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MELODY CARLSON INTERVIEW and 5 BOOK GIVEAWAY @TBCN



 ABOUT AUTHOR: MELODY CARLSON has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

Did you always have the writing bug? If not, how did you get started as a writer?

I've
 always had the “bug,” but it took me until my mid-thirties before it became a full blown. It was like I couldn't continue living without writing. And without really knowing what I was doing, I simply jumped in and started to write. I also joined a wonderful critique group. Because life was busy (my boys were in grade-school and I ran a home business) my writing time was limited, so right from the get-go I learned to write quickly when I could grab a moment. Like most writers, I felt discouraged at the amount of rejections I got in those early days. I threatened to wallpaper a bathroom with the negative form letters. It seemed no one was interested in fiction back then. But instead of giving up, I simply wrote more books...until I had a nice little stockpile—all that eventually sold.

 
 
How does the cover process work for you? Did you have any say in picking out the cover for your books? I've really enjoyed them.

I’m grateful that most publishers listen to my opinions while working on covers. Sometimes it can be a real battle. And sometimes it’s smooth and sleek. It’s really about communication, but as we all know words and perceptions are subjective. Sometimes I think I've made an idea crystal clear and a cover comes back and I’m like—what? So then it’s back to the drawing board and I try to really get my ideas across. Sometimes I’ll send the photos as well as words, since we all know a picture’s worth a thousand words.
 


You've written many Christmas stories; several have really touched my heart one of them being our Christmas book club pick for this year Christmas at Harrington’s.  Loved it! What do you love most about Christmas? What is the draw for you to write so many fun Christmas stories? What do you hope people take away from your stories?
Melody and Husband Chris at home
   As a child, my grandparents went to a lot of trouble to make Christmas really special. And I've tried to do the same for my family. Plus, my husband’s birthday is Christmas—so that time of year was always packed full for us. Although I’ll admit I've tried to simplify things in recent years—an attempt to focus on what’s most important. I try to do that in my Christmas stories too. Instead of going for all the bells and whistles—or mistletoe and jingle bells—I try to create stories that will connect with readers, tales that encourage them personally, as well as remind them of the true meaning of Christmas. I hope that when readers close one of my Christmas novellas, they will sigh with satisfaction and look forward to ways they can show love, peace, joy, goodwill...to the people around them. Isn’t that what Christmas should be about?
 
Can you tell me about two WOW—moments you've had since being published? What made it a wow for you?
Accepting RITA Award

When I gave up my day job to write full time in 1997, it was like taking a leap of faith—especially since my husband was unemployed and we had two teenagers—plus I had no book contracts. But that year I won two very cool awards (RWA Rita Award and ECPA Gold Medallion) that really bolstered my spirits. I would call those wow moments. But the best WOW moment actually happens once or twice a week when I get an email from a reader (usually a teen girl) telling me that my books have a) changed her life, b) helped her get closer to God, or c) encouraged her to make a commitment to God. That is the best kind of WOW I could ever get. And it’s what keeps me coming back to write yet another story...and another. ☺
 
 
Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be released?

Right now I’m working on the first book in a brand new lighthearted series for women. It’s called Dear Dorothy, about a thirty-something New Yorker who inherits her aunt’s small town Victorian home as well as her quirky aunt’s syndicated advice column, but she only gets to keep them if she marries her “true love”—and within the year. Of course, the problem is that Dorothy doesn't have a “true love” plus she’s barely over a badly broken heart. Even so, she takes on the challenge (as well as her aunt’s elderly cats Lucy and Ethel) and relocates from the Big Apple to Appleton. It’s not long until she discovers her eccentric aunt had all kinds of secrets that she’d been keeping from the family. I’m really having fun with this one. It’s with Broadman & Holman and think it will release about a year from now.
 
If you had the opportunity to write anything on any topic (and you were guaranteed a market to sell it in) what would you write? Why?

About a year ago, I had this strange dream that really grabbed me. It was “set” near the ocean, but everything looked different—like it had suffered some kind of nuclear disaster. And there was a teen girl knitting heavy sweaters from “yarn” made from strips of recycled t-shirts. She used seashells as buttons and sold these colorful garments on the black market. Now none of that really made sense (in my dream) but it was so visual that it stayed with me. So I decided to write it down, compelled to see if it was really a story. And I realized it was a futuristic dystopia novel for teens and I called it Fallen World. And, yes, it’s similar to Hunger Games in that a girl is struggling to survive in a cold hard world after some disasters have occurred, but it’s also extremely different in that it has a strong spiritual message. My agent sent it out to a few publishers recently, but then we decided—why wait for traditional publishing? Especially in light of the popularity of Hunger Games right now. My agent challenged me to write Fallen World as a continued serial, releasing it one section at a time as an eBook  I’ll admit this is all pretty experimental. But I went ahead and wrote the first two installments and now I am totally hooked on it and can’t wait to get back to see what happens next. My agent plans to make it available on the various eBook websites before the end of June. We’ll see how it goes.
 
