Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It happens. People look at me with wide-eyed wonder when I tell them I'm a published author. Sometimes I think it's really cool too. But weeks like this make me wonder if there is something else I could do that pays more money for the amount of work (and stress!) this career path can generate.

This week, for example, I received galleys that needed proofed for my second historical. Then two background outlines were requested, one for my third cozy, which was written so long ago that I couldn't even remember the storyline! The other outline was for my second historical. To top it off, I had a request for a full manuscript that meant I needed to pump out 25,000 extra words. . .




Now, besides eating and sleeping, I like to live a little. You know, nothing fancy, but going to church is a must, which meant one of those six days was. . .shall we say, rather unproductive. I think I logged a little over 700 words. Reality check:

24,300 words.




Now remember. This request for a full manuscript does not guarantee a contract. No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, five days of commiting my life to my laptop will more than likely mean rejection.






My brain is mush. I have 3,000 more words to go. I need inspiration. Encouragement. A shoulder to cry on. So, a copy of my latest romance to the person who can make me smile the biggest. Because I love you. And because my lips don't remember what an upward curve feels like. (See? I'm in really bad shape!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lynette Sowell works as a medical transcriptionist and a part-time reporter for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. In her “spare” time, she loves to spin adventures for the characters who emerge from story ideas in her head. She hopes to spread the truth of God’s love while taking readers on an entertaining journey. Lynette is a Massachusetts transplant who lives with her husband and a herd of five cats in central Texas. She loves to read, travel, spend time with her family, and likes to eat Mexican food whenever she can. You can find Lynette on Facebook or at www.lynettesowell.com.

How did your story for the collection come about?

One of my favorite themes in stories, especially at Christmas time, is forgiveness and restoration. Christmas is about God building a bridge to us, and reaching out to restore the realtionsihp that was lost. . .when we’ve been given grace like that, what better time to practice it? However, our feelings don’t always cooperate, especially when we’ve been the one wronged. My heroine faces that challenge. That’s the serious part of how I found my story.

The not-so-serious part? I really enjoy visiting San Antonio, especially the Riverwalk. I’m also a foodie and a fan of Mexican cuisine. It’s much, much more than what you see at a chain restaurant. I could go on and on about cilantro, queso fresco, mole’, but I won‘t. Anyway, when Beth, Martha, Kathleen, and I started talking about writing a book set in San Antonio, I thought it would be fun to have my heroine be a chef in her family’s Mexican restaurant on the Riverwalk. Enter her hero with a past, and the story flowed from there.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

This novella is my fifth novella for Barbour. I also have written three mysteries and a historical romance. Plus, there’s at least three or four unpublished books sitting in a drawer…somewhere. My third mystery releases in 2011, as does my sixth novella.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection? Was it hard connecting the stories?

I think it’s the story idea itself. There needs to be enough of a story there to have a complete tale, but we only have 20,000 words to do that. In this collection, no, it wasn’t hard at all to connect the stories. My heroine’s resturant, La Cocina del Rio, turned into sort of a secondary character in each novella. That was fun. I made sure my cowriters knew what the place looked like, and who some of the staff were.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

On a personal level, I’ve realized how much these three ladies mean to me not just as fellow authors, but as friends. I’ve known Beth, Martha, and Kathleen for many years, and it was a treat to work on this collection with them.

How did you choose your characters’ names?

My hero and heroine are both Hispanic, and they’re first-generation Americans. Gabriela and Miguel are both Spanish versions of the names Gabriel and Michael, who are both angels named in the Bible. Since angels play a big role in the Christmas story, I thought that fit.

What do you want the reader to take away from your story?

I want them to enjoy a good read, and especially if it’s at Christmas time, to take a few moments for themselves and get in the Christmas spirit. Maybe if they’re struggling with forgiveness, or still feeling guilty about something they’ve been forgiven for, this little story might encourage them to let go of pain or guilt, and accept a little extra grace from God.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an author?

Never stop learning. Don’t settle for mediocre or average. Be willing to keep learning and don’t think you already know it all, or know enough.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I just started reading Nightshade, by Ronie Kendig. I’ve heard so much about it, and I can’t wait to have a few free hours to kick back and enjoy it.

Thanks for having me as your guest, Lisa!
Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from A Riverwalk Christmas by Lynette Sowell.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Max weighed about two pounds when my husband brought him home. I could literally hold him in the palm of my hand. He was so cute and little! His tiny legs could barely support him as he wobbled around the house, bumping into things and sprawling on the tiled floor. Anytime he wanted up onto the couch, I’d have to lift him since he wasn’t big enough to jump that high.

