Thursday, June 27, 2013

Writing REALLY Writing

Pamela Tracy here, and I'm rewriting four synopsi.  So, if you want to picture what I look, picture wrinkled papers everywhere (with a cat stretched out on top of them), empty soda cans to my right, my hair all awry, and me with a pained expression on my face.

Writing isn't easy.

Don't get me wrong.  There are times when the words like lightning bolts streak from my fingers to the page and I set back and think to myself "I'm brilliant."

Then,  there are many, many, many times when I'm staring at my screen, thinking "What do I put next?  Whose pov should it be in?  Is my heroine tstl?"

Writing isn't easy.  Then, why do I do it everyday?

Raising my eight year old isn't easy.  Yesterday, not only did I drag him across the pool and into a secluded corner to put the fear of MOM into him, but when we got home he had to write sentences (GASP)

I love him more than I ever knew was possible.

Writing this new proposal isn't easy.  My heroine keeps telling me "I don't want all these issues!"  And I keep telling her, "If you don't have all these issues, you'll be a very short book!"


In the Romance Writers Report this month, there's an article called "The Last Word" by Laura Drake.  I thought it the best article in the whole magazine.  She put a quote by Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.  The quote was just what I needed to hear.

"The brick walls are there for a reason.  The brick walls are not there to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.  They're there to stop the other people."


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

God Bless the USA!

Debby Giusti here!
I'll be wearing red, white and blue and waving an American flag this Fourth of July in honor of the USA! I'm so proud of my country and all the brave men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to ensure we remain "The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave!"

Join me in thanking our military for the tremendous job they do, especially our deployed servicemen and women and their families. May the Lord bless them and keep them in His care.

A Prayer for Our Military

By Debby Giusti

Lord, protect our military deployed around the world. Be their armor of righteousness as they stand firm against the enemy. Keep them physically, mentally and spiritually strong. Comfort them in times of hardship, and bring them safely home to the families who eagerly await their return. 

God Bless the USA!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti
Trusting the Wrong Person Can Be Deadly...

Lillie Beaumont's dark past has just turned up on her porch--fatally wounded. The dying words of the man imprisoned for killing Lillie's mother suggest hidden secrets. Criminal Investigations Division special agent Dawson Timmons agrees. He has his own motive for seeking the truth, and it gives Lillie every reason to doubt him. But even as they reluctantly begin to face painful secrets together, Dawson fears that a murderer is waiting to strike again. And this time, Lillie is right in the line of fire...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet Detective Tom Parker

Sandra Orchard here. 

I know this is our "Love Inspired Authors" blog, but I'd like to take a break from our regularly scheduled program to introduce Deadly Devotion, the first book in a brand new mystery/romantic suspense series I'm writing called Port Aster Secrets.
Here's a brief summary:

Herbal medicine researcher Kate Adams knows her friend’s death was no accident, so when Detective Tom Parker refuses to reopen his investigation, she sets out to find the murderer herself.  Despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate may have something to hide. But when her investigation unearths a web of suspicious goings-on in their sleepy town, will Tom believe her innocence and catch the real murderer before Kate becomes the next victim?

I've invited Detective Tom Parker--picture Hugh Jackman in Australia here--visit today to chat about his role in this new series.

1)   Tell us a little about yourself, Tom, and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. 

I was born in the US, but grew up in the Niagara region of Canada where my dad was a cop on the local force. I went to college in the US and joined the FBI, until my partner…
Well, it doesn’t matter why I left. My dad needed me. My mom died recently, so I took a detective’s job back here in Niagara and moved in with my dad.

2)   So coming home to your dad wasn’t the only reason you left your job? 

That’s right.

3)   And you’re not going to tell me the other reason? 

That’s right.

4)   Okay then, moving on. What scares you? 

Making a wrong decision that costs someone their life.

5)  Has this happened to you?

I’m a law enforcement officer. It happens.

6)   I guess it must be tough to know who you can trust sometimes?

Yeah, people are rarely what they seem. An officer can’t afford to forget that.