 
What is your goal or mission in writing Christian Fiction? What’s the draw for you when you can write for any other market?

When I started writing for the Christian market, my hope was to create “cross-over” books that would appeal to Christian and non-Christian readers. Of course, I later discovered that most publishers don’t believe in such a thing. However, I've learned through “fan” letters that many of my readers discovered me outside of the Christian market, whether it was Barnes & Noble, the local grocery store, amazon.com or WalMart. And sometimes they’re surprised to find spiritual content in my stories. But sometimes it turns them to God. I think that is very cool. And I doubt there are very many general trade publishers who would give me the freedom to write about God like that in their companies. So I like that I can do that with Christian publishing houses. Especially in my teen books, where I deal with some pretty tough issues and feel even more compelled to include spiritual answers that direct readers to God.
 
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

If you could visit any place in the world where would you go and what would you do? (All expenses paid)
Melody's Moble-Home

I was really fortunate as a young person in that I traveled around the world. And that was very cool. But now I really want to see all the national parks in the USAWe've been to a few (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Crater Lake) but I would like go visit them all and spend about a week in each one. I’d like to take our motor-home and camp and visit the lodges and hike around and just soak it all in. I guess you could say that’s on my “bucket list.”




What THREE things would you not want to live without? (besides family and friends)
Melody's Office and  Country Garden

Good question! In fact it’s one I asked my readers in a new historical series called Homeward Hearts (about pioneers on the Oregon Trail). The first thing I wouldn't want to live without is NATURE. I love trees, mountains, animals, weather, flowers, ocean...nature. I don’t know how people live in cities. I guess I’d put books on the list too—books to read and books to write. And a good comfortable bed. LOL. Seriously, I appreciate a good night’s sleep.
 
If you could hang out with any TWO people (alive or dead – besides Jesus) who would you pick and what would you do?

I would like to meet Mary, the mother of Jesus. I wrote a novella about her called Three Days just because I was so fascinated with what her life must’ve been like. I would love to just listen to her reminiscing about her life on earth...what it felt like—that would be amazing! And some people won’t like this answer, but I might pick Oprah for the next one. I really admire her, the way her mind works, the way she helps others. I would love to just pick her brain and ask her questions and talk about God with her and just laugh.
 
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

Another great question. Well, people who know me will agree that I’m a pretty take-charge kind of person (aka bossy). So I would probably take some kind of leadership role. Unless someone else did. In that case, I’d probably get involved in creating survival things and problem solving and trying to improve our habitat. I’d probably be figuring out a way to make a comfortable bed. ☺
 
A friend of yours has a time machine and they are going to let you use it for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

Melody in a Parade

Wow, that would be very cool. Okay, since I just wrote my Oregon Trail series, I would probably enjoy going on a wagon train for awhile. Really living the pioneer life and experiencing the hard daily stuff as well as the music around the campfire at night. And it would be nice if we had some interesting fellow pioneers to chat with. Maybe some of my ancestors who came to Oregon on the Oregon Trail back in the 1850’s. That would be fun!
 
What movie impacted you most as a child? Why? If you didn't go to the movies much what books impacted you the most? Why?

I loved Pollyanna and The Three Lives of Thomasina, and I can still remember the first time I saw them. It was probably because they were such vividly told stories—with strong characters, who were just children like me. And yet, I think my all time favorite film was (and still is) The Sound of Music. In my opinion, that’s the perfect movie. It has everything—compelling story, great characters, amazing setting (which I've visited), important history, fabulous music. Does it get any better than that?
ICRS Conference Atlanta 2011
I was thrilled to meet you at the Christy Awards a few years back and then again at the CBA Conference in Atlanta GA in 2011. Thanks Melody for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books. I really enjoyed the Christmas Pony, it was during a time period when there was an innocence in our country when movie stars Clark Gable were on the big screen. It has a heart warming message. Finding Hope Book Club is reading Christmas at Harrington's for our Christmas pick. We will be discussing it next week. Can't wait.

Thanks for your transparency in this interview. THANKS to Revell for giving away 5 copies of The Christmas Pony @ TBCN starting today www.bookfun.org

ALL ENTRIES for this book at to be made at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.,org NOT on this blog post.

