Against the Grain
By Nancy Cain
Published by Clarkson Potter
400 Pages

Back Cover: Revolutionary all-natural recipes for gluten-free cooking--from the owner of Against the Grain Gourmet.

Nancy Cain came to gluten-free cooking simply enough: Her teenage son was diagnosed with celiac disease. After trying ready-made baking mixes and finding the results rubbery and tasteless, she pioneered gluten-free foods made entirely from natural ingredients--no xanthan or guar gums or other mystery chemical additives allowed. That led her to adapt many of her family's favorite recipes, including their beloved pizzas, pastas, and more, to this real food technique. In Against the Grain, Nancy finally shares 200 groundbreaking recipes for achieving airy, crisp breads, delicious baked goods, and gluten-free main dishes.

For any of these cookies, cakes, pies, sandwiches, and casseroles, you use only natural ingredients such as buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Whether you're making Potato Rosemary Bread, iced Red Velvet Cupcakes, Lemon-Thyme-Summer Squash Ravioli, or Rainbow Chard and Kalamata Olive Pizza, you'll be able to use ingredients already in your pantry or easily found at your local supermarket.

With ample information for gluten-free beginners and 100 colorful photographs, this book is a game changer for gluten-free households everywhere.

REVIEW: This book is exactly what I've been looking for and so much more. I've just entered the world of Gluten-free and have been confused. I liked reading this author journey to re-create dishes her family loved in a gluten-free format. Both of her sons were diagnosed with Celiac disease. She and her husband agreed their whole family would eat Gluten-Free. The author states, “I looked at ingredients (in all the flourless recipes she could find) examined the techniques, and paid attention to the proportions of fats to starches, proteins, and liquids. Among lots of other things, I learned that I had been working with a very narrow definition of flour. “Flour” didn't necessarily have to be milled and poured from a box – flourless recipes worked because some other ingredient acted like flour.”

This was fascinating to read. She goes on to say, “Eventually, I had to go back to the basics of kitchen chemistry, to understand how fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and water affected the taste, texture, aroma, and shelf life of both wheat based and gluten-free baked goods”

The first recipe she mastered was pizza dough. Her friend had a restaurant and handed out free pizza for their honest opinion. The feedback was wonderful. Everyone loved it and couldn't believe it was Gluten-Free. Someone suggested she should sell it. That’s when Against the Grain company was born She takes a very different approach to gluten-free baking.

The author says, “We believe that it is entirely possible to bake gluten-free using natural properties of real foods. We don’t use processed ingredients that simulate the effects of gluten like xanthan gum, modified starches, or things you can’t pronounce….We look for real solutions that come from your local grocery store.”

This book was as much fun to read as it was to make the recipes. Not only did my family and I enjoy the items I made Lynn’s lovely oat bread, Microwave Vegan Cowboy cookies and Vegan Carrot Muffins, but I learned so much. This is a book I’ll be referring to and using often.

There is an introduction to how and why she was making gluten-free items. Then this author talks about the Fundamentals of Gluten-Free Baking. She breaks it down to the following categories:
1. Gluten-Free flours are not created equal
2. Most Gluten-Free Flours work better in a mixture
3. Gluten-Free hydrated ratios are surprisingly high
4. Non-Gluten protein builds structure
5. The Contribution of starch is as important as that of gluten
6. Gums are not necessary
7. Gluten Free Techniques

Note to readers: Make sure you read through the recipe a few times to make sure you don’t miss a step (like I did Grin) There are things she does that are a little different than what I’m used to. Technique matters in this book. It doesn’t take long but it’s well worth your time.

My family and I liked the recipes we tried so far and look forward to trying others such as Bagels, Soft Pretzels, Pizza, Calzone’s, Caramelized onion focaccia, Maple toasted Oat Biscuits, Flourless blueberry Banana Crepes, Old Fashioned cookies, Carrot Cake and many more. There are mouthwatering pictures throughout the book but not one for every recipe. The subtitle to this book is, “Extraordinary Gluten-Free Recipes from Real, All-Natural Ingredients.” I agree!

I am thankful for this review copy provided for me by Blogging for Books.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


Wind in the Wires, Book 1, A Trails of Reba Cahill Novel 
About the Author: Janet Chester Bly
is a city girl with a country heart. She doesn't corral horses or mow her own lawn. “I’m no womba woman,” she says. But she followed her husband award-winning western author Stephen Bly to the Idaho mountain top village of Winchester to write books and minister to a small church. When she lost him, she stayed. She manages the online Bly Books bookstore, rakes lots of Ponderosa pine needles and cones, and survives the long winter snows.

Janet Chester Bly is the widow of award-winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they authored and co-authored 120 fiction and nonfiction books. She and her three sons finished Stephen’s last novel for him, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. The family’s story is told on her website blog: Wind in the Wires is Janet’s first solo adult novel, a contemporary western mystery, a road adventure with a touch of romance. It’s Cowgirl Lit. Reader's Guide for Group Discussion included.

ABOUT BOOK: It’s 1991. Reba Cahill loves ranching with Grandma Pearl in north central Idaho. But there’s a lot of work and only two of them. Reba decides she needs a husband to help her run the ranch. But she finds few prospects in the small town of Road’s End.

But Reba is also missing something else: her mother. Deserted by her at three-years-old and never knowing her dad, she feels a sense of longing and loss. And bitterness.

When elderly, quirky Road’s End citizen Maidie Fortress dies, Uncle Seth presents Reba Cahill with an expensive piece of jewelry that turns Reba’s world upside down and leads her down unexpected paths and toward unsuspected admirers. Will the facts also ruin all hope for romance?

Excerpt: Seth reached into his pocket and handed her a slip of paper.
Keep it, Reba was tempted to scream. She wanted nothing to do with her mother. No matter what, she wouldn’t change her mind. She refused to take a slow boat to anywhere. Or a snail’s pace Model T car trip to the desert. She gaped at the folded note, not much larger than a man’s thumb, as though torn from a scratch pad. Whatever the words, they could not begin to make up for years of silence. Of abandonment. Why bother? Why deepen the wound?

Author mentor Rachel Hauck said of Wind in the Wires: “Love your voice! I love the setting...It's a great story!”

You can connect with Janet in the following places!!

Website and Bookstore:
On A Western Trail Blog:
Almost Monthly Newsletter Sign Up and get Chapter 1 Wind in the Wires: or

Pinterest: /
'Like' Bly Books:
Kindle Bly Books:
Ebooks & Estories:
Audio Books: /


1. Have you ever heard wind blowing through wires before? How would you describe the sound?

2. Have you ever discovered a startling family secret? How did you respond?

3. What's the most unusual trip you've ever taken? What made so unusual and special? 

4) What do you enjoy most about Westerns? What is your favorite Western movie? Why is it your favorite?

Becky Deitz
Gail H.
Jackie McNutt
Shirley Strait 

THANKS to everyone for stopping by.THANKS Janet for having this contest here!

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS so that JANET can Contact you if your name is drawn. LAST DAY TO ENTER CONTEST is FEBRUARY 28th The author will offer 2 paperbacks (U.S. and Canada only) and 2 PDFs (anywhere in the world). 

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


Bestselling author Janette Oke is celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry.  Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies, and she is the recipient of the ECPA President’s Award, the CBA Life Impact Award, the Gold Medallion, and the Christy Award.  Her novel When Calls the Heart, which introduces Elizabeth Thatcher and Wynn Delaney, was the basis for a Hallmark Channel film and television series of the same name.  Janette and her husband, Edward, live in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan, daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, as well as the novel Dana’s Valley, which she co-wrote with her mom, and several others.  Laurel and her husband have six children, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.  They live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

Where Courage Calls and Where Trust Lies, coauthored by this mother/daughter team, tell even more of the Thatcher family’s story.  

How did you come up with the idea for Where Trust Lies?

Since the books were intended to somewhat relate to the TV series, though we weren't yet certain what would happen next on the show, we decided to step out of their story line and not compete with it.  So we took Beth and her family on a journey over the summer with the intention of bringing her back to Coal Valley again later.  We liked the idea of seeing her two worlds – the security of a prosperous family set against the hardships she’d already faced among the working class miners who had become her new family in Where Courage Calls.

What do you hope readers take away from Where Trust Lies?

We explored how important it is to be careful with our associations and specifically regarding who we trust.  It’s a dangerous world no matter where you live and trust needs to be earned, but there always has to be a balance so we don’t live in bondage to fear.  We thought that Beth’s travels with this group of women provided an interesting way to compare and contrast these opposing ideas.

In growing up, what were three important values you learned that stuck with you and shaped your life?

Janette: My mother had a strong faith.  As a family we lived through some tough days: the Depression of the 30’s which brought struggle to support the family and resulted in a move to a new area, WWII when we listened to the daily news with a great deal of concern and sometimes fear for community boys overseas, family loss, and some difficult adjustments – but through it all my mother’s faith held firm.  I saw that God was trustworthy.

 Even though times could get tough, I knew my family loved me.  I was corrected and disciplined – but my dad made it easy for me to understand that discipline and love were compatible.  I also felt the love of the extended family.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles all let me know they loved me.  Of course it was special to have a number of sisters and one brother, plus dozens of cousins, who accepted me as the person I was.

 I also learned compassion.  Because I was blessed, it was easy for me to realize that many people in my world had difficult circumstances.  Anyone and everyone was welcomed to our home.  Mom cared for children of neighbors from time to time.  She fed anyone who came to our door.  Dad was quick to offer a hand where needed.  Even as kids we were sent to the homes of neighbors to help for short periods of time.  And that was all local.  Our church taught us of many people in the world who went through great suffering and poverty. We learned to care.

 Laurel: I’d say I learned to find joy in the simple things – not what’s expensive and trendy.  I wish we could get back to that sense a little more today.  It’s so much easier to tell your kids ‘no’ when you’re all aware that you can’t afford the things they want.  But it’s a much different kind of ‘no’ when they see you could make the purchase if you chose – you just don’t feel it’s in their best interest to indulge every want – especially when so many around have the latest gadget or the latest fashion and you don’t plan to follow suit.  I sure hope I've been able to pass that along to my own kids.
 I also learned the importance of relationships and family – still maintaining contact with that large family base.  I love times of just gathering around the table to play cards or some other kind of game.  It was one of my favorite things as a child and it still is today.  And I guess also the value of serving.  I grew up serving at church regularly and I still love being involved with kids and teaching them about Jesus.

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms?    

 Janette: A visit with family or a friend.  Quiet music – inspirational or classical.  A few minutes alone to re-sort my thinking.  A walk in the woods.

 Laurel: I think just remembering what I’m grateful for – that the family is healthy and well settled, even when they’re not close by – that God is in control even when things seem out-of-control.

What three things are you most thankful for in life?

Janette and Laurel
 Janette: Setting aside the three big things: faith, family and friends, I would move to three homey things.  My ‘corner’ in my home.  I rest and relax there.  It is where I have my daily devotions, pick up a bit of handwork, just enjoy the motion of the rocking chair, look out across the miles to the Rocky Mountains, reenergize for the tasks ahead.

 A soft, warm, familiar bed.  So many nights when I tuck in I think of all the people in our world who sleep on the streets, in poor or cold conditions, in refugee camps or prisons and I thank God for the blessing of my bed.  It can get cold in Alberta and I love to know I have a place of warmth.

A relaxing, hot bath where I can soak away all of the aches and strains of the day.
Laurel: I’d probably answer differently every time I was asked this question, depending on my mood, but I’m grateful for the people in my life, for my pets and for nature.

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

We’re planning a third book in this series which we expect to be out early next year.  Beth will be back in Coal Valley – but she finds that it’s grown quickly and is quite a different place than she left.  And she’ll be back with Jarrick, hoping to take another step forward in their relationship.

What fascinates you about the time period you wrote about?

Mom and Dad,Me with my kids: Adam, Anna and Jackie with her husband Daniel white water rafting
We chose to set our books in the “Roaring Twenties” so that we could be faithful to the timeline of Janette’s Canadian West series.  (Elizabeth’s younger brother, Matthew, had fought in WWI – so we continued shortly after that with her namesake niece).
The 1920’s was a time of great change in a short span of years.  Being squeezed in between WWI and the Great Depression added to this but there were many other factors as well.  What had been known and accepted in society, as well as in the family, was suddenly being redefined.  People were exposed to a much larger world – a rapidly changing world – and women – both young and older – were leaving the solidity of the home and going into the work force.  Children were given an expanded role early in life and thus pushed to grow up and independent more quickly.  In a short period of time roles, rules and reasoning took a different path.  And it was such an exciting time in many ways, with significant changes from the period before it – dress, culture, music, travel, technology – it was an era of “newness” that was pretty incredible.  And that makes it so interesting in the way it kind of mirrors what we see going on again now.

QUESTION for JANETTE: I had watched an interview you did with Michael Landon Jr. In it he mentioned you creating a new series that he could make movies from? You told him that you were retired. He mentioned a co-writer. You thought of your daughter Laurel. How did you all come up with the new series? What new characters did you create in the new series?

Yes, I had retired and didn't want the full responsibility of another book.  When I was approached by Michael, I thought of Laurel.  She was already a published author, and now that she was no longer homeschooling, had time and interest to get back into writing.  I knew that we would partner much better than trying to find someone else to write with.  As far as the story-line, Michael had acquainted us with some of the lead characters in his movie and we filled the rest in as we worked through our story.  Molly and Frank were ours; Pastor Philip and the Grants too.  Some of the town’s women were from their cast of characters and some were added for our purposes.  So in this second book we also drew from the movie and filled in more with new interactions and back-story. 

QUESTION for LAUREL: How did you respond when you mother asked you to co-write a new series with her? How did you all begin the process? What did you want to achieve?

 I was quite surprised when Mom called me to ask if I was interested – and of course I said ‘yes!’  For me it was a perfect opportunity to work with her – and have more reasons to travel to see her and talk over the phone.  And I enjoyed a chance to see her writing process.  I've loved it.

We started by brainstorming together, and then working through an outline.  Then we dove into writing and passed the manuscript back and forth for editing.  It was a lot of work – maybe more work in some ways to do it cooperatively, but I enjoyed it.

 I hoped that it would be a story that would “fit” with her previous works and leave her readership feeling as if it were comfortable and familiar – what they've come to expect and love.
Whole Family White Water Rafting

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

 Janette: I have not been intrigued with going back in time.  I look back at my growing up years and feel blessed.  They were difficult years for my parents because of the big challenge of caring for a family with little means, but we as children, did not catch that sense of need or concern.  I love the years I spent growing up.  So I really don’t look back with longing, wishing I could have experienced another world.  Every generation seems to have challenges to face and the world has always contained some ‘ugly.’  I think I could have enjoyed historical England – so long as I was one of the upper class.  Perhaps a minister’s daughter in a quiet town or village.  Sort of one of Austin’s settings.  Preferably by the sea.

 Laurel: I’d love to see creation unfold!  The Bible really doesn't flesh that out much for us – even though the description is positively elegant - but I’d just love to see it for myself.

What was your favorite show on T.V. when you were growing up? Why is it your favorite? If you didn't watch TV what were your favorite books?

 Janette: When I was young we didn't have TV.  We listened to radio and spent hours as a family in the evenings sharing the entertainment together.  I remember “Fibber McGee and Molly” – a comedy, “The Lone Ranger” – a western, and LUX radio theater which carried a variety show.

We also read books.  Lots of books.  Mom read to us and Dad would willingly read to us in the little time that he had as a farmer.  Our teacher in school read us many books.  When I could read on my own I continued to read stories for young readers.  As a teen I read all I could find concerning the early days of the pioneers - mostly known as Westerns, though the opening of the Canadian West was quite different than the cowboy and Indian stories I read from American writers.

Laurel: I grew up on the Brady Bunch and Star Trek.  I also loved “H. R. Puff ‘n’ Stuff.”  Does anyone remember that show?  As far as favorite books, I read “The Hobbit” and “Swiss Family Robinson” over and over.

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?
Mom, Dad with my daughter and grand-baby
Janette: my senses.  Sight – I would miss the faces and smiles of those I love, the beauty of the world around me, being able to feel comfortable and independent in my world.  Hearing – there is so much to hear in our world.  Laughter – especially of children.  Music – that either soothes or energizes.  Chatter, whether in person or by phone.  I love the chirp of contented chickadees as they visit the bird feeder, the nostalgic call of a flock of geese homeward bound after a winter spent in the South.  The sound of a train whistle in the distance echoing on the evening air.  A rippling, clear mountain stream.  One could go on and on.  To keep this from being an essay, I will only mention taste, smell, and touch – but each one is special and adds so much to one’s life experiences.

I wouldn't like to give up emotions either.  Though not all emotions give one a happy feeling, they all add dimensions to life.  Emotions make you know you’re alive, involved.  I think they also help us to understand God.  He made mankind in his image and the Bible describes many of the emotions that God feels and responds to.  Emotions also connect us to other people and help us to know and understand them better.  Without emotions, life would be one long, even, and rather boring journey.

 And health – without a measure of health one would not be able to be involved and appreciative of the many things of life.  As one ages one realizes more and more how blessed one is to be able to ‘think’ and ‘do.’  Brain health is perhaps even more important than body health and I grieve for those traveling through our world in a difficult or tormented mental state.  One should thank God daily for health, both personally and for those you love.

Laurel: if I’m answering practically, I’d say my Bible, clean running water and air conditioning.  I could get by on the first two, but I really like air conditioning!  I’m pretty grateful for that modern luxury.

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

Janette: nature sounds - I like the ocean, bubbling stream, the cry of a loon across a lake, babies laughing.

Laurel: a cooing baby (like my sweet grandson Peter), and ocean waves

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?

Janette: for me at this stage it’s toward the end of the day because by then I’m tired, or a busy day with the pressures of much to do.

Laurel: when I’m alone and all of my family is busy elsewhere.  I much prefer a noisy house.

Nora: THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new series. I'm Thrilled at the opportunity to interview you both., Thanks for the fun pictures you've shared with us. Bethany House is giving away 10 copies of the second book in the new series Where Trust Lies.

To ENTER THE DRAWING go to TBCN  Scroll down the front page until you get to the book cover for Where Trust Lies. CLICK on the link ABOVE the cover. You'll have to JOIN Bethany Publishers page to participate. (Click the upper right hand of page to JOIN) Answer one of the authors questions to enter drawing.


Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine 


ABOUT AUTHOR: Maggie Brendan is the bestselling author of the Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides series.  Winner of the 2014 Book Buyers Best Award (OCC/RWA) for inspirational fiction for inspirational fiction and the 2013 Laurel Wreath Award, she was a finalist for the 2013 Published Maggie Award for Excellence and the 2013 Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. To learn more, visit

How did you come up with the idea for The Trouble with Patience?

I came up with the idea for Patience while I was making a list of the virtues and vices in the Bible after I came up with the series title, Virtues and Vices. Some listed in scripture are—humility, love, kindness, greed, jealousy, anger, pride and envy, patience, and charity. Bingo! When I saw Patience, I decided that would be the heroine’s name and although she had patience, it would be tested.

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

I've just turned in the second book in the series, A Sweet Misfortune. The story centers around a dance hall gal who is rescued by her brother’s friend, a prominent cattle baron. They are as different as day and night on the outside but on the inside both have to come to terms with who they are in God’s eyes.

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why?

My favorite is historical novels but I enjoy reading contemporary and suspense too. Honestly, I prefer holding a real book, (hardback or paper), but I do load books on my Kindle too. It’s convenient for traveling instead of lugging several books.

What are the challenges of writing historicals?

The challenges for me would be accuracy whenever possible about the era and location. Things such as inventions or conveniences need research. For instance, were there gaslights during that time, or whether or not a train station would have been in a remote town? Also writing in the manner in which they spoke during that era.

How much research do you put into your historicals? Did you discover some fascinating tales that made it in your book? Some that didn't?

I do plenty of research for my novels and always include author notes in my books, as well as any disclaimer about a real character or event. My hero, Jedediah Jones, is based on John Xavier Beidler, who was an x-Montana vigilante. He was a legend and later became a US Deputy so I fictionalized his life a bit to suit my story.

Women dressed very differently in the time period you wrote about, what do you think you’d enjoy wearing? What do you think you’d dislike wearing?

The heroine's gown
My wedding dress

No doubt about it, I’d love to be able to dress in the finery of clothing used in the 19th Century! Clothes were exquisitely created and feminine with beautiful embellishments and so were the hats too. I think the biggest problem I would have is wearing heavy skirts during the summer months, however most houses were designed for airflow with long hallways and windows to keep the homes cooler. Not to mention the fact there were no blacktop highways, concrete or interstate. Trees were plentiful too which help keep the temperatures down. 

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

When I was in high school I worked half-days in business education class and worked for the USDA Forest Service. I was an assistant to the librarian who supplied all the entomologists and scientists their reference books, thesis papers, etc. It was a great job! The woman I worked with was an excellent seamstress who made my wedding gown!
Library Gulfport

Another fun but hard job was working for Johnson Ferry Baptist church in the music office. I worked under the technical team and compiled ten years of Bryant Wright’s (senior pastor) sermons into booklet form for Right From the Heart. (Nora, I’m sure you've seen and heard these on Atlanta TV). I assisted the team in making Bryant’s thirty second television and radio spots that are still on TV locally. It was a great job and wonderful people to work with.

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

My favorite sounds are the outdoors ones that I can hear, singing birds, the wind in the trees as it brushes against the leaves or pine boughs, the lonesome sound of a train’s whistle, the tinkling of my wind chimes, a creek’s gurgle, a Red-tail Hawk’s cry or the turtledove’s coo.

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?
Why not?

The hardest part of the day when I need patience the most is when I’m on a roll writing a scene and have a zillion interruptions. Some that are important, others that are not. The thing that causes me to pray the most is when I’m on deadline trying to juggle writing along with taking care of the domestic side of home life—cooking, laundry, or illness, family. That’s when I can become overwhelmed at times—being all things to all people while maintaining the writer side of me. That is the time when I feel the need to pray the most.

Nora:Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m excited about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of FEBRUARY at . I really enjoyed this book and your two leading characters the Sheriff and the Creekside Inn owner; Patience. You had a surprise ending too. Loved it. 

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.
Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Book Fun Magazine
The Book Club Network Blog



ABOUT AUTHOR: Kellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal and the author of A Woman of Fortune. Gilbert crafts her emotionally charged stories about women in life-changing circumstances in Dallas, Texas, where she lives with her husband. Learn more at

What fascinated you and/or surprised you in your research for this Where Rivers Part?

For many years, I spent my professional life working on some of the most high profile litigation cases n America—including a case where Jack-in-the-Box restaurants undercooked hamburger, resulting in a massive foodborne illness outbreak, which sickened many in the Pacific Northwest.  I spent nearly two years pouring over company records, testimony, media accounts and attended the depositions of key players in San Diego and LA.  When the case concluded, I couldn’t bear to toss my files knowing someday I wanted to write a novel that included that fascinating story. So, while I still had some research to do relating to the ecoli, I had much of what I needed in boxes in my attic.

Additionally, this novel is set in San Antonio and I took a research trip and spent time at the Riverwalk, the Alamo, the Menger Hotel, and other key locations I felt were intriguing. It was really fun to weave these places into the scenes in this novel. I've already received feedback telling me readers feel like they have been to San Antonio after reading Where Rivers Part.

While San Antonio is located in an arid environment, underneath is the Edwards Aquifer, a unique groundwater system and one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world, serving the diverse agricultural, industrial, recreational, and domestic needs of almost two million users in south central Texas—such an amazing picture of Jesus, who is often referred to in the Bible as our Living Water, the one who quenches our arid places. That played perfectly with my desire to create a water theme in this story.
Talavera Pots

Nora: I think you brought a unique view of this topic because of your professional life. I love that about your books.

Juliet has to be careful as she searches for test results and reports to discover the missing link. I was impressed that the story was still compelling and glad you didn’t give us too much test result numbers. It was a good balance. I really appreciated the fact that the story didn’t get really technical. You built up suspense as she searched. Loved it. How did you do that?

Thank you. I worked hard to stay focused on the emotion of this story.

While the foodborne outbreak certainly is a catalyst in changing my protagonist, at her core Dr. Ryan is a driven and very accomplished food scientist, yet inside she’s still the little girl hurt by her father’s marital indiscretions and the pain it caused her mother. Like many of us, she tries to fill her emotional emptiness with the façade of professional success. But in an instant, her life is ripped apart and she discovers no amount of achievement is enough to weather the storm.

Nora: I liked that aspect of the story too!

You say, “I will never forget sitting across a deposition table in San Diego, and watched Food Maker, Inc.’s quality control director tear up as he was questioned about his role. I saw the agony on his face as attorneys more than hinted he was a guilty party in the horrific event.” What were you thinking, and feeling as these depositions went on?
Alamo Front

All of our legal team went into that deposition knowing that the executive had been intensely prepared to testify by the crisis management professionals the company had hired (think Olivia Pope on the popular television show SCANDAL). So, we knew getting him to say anything on record that would be meaningful to our case was going to be an uphill battle.

Part of my role was to manage the documentary evidence and feed information to the attorneys who were conducting these depositions. I had assembled a notebook filled with a chronology of email communications coupled with the testing reports, and the customer complaints that were rolling in. These told a horrifying story . . . and as the attorney methodically targeted this man with questions that came like bullets, the deponent began to crumble. It was like a Perry Mason episode.

While legally, that was very satisfying, I am a person who always sees the emotional underside of any situation. I watched his eyes. What I saw there was a story . . . and I knew someday I would try to tell it, even if only in my imagination.

Nora: That’s fascinating. Your work shows through in your story! Wow!

I liked Juliet Ryan and how she struggled with her Mom’s faith. She couldn’t believe how she could forgive her husband (Juliet’s dad) for his transgressions. She couldn’t get over it. What did you want readers to glean from Juliet? Feel for her?
The Alamo

So much of current society demands retribution for wrongdoing. That mindset is very difficult to challenge when a person does not understand that forgiveness is not failing to hold a person accountable, but it’s releasing them from YOUR judgment so Jesus can step in and do what needs to be done, without you in the way.

I hope readers agree that Juliet’s pain was valid. What her father did hurt her deeply. And I hope readers rejoiced (like I did) when she finally dropped her “rocks” and let Jesus heal them both…..and their relationship. Perhaps that’s why Jesus allowed Juliet’s dreams to be ripped out from under her. He had a bigger and better plan for her life than what she was willing to settle for.

Nora: I was glad. Juliet and her family were in so much turmoil because of their unforgiveness.

“We are on the front line, charged with keeping America’s food products safe…Juliet goes on to say, “Consumer health and safety are at the very core of what we do every day and because of the collective efforts of dedicated food scientists and quality control directors in companies across USA, outbreaks are now rare, with fever reported each year than ever before.” How did your research for this book and the Jack in a Box outbreak changed how you look at food when you buy it? Eat it?

I’m laughing here. In response, let me tell you that when the trial team broke for lunch after interviewing our foodborne illness expert who was guiding us through the more technical issues in our case, I was the only one to order and eat a hamburger!  I took a lot of ribbing about it.
Me and Hubby
I have a slight advantage that provides a balanced point-of-view. My husband is the Director of Operations for one of the largest beef processors in Texas. I know the quality assurance processes in place and the extreme efforts taken to ensure safety of those food products. Much of the protocols now in place are a direct result of the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak. That was the first time that an entire industry had to look at every critical point in their processes and HACCP regulations were born.

I am not worried in the least about eating beef, providing it is properly cooked. I am also not afraid to eat other food products, like raw fruits and vegetables, providing they are properly washed.  And I count on the fear of litigation to keep restaurants and providers doing what they should. Yes, I know—outbreaks happen. But the rate is really low, all things considered.

I specifically chose a bottled water company for this novel because water products are the LOWEST in numbers of outbreaks according to CDC statistics. I give a complete disclosure in the author’s notes of my book, which I won’t reiterate here . . . but as an author, I wanted to be very careful not to create unnecessary angst regarding this subject.

Nora: LOL! I can see how you ordered a burger because of your inside info about the beef processing. It’s good to know that you want to be careful not to create a panic in people. I found this book fascinating on many levels!

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

The third novel in the Texas Gold collection will release this coming October. A REASON TO STAY is about a Houston power couple on the edge of divorce, and what it takes to make them reconsider and stay together. (Hint: the story features a recognizable story ripped from the news) Your readers won’t want to miss this one!

Nora: I won’t want to miss it either!

Can you tell me of two “Wow” moments you’ve had in your writing career? What made it a wow for you?

I never expected to receive so many heart-felt emails from readers telling me how my stories have touched them deeply. After MOTHER OF PEARL released (the story of a woman who risks everything to bring an football coach who is being inappropriate with teen girls to justice) I got floods of messages from mothers and teachers who suspected something was up in their own schools, from students telling me they had experienced something out-of-bounds from a teacher or coach, and one even from a woman teacher who had crossed the boundaries and lost everything as a result.
Similarly, A WOMAN OF FORTUNE prompted correspondence from people who had been financially betrayed. Book club discussions were lively over the issue of whether or not Claire Massey made the right decision. And while readers hated the spoiled way Lainie acted, that subplot prompted a very interesting conversation with a teenager who was not valuing herself sexually.

But the wow moment came when I opened my inbox to find an email from a pastor’s wife telling me she and her children had just lived through a betrayal by her husband—how the church body and the entire community vilified not only him, but the family who had nothing to do with this man’s criminal actions. My heart broke as she told me she wept while reading this story, and that for the first time she felt like “someone” understood.

Nora—I believe stories matter. That is why Jesus told so many in the bible—he knew story is a link to the heart. It’s my sincere privilege to write for my readers’ hearts.

Nora: Yes, I agree with you Kellie. Jesus knew the power of storytelling. Thank you for sharing your experiences. They are WOW, moments for sure.

What was your favorite show on T.V. when you were growing up? Why is it your favorite? If you didn’t watch TV what were your favorite books?

Like many teenaged girls at that time, I never missed The Partridge Family. I had an illimitable crush on David Cassidy. Sadly, I went to see one of his concerts as an adult and was severely disappointed when he showed up severely inebriated on stage and unable to even remember the words to I Think I Love You. I’ve heard he went into rehab. I hope so.

Too many favorite books…..but Charlotte’s Web is high up on my list. 

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

My MAC computer, my iPhone and QVC  (smiles) 

What movies do you try to see in the theater if your schedule allows? What do you enjoy most about seeing movies in the theater?

I’m an odd ball who doesn’t enjoy most of the movies people find exciting. I did see American Sniper with my husband recently, and thought the story was profound.

The best movie I’ve seen in recent times was HOPE SPRINGS. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones did a superb job portraying a couple forced into counseling in order to spark the dying embers of their marital relationship. The movie made me laugh . . . and cry.

Nora: I agree with you Kellie it’s hard to find a movie to see. Many have an R rating and I’d rather not see that. Interesting to hear about American Sniper.
Elephant Toothpaste

If you had a day to yourself and the money to do whatever you wanted; what would you do? What’s your perfect day?

I’d take Peanut and Gumdrop (my grandkids) to Walt Disney World. We have that planned next fall, and I can’t wait.

Nora: Sounds like fun times for sure!!

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. You made me think outside the box in this book. I take for granted what is done and/or not done for my safety. Thanks for sharing about your new book. I’m marking my calendar.
I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of FEBRUARY at . Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

See you at The Book Club Network

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


Stevie Wonder to Appear at the 23rd Annual Movieguide® Awards to Honor Andraé Crouch

Music legend Stevie Wonder will be among those honoring Gospel music innovator, singer and songwriter Andraé Crouch at a special tribute at the 23rd Annual Movieguide® Awards hosted by Bill Engvall and airing Saturday February 21 at 7 p.m. Eastern time and 4 p.m. Pacific on the REELZChannel.

The Movieguide® Awards honors the best family-friendly movies and television shows of the previous year. It also picks the best movie for mature audiences and the $100,000 Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie and TV program of the Year, supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Andraé Crouch, who died Jan. 8, paved the way for American contemporary Gospel music and worked with musical legends such as Elton John, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, earning seven Grammy awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame along the way.

Besides Stevie Wonder, the moving tribute to Crouch on the REELZ Channel will feature performances from fellow Grammy winners and nominees Donnie McClurkin, Jonathan Butler, Ledisi, and the a cappella Gospel music group Take 6.

The legacy of Andraé Crouch not only changed music, but reached into the movie industry with his Oscar nominated “Maybe God’s Trying to Tell You Something” from Steven Spielberg’s movie THE COLOR PURPLE. Crouch also arranged music for Disney’s THE LION KING in 1994.

Crouch and his sister, Sandra, were pastors at New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, a Los Angeles suburb.

“Andraé had a unique spiritual impact on millions of Americans,” says Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide®. “His love for others was clearly demonstrated in his work and ministry. Andraé made the world a more beautiful place, and that’s why we’re honoring him at the Movieguide® Awards.”

To watch the full Andraé Crouch tribute by Donnie McClurkin, Ledisi, Take 6, Jonathan Butler, and Stevie Wonder, tune into the Movieguide® Awards Saturday on the REELZ Channel, 7 p.m. Eastern Time and 4 p.m. Pacific.

NORA: Monday night I watched the tribute to Stevie Wonder. At the end Stevie sang a melody of his songs. All night others sang his songs. I was amazing how many songs everyone connected with. He is truly an amazing talent. When he was done singing he gave tribute to all he had was from God. Andrea Crouch was a very inspiration man too. I was very inspired by Andrea's much when I first became a Christian!

Media blast from