Daisy and Kate's favorite tea shop ~ A Cup or Two

 7)   I understand that you first met Kate Adams when you were investigating her fellow researcher’s death—a death you blamed on the victim, a herbal specialist, drinking the wrong type of marigold tea. What was your first impression of Kate? 

Fiercely loyal and with a grit to tackle just about anything life throws her way. I admire her certainty about her friend’s character… as misplaced as that faith might be. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that certain about anyone.

8)   So you don’t think Daisy Leacock was murdered as Kate claims? 

Obviously, Miss Adams is reluctant to believe her friend could make such a tragic mistake. It would imply that she wasn’t as knowledgeable about herbs as her job suggested, which of course would reflect negatively on their research.

9)   Wow, you really are cynical. What strengths/skills do you have? 

I’m a good detective. I can usually tell when suspects are lying. I can quickly assess a situation and respond.

10)   What is your greatest weakness?      
It used to be that I trusted those close to me, but I won’t make that mistake again. Now, maybe I judge a person or situation too quickly, and too harshly, or see a problem where there isn’t one. But better to eat a little crow later then fail to stop a crisis.      
11)   Okay, I can see why in your line of work that might be a good way to operate. What do you value above all else?

Family. In my line of work, especially before I came back to this quiet, rural area, I saw a lot of awful stuff. I saw the job tear relationships apart. Playing with my crazy little nephews, seeing my sister and her husband happily married, working with Dad has made me appreciate what I’ve been missing being so far away.

12)   What do you want more than anything? 

To find a woman who’d believe in me as fiercely as Kate Adams believes in her friend, Daisy. A woman I can believe in and trust. Trouble is I’m having a hard time believing in anyone these days.

Thank you, Tom for your candor. To read Kate's interview, deleted scenes, locations pics, a recipe for a Marigold tea that won't kill you--might even make you feel really good--and other extras, visit my bonus features page.


Sandra Orchard is an award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense. Her next Love Inspired Suspense, Fatal Inheritance, releases in August. She lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband of more than twenty-five years, and writes full time…when not doting on their first grandchild...soon to be two any day now!!!  

You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features on her website or connect on Facebook.

Have you heard of The Book Club Network? The facilitators describe it as place where people can "feel safe, have fun, share hearts and embrace, Finding Hope through fellowship in reading groups." Membership is free. And right now my publisher is giving away 5 copies of Deadly Devotion in the discussion we're having in the "Revell" group. You must sign in and join the group to leave a comment to enter. We're having a lively discussion and hope you'll join us!

Your Turn:  Tom was a tad reticent in answering many of my interview questions, but I'd have a hard time answering the same questions for myself. How about you? Care to answer one of the above questions about yourself (minus the being in a mystery part, of course, unless you are in the midst of a mystery, in which case, we'd really love to hear about that, too!!)? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's in a Name?

Susan Sleeman here. I’ve been working on cover ideas and a title for the last book (book 5) in the Justice Agency series. It's almost as hard to choose a name for a book as it is to chose one for a child. As I've been working on it,  I've been thinking about how important both items are to the success of a book and wondered what you thought.

This book, a Love Inspired Suspense, takes place on the river in Portland and in San Diego. The hero lives in a floating home and there are several scenes in the book that feature water.

We decided on calling the book Dark Tide, which I thought was very appropriate to the setting while at the same time conveying suspense. I hope it does both and intrigues the readers to want to give the book a second look.

Here's one of the pictures I submitted to the art department for the cover of book. What does this picture evoke for you?

So what about you? What motivates you to pick up a book? Are you intrigued by the title, the cover or the author? Or maybe it's the back cover copy?Or maybe it's none of the above. Weigh in. Let me know what you look for.

NO WAY OUT - Book three in The Justice Agency Now Available

Alyssa Wells has uncovered evidence that her police officer husband was murdered by his partner-a dangerous claim in a small town. After two tours in Iraq, protecting Alyssa and her children shouldn’t be a problem for private investigator Cole Justice. Alyssa feels drawn to him, but how can she trust anyone after everything she’s been through? Cole’s sure his heart is closed off to love, but Alyssa and her children seem to have found a way in. As the killer draws closer, Alyssa realizes she’s trusting Cole with more than her safety.

