Friday, September 30, 2011

Lyn Cote here-Have you Ever Seen a Hodag?

Have you ever seen a hodag?
Probably not. The hodag is the mascot of a town I live near in Wisconsin. According to Wikipedia, and I quote: "The Hodag is a folkloric animal of the American state of Wisconsin. Its history is focused mainly around the city of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, where it was said to have been discovered." A folkloric animal can be fun.

And the fun started in 1893 when prankster Eugene Shepard announced the discovery and killing of the last hodag. And here's the photo to prove it!

Shepard wrote that: "It was "the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor sharp claws on the earth. It became extinct after its main food source, all white bulldogs, became scarce in the area." Well, the white bulldogs probably gave a sigh of relief!!

Anyway, the folks in Rhinelander have fun with their mascot or symbol, keeping the fun spirit of Shepard alive. Here's the statue of the hodag in front of the tourist center in Rhinelander.

Rhinelander sits just to the south of the northwoods or Lakeland area where I live. Within a 50 mile radius of my home are 2300 lakes. If you fly over this area, you see more water than land. That explains part of the area's allure. Most of Chicago and Milwaukee head north to escape the heat and humidity of summer. My latest Love Inspired romance is set in a fictitious town near Rhinelander and the hodag makes its romantic debut in Building a Family.

Do you have a mascot or symbol for your hometown? What is it?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Books, Books and More Books by Merrillee Whren

Marta's post yesterday about what is happening in the world of books made me think about all of the books I own--many of them still unread. My to-be-read pile is huge. Here is a photo of a portion of one of my bookshelves. I have only read a small fraction of these books, but I keep collecting more on the Nook I received from my daughters for Mother's Day this year. I'm thinking it's a good thing since I don't have any room on my bookshelf. Some of these shelves are double stacked. On the other hand, since I don't have to worry about where I'm going to put more books, I can get more. Now instead of having a to-be-read pile, I will have a to-be-read list.

How big is your to-be read pile?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Listen in on any writers' loop these days, and you'll sense an atmosphere of apprehension, fear, and sometimes downright panic! Where are the bookstores going? Is the midlist really dead? Will mass market books go the way of the dodo bird? Are e-book contracts fair to the author? Is self-publishing the answer? What about e-book book clubs? Are e-readers here to stay, or is there yet another new technology waiting in the wings to destroy the world as we know it?

Let me confess--I'm one of those people who loudly proclaimed that I didn't want to read books on an electronic device. That I love the feel of a real book in my hands. That I would never desert my local bookstore.

Then our kids gave us a Kindle. Long story short, I love it. I enjoy being able to enlarge the print when my eyes get tired; I love being able to carry an unlimited number of books along on a trip; I appreciate being able to order the next in a series instantaneously when I finish a book at ten o'clock at night. I especially enjoy the fact that my husband doesn't eye the bookstore bag or the box on the front porch from Amazon and comment that we already have too many books in our house!

But by whatever means my books are being delivered, what I really love is the content, and as my agent is fond of reminding me, we writers deal in content. No matter what technological advances come along to change the way people read, they will still love and need fiction. Yes, need. There's a deep human longing for story, whether it's told around a campfire thousands of years in the past or read on some yet-to-be-imagined device on a distant planet sometime in the future.

I'm not saying we shouldn't, as writers, be aware and on guard when it comes to publishing contracts which may not be in our best interest. We owe that to ourselves and our readers, just as readers owe it to writers not to download pirated versions of our work, thus cheating us of the income that allows us to keep writing.

But I am suggesting that we take a deep breath and remember that the sky is not falling. (Unless, of course, you happen to be in the path of a crashing satellite.) As writers, the more we know and understand, the more we are able to chart our own path to the future. The book world is changing, but it's not going away any time soon.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leigh Bale Does Housekeeping

Yes, even an author has to clean house sometimes. We can only ignore the dust bunnies so long before we can't find the dog. :) I'm actually quite a tidy person, but I don't dust frequently enough. Or vacuum. Or sweep. Or mop. The list goes on. You get the drift.

