By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-1881-7
172 Pages

Back Cover: Betty Kowalski isn’t looking forward to the holidays. She just can’t seem to find Christmas in her heart. Maybe it’s because her husband is gone. Maybe it’s because she’s missing her children. Or maybe it has something to do with her obnoxious new neighbor, who seems to be tearing his house apart and rearranging it on the lawn.

But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn what Christmas is all about.

CLICK BELOW for an excerpt of this book. (The Christmas Dog)
For Scribd, the link is:

REVIEWED: Melody Carlson is such a talented and diversified author, so when the opportunity came to receive a review copy of her new Christmas book, I jumped at the chance to read it! Each of Melody’s books has its own voice and style. That’s what I love about her writing. The Christmas Dog is no exception. Melody writes this book in the point of view of Betty Kowalski, an elderly woman who’s preparing for a 50th Anniversary party for her friends right before Christmas. Out of the blue, her granddaughter, Avery, shows up and wants to help with the party decorations.

Betty discovers a little dog at their back door while Avery is visiting and wants to give it to the pound and would have if Avery hadn’t asked to keep the dog.. Betty’s never had a dog and this one is dirty. Avery tells her grandma that she will take care of everything, and not to worry. Could she trust Avery? Avery was so happy about the dog, Betty gives in.

Betty remembers what her mother says,” I do remember my mother once telling me that kindness builds bridges.”

This reminds Betty of her pastor and his recent sermon. She remembers, “How was it possible to love someone so completely disagreeable and inconsiderate and downright evil? Really, she thought as she stood up, even Pastor Gordon would be singing a different tune if he was forced to live next to Jack Jones." Now her granddaughter was here and wanted to keep this dog. God was doing a work on her, Betty could sense it.

God moves in mysterious ways and will stir our hearts to do His will if we let Him. Melody has penned a heart warming story that will leave you satisfied and get you in the spirit of Christmas cheer and ready to pass on God’s love.

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator


Did you come up with the title your book, The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper? If not, what was the working title? Did you have any say so on the cover this book? I LOVED IT!! Very catchy title and cover!!

Thank you! Shannon Marchese and Jessica Barnes came up with the title, and I LOVE it! The working title was "All that Glitters," which in retrospect doesn't fit the book at all. When the cover choices were being made, I got to choose the model from among a group of photos. This one was by far the best fit. I think she's exactly what Gennie looks like, don't you?

You have written non-fiction books over the years on Empty Nesters, Divorce. Why Christian Fiction? Why make the leap? Which is easier for you to write? Why?

Fiction is SO much easier! With novels, I get to decide what happens. In nonfiction, it's all about real life. I made the leap because I was asked. Janice Thompson (writing as Janice Hanna) and I have experienced empty nest and divorce, and we know many others who have as well. Those books were a collaboration between the two of us with Janice doing the lion's share of the work. She's the expert...I'm the cheerleader.

What was your favorite scene to write in The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper? What was your most difficult to write? Why?

My favorite scene? I have two. I loved writing the scene in the store where Daniel catches Gennie playing "dress up" in buckskins and boots. I also loved writing the ending, which I won't reveal but will say that this one also qualifies as the most difficult to write. I wanted it just right, so I must have agonized over each sentence.

You are a woman that wears many hats—you are an author of historical and contemporary Christian as well as writing nonfiction books. I’ve read that you have a degree in Marketing from the Mayes School of Business at Texas A&M University and hold a certification as a paralegal. In addition, to that you are a publicist for Books & Such Literary Agency. Did I forget anything? Which hat is the most rewarding for you? Why?

Each is rewarding in a different way. I love telling people about my authors at Books & Such. There are so many amazing books being written that bragging about the good ones is a privilege I do not take lightly. Working as a paralegal allows me to interact with people who are often hurting and in need of comfort. And finally, being a writer is such a blessing! I'm humbled with God's grace and provision as He walks me through the process of doing each of these jobs.

How do you work as publicist for Books & Such Literary Agency and write your own books? How do you keep balance in your life? When do you find the time to write?

My life got a whole lot simpler when my daughter went off to college. I try to portion out my time so that I give my best to each endeavor, but I'm still learning how to do that well. I write when I can, which is generally nights and weekends. Balance is something I'm working on.

