Wednesday, May 23, 2007


OK folks, I have a blog tour coming up soon and I will be giving away books! Free beautiful books! They've started arriving at my house today, and they're BEAUTIFUL and NEW and FRESH and did I mention BEAUTIFUL??? This is all courtesy of Glass Road Public Relations and Barbour Publishing.

So stay tuned and check in after Memorial Day for more details!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BLOG TOUR for Diva Nash Vegas

With all the personal stuff going on lately, I totally forgot to post my stop on the Diva tour--the Diva Nash Vegas tour, that is, compliments of one of my favorite Christian writers, Rachel Hauck! My apologies to Rachel for my tardiness...and to the rest of you, sit back & enjoy!

For the past decade, Aubrey James has ruled the charts as the queen of country soul. She rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parent’s death – Gospel music pioneers Ray and Myra James. While her public life, high profile romances and fights with Music Row execs writes juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey’s is a media mystery.

When a close friend and former band member betrays Aubrey by selling an exclusive story about the Diva to a tabloid, Aubrey knows she must go public with her own story.

Inside NashVegas sports anchor, Scott Vaughn, is not prepared for the assignment of interviewing a country super star. Especially not one he dated, then abandoned. Yet, his boss leaves him no choice. His career and the future of Inside NashVegas depends on the success of this interview.

When Scott shows up at her home for the first session, Aubrey threatens to back out of the deal. But, it’s too late. Instead, she bravely opens her heart as Scott probes into her life and discovers a future of faith, hope and love by letting God heal her past.


Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel serves the writing community as Past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the Advisory Board. Visit her blog and web site at

Leave a comment on her blog and be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. Two names will be drawn.



Q: What inspired Diva NashVegas?

A: The idea to write about a singer came from a conversation with my editor, Ami McConnell. At first, I created the Diva to be a wanna-be star, but after thinking the story through, I decided she had to be an established artist, a superstar.

Q: How do you research a diva?

A: Not easy. I read a lot of bios, and spent time with Christian artist, Kim Hill. She was a blast and a great help. I loved hanging out with her. I also got some inside scoop from record producer and fellow Thomas Nelson author, Matt Bronleewe.

I talked to an entertainment lawyer and search music business forums for answer to some of my questions. The hardest detail to find was about artist and record label disputes. We all know it happens, but why? The only reason I could find was “creative differences.” This answer did not cover enough detail for me. I couldn’t create a legitimate scene with Aubrey and her record label President arguing over “creative differences.”

Thankfully, I found a forum on the internet and a kind gentleman gave me eight detailed reason why an artist would enter into a dispute with her label. Saved the day!

I also researched foster care and television production for elements of the story. Kelly Sutton and Molly Day, a TV personality and producer respectively in Nashville were enthusiastic resources.

After that, I only had my imagination.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from the book?

A: First, a great read. I hope they can be transported into Aubrey James’s world. Next, a message that life isn’t always fair, but we have the power of choice in our response. God is always there for us, even when we don’t feel He is.

Diva NashVegas was difficult to write. I had a few crisis, but when I finally submitted it to my editor, I wrote in my email, “I love Aubrey James.” She really came to life for me in the end.

My editor loved her, too. I’m confident she’ll capture readers.

Q: What is your writing day like?

A: It varies, but I try to settle down from my morning routine by noon and focus on writing. Some days it’s earlier, and some later. If I’m approaching a deadline date, I completely clear my schedule and work twelve hours a day or more.

Email is my weakness. I’ve modified the Lord’s prayer some for writers: “give us this day, our daily word count, and delivers us from email.”

Seriously, I’m like an email junky. Half the time no one emails me, I just have to check and see. Secretly, I’m hoping a Broadway or Hollywood producer will email me wanting to make a movie or play out of one of my books.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: For a long time, but not seriously until the mid-90’s. Then I quit for awhile because my corp job became more demanding, then one day in 2001 the Lord began to open doors and by the end of 2002, I had my first book contract.

Q: Name your favorite TV show of all time.

A: I have no idea. Friends, I guess. Gee, do I want to admit that? I don’t agree with the shows moral philosophy, but I love the comedy, the writing and friendship element of the show. Same with Cheers, or MASH. Wait, I just remembered, I love, loved, loved, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That is my all time favorite.

Q: How did you meet your husband?

A: Actually, he was hit by a bus. I witnessed the whole thing, pulled my car over, checked his ring finger (empty) then gave him CPR.

Of course I’m making all that up. Hit by a bus? He’d be dead.

I met him at church. He was the youth and singles pastor, and the only guy who didn’t wear a pocket protector or have duct tape holding his glasses together. Husband was cool, and we had a lot in common, but mostly what attracted me was his heart of David – a man after God’s heart. He’s a man of prayer and the Word, high integrity and after being friends for eighteen years, he’s my best friend and makes me laugh.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Look for “Sweet Caroline” from Thomas Nelson March 2008. This is a story of inheritance and finding courage to do what you really want to do in life.

Q: How do you get your ideas.

A: Burn up my last brain cell thinking of something. Then I call all my friends and cry, begging for help. I pray a lot.

Seriously, I believe God has a lot of ideas and He’s most kind to share them with us. I look for what is on His heart.

Q: Besides writing, what goes on in your life?

A: I’m a worship leader at my church, and with a prayer and worship ministry, Fire Dweller. Until August 2006, Husband and I were youth pastors. We handed the youth church over to a younger couple last summer, and I’ve been taking time to see what else God has for me. It’s nice to have a light schedule for the first time in many years.

Recently, I learned of a volunteer program where I can read to children and rock babies. So, I’m going to give time to that ministry. I’m very excited.
My review:
This book ROCKS. Seriously. It rocks and rolls---and reads like a combination of interview transcript, chick lit, romance (not just man-woman, but woman-Saviour), and a brief history of contemporary Christian/Gospel music! I thoroughly enjoyed Aubrey, even though sometimes the girl needed a slap upside the head! But she gained my sympathy, so it's all good.

Petticoat Ranch

Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy

This is a cute story. It's a bit reminiscent of Janette Oke, but rougher, like the difference between calico and burlap. Janette Oke writes frontier stories with God, romance, and family. Connealy's novel has God, romance, and family as well, but she also has women sharpshooters and trappers, desperadoes, screaming preachers, and lots and lots of Texas.

One of the greatest strengths of the novel is characterization. Connealy captures the battle between men and women beautifully and with much humor. The transitions between points of view are also very well done.

I tended to get confused with all the men--who were the good guys, who were the bad guys, and there were so many of them to track! But it all works out for a happily-ever-after ending.

I'd recommend this book to fans of Janette Oke and other pioneer stories with a Christian message.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Book Challenge Catch-Up

Okay, so I have been reading now that Chaplain Hubby is on his merry way :) I am reading Petticoat Ranch for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge. It's okay so far. It's gotten rave reviews from other ACFW members, though, so I'm definitely finishing it before I pass judgment. After this, I have the three nonfiction books to finish by the end of June. Two of the three are in process. I'm just finding that this week I'm having trouble concentrating on heavier reading (real-life stress does that to me!).

Tonight I began my daughters' journey with me into the land of Madeleine L'Engle. For Nattie's Newbury Challenge, I started with chapter one of A Wrinkle in Time. GOSH, I had forgotten how much I loved that book in fifth grade! We had moved from Iowa to Missouri in the middle of that year, so Mrs. Shaiper had already read half the book aloud to the class. I had no idea what was going on, so when the town Bookmobile came I was able to check it out (it was checked out already in the school library). I think I finished it in two days. My first grader didn't want me to stop reading tonight, but it was past bedtime when I finished reading, scratchy-voiced.

I haven't touched the 2007 TBR Challenge list in a while. I got ahead in March and then got sidetracked with school, hubby's departure, and other challenges and reading for book reviews.

Two of my other challenges don't begin until August.

I'm about maxed out on challenges. Dana, how are you ever going to finish all yours???

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Busy life

Hello to my few but faithful readers! This is a very busy week in our family, because M1, my 10 year old, has her dance recital this weekend. Today we have the dress rehearsal from you-know-where, complete with costume changes and pictures, from 3:45 - 8:45 pm. She's in 8 dances this year, which is a record! Ballet and Jazz with her 9-10 year old combo class; with the Apprentice Company (11-13 year old) she is in classical ballet, lyrical, jazz, tap, the finale which is lyrical I guess (sort of tribal, actually; it's a song from the Broadway "Lion King"); and she is also substituting a dancer who's out of town, in a competition number with the Apprentice Performance Troupe.

In addition to that, Chaplain Hubby is preparing to deploy to the World's Largest Beach soon. His tour is four months. Of course details must be kept under wraps for national security's sake. Prayers are much appreciated, though----thanks!

I should be back to more regular blogging next week or the week after...then we head into my sister-in-law's wedding over Memorial Day, VBS, summer performing arts camp, replacing windowpanes of glass, finding curtains and window shades (one for one kid, one for the other), traveling back home to MO to visit friends and family and go to my 20th High School Reunion (Go Patriots!), and staying just busy enough not to miss Chaplain Hubby too much, but not so busy I lose my mind! Delicate balance, that.

Reading update:
I have been reading as I have found time, but truly, this week it's been tough! I am overdue on several book reviews, but was released from a couple of deadlines (Armchair Interviews will now only post reviews that come through their site...they were having problems with publishers sending unsolicited books to reviewers. I am one of those reviewers, and I understand AI's situation; however, now I'm not able to help out this particular publisher except on my own). I haven't touched my 2007 TBR Challenge stack in a month. I haven't touched the Spring Reading Thing stack in two weeks. Nonfiction Five challenge? Nope, haven't started yet, but I can now that it's May. I can't start the Newbury Challenge till the 15th (but I have all but one book now thanks to Paperback Swap!). And thankfully the All About Me challenge doesn't start till August. I've gotten a couple of books from the list already, though.

When Chaplain Hubby is away, I'll have more time to read...this is because I have a very hard time going to sleep the first week he's gone, so I will probably stay up late reading. It'll be better than awful late-night television, anyway.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

For the girls

In your teens you're trying to find your girlfriends;
in your twenties, you're filtering through them;
and when you hit your thirties, you need them.

Nicole Kidman

Over Her Head by Shelley Bates

Review of Shelley Bates's latest novel, Over Her Head. Originally published at Armchair Interviews.

Laurie Hale has it all: a loving husband, a place in the community and in the church, and two lovely children. The perfect family, the perfect life, with everything under control--until she goes jogging one day and discovers the body of one of her teenage daughter's classmates along the riverbank.

Suddenly life gets a lot more complicated and a lot less perfect.

When the police begin questioning Anna and her friends, Laurie finds that having it all is the least of her worries. When she loses the support of her church Bible study ladies, it's almost the last straw. Laurie is in over her head and her world spirals out of her control.

This book is riveting. I found it both difficult to read and difficult to put down. My heart ached for the school and church community as they dealt with the aftermath of Randi's death. My emotions ran very high as I read of Laurie's struggles to try and keep it all together and do it all herself. Daughter Anna's anguish is painted with very real brush strokes. The cyberbullying she endures in the wake of this tragedy is a real phenomenon. I attended a workshop about this very thing at our local elementary school a few weeks ago. It's real and it's horrifying.

All in all, author Shelley Bates does a fabulous job telling this heartbreaking story. My hope is that parents who read this will have their eyes opened to the nonfiction Internet world of cyberbullying and pay attention to their teen's emails, instant messaging, and cell text messages.

Author's Web site:

Review: The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle My rating: 4 of 5 stars I heard about this novel last month. It sounded great, because who hasn't m...