MERRY CHRISTMAS MELODY to you and your family and to everyone!!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins

LYNN AUSTIN INTERVIEW and 10 Book Giveaway @TBCN



ABOUT AUTHOR: Lynn Austin, a former teacher who now writes and speaks full time, has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into a Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home near ChicagoIllinois. Visit Lynn's Web site at www.lynnaustin.org

How did you come up with the idea for your book All Things New? A few years ago I wrote three books about the Civil War but they all ended shortly after the war did. I had discovered in my research how devastated the nation was following the war, especially in the South, and knew that for so many people the suffering wasn't over yet. I was intrigued by the slaves’ situation following the war—they were set free, but now what? How would they live? Where would they go? And the hatred that had caused the war certainly hadn't ended with the peace treaty.  So I decided to write a story that would show the next chapter in all of these people’s lives after the war ended.

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

    Life brings change, whether we want to face it or not. The time period in All Things New was one of extraordinary change when people who had lost loved ones and been stripped of everything had to start all over again. I hope the book will be an inspiration for readers who are facing unwelcome changes in their lives—that they’ll discover that they can lean on God for the strength they need and trust Him to face what’s ahead.

I had to laugh to myself at Josephine’s honest reaction to reading the book of JOB in the bible. She said, “I’m angry about that story you told me to read Alexander. I hated reading it!”

Alexander told Josephine, “What JOB shows us is that it’s all right to argue with God. God understands our pain. He can handle our anger.”


I discovered this meaning to the book years after my first reading of it and found comfort in the passage. I remember reading the book of Job for the first time and being confused by it. What was your first impression? Did your opinion of this passage change with time? If so, how?


    My introduction to Job came in an Old Testament class in the Christian college I attended. At the time, what I took away from it was that there are a lot of confusing ideas about God—and it’s probably not a good idea to discuss them with someone who is suffering! For years, I hated to read Job because I was horrified at the idea that God would allow suffering to come to a righteous man to prove a “bet”, so to speak. I never wanted to be as righteous as Job was and invite such trouble upon myself. But suffering comes to all of us at some point in life.  And when my time came, I remembered the Book of Job and knew that it was okay to be angry with God and to argue with Him. Communicating our thoughts and feelings is part of every healthy relationship—and God wants us to have a true relationship with Him. I hope this portrayal in my novel brings comfort to readers, too.

Dr. David Hunter says, “The war has exposed our false beliefs and the moral rot that accompanied slavery. All of our prideful decisions and the shameful way we treated the Negros have been exposed. We were exposed. We were flawed, Eugenia. God said so. It’s time to let go of our old attitudes and rebuild the south with compassion for others and with the belief that’s at the core of our constitution – that all men are created equal and it’s up to us to lead by example.”

This made so much sense to me in understanding the war and what had to take place in the South and North. In your research did you feel that maybe this was the beginning of women wanting to be treated equal too. They had run plantations and did men’s jobs while the war was on. What did you discover?


    This was definitely the case. The war was a turning point in the way women understood so many things. They had worked tirelessly for social justice issues before the war, including the abolition movement, and after they had succeeded in winning freedom for the slaves, many women were astonished to discover that Negro men now had the right to vote—and they didn't  Women had done so much during the war, running their families’ farms and businesses, raising their children alone, working as nurses and doing other jobs that were formerly “men’s work.” So they were frustrated to be overlooked once again when the war ended. This frustration was one of the reasons why the women’s suffrage movement gathered new momentum.

You ask the question in this novel, “How did we lose everything we once had? “ The answer “We began to believe that we were little gods, expanding our empires, living well at the expense of an entire race of people. The Almighty finally had enough and showed us we were only human after all…” Wow, powerful. This has happened over and over in history. I remember having this revelation when I surrendered my life to Christ and realized I’m not God, He knows what’s best for me. I also realized I am powerless and my life is unmanageable without God. What did this mean to you and what do you hope readers take away from it?

    Again, the issue of our resistance to change comes into play here. I have a habit of looking into the future and deciding how I would like everything in my life and in the lives of my family to be. I write the script that I want to see played out, far into the future. Of course my vision for the future is seldom God’s vision, and when my ‘happily ever after” doesn't come true, I’m frustrated. I've learned that this is selfishness on my part and “playing God.” He loves all of mankind, including my neighbors and strangers, and He wants what’s best for ALL of us—and His plans often conflict with mine. It’s a constant struggle for me to surrender my plans and ideas to God and to pursue His vision for the future instead of my own.