Recently, I've been doing some technology house cleaning, too. I discovered as an author that I shouldn't have a regular Facebook page, but should have a "business page." So I've been researching how to convert that over. Stay tuned. (Frankly, I'd rather be dusting and mopping. I keep reminding myself that technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? Deep breaths here.)

Did you know I have a website and Facebook page? And in addition to this blog, I belong to another one too at The Craftie Ladies of Romance. Most authors are also voracious readers. Like you, I have my favorite books. I'm even over at Goodreads, where I've started critiquing the books I constantly consume. With THE FOREST RANGER'S HUSBAND, the second book in my Forest Rangers Series, coming out the end of October, I have a book giveaway scheduled at Goodreads. Be sure and enter to win! I've definitely tried to make it easy for you to find my books. So, feel free to check out all of these sites anytime.

Oh, and in case you're wondering...because I'm doing the technology housekeeping, the dust bunnies in my "real" house will just have to wait. Because I'm having a blast writing books for you to read. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Here's the thing about "The Doctor's Family" Lenora Worth :

I've been getting a lot of reader mail this month. Everyone seems to be enjoying my September LI release "The Doctor's Family." They tell me how much they loved the story and then they tell me how "disappointed" they are that I didn't tie up all the mysteries. Then I have to write a polite letter (because I'm thrilled that they love the book) and explain that I wasn't suppose to tie up all the mysteries. This is Book THREE of a six book series by six different writers. Here is the order of the books: The Nanny's Homecoming--LInda Goodnight, The Sheriff's Runaway Bride--Arlene James, The Doctor's Family--Lenora Worth, The Cowboy's Lady--Carolyne Aarsen, The Loner's Thanksgiving Wish--Roxanne Rustand, The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion--Kathryn Springer. In my book, I did have to set up a lot of mysteries and strange happenings. I don't want my readers to ever be disappointed in my stories, so please keep the letters coming. And I hope you will also read the five other books in this series. It was fun and challenging to corral that whacky Clayton clan, but we did it and we all learned a lot and worked closely together to make sure everything flowed smoothly. I know you will enjoy all the books. And if anyone out there has read them all in order, tell us what you think. And help us spread the word--the mysteries will be solved. Just keep reading until the VERY end!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Outer Banks Series

Dangerous Reunion, the first book in my Ocracoke Island series, released in July. Check out the trailer here. This book was such a labor of love for me since I'd become intrigued by the island when I first visited there three years ago. Now the book is finally out, and I'm already looking forward to the next one in the series.

The three books tell the stories of three siblings who live on the island. Kate, the oldest, is the heroine of Dangerous Reunion. She is the chief deputy for the county on the island. Her peaceful world is turned upside down when Brock Gentry, the man who broke their engagement, returns to the island seeking her forgiveness. As she agonizes over his reappearance, other events soon take precedence over her personal feelings. A killer targets her, and she and Brock must stop him before Kate becomes his next victim.

With this book now in release, I have turned my attention to the second one in the series, Shattered Identity. In the first book Kate and her sisters Betsy and Emma are reunited with their long lost brother Scott. He is the son by their father's first marriage and was kidnapped when he was a baby by his dead mother's sister.

When they find Scott, he has just left the military and is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is haunted by the things he witnessed in battle and those who died on the battlefield. These experiences have left him determined not to subject a woman to the nightmare of his life. However, he hasn't counted on meeting Lisa Wade, the dispatcher at the island sheriff's office.

They become friends, and Scott volunteers to help Lisa with a renovation project at her house. They find a hiding place that contains the diary belonging to Lisa's mother who supposedly committed suicide when Lisa was three years old. Information in the diary leads them to suspect that Lisa's mother may have been murdered. As they begin to search for the truth, they discover that someone on the island is determined to conceal what happened twenty-five years ago even if that means causing Lisa to meet the same fate as her mother.

