Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Champion of the January 2015 Clash

A hearty Thank You to the five excellent champions of the first Clash of the Champions in 2015. Some of them are new to us, and we always like to introduce new authors.

One of my favorite parts of being a hostess is to share some of the amazing and beautiful encouraging comments your readers make during the clash. Here are a few from both the survey and the post:
  • I've read several books by Pat Simmons, but her Guilty Series books touched my heart. The books in that series showed me the love and beauty of Missouri, at a time that I needed to know it was there. 
  • Marian P Merritt is a wonderful author and I love her Cajun inspired books. 
  • Susan Lyttek, you are an amazing and talented writer. 
  • I Love everything Marian P. Merritt has written! She pulls me into the story and I feel like I am one of the characters. 
  • Christmas Greetings is such a beautiful story! Thank you, Pat for allowing God to use and encourage others through His words.......C Lewis 
  • These books all sound great! 
  • Davalynn Spencer makes her fictional characters come alive in her stories! Genius! 
  • You don't shy away from life in your writing, Tammy Doherty. Keep it up!! 
  • Davalynn, I loved your book, couldn't put it down! 
  • I can't wait to read every one of these titles. They all look so amazing! 
  • Looking forward to reading Plundered Christmas! 
  • To Tammy Doherty, I would be wicked excited to read this. 
  • Really nice cover, too, Marian Merritt. 
  • Susan, your work continues to thrive, all for the Glory of God! I'm proud to know you, and can't wait to read this one! 
  • Pat keep doing what you do ... Uplifting people through your writing ... its a pleasure falling in love with your characters 
  • Great series by Susan Lyttek! 
  • Pat, I had planned to send you the same sentiment on your FB page! BTW, I downloaded 'A Christian Christmas' last month. Haven't gotten to reading it yet (I made a huge TBR pile in December!!) but really looking forward to it. Blessings, my friend :D 
  • I love mysteries, and Plundered Christmas sounds fun. 
  • Going to read The Snowbound Bride! 
  • They're all beautiful. It's exciting to think how many hours of reading pleasure are wrapped up under those lovely covers! 
  • It's a pity you could choose only one of those books. If I could I would choose both 'She's mine' and 'Plundered Christmas' 

Congratulations to

Tammy Doherty 

She's Mine

Caitlin Harrington has a new job and a new life away from her menacing ex-boyfriend, Adam. Issues with her parents, losing her previous job and the death of her beloved grandmother leave her wondering if God has abandoned her. Two things she is sure of: she’s a lousy judge of character and men just can’t be trusted.

Buy the Book:
$4.99 e-book
$14.99 Print

Tammy Doherty writes Inspirational/Christian fiction. Her first three novels are Western romances set in late 1800s Colorado. After completing this series, Tammy turned to contemporary romantic suspense. The Mystique of Naultag series is set in a small town in central Massachusetts very similar to the town where she grew up. 

Tammy Doherty grew up in the family greenhouse business but decided to go into an animal related career and became a veterinary technician. Her husband is "The Perennial Guy," so she's back to being immersed in the plant business. Currently, she works for a veterinary distribution company, selling pharmaceuticals and supplies in the Northeast. Tammy shares a blog with critique partner Nike Chillemi. There you can find information about the world of writing along with personal interest articles. Yes, writers have lives too. They just need to be reminded of that sometimes! Visit the blog and here to learn more about life in small town Massachusetts - the setting of her current works. 

Learn more about Tammy on her website.

Some Amazon Reviews:

Verified Purchase
This review is from: She's Mine: A Mystique of Naultag novel (Kindle Edition)
I read this book in 2 days. I usually avoid romance novels as I find them to be boring. However this book was fast paced and full of enough action to keep my interest all the way to the end. I also enjoyed reading about places and events of the local area which I could recognize throughout the novel. Excellent job Tammy!