I felt your novel All Things New was three dimensional; you shared how it was to have been a plantation owner living high giving no thought to anyone else, you gave a peek at a man from the North, Alexander who came to the South in order to help rebuild and make sure Negros were given the right to learn to read and write and get paid for working in the field. Then there was the POV of Lizzie and Otis being set free but not quite knowing what all that meant and neither did the plantation owners. I like how you showed this struggle on all fronts. In your research for this novel what touched your heart and made you say, “ I've got to put that in my story?”

    During my research, I saw what the slaves’ quarters looked like and how desperately poor and harsh their lives were. Then, when looking at photographs of Richmond and other cities that had been destroyed, I realized that the war had leveled the playing field for both the slaves and their owners. Confederate soldiers who were used to beautiful homes and warm beds had to learn what it was like to sleep on the hard ground and go hungry and be ordered around by commanding officers—and to wonder if each day might be their last. I wanted to show this in my novel—this slow understanding on the part of Josephine and Eugenia and the former Confederate soldiers that the blessings they’d taken for granted truly belonged to all men and women regardless of race.  And it worked in reverse, as well. The Negro slaves had to slowly come to realize that they were entitled to dignity and an education and freedom; that they had a right to worship God and raise their children in comfort and security.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on next, when will it be released?   

I have two books coming out in September 2013, one fiction and one non-fiction. Return to Me will be the first novel in a three-book series called “The Restoration Chronicles” based on the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Return to Me is the story of the Jewish exiles who return to Jerusalem from Babylon after King Cyrus issues his decree. It features the prophets Zechariah and Haggai. The second book, “Keepers of the Covenant,” is the story of Ezra the priest and will be out in September 2014. The third book, “On This Foundation” is about Nehemiah, who rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls, and will be out in September 2015.

     I have also written a non-fiction book, which will be out in the fall of 2013. It’s called Pilgrimage--My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked. In this memoir/devotional I will take readers on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with me and share some of the insights I gained on my travels 

FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

You've been given the opportunity to use a time machine. Where would you go and what would you do?

    I would go back in time to when my children were little and spend the day playing with them, reading stories to them, hugging them. Those were such wonderful years and they went by much too quickly! It would be so nice to see them as children again, especially now that I know them as the adults they have become.

If you had 24 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus – that’s a given) What two people would you pick and what would you do?

    One would be King David. He is such a complex person—an extraordinary leader and man of courage and faith, yet so human and fallible. I would love to sit and talk to him and see what made him “tick.” He was also a truly amazing psalmist, whose poetry has inspired people for thousands of years. I would love to hear him sing his psalms in the original Hebrew with the original tunes and talk to him about his relationship with God.

     The second would be William Shakespeare. I would love to sit beside him and watch one of his plays being performed in his time period. He seemed to know so much about human nature and drama and passion for life. I would love to talk with him about writing and creating characters and find out how he packs so much truth into his plays.

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

    I grew up in a small village in New York State about 60 miles north of New York City. I loved the small town atmosphere of knowing all your neighbors and going to school with kids I also knew from church. I loved the rural countryside and being surrounded by mountains and dairy farms and apple orchards. I loved walking in the woods and riding my bicycle down country lanes. Yet we were only an hour’s drive from New York City and all of the wonderful museums and art galleries and concert halls. It was the best of both worlds.

Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at.

    I was a psychology major in college and I spent one summer working as an attendant in a private mental institution. What an education that was! I also taught fourth grade in an all-boys Catholic elementary school in Bogota, Colombia. I had 38 Spanish-speaking students (and no teacher’s aide). I’m not sure who learned more, my students or me!

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

    I wouldn't take over as the leader—I’m a good team player but not a natural-born leader. I would probably be the nurse and patch up everyone’s wounds. I’d also be a Pollyanna-type of cheerleader, encouraging everyone to stay strong and not to lose hope.

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why? If you didn't watch movies as a kid what book affected you?




The movie  Bambi  had a huge impact on me. When I was in first grade my mother became gravely ill and nearly died. My sisters and I had to move to another state and live with our grandparents for nearly a year until she recovered. In the movie, Bambi’s mother is killed by hunters yet the other animals help him survive and grow up happily. It was a great encouragement to me as a child to know that I would also get through this hard time with the help of the people who loved me.


ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS LYNN?

Thanks for having me here. I'm excited to be at The Book Club Network and interact with readers. 

I'd love to have people join me on Facebook here is the address to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LynnAustinBooks
 
Lynn N. Austin

THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book.  I’m thrilled that Bethany House is giving away 10 copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest too. Which starts this weekend and ends December 20thth. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction.

ALL ENTRIES ARE TO BE MADE AT THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org NOT on this Blog post!!