Eventually, Max grew large enough to be able to manage the couch, but the bed was still beyond him. I’d pick him up, and he’d curl up at our feet to go to sleep. Soon however, he discovered that by jumping onto the chair next to the bed, and then onto the mattress, he could get up by himself. Now it seems there’s nothing Max can’t do once he sets his mind to it. But it was a process. Small steps. And that’s how it should be with our faith.

God wants us to grow in our faith. No longer should we be taking those baby steps, wobbling and wavering with every new challenge. God wants us to grow stronger, reach higher, and accomplish more, in the name of Jesus. It’s not like we have to do it alone, after all. He’s always there, any time we need a hand up.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-11 (New International Version)

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

Charlotte Holt – Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand and Anita Higman
Carmen7351 – Refining Fires by Erin Rainwater
Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Irene Brand, Anita Higman, and Erin Rainwater, for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away two great books:

Refining Fires by Erin Rainwater ~ A disfigured veteran. / A ruined nurse. / A tormented child. / A kept woman. / Strangers whose paths cross, bringing redemption into each other's lives in ways none of them could have predicted. / Her career in ruins, a desperate nurse answers an ad to care for a disabled veteran. / Disfigured in the war, the antisocial businessman can't get his mind off the nurse he had tossed out of his home. / A young child who never leaves the confines of her mountain home must make a treacherous journey alone to save her mother's life. / A woman kept by men all her life learns through an old love that she has been kept all along by Someone else. / Three parts. One touching story.

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe ~ Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover.

An Appalachian Christmas by Irene Brand

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Anita Higman

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.
Winners will be announced on Saturday, 08/28/10.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


“Refining Fire”

June, 1957
WANTED: Live-in nurse to care for disabled vet. Good wages, benefits. Own room in large house. Lite housekeeping, cooking.

* * *

The writer of the ad hadn’t asked for references, and the applicant prayed to God he wouldn’t. She prayed he wouldn’t require her current address. Wouldn’t ask to sample her cooking. For the entire hour-long bus ride from the center of the city, she prayed.

Looking out the open window of the mud-spattered bus, she watched the neighborhoods evolve from clapboard cracker boxes with tricycle- and newspaper-dotted front yards, to modest homes with the latest model Packards parked in their driveways, to grand manors with landscaping right out of Better Homes and Gardens. Two transfers it had taken to transport her to this district. Good thing transfers were no extra charge.

The bus slowed; the driver glanced in his mirror and called over his shoulder, “This is your stop, miss.”

Gathering her pocketbook and the sizeable tote bag that held all she now owned, she rose and stepped next to him. “Thank you, sir. I appreciate your assistance.” As the lumbering bus came to a halt, she grabbed the bar above the front seat. The doors opened. For an instant she only looked out. She tried wetting her lips—a vain attempt with a parched tongue. Finally descending the steps, she leapt from the last high step onto the sidewalk. The heat emanating from the concrete hit like a blast furnace. The air was stagnant. The mid-Atlantic region’s oppressive combination of heat and humidity bore an effect she believed she’d never grow accustomed to.

She walked two blocks before halting in front of the “large house,” and some of her guilt was assuaged. She hadn’t lied to the elderly gentleman she spoke to when calling about the ad, but she hadn’t been entirely forthcoming. But neither had he. If this is what he called a large house, how would he define mansion?

A wide, wrought iron gate blocked her entry. When he told her she would have to press a red button on a black box, she thought he meant the doorbell. But she was a good fifty yards from the front door.

A voice came from the box. “May I help you?” Though a bit scratchy, it sounded like the same voice as the man on the phone. Hopefully, the voice of her new employer.

“Hello? Um, my name is Clare Canterbury, and I…uh…I’m here to interview for the home nurse position,” she said into the holes of the box, thinking it an impersonal way to communicate. After several seconds of silence, the gate opened before her on its own accord.

The “large house” was of red brick construction, and Clare counted fifteen second-story windows and three third-story gabled dormers as she trekked past the precisely manicured lawn and impeccably tended garden.

A gray-haired man dressed in a dark suit greeted her at the front door. His smile warmed her. “I’m so very glad you could come, Miss Canterbury.” He stepped aside and extended his arm, inviting her to enter. Immediately the coolness surrounded her. Air conditioning. It felt heavenly.

The kindly gentleman led her through a massive, two-storied entrance hall with a marble-tiled floor, oil paintings on the walls and sculptures on white-pillared stands. They passed a mahogany table bearing an oriental vase bursting with a magnificent flower arrangement. The only flowers she could name were roses and tulips, and these weren’t either, but the beauty of the colorful spray, along with their permeating scent, was not lost on her.