Connie L. Winters (Central MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: She's Mine: A Mystique of Naultag novel (Kindle Edition)
Did I want to stay up until 2 am reading? NO! But the book was too good to put down. Highly recommend.
5.0 out of 5 stars Classical Mystery/Modern Energy, December 1, 2014

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brandi and the Bear

I've lived "in the woods" my whole life. But for a brief stint of apartment living when my husband and I were first married over thirty years ago, during which we bemoaned the life of street traffic and neighbors and houses blocking our window views, I've always lived surrounded by woods and water, dirt roads and quiet. I'm comfortable wandering alone in the depths of the forest or walking a field in the pitch dark of night, unafraid. There have been wondrous encounters with wild life, and then... there have been moments of stupidity. One such moment occurred on a late October evening in 2013 around ten p.m. 

First let it be said, I love October. There's nothing about it I don't like. I love the crispy nights that demand a fire in the wood stove and the brilliance of leaves twisting free of their hold on the forest crown. I love the smell of cool earth, split wood, and frost. I revel in the caress of a flannel shirt. I'm jealous of anyone born in October. I love the way the animals go on the move in October -- the geese, calling discordant stains, flying high above the earth or just above the tree tops in endless trailing vees, the deer browsing acorns on oak ridges while they grow thick with fur, and bucks getting rutty. The bears turn logs for lethargic bugs and roam far and wide for the last of summer's windfall fruits to build their store of winter fat. In October, it's not unusual for the dogs to bark chaotically as night falls and all God's creatures move about.

We had just settled in to some late night television on the October evening in question when our daughter-in-law Brandi called from her mobile home on the back forty. She was living alone while our son worked out of state, snuggled bravely further in the woods than we were.

She got directly to the point. "The dogs are going nuts. I think there's a bear. Will you come and see?"
Hubby was fast. He had his shoes on, a flashlight in one hand, and a pistol for protection in the other, while I was still tugging on my first tennis shoe. But moments later, we both bounded out the door. He was four steps ahead of me carrying the light. I felt like we were charging over there a bit too hastily since we had no idea where the bear might be, and I could hardly see where I was going.

"Wait up."

"Hurry! Hurry!" He sounded like a little boy with a deep voice.

"It might be in a tree over our head." I was still the mother, warning.

"Better walk faster then."

"I'm going to trip."

He turned and shined the beam at my feet so I could catch up.

Brandi was waiting for us on her front step. Her two small pooches, a beagle and a beagle mix were bouncing about and yipping about fifty yards away on the other side of a small pond. Our golden retriever was out there too. "I think there's a bear in that big pine tree," Brandi said.

Jeff shined the beam of his flashlight into the branches of a lone white pine outlined beneath the crest of a hill on the opposite bank of the pond. Sure enough, about two-thirds the way up the tree, a pair of eyes glowed. He shined higher. A second pair of eyes glinted back. He shined some more. 

"I think there are three," he said. He started walking the trail alongside the pond. Brandi and I followed close behind.

The pond and "the" pine tree -- not in October, clearly.
  "This is dumb," I declared. "We should not walk over there."

But of course, he ignored me completely. There never was a man in our family who didn't think he was invincible.

So walk over there we did. We stood atop the hill beyond the tree searching the heavy limbs with a flashlight beam and trying to take pictures with a cell phone of three young bears, probably born the previous spring. All this while, a growing sense of wariness crept over me, and I think Jeff and Brandi felt it too. I inched back a few feet, and Jeff took to the top of the hill, turning to scan the meadow and tree line around us with a narrow ray of light that seemed woefully inadequate.

"You know..." his flashlight waved an arc across the uncut field, "there could be a momma bear around here..."

Brandi and I turned toward the trail, that wary feeling growing urgent.

At that very moment, Jeff shouted. "There she is... and here she comes!"

You know those dreams of running blind in the dark as a monster races toward you? The ones where your legs are churning in slow motion? Yes, those. That was sort of how it felt. We were all out for ourselves right then. Jeff smacked into something and almost got eaten. Brandi and I took off. She claimed the lead. I sort of clumsied my way along, trying not to twist my ankle in a hole, hoping the bear would be satisfied with man-dinner. Brandi bolted like a streak of blond lightning back to the front steps of her house. I was ten yards behind her, laughing in pure fear as I, too, found purchase on the cement beneath the yard light. Jeff, for a short guy, runs really fast. He leapt up on the steps a moment or two behind me. We were panting and giggling, and Jeff was shining his light back and forth, trying to see where we'd left Big Mama when I glanced down at Brandi's stocking feet.