Blessings to you in your writing adventures.

THANK YOU!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!!

CHRISTA PARRISH GIVEAWAY & INTIMATE INTERVIEW




ABOUT AUTHOR: Christa Parrish is an award-winning author of three novels. Her debut, Home Another Way (Bethany House, 2008) was a finalist for the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year. Her second novel, Watch Over Me, won the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year and the ForeWord Reviews bronze medal for religious fiction. Her long-awaited third novel, The Air We Breathe (Bethany House, 2012) has already been named a finalist for the 2013 Christianity Today Book Award. When not writing, Christa is creative director of the modern comtemporary worship service at her church and co-director of the youth group. She also produces a weekly radio show, helps facilitate Divorce Care and DC4K, chauffeurs her Grand Champion blue belt to and from Taekwondo classes, and chases a toddler. She and her husband, author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, have three children in their blended family. Gray (18), Jacob (11), and Claire (2).

How did you get the idea for The Air We Breathe?

All my stories seem to begin with an initial "spark" of an idea, like a drop of food coloring on a coffee filter when children make paper flowers; the initial color spreads as it's pulled from the center, growing and filling in all the whiteness. For The Air We Breathe, it was two things - crossword puzzles, and a news story I read about kidnapped children being locked in dog kennels. My brain somehow put those two things together, and the story bloomed from there.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Anyone who has read any of my novels know my themes are similar - broken people being used by Christ in unexpected ways, and in return encountering others who help them heal. I would hope readers see this, and then recognize the same in their own lives.

Nora: That's why I've really enjoyed all your books. You really get to the heart of the matter and cause your readers to think outside the box, we've but Him in.

In your new book The Air We Breathe is set mostly inside a wax museum. What made you choose this as your back drop?

I live not far from Lake George, NY, and there's Frankenstein's House of Wax on the "boardwalk." I think just the vintage nostalgia of the place, plus the idea of added isolation coming from living with a building full of people who aren't alive, made the setting interesting, to me at least.

Nora: Yes, it was very interesting.

Do you come up with the titles to your books? How much input do you have in the cover process? Your books have had eye catching appeal. I was just wondering.

I've come up with all three of my novel titles, and each one has been a little easier. Home Another Way had a working title of Up the Mountain, then Down. We sent the proposal out with the title Variations on a Life (the word variations playing off both the classical music theme and the idea that Sarah felt as if her life should have turned out differently). In the end, after weeks of wrangling, we settled on Home Another Way after my agent recommended Home By Another Way (from a James Taylor song). Watch Over Me was originally titled Things Found in the Morning, a title I absolutely loved, and still do. That also had a duel meaning for me, with the baby being found "in the morning" but also how all the characters found things (about God and themselves) in their "mourning" - but that title was nixed. So I asked if Watch Over Me worked, since it was mentioned in the book and really was a strong theme throughout the novel. 
Another cover I found for this book

Another title based on a song. And yes, The Air We Breathe is also from a song. The working title was The Air I Breathe and Bethany House changed the I to We.

I have little to do with the covering process. My editor has asked me each time if I have any ideas, but none have made the cut. I have loved all three of my final covers, though!

What was the hardest scene to write in The Air We Breathe?

The bank robbery scene in chapter three, I think, for several reasons. Firstly, I'm not really a "bank robbery" type writer, so just having something like that in a book of mine was difficult to conceive. But, I had to tell myself, I don't live in a big city, yet our town has had a couple of bank robberies or attempts in the past five years, so it does happen "for real" in places like where The Air We Breathe is set. Secondly, I wanted to be sensitive to my readers while still being true to my writing voice, describing the intensity of the situation without overwhelming people with too much of the gory details. And finally, I felt an obligation to be sensitive to the characters as well, especially Hanna. It was such a traumatic event for her, I needed to present it in a way that would honor what she went through.

Nora: I did like how you handled this situation. I appreciate you being sensitive to the readers. I got the message loud and clear with what you wrote. I couldn't have stood anymore! That's what I like about your writing too, you don't go over the line. I'm not afraid to read your books because I can trust you and what you share! I appreciate I wouldn't be up at night having nightmares about what I just read! Thanks!

 A friend of mine told me she started to re-read your book Home another Way right after she finished it. I understood why she did it when I finished reading it to. There is so much in there. So many things become clear at the end it’s almost made me want to re-read it too. How long did it take you to write that book? It’s so detailed and amazing how you brought all the parts together to fit perfectly.