I’m sure you must be working on a brand new book by now; can you tell us a little something about what this series will be about? Any sneak peeks for us about what we can look forward to?

I'm putting the finishing touches on Anna Finch and the Hired Gun, which has been an absolute blast! Anna Finch, Gennie's quiet best friend, gets her own story with more than a few surprises. Here's a sneak peek of a line I'm hoping will stay in the completed manuscript: "Mr. Beck,” she said slowly, “a Deringer is not my pistol of choice. It is, however, the pistol in my skirt pocket.” ~~Anna Finch

And just to make your readers wonder...this Mr. Beck is NOT Daniel.


If you had 24 hours to hang out with anyone TWO PEOPLE alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus); what two people would you pick & Why? What would you do?

Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. I've got some questions to ask them for this book I'm working on!

Where did you live growing up? What did you like about growing up there?

I grew up in Port Neches, Texas. What I liked at the time was the proximity to the beach. What I like now is the family history - the legacy - that the city holds for our family. I graduated from the same high school as my grandmother and my dad, and I've since had two nieces graduate from there. There's something to be said for permanency. I think our society puts far too little value on what lasts and what's really important.

Name three jobs that you’ve had that might surprise people?

Laborer at a chemical plant, smocking teacher at a fabric shop, and paralegal

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why?

Mary Poppins! I loved that movie, especially since I vividly recall watching it from the balcony of the now-gone Village Theater in Port Arthur, Texas! I wanted to live during that time, have a nanny like Mary, and dance on rooftops. But most of all, I wanted to have a floating tea party.

Name four of your favorite books read as a child?

The Borrowers, Anything by Laura Ingalls Wilder, To Kill a Mockingbird, and my grandmother's set of Encyclopedia Britannicas.

You’ve been given the opportunity to use a time machine and visit any TWO events in the history of the world. Which TWO events would you pick and why?

Any two random days from my childrens' childhoods. And why? Because I know now to pay closer attention, to be in the moment, and not to miss a single second because they grow up so fast.

What’s the last movie you saw in a theatre? Did you like it? What snacks did you buy?

Julie and Julia. I loved it! Between the French and the writing comments, I laughed so much! Snacks? As I recall, I went with a group after dinner, so likely all I got was a diet soda and maybe popcorn.

What was the last restaurant you ate at? What did you order? Did you like it?

I had Cheesecake Factory on Saturday for my daughter's nineteenth birthday. We shared fresh guacamole then I had a chicken dish (can't recall the name). Of course dessert was cheesecake - banana for me and turtle for Hannah. Like it? Um...yes!

9. Name four movies you could watch over and over again?

Tombstone (Doc and Wyatt again!), Pure Country (George Strait!), Pillow Talk, and The Holiday

10. If you had one free afternoon to do anything you wanted to do what would that be?

Read a book ties with taking the top down on my Mini Cooper and driving through the Hill Country of Central Texas - depends on the weather!


Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this, Nora. Readers are precious, and I love connecting with them.

Thanks for the interview and stopping by so my readers and I get to know you and your books better. I just had to share the picture of your dog I found on facebook. Thanks for letting me share it. It's so cute!!

Nora, The funny thing about the dog is he had never had clothes on before and he had no idea what to do. He just kind of froze then let out this huge yawn. might look like he was being fierce but he was actually waiting to get out of the costume. :)

That's funny Kathleen. Blessings on your writing adventures. All the best to you on your new writing projects. Remember if you’re ever in Atlanta you’ll have to stop by and speak to my book clubs.


Nora :D
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

I look forward to you stopping by again, Nora!!

****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants


CONGRATS TO THE WINNER MARY ZANDER!! Thanks to everyone for stopping by


Which do you prefer? Live, on the phone, or the on-line author chat? Why?

Definitely live, as much as possible. I want to interact with my readers. I want to meet them. They are always with me when I am working, whether I have met them at the time of the writing yet or not. Getting to meet readers in person is one of the greatest privileges of writing, and the greatest rewards of the long days and bleary-eyed nights that go into a book. I leave writing a bit shell-shocked every time, reeling and hollow. But the moment I see that face and hug that person, it is all worth it and I am filled again.