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her first romantic suspense title, High-Stakes Inheritance earned a spot on the ECPA bestseller list and her Garden Gate Mystery series, which features Nipped in the Bud, and Read Between the Tines has enjoyed time on Amazon bestseller lists as well. And The Christmas Witness was named a finalist in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to writing, Susan hosts the popular internet website She currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. To connect with Susan outside of her – Website visit any of these social media sites-

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Camy’s black thumb and FORMULA FOR DANGER giveaway

I have to brag a little because my basil is growing so well this summer!

You also have to understand that I have a truly horrific black thumb and have killed practically anything I tried to grow. The only things that usually grow for me are stuff that I ignore, like the bearded irises in my backyard. :)

Fresh basil is a favorite herb for me and I absolutely adore pesto. So when I came up with the story premise for Formula for Danger, I created a mythical Malaysian basil plant that is a secret ingredient in Rachel Grant’s scar reduction cream.

Rachel’s desperate to please her father, who owns the spa where she does research for cosmetics that the spa sells. She’s also trying to right a childhood wrong--she had been the cause of an accident that scarred her cousin Jane’s face when they were playing together, and she thinks that the success of this scar-reduction cream will somehow alleviate her guilt.

I’m afraid Malaysian basil doesn’t really exist, but I’ve had fun with it! In addition to Formula for Danger, it plays a role in my novella, Weddings and Wasabi, which is the fourth book in my contemporary romance Sushi series.

To celebrate my basil plant not shriveling up and dying, I’m giving away 5 copies of Formula for Danger!


Someone wants dermatologist Rachel Grant's latest research, and they'll do anything to get it. Including trashing the plants needed for her breakthrough scar-reducing cream--and trying to run Rachel down. Desperate for help, she turns to Edward Villa, the only man she trusts. But the greenhouse owner knows too much about Rachel's research, and now he's a target, too. Break-ins, muggings, murder...the would-be thief is getting desperate--and getting closer. Edward vows to protect Rachel at all costs. Yet with time ticking away, Edward knows they have to uncover the madman shadowing Rachel before their chance for a future is destroyed.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Dr. Rachel Grant had walked only a few feet out the back door of her family's Sonoma day spa, Joy Luck Life, when the patter of running footsteps behind her made her turn.

She had only a glimpse of a dark hoodie and a tall, lanky figure before a shove sent her sprawling onto the sidewalk. Thwack! Her left cheekbone collided with the cement, sending pain lancing through her head.

Snow clouded her vision and she struggled to open her eyes. Her heart pounded in her throat, making it hard for her to breathe. Frantic, she opened her mouth wide but no sound came out.

She glanced up. The backsides of dirty sneakers filled her field of view as they trotted away from her. Then a hand scooped up the bag strap of her sister Naomi's laptop computer, which had flown from Rachel's grip to land on the edge of the pool of light from the parking lot streetlamp. The sneakers hustled away.

Breathe! Rachel forced her wooden lungs to fill and tried to scream, but only a harsh croak came out. Where were the security guards? They should have seen the attack thanks to the outside video cameras. How long would it take for them to run out here?

Even worse, Naomi would be devastated to lose that laptop, which she'd bought barely five hours ago.

She heard the creak of the spa's back door, then more footsteps. "Rachel! Rach, are you okay?" Naomi fell to her knees beside her, hands on Rachel's shoulders. "I was talking to Martin, and we saw it all on the security camera." Martin, one of the security guards, raced past them, pursuing the stranger and the laptop.

In the distance, a woman's voice screeched, "What are you doing? Don't leave me!" It sounded as if it had come from the front of the spa.

Who was that? What was going on?

Rachel pushed herself up, her cheekbone throbbing as she rose. She squeezed her eyes shut to the wave of pain and paused on her knees, her head bowed.

Naomi put her arm around her. "Where are you hurt?"

"Just my cheek."

Naomi pulled Rachel's hair away from her face to look at her. Rachel had a hard time opening her eyes again as the pain splashed across her forehead, trickling back inside her skull. "How bad is it?"

"You'll have a black eye, that's for sure. We need to get you to the hospital."

