It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Realms (October 5, 2010)
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. Another of Andrea’s accomplishments is co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its Advisory Board and as its CEO.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616380233
ISBN-13: 978-1616380236


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 1866

Stepping off the train, her valise in hand, Sarah McCabe eyed her surroundings. Porters hauled luggage and shouted orders to each other. Reunited families and friends hugged while well-dressed businessmen, wearing serious expressions, walked briskly along.
Mr. Brian Sinclair . . .
Sarah glanced around for the man she thought might be him. When nobody approached her, she ambled to the front of the train station where the city was bustling as well. What with all the carriages and horse-pulled streetcars coming and going on Reed Street, it was all Sarah could do just to stay out of the way. And yet she rejoiced in the discovery that Milwaukee was not the small community she’d assumed. There was not a farm in sight, and it looked nothing like her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri.
Good. She breathed a sigh and let her gaze continue to wander. Milwaukee wasn’t all that different from Chicago, where she’d visited and hoped to teach music in the fall. The only difference she could see between the two cities was that Milwaukee’s main streets were cobbled, whereas most of Chicago’s were paved with wooden blocks.
Sarah squinted into the morning sunshine. She wondered which of the carriages lining the curb belonged to Mr. Sinclair. In his letter he’d stated that he would meet her train. Sarah glanced at her small watch locket: 9:30 a.m. Sarah’s train was on time this morning. Had she missed him somehow?
My carriage will be parked along Reed Street, Mr. Sinclair had written in the letter in which he’d offered Sarah the governess position. I shall arrive the same time as your train: 9:00 a.m. The letter had then been signed: Brian Sinclair.
Sarah let out a sigh and tried to imagine just what she would say to her new employer once he finally came for her. Then she tried to imagine what the man looked like. Older. Distinguished. Balding and round through the middle. Yes, that’s what he probably looked like.
She eyed the crowd, searching for someone who matched the description. Several did, although none of them proved to be Mr. Sinclair. Expelling another sigh, Sarah resigned herself to the waiting.
Her mind drifted back to her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri. There wasn’t much excitement to be had there. Sarah longed for life in the big city, to be independent and enjoy some of the refinements not available at home. It was just a shame the opportunity in Chicago didn’t work out for her. Well, at least she didn’t have to go back. She’d found this governess position instead.
As the youngest McCabe, Sarah had grown tired of being pampered and protected by her parents as well as her three older brothers―Benjamin, Jacob, and Luke―and her older sisters, Leah and Valerie. They all had nearly suffocated her―except for Valerie. Her sister-in-law was the only one who really understood her. Her other family members loved her too, but Sarah felt restless and longed to be out on her own. So she’d obtained a position at a fine music academy in Chicago―or so she’d thought. When she arrived in Chicago, she was told the position had been filled. But instead of turning around and going home, Sarah spent every last cent on a hotel room and began scanning local newspapers for another job. That’s when she saw the advertisement. A widower by the name of Brian Sinclair was looking for a governess to care for his four children. Sarah answered the ad immediately, she and Mr. Sinclair corresponded numerous times over the last few weeks, she’d obtained permission from her parents―which had taken a heavy amount of persuasion―and then she had accepted the governess position. She didn’t have to go home after all. She would work in Milwaukee for the summer. Then for the fall, Mr. Withers, the dean of the music academy in Chicago, promised there’d be an opening.
Now, if only Mr. Sinclair would arrive.
In his letter of introduction he explained that he owned and operated a business called Sinclair and Company: Ship Chandlers and Sail-makers. He had written that it was located on the corner of Water and Erie Streets. Sarah wondered if perhaps Mr. Sinclair had been detained by his business. Next she wondered if she ought to make her way to his company and announce herself if indeed that was the case.