A pucker-faced, middle-aged woman in a maid uniform appeared.

“Midge, please get our guest something cold to drink.”

Without a word or a smile, the woman turned and retreated down a hallway.

Stopping at the door of a room to the left of the entry, the man turned and again extended his arm into what appeared to be a spacious study. His movements were a bit labored, his fingers gnarled with arthritis, but he trekked around well enough. She wondered what unseen disabilities necessitated his need of a live-in nurse.

He showed her to a chair facing a large cherry wood desk, then took a seat across from her. Opening a folder, he perched a pair of reading spectacles on his nose and scanned some papers. The moment had arrived. She had to impress this man. She had to land this job. No hospital would hire her now.

The maid arrived with a glass of sweetened lemonade. Clare guzzled half the drink before remembering her every action would be evaluated. She must show more class. She was, after all, trying to obtain a position in this rich man’s household.

“So, let’s begin with your qualifications. You mentioned you had three years of military nursing experience. Could you expound on this?”

She could. That wasn’t the problem. She’d spent the last six months of the war at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu caring for war wounded, then two years at Fitzsimons Army Hospital near Denver. Her duties there included caring for President Eisenhower after his heart attack. She served her final six months at Walter Reed.

As for her post-military nursing experiences…she touched on her work at the VA but successfully skirted the unpleasant incident there, stating only that she had left to seek non-government work. It wasn’t exactly an untruth. He didn’t question it.

He smiled a lot, that warm smile. She hoped it meant something.

“Well, Miss Canterbury, everything seems to be in order.”

No references. Thank You, Lord. Maybe namedropping Ike had something to do with it.
He scooted his chair back and stood. “If you will wait here, I will return shortly. I believe I can give you a decision today.”

“Thank you so much, sir.” She let out a breath as he exited the room.

A quarter of an hour passed. The hope she had dared to entertain was waning. No longer able to sit, she rose and stretched. Lifting the glass of depleted lemonade, she gobbled a dwindling ice cube into her mouth. She wandered slowly about the room. A man’s room for sure: heavy, dark furniture; volumes of reference books and business journals on built-in bookshelves; a fireplace enhanced by an exquisitely carved mantel, its sole occupant a Seth Thomas clock. Noticeably lacking there—and in the entire room—were pictures. Photographs of crowed-over children and grandchildren seemed more in keeping with the sweet old gentleman.

Two stuffed chairs angled slightly toward each other and separated by a coffee table loaded with business magazines faced the fireplace. One of the chairs was well worn and obviously favored by its owner. She coasted past a rocking chair next to the fireplace and rocked it gently. Moving to the mantel, she ran her hand along the decorative wood. The wall above it, barren of pictures or ornamentation, revealed a subtle change in the hue of the paint where a large rectangular painting, portrait, or mirror had once made its home. How cozy must this room be in the winter, she thought, the fire casting a yellow-orange glow on the masculine furnishings.

She turned from the fireplace, sucked in a breath and screamed at the face before her.
Jumping to the side, she nearly fell over the rocker. The man who had materialized as if by sorcery made no attempt to help her as she righted herself. She stared into his face, the left half of which had massive scarring. His blue eyes impaled her where she stood.

“Get out of my house!”

Her breath came in spasms. “Wh…what?”

“You heard me.”

“I… you…”

“This interview is over. Now get out!” The rasp in his voice intensified with its volume.

“But I…I don’t understand. I spoke with—”

“You spoke with Leopold. He has lousy discernment when it comes to hiring employees. He actually thought you might work out. But look at you. Some nurse you are. Now for the last time, get out!”

She was unable to move. The shock of the moment and the desperateness of her situation held her in place.

“You startled me, sir. It’s not your appearance but your sudden presence that—”


The older man, whom she had thought to be her prospective employer-patient but was apparently the butler-lackey, reentered the study looking ill at ease. “Yes, Mr. Cochran,” he said soberly.

His eyes still infiltrating hers, the disfigured man before her said, “Show her the way out at once.”

“Please,” she pled. “I apologize for my outburst. I swear to you, even if Gregory Peck himself appeared the way you did I would’ve had the same reaction. You frightened me out of my skin!”
He turned and limped across the room relying heavily on a cane, his left leg and arm near-lifeless. Departing the study, he dispatched a stormy glance to his manservant that she was sure would unequivocally remind him of his duty.

The gentleman who had been so kind to her, who she wished was the employer here and not a hireling, trudged to the desk and picked up her tote and pocketbook. Holding them out to her he said, “I am truly sorry, miss.”