"No, I'll have Monica look at it first. If the family nurse says so, then I'll go to the hospital." Just the thought of all the people in a crowded emergency room made Rachel cringe. She only wanted a quiet place to lie down and recover. "I'm sorry about your laptop."

"Forget the laptop, I'm worried about you."

"I only took a fall, nothing worse. But that laptop was new—"

"I can buy a new one. Besides, I'm almost glad it was new because it didn't have anything on it, so the spa didn't lose any sensitive information. That would have been worse." Especially since Naomi still managed the spa while their father recovered from his stroke. Naomi had bought the computer to help her with the spa's accounting.

"We should call the police and report it stolen."

"We should call Dad and Aunt Becca first." Naomi dug her cell phone out of her pocket.

"Call Aunt Becca. Aren't she and Detective Carter out to dinner tonight?" The two of them were dating again after an argument that had kept them apart for a few months. It was almost 10:00 p.m., but they might still be together at a movie.

As Naomi talked to Aunt Becca—who indeed was with Detective Horatio Carter—Rachel managed to sit up, although the evening sky spun around her. She clutched her hands together, trying to stop their shaking. She'd been attacked in the spa parking lot!

Clicking heels made Rachel look up. Gloria Reynolds, one of Naomi's massage clients, tripped toward them. "Dr. Grant, are you all right? Did that man hurt you?"

"Ms. Reynolds, you're still here?" Not the most tactful thing to say, but her headache was making it hard for her to be polite.

"Ms. Reynolds was my last client for tonight," Naomi told Rachel as she ended her call with Aunt Becca.

Gloria flipped her highlighted hair with a manicured hand. "The security guard was walking me to my car when he saw that person running away. Miss Grant," Gloria said to Naomi, "you really should talk to that guard. He ran after the person and left me by myself. Even when I called to him. And it was obvious the other guard was after the man, too, so there was no need for him to give chase."

Naomi smiled politely and responded with amazing courtesy when Rachel knew she must be rolling her eyes inside.

A flash of car headlights made Rachel wince as a vehicle headed down the spa driveway.

Then alarm jolted through her. The spa was closed, and the security guards, running after the thief toward the drive way, would have stopped the car from entering. Were the guards okay?

The car maneuvered into the staff parking lot, then stopped right next to them. A door opened and slammed shut. "Rachel!"

Edward Villa's voice made her heart leap into her throat, then settle back down in her chest, racing. Edward was here. Suddenly everything seemed okay.

No, she had to stop reacting this way to him. He didn't think of her as anything other than a client.

"Are you all right?"

She smelled him—pine, a hint of the orchids he worked with at his greenhouses and earthy musk—before her eyes registered that he was crouched in front of her, edging out Ms. Reynolds.

"The guards told me what happened when I drove in."

She had been able to keep it together when talking to Naomi, but somehow, his concern for her undermined her control over her emotions, and she steeled her jaw against a sudden onslaught of wild sobbing. Casting herself into his arms would only solidify his cool opinion of her, which he had made abundantly clear a couple months ago.

"Rachel." He reached out for her.

She held up a hand to stop him.

He grasped her hand, engulfing her fingers. His callused fingers rubbed her knuckles. His touch made her head spin.

"I'm fine," she whispered, breathless. She pulled her hand away.

The security guards walked up to them. "I'm sorry, Miss Grant, he got away. He ran up the driveway, and there was a car waiting for him at the end of it. They took off."

"Dr. Grant, are you okay?" the other guard asked, peering at Rachel.

She felt like a bug on display. "I'm fine." She heaved herself to her feet, but it made the blood pound painfully in her head. She swayed.

Edward's arm wrapped around her, making the earth stand still again. It felt good to be held by him. It felt…

Too good. She pulled away from him.

Edward paused a moment, then he bent down and collected her purse, which had dropped and scattered its contents when she fell. As he handed it to her, his eyes were calm, but somehow she could sense a fire burning behind them. As if other emotions ran deeper.

She didn't understand. While they had been working together for the past year on Rachel's new product for the spa, they had gotten closer, and she had felt free to be herself with him. But then, in the past couple months, he had withdrawn from her, become distant and polite.