An hour later Sarah felt certain that was indeed the case!
Reentering the depot, she told the baggage man behind the counter that she’d return shortly for her trunk of belongings and, aft er asking directions, ventured off for Mr. Sinclair’s place of business.
As instructed, she walked down Reed Street and crossed a bridge over the Milwaukee River. Then two blocks east and she found herself on Water Street. From there she continued to walk the distance to Sinclair and Company.
She squinted into the sunshine and scrutinized the building from where she stood across the street. It was three stories high, square in shape, and constructed of red brick. Nothing like the wooden structures back home.
Crossing the busy thoroughfare, which was not cobbled at all but full of mud holes, Sarah lifted her hems and climbed up the few stairs leading to the front door. She let herself in, a tiny bell above the door signaling her entrance.
“Over here. What can I do for you?”
Sarah spotted the owner of the voice that sounded quite automatic in its welcome. She stared at the young man, but his gaze didn’t leave his ledgers. She noted his neatly parted straight blond hair―as blond as her own―and his round wire spectacles.
Sarah cleared her throat. “Yes, I’m looking for Mr. Sinclair.”
The young man looked up and, seeing Sarah standing before his desk, immediately removed his glasses and stood. She gauged his height to be about six feet. Attired nicely, he wore a crisp white dress shirt and black tie, although his dress jacket was nowhere in sight and his shirtsleeves had been rolled to the elbow.
“Forgive me.” He sounded apologetic, but his expression was one of surprise. “I thought you were one of the regulars. They come in, holler their orders at me, and help themselves.”
Sarah gave him a courteous smile.
“I’m Richard Navis,” he said, extending his hand. “And you are . . . ?”
“Sarah McCabe.” She placed her hand in his and felt his firm grip.
“A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. McCabe.”
“Miss,” she corrected.
“Ahhh . . . ” His deep blue eyes twinkled. “Then more’s the pleasure, Miss McCabe.” He bowed over her hand in a regal manner, and Sarah yanked it free as he chuckled.
“That was very amusing.” She realized he’d tricked her in order to check her marital status. The cad. But worse, she’d fallen for it! Th e oldest trick in the book, according to her three brothers.
Richard chuckled, but then put on a very businesslike demeanor. “And how can I help you, Miss McCabe?”
“I’m looking for Mr. Sinclair, if you please.” Sarah noticed the young man’s dimples had disappeared with his smile.
“You mean the captain? Captain Sinclair?”
“Captain?” Sarah frowned. “Well, I don’t know . . . ”
“I do, since I work for him.” Richard grinned, and once more his dimples winked at her. “He manned a gunboat on the Mississippi during the war and earned his captain’s bars. When he returned from service, we all continued to call him Captain out of respect.”
“ I see.” Sarah felt rather bemused. “All right . . . then I’m looking for Captain Sinclair, if you please.”
“Captain Sinclair is unavailable,” Richard stated with an amused spark in his eyes, and Sarah realized he’d been leading her by the nose since she’d walked through the door. “I’m afraid you’ll have to do with the likes of me.”
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Mr. Navis, you will not do at all. I need to see the captain. It’s quite important, I assure you. I wouldn’t bother him otherwise.”
“My apologies, Miss McCabe, but the captain’s not here. Now, how can I help you?”
“You can’t!”
The young man raised his brows and looked taken aback by her sudden tone of impatience. This couldn’t be happening. Another job and another closed door. She had no money to get home, and wiring her parents to ask for funds would ruin her independence forever in their eyes.
She crossed her arms and took several deep breaths, wondering what on Earth she should do now. She gave it several moments of thought. “Will the captain be back soon, do you think?” She tried to lighten her tone a bit.
Richard shook his head. “I don’t expect him until this evening. He has the day off and took a friend on a lake excursion to Green Bay. However, he usually stops in to check on things, day off or not . . . Miss McCabe? Are you all right? You look a bit pale.” A dizzying, sinking feeling fell over her.
Richard came around the counter and touched her elbow. “Miss McCabe?”
She managed to reach into the inside pocket of her jacket and pull out the captain’s last letter―the one in which he stated he would meet her train. She looked at the date . . . today’s. So it wasn’t she that was off but he!