She went to him and received her bags. “Why did he do that to me?”

“He sometimes tests potential employees by having them remain here in the study alone. Then,” he said as he pointed to a door situated in a back corner of the room, “he watches them in secret to see if they handle his possessions, pick books off the shelf, or maybe look at papers left on the desk.”

“He was spying on me?”

“He is a man who trusts no one. And there have been instances of employee theft. He attempts to sort out those who appear suspicious from the start. I have never known him to act as he did today, though. And I am genuinely sorry, but I am forbidden to warn of his disfigurement and other conditions and may only mention ‘disabled’ in the advertisement and the interview.”

“His face, and his voice…from a fire?”

He nodded. “Peter went to Korea vibrant, rugged, handsome…and arrogant. He came home from the war as you see him now.”

“Did you really think he’d hire me?”

“I held out hope, miss.” He led her across the study.

“How long has he been without a nurse?”

“With the comfortable situation here and generous pay, I have no problem getting nurses—or maids or cooks or gardeners or any servant—to respond to the ads. But no one stays. No nurse has stayed longer than two weeks.”

“Two weeks! But he needs—”

“He suffers from the neglect, and he knows it. But he is an angry man and cannot get along with anyone, except for those he deals with in his business. For them he puts on an amiable face—so to speak—for as long as it takes to accomplish what needs to be done.”

“I get the feeling you’ve worked for him a mite longer than two weeks.”

“I have been employed by the Cochran family for thirty-five years. Peter was just an infant when I first came to work in this household…” He sighed. “I’m afraid I’ve gone on more than I should have. As much as it pains me, I must see to your leaving now.”

The knot in her stomach tightened. Her last hope was slipping away.

As they walked across the foyer, he said, “I believe you would have been the exact caregiver Mr. Cochran needs, although I’m equally certain he would have made you quite miserable. The turn this has taken is really to your benefit.”

When they reached the front door, he paused. “Again, I apologize for bringing you all the way out here for nothing. I wish you the very best in your search for employment elsewhere.”

He opened the door. Eyes lowered, she couldn’t, just couldn’t go out that door.

“I can’t find employment elsewhere,” she choked, and swallowed hard. “There was…an incident at the VA hospital. Drugs went missing on my shift. I didn’t take them, but some evidence pointed to me. There were no charges because they admitted it wouldn’t hold up in court, but they fired me nonetheless. I applied at other hospitals, but my record of ‘suspicious activity’ follows me. Same with nursing homes, visiting nurse agencies, doctor’s offices. I’m out of money. I lost my apartment. I’ve sold off all I own.”

“Don’t you have family to help you?” He closed the door.

She shook her head. “No one.”


“I thought I had friends. But after the drug accusation they began disappearing one by one.”

“If you went to another city…”

“I’ve contacted hospitals in other states. But they all ask for references, and…”

His sympathetic eyes would have brought comfort were she not at the end of her hope.

“I’m the one who needs to apologize now,” she told him. “Now it’s me who has gone on more than I should have.”

“Where are you staying now?”

“Last night was my first night with no place to stay. I slept on a bench, but a cop kicked me out of the park early this morning. That’s why I needed this job so badly.”

“I wish I could say that relating your story to Mr. Cochran would change his mind.” He shook his head. “I honestly don’t believe it would.”

“He’s that immune to others’ pain?”

“I’m afraid he’s too consumed with his own. Physical and otherwise.”

Her eyes lowered. “I’ve cared for many soldiers and veterans with devastating war injuries, but going through that nightmare—I just can’t imagine it.”

“What I can’t imagine is sending you out of here with no place to go.”

“You said he wouldn’t change his mind even if he knew.”

“That’s true, but…”

She eyed him dubiously. “But…?”

“You seem like a courageous woman. Just how brave are you, Miss Canterbury?”
Erin is giving away a copy of her book Refining Fires. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several co-authored) for adults and children, and she has been honored in the past as a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston. Some of Ms. Higman's publishers are Bethany House, Summerside Press, Barbour Publishing, McGraw-Hill, Lillenas Drama, Roman & Littlefield, and Howard Publishing.

A few of Anita's books are Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, Another Stab at Life, Another Hour to Kill, The Celestial Helix, Pokeweed and Mrs. Gasp, and Big Book of Holidays and Holy Days. She also has contributions in ten nonfiction compilations.

One of Ms. Higman's co-authored books entitled, A Tribute to Early Texas, has a foreword by Elmer Kelton and has won a San Antonio Conservation Society Citation as well as a Westerners International Book Award. She was also named a New Favorite Author in the 15th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards.