Maybe he had seen who she really was…and he hadn't liked what he saw.

The thought was like a punch to her gut, every time she thought it. Which had been often in the past two months.

No, maybe he had never been interested in her, and he'd suddenly become aware that he was leading her on. Regardless, recently he had been clear in showing that he had no interest in her beyond a good business relationship.

She was just imagining the emotion in his eyes was deeper than natural concern. "Thank you." She took her purse from him, avoiding touching his hand again.

The silence was thicker than cold cream.

"Rachel—" he began.

"Here you go, Miss Rachel." Martin, a security guard who had been with them for years, handed her an ice pack he must have gotten from inside the spa. "That'll keep the swelling down from that shiner."

His light words made her smile, made the situation not seem so horribly violating. "Thanks, Martin." She pressed the cold pack to her eye, and found that it enabled her to avoid looking at Edward.

"Ms. Reynolds," Naomi said, "let me escort you back inside. We can wait for the police in one of the lounge rooms."

Rachel stayed outside and watched them reenter the spa. She tried not to remember what had happened, but it came to her in flashes. She shivered. She'd been bullied in grade school because she'd been a geek and a bit odd, but no one had ever assaulted her. Even bickering with her sisters Naomi and Monica had never gone beyond a little hair-pulling.

But tonight, someone had deliberately hurt her. It made her feel weak and vulnerable. Not in control.

And she didn't like it.

She especially didn't like that it had happened here, at the spa.

She suddenly realized that Edward had no reason to visit her here. They usually talked on the phone about the basil plants he was growing for production of her new spa product and met at his greenhouses. Why was he at the spa this late at night? "Edward, what are you doing here?"

His eyes were deep obsidian pools as they studied her, then he surprised her by looking away.


He sighed. "I called your home and your sister Monica said you were still here."

"Did you try calling my cell phone? Did I not hear it ringing?" She fumbled in her purse and grasped the rubbery edge of her rugged waterproof cell phone—a necessity since she'd ruined two phones by using them while working in the lab with chemicals.

"No, I didn't call."

Avoidance wasn't Edward's style—neither was this vague evasiveness. "Then what…?"

He didn't answer immediately, and his face was grave. "I came to the spa to tell you something you're not going to like."

Her heart beat hard, once. But really, how could her day get any worse? "Lay it on me. I'm ready."

"Earlier tonight, someone broke into greenhouse four."

"Greenhouse four? My greenhouse?" Technically, it was his greenhouse, but the only things in it were her Malaysian basil plants. "Were you there? Are you okay?"

He paused, and his searching gaze made her stomach flip. But she lifted her head and tightened her muscles to keep her molten insides in place.

"I'm fine. I wasn't there when it happened."

"Oh. Good." She tried to slow her racing heart. "Did you call the police?"

"Yes. I left my brother, Alex, to meet with them while I came to talk to you. On the way, I called Horatio Carter, who said he was also headed here with your aunt, so that was fortunate. I'm hoping he'll come back to the greenhouse with me tonight."

"How did you find out about the break-in?"

"I left my cell phone in greenhouse six, so I went to get it. I noticed movement in the yard, and when I went to check the greenhouses, I found yours unlocked."

Her headache became a jackhammer against her skull. "Was everything okay?"

The lines deepened around his mouth. "No. Someone trashed it—all your plants."

She gasped.

"Don't panic too much. Alex is moving the plants to greenhouse seven right now, and I can salvage most of it."

"Most of it?" She needed Edward to cultivate a certain number of plants so she could make the extract for her scar-reduction cream, scheduled to launch in only five months. She couldn't be late. The spa depended on her new product launch. "Will you be able to grow more? I need…" She faltered at the shadow that crossed his eyes.

He replied evenly, "Your research will be fine, Rachel."

His distant tone confused her. What had she said? She switched tactics. "You left your cell phone in a greenhouse? You never do that. If you hadn't forgotten it…"

A half smile twitched at his mouth. "God was watching over your plants, I think."

The familiar way he said it made something squirm inside her. Edward had always had such a different relationship with God than she did, and it seemed to widen the gap between them. "Why didn't the alarm go off? I thought the greenhouses all had security alarms in place."