“It seems that Captain Sinclair has forgotten me.” She felt a heavy frown crease her brow as she handed the letter to Richard.
He read it and looked up with an expression of deep regret. “It seems you’re right.”
Folding the letter carefully, he gave it back to Sarah. She accepted it, fretting over her lower lip, wondering what she should do next.
“I’m the captain’s steward,” Richard offered. “Allow me to fetch you a cool glass of water while I think of an appropriate solution.”
“Thank you.” Oh, this was just great. But at least she sensed Mr. Navis truly meant to help her now instead of baiting her as he had before.
Sitting down at a long table by the enormous plate window, Sarah smoothed the wrinkles from the pink-and-black skirt of her two-piece traveling suit. Next she pulled off her gloves as she awaited Mr. Navis’s return. He’s something of a jokester, she decided, and she couldn’t help but compare him to her brother Jake. However, just now, before he’d gone to fetch the water, he had seemed very sweet and thoughtful . . . like Ben, her favorite big brother. But Richard’s clean-cut, boyish good looks and sun-bronzed complexion . . . now they were definitely like Luke, her other older brother.
Sarah let her gaze wander about the shop. She was curious about all the shipping paraphernalia. But before she could really get a good look at the place, Richard returned with two glasses of water. He set one before Sarah, took the other for himself, and then sat down across the table from her.
He took a long drink. “I believe the thing to do,” he began, “is to take you to the captain’s residence. I know his housekeeper, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.”
Sarah nodded. It seemed the perfect solution. “I do appreciate it, Mr. Navis, although I hate to pull you away from your work.” She gave a concerned glance toward the books piled on the desk.
Richard just chuckled. “Believe it or not, Miss McCabe, you are a godsend. I had just sent a quick dart of a prayer to the Lord, telling Him that I would much rather work outside on a fine day like this than be trapped in here with my ledgers. Then you walked in.” He grinned. “Your predicament, Miss McCabe, will have me working out-of-doors yet!”
Sarah smiled, heartened that he seemed to be a believer. “But what will the captain have to say about your abandonment of his books?” She arched a brow.
Richard responded with a sheepish look. “Well, seeing this whole mess is hisfault, I suspect the captain won’t say too much at all.”
laughed in spite of herself, as did Richard. However, when their eyes met―sky blue and sea blue―an uncomfortable silence settled down around them.
was the first to turn away. She forced herself to look around the shop and then remembered her curiosity. “What exactly do you sell here?” She felt eager to break the sudden awkwardness.
“ Well, exactly,” Richard said, appearing amused, “we are ship chandlers and sail-makers and manufacturers of flags, banners, canvas belting, brewers’ sacks, paulins of all kinds, waterproof horse and wagon covers, sails, awnings, and tents.” He paused for a breath, acting quite dramatic about it, and Sarah laughed again. “We are dealers in vanilla, hemp, and cotton cordage, lath yarns, duck of all widths, oakum, tar, pitch, paints, oars, tackle, and purchase blocks . . . exactly!”
swallowed the last of her giggles and arched a brow. “That’s it?”
grinned. “Yes, well,” he conceded, “I might have forgotten the glass of water.”
Still smiling, she took a sip of hers. And in that moment she decided that she knew how to handle the likes of Richard Navis― tease him right back, that’s how. After all, she’d had enough practice with Ben, Jake, and Luke.
finished up their cool spring water, and then Richard went to hitch up the captain’s horse and buggy. When he returned, he unrolled his shirtsleeves, and finding his dress jacket, he put it on. Next he let one of the other employees know he was leaving by shouting up a steep flight of stairs, “Hey, there, Joe, I’m leaving for a while! Mind the shop, would you?”
She heard a man’s deep reply. “Will do.”
At last Richard announced he was ready to go. Their first stop was fetching her luggage from the train station. Her trunk and bags filled the entire backseat of the buggy.
“I noticed the little cross on the necklace you’re wearing. Forgive me for asking what might be the obvious, but are you a Christian, Miss McCabe?” He climbed up into the driver’s perch and took the horse’s reins.
“Why, yes, I am. Why do you ask?”
“I always ask.”
“Hmm . . . ” She wondered if he insulted a good many folks with his plain speech. But in his present state, Richard reminded her of her brother Luke. “My father is a pastor back home in Missouri,” Sarah offered, “and two of my three brothers have plans to be missionaries out West.”
“And the third brother?”
“Ben. He’s a photographer. He and his wife, Valerie, are expecting their third baby in just a couple of months.”
“How nice for them.”
Nodding, Sarah felt a blush creep into her cheeks. She really hadn’t meant to share such intimacies about her family with a man she’d just met. But Richard seemed so easy to talk to, like a friend already. But all too soon she recalled her sister Leah’s words of advice: “Outgrow your garrulousness, lest you give the impression of a silly schoolgirl! You’re a young lady now. A music teacher.”
Sarah promptly remembered herself and held her tongue―until they reached the captain’s residence, anyway.
“What a beautiful home.” She felt awestruck as Richard helped her down from the buggy.
“A bit ostentatious for my tastes.”
Not for Sarah’s. She’d always dreamed of living in house this grand. Walking toward the enormous brick mansion, she gazed up in wonder.
The manse had three stories of windows that were each trimmed in white, and a “widow’s walk” at the very top of it gave the struca somewhat square design. The house was situated on a quiet street across from a small park that overlooked Lake Michigan. But it wasn’t the view that impressed Sarah. It was the house itself.
seemed to sense her fascination. “Notice the brick walls that are lavishly ornamented with terra cotta. The porch,” he said, reaching for her hand as they climbed its stairs, “is cased entirely with terra cotta. And these massive front doors are composed of complex oak millwork, hand-carved details, and wrought iron. The lead glass panels,” he informed her as he knocked several times, “hinge inward to allow conversation through the grillwork.”
“!” Sarah felt awestruck. She sent Richard an impish grin. “You are something of a walking textbook, aren’t you?”
Before he could reply, a panel suddenly opened, and Sarah found herself looking into the stern countenance of a woman who was perhaps in her late fifties.
“Hello, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.” Richard’s tone sounded neighborly.
“Mr. Navis.” She gave him a curt nod. “Vhat can I do for you?”
Sarah immediately noticed the housekeeper’s thick German accent.
“’ve brought the captain’s new governess. This is Miss Sarah McCabe.” He turned. “Sarah, this is Mrs. Gretchen Schlyterhaus.”
“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am.” Sarah tried to sound as pleasing as possible, for the housekeeper looked quite annoyed at the interruption.
“The captain said nussing about a new governess,” she told Richard, fairly ignoring Sarah altogether. “I know nussing about it.”
grimaced. “I was afraid of that.”
Wide-eyed, Sarah gave him a look of disbelief.
“Let’s show Mrs. Schlyterhaus that letter . . . the one from the captain.”
Sarah pulled it from her inside pocket and handed it over. Richard opened it and read its contents.
The older woman appeared unimpressed. “I know nussing about it.” With that, she closed the door on them.
Sarah’s heart crimped as she and Richard walked back to the carriage.
“Here, now, don’t look so glum, Sarah . . . May I call you Sarah?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” No governess position. No money. So much for showing herself an independent young woman. Her family would never let her forget this. Not ever! Suddenly she noticed Richard’s wide grin. “What are you smiling at?”
“It appears, Sarah, that you’ve been given the day off too.”