The island lighthouse which is the oldest operating one on the eastern seaboard plays a major role in Shattered Identity. The book releases in February, and I can hardly wait. I haven't even seen the cover yet so I'm excited about that, too. I'll post it as soon as I get it. I hope you'll keep checking with my website and blog so that you can catch the first glimpse of it when I receive it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Hey there! Dana Corbit here. I was watching an interview this morning with Novak Djokovic, winner of the 2011 Men's US Open. His value in the game of tennis was determined on the battlefield of competition. The interview reminded me of a subject I have thought about for a long time: why we presume to rank ourselves and others in some hierarchy of worth. Okay, some of it is practical. The whole women-and-children-first concept makes sense in a sinking ship for the preservation of life. But who are we to determine that any man or woman, each made in God's image, is of more value than the next. Is the successful businessman more valuable than the homeless man living on the street? What about a mother or her childless friend? Or the minister next to his agnostic neighbor? All are God's creations and precious in His eyes. Shouldn't He be the only one with the authority to determine their true value? In the "Parable of the Workers," Jesus says "So the last will be first, and the first will be last" Matthew 20:16 (NIV). Who are we to decide? I explored this idea in my September book, SAFE IN HIS ARMS. My hero, Trooper Joe Rossetti, pulls the heroine, Lindsay Collins, from her car first in an accident where he is unable to save her sister. Only Lindsay believes Joe saved the wrong sister. Her reasons are more complex than that her sister is a mother and she isn't. She has spent a lifetime living in her sister's shadow and truly believes her sister's life is more valuable. So Lindsay must grow to the point of realizing that if she is truly a believer, she must learn to love herself as one of God's creations. My story's message is that we are all worthy of being the person who someone saves first, even when not all victims can be saved. We are all worthy of love. I know. It's pretty deep stuff for me, but I have my moments. I loved the concept, and I loved writing that story. I hope you enjoy it, too. Have a great day and know that you are special and precious, a creation from God Himself!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Story Behind the Story of Hidden in the Everglades

The Story Behind the Story of Hidden in the Everglades
By Margaret Daley

I have always been fascinated with swamps (and jungles but that is a whole another story). As a child I could remember going through a swamp in southern Georgia. I can still see the snake slithering away in the water, an alligator sinking below the surface. Later I had another opportunity to visit a swamp in Louisiana as an adult and a writer. This time I took notes and noticed more than the snakes and alligators. A lot of beautiful animals live in swamps. The birds alone are engrossing to watch.

I’m not sure why I think swamps are fascinating, and I certainly am afraid of snakes--even more than alligators. Which is strange since alligators are far more dangerous than snakes. In Hidden in the Everglades I give Kyra the same fear. I felt I could write that character.

It was interesting researching the Everglades, a huge swamp area in Florida. Its size has been reduced because of human development, but it still encompasses a large part of the state. One of the most interesting pieces of information I learned was that pythons are not native to the Everglades, but they are now found all over the swamp because people have release their pets into the wilderness. They are multiplying and reproducing. Of course, I had to use that bit of info for my story.

The reason I picked the Everglades is I wanted a place that was primitive, wild and had dangerous possibilities. It fit all those criteria. A person can get lost in the Everglades. All those scenarios make for exciting scenes in a romantic suspense.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Niagara…The perfect location for a romantic getaway and…

Romantic Suspense -- by Sandra Orchard

Niagara Falls
What images come to mind at the mention of the Niagara region, Canada?

Most people think of Niagara Falls with its gorgeous cascading water, cooling spray, and thunderous sound. But the peninsula, nestled between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is home to many more wonders.

Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment, designated a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1990 and extending within Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, offers breathtaking views from the 900 km Bruce Trail weaving through its picturesque forests.

Observant hikers are sure to glimpse a deer or two, and when night falls, hear the yip of coyotes.

In autumn, the forest blazes with color you won’t soon forget.

Tender fruit orchards and vineyards also abound in the area, offering fragrant shows of blossoms in early May. There is no shortage of beaches for water lovers, while quaint little towns and rolling farmland greet visitors within minutes of the few small cities in the region.