In addition, Anita has won two awards for her contribution to literacy and has raised thousands of dollars for literacy with her book, I Can Be Anything, while serving on the board of directors of Literacy Advance of Houston.

Anita Higman has also written for radio, television, ezine, and advertising. She has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art from SNU, and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Anita has lived in Texas for the past twenty-five years, but was born and raised on a wheat and cattle farm in western Oklahoma.

Besides writing, Anita's other interests are reading great books, going to the movies, and cooking brunch for her friends. She lives with her husband near Houston, Texas.

Irene Brand's goal of being a writer was conceived at an early age in her rural home in West Virginia. In the early 70's she started publishing in historical, religious, and general magazines. During that time she also edited and compiled two church histories.

Test of Love was released in Poland in 2003.

She has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 3 non-fiction books published, and 17 fiction works.

Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.

In 1990 Mrs. Brand retired after 23 years of teaching in public schools to devote full time to freelance writing. She is married to Rod Brand.

Irene Brand and Anita Higman each have a Christmas novella in the new 2-in-1 compilation entitled, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. Also, both novellas are interconnected.
Tell us about that process. Was it difficult to connect your two stories?
Anita: Not at all. We had a brainstorming session by phone and by email and figured it out. Irene’s historical novella, An Appalachian Christmas is tied to my contemporary novella, Once Upon a Christmas Eve. They are connected through the passing of a mistletoe ball through the generations. It was a delight to work with Irene. She’s very easy to get along with. In fact, we’ve become long-distant friends.
Irene: It wasn’t difficult. Actually, this may have been the easier part of the writing project. After we’d each read the other’s manuscript, I provided Anita with the information necessary for continuity, and she did the same for me. It was easy to insert the other story line into my novella.
Do you think you’d consider working on another project together?

Anita: Yes, in fact we’ve been chatting about working on another project together.
Irene: It would appeal to me. Although our writing styles aren’t the same, still the differences seem to improve the book.

How did you come up with the idea for your story?

Anita: My novels are more character driven, and so my characters tend to move the story along. The idea for Once Upon a Christmas Eve may have started with my interest in the fairy archetype. I loved the movies Cold Comfort Farm and Chocolat for that very reason. There was something enchanting about those two heroines as they whirled around, fixing people’s lives. I gave my main character, Holly Goodnight, some similar fanciful qualities.

Irene: My husband and I spent a few days in Owsley County, Kentucky, where my novella is located. After we met the local people, visited the site where the action would be, and learned about the local history, the story was easy to develop.

Out of your novellas, which characters are your favorites?

Anita: Beyond the heroine I loved Van Keaton, the author. He was flawed in a number of ways, but he had enough endearing qualities to make him loveable too. At least that is what I hope readers will feel.

Irene: The hero and heroine turned out to be great characters, but Granny, the hero’s grandmother was a lovable person – the kind of grandmother all of us would have liked. (I don’t remember either of my grandmothers.)

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Anita: That no matter how impossible circumstances look, God can work all things for good.

Irene: That even when a romance seems hopeless, true love can overcome any barrier.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Anita: I’m usually up at 5:30 to have breakfast and a devotion time with my husband. Then I go up to my office, reply to emails, and start on my writing. I stop for lunch, run a few errands, and then to go back to work again. I don’t watch TV in the evening, but I do treat myself to a new movie or two on the weekends.

Irene: My husband and I get up at 5:45 each morning. While he shaves, I prepare breakfast. We also have a devotional period before we eat. We’ve used THE SECRET PLACE, our American Baptist devotional material, since we were married. We have a list of different people for whom we pray at each meal time. Weather permitting, we take a 2-mile walk after breakfast. I open my e-mail next, then read the Bible and have private devotions. The last 3 days of the week, I prepare to teach my Sunday School lessons. I write as much as possible, but the time spent on my writing depends upon what else needs to be done. I’m very active in the work of my church – choir, playing piano, women’s work and teaching a Sunday School lesson. Unless I’m on a deadline, I don’t write after 6:00 p.m.

Where do all your ideas come from?

Anita: Ideas flood in from everywhere—while I’m running errands, or chatting with a friend, or drifting off to sleep. I can barely keep up with the flow. I have to write them down to use later.

Irene: From reading research books or fiction. I get ideas from talking with others, or news items on television.

What are you reading right now?
Anita: I’m reading, A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle.
Irene: I’m reading a Regency romance, one I’ve had on my shelves for a few years. First Season by Anne Baldwin

What are your five favorite things about Christmas?