NOTE FROM NORA @ THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK: This series looks good. I didn't sign up for this tour but wanted to. I wish I would have had more time to read this month. But since I didn't read book one I didn't jump in to read book #2. Maybe I'll put both of these books on my Christmas wish list!! I hope your reading this honey!!(P.S. and kids!! Grin!)
Nora :D


DALE CRAMER BIO: Dale Cramer was the second of four children born to a runaway Amishman turned soldier and a south Georgia sharecropper's daughter. His formative years were divided between far-flung military bases.

True to his Amish ancestry, Dale skipped college and went to work with his hands, earning a living as an electrician, but he had early acquired the habit of reading widely and voraciously. The thought was never far from his mind that someday he would like to write books. In 1975 he married his childhood friend, Pam Crowe, and in the early years of their marriage the two of them enjoyed traveling, camping, water skiing, scuba-diving, snow skiing and flying sailplanes. They eventually bought a piece of land and built a home out in the country south of Atlanta. In 1990 their first child, Ty, was born. Dusty arrived two years later. Unlike their parents (Pam was an Army brat as well) Ty and Dusty have lived in the same place all their lives.

He took on small construction projects at night to help make ends meet— "and to preserve the remainder of my sanity," he says. While building an office in the basement of a communications consultant, a debate over labor/management relations turned into an article on mutualism which found its way into an international business magazine. It was Dale's first published article, and he liked the feel of it. He bought books, studied technique, and began participating in an online writers' forum, writing during the boys' naps and after they went to bed at night. Before long he was publishing short stories in literary magazines and thinking about writing a book.

Three storylines vied for Dale's attention when he finally decided to write a novel. His first two choices were commercially viable secular stories, and a distant third appeared to be some kind of Christian saga about a broken-down biker. The process of determining which novel to write was settled by a remarkable encounter with his youngest son, a lost set of keys, and God.* His sense of direction was suddenly clarified. In 1997, Dale began work on Sutter's Cross, which was eventually published in 2003.

His second novel, Bad Ground (July 2004), The mining project that inspired Bad Ground took place eighteen years ago. The idea for the story has been brewing ever since. Dale Cramer's metamorphosis from construction worker to writer and the publication of a story drawn from what may have been his darkest day’s serves as a real-life illustration of the theme in Bad Ground— that God often hides the greatest gifts in the darkest places.

1. How did you get the idea for your new book?

I was looking for a big idea for an Amish book, something unusual. I was talking to my Dad one night and I asked him how he came to be born in Mexico. He was born and raised Old Order Amish, and I knew he was born in a colony in Mexico, but I never really knew why they were there in the first place. He told me they had gone to Mexico because of a dispute with the state of Ohio over the schools, but he didn't know much more than that. I started digging and found an obscure book that gave a fairly detailed account of what happened. Ohio had passed new school attendance laws in 1921 requiring all kids from 6 to 18 to attend public school full time. This would have been devastating to the Amish, so they didn't comply. They arrested five of the Amish fathers, convicted them of neglect and abuse, then took their kids away from them and put them in a childrens' home. They took the kids' Amish clothes away, cut the boys' hair, and told the parents they could have their kids back when they agreed to send them to school five days a week. The Amish had no choice but to comply at that point, but they started looking for a way out. When they discovered a tract advertising land for sale in the mountains of Mexico for ten dollars an acre they decided to leave the country and start a new colony in a place called Paradise Valley. When I read all that, I knew I had my big story.

2. Are you happy with the cover of this book. Did you have any say in the book cover process?

The designer asked me a bunch of questions about the geography of the place and what sort of wagons they drove, and he used the information in the design. Apart from that I didn't have a lot to do with it, but I think it turned out rather well.

3. How was the writing of this book different than from writing Levi's Will which was based on your family?

This story, like Levi's Will, is loosely based on family history, but it's a lot further removed from me personally because it's a generation earlier. The whole series is sort of a three-book prequel to Levi's Will, but it happened nearly a hundred years ago so I don't really know any of the main characters. I had to do a lot more research for this one because it involves a foreign country. I tried very hard to get the background stuff right-- you know, the geography, what the place looked like, what the Mexican people were like, customs and culture and political climate. But all of that is just backdrop. The real story is in the characters. I learned that my great grandfather was the elder statesman of the colony, and he had seven daughters and two sons. Much of the story is told from the daughters' points of view, which gave me lots of options for romance.

4. How did you get the idea for Levi's Will?

I went fishing with my father one afternoon about fifteen years ago. He'd just gotten back from visiting his father in Ohio, and while I was driving to the lake he started talking about it. He doesn't volunteer much, so I knew it was important. He told me about going up to visit his father (who was then in his mid 90s), and picking up his brother Jake. They were going to arrive at lunchtime unannounced, so he stopped and picked up a bucket of chicken. His father had remarried (yes, in his 90s), moved about 80 miles north to Geauga County, and joined a different church district that didn't hold the ban against my father. Dad got a little misty-eyed as he told me how they all sat down at the same table and ate together. His father didn't say anything, but he sat at the same table and ate chicken from the same bucket. There was sixty years' worth of forgiveness in that simple gesture. I thought it was a beautiful and poignant picture of redemption. From that day on, his story started to form in my mind, and several years later when I was casting about for a book idea my nephew casually said, "Why don't you write Pawpaw's story?" I guess the time was right, so I did.

5. They did an up-date book cover for your book Levi's Will. Which do you like better the old one or new? Why? Any say in the process?

I think both covers are fine. I didn't really have much say in the process, which is normal. When you think about it, the author's responsibility is the INSIDE of the book. It's his job to make sure that people who actually buy it and read it are not disappointed. That's all about using words to craft a continuous dream that a reader can get lost in. The cover, on the other hand, is about curb appeal and marketing, about how to get people to pick up the book and look at it in the first place. These are two very different perspectives and require two very different sets of tools. When they design a new Ferrari, for instance, they would never dream of having the guy who builds the engine design the body of the car. I concentrate on building the engine of the book. Let an artist design the body and pick the colors.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I think so. Even as a child I was a prodigious liar, instinctively testing the elasticity of truth and establishing the importance of plausibility in a good lie. I’ve always had a natural affinity for words— not just meanings and uses but rhythms and sounds, the textures of language. I vaguely recall writing stories in grammar school, though I never took it seriously and eventually, like most folks, bent my energies toward making a living.