Hmm. I wrote the first 80 pages of Home Another Way over a two-year period, and I use the term "write" loosely - I would go months without looking at the manuscript. But I was always thinking about it. Then I went to a writer's conference, signed with an agent, and finished the novel in six months; outside motivation helps, at least for me. Part of the reason the beginning part took so long to write was because it was "missing" someone - Memory Jones! My original idea didn't have Memory as a character. Then, one day, I received a letter from a young woman with that name, and I thought, "What a great name for a character..." In that instant, Memory was there, fully formed and integrated into Sarah's story.


You’ve said in an interview I read, “In my novel, Watch Over Me, the main characters feel as if they are on the “fringe” of the church body, unable to fit in. For Abbi, it’s because of her personal convictions; for Benjamin, it’s because of the pain he’s carrying around inside him; and for Matthew, it’s a physical disability. But all three of them come to realize they are all necessary parts of the body of Christ. They – we- are the eyes and ears and feet and noses. Each of us fills a role in Christ’s church, and in the lives of those around us, placed there by God to serve and love one another in our differences.” When did this become real for you personally? Did you have this struggle? How did God help you “Fit In”?

I became a Christian at the end of my first year of college, when I was seventeen, and really had no one to mentor me in the faith. I ended up in a spiritually-abusive church which - among other things - deemed me "not feminine enough." It was a difficult time for me, and even after I left that church, I spent years trying to twist myself to fit into the "perfect Christian woman" mold. After much struggle with the Word and prayer, God brought me to a place where I realized He made me who I was, and I didn't have to apologize for it. Yes, there are certain things all believers are called to do, but we all have calls as individuals as well. These callings can be unique and Biblical at the same time.

Nora: I've encountered a similar situation and found it hard to walk in everything God says I am. It's amazing to think He loves me just the way I am. I don't have to clean up or get good enough to be completely loved and accepted. It still blows my mind! Thanks for sharing this Christa!

FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

You've been given the opportunity to use a time machine. Where would you go and what would you do?
My husband Chris Coppernoll and our youngest Claire in Maine

I'm not sure I'd go anywhere. I'd be too concerned about the ramifications of altering the present universe by meddling in the past.

If you had 24 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus – that’s a given) What two people would you pick and what would you do?
Our blended Family Gray, Claire and Jacob

I pretty happy just hanging out with all the people in my life now. I don't think I could play favorites and choose anyone else.

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

I lived in downstate NY until I was 11, and then moved upstate, where I've been (except for college) ever since. I love that it's only a short drive into the mountains, and away from civilization. And I like having all four, distinct seasons.

Nora: I grew up in northern New Jersey, in a small town called Sparta. Loved the season change but not the deep snow and freezing temps.. After living in Florida for many years, I APPRECIATE having four distinct seasons!! Love it in GA because the snow isn't deep at all! Grin!

Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at.
Christa at a recent book signing in New York

I haven't had very interesting jobs, I'm afraid. I think novelist is probably the most interesting. I've also been a newspaper reporter, a lab researcher, a jewelry counter attendant, and a social services case manager.

Nora: Those are interesting jobs!! Grin!

Name three everyday things you’d not want to live without (besides the bible)

Internet access, earplugs, and NY Yankees baseball.

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why? If you didn't watch movies as a kid what book affected you?














I don't remember any books or movies having an impact when I was young. But as a teenager, there were two movies - Dead Poet's Society and Schindler's List. As for books, until I was 15 or so, all I read was mystery and horror - think Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike. It was around 15 or 16 I picked up my first contemporary literary fiction, Anagrams by Laurie Moore. That book made me realize there was more out there, and that was the way I wanted to write.
  
THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book. You can find Christa Parrish on the web at www.christaparrish.com  and on facebook. 

 I’m thrilled that Bethany House is giving away 5 copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction at TBCN http://www.bookfun.org/ - You must join TBCN to participate. Membership is free and easy!

ALL ENTRIES for the contest ARE TO BE MADE @ THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org  - NOT ON THIS BLOG POST!!

Blessings to you in your writing adventures.

Sincerely,

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

CFBA TOUR GREENWOOD AND ARCHER by MARLENE BANKS

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greenwood and Archer
Lift Every Voice; New Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
by
Marlene Banks


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Marlene Banks has worked 30+ years combined in nursing and the business arena. Her goal as a writer is to create inspiring, gripping and realistic stories with an emphasis on African American literature. She believes her gift and desire to write is from God and desires to use it to fulfill His purposes. Marlene lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church.




ABOUT THE BOOK
Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.