Anita: The birth of Christ, of course. But then I love the music, the scents, the special foods, and family time together.

Irene: Local church activities, music, baking and visiting shut-ins with goodies, Christmas dinner with extended family, holiday movies on TV.

Where can readers find you online?

Anita: I would love for folks to drop by my website at http://www.anitahigman.com/.
Irene: http://www.irenebrand.com/

Thank you for inviting us to your blog. Irene and I hope your Christmas is filled with the love of Christ and all things bright and beautiful!
Anita and Irene are giving away a copy of their book Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. Stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24, 2010

If you'll remember from last week, we talked about how to hint at backstory (events that occur previous to chapter one) within your story. Today we will take that same example and build on it to show the importance of *knowing* your character's backstory before you begin writing. It adds depth to your character/s. Layers. Think onion.

LAST WEEK: A woman who has endured abuse in the past at the hands of her spouse is sitting at a table as he rants and raves. Remember, on paper, the reader knows nothing of this woman or of this man. They don't even know that she has been abused in the past. Yet. What we are going to do is SHOW through her actions and reactions to her spouse that she has endured violence at the hands of her husband before.

Mary focused on the vein in Larry's forehead. The one that always swelled in direct proportion to the build of Larry's anger. She gripped the edges of the kitchen chair with her hands and dared not stare down at the rough wood boards of the table.
"Listen to me!" he snapped and pounded the table.
Her spine stiffened and she purposely blanked her expression. Fear swam in the back of her throat, an oily taste that worked her gag reflex.
Larry jammed his face up next to hers. "That's the problem, you never listen to me."
He grabbed her upper arms with all the strength of a construction worker.

Today we'll add to this. Let's take one aspect of the woman's backstory, her job, and tell me how what she does for a living is going to affect her actions and reactions to yet another one of her husband's tantrums.

1)How would the woman's job as CEO of a company affect her reaction?

2)How would she react if her job was that of a janitor?

3)Same scenario, but she is a scientist?

4)What if she is unemployed?

Really give this some thought. What you're doing is seeing how one tiny aspect of a character's life, something the reader will not know about that person right off, can vary their action/reaction. Why is this, and how does it help deepen characterization

Monday, August 23, 2010

Erin Rainwater is a Pennsylvania native who probably should have been born in the 19th century but somehow got flash-forwarded into the 20th. There was never any question that she would be a nurse when she grew up, regardless of which century she was in. And beginning in about the seventh grade, there was no question that she’d launch that nursing career in the military.
The daughter of a WWII intelligence officer, she entered the Army after graduating from nursing school. That was during the Vietnam War era, and she was privileged to care for the bodies and spirits of soldiers and veterans, including repatriated POWs and MIAs. Her military experience has helped in writing parts of her novels. Her support of the military has been life long and is ongoing, and one of her favorite pastimes is volunteering at the USO in Denver. She participated in Operation Desert Swap, having “adopted” a soldier in Iraq to whom she sent a copy of her novel for reading and swapping with his fellow troops. Erin now lives in Colorado with her husband of 35 years, has four children and the four most adorable grandchildren on the planet.

Check out Erin’s web site at http://www.erinrainwater.com/. Contact information can be found there.

When did you decide to be a writer?

My only passion from childhood was to be a nurse. The urge to write only came in my early thirties.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

Around 25 years! But keep in mind that as a wife, mother of four and a nurse, I wasn’t writing full time, or even writing to get published at first. My manuscripts sat in a drawer for a couple of years. Once I pursued publication, it took several years of rejections and rewrites before I self-published my first two historical novels. Some would say I got ahead of God’s will, but I believe the opposite. He provided the money and the peace to go along with it, and I am so glad I took that route. Then another story—which turned into three— took hold of me and I had to write again. About a year and a half later, I sold it to a traditional publisher, Torn Veil Books.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

When an idea comes, and grows, and it simply must come out, I write. That means that sometimes I don’t write for long periods, because I don’t have that spark inside that says I must. I believe that if I write something that hasn’t come from within, or I have no passion for, my stories won’t come across as powerful and personal as readers tell me they do. If that makes me what others label “undisciplined,” so be it.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

What’s a deadline?

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

To Kill A Mockingbird. My father was an attorney like Atticus Finch—honest, intelligent, a lover of his children. He died when I was two, so I saw in Atticus a picture of my father. The story is so powerful, funny and heartwarming. I’ve been in love with Gregory Peck ever since.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

For me reading books, whether well written or poorly so, is the best learning tool, far better than reading How-To books. It’s important to learn the craft and tools of the trade, things like dialogue, pacing, plot, characterization, etc., and self-help books certainly have value. But I learn and absorb those concepts better from reading than from books that reference those things. It’s like the difference between someone telling you why a movie is good and seeing the movie for yourself.