Please describe a book club experience that really moved you, encouraged you. Why did it touch you?

One of the clubs I spoke with on the phone asked me if I would promise to read my own book, Havah. This touched me in that they wanted me to see it as they saw it—not as the giant pile of long hours and headaches and backaches and hair-pulling that went into it—but as the story experience that they did. The other thing that constantly moves me is when readers thank me for having written one of my books. I am just flattened with humility.

What surprised you most about doing a live book club event?

How much fun and laughter there is. To hear the things, the nuances and details that book club members pick up on. There is no getting anything by book club readers!

What surprised you about doing a phone chat with a club?

How much I wish I could be there with them in person.

What surprised you most about doing the on-line book club chat?

How much, again, I wish I could be there with them. But also—in every situation—the great questions they ask. Some of them are real stumpers. Also, by the time I meet with a book club, my book might have been out already a year or two. Their memory of the book is by then much fresher than mine! I had one reader remind me of something I had totally forgotten once. That was great. Embarrassing, but really great.

What do you like most about the book club experience?

I just love the people. I leave inspired to write for them, for each of them, specifically and individually. Their faces are printed on my heart. Their kindnesses and encouragements and love is something I take with me.

Did you get an unexpected reaction to a book your read? Didn't expect your audience to find something on one of your books or react they way they did?

I was a little worried about how readers would respond to the controversial nature and tone of my books; they are both controversial for different reasons. I did not expect the way clubs would discuss and process the risks we take as writers, the way they would recognize and support us for those. I am so grateful for it and for them.


Thanks for stopping by and telling us about your book club experiences. I know that I have enjoyed meeting you and hearing how the Lord has inspired you in your writing. I'm thankful to have met you and have you speak to my book clubs. I look forward to meeting up with you again.

Blessings to you on your writing adventures. You are a delight and so are your books.


Nora :D


Today's author is:

and the book:

Bo's Café

Windblown Media; 1 edition (September 25, 2009)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Bruce McNicol is president of Leadership Catalyst, Inc. and an international speaker and consultant. He holds a master's in theology and a doctorate in organizational and leadership development. Previously he served for ten years as president of the international church planting organization Interest Associates.

Bill Thrall serves as vice-chair of Leadership Catalyst, mentor, and coauthor of the bestselling TrueFaced resources (, The Ascent of a Leader, andBeyond Your Best.

John Lynch is a national conference speaker and writer for LCI, holds a master's of theoology from Talbot Seminary, and has twenty years' experience as a teaching pastor of Open Door Fellowship. He's also cofounder and playwright of a theater troupe in Phoenix.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Windblown Media; 1 edition (September 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193517004X
ISBN-13: 978-1935170044



By John Lynch, Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol
Published by Windblown Media
246 Pages

Back Cover: High-powered exec Steven Kerner has no idea his tightly wound American dream is about to come crashing down. His high-profile, high-octane life has always provided everything he’s wanted. Or so he thought.

When his unresolved anger threatens his marriage, and his attempts to fix it only drive the one he loves further away, he is pushed to the brink. An invitation from mystery man, Andy Monroe, may be the greatest hope Steven’s ever been handed.

REVIEW: After reading the last page of this book I’m speechless, pondering all that I had read. Where do I begin to tell you the hope this book released in my heart, mind and emotions. The thing I LOVE about Christian Fiction is the fact that it can take you places you’d never go on your own. It can help you explain things that are just unexplainable, and put you in situations where you can see GRACE and LOVE in a very real way.

The opening scene read like the movie Mr. Destiny, where a distraught man heads to a run-down restaurant, meets a man that knows everything about him, then the distraught man makes a wish and lives his dream. No magic here -- only a book filled with hope in the future and a way to live life to the fullest. What does a real loving community of believers look like? You’ll meet Andy, Hank, Carlos and Cynthia, just to name a few of the fun loving, real characters; who tell it like it is. It’s refreshing and at times painful to read because I found them talking right to my heart!

Here’s a clip from the book—Steven and Andy first meet—he asks Andy a question.
” It starts young doesn’t it? They get hurt.”