The White Glove Society has all but destroyed the Greenwood District, home to the affluent blacks in Tulsa. Now those who have survived are trying to recover what is left including Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman. Billy Ray and Benny are engaged but Benny is hesitant to set a date.  Jordan Franks, Benny's ex-fiancee shows up in Tulsa and Benny is confronted with the memories and emotions of the crippling break up she experienced with Jordan. She must decide whether she will stand and face her past or allow it to drive her back into the dark place she'd grown used to before meeting Billy Ray.  Billy Ray's attempts to keep Benny from running away are challenged by his own struggles as he wrestles with God's call on his life to preach.

DP Dooley, plagued by a past that prompted him to turn from God and become a government agent, is in a turmoil as he wars against enemies seen and unseen. Internally, he fights against the darkness of his soul as the anger and resentment he has harbored against God for most of his life wears him down.  Externally, he continues to fight against the threats of the bigoted White Gloves Society, which is growing and trying to increase its racist activities.

The once hard-edged racial views of Chief Tobias Parnell have noticeably dulled and he no longer enjoys the favor of the White Glove Society.  Teaming up with Dooley, Chief Parnell fights against illegal racketeering, bootlegging and racial crimes.
A new brotherhood forms in Tulsa, the interdenominational Christian clergyman (ICCA). Braving the social struggles of Tulsa, five clergymen attempt to and bring together God's people, regardless of race, economic status, gender, ethnicity and even doctrine. Their goal, along with the people of Greenwood is to see a new Tulsa rise from the ashes.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Greenwood and Archer, go HERE.

NOTE: I'm not quite done reading this book yet. But I will tell you I read the first book in this series it was gripping, and the characters jumped off the page and into my heart. This author is real, honest and offers hope in a hopeless situation - I read the book every chance I got until I was done. I liked how Marlene showed that even through the situations were hard Jesus is the light of the world. It radiates all through Marlene's books. It's an author to watch!! I'll post my full review once I'm done with the book.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a BLESSED NEW YEAR MARLENE!! 
Praying the Lord inspires you in the New Year with more amazing stories.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

AMANDA CABOT UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL PLUS 5 BOOK DRAWING OPPORTUNITY




ABOUT AUTHOR: AMANDA CABOT - From the time that she was seven, Amanda Cabot dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when she set herself the goal of selling a book by her thirtieth birthday that the dream came true.  A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian historical romances.  Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim, and Christmas Roses, her first stand-alone story, was just released.


How did you come up with the idea for your Christmas book?

It all started when another author who’d read Scattered Petals told me she wanted to see one of the secondary characters have a happy ending.  I started thinking about that character, and – as often happens to me – my thoughts took a major detour.  Instead of a young bride in Texas looking forward to the birth of her first child, I envisioned a young widow in Wyoming, wanting nothing more than to keep her infant daughter safe.  Christmas Roses was born.

I enjoyed your novel and characters, what made you set it in the time period you did?

Dare I say practicality?  I’d done a lot of research for the Westward Winds series, which takes place in Wyoming in the 1880s, so it made sense to use some of what I’d learned by giving Christmas Roses a similar timeframe.  The reality is, that was an exciting time in Wyoming history.  The Indian conflict had ended, and settlers were coming to the territory to raise cattle and, in the case of my fictional town, to mine copper.  I know you asked about the time period rather than the setting, but readers might enjoy knowing that although Easton is a fictional town, it was inspired by the real copper mining town of Sunrise, Wyoming.

Why write Christian Fiction? What’s the draw for you?

Let’s start with why I write fiction, specifically romance.  I love telling stories where characters overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to find love and happiness.  In a world where bad news sometimes seems to dominate, I find it reassuring to write about happily-ever-afters.  Next comes the Christian aspect of my writing.  I believe that being able to incorporate my faith and show how God’s love helps heal wounded spirits and how it strengthens the love between the hero and heroine adds an important dimension to romance.  I also like to think of my writing as a form of ministry, using fiction to tell stories that – if I've done my job correctly – touch readers’ hearts and strengthen their faith.

What has surprised you in writing Christian Fiction as opposed to writing for the secular market like you did?

The biggest surprise is how much more fun it is.  Oh, dear, that sounds as if writing for the secular market was a chore.  It wasn't, but I always had the feeling that I was censoring myself, making sure I didn't offend potential readers by including anything related to God.  Now that I’m free to include faith elements, I feel liberated, and that makes it even more fun.  

I've heard you say in an interview that being an author is who you are, not something you do. What has surprised you in this journey in discovering you are an author and it’s not just something you do?

The biggest surprise was discovering that there’s a difference between what I do and who I am.  Once I recognized that, everything made sense.  I realized why every time I tried to stop writing, I felt as if there were a void inside me that needed to be filled.  I also realized why it was so easy to walk away from my day job.  I enjoyed the day job, and it was fulfilling in many ways beyond the paycheck, but it was what I did.  Writing is who I am. That’s why it’s only when I’m writing that I feel whole.