This is the backdrop of Miller’s Bay, the fictional—and uncharacteristically crime-ridden—Niagara town along the shores of Lake Erie in which my new Love Inspired Suspense series takes place.

Undercover Cops: Fighting justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.  

Here's the blurb for book one that released this week:

Deep Cover (September 2011)

Identity: Guarded… Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick. He never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he's back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny's uncle. The man's crimes led to Rick's partner's death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack-dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment...and risking both their lives?

If you’re looking for a “heart-pounding” little getaway, now that summer has ended and regular routines are back in swing, Deep Cover may be just the ticket. Pull up a comfy chair, turn up the lights, and join me in Miller’s Bay!

Then if you’d like to make a return trip to this charming community, check out the story of Ginny’s friend Kim and her undercover hero in Shades of Truth (Love Inspired Suspense March 2012). And the story of Rick’s friend Zach and the nurse who helps him crack his case in Dose of Deception (end of 2012).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Writing Life

Hi all - Charlotte Carter here

A writer’s life can be an interesting one. Not only can I go to work in my robe and slippers if I’m so inclined, odd things can happen.

Some years ago one of my Harlequin books was translated into Portugese and sold in Brazil. To my delight, I received some fan mail. It makes my day to receive a fan letter. But in this case I had a small problem.

The letters were written in Portugese. Because, of course, the reader read the book in Portugese including my Dear Reader letter.

Fortunately, I speak and read a little Spanish. At least I could tell the reader enjoyed my book. That's always a relief.

Since I don’t speak Portugese, I wrote back in English to thank her for her note.

This sweet 18-year-old girl was so pleased that a real live author had written to her, she wrote to me again — this time in her school English! Which was harder to understand than her Portugese! LOL

Then there was the fan letter from a prisoner in jail. Hmm, I didn’t write back to him. Lots of big-time authors get those; nobody responds. Ick!

The strangest thing that has happened to me occurred recently. I was writing a Christmas scene for New Beginnings for Guideposts Books. The holiday table was set, all the family members were there, lights twinkling on the tree and it was snowing outside.

My husband walked into my office at that moment to bring me the day’s mail. My VERY FIRST thought was ‘Why is the post office delivering mail on Christmas Day?’

Talk about having to blink to come back to reality! In case you had any doubts, authors really do get into the heads of our characters.

I imagine every career has its odd moments. What strange things have happened to you on your job?

Happy reading......

Books that leave you smiling - by Charlotte Carter

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Change. Good or bad!

Susan Sleeman here! Woo hoo! I just got a smart phone. I love it! It's amazing! But, I'm still not able to do the basic things I did on my old phone easily.

Sending a text, making a call, setting an alarm. All something I have to think about before doing it. On the old phone, I could simply pick it up and without much thought reply to a text or make a call. Now I have to think before acting.

It's so new that the other night when the phone signaled a new text while my hubby and I were watching TV, we looked at each other and asked, "what was that?"

This made me think about my life as a published writer. This last year has been a huge year of change for me. I saw the release of three of my babies into the world. High-Stakes Inheritance , Nipped in the Bud and Behind the Badge. And coming up this winter is my next romantic suspense release from Love Inspired, The Christmas Witness.

For six years, I wrote books and dreamed of the day I'd be published. I imagined what it would feel like. What it would look like. Of course, the reality is nothing like the dream.

No one can begin to tell you how amazing it is to see your first book cover. To see your book available for order online. To have the UPS man arrive and hand you a case of books with your name on them. To see your book on a shelf in the store. To hear someone say they liked your book and can’t wait for another one to release.

But most importantly to me, is the reason that I write—receiving an email from a reader who says the message of the book touched their heart and they are now returning to God after turning from Him.

Nothing can compare to making a difference in a person's spiritual life. To know that you have done your little part in reaching a lost person for the Lord. That your words could have influenced someone's life for all eternity. Could there be anything more important or more special?