How did you start your writing career?

I was building an office for an old friend, in his basement— this was not long after I became a stay at home dad in my early forties— and one evening we fell into a lengthy argument over the whole labor versus management issue. He’d always been a white-collar Libertarian in favor of bringing back the feudal system (flogging, debtors’ prison, hanging pickpockets, that sort of thing). I was just a common laborer, so my responses were, of course, well thought out, measured and fair. After a couple hours of heated debate he finally said, “You know, I still don’t agree with anything you’re saying, but you say it very well. If you could shape your views into an article I think I know where I can get it published.”

I spent a week writing a 2400 word piece and then two more weeks learning to edit myself by cutting it down to 600 words. After the article was published I naturally became convinced I was Hemingway reincarnate, so I joined a writers forum on Compuserve (probably, I now know through years of hindsight, the only place on the web where a person could actually learn the craft from real, down to earth, professional writers.) For a year or two I wrote and posted stories to the writers forum, eventually sending some of them out to literary magazines who actually published a few of them.

But literary magazines don’t pay. A little research revealed that it’s actually easier to publish a book than a short story (and they pay money for books) so I decided I would write a novel. It was harder than I thought. It took me three years to write the first one because I kept taking it apart and starting over, but in the end I learned the essentials.

What was your inspiration for your first book Sutter’s Cross?

That book started life as an exercise for the writers forum. The assignment was to write a story about somebody who only had six months to live. To this day I have no idea why it happened this way but I immediately imagined this tall, long-haired, grungy stranger standing with his back to me loading a paper plate from a buffet table in an outdoor pavilion, and there was a familiar ink stain on the back pocket of his jeans. I wrote the words, “The first time I ever saw Harley he was wearing my pants.” That was all I knew at the time, but I followed him around for three years and ended up with a 400 page book.

Some authors plot out what they are going to write step by step and others say they write by the seat-of-their pants, which style of writing best describes your writing?

Seat of the pants. I’ve tried outlining, I can’t do it. I really wish I could; life would be so much simpler if I could lay out the whole plot in advance, know exactly where I was going every day and exactly how long it would take to finish the book, but I just can’t do it. Somebody once said that writing a novel was like driving at night; you can only see so far ahead, but you can make the whole trip that way. For me, that’s the truth.

Since Levi's Will was so near and dear to your heart, did it make the book easier or more difficult to write?

(Dale's Dad and the setting for Levi's Will)

I think it made the writing a lot harder. The story was loosely based on my father’s life, but I had no desire to invade his privacy or publicize things he’d rather keep private. I went to great lengths, adding and subtracting, changing, rearranging, and sometimes inventing whole characters and subplots in order to give him (and others) a measure of deniability. It was his story I wanted on the page, not his person. It’s a story of one man’s dogged pursuit of redemption, a voyage of discovery. I meant for it to be a positive, uplifting story in the end, and I had no desire to harm any real person in the process.

How much of you is in that story?

Although I’m of the opinion that a writer can’t help putting some of himself into every character, I don’t think there’s any more of me in Levi’s Will than in my other work. Will’s son Riley would correspond to myself in real life (I would be Will’s second son), but I often tell people this is a good example of how I create a character. Riley is an arrogant loser, a contemptuous, chain smoking, drug addicted alcoholic with a terrible attitude, and he’s divorced. That’s obviously not me; I’m not divorced.

How did your book Levi's Will affect the relatives who read it?Did you let them read the story before it was published or after? Did they react the way you thought they would?

Out of respect for my father I promised him I would not send one page to the publisher without his blessing. If he had found anything objectionable in the manuscript I would have worked it out to his satisfaction before anyone else saw it. Fortunately, he was quite happy with it. My mother was allowed to read the manuscript, and my wife routinely reads everything I write, but none of my extended family saw the book before it was released.

Dale, Howard Cramer, My Dad
The most remarkable thing happened after the book was published. My father’s only sister, Mary (who remains Old Order Amish to this day), had observed the ban against him throughout my entire lifetime, never accepting any gift from his hand, never riding in his car or allowing him to eat at her table. Her seventeen children knew very little of his story because it simply was not talked about. It was taboo. But after Levi’s Will came out they all read it, and since it was only about half true they began to pepper Aunt Mary with questions, wanting to know what was true and what was not. She had no choice but to discuss the matter. Endlessly. But sometimes when you open up old wounds a strange thing happens: they heal. A couple of my cousins contacted my father and suggested he write the bishop of their church a letter of confession and apology. So he did, and six weeks later the bishop wrote back to tell him the church had put it to a vote and decided to lift the ban against him. The next week Aunt Mary invited us up for Thanksgiving dinner. I was there when he sat down at his sister’s table for the first time in sixty years. I am still awed and humbled by the fact that all this came about because of Levi’s Will. How did you come up with the titleffor Levi's Will? Did you have help picking out the cover of that book?

My wife actually came up with the title at the eleventh hour, right before it went to press. I thought it was brilliant, implying three different ideas at once.