"Brandi!" I gasped. "Where are your shoes?"

She giggled and wiped tears from her eyes. "I left them in the field!"

Laughing over that, we turned toward the door. Then Jeff thought he'd be real funny and once more yell, "Here she comes!"and fire a couple rounds from his pistol into the night sky just to terrify us. 

Oh, haha, Mr. Musch. We didn't fall for it anyway, even if we did sort of crash through the doorway into the house. We called that the end of our wild adventure.

So mama stayed by her brood. Sometime later, their own blackness hidden in the darkness of night, her trio made their invisible way down the tree and disappeared over the hills, unaccosted by the dogs or their dumb owners. Hubby and I went home and tucked ourselves in. 

October rolled on, and other bears made their way into our yard and were chased by a pup up our trees. Some hoped for a meal of our chicken feed, others nosed around under the apple trees leaving traces of their passing. Did I already tell you, I love October, and the way the animals go on the move?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exciting December 2014 Releases

January 2015 Clash of the Titles

It's a New Year featuring some of the
most romantic and intriguing releases from last month. Holiday, Western, 

Have some extra gift cash
hot in your pocket? Try some of these.
In the meantime, vote for
the one you’re most likely to read first.

She’s Mine: A Mystique of
Naultag novel 
Tammy Doherty

Harrington has a new job and a new life away from her menacing ex-boyfriend,
Adam. Issues with her parents, losing her previous job and the death of her
beloved grandmother leave her wondering if God has abandoned her. Two things
she is sure of: she’s a lousy judge of character and men just can’t be trusted.

Plundered Christmas
Susan Lyttek

When compelled to
spend Christmas on the private island of her father’s intended bride, Jeanine
must cope with pirate legends, unexpected storms, and murder. Will she and her
family discover the truth about Anne Bonny’s connection to the Banet family
before someone else winds up dead?

Christmas Greetings
Pat Simmons

Saige Carter
loves everything about Christmas: the shopping, the food, the lights, and of
course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without family and friends to share in
the traditions they’ve created together Daniel Washington is no Scrooge, but
he’d rather skip the holidays altogether than spend them with his estranged
family. Once God reveals to them His purpose for their lives, they will have a
reason to rejoice. 

Deep Freeze Christmas
Marian Merritt

Louisiana Chef
Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas
holiday. When she meets the son of a movie producer, she is taken by his
striking good looks and warm personality. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses
clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona?

The Snowbound Bride
Davalynn Spencer

Can Arabella Taube find her way out of the physical and emotional storm of a
Colorado winter before the handsome horseman who rescued her also steals her

(Note: books made available the weekend of
December 1 are included)

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Writing a Square Peg in a Round Hole

Ugh... Ah... Er... Something about this scene doesn't quite fit, but by golly, I'm gonna make it work -- (dashes-sweat-off-furrowed-brow) -- somehow.

Have you ever done it, tried to write a square peg in a round hole? A scene that feels slightly awkward in pacing/timing/setting? A character who isn't behaving true to themselves? An action or over-reaction that doesn't quite ring true? I have, and let me tell you, it's dissatisfying. Worse yet, it's embarrassing when I leave it there and later on it slams me right in the gob, and I wonder what I was thinking.

Still don't know what I mean? How about a character who too conveniently rides in to save the day just in the nick of time? How about a bad guy in a serious novel who is so, so bad, he could double as a comic book villain instead of a 3-dimensional, flesh and blood person? How about a heroine's freak out that just seems out of proportion to the situation? Sometimes we writers put in something that isn't that bad, but we have an uncomfortable feeling about it niggling away inside us, and we leave it anyway, convincing ourselves that no one will notice, it'll work, it'll be okay. That, my friends, is writing a square peg in a round hole. And to that, I say, DON'T DO IT!

If you hear a still, small voice, maybe not the voice of God but your writer's conviction, whispering that something about this scene, this action, this character isn't spot on, then fix it. Cut it. Enhance it. Re-imagine it. 

