BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

HIDE & SEEK AUTHORS Q and A MAJ JEFF STRUECKER & ALTON GANSKY




Q and A with Alton Gansky and MAJ (Ret) Jeff Struecker,
Authors of Hide and Seek



Alton, what was it like as a writer to work with a soldier and capture the stories for the new bookHide and Seek?

AG: It was enlightening. At first, I thought my biggest challenge would be learning the terms and tools of the contemporary soldier. As it turns out, the great challenge came in understanding the soldier's mind and heart. A novelist must be able to see through the eyes of others, to feel their joy and their pains, and then put it on paper. In writing this book and the others that came before it, I had to imagine what it was like to leap out of an airplane in the middle of the night, to be hunkered down under live fire, to see a comrade wounded and killed and to stand on a foreign field when my mind was home with my family. Doing so gave me the new insight into the work and the sacrifices made by the dedicated soldier.

Jeff exemplifies the qualities of the 21st-century soldier: intelligent, brave, sacrificial, but very human. In my discussions with him I came to understand the split loyalties that every soldier faces: duty, country, family.

I tried to take some of the admirable qualities I saw in Jeff and put them into the fictional soldiers who risk their lives and transfer all that to the printed page. I could come up with the plot and the twists and turns, but Jeff had to provide the realism. The series of books has been a real education. I am blessed for having been a part of them.
Jeff, now that you are retired from active service, do you reflect on some of the stories that developed differently than what you thought they would?

JS: I don't think that being retired from active duty in the US Army has changed the way that I reflect on these stories, but it has given me a greater appreciation for the quality of men and women in the military. Now that I am a private citizen (so to speak), I have the chance to compare the work ethic, the sense of duty and the patriotism of the men and women in the military with the rest of the US population. I never realized how different many warriors are from the citizens that they protect and serve. I am also seeing the selflessness and sacrifice of the military family compared to that of the average family in our country and am surprised by these differences.

Alton, did the process or the relationship change the way you view those in the military and what their families go through? 

AG: Absolutely. I always knew there was great sacrifice involved in being a soldier. Coming from a Navy family I even knew the families of military made their share of sacrifices. Writing about them, however, made it real for me. One thing every novelist does is to insert himself or herself into their characters–good or bad. It can be an emotional roller coaster. Writing these books has tattooed the image of their sacrifice on my mind and heart. From the beginning, Jeff insisted that we show the heroism of those who remain home while their husbands and fathers face death in some foreign territory. In the case of our heroes, they did not even have the satisfaction of knowing where their loved ones served. In many ways, they waited in the dark. I've always admired those who serve in the military, but now I admire their families just as much.




Jeff, what are your thoughts on this?

JS: Writing with Al has been eye opening for me personally. He really gets it. I have never known someone to be able to pick up the dedication and motivation of a warrior and their family as quickly as Al. On a couple of occasions, I commented to Al that he writes like someone who has been in the Army all his life. He has a great grasp on what a warrior's family goes through when the phone rings in the middle of the night and they have to say goodbye to a loved-one, knowing that they may never see them again. It takes a special kind of person to be a military family and Al depicts that as well as anyone I know.

Alton, do you have some funny stories about connecting with Jeff while he was still in active duty? Code language? 

AG: Mostly I teased Jeff about the superiority of the Navy or the Army. I don't think I've been able to convince him yet. There were a few interesting times when we would exchange e-mail or talk on the phone and I had no idea where Jeff was. I would simply receive a quick note that he was going to be out of town on business. There were times when we spoke that I was pretty sure he was in some far-off part of the world. I still don't know.

In one of the previous books, I had written a scene that I was especially proud of. I struggled to get the details right, to create a believable scenario. When Jeff was reviewing the scene he called to say, “You can't use that.” I argued that it was a good scene, that it helped the plot, that it tied up some loose ends. He agreed then told me to take it out. When I asked why, he replied, “You aren't supposed to know that.” I protested that I didn't know it. I'd made the whole thing up. He sympathized with me and told me to take it out. I've often wondered what I got right.

Jeff, what are your writing goals now that you are not in active service? Do you have more leeway/freedom to pursue some things that you were not able to previously?

JS: My writing goals have become a bit more ambitious now that I am retired. For the rest of my life I will have to balance describing cutting-edge military technology and procedures without giving away national secrets. (Some of those secrets I have sworn to take to my grave.) At the same time, I think the reader deserves an accurate picture of what life is like for a warrior on a dangerous mission somewhere around the world tonight. I hope to be able to continue to paint that picture for readers.