Tell us a little about your latest release, Refining Fires.

It’s unique in that it’s in three parts, each with distinct main characters, with God masterfully weaving their lives together as only He can do. The first story, “Refining Fire,” is a love story between a disfigured veteran and a nurse who applies for a job with him but can’t provide good references. He tosses her out, but she is as plucky as he is angry, and her determined efforts elicit renewed life from his body while evoking a raw yearning in his soul. “Blind Courage” introduces a young girl who must act courageously in the face of overwhelming challenges if she is to save her mother’s life. The third is the story of a “Kept Woman,” of how she got to that point, and of “Who” has been keeping her all along. Paths cross and lives intertwine, showing how God’s hand is ever on us, leading and refining.

Where did you get your inspiration for Refining Fires?

“Refining Fire,” had been in me for many years in one form or another, then I saw the Mel Gibson movie, The Man Without a Face, which added to my inspiration. “Blind Courage” was a story I originally wrote for an 8th grade English assignment. My teacher liked it so much she read it out loud to the class. I’ve never gotten it out of my head. I had no intention of writing about the “Kept Woman,” but I felt like God was asking me to answer two questions about her: What happened? and What now? I can’t explain that any further without giving away plot points, but I think readers will understand after they’ve read the book.

Which character is most like you?

Well, if I stick to the female characters, my choices are a nurse, a child, and a kept woman. I guess I’ll go with the nurse, seeing as how I’m one, too, and she and I are both Army veterans.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Leopold the butler is right up there with the best of ’em. But I’ll go with the hero, Peter Cochran. Once you get underneath his skin, and scars, he’s a truly extraordinary man. Courageous. Persevering. An overcomer. With a sense of humor held hostage. Although it takes some nudging from a good woman for him to become the man he was created to be. But I have to add that Susannah is so inspiring with her childish innocence, and is my personal hero.

Did you know how Refining Fires would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I didn’t even know it was going to be a novel! “Refining Fire” started as a short story, but my critique partners simply wouldn’t have it. They insisted I enhance it to novel length. I didn’t have that much story about Peter and Clare in me, not without adding a bunch of filler, which I hate. I was able to nearly doubled its length, and it truly is so much better. At that time I had no idea I was going to rewrite my 8th grade story, title it “Blind Courage” and weave the two together. I didn’t even want to write “Kept Woman,” but as I said, I felt God leading me to tell her story, which turns out to be one of the most unpredictable elements of the entire book. Blending these three apparently disparate stories of God’s refining hand in our lives took on a life of its own, and I was blessed with being the scribe who brought it all together.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

God said through Isaiah, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” God’s unfathomable love sometimes includes discipline, and sometimes He tests the genuineness of our faith, but the Refiner always provides the courage and tools we need to persevere and overcome.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I have my own web site, but other than my Amazon page I don’t run a blog. So I am most appreciative of your giving me space to share my characters’ stories. I send out media releases and post cards; arrange book signings; contact libraries, local book clubs and indie stores; do local radio shows and newspaper stories when the opportunity is given. One neat thing about the publisher, Torn Veil Books, is that they satisfy the needs of readers who like reading electronically as well as those who still prefer the old-fashioned way of turning pages (of which I’m one) by releasing in both print and eBook formats. That makes it more marketable as well.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I’m working in collaboration with the producer who is turning a scene from my novel, True Colors, into a play for a showing this fall. As for novel writing, nothing is burning inside me right now, so I’m spending my days promoting and marketing Refining Fires.
Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from Refining Fires by Erin Rainwater.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Max loves his squeaky toys…er…perhaps I should say, he loves to rip them open and tear the squeaky out. Afterward, he struts around the house with the squeaker hidden in his mouth. Now that’s a strange sight, I tell you. Unless you know what’s in his mouth, you’d have to wonder why an eight-pound dog is squeaking like that.

I’m going to have to run to the pet store again. Last night, Max tore up the last of his toys. He dug, and pawed, and ripped with a ferocity that surprised me. Fluff lay everywhere! Finally, satisfied with his prize, Max climbed up onto the couch and left the stuffing for me to clean up. While I didn’t appreciate the mess, the process did intrigue me.

What would happen if I dug into God’s word with the same ferocity? Could I claim some kind of prize like Max does? Would it please God if everyday, I scrambled to tear into His word, devouring it as though it were the last “toy” I’d every have?