"They do—to monitor temperature and humidity, and also to alert when a window or door is opened. But the system in greenhouse four didn't go off. I checked it, and it looks like the thief tampered with it."

"Aren't those security alarms top-of-the-line? High-tech?"

He nodded. "Whoever did this was a professional, not your average thief."

The mild California fall breeze was suddenly frosty against her skin. "How about the other greenhouses?"

"I checked them all. Only yours was broken into."

"Only mine?" This was a blow she didn't know if she could bear, not on top of everything that had happened tonight. She bit her lip.

It almost looked as if he didn't know what to do with his hands, finally resting them on his slim hips. "I don't understand it. Some of the plants in my other greenhouses are extremely rare and valuable, but whoever came by didn't even touch them."

She'd seen those plants—exotic orchids and rare rain-forest species, mostly commissioned by wealthy clients because of Edward's reputation for cultivating delicate tropical plants. "None of them were taken?"

If the burglar could have dismantled the security alarm for one greenhouse, surely he could have dismantled the security alarms for the others. Or maybe he hadn't had time to because Edward had discovered the thief's activities. But why bother with destroying her plants when he could have more quickly gotten into the other greenhouses and stolen the rarer species?

Edward's eyes pinned her with concern and gravity. "The thief entered only greenhouse four, Rach—the thief was only after your plants."

Chapter Two

Edward hated chaos, and it surrounded him in greenhouse four—broken pots, torn leaves and potting soil dusting everything. He stood in the midst of the destruction and sighed.

It wasn't actually that bad. He'd discovered the open door before the temperature had dropped too much, and now Rachel's plants were all in greenhouse seven. He was also planning on paying for an evening guard to walk the greenhouses—at least until the person responsible for this was caught.

Detective Carter glanced up from where he surveyed some toppled tables. "It would have been better for me if you'd left the scene as is, Edward."

"Sorry, Detective, but Malaysian basil is extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity. The plants could have died within the hour."

Detective Carter shrugged and went back to taking notes.

"Thanks for convincing Rachel not to come out here tonight, Horatio," Edward said.

The detective shook his head, his thinning red-gold hair glinting dully in the fluorescent light. "She didn't need to see this. She's had a bad night already. How many plants survived?"

"Almost all of them, actually."

To enter:

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Extra Twitter entries: Get one extra entry per day if you tweet about this giveaway:
@camytang is giving away her Christian romantic suspense FORMULA FOR DANGER (Love Inspired Suspense)!
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Extra Facebook entries: Get one extra entry per day if you share this Facebook post on your own Facebook profile and/or page:
(Be sure you share the post at the link above--go to the link and then click "share". Make sure you set the privacy of your share to “public” so I can see that you shared it and give you your extra entry even if I’m not on your friends list.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

What's Special To Novelists? Readers

When I first began writing, I had no idea what being an author involved and it was far more work than I ever imaged. I sold my first novel in 1998 with Barbour Publishing and sold another to them in 1999, but that year I also sold to Love Inspired. Today I have authored fifty-two noves with #51 being released in January 2014 and #52 later that year in the fall, I assum.

Writing means not only completing a novel with my multipe edits and proofread by my husband who does a tremendous job, but that's followed by line/copy edits that must addressed, and later, the galleys, my last chance to catch problems. Also authors with LI fill out an elaborate questionnaire for details for the cover art. It's what you see once the book is released.

And then I learned about readers. I had no idea how many letters, cards and emails I would recieve from faithful readers who love my books, and many of surprised me even more with gifts and little surprises. One of my first readers had her daughter drive her to Dallas, TX where I was appearing from Kansas. Now that's called faithful.

Recently another reader, Sharon Allen sent me two gifts and I was so surprised. One was the lovely scarf I'm wearing in the photo above and the other was a cookbook and you can see who latched onto that in the other photo. My husband is  great cook and is always looking for low calorie recipes.

