made her words almost believable.
“You need it.”
“I think this is the moment you tell me who you are or I kindly ask you to leave.”
The woman gazed out the windows toward Silva’s Ski Shop across the street. “It is with regret that I cannot do that yet, but be assured eventually I will.” The hint of a smile returned. “Now, I must be going, so if you could help me get the chair inside, I will extend you great appreciation.” She motioned toward the front door of the store. “It isn’t heavy, but we will want to be careful. It is priceless.”
Just outside the door a tan sheet covered what must be the chair the lady referred to.
She stared at Corin, waiting, as if there were a contest going on to see who would drop their eyes first.
“I didn’t order a chair.” Corin opened his palms. “Sorry. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m overstocked with them this month already.” He smiled. “Thanks anyway.”
“Listen to me.” She intertwined her fingers, brought her thumbs up under her chin, and pointed her forefingers at him.
“Okay.” Corin chuckled.
“This is a very special chair.”
“I’m sure it is.” Corin cocked his head and winked.
“Don’t mock me.” Her eyes locked on to his.
Corin took half a step back. If her eyes were lasers, smoke would already be curling skyward above his lifeless body. “My apologies. I’m sure your chair is exceptional, but my warehouse on the east edge of town is full of antique chairs that have collected dust for over six months. There isn’t a big demand for chairs in my store right now.”
Corin studied the lady. The lines carved into her light skin hinted of joy and pain, both in full measure. Her eyes, fire a moment ago, had softened and spoke of compassion and longing. Would it hurt to help her a bit?
“If you have any desks, I’ll take a look at those. I could buy two or three, maybe more depending on their condition. And I can take the chair on consignment if you like. No charge whatsoever to display it.”
She looked at Corin as if observing a small child. “You’ve misunderstood. I am not asking you to buy the chair. I am giving it to you.”
“Why would you do that?”
“You are to have it.” She motioned again toward the door.
“I am?” Corin slid his hands into his jeans and eased toward the woman. “Who made that decision?”
She stared at him and gave a faint smile but didn’t answer.
“And what if I don’t want this gift?”
“You do.” She closed her eyes and bowed her head for a few seconds. What was she doing? Praying? “You will.”
“You seem confident of that.”
“Most certainly. It is a stunning piece.” She looked down, laid a finger on the edge of a nineteenth-century French walnut side table to her right, and drew her finger slowly across the wood. “It was made by the most talented tekton craftsman the world has ever known.”
“And who would that be?”
“You’ll figure it out, Corin.” She looked back up at him, the knowing smile back on her face. “I believe in you.”
Sounds like a great read doesn't it! If you would like to win yourself a copy, please drop Jim a note here. Perhaps you have a miracle you would like to share with all of us?
Don't forget to leave your email address.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Special Time of Year...with Michelle

There is so much that is special at this time of year. Actually on every day of the year. But this week we get to hear from Author, Michelle Sutton, whose writing focuses on Healing Hearts - fiction making an impact on real lives...

Michelle is a social worker who has been writing romantic fiction for over seven years and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as an avid book reviewer and blogger on a variety of sites. She founded Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers social networking site which has over 1050 members. Southeastern Arizona is where Michelle calls home. She loves being surrounded by mountains and clean air, which inspires many of her novels. She and her husband are approaching twenty-one years of marriage and their two sons will begin their second year of college in August. She is the author of a dozen novels releasing through Dec 2011  and additional six new titles and two re-releases are scheduled to happen between 2012 and 2014. She presently has three publishers.

What is so special about this Christmas season to you, Michelle?

This time of year I enjoy having my sons come home from college to visit. There are parties to attend, concerts to go to (like The Messiah - an annual tradition,) and people to bless by just hanging out or given them gifts or cards. It's all quite exhausting, really, so I am glad it only comes one time per year. I particularly enjoy getting together with friends, at work, and for church groups to do White Elephant exchanges. They are always a laugh and a half.

When I was a kid we always watched Rudolf, Frosty, Charlie Brown, and The Grinch on television. Now that we haven't watched television for two decades we have gotten a bit out of that tradition, but we do watch (every year) this silly show with muppet-like puppets called "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas."

When the kids were younger we watched the Veggie Tales movie about the Christmas Carol. I don't make cookies, but I don't mind eating them if given to me (and my hips show it, too!) We will go to church if it's on Christmas. We always go to the Christmas Eve services to sing carols and then we go home and open the stockings. In the morning we open the gifts to each other.

My kids have this silly tradition of writing crazy stuff on the packages with the name of who the gift is for. Sometimes it's quite hilarious, actually.

But my favorite thing is probably the Christmas carols we sing at church. It's the only time of year that hymns are sung anymore, and I love hymns. I also love the reading of the Christmas story. A few years I went out singing carols, but that's pretty cold and the older I get the more I appreciate the fires in the fireplace and the cozy atmosphere. The cold - not so much. Every year the traditions alter a bit, but for the most part we stick to the same routine.

When I was a kid our family used to have people from other countries like China and Vietnam over to our house for dinner. Now that we have a nuclear family of our own, we tend to be home bodies and just hang out together and play games. I take time off from work and we just veg out. That's what I love about this time of year most. Having my family together. 

SHIRLEY: Thanks so much for sharing that. I can see it all, and it does sound like a very special time, Michelle.

Please tell us now about your newest book. 

She longs for physical healing, but God uses someone from a dark time in her past to heal something more    important…her heart.
Ten years ago Raquel dumped Scott for an abusive man, only she didn’t know Scott loved her in a romantic way. She thought they were just good friends because Scott never made his feelings known. Ten years later they meet up again, only now she's a widow—emotionally fragile from years of abuse—and in need of a friend she can trust. She is taking care of her aunt who has cancer, but now her own health is failing. Scott never got over Raquel and he worries he will fall in love with her again. Her past rejection causes Scott to guard his heart as he   helps her navigate the unwanted changes in her life. Over time he begins to trust her again as she fights discouragement over her diagnosis. He gives Raquel the unconditional love she has always longed for, but will that be enough? 