So tell me, how has Christian fiction enriched your life? Do you have a particular book that spoke to you?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Sign up for her newsletter to learn about her latest releases and monthly contests. And if you’re on Facebook be sure to stop by Susan Sleeman Books, too, where you can find out what Susan is up to.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Some random thoughts on free ebooks

Camy here! I hope you’re all having a great Labor Day weekend!

I was reading an old issue of the Romance Writers Report magazine by RWA (Romance Writers of America) and came across a short article on ebook piracy, how it’s on the rise. Apparently a pirated ebook will be downloaded an average of 6000 times. Isn’t that scary?

But I also know that more and more publishers are offering free ebooks as a marketing tool, and I am hoping that ebook piracy will decrease as there are more (legally) free ebooks available.

The only problem with those legally free ebooks is that more and more, I see readers leaving scathing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads about those free ebooks. The reviews go beyond just “I didn’t like this book” to really nasty, hurtful, unwarranted things.

And the worst part is, since many of the free ebooks being offered are Christian fiction boks, many of these nasty reviews are from people who call themselves Christian. They downloaded the free Christian fiction ebooks and then gave reviews saying things like “Thank God this book was free.” That’s really just very mean. I guess I had expected better manners from Christians than nonbelievers.

Granted, I’ve read some free ebooks that were really bad, but I didn’t feel it gave me the right to ream an author on a public forum or to say things that are downright rude, whether you’re a Christian or not. A nonbeliever giving a review that says something like, “This book was preachy” is not as offensive to me as a Christian saying, “This author is terrible, don’t bother with this book.”

There’s a way to give an honest review without descending into rude and dismissive language. If you were giving a review on a book written by your child, you certainly wouldn’t tell your son, “Thank God I got this book for free.” Instead, you’d find a way to list one or two positives, but also point out, in neutral language, what problems the book had.

I’m not sure what the point of this blog post is, but I guess it’s just that I got offended seeing reviews on Christian books (not mine) by supposed Christians that were simply downright ugly.

I want to let readers know that authors do see your reviews. We FULLY realize not everyone is going to like our books, and we are totally okay with that. I think it's fine to post an honest review if you didn't like a book, especially if you explain why you didn't like the book. Authors don't expect all 5 star reviews.

But what I don't like is if someone posts derisive language in their review. I don't mind the 1 or 2 star rating, but sometimes the language is very hurtful as opposed to simply critical.

I want readers to know that nasty words and phrases in a review does hurt our feelings. If you really want to give constructive criticism, please be considerate in your language, like you’re giving criticism to someone you know. Thanks!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the fourth book in her Sushi series, Weddings and Wasabi. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beyond just the writing....

When I started writing, long before I even thought of the possibility of submitting anything to a publisher, I knew I loved the process of writing, but never dreamed that it would open up my life in so many ways.  I think all writers would agree!

With the research for each book, came all of the interesting research books I might never have read otherwise.  Trips to a gun range, a llama farm, the travel with a rodeo contractor.  Learning to explore the vast world that opened up to me, and  all other writers, with the advent of the Internet.  And the wonderful people!  Finding experts in various fields, to more accurately portray a character, has led me to fascinating people who have shared information on their professions and their lives--providing an  array of details and emotions,  their hopes and dreams. Meeting these people has enriched my own life in many ways.

But there's more--the friendships with other writers and with readers, that mean so much.  Wonderful organizations like ACFW and RWA.  And on an even more delightful note, our daughter Emily loves to write, and  now comes with me to the RWA conferences, and to some of the other conferences and workshops, as well.  I can't tell you how much I love having this extra bond, this deep interest that we both share.  The photo was taken at The Blue Belle Inn in August, where proprietor/author  Sherrie Hansen holds a popular, semi-annual weekend writer's retreat.  Inspirational author Lyn Cote and I were speakers, and she is shown here with Emily.

Do you have a special interest of some kind that you share with your family or closest friends?   Has it drawn you closer?

Roxanne Rustand