So thank you readers who have been faithful over the years. I've bringing back some of my out of print novels as eBooks, and I hope you'll take a look by visiting my website (address above) and checking the book page. Thank you so very much and blessings.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Ranger's Job is Never Done

Leigh Bale here.  Many of you know I’ve written a series of books about forest rangers.  My latest is titled HEALING THE FOREST RANGER and was released last month.  The next book will be available in February 2014.  My father has served as my consultant on these books.  By the time he retired, he was a staff officer and the second highest man on the forest.

Here’s a fun picture of my dad and one of his assistants in Echo Canyon, in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada.  Because of the rugged terrain they must travel in, most forest rangers are also great horsemen.  Dad is pictured here riding a horse named Dino.  A forest ranger’s job is very different from that of a park ranger.  Rangers deal with mining, grazing, timber harvest, fishery issues, wildlife, vegetation, fire fighting, and the list goes on and on.  A ranger's job is never done.

President Teddy Roosevelt took a lot of flak for establishing our national forests back in the early 1900’s, but I’m so glad he did.  We are blessed to now have these national treasures to enjoy.  Do you enjoy camping or visiting our national forests?  What about our national parks?  Where have you visited?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Allie Pleiter on H2O

I grew up on the water.  Long Island Sound and the rocky beaches of New England were the playgrounds of my childhood.  I could sail and drive a motorboat long before I could drive.  Our family owned lobster pots (yum!!) and my father was an avid fisherman (I did not inherit this gift at all).  I have always loved the water and felt at home around it.

Living in Chicago makes that a bit of a challenge.  Yes, we have Lake Michigan, but it's not the ocean. There are no tides and no salt water breeze.  Lake living is different that ocean living.  I spent this past weekend visiting my daughter in South Carolina and was reminded of how I adore the beach.  She's chosen a coastal life, and I can't say that I argue with her choice--except when the hurricanes come.

My hero in THE FIREMAN'S HOMECOMING recognizes how river living suits him.  He knows how the river soothes his soul, understands the stress his new job will bring, and takes action to ensure he gets time on the river.  Does it get him into a bit of trouble?  Well, it wouldn't be much of a book if it didn't now, would it?  Still, the Gordon River is almost its own character in my Gordon Falls series, because the river is such a big part of the town's atmosphere.

I grew up in ocean living, learned to love lake living, and now I'm exploring river living.  What about you?  How does a body of water fit into your life?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Heroine Interview from Guarding the Witness by Margaret Daley

I will give a copy of Guarding the Witness away from the names of the people who leave a message and leave their email address. I will pick a winner this Sunday evening.

Arianna Jackson, the heroine of Guarding the Witness written by Margaret Daley, a June release by Love Inspired Suspense.  
1.  Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
I am a bodyguard with Guardians, Inc. I was on assignment when I witnessed a mobster killing my client's husband. I went into the Witness Protection Program in order to testify against the murderer. 

2.  So, during the book you met Brody Callahan.  Tell us a bit about him.  What was your first impression?  When did you know it was love? 
He was the U.S. Marshal heading the team guarding me. If it hadn't been for him, I most likely would be dead when a group of assassins came after me. My first impression of him was that this man was very capable of protecting me, and I'm a person who knows how to do that--had for years as a bodyguard. I knew I was in love when I could put my trust in him.

3.  What strengths/skills do you have?  What is your greatest weakness?
My determination, professionalism and caring are my strengths. Sometimes I need to accept help but I have a hard time doing that. I'm used to being on my own and protecting myself. Trusting comes hard to me.  

4.  What scares you?
Rushing water--I almost drown in a river when I was a child.   

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Be more trusting--it keeps me a part from others because of my distrust.

6.  Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I believe in the Lord, but through the story as I run for my life, my faith is tested and deepened. 

7.  Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
I learned to put my total trust in the Lord. He was with me as I fought to stay alive.  

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6) This verse expressed the conflict within Arianna--totally trusting the Lord.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Key Lime Pie--a little sweet, a little tart.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Who Are You? by Marta Perry

Who are you? How would you answer that question? Maybe with your name, maybe with your family relationship, as in, "I'm Lorie's mother," at a PTA event. Maybe with your profession--I'm a writer. (Which always leads to the follow-up questions, either "What do you write?" or "Would I have heard of you?") Maybe you'd answer with the facets of life that are important to you: "I'm a child of God; I'm a wife, mother, and grandmother; I'm a writer."