My biggest trouble is with plausibility. They say truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. That's often true. If we were to put some of the bizarre real-life coincidences that sometimes happen into a story, no reader would find it believable. As writers of creative fiction, we almost have to be more than truthful. We have to transform the unimaginable into believability. We don't have the privilege of letting our stories ring too fantastic -- unless clearly a fantasy -- and even then the characters and situations they find themselves in must adhere true to their worlds.

I write all this to urge my fellow writers to deeply examine your work from the point of view of a skeptical audience, an audience who will set your story aside on a whim, and audience whom you must play like a big fish on a light weight line with a barb-snipped hook. Hook them deeply with patience and realism in your style.

Write on!
THE LOVE COWARD - Historical Romance coming in Spring of 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Introducing Caryl McAdoo's latest title, Hope Reborn!

by Michelle Massaro

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author Caryl McAdoo and her newest release Hope Reborn. (Look at that sassy expression, and that billowy feather in the heroine's hat. She's got to be up to something!)

{About Hope Reborn}

Dime novelist May Meriwether decides a Texas Ranger will make a great love interest for her new heroine and sets out to the Lone Star State with her companion Chester in tow; dreams of a family relegated to the recesses of her heart. But a widower resurrects a smidgen of hope. Only his superstitious beliefs stand in the way, and his love for his dead wife. Would there ever be room for her in his heart? Would he give up his God?

Give up his God? Yikes! This is going to be sticky!

{What are readers saying?}

Ms. McAdoo once again has gripped me from page one. (I read this book in almost one sitting. I quit reading around 2/3 one morning and resumed later in the day after I got caught up on sleep.) These Texas Romance/Christian Romantic Historical Western Adventures are certainly full of all of the aspects of each genre individually and meshed into a wonderful story that is very unique and unforgettable. - Rachelle WIlliams, a Mississippi reader

Sounds like some serious page-turning!

And now, let's meet Caryl!

{About the Caryl McAdoo}

With fourteen titles released by six publishers, Simon & Schuster author Caryl McAdoo is excited about her newest historical Christian Texas Romance series HOPE REBORN (1850/Jan. 9, 2015), book three after VOW UNBROKEN (1832/March 2014) and book two HEARTS STOLEN (1844/September, 2014). The novelist also edits, paints, and writes new songs. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes they books will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to all their readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.

If you want to know more about Caryl and her books, here are some of her cyber-haunts:


 (All First Chapters are offered here)
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Be sure to visit Clash of the Titles for our current literary sparring match!

Friday, January 2, 2015

My "New" Word for the New Year -- Can You Already Guess?

Some might see picking a word to camp on for the year as just a trendy thing to do. I've done it a couple times and clung to it, but I didn't set out to select a word for 2015. No words for the new year seemed noteworthy enough to capture my attention as 2014 wound down.

Then it happened by surprise, as sun set on New Year's Day. I was scrolling Facebook, when I saw someone in my news feed had posted 2 Corinthians 5:17, and it struck me afresh.

That Scripture is common to most believers; in fact, it's so common that we might hardly notice what it means to us daily. We are daily being sanctified in Christ. That means we are daily being made NEW! It isn't just a one-time deal. Christ saved us once and for all, and nothing we do will change that, but we are being sanctified -- alivened -- made holy -- set apart -- consecrated -- every day! We sometimes simply call it GROWTH. Actually, that's an over-simplification, but it helps us to remember that we are being made new.
The reason I selected NEW as my word for 2015 is because of its great encouragement value, not only for me, but for my family and friends as I pray for them. Sometimes, when I'm overwhelmed and don't know how to pray, I will pray for newness. Lord, I pray, make our love for You NEW, our prayer lives NEW, our love for others NEW, our determination for righteous living NEW!

Sometimes if feels like righteousness is nothing more than a weak thread -- because it is. We're sinners, every one of us, and we all feel the dismal ache of failure from time to time, and we sorrow when we see it in someone else. But that's when we remember our Father's great love for us, and that He is daily in the business of making All Things New.

Yes, NEW is my word for 2015. I will camp on it. I will remember it. I will sense it in my life. I will most definitely pray it!

Happy NEW Year to you, dear reader! If you have chosen a word to live by in 2015, please tell me about it. I'd love to hear what it is!