I also had to balance a very difficult workload of trying to communicate with Al and writing some of these books while I was away in Afghanistan or in Iraq. (Needless to say, my mind and attention were a bit preoccupied at those times.) Now that I am retired from the Army, I hope to be able to dedicate more time to writing books that will exalt the great name of Jesus and inspire readers.

Alton Gansky is a Christy Award-nominated and Angel Award-winning author who writes to stimulate thinking about spiritual matters. He served as a pulpit minister for twenty years and has published nearly thirty books.
Chaplain (Major, Ret) Jeff Struecker is a decorated member of US Army Rangers, the Army’s most elite fighting corps. His personal experiences in Mogadishu, Somalia were documented in the New York Times bestseller and major motion picture Black Hawk Down. During his thirteen years of active duty, he also fought in Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait. As a chaplain Jeff has done multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now retired from military service, Struecker currently serves as the associate pastor of ministry development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia.
For more information visit www.JeffStreucker.com

 Thanks to Rick Q and A


Rick Roberson
Communications Specialist
109 S. Main St.
Corsicana, TX   75110

DAN WALSH HITS A HOME RUN WITH THE REUNION





The Reunion
By Dan Walsh
Publisher: Revell
ISBN-13: 978-0800721213
304 pages

ABOUT BOOK: There are people in this world we pass right by without giving a second thought. They are almost invisible. Yet some of them have amazing stories to tell, if we'd only take the time to listen . . .

Aaron Miller was an old, worn-out Vietnam vet, a handyman in a trailer park. Forty years prior, he saved the lives of three young men in the field only to come home from the war and lose everything. But God is a master at finding and redeeming the lost things of life. Aaron is about to be found. And the one who finds him just might find the love of his life as well.

Expert storyteller Dan Walsh pens a new tale filled with the things his fans have come to love--forgiveness, redemption, love, and that certain bittersweet quality that few authors ever truly master. Fans old and new will find themselves drawn into this latest story about how God cares for everyone.


REVIEW:

I just finished reading Dan Walsh's new book THE REUNION that will hit bookshelves in SEPTEMBER 2012. OHMYGOSH! I have happy tears running down my face and a warm feeling in my heart. I never expected the ending to this amazing heart felt story to be what it was!  It was off the charts satisfying!! You'll want to mark your calendars and put this one on your reading list for 2012.

I highly recommend it. I just had to tell you that I LOVED reading this book. It touched me deeply!! It had me look at the Vietnam war and the men who fought in that war differently! WOW!!

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

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

CFBA - ALMOST AMISH by KATHRYN CUSHMAN - REVIEWED



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Almost Amish
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
by
Kathryn Cushman


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.


Almost Amish
By  Katheryn Cushman
Published by Bethany House Publishers
ISBN# 978-0764208263
336 Pages

Book Blurb: Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She's overwhelmed and burned out, and in today's unrelenting society, her kids are, too. When her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series promoting simple living, and needs another family to join her, it seems like the perfect opportunity. The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that "living simple" is no simple matter. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of "going Amish" gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.


REVIEW: Julie Charlton agrees to help her sister-in-law with a new idea for a T.V. reality show called "Almost Amish". The deal is they have to live like the Amish for 3 months with a few modifications to the pure Amish life style.

Julie agrees to do this for two reasons, one she can't say no to her sister-in-law and two she has come to hate her life! Something needed to change - she needed a new perspective, maybe this three month get away would do the trick. Little did Julie and Susan realize how much their world would be rocked through this experience as their families try to live an Amish life style 24/7, oh the added bonus it would be filmed for national T.V.

“Julie and Susan quickly realize that the "simple" life takes a lot of work and determination - why did people call it simple? It was anything but that! Just making coffee in the morning was a major production!”

Susan tells Julie, "Living simply for a few months will give us a chance to de-stress and think about what it is that's really important to us."

Susan is a Martha Steward wannabe - doing this correctly will give her the big break she's been looking for. Susan faces each weeks challenge with this in mind. But what Susan and Julie soon learn is something new about themselves and their family members. Each discovers a part of themselves they never knew existed or they had the talent for.