Dig a little deeper. Where do you fit on your family tree? Oldest, youngest, middle child? Daughter, niece, aunt, granddaughter? Sister? The child of recent immigrants with strong ties to another culture? Or a family so completely Americanized that little is left of their country of origin?

Whether you have an interest in genealogy or not, looking into your family tree can net some fascinating results, not only showing you where you come from but also to some extent how you fit into the pattern of your family's life over the generations. My maternal ancestors, for instance, came to the colony of Pennsylvania in the early 1700s, along with a flood of immigrants from Germany and German-speaking areas of Switzerland. They were farmers, lured by William Penn's promises of abundant farmland and freedom to worship as they wanted, both of which would have been impossible had they stayed were they were. It makes sense, looked at from that point of view, but I sometimes wonder if I'd been brave enough to exchange the familiar for the unknown, no matter how promising!

But my ancestors were made of sterner stuff, so they came, they settled, and they thrived. They became known, through a misunderstanding of the language, as the Pennsylvania Dutch, even though there's nothing Dutch about them! They brought with them their low German language, their religious beliefs, their traditional arts and crafts, and their gift for good cooking. Even today, the recipe I use to make my family's favorite home-made noodles is the same as that used by those thrifty German farm-wives, who knew how to make something delicious from very little.

If you'd like to give it a try, here it is:


Beat together one whole egg and three yolks. Add flour until a stiff dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured board and let rest for 15 minutes. Using flour as needed, roll out to a paper-thin sheet. Cover with tea towels and let dry for several hours. Then cut into quarters; roll up each quarter jelly-roll style and slice as thin as possible. Shake out the rounds of dough into noodles. Simmer in chicken brother for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The broth will thicken and the noodles become soft. The dish can be served in bowls but the traditional method is to put the noodles on top of mashed potatoes for an extra-starchy treat!

What's your traditional family dish? Don't forget to pass the recipe on to your children, whether they think they want it or not. One day they'll appreciate it!

What Makes a Great Sandwich?

Jenna Mindel here.  I love sandwiches! I love eating them, I love ordering them, I love making them...  The other day when I was building one of my oh-so-good turkey,cranberry and goat cheese on french bread sammie's, I got to thinking how close making a good sandwich paralells the ingrediants for a good romance.

Sure, individual tastes differ, some like it spicy, some on the blander side, and some like it stacked sky high with meat.  And like a good sandwich - romance has structure.  A way to put things together with care and attention.  A sloppy, thrown together romantic tale is no more appetizing to me than a sandwich made without care - without love. 

This lovely month of June brings the release of my third Love Inspired romance titled Courting Hope. In it, you'll find a lot of love, the beauty of Northern Michigan, and even a wonderfully made turkey club with avacado!

When Hope Petersen looks up to see Sinclair Marsh standing in her office doorway, it brings back bittersweet memories. She can't forgive him for the terrible accident that changed both their lives. Now that her girlhood crush is the new pastor of the church she runs, Hope is forced to work with him—and her old feelings resurface. Sinclair seems determined to show her and their Michigan hometown that their minister is a changed man. Is Hope ready to move beyond the past and risk her future on the man she never stopped loving?

So tell me, what makes a good romance? And what about those sandwiches?

Check out my website for more information about my books at

My Turkey, Cranberry & Goat Cheese Sandwich

  • Split French Bread so it lays open like a sub roll.  (any crusty styled bread or roll will do)
  • Slather one side with cranberry mustard, and the other with soft goat cheese then sprinkle with dried cranberries.
  • Stack on the turkey - I used plain 'ole roasted turkey. (grilled chicken works well too!)
  • Sliced red onion optional. 
  • Lay a slice of provolone cheese on each side and then slip under the broiler until the cheese bubbles.
  • Enjoy!
ps. This is even better made with dried cherries and cherry mustard instead of cranberries, but the cherry crop had been wiped out last year due to crazy spring heat followed by a hard freeze.  So, cherries are hard to come by.  This year's crop should be good!  We'll see. :)