Cover art is one area where the author very seldom has any influence or input whatsoever. I don’t even know what the process is like, really. Sometimes a contract will stipulate that the publisher will “consult” the author about cover art, but I’ve learned that this is interpreted to mean they’ll let him see the cover before the book is released. Most publishers shudder at the thought of letting a writer anywhere near the cover design.

Some authors say that their characters have come alive and taken them places that surprised them. Has this ever happened to you in all the books that you have written?

Yes, frequently. I think this is the biggest advantage to being a seat of the pants writer. Very often I feel as if I’m just taking notes, following my characters around and writing down what they do and say. There’s a pivotal scene in Levi’s Will where Jubal Barefoot is talking to Will by a pond. I was concentrating on the dialog at the time, trying to get their words right, and meanwhile Jubal takes their tea glasses and pours them back and forth, mixing them. He did this on his own while I wasn’t really paying attention, and it wasn’t until after the entire scene was completed that I saw the astonishing symbolism in what he had done.

What was your inspiration for Bad Ground? Was that the working title for your book?

Bad Ground was the working title for the book. It was inspired by a mining project where I worked in 1985, the miners I came to know there, and an explosion that put me in the burn unit for a month and a half. While the miners in the book are not based on real persons (I never use real people, I create my own characters and then forage among a lifetime of anecdotal stuff for the right story to use in a given situation) their attitudes and personality traits are authentic, trust me.

The title (and the theme of the book) comes from my own experience. After I got my skin blown off people took care of me for a long time. They fed me when my hands were useless, collected money to pay my bills, fed my dog, cut my grass. There was a rape in the parking lot of the hospital one night, and the following day they arrested a security guard for the crime. The next night a couple from the church showed up to escort my wife to her car, and then they followed her all the way home. Next night, a different couple. Every night after that, until I was released, somebody showed up to watch over my wife. Through the darkest time of my life I learned something about people, what we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to be. We are the arms of God.

Has being an author been everything that you expected it to be? What has surprised you?

All of it has surprised me. For twenty-five years I was a construction worker, an electrician, and a man pretty much defines himself by what he does. When I became a stay at home dad it was supposed to be a temporary thing, just for the summer. Then I started writing almost by accident, and wrote a book just to see if I could do it. I didn’t expect it to be any good, and was surprised when people said it was. I was surprised when an agent took me on, and again when she landed a two book deal. I was surprised when I won the Christy Award, both times. I was surprised when my books were Main Selections of a book club, and again when they were translated into other languages, and again when they came out on audio. I didn’t expect anything, really. I still don’t. The whole thing still seems a little bit Twilight Zone to me.


If you could hang out and interview two people in the history of the world (alive or dead) and you had 48 hours to do so, who would you pick and why? You can meet with them separately or together; you are setting up the meeting.

Okay, this I have to explain. My favorite book is Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. The centerpiece of the book is a party thrown for Doc (Ed Ricketts, in real life) by a bunch of bums. A very young Joe Campbell (the Joseph Campbell, of Hero’s Journey fame) happened to be hanging around Cannery Row with Steinbeck and Doc at that time, and to his dying day Joe swore that the party in the book was actually given for him (Joe, not Doc). If I had the chance to go anywhere in history for two days and just hang out, I’d go to Cannery Row the day before that party and hang out with John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell.

You have just found a magic lamp and the genie wants to grant you three wishes – what would those wishes be?

I don’t know. Maybe it says something about me that I don’t know what I’d wish for. The usual suspects— fame, wealth, good looks— always have a down side. I’d probably waste my wishes straightening out the economy and injecting some common sense into the government. I would like to see the Braves with a solid pitching rotation for a change, and I wouldn’t mind having a Mini Cooper, but those things (like a government with common sense) tend to break down.

If you had to pick a TV "Reality" show to be on, which one would it be and why?

Survivor, I guess. I’m a true jack of all trades and a born problem solver. I’d make a great Robinson Crusoe.

If you could eat anywhere for breakfast (and money wasn't an issue)where would you eat and what would you order?

There’s this tiny little rustic cabin of a restaurant at the top of the mountain above Zell am Zee, in Austria. I’d get coffee and a Germkn√∂del and watch the sun come up over the Alps.

You have the same deal with dinner – where would you go and what would you eat?

Doug Adams’ Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I’d probably order something light, maybe a grilled chicken caesar salad and a glass of white wine— might have to move fast getting back to the time machine.

There has just been a machine invented that can change one thing about you. First of all would you do it, and second, if you did do it what would you change? What would the change look like in your life?

I wouldn’t do it, sorry. I wouldn’t change anything precisely because I don’t know what the change would look like in my life. Everything about us, every physical attribute, every attitude, every experience, whether we see it as good or bad, is hopelessly interwoven with all our other attributes and experiences. Pull any one thread and you don’t know what part of the tapestry will unravel. Take away the very worst thing and you risk inadvertently removing the best thing.

If you had the chance to be a superhero for a while and you could mix and match powers and costumes, who would you be? Why?

First, forget the costume— listen, Spandex is not my friend. But why bother being anybody other than Superman? He can fly, he has X-ray vision, he’s super strong and he’s bullet proof. What else could you possibly want?

What movies left a lasting impression on you as a child?

Tarzan. The old Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies. I still can’t get the image of those crossed trees out of my head. Remember the one where the indigenous people bent two big trees together and tied the tops so that they formed an X? Then they’d strap a victim to the X, beat the drums to a crescendo and cut the trees loose. I’m still trying to work out which body parts would go in which direction.