The family has no distractions or interruptions such as cell phones, T.V. Radio etc. They are forced to be creative with their spar time, which forces them to talk about things they never had time to do before. Julie realizes she doesn't want to go back to the life she left behind. Her family has discovered something incredible and they didn't want to loose it. Julie feared jumping back into the rat race would spoil everything. They had found fun as a family and they reconnected with their faith in God they left behind years ago. Julie realized she needed His strength to have the courage to walk out what this new life back in the modern world.

This story was fun to read. I'm thankful for the review copy and how the author made the reader think about what's important. She challenged them to take a look at life through the eyes of the characters and ask themselves what is really important in life. How do we keep the main thing the main focus of our lives and that of our family?

If you’re looking for something different and fun for your summer read look no further! This book will bring a smile to your face and having you look at family in a new light!! Happy Reading!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book club Network CEO
www.bookfun.org

CHERYL McKAY - INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY of FINALLY THE BRIDE

Book promo shot by Christopher Price
ABOUT AUTHOR: Cheryl McKay is the screenwriter of the award winning film, The Ultimate Gift, and co-author of the ACFW/Carol Award winning novel, Never the Bride. She recently penned the film sequel to The Ultimate Gift, called The Ultimate Life. Cheryl keeps her purple pen busy through Purple PenWorks.


How did you come up with the premise for Finally the Bride?

During the novelization process of getting my Never the Bride script turned into book with Rene Gutteridge, I started to feel God prompting me to write a non-fiction version of my story, sharing of all my years of being single and waiting on Him to do something about the lack of love in my life. He’d asked me to surrender my pen to Him (just like I wrote into Jessie’s story in Never the Bride). The years that followed of waiting on Him included a lot of trials, lessons, and preparation that I felt God wanted me to share in Finally the Bride. This includes a lot of journal entries where I’m pretty honest about what this journey was like. The book ends up having this “real time” feel because readers go through the journey with me. I started the book having no idea what the ending would be or whether or not I’d be married by the time I would be ready to publish it.

Lisa Crates & Chris Price
How does the cover process work for you? Did you have any say in picking out the cover for your books?

Well, with Finally the Bride, this was a blast. My husband actually had a big hand in designing it. He did the photography on the back (of my wedding dress and our rings) and the front is actually one of my bridal portraits. If people don’t know me, they don’t usually realize that until the end since you can’t see my face. We chose this photo because it almost looks like I, as a bride, am waiting in line for my turn. My husband has also done some great photography for my blog and website. I’m hoping he can have a hand in designing more covers in the future, whether we publish traditionally or independently.

What do you like most about the writing process? What do you like least?

For me, writing can redeem anything difficult or painful I’ve been through, because I can then share about it to help others. (I’ve written various aspects of my life story in about 5-6 scripts, and now am writing a lot of non-fiction.) If I can find a way to put myself or my personal experience into what I’m sharing, I am much more passionate about it, and it makes writing fun and pretty easy. In fiction, I also enjoy living in the world of characters, finding their voices, and just playing with them. I know I’m onto something when the voices don’t stop chattering in my head and they’re too fast to keep up with when typing.

What do I like least?
Probably if I get an assignment I’m not as passionate about. It can be tough to squeeze out pages if it’s an area foreign to me or that doesn’t speak to me personally.

Your book Finally the Bride is very personal, encouraging and the principles can be applied to any area of our lives. I appreciate your honesty and perseverance. Now that you’ve been married a little while what is your favorite thing about being married? What has surprised you?
Wedding photos by Lisa Crates 

We just hit our one-year anniversary in May. One of the nicest surprises is that we had been warned about how hard the first year is; everyone called it a big adjustment. We found that to be quite far from reality. We had a ball! I guess we both waited so long to find someone that, once we had it, we were so grateful for it. It’s really nice having someone to share the ups and downs of life with.

Can you tell me about two WOW—moments you’ve had since being published? What made it a wow for you?

There is nothing more meaningful than hearing from people you’ve never met, saying you’ve changed their lives. One of the comments I get most often is that people feel like I somehow got inside their head and wrote their thoughts. Apparently, all the ups and downs I felt during my long journey as a single person is very relatable to others on the same path. Being able to help others makes putting details about my personal life out there worth it.

I think another may is the first time I held Finally the Bride in my hands. Especially because this was so personal and seeing my husband’s work on the book cover was just so fun. It’s been a long time in the making (after so much waiting), representative of a dream come true, and to then hold it in my hands was so meaningful.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be released?

Rene and I have another novelization in the works (like we did with Never the Bride), based on my romantic comedy script Greetings from the Flipside for B and H Publishing. It’ll come out Fall 2013. I also wrote the film sequel to The Ultimate Gift, called The Ultimate Life. I hope we shoot this year. And of course, we’re still working on raising the funds to shoot Never the Bride, my passion project! I hope we get to shoot in Charleston, SC, such a romantic city.

Later this summer, I’ll be releasing my autobiography that has been about ten years in the making. It’s called Finally Fearless: Journey from Panic to Peace. It’s geared toward those who struggle with fear, panic, and anxiety attacks, and those who are tired of fear ruling their lives. It ruled my life for over twenty years, but no more. It covers aspects of my life when I was too afraid to get married.

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?

I have a screenplay called Song of Springhill based on the mining disasters that happened in Springhill, Nova Scotia in the 50s. My grandfather was one of the survivors. It’s a beautiful story of hope, faith, and a town that refused to give up when most people thought everyone underground was dead. They experienced a few major miracle rescues up to 8 days after disasters, finding people alive. It’s an extraordinary story, very inspiring. I’d love to do the book version and of course, see a movie get made.

What do you hope to accomplish in your book? What do you hope readers walk away with after reading Finally the Bride?

Wedding photos by Lisa Crates 

If anyone has been waiting a long time to find love, I desire for readers to find hope in my story. They’ll hear from someone who gets it, who’s been there (and was there for 39 years of my life.) If anyone’s ever been waiting a long time for God to bring a promise to pass, I think my story can encourage them as well. It doesn’t just have to be for singles. God does, indeed, fulfill every promise He makes, even if it takes a while. I hope my story is a journey of faith that inspires people.


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)
Wedding photos by Lisa Crates 

Europe. My husband and I love to take trips and explore new places, especially great places to take photographs. I think our dream vacation would be to go to Italy, see the canals, Rome, Paris. I’d love to see the Vatican. I’d have to do some research if we were to ever plan a trip, but one of my hobbies is being our trip planner. I find fun places for us to go closer to home than Europe, for day trips or weekend trips. I also planned our whole cross-country trek from NC to CA when we moved my husband out to California after we got married. It was a blast!

What THREE things would you not want to live without? (besides family and friends)

My laptop, Chapstick, and water. But I also can’t imagine life without chocolate so I’m sneaking in a fourth one.

Name two of your favorite books you read growing up?

Amelia Bedelia series of books. Hilarious! My sister recently checked them out of the library to read to my nephews, and we were cracking up way more than they were. And Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.

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’d figure out what everyone’s gifts were, and help them figure out what roles to play, making sure we had all our bases covered—kind of like being a movie producer and managing a crew. Hiring people who have the right talents to get to the job done. People are happier if they can be in a role they like and are good at. I’d try to figure out what that was for everyone.

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?

I love this question. I have always asked God if He could make me a “flashback generator” so I could watch scenes from my own past. (I wrote that device into a script once.) I have many times from my own life I’d love to return to, so I could have stronger memories. So rather than visit a time period I wasn’t a part of (even though a visit to watch my parents in the 50s would be oh-so-cool), I’d like to go back and watch scenes from my own life like Scrooge gets to do. First visit would be to watch the scene when I first met my husband in the 90s. Neither of us remembers that moment! (We were just friends back then.) I’d love to visit some of my favorite Christmases. Watch my first exposure to Disney World (which is my favorite place on earth!) Watch some hilarious memories of the 80s teen era with some of my friends. So I’d be a viewer watching the younger version of me, rather than going back in time to participate.

Though it would be fun to go have a conversation with myself like I did in a dream once. I’d also use it to visit times I want to write about, like the night my grandfather was rescued from that mining disaster. Because I’m so nostalgic, God probably knows better than to give me this sort of device or I’d spend too much time captivated by the past.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS CHERYL!!
Thanks for all the fun questions, Nora. I so appreciate your ongoing support of my work. Excited about the interaction with readers @TBCN! People can learn more about buying my books and the film, The Ultimate Gift at: http://cherylmckay.wordpress.com/buybooksmovies/


I also have two author pages on Facebook, one by myself and one with Rene Gutteridge for our novelizations. And my twitter is: @purplepenworks

Cheryl

Cheryl’s websites:
www.purplepenworks.com

Thanks Cheryl for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books. I LOVED Never the Bride and Finally the Bride. I‘ll be the first one at the theatre when Never the Bride is released in theatres. It’s a book that is near and dear to my heart.

I also was deeply moved by your transparency in Finally the Bride. I feel this book applies to us ALL whether you are waiting to be a bride or waiting on any promise God has made you. It takes faith to stand on what you know to be true of God and His plan for your life. Thank you for the opportunity to read both books and get to know you!

HEAD OVER TO TBCN NOW and Enter the drawing. CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER CONTEST http://www.bookfun.org/group/tbcnfeaturedauthors/forum/topics/july-2012-book-giveaway-cheryl-mckay-finally-the-bride-non-fictio

You'll be able to interact with Cheryl at The Book Club Network and enter a drawing for a chance to win one of your giveaway packages. She's giving away books and Movies! THANKS CHERYL!! I'm really looking forward to featuring you and your book @TBCN!


Sincerely,
With a grateful Heart


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

ANN H. GABHART - INTERVIEW - THE GIFTED








AUTHOR BIO: ANN H. GABHART’S first published works were personal experience pieces, youth stories, and poems in church periodicals, but then she wrote a novel and her course was set. That first novel turned out to be only practice and was never published, but over twenty of her books for both adults and young adults have been published since that time. In 2005, her first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs, was released, and she set out on a new path of writing historical fiction where she could not only share her characters’ stories, but also weave in their faith journeys along their story trail. Ann has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.

Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit her website,
www.annhgabhart.com.


In your research for The Gifted, what surprised you? If nothing surprised you, what did you learn that you had to put in this book, series.
Shaker village I use as a model 
for my Harmony Hill Shaker village

When I was beginning my journey down the Shaker book pathway and researching their history, a great many things surprised me about the Shakers. One of their most often quoted sayings is “Hands to work and hearts to God.” With a focus on that, they were kind, peaceful, and orderly people who believed they worshiped through their work and so wanted any task they did to be done with perfection. Their aim of gathering in villages and shutting away the world was to establish a heaven on earth.

At the same time their worship beliefs were very odd to me. One of the surprising things in my research was the accounts of visions. In their worship, the Believers often pantomimed pretend games such as picking exotic fruit from heaven and eating it. They thought historical figures such as George Washington appeared in spirit form at their meetings after having been won to the Shaker beliefs after death. Shaker history is full of accounts of odd visions or gifts such as one Shaker elders feeling that the spirit was compelling him to somersault from place to place instead of merely walking. I always wondered how so many could be carried away by that kind of hysteria.

In The Gifted, I liked showing the contrast of the Shaker village where they were attempting to shut out every superfluous thing from their daily lives to the Springs Hotel where the richer members of society gathered to revel in fancy dress and leisurely living. At the spa hotel, dances were held several times a week with the object being romance while only a few miles away the Shakers worshiped the Lord by dancing and singing songs such as “Tis a Gift to Be Simple.”

Jessamine Brady has a writing gift in your new book. Is there any part of you and how you feel about writing in this character?

Yes, indeed. While I never wanted to write fairytale stories of the type that Jessamine sometimes imagines, I did evermore want to write down stories. I do feel I have a gift for words and I’m thankful for that and for the blessing of readers who enjoy my stories.

Can you share some of your testimony with us?

I’ve always felt the presence of the Lord as long as I can remember, but I was too shy as a young person to make any spoken decisions for the Lord. I did often feel the tugs on my heart strings when preachers extended invitations to accept Christ, but I totally lacked the courage to step out into a church aisle to go forward in front of so many people. Three might have been too many at that time.

My family wasn’t an every Sunday in church kind of family. My father never went at all except to a homecoming type service at the church his family once attended. I do remember going to Sunday school as a young child, and then when I got my driver’s license I drove myself to church. I read through the Bible as a young teenager, but I lacked understanding of much of the gospel. Fast forward a few years to when I married a man whose family was at their church any time the doors were open. I liked that and was glad to make church attendance a big part of the life of my new family.

After my son was born, I determined that I would find the courage to stand up and declare my belief in the Lord. The Lord blessed me with that courage and helped me to find a place of service in his church. Now he’s led me into writing inspirational stories that I hope will be a blessing and an encouragement to any who read them. And I want to continue to grow as a Christian and let my light shine with as much brightness as the Lord gives me.

Which scene in The Gifted did you have the most fun writing? Why?
Shaker village I use as a model f
or my Harmony Hill Shaker village



The easy answer would be every scene, but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it? I did especially enjoy Jessamine’s innocence when she first stumbles across the wounded Tristan in the woods. I liked having her wonder about the feel of his face and whiskers. Then I really liked writing the journal as Sister Sophrena. I love journal writing.









Have you had anything surprise you through a book club meeting or book event? If so can you share it? If not, is there something you've wanted to experience at a book club meeting but haven’t yet? If so, please share what your hopes are.

I love talking to book clubs and it’s even better when the club is close enough for me to visit in person. I think what surprises me most when I’m sitting back listening to the book club members discuss my book is how they talk about my characters as though they are people they know. I was at a club once as they discussed my Shaker book, The Believer, and they kept talking about what Ethan was going to do after the story ended. I loved that my characters were that alive for them. It also surprises me when a reader sees motivation that I haven’t even considered for a character. Sometimes it’s almost as if they know my people better than me, or at least, are looking at them with a less prejudiced eye.

Occasionally a reader will suggest that this or that is going to happen with one of my characters that I know could never happen. An example is Wes, a grandfather type figure to my character, Jocie, in my Hollyhill books. There’s also Zella, a spinster secretary who is very set in her ways and contrary besides. It’s amazing how many people think those two should get together romantically. It could never happen!!

What was your most memorable reading group experience? What made it so special?
Book Club gathering I attended
More fun at Book Club



I've enjoyed several memorable experiences with reading groups. One group of about seventy readers amazed me with their enthusiasm for books. Another time, I talked to a Georgia group by phone while I was a guest author at the South Carolina Book Festival. I found a quiet nook by a big window to be sure I got good cell phone reception and where I could laugh and enjoy the time without drawing too many curious eyes. That group had such great questions about my characters that I wanted to take notes. Then there was the church book club where the hostess served all Shaker food from the bread to a Shaker lemon pie. She labeled all the dishes and we had a great time eating like the Shakers ate. Delicious.
Love book Clubs







Can you give us a peek into what you are working on right now and when it will be out?

A couple of weeks ago I finished a sequel to Angel Sister, my book that’s about a family during the Great Depression. Small Town Girl moves ahead a few years to let my sisters begin to find love while the storms of World War II are threatening on America’s horizon. Now I’m feeling around for ideas for a Shaker Christmas novel. Small Town Girl is tentatively scheduled for next summer and the Christmas novel around September 2013–if I find the story in time. Before that, my first Hollyhill book, Scent of Lilacs, will be repackaged and released in March 2013 with a great new cover.

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

I’ve been writing since I was about ten years old. My first novel, a historical romance for the general market was published over thirty years ago. Since then, I’ve written a lot of books and published over twenty of them, some for the general market, some for young adults and now eleven for the inspirational market. A few years ago, after some down years where my writing wasn’t finding loving editors, I decided to follow the age old advice to write what I knew. That was small towns and country churches, so I wrote a story about a preacher and his family. Scripture and Bible stories were a natural part of the plot and characters. Scent of Lilacs did find that loving editor and was published by Revell Books, and I discovered the inspirational market. I love writing stories where I can include my characters’ faith journeys. I like how Christian writers are so supportive of one another. I enjoy the interaction with readers and how they are ready to pray for me and my writing. I like that my stories can be an encouragement to those readers. I like working with Christian editors and agents who know the business but are ready to pray with me if I have a personal need. I’m blessed to be able to write Christian fiction.

FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

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’m a Martha type, so I know I’d be out scrounging for food or gathering palm leaves to make softer beds. I’d be watching the children to be sure they didn’t wade out too far into the ocean. Things would need doing and I would think I had to be doing them. While I might wish I was the Mary type sitting quietly and praying for a boat to appear on the horizon, I know I’d be the busy Martha.

You've been given 48 hours to hang out with any two (alive or dead). Who would you pick and what would you do? (Besides Jesus)

That’s such a hard question. So many people from which to choose that it boggles the imagination. But I think I’ll choose from my personal life and pick my dad and his sister, a very beloved aunt. Now that I’m older and looking back at their lives, I can think of so many things I wish I had asked them. My dad and my aunt traveled across country from Kentucky to Oregon and then to Chicago to the World’s Fair in the 1930’s and while I didn’t know the questions to ask while they were still living, I do have questions now.

What three things would you rather not live without? (Besides friends and family)


Books – I love books and how they hold so much knowledge or adventure and emotion inside their covers.

Dogs – I got my first dog when I was about nine and I haven’t been without a dog since. I don’t plan to be either. Dogs are love on four feet.