What scriptures bring you hope, healing and comfort to your soul?

My favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  I find comfort in knowing that God is with me wherever I go, and the fact that this is phrased as a command makes me determined to be strong and courageous, although I don’t always succeed.  

Can you give us a peek at what you are working on now? When can we expect it to hit book shelves?

 Publishing schedules being what they are, I’m currently working on two books that will be 2014 releases.  One is the last of my Westward Winds trilogy, the other the first of a new series tentatively called Home Front.  What’s more exciting for me right now is that I have a new book almost ready to release.  The official pub date for Waiting for Spring is January 1, 2013, but the print version should be available in brick and mortar stores and online around the middle of December.  I’m absolutely delighted with the cover for this book.  Though Revell has given me gorgeous covers for all my books, I think this is the best yet.  They even commissioned the gown specifically for this cover – a huge honor and one that left me speechless.

FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

You've been given the opportunity to use a time machine. Where would you go and what would you do?

A time machine – what a marvelous idea!  I've always thought it would be fun to live in England at the turn of the last century.  They had many of what I consider essentials of life, things like indoor plumbing and electricity, but the lifestyle seemed more relaxed and – dare I say? – elegant than our current frantic lives.  Of course, I need to add that my dream involves being part of the aristocracy, the people who had servants to wait on them, rather than being part of the “downstairs” staff.  If you read my answer to question #4, you’ll know that mops and I are not the best of companions.


If you had 24 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus – that’s a given), what two people would you pick and what would you do?

This was a tough question to answer – so many fascinating people, and you let me choose only two.  My first person to meet is Abraham Lincoln, and I've selected a specific date to spend with him: the day after Appomattox.  I’d love to know what he was feeling now that the war that almost destroyed the country had ended and, even more importantly, what plans he had for the future.  I’m confident that had John Wilkes Booth’s bullet missed its target, the post-war period would have been far different, but if I could talk to Lincoln, I’d know just how different.  

One of the reasons I’d like to spend some time with Lincoln is that my very first writing award was for a short essay entitled “Lincoln’s Ideas of Americanism” which I wrote as part of a contest for elementary school children when I was ten years old.  It didn't make me rich or famous, but I still have the prize: a picture of Lincoln created not with brushstrokes but with the words of the Gettysburg Address.  

My second person to spend a day with is Walt Disney.  I've heard people who knew him say that he was a genius, and I don’t doubt that.  I think it would be fascinating to watch him at work and get a glimpse into the imagination that created so many enduring characters.

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

I spent my early childhood (ages one to seven) in a small Texas town.  After that, I lived in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, but I never forgot the friendliness of small town life, the feeling that everyone knew everyone else and that I was safe, no matter where I went – except for the cemetery, which had rattlesnakes.  My lifelong fear of snakes had its roots there.

Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at.

In high school I worked as a clerk at a self-service laundromat.  What a glamorous job!  Not only did my responsibilities include cleaning the washing machines at the end of the day, but I had the privilege of mopping the floor.  That was enough to convince me that I’d never have anything but no-wax, easy to clean floors.  Later, when I was a newlywed and my husband was stationed in Germany with the Army, I had a part-time job as secretary for the Service Club.  Let’s not mention that the job paid less than minimum wage.  Instead, we’ll focus on the fact that I was able to combine my love of writing and travel to create a newsletter to promote the Club’s various tours.  Even better, I was able to speak German with the staff and learned to make strudel.

Name three everyday things you’d not want to live without.

My computer, my e-reader and the microwave.  


What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why? If you didn’t watch movies as a kid what book affected you?

The Diary of Anne Frank” influenced me in many ways.  I’d read the book, but seeing the movie brought the terrible inhumanity that was part of World War II to life.  Even now many years later, I cringe when I hear European police sirens, because to me they symbolize the Nazis coming for Anne and her family.   


ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS?

I’m delighted to have been able to spend this time with you.  Thanks, Nora, for inviting me to be part of TBCN.
Amanda

THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book.  I’m thrilled that Revell is giving away copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest. Which starts on the 19th. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction.

READERS HURRY ON OVER TO TBCN and ENTER THE DRAWING for a copy of LYNETTE EASON'S NEW BOOK WHEN A HEART STOPS!! www.bookfun.org

ALL Entries Are to be made at TBCN Not on this blog post!

Sincerely,
Blessings to you in your writing adventures.

Sincerely,

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
www.bookfun.org