Andy says, “All those people down there, walking and driving around, confused—angry, hurt, wounded, afraid, resentful—they all have something in common.”

“What’s that?” Steven says.

“…they’ve learned to protect themselves. Now they’re adults and they’re discovering this cruel secret: they can’t protect themselves. In fact, the last person who can protect them is them.” Wow!!

Bo’s Café helped me identify some of the lies that I believed about myself, some of the old tapes I had playing in my head until Jesus set me free. Andy takes it a little deeper in a very simple but profound way. I think this is a must read for everyone. I know that I’m going to be reading this book again and again, giving it out to my family and friends.

I had asked the authors about their book club experience and here's what they had to say. These guys are a hoot!!

Nora, thank you for inviting us to engage with you at Bo’s Café. It’s great to meet you! In return, we invite you to can join us at as the characters of Bo’s Café hang out at Bo’s Café every week on our blogs and as we three get to talk about our community on our 15 minute podcast.

We are new to “book clubs.” When Bill hears “club” he thinks golf clubs. When John hears “club” he thinks Club Med. Bruce is the only one who has been in a book club, which didn’t last long before he and his family needed to make the move from Chicago to Phoenix to be with their friends John and Bill.

So our favorite book club is the one to which we have yet to be invited! You, Nora!—you could be our first book club interview—if you like our book! Let us know!!

As you can tell from their comments here these guys are funny, yet very sincere in how they wrote Bo's Cafe. It's not like anything you've read! That's a GOOD thing!!

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Author of The Shack William Paul Young had this to say about Bo's Cafe-- "Bo's Cafe is a treasure for all of us who harbor a longing to be authentic."

He's got that right. You just have to check this book out and discover its fun and wonder.


****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****


Katy at A Few More Things bestowed upon me the Honest Scrap award this week! I’m So excited. Love Katy’s enthusiasm and the fact she checks out my author interviews and leaves good comments. I’m honored and quite surprised to receive this. Thanks for the recommendation and the award.

Here are the RULES for this AWARD:
• This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

• When accepting this award, you must write a post about it, including the name of the person who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

• Choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Show the blog names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Scrap award.

• List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!


1. I am a book club leader of three book clubs. Two live and one that is on line, only by the grace of God and his helpers.

2. I’m dyslexic, diagnosed at age 26.

3. I didn’t read growing-up as a child. I tried to catch up on reading children’s books when I read them to my three children.

4. It wasn’t my idea to run book clubs. I didn’t seriously start reading for pleasure until 6 years ago, when I started working at a Christian Book Store .

5. I’m reading more books now than I have read in my whole life. I’m lovin’ it.

6. I truly love interviewing authors and hearing the fun things that happen to them along their book creations, like brainstorming, writing and the publishing process.

7. I get so excited and I really enjoy it when authors speak at book club. I see how they react in the book club environment, when talking to a group of women that have read and discussed their books before they got there. Fun!

8. I love quilts and I also love to make quilts. Hardest part for me is picking out the colors for the quilt.

9. One of my favorite children’s picture books is called The Quilt Makers Journey by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken - Pictures in side are beautiful and I really believe in the message of this book.

10. Exercise is a necessary evil. I hate to do it but feel so much better when I’m finished. My treat is the whirlpool afterwards!

SEVEN BLOGGERS I ENJOY - I've sent this award to:
Margaret at CREATIVE MADNESS beautiful site-informative in many areas.
KELLY At SCRAMBLE d DREGS creative brings a smile to your face and makes you think.
STORMI at BOOKS, MOVIES, REVIEWS! Like her logo- you never know what she’ll review next. Fun
ROBERT WHITLOW at Love how his site sparkles—one of my favorite authors. I have to brag—LOVE his stories.
INKWELL INSPIRATIONS beautiful and informative
JANE at WINNING READING is up on the latest give away –love checking out her site.
MIMI at WOVEN BY WORDS beautiful site—very informative. She talks about so many things. Love to go here.

Thanks again, Katy!! I’m excited for everyone to check out the blogs that I’ve recently gotten to know and enjoy. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!! We have so much to be thankful for!!

Nora :D
Finding Hope Through Fiction and Beyond