What were some favorite books you read as a child?

Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe were my heroes. I must have read every Hardy Boys book in existence before I finally moved on to Proust.

What was the last movie you saw at the theatre? Did you like it?

We went to see Gran Torino the other night, Clint Eastwood’s new movie. I liked it a lot, though for a writer it was a little predictable. It reminded me of Levi’s Will in a way, the story of an old man seeking absolution, redemption, and having to get out of his old ways of thinking to do it.

Since we faced a fuel crisis this past summer and people are looking for different means of transportation, which forms would you be open to try? Feel free to add the ones that I have left off. Hot-air-balloon, elephant, helicopter, horse, Star Wars space ship,Lord of the Rings Trees, beam machine from Star Trek etc. What would
be your favorite means of transportation?

Well, I’ll try just about anything once, but in the end there can be no discussion of my favorite means of transportation without mentioning sailplanes. There is nothing on this earth so fine as slipping across the sky in one of those graceful long-winged glass birds— ghosting straight toward a ridge and feeling that elevator rush in the pit of your stomach when you encounter the lift near the windward slope, or centering a thermal and holding a steep bank while you’re shoved upward at a thousand feet a minute with only the sound of the wind across your canopy. It’s like waltzing with God.


I’m afraid my answers might make me sound a little crazy— one part silly, one part profound— but that’s the truth. That’s me, and, I suspect, a lot of other people. Life its ownself is both silly and profound. If you don’t believe it, spend some time with a small child.

Thanks Dale for letting us know you better. We totally enjoyed you speaking to us at book club. You are a delight to know. You are as interesting on paper as you were in person. I appreciate you sharing your heart.

Blessings to you and your new book. Thanks for giving away a copy of your new book. It sounds good.

Nora :D

Hi, Everyone for your chance to win a copy of Dales NEW book - PARADISE VALLEY!!

MANDATORY - PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT About the interview for your name to be entered in the drawing.

Be sure to leave your email address so that if you win I can contact you.

DRAWING WILL BE - November 15th

For EXTRA CHANCES to win this book you can
1. Become a FOLLOWER of my blog (1) entry - please make a separate comment
2. Twitter about this interview and give away!! (1) entry - please make a separate comment
3. If you want to join The Book Club Network here is the link for your extra chance (1) entry - please make a separate comment
4.. Make a post on your blog about this contest (2) entries - please make a separate comment for each entry
5. Announce the giveaway on your facebook page (1) entry - please make a separate comment

Contest will end November 15th-- PLEASE REMEMBER to leave your email address so that I can contact you (Use (At) and (dot) so that peole won't be able to spam your email address)

Nora :D
The Book Club Network

********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 *****


Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

By Lynette Eason
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-337-04
368 Pages

Back Cover: Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she's made a life for herself---and finally lets herself get close to FBI agent Dakota Richards. But when her attacker reappears, can she escape his grasp a second time? Will she ever feel safe enough to find true love?

REVIEW: I received a review copy of this CSI type book. Lynette takes the reader on a suspenseful, mystery ride as Jamie Cash tries to discover the identity’s of three young ladies and how they were killed, by the bones and teeth they’ve uncovered.

Dakota and Jamie work together to discover other victims buried in shallow graves. Dakota is impressed by Jamie and her attention to detail. What unnerves Jamie about their newest case if the fact that the bones remind her of a horrific experience she endured twelve years ago. Then she becomes more uncomfortable when she discovers there are numbers written on the body of a new victim. Her attacker marked her body with a number too!

Lynette gets in the mind of the killer and helps the reader peek into his messed up mind!

“It was getting close to the time to bring the games to an end. He almost hated to stop. It was so much fun watching everyone run around like ants scurrying to rebuild what he was slowly destroying.”

Lynette takes you inside the CSI investigative side of tracking down information that will lead them to this crazy killer.

Even after years in this line of work Dakota thinks, “He couldn’t move. Even though he’d seen just about all there was to see, sometimes the evil snuck up on him and took him by surprise. Surprise at the depravity of human nature. Surprise at what one person could do to another.”

I guess I was surprised by that too and the fact that Jamie and Dakota were so good at what they did and all tools they had at their disposal. They didn’t think like everyone else and either did the killer. I don’t know how people to this type of work day-in and day-out. I’m thankful there are people who do this so I don’t have to. If you like SCI and getting into the mind of a serial killer, then you’ll love this book. There’s action, suspense and mystery. This is the second book in the Women of Justice Series.

Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network



Ok, once again Brandilyn delivers on the chilly front. I really can't tell what this book is about by the cover. All I know is that it does a GREAT job of conveying mystery, and creepiness. All the reasons I can't read one of Brandilyn's without ALL the lights on in the house and in a room full of people.

Brandilyn does an amazing job of getting in the mind of the killer. The only book that Brandilyn wrote I could read was Dark Pursuit. I think the reason I could read this book was because the scary parts were broken up with scenes of an author trying to write a scary book after a really bad accident. His mind wasn't as sharp as it used to be. It was a thriller I could read and not get totally scared out of my mind.

The Book Club Network

I recieved a review copy of Deceit by Brandilyn Collins. Since I'm a super chicken and don't normally read seat belt suspense I asked my husband Fred St.Laurent read and review this book. He LOVES books like this. He agreed with me on the cover, it definately sets up the suspenseful story that's inside. So, without further comment I give you a special review from Fred St.Laurent.