SHIRLEY: This sounds like a great book! I am thrilled you are planning to donate a PDF copy to one of our readers.
     Thanks, Michelle, for taking a few minutes out of your Christmas holiday to spend a little time over here at A Pen for Your Thoughts!
     May you and your family have an awesome Christmas together around that fireplace...singing those carols...opening your stockings...reading the funny cards on your packages...and sharing in the joy of cookie time.

     There's nothing so awesome as when family comes together as one.

     For our viewers: Tell us one special thing you'd like to see happen at Christmas time this year, that you haven't seen happen recently. (Be sure to leave your email address. And I will draw the winner's name on Christmas EVE!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Making Use of her Gift in a Way that will Bless ... Her Greatest Passion

     Penny Zeller is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles. She is also the author of the blog "A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author" where she also provides weekly doses of humor, along with movie reviews from a Christian worldview, and interviews with some of her favorite author friends.
     Penny is an active volunteer in her community, devoting her time to assisting and nurturing women and children into a closer relationship with Christ. Her passion is to use the gift of the written word that God has given her to glorify Him and to benefit His kingdom.
     Among other books, Penny is the author of McKenzie, Kaydie, and Hailee in her Montana Skies Historical Romance Series and 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.When she's not writing, Penny enjoys spending time with her family and camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball. 

SDC: It's so great having you here, Penny. You are fast becoming both a well-known and talented writer. Before you tell us about your newest release please fill us in on what inspired you with the book(s) you’ve written up until now.

Penny: Hello Shirley! Thank you so much for having me as your guest. Wow, what a great question…I have written nonfiction and children’s fiction in the past, but my favorite genre to read and write is historical romance. The Lord gave me the opportunity to pen the first book in my Montana Skies Series, McKenzie, while recovering from injuries I sustained in a car accident. I have always wanted to write a novel about a mail-order bride, and from that passion came McKenzie. Kaydie, whose character learns to trust in God for all things, soon followed. I was inspired to write Hailee, the third and final book in the series, when I received a piece of mail about an orphanage. I was eager to write about the experience of a girl who spent time in not only an orphanage, but an orphanage for wayward juveniles. I am humbled that God could use me to impact lives through my books.

SDC:  It is humbling, isn't it, but also such a blessing. 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 your writing? 

Penny: Regarding your first question: I recently received a phone call from a friend whose grandmother is hospitalized in serious condition. She's an elderly woman (in her 90s) who isn't doing well healthwise and she doesn't know the Lord. Her family has been praying for her and trying for years to witness to her. My friend told me that her grandmother requested the other night that a book be read to her. I was humbled that out of all the books she could have chosen, she requested McKenzie. I pray that something of God's Word that I have written in my book would help to soften this woman's heart toward Jesus and pave the way for her family to again tell her about God's eternal gift for her.

For your second question: I recently heard from a woman who has been caring for her mother who has terminal cancer. Her mother can no longer talk, but receives great comfort just in knowing that her daughter is there. While her daughter remains by her bedside, she told me she read my Montana Skies Series and was greatly blessed by it. “I needed to be able to escape the harsh reality of watching my mother die by escaping to Pine Haven, Montana. Your books allowed me to do that. Thank you.”

It is times like that or when readers write to tell me how my books had an impact on their lives that are such great moments and make it all worthwhile.

SDC: Those are both great testimonies. Thanks! Tell us five things you like that no one might know about and that make you, you.

Penny: Ooh! Fun question!

1. My favorite thing ever is spending time with my family.

2. My favorite food is pizza (make that pepperoni with extra cheese) followed by popcorn.

3. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 7 and I love to sit and daydream about new characters.

4. I met my husband through a prank phone call.

5. I love clothes and have a weakness for cute shoes.

SDC:  LOL. I love how you met your husband. That's a story in itself! What question regarding the season of Christmas would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner? (if the winner resides in the U.S., they will receive a personalized paperback copy; if they reside outside of the U.S., they will receive an ebook copy).

Penny: What is your favorite Christmas tradition and why does it hold special meaning for you?

SDC: As always, Penny, it has been a real pleasure having you here again at A Pen for Your Thoughts. I love it when you come over our way. Let us know where we can find you and your books.

Penny: My books can be found at your favorite bookstore or at any online retailer including

I love to connect with readers -

On my website:

Thank you again, Shirley, for graciously hosting me on your blog. To you and to all of your readers  – may you all have a blessed Christmas season!

THANKS SO VERY MUCH! And same to you and your family, Penny.
Readers, please take a few minutes to share with us YOUR favorite Christmas tradition, as Penny asked above.
Lord willing, I will draw YOUR name and you can enjoy Penny's book too.

Here is a little what the book is about. Read on...
For years, orphan Hailee Annigan was just a ragamuffin in the Cincinnati streets, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. Her thievery landed her in a home for delinquent youngsters, where her life was changed, thanks to her teachers. Now, nineteen-year-old Hailee excitedly heads to Montana to be a teacher, yet she's still plagued by her shameful past and the fear of never seeing her brothers again.

Based on his upbringing in high-society Boston, no one would have guessed that Nate Adams would attend seminary and become a church pastor in rugged Montana. Even now, Nate's parents refuse to put aside their own plans for his future and accept his calling.

When their paths converge, an immediate attraction draws Hailee and Nate together, even as the pressures and demands of others pull them apart. Can the unlikely pair come to terms with their pasts and face the future together?
The newly-produced book trailer for Hailee can be seen here

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: