BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

MIND OF HER OWN by DIANA LESIRE BRANDMEYER REVIEWED




Mind of Her Own
By Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Published by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4143-8103-9
Only in Ebook Format

Back Cover: Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t. But when the George Foreman grill fell out of the pantry onto her head, resulting in a bump and a mighty case of amnesia, Louisa’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. Who was this Collin fellow, claiming she was his wife? And whose kids are those? Her name couldn’t be Louisa. Why, she was the renowned romance writer Jazz Sweet, not a Midwestern mom of three. Struggling to put the pieces together of the life she’s told she had, Louisa/Jazz may realize that some memories are better left alone.

Review: I know this will sound funny but hang in there with me a minute as I tell you what popped into my head when I started to read this novel.  I was reminded of how Buzzlight year in Toy Story,  reacted to his new environment on Andy’s bed. He knew deep in his heart he was a space ranger from another planet and thought he would choke to death if his helmet was opened.

Main character Louisa Copeland wakes up in a hospital bed. She learns she’s received a hard blow to her head that knocked her out. They tell her she’s married to Collin and has three children. She doesn’t remember much but she knows in her heart of hearts that she is a Christian and her name is Jazz Stewart. She’s an author, who’s never been married and doesn’t have kids.

Her husband and doctor try to tell her differently; just like the other toys try to tell Buzz he was a toy, a child’s’ play thing, an action figure not a space ranger.

It’s difficult for Louisa’s husband, Collin Copeland who doesn’t quite know how to deal with this. She looked like Louisa but she sure didn’t act like her. The Dr. said it could be hours or days before she remembered anything.  What will he tell the kids?

This is the first book I’ve read by this author it definitely wont’ be the last. She’s funny and deals with some surprising tough topics with compassion and grace. This is a heart-warming story that will have you laugh out loud and make you think too!

Collin is committed, kind and starts to worry Jazz will never remember who she is. Both Collin and Jazz face each situation as it arises with prayer and patience with themselves and each other.

Jazz hits it off with her teenager daughter Madison. They go shopping together and get earrings her real mother would never approve of her wearing. Jazz says to her with a smile, “Wear them and enjoy.”

“But what if you remember being mom and you don’t remember you told me I could wear these? You might ground me.”

“I hadn’t thought about that. What do you think we should do just incase?”

“Maybe you could write me a permission slip….Madison Copeland has my permission to wear her dolphin earrings whenever she desires. Signed Jazz Sweet, aka Louisa Copeland.” They both agree to this. Love the fun situations the author put in this book. Here’s another peek in this families journey to wholeness.

Sunday morning came along and Jazz says, “Wake up everyone. Were going to be late.”

“Late for what? Collin said.”

“Church. Come on, Collin, we have to get the kids ready. They’re still sleeping.”

“Jazz, we don’t go to church unless it’s Christmas or Easter, and it’s neither one today. Go back to bed.”

“We’re going to church as a family, so get up…as long as I’m here we’re going to go to church every Sunday.”

They went to church and started a new family adventure. Jazz would show them all she was an author as soon as she found one of her published books! Collin kind of liked the new Louisa! She was fun and growing on him. He was committed to his marriage whoever Louisa turned out to be.

This author gets to the heart of the matter with her engaging fun characters and situations. So, sit back and enjoy this one. It’s a read that will help take the cares of the day away and make you laugh too! A win win I say!

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

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT LAURA FORD




THOUGHT FOR TODAY

ABOUT AUTHOR: LAURA FORD was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to a Southern Baptist missionary family. Ford holds a degree in theology with an emphasis in Christian Scriptures from Seattle Pacific University. She currently resides in Sugar Hill, Georgia with her husband and two daughters.


LAURA FORD DEVOTIONAL February 20, 2013

MORNING STAR 
“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars and calls each of them by name.”  Psalm 147:3-4

Can the God of all the universe,
Heal my broken heart?
God of lands the waters immerse,
Bind what has been torn apart?

Can the One who numbers all the stars,
Calling each by name;
Be the One to remove the solid bars,
That have bound me behind my shame?

Can the God of every living thing,
Love me as if I were His own?
Could He over me really dance and sing,
While I’m sitting here, crying alone?

Can I dare to think of my heart so bright,
Like a star, can it truly shine?
Could the Master hold out His light,
Over the stars and this heart of mine?

And if He knows each star by name,
Am I not just as favored as these?
Shining in the darkest of night, canst the same,
Be said of me?

So when I question His power to heal,
I have to wait and believe,
That soon the passing clouds will reveal-
The Morning Star living in me! 

~Laura Ford~


LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS by NICK VUJICIC REVIEWED




Life Without Limits
By Nick Vujicic
Published by Waterbrook
ISBN#978-0-307-58974-3
272 Pages

Back Cover: Vujicic’s story is about how, despite extreme disabilities, he wants to be seen as a normal person. Readers might find extraordinary a better word, as they learn how Vujicic, born limbless (but with a tiny foot), lives what he calls “a ridiculously good life.” By learning to be a help and resource to others, and choosing to dwell on the positives in his life, including a supportive family and friends, he has overcome the despondency natural to a young person in his predicament and become a source of inspiration for those he meets as a speaker and those who see his videos on YouTube. Although much of his account is straightforward biography, he also devotes considerable space to sharing his faith in God and offering practical suggestions for making one’s life happier and more productive.

Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker and the director of the nonprofit organization Life Without Limbs. A long-time resident of Australia, Nick now lives with his wife in southern California.

Review: Wow! This is one fascinating man. I’m thankful for the review copy that introduced me to a very encouraging man who lives life without limits.

Nick has no arms and legs; this fact hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he’s desired to do. Nick says, “My goal in writing this book is to encourage you to overcome your own challenges and hardships so you can find your own purpose and pathway to a ridiculously good life.”

This 27 year old man has been around the world speaking and meeting other over comers such as Bethany Hamilton who taught him how to surf, and others he met that inspired him such as, Joni Erickson Tada, Kathi, Daniel, author Christy Brown, Reggie Dabbs and a few others.

Life Without Limits is about real people, facing tough stuff all the while helping others find their own purpose in life. Nicks parents encouraged him, his mom told him when he was young, “Nicholas, you need to play with normal children because you are normal. You just have a few bits and pieces missing, that’s all. “She set the tone for years to come for him. She didn’t want me to feel less than normal or restricted in anyway, “Nick says. His parents are courageous that’s for sure.

Nick includes pictures in his book of himself as a toddler, as a grown man in a wheelchair, graduation pictures, family pictures and some fun shots of him scuba diving and surfing!

This book is about walking in what God has called you to be and lean on him for your strength and courage. God sets us free to be what he’s made us to be. We limit ourselves.

Nick says, “Often it’s the challenges in life that show us who we truly are meant to be…We come packed with presents waiting to be opened…

Life isn’t about having,  its about being You could surround  yourself with all that money can buy, and you’d still be as miserable as a human can be…you’ll find contentment when your talents and passion are completely engaged, in full force…when you look for happiness in mere objects, they are never enough.”

He has multiple youtube videos to watch that will just amaze you. He’s also an encouraging speaker, that’s what he does for a living. In the back of the book is a personal action plan. He states, “I have a choice. You have a choice. We can dwell on disappointments and short comings…to be bitter, angry or sad. Or we can choose to learn from the experience and move forward, taking responsibility for our own happiness….Fear (stands for) – False Evidence Appearing Real – We become so focused on our fears that they become real to us – and as a result, we let them control us!” I love his outlook on life.

I couldn’t help but smile along with Nick. He had me re-evaluate how I view myself, life and my circumstances. This young man challenged me, encourage me and helped me inspire others around me as I talked about this book.

I highly recommend it for book club or just for inspiration. Oh, and be sure to watch the youtube video’s they are a must see. This is an amazing, life changing book. Nick has chosen to life a life without limits, what do you choose?

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

MESU ANDREWS INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY @ TBCN




ABOUT AUTHOR: Mesu's greatest delight is to share God's truth through well-researched, compelling stories of real men and women who lived in biblical times. As an author and speaker, she illuminates the sometimes shadowy characters of Scripture, helping audiences and readers experience God's Word in living color.



Why write biblical fiction? What’s the draw for you?

I never dreamed of being a writer—and I never read Christian fiction until an editor told me that my Bible study on the Song of Solomon would never get published. It was that same editor that said he wouldn’t publish a Bible study on the Song of Solomon if Billy Graham wrote it, let alone a first-time author.

He suggested I write my Bible study in story form—as biblical fiction—but even the genre category rubbed me the wrong way…biblical FICTION? The Bible is fact, not fiction. So, I read my first biblical novel in 2001, The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. It wasn’t Christian fiction, but it was historically profound and well-researched. Though it wasn’t scripturally accurate, I was drawn into the authenticity of the biblical era Ms. Diamant portrayed.

Whether speaking or writing, my deepest desire is to get people excited about God’s Word. So much of the Old Testament is a mystery to folks, and I believe we can’t fully understand the New Testament, and all Jesus did for us on the Cross, until we get a firmer grasp on the Old Testament. That’s why I personally grapple with some of the more puzzling passages—Job, Song of Solomon, the prophets—and then I write them in story form, hoping others will relate to the truths I’ve learned during my personal studies.

I like that you tell readers right up front what was “fictional” about the biblical story they are about to read – what you added to the story to make it work which leads me to ask How do you begin your research when taking on a new project? How long do you study before you feel ready to write about a subject?

I always begin my research in God’s Word—first, last, and continually. For Love’s Sacred Song, I read all eight chapters of Song of Solomon every day for a year, and the research and development of that plot evolved over a period of twelve years. Since Love Amid the Ashes dealt mostly with the Book of Job and small portions of Genesis, I read and re-read Job during the year-long publishing process, but I didn't read all of Job each day. It usually took me two or three days to get through the forty-two chapters, but I didn't begin consulting supplemental sources until I sensed a solid plot from Scripture.

The same is true for Love in a Broken Vessel. I read through Hosea daily for a period of time before I looked to other ancient texts, but because other prophets were active during Hosea’s ministry, I needed to read parts of 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Micah, Amos, and Jonah. The Scripture reading for this novel was a little overwhelming and required a more methodical approach to ensure I didn't overlook important details (which is always a HUGE concern when writing a biblical novel!).

I only move to supplemental texts after I feel I have a clear plot outline from Scripture. After receiving the absolute Truth of God’s Word, I feel equipped to glean additional facts from historical documents. Whatever holes remain in the plot after these processes, I fill with a little imagination and a lot of prayer.

You dedicate this book to a friend and say, “To my forever best friend, Joni Edwards Jones. You saw me at my worst – and you refused to leave. You saved my life – and then I met Jesus.” Can you tell us of your testimony and how your friend played a part in having you meet Jesus?
Joni and I

Joni and I became best friends in sixth grade. We supported each other through acne, catty girl-fights, and boyfriends. During our sophomore year of college, a five year romance—that I thought would result in marriage—ended in heartbreak. I had no relationship with Jesus and an all-too-consuming passion for black-label Jack (whiskey). Joni was with me on the night of my break-up, and somehow she knew I intended to end my life. She refused to get out of my car—even when I literally tried to kick and shove her out the door.

She stayed with me for two days and set up a “double date” a week later—Joni with her fiancé, and me with an old high school friend of ours. Joni warned me that our friend had gone to a Texas college and “found religion” but returned home to a state college his sophomore year. I told her I’d been around religion all my life and could handle the Jesus-thing. How different could he be? Oh my…

Our high school friend was very different than the red-headed, hot-tempered, foul-mouthed jock I’d liked so much in school. *Grin* And he was different than my “Bible-thumping” family. He didn’t argue theology or give me a set of rules to follow. He talked about Jesus as if they were close friends. The Jesus I saw in my soon-to-be husband changed my heart, my future, and my eternity.  

What surprised you most in your research for Love in a Broken Vessel? What charged you - touched your Soul?

This is a picture of the last installment of research books—those I begged the librarian to keep for a third renewal period:

One of my first steps in research is laying out the timeline for the character’s ages—their lifespans and major life events—and let the storyline unfold. The most surprising discoveries often come when I see who is actually alive, and at what age, during the lifespan of my main characters.

In Broken Vessel I was amazed at some of the prophets that were contemporaries of Hosea and those who would have been a generation older or younger. The idea that Hosea might have learned a thing or two from Amos and Jonah seemed fascinating. And my heart ached a little when I considered how Isaiah and/or Micah might have felt, watching Hosea’s difficult ministry before they ever received their own calls.

Perhaps the most poignant lesson came in wrestling with how I would portray Yahweh’s voice to the prophets. How would Hosea hear Yahweh speak? Would it be the same way Jonah heard? What about Amos, Isaiah, and Micah? Would Gomer hear Yahweh speak? Keeping in mind that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I wanted to convey to readers that Yahweh still speaks—can still be heard by you and me. It was both a challenge and a privilege to create God’s voice to the prophets and to ordinary people in the story. I believe I might have heard a whisper or two myself…

What do you hope readers take away from this novel Love in a Broken Vessel?

In every biblical novel I write, my primary goal is to ignite a spark or fan into flame a reader’s desire to search God’s Word for the REAL story. I hope the historical research gives readers a context in which they can better understand the characters’ circumstances. I pray that my imagination creates an intriguing backdrop for suspense and/or drama to keep them engaged. But the Truth is what matters, and for that, a reader must return to God’s Word and read it with new eyes.

I hope readers will glean several themes from Love in a Broken Vessel as well. Hosea’s repeated forgiveness can be seen as weakness—as can Yahweh’s—when, in truth, it shows a depth of mercy beyond compare. God’s nearness, when He seems far away, is another strong lesson; as well as the many ways He expresses Himself to us—as many different methods as there are people to hear Him!

(Ann Shorey, Laura Frantz, Bonnie Leon, and I were honored to join together for a Northwest Revell-team book signing on LifeWay’s National Fiction Day)

Can you give us a peek into what you’re working on right now? When will it be out? (no cover art yet)

My current WIP with Revell is titled, The Shadow of Jezebel, and will release March 2014.

Princess Jehosheba (Sheba) wants nothing more than to please her Baal-worshiping abba, Judah’s King, and his first wife Queen Atalyah, the daughter of notorious Queen Jezebel. But when a mysterious letter from the dead prophet Elijah predicts doom for the king’s household, Sheba realizes her dark skills as Baal’s priestess reach beyond the world of earthly governments. When both light and darkness align, forcing her to marry Yahweh’s high priest, Sheba enters the unknown world of Yahweh’s Temple. Her husband shows her Yahweh’s truth and a love beyond hope, but can Sheba overcome Jezebel’s lingering torment? Can Yahweh use a fallen priestess to shine the unquenchable light of His love to faithless Judah? The Shadow of Jezebel—Meet the woman who saved a king, delivered a nation, and preserved the Light of the World.

What do you look forward to about having grandchildren? What books will you want to read to them first and/or already reading to them? Any pictures you want to share if you already have grandchildren?


We were blessed with two grand-daughters (then ages 5 and 7) when our older daughter married a wonderful young man in 2011, but we learned right away the heartbreak of grand-parenting from a distance since we saw them in the summer and on certain holidays. Now that both our girls are married with new babies (June and December of 2012) and are living in Salt Lake and Detroit, the importance of long-distance relationship building with our grandkids has doubled!

We purchased a wonderful book called, The Kissing Hand¸ for our older grand-daughters last summer. The premise of the book is that Mother Raccoon kisses the palm of her baby raccoon’s hand, and anytime he’s away from her and feels homesick, he can kiss his palm and feel close to her again. This was a wonderful concept for our “big girls!”

Another children’s book I’ll always keep on my bookshelf is called, Someday Heaven, by Larry Libby. My dad passed away last August, and let’s face it, death visits all our families at some point. This is a great book to answer some of those innocent childhood questions like: Where is heaven? How long does it take to get there? Will my dog go to heaven?

I’m not able to share photos of our older grand-daughters, but I've included a picture of our newest grand-babies  Each one is such a joy!

Nora: Maybe next time. This is a sweet picture of you and these precious little ones!

FUN QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK 
What three things would you rather not live without? (Besides friends and family)

Coffee
Coffee creamer (in a recent writing getaway, my husband had to make an emergency pit-stop three days into the retreat because I ran out of creamer…I’m serious about my coffee…)
Lindt WHITE chocolate truffles

Nora: I agree with you about creamer, I only drink the coffee to make the creamer warm. My favorites at the moment are Almond Joy and Pepperiment Mocha - Just saying!

What do you read to escape, relax, or just have fun?

Biblical fiction (believe it or not—I LOVE biblical fiction)
Anything written by Laura Frantz, Francine Rivers, and Susan May Warren
Does Pinterest count?
Movies are my go-to escape agent, and as I get older, I forget them more quickly—so I can watch them over and over and enjoy them every time!

What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most?

Wow! This dates me…As a kid, I watched a lot of Doris Day re-runs. I loved how she “glowed” on camera. She always seemed so happy—and happy about being NICE! “A Touch of Mink” was one of my favorites. ;)

Our family loves movies. Some of my favorites are Dances With Wolves, Braveheart, Gladiator. I enjoy a wide variety: P.S. I Love You, Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Father of the Bride…lots more!

A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for awhile. What would you do with it? Where would you go and what would you do?

I would go back to the Garden of Eden and build an impenetrable, razor-wire fence around that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil! And then I’d give Eve a blow-by-blow of the childbirth process—after the Fall! Let’s see how good that fruit looks when she hears about 36-hour labor and NO epidurals! (I’m only a little bitter…)

Nora: You crack me up Mesu!! Grin!

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 do the most boring, repetitious, sedentary job on the island—sorting sea shells, whittling spears, weaving baskets. With the health issues I face, sitting in one place, concentrating on a single task, having lots of time to think and reflect—sounds like a little slice of heaven actually. *grin*

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I'm THRILLED that Revell is giving away 5 copies of your book. 

ALL ENTRIES for this giveaway opportunity are to be made at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org 

See you there!!
THANKS AGAIN MESU!! Loved this interview! Fun!

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



RUTH AXTELL INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY




ABOUT AUTHOR: Ruth Axtell Morren has written historical romances for Steeple Hill Books, Love Inspired, and Moody River North and will publish with Revell Books in 2013. Her first book, Winter Is Past, received critical acclaim from Christian bookseller. Her second book, Wild Rose, was a "Top Ten Christian Fiction" for Booklist. She specializes in both regency and Victorian England and the nineteenth century Maine coast.



What fascinates you about the 1800’s, more specifically the Regency Time period? What’s the draw to Regency?
The manners of the period. It was a time of “gracious living” if you had the right amount of income. Both men and women of this class of society were intellectually motivated, attending art exhibits and reading the latest books; science was a hobby of many; there was a great openness to the rest of the world with world travelers and merchant ships bringing back treasures from Asia, the Middle East and ancient Greece.

What did you enjoy most about reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer books? What did you look forward to the most in these books?

The wit of the dialogue. I loved the interaction between the hero and heroine purely through dialogue. There is very little to no sensuality, so all the chemistry is brought forth by their words and looks.

In your first Regency book written in 2003, titled Winter Is Past, what did you hope readers took away from it? What did you feature in your book about that time period?

I was portraying an intellectual skeptic, who has known what it is to be discriminated against (as a Jew in British regency society) and yet make it by his intellect. He both despises and yearns to be accepted by society. He is one of those types who have a “long road to Calvary.” It was a wonderful experience bringing him to the foot of the Cross.
Things I featured in that book were Parliament, the East End, Judaism in Britain, and Methodism (the movement started by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield).


Your Bio states, “Ruth always yearned to live in other countries,” Which ones? Why?

I think Paris was the place I dreamed of most, ever since I began reading French novels in high school and then studying French. I loved the novels of Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, and other great 19th century writers and wanted to visit the city so many wrote about. I did fulfill that dream by spending my junior of college in Paris.
The other place I always wanted to visit since I read an article about it in National Geographic when I was young was New Zealand. That one’s still on my list of places to go.

What do you hope readers take away from your new book Moonlight Masquerade?

That so many issues that Christians today feel separate them from others, including other Christians—whether they are political hot-button issues, doctrinal questions, or life style differences—may ultimately make little difference when they are pitted in life and death situations.
My hero and heroine are on opposite sides in their national loyalties during a time of war. Who is right? Who is wrong? And once peace is declared, did it matter? I don’t have easy answers to these questions, I am merely raising them and following the story of two individuals who happen to meet and fall in love despite their insurmountable differences.

If one of your dreams could come true, what would it be? Why?

I would like to make a research trip to the British Isles. It’s been some years since I have taken one and I feel a need to revisit those wonderful countries.
Lobster at the Wharf
Nora: This looks like a place we went in Main when I was a kids. Beautiful and yummy lobsters and blueberries! Thanks for the photos. Fun!

My family went on a vacation to Maine, I remember a lobster fest. We went to the Lobster farms and picked some out - Great fun and good eating. What do you like most about living in Maine? What do the tourists like most in Maine? Where do you take friends and family when they visit?

I love its rocky coast. I take a daily walk and am never far from the sea and its ever changing vistas. I can praise the Lord during these times, brainstorm my current story, or just listen to my iPod and let my thoughts go where they will. 
Marine Coast
Freshly Harvested Blueberries in August

Tourists love fresh lobster, blueberry pie, and hiking the many state parks. We have some great hiking trails that skirt along the rocky coast. That’s where I usually take friends and family—as well as down to the wharf to buy lobster fresh off the boat.

FUN QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK
 
 
What three things would you rather not live without? (Besides friends and family)

Electrical power (this one was an easy one, since we just lost power for a couple of hours). Living in a rural area, power outages are frequent occurrences.

BOOKS (whether paper or digital). I cannot imagine life without stories that take me out of myself and transport me into someone else’s world.

Garden fresh vegetables.  I've grown my own for the last few years, and there’s nothing better, especially a sun-ripened tomato!

What do you read to escape, relax, or just have fun?

Historical romances, of course! Some of my favorite authors are Sarah Sundin, Julie Lessman, Maureen Lang, and Melanie Dickerson, and I still love rereading Georgette Heyer. I’m always trying new inspirational historical romances as well.

What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what books affected you most?

There were probably a lot. One movie that comes to mind is My Dinner with Andre, which I saw when I was in high school. I loved the concept of two people having dinner together and just talking—about all kinds of things. I still love writing and reading good dialogue.

A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for awhile. What would you do with it? Where would you go and what would you do?

Travel to the late Victorian and/or Edwardian period. I’d love to see the time when some of my more recent ancestors lived (grandparents & great-grandparents).

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?

Helping clear an area for shelter and then helping to build it (collecting debris from the shipwreck). I’d want a safe, dry place to stay in before nightfall when animals come out and those tropical rain showers begin to fall.


Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I have to say I love the cover of this book and I can't wait to read your book.

THRILLED that Revell is giving away 5 copies of your book. ALL ENTRIES ARE TO BE MADE @THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK NOT on this Blog post!

Hope to see you there!


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

SIRI MITCHELL INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY @ TBCN



 

ABOUT AUTHOR: Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben and Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

In contrast to the sweetness of candy, I wanted to look at the idea that sin spoils us all. Though we like to judge ourselves on a gradient, the fact is that it doesn't matter whether a sin is ‘large’ or ‘small’; God doesn't compare us to each other, he compares us to his perfect son. I’m hoping that readers will grasp that although there’s no hope of ever being able to earn God’s grace, we all have the chance to simply reach out and accept it as a gift that’s been freely offered.


When you described Lucy’s trip to Europe you talked about "the ballrooms of Vienna” and the “Cathedrals of France, described how it felt to stand on the “Jungfrau” and “see the world laid out at my feet.” Lucy loved it. Have you ever been to Vienna? Seen the Cathedrals of France? If not, are they places you’d like to go to? Why? 

Capital Visitors Center

I lived in Paris from 1996 – 2000, so I was able to see some of the places Lucy described. Though I never had the chance to visit Vienna, I have seen many of the cathedrals of France. My husband and I helped out with the high school youth at our church and their summer camp was in the Alps in Switzerland, so I’m well-acquainted with those majestic mountains. I've seen many of the great museums on the continent as well. In centuries past, there was a well-established tourist circuit in Europe that put a fine polish to a classic liberal arts education. Though individual itineraries could differ, it generally started in France, progressed to Switzerland, wound through Italy, and then went back across the Alps and into Austria and Germany. World War I largely put an end to that tradition.

Nora: That sounds like a great time. 


 Lucy describes all the treats and unusual things she ate in Europe. Some unusual items were mussels, eel and snails; she said they were delicious! Have you ever eaten these items? What did you think about them? If not, what have been the most unusual things you've eaten? What unusual thing surprised you? What could you see eating again if you didn't have to cook it?


Between living in Europe and living in Japan, I think I've had a chance to taste them all! Mussels are delicious and are a particular specialty of Belgium. Snails (escargot) are wonderful as well. They really don’t have a distinctive taste, so they absorb the flavor of the sauce they’re served with. Eel I've had on sushi. Can’t say it was a favorite, but it wasn't terrible.
Abbaye de Fontievaud
When we lived in Japan, we visited the town of Tottori which is located on the west side of the country, on the Sea of Japan. Our Japanese host wanted to take us to a traditional dinner, so we drove on narrow winding roads through what I considered to be a blizzard to eat that night on the tatami mat-covered floor of an inn. Among other things, we were served raw crab that had been fished from the sea just that day. It was incredibly delicious! Even sweeter than cooked crab. I’d definitely eat raw crab again. As far as surprises, I've eaten tripe on accident. (Let it be said that I would never again eat it on purpose.) Same goes for black sausage (boudin noir). In most cases I’m of the ‘try it once you might like it’ school of eating.

Nora: I don't know about the try it once theory! There are somethings I couldn't get past the look or smell to try it. Your a brave woman! I did try Alligator  frog legs and other cooked items. I'm not a fan of raw foods except veggies!! Grin!

This story is about some fierce competition in the candy business back in 1910. Did you base it on something real, or did you make that up? If it’s real could you tell us where this event took place and what candy they were fighting about?

Attending a Friends Wedding



It’s all real. Candy-making was very competitive. It still is! The competition between chocolate giants Hershey and Mars is legendary, but it’s less widely known that at one time, they were partners in business. Back at the turn of the century, candy companies would send representatives to Europe to tour candy-making facilities and sometimes even work in them so they could duplicate the process, machinery, and recipes back home. 

Chocolate-making is especially difficult due to the different substances that have to be blended and bound together. The kind of chocolate bars and candies we’re familiar with today only started being made in the mid-1800s. 


The Hershey bar was created in 1900. In fact, the whole idea of this book came when I was researching types of candy for my 1890s book, She Walks in Beauty. I was shocked to learn about the competitive ruthlessness of the industry…it seems like it should be so ‘sweet’. And that was the draw of this idea for me: the contrast between candy and the ruthless nature of the selling of it.


Nora: Who knew? Thanks for sharing. It brings your book to life reading this information. Thanks for including it!



In your research for Unrivaled, what surprised you about candy making? 


How exact an art it is. And how much time it takes. As I read old recipes for making things like meringues, I realized that all the beating and mixing we do today with appliances was done by hand. You had to have a lot of strength and patience to make candy in eras past.



You mentioned Salzburg Mozartkugeln in your book and that it one of Lucy’s candy treasures, discovered in her travels. What is a Salzburg Mozatkugel? Have you ever eaten it? If so, what made you mention it in your novel? 



A Salzburg Mozartkugeln is a fabulous ball of dark chocolate-coated pistachio marzipan and nougat. Aside from being absolutely delicious, this particular candy came to symbolize the industry as a whole for me. The original maker, Fürst, still makes the product by hand, selling the candies only in its shops and via internet. There are several other shops that make the candies by hand as well. But because the recipe isn't patented, there are many other makers that produce them in factories and package them as Mozartkugeln. This has been going on for decades. But very recently, Fürst went to court to try and trademark the name (not the recipe). They were awarded the right to call their candies Original Salzburg Mozartkugeln…but other companies have registered the names ‘Real Salzburg Mozartkugeln’, ‘Real Reber Mozartkugeln,’ and ‘Original Austria Mozartkugeln’. 

For fans of the red Mozart-stamped, foil-wrapped Mozartkugeln you can by in the U.S., I’m sorry to say that though they may be ‘real,’ they aren't ‘ original’! They’re also smaller and don’t have quite the same center that the original versions do. (If you want to become a Mozartkugeln specialist, one of the confectioneries that still produces them by hand offers a course in Mozartkugeln.)


Nora: Now you've made me want to try the original for sure!! Sounds Yummy!


You mention President Roosevelt in your book going up in an airplane. It was new and scary. People didn't know what to think and thought the President was a risk taker going up in one. Would you have taken a ride in a plane back then? Was this a true event? If you wouldn't go for a ride why not?
VA Festival of Books



Yes – that presidential airplane ride at Kinloch Field truly took place! President Roosevelt (though he was a former president by then) was the first president to fly in an airplane. There’s a video of the event at this web site 

(note that the year of the event is not correct; it actually happened in 1910): http://www.britishpathe.com/video/wright-brothers-put-on-st-louis-first-aviation-mee (the president comes into the video at about 2:15).

Would I have gone for a ride? No way! Flying was very dangerous back then. For sixteen months, in 1910 and 1911, the Wright Brothers organized exhibitions and competed in air meets across the country trying to demonstrate the distinctive maneuverability of their aircraft in order to drum up sales and recoup some of the cost of their early development efforts. They trained seven men specifically for this purpose. And just as today’s test pilots push the limits of their airplanes, so did those early twentieth-century pilots as they broke altitude records and performed breathtaking stunts.


Arch Hoxsey, the pilot who flew Roosevelt would die from a crash in Los Angeles a little over two months later. By the end of 1912, four of those seven exhibition pilots had died in plane crashes. If you’re interested in the stories of those early pioneering pilots, you can read more here: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/Ladies_and_Gentlemen_The_Aeroplane.html?c=y&page=1


Nora: Thanks for including these video links Siri. It makes your story even more fascinating! I'm with you about not flying! Grin!



FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

Where did you live growing up? 

I grew up in quite a few different places: Everett and Anacortes, Washington; Wilmington, Delaware; Portland, Oregon; New Brunswick and Ontario, Canada. 




What did you like about growing up there? 

I loved moving. Loved being able to observe new people in different situations and discovering the differences between the U.S. and Canada – politically, geographically, culturally.






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

My first job ever was working at the McDonald’s in Kenora, Ontario after school and on the weekends. My third job was working at a paper mill in St. Helens, Oregon. I cleaned bathrooms, cleaned up paper pulp spills, and worked on the paper roll wrap assembly line during the swing and night shifts. 

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? 

Inefficiency and wasted effort drive me crazy. I’d probably be the one to say, “Why don’t we do it like this? Why don’t we organize our efforts this way?” And then I’d get to work doing just that.

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? 

The Sound of Music. Why? 


Outside of all those wonderful songs, there were so many great themes in that movie, and romance as well as suspense. I consider it one of the best movies ever made.

What is your favorite book of all time (besides the bible)? Do Tell! 

The Anne of Green Gables series. (Particularly Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside)

ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS SIRI?


Thanks so much for having me on TBCN and thanks to all of you for coming by. I hope you have as much fun reading this book as I did writing it!

Siri

I did enjoy this story along with both your leading characters. I cared for them and their situation right away. THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book UNRIVALED.  

I’m thrilled that Bethany House is giving away 10 copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest this week and ends MARCH 30th. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction.



Blessings to you in your writing adventures in 2013 


ALL ENTRIES FOR THIS CONTEST ARE TO BE MADE @TBCN NOT ON THIS BLOG POST!

You Must JOIN TBCN www.bookfun.org in order to participate. It’s FREE and full of BOOK FUN!! Answer one of the questions to be entered into the discussion for your chance to win one of these books. Also to interact with Siri!!

SEE YOU AT TBCN

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!!

DANI PETTREY GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW

On Bookshelves now!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In real life, Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Did you know Dani’s Characters are:
Consummate world travelers: Africa, South America, Australia—been there, done that.
Are die-hard thrill seekers: heli-skiing, cave diving, storm kayaking—if it’s extreme, she’s there.
Are bullet-dodging, high-speed-car-chasing, treasure-hunting adventurer.
Are antiquities theft investigator, FBI agent, archaeologist, forensic anthropologist, and a detective who tracks down justice for a living.


LETS START WITH DESSERT FIRST SHALL WE?
 MOOSE MADNESS EXTREME


Ingredients:

3 shots espresso (2 if you don’t want to go extreme) OR 2/3 cups of really strong coffee 2 cups steamed milk
2 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
Marshmallow fluff, caramel topping, and crushed Heath bar


Directions:

Prepare your coffee or espresso.
Steam your milk (via espresso machine or on the stove top). Pour both into a large mug (16 ounce).
Add your chocolate syrup and stir.



Top with a large dollop of marshmallow fluff, drizzle with caramel sauce, and crushed Heath bar (in quantity to suit your tastes).



Finding Hope Book Club Meeting in Buford GA Jan 2013

When I heard you speak at Finding Hope Book Club you mentioned you and your family like to rock climb and try other sports. How did you get into rock climbing? What sport would you like to try that you haven’t so far?


I took an indoor rock climbing class as research for a manuscript I was working on. It was something I wanted to try for a while and research gave me the perfect excuse. I loved it so much; I brought my entire family and got them hooked too :) The adventure sport I would love to try is surfing. I've been windsurfing, but never traditional surfing. 


I’ve heard you say that you home schooled your daughters. What did you love about this experience? What did you find challenging? What do you say to other parents that want to try this?

I love nearly everything about homeschooling--getting to spend the time with my girls, revisiting subjects I enjoyed growing up, learning new things, and seeing my girls thrive in their own unique ways. At times it was challenging trying to balance everything (teaching, sports, social activities, being a mom, maintaining a home, etc), but I wouldn’t trade those years for the world. I encourage anyone interested in homeschooling to give it a try. It's such an amazing experience, and there so many resources available. 


You talk about cave divers in Submerged? What did you find fascinating about this topic? Have you ever been cave diving? If not, would you ever want to try?



I find cave diving so fascinating because it is such an adventurous, dangerous and highly skilled endeavor. There has got to be such a mix of adrenaline, fear, courage, and excitement involved in each and every dive. Since I'm not a fan of dark, enclosed spaces I would definitely pass on trying it, but I do love swimming and snorkeling.  



You mentioned in a recent interview that you love classics and read Pride and Prejudice every year by Jane Austin. What are your favorite parts of that book? Why do you love it so much?


I adore the witty banter between Elizabeth and Darcy. Austen was phenomenally ahead of her time. She writes so poignantly about relationships—between a man and a woman, between sisters, friends, even parents and their adult children. I can't help but be in awe every time I read one of her novels. My two favorite scenes from Pride and Prejudice are 1) When Darcy proposes the first time and 2) When Elizabeth discovers what a truly good man he is—love that part!


What do you enjoy most about TBCN?

 I love the The Book Club Network because it's a community for book lovers. It's a place for readers to discuss the books they're enjoying, share their latest discoveries, and chat directly with authors. 

How did you feel when your book Submerged won TBCN Book of the year?

 I attended a book club meeting where the host made the Russian Spice cookies from Submerged and a group shot - we had so much fun!
Russian Spice Cookies from Submerged

Group shot where host made cookies

 I was ecstatic, and completely humbled by the amazing support of my readers. I'm so very thankful for them! 

Can you give us a sneak peek at what you are working on now? Do tell!!


I'm finishing up edits on Stranded, which will be out this fall! Here's a sneak peek: 

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn't satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn't lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby's position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn't the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.

Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He's surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.


FUN QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK

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


Coffee, books and dark chocolate. 


What do you read to escape, relax, or just have fun?


I enjoy reading a wide variety: inspirational romantic suspense (Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock, Lynette Eason), Mysteries (Sue Grafton), Historicals (Karen Witemeyer), Contemporary Romance (Becky Wade, Beth Vogt) as well as non-fiction (Beth Moore, Max Lucado). 


What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what books affected you most?


I hope its okay, but I'm going to pick a TV show. I adored Scooby Doo as a kid. Every day after school, I'd come home and watch an episode before I went out to play with friends. It, along with Agatha Christie novels, fostered my love of mysteries. 


A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for awhile. What would you do with it? Where would you go and what would you do?


 Being a huge Jane Austen fan, I'd love to travel back to the Regency period. It would be lovely to sit down with her over a cup of tea and chat about books. 


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?


Storyteller or teacher. Definitely nothing involving tools—I'd accidentally hurt myself and, most likely, others :) 


ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS DANI?



Thank you so much for your encouragement. I deeply appreciate your emails and FB messages. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know so many of you during book club chats. It's wonderful connecting with fellow book lovers. It's thanks to all of you, and your incredible support, that the Alaskan Courage series will now include 5 books—one for each of the McKenna siblings! 



That's GREAT News Dani!! Wow! I'm thrilled that we were able to meet in person and you were able to speak to Finding Hope Book Club "Live". I was also thrilled to present you with The Book Club Network's Book of the Year award.
All the best to you in your writing adventures. It sounds like we have great reading fun ahead! Thanks for letting us get to know you and your books!
Nora :o)






MANDATORY - PLEASE ANSWER ONE OF THESE QUESTIONS TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING! 

Dani came up with some fun questions for you to answer. The Contest starts today and will run until March 3oth - GIVING AWAY 2 COPIES OF SUBMERGED





1. Piper McKenna's favorite animal is the moose. She finds them utterly adorable. What is your favorite animal and why? 

2. Shattered opens with an extreme snowboarding competition. Have you ever watched Winter X-Games? Do you ski or snowboard? If not, would you like to? 

3. Piper is convinced of her brother's innocence despite the evidence. If someone you love was accused of a crime, would you believe them despite any evidence? 

4. Gage McKenna's favorite drink is Moose Madness Extreme (Recipe ABOVE). Do you have a favorite cold weather drink? 

Dani said that she will be stopping by. I can't wait to hear from you all! We will be giving away 2 copies of Submerged.

Excited about this giveaway opportunity!

Nora St.LaurentTBCN Where Book Fun Begins