Cars – I like to walk, but there are plenty of places I might not get to see without wheels and highways. My world would shrink and I know I wouldn’t get to see my two children, who live in other states, nearly as often as I do now. It would a lot harder to visit book clubs too if I didn’t have my old Chevy to get in and go.

A friend of yours has a time machine and they are going to let you use it. Where would you go and what would you do?

I think I’ll go back in time to when the first explorers were going west. I want to be with the first eastern explorer who happened to cross into what became Yellowstone Park so I can be surprised by one of those geysers exploding out of a hole in the ground. I’ll hope I’m standing back out of the way. Then I’m going to explore south to walk through the most amazing forests of giant sequoia trees. Maybe along the way I’ll pass through the Petrified Forest and look incredulously at trees that have turned to rock. Then I’ll float down the Colorado River right through the middle of the Grand Canyon. I can still see all those things today, but think of what wonder must have arisen inside a person who saw each of those places for the first time with no prior knowledge of what his or her eyes were going to behold.

When you were young is there a movie that really affected your life? If so what was it? If you didn’t watch movies what book stood out to you when you were young?

I only remember going to two movies when I was a kid. One, Gone with the Wind, I don’t really remember, but I do remember reading the book in one marathon reading weekend. The other movie was some kind of horror movie that my aunt ill-advisedly took her sons and us nieces to see. All I got out of that was a few nightmares. So I suppose I’d have to say the Hardy Boy mysteries most affected my life. At around the age of ten, I decided it would be fun to solve a mystery the way they did. Since mysterious adventures were unlikely in my rural area, I had to make one up. I’ve been making up stories ever since.

ANN, ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH READERS?
Yummy Book Club Treats

I do appreciate every person who picks up one of my books and gives my stories a chance. I consider writing a partnership between the writer and the reader. It takes my imagination to get the story between the covers of a book, but it takes your imagination for that story to spring to life in your head as you read. Books have always been magic to me and so what could be more fun than belonging to a book club? Thank you so much for reading.

Ann

Thanks Ann for stopping by and giving us a peek into your new book. As always it’s fun to read your reader interaction at The Book Club Network. Thanks to Revell our sponsor for giving away 10 copies of your book starting July 19th – 21st. Ann will be talking to readers at that time @TBCN www.bookfun.org Mark your Calendars and be there for lots of book fun and author interaction.

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

CHRISTY AWARD WINNERS JULY 16, 2012

CHRISTY AWARD Ceremony in Orlando Florida


• Nominees in the Contemporary Romance category are:
• My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)
• Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
• Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing)

The nominees in the Contemporary Series, Sequels and  Novellas category are:

• The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House Publishers)
• Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen (Band H Publishing Group)
• The Touch by Randall Wallace (Tyndale House Publishers)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House Publishers)

The nominees in the Contemporary Standalone category are:
• Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes (Tyndale House Publishers)
• Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock ( Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
• Words by Ginny Yttrup (B and H Publishing Group)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock ( Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Nominees in the First Novel category are:
• An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon (Zondervan)
• Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola (Barbour Publishing)
• Words by Ginny Yttrup (B and H Publishing Group)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Words by Ginny Yttrup (B and H Publishing Group)





Nominees in the Historical Romance category are:
• A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
• The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
• To Die For by Sandra Byrd (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS: 
 • The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Nominees in the Historical category are:
• Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman (Tyndale House Publishers)
• Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
• Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (Bethany House , a division of Baker Publishing Group)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (Bethany House , a division of Baker Publishing Group)




Nominees in the Suspense category are:
• Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins (B and H Publishing Group)
• Pattern of Wounds by Mark Bertrand (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
• The Queen by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• The Queen by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Nominees in the Visionary category are:
• The Chair by James L. Rubart (B and H Publishing Group)
• Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group USA)
• Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

And last but not least, nominees in the Young Adult category are:
• How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn (Kregel Publications)
• Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
• Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (David C Cook)

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER IN THIS CATEGORY IS:
• Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (David C Cook)




THANKS to WYNN WYNN MEDIA for their "live" blog coverage so that I was able to post this so quickly. They had Rachel Hauck helping Tyson Wynn in the chat before and after the Christy Awards!! It was a fun to be part of it this way!!


CONGRATS to ALL the Winners and to the nominee's!! You work hard at your craft!! We appreciate you and the message your books hold!! Christian Fiction is more than just a good read!! Grin!


Sincerely,


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