Fred: My wife Nora gave me this book recently and asked me if I would review it for her Blog. She knows I am a big fan of Brandilyn Collins and I was more than happy to oblige. I am also more than happy to share with you, the experience I had in reading it.


Sometimes the truth hides where no one expects to find it. Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed Linda—his second wife and Joanne’s best friend—six years ago. But Baxter, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man. The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but she is determined to bring him down. Using her skills as a professional skip tracer, she sets out to locate the only person who may be able to put Baxter behind bars. Melissa Harkoff was a traumatized sixteen-year-old foster child in the Jackson household when Linda disappeared. At the time Melissa claimed to know nothing of Linda's whereabouts—but was she lying? In relentless style, Deceit careens between Joanne's pursuit of the truth— which puts her own life in danger—and the events of six years' past, when Melissa came to live with the Jacksons. What really happened in that household? Beneath the veneer of perfection lies a story of shakeable faith, choices, and the lure of deceit.

By Brandilyn Collins
Published by: Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0310276449
320 Pages

BACK COVER: A harrowing stand-alone novel from Seatbelt Suspense® author Brandilyn Collins. Seven years after her the disappearance of her best friend, Linda Jackson, skip tracer Joanne Weeks must locate a witness who can put the man who Joanne knows to be Linda’s killer behind bars—before he silences Joanne for good.

FRED'S REVIEW:  MY REVIEW: (My experience) I describe reading a book by Brandilyn Collins as an experience because she has a way of drawing you into her characters minds like few authors can. Being immersed into the life of a "skip tracer" was more than interesting. Being thrust into an ongoing, relational controversy in a small church, a small town, was compelling. The "experience" I am describing transcends this and can best be described as feeling like you are sitting, alone in the dark house with Joanne or frantic as she chases down leads. Joanne pushes herself to the edges of her abilities to solve this conundrum and she and I couldn't sleep as the story develops because we were both being pushed/ pulled through the experience/ wild ride Brandilyn has created.

She has done it again! This fast paced, breath taking suspense lives up to her "Don't forget to breathe..." trademark.

About Brandilyn:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons).

The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.

She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

(Photos and Bio from )

Read an excerpt:


I write a monthly article for the Christian Fiction On-Line Magazine. This month I’ve featured the contest we held at The Book Club Network. I wanted to show some excerpts from the article here. For the entire article you can read it by clicking this link.

Here is an excerpt. The Book Club Network (TBCN) is an online site where book club members and authors meet. Face-to-face book clubs have set up book club pages so members can see what different clubs are reading and discussing. TBCN held its first contest on August 1 to see which book club could get the most new members to join their book club page at the network. Book club leaders worked hard at rallying their members to join the network, and it was thrilling to watch the close race between them.
Redeemed Readers Book Club won by getting twenty-six of their members to join TBCN. Sheryl Barnes, their leader, was motivated to win the fourteen books I offered as the grand prize. Many of the books I gave away featured several of the authors who are members of TBCN. Sheryl was overjoyed to have access to their books and potential book club picks. (for the interview I did with Redeemed Readers leader, Sheryl Barnes click this link to read )

I want to acknowledge the other clubs who worked hard in motivating their members to join the network. These book clubs members have never been involved in a book club site or any other social gathering, and many are not computer savvy. Some of the leaders were creative in how they got their members to join; one even brought her laptop to the meeting and helped her members get connected.

Calvary Chapel Book Club leader Rachel Savage, Faith in Fiction Book Club leader Brandi Fitzpatrick, and Chick Lit Book Club leaders Lucie Buchert and Deborah Leathers will also receive books. Here are some of the authors’ books given away who are members of TBCN: Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller, The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson, Medical Error by Richard L. Mabry, M.D., Blood Brothers by Rick Acker, Monday Night Jihad by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn, The Heart’s Journey Home by Jen Stephens, Seeds of Summer by Deborah Vogts, and Meander Scar by Lisa Lickel.

My hope is for the TBCN page is to be something similar to that of Weight Watchers; hear me out. You can Google Weight Watchers and find out where meetings are being held all throughout the country. My hope is for members and authors to locate book club meetings wherever they travel or live. We’ve had several people want to join a book club in their area but didn’t know how to go about finding one. Our hope is for that person to get into a book club by using TBCN.

Congratulations to Creston Mapes for winning the author contest. He campaigned on behalf of The Book Club Network and got five book club leaders to join. Creston Mapes has written three books: Dark Star, Full Tilt, and Nobody. We will feature him at The Book Club Network for one month. I will also be promoting him on my blog, Finding Hope Through Fiction, with a giveaway and interview.

TBCN will be running another author contest soon so you can get in on the fun. The Book Club Network is almost four months old and has over 700 members. With your help we can make this the one-stop place of book club fun for authors and book club leaders alike! TBCN is the place where creative ideas are shared for the best book club experience for the author and book clubs.

My hope is for the book club leaders to brainstorm future book club ideas that will help bring out a book’s theme in a creative way. Book club leaders can support authors and their efforts in a powerful way by knowing their book releases and events. So check us out, and join in the fun at The Book Club Network, your one-stop community for book fun. We look forward to you joining the team .

If you are a book club leader and would like your book club featured on my blog and on the magazine, please let me know.

Until Next time.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network