I know the answer is ‘yes.’ The trick will be to discipline myself…no, to delight myself, in His Word.

Psalm 119:9-16 (New International Version)

b Beth
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! This week, winners have their choice of Promise of Tomorrow, Polly Dent Loses Grip, and Murder on the Ol' Bunions.
Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

laura frantz
Amy Landeg
Tammy G.

Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address AND your choice of book so I can forward your information to the author. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Sandra (aka S. Dionne Moore), for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is drawing THREE winners. Winners receive THEIR CHOICE of three great books:

Polly Dent Loses Grip by S. Dionne Moore ~ Polly Dent loses grip on the treadmill and takes a fatal spill that’s ruled an accident. Helping her mother-in-law move into Bridgeton Towers Assisted Living, but the scars from LaTisha Barnhart’s surgically removed bunions tell her something’s afoot. The residents’ gossip is revealing all kinds of motives for murder. Gertrude Herrman is out looking for love in the form of Thomas Philcher’s fat wallet, and Polly’s fall eliminates her competition once and for all. Otis Payne, the venerable director of Bridgeton Towers, is over a barrel when his wife demands cash, or she’ll carry on without him. Mitzi Mullins’s penchant for rhyme puts her in direct line as perpetrator of the crime, and Sue Mie’s mistake seals Polly’s fate.

Promise of Tomorrow by S. Dionne Moore ~ Johnston , PA, 1889. Jack Kelly is struggling to quell the demons of poverty he has known all his life and live down his father's drunken legacy. This ambition drives him to invent a better method of turning iron ore into steel, to guarantee himself andhis fiance a financially secure future.
Alaina Morrison, raised by her embittered mother to distrust all men,must choose between Jack, or becoming the self-sufficient woman her mother has pushed her to become.
Jack's commitment to prove himself blinds him to Alaina's needs. She walks away from their engagement. But when the storm of angry floodwaters tears apart the town, will they survive to see the promise of tomorrow?
Murder on the Ol' Bunions by S. Dionne Moore ~ LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.

She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 08/21/10.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club,
Lake Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, May 10, 1889

Jack Kelly stood cloaked in the shadow of a large tree. From this vantage point, his view of the woman he hoped to make his wife remained quite clear.

Alongside the lake, surrounded by veils of white dogwood blooms, the three Hensley children flocked around the skirts of Alaina Morrison’s day dress. Her beatific smile beamed down on their heads. Alaina’s close friend, Mary, off to the side of the group, laughed at the spectacle created as Alaina held the candy in her hand high above the shorter heads of their charges. Her voice carried to his hiding place. “Not until after supper. I promised your mother.”

Jack drank in the scene. As one child, taller than the rest, made a jump for the candy, Alaina leaned into him with her free hand and offered a tickle to his ribs.

Mary calmed the growing frenzy of laughter with a clap of her hands. “We need to be heading home.” Mary tapped the heads of two blond twins and an older girl and motioned. “Let’s go before supper is declared too cold to eat.”

“Do we have to go?” Little Lily Hensley whined to Alaina as she stood, grubby hands full of the pebbles prevalent at the lakeside retreat.

“We got here later than usual.” She touched the tip of Lily’s nose. “I’ll allow five more minutes of playtime. How does that sound?”

Reinvigorated by the news, Lily clapped Alaina around the knees and the two went tumbling into a patch of spring green grass. Alaina sat up and started a tickle attack.

Jack crossed his arms, entranced by the vision before him. Alaina’s yellow day dress did not flaunt the latest style. Plain but crisp, the material flattered her dark hair and eyes. The ease with which she laughed and smiled, accepted disappointments, and shared in fun swelled his heart, just as it had since he’d first talked to her at the store where her mother stitched clothing.

He’d seen her before that afternoon, but only at a distance. When she’d dropped three bolts of material at his feet and he’d helped to pick them up, her smile had made his heart pound and his palms sweat. He’d made the trip to the store across the river every spare moment for the past year and a half. At least until it had dawned on him that he loved her. But marriage meant he would need money.

He pushed the thought away as Alaina spread her arms wide. The smallest child of the prominent Hensley family toddled into her arms. She made a great show of allowing the little boy to help her to her feet, so much so that the two older children, Lily and Mark, pitched in to help.

With the light breeze from the lake at his back, and the promise of summer before him, Jack could no longer discount his feelings. For days he had reviewed his proposal, hesitant to say the words out loud, then unsure why he hesitated at all in asking Alaina to be his wife. But hesitate he did, and he hated himself at the end of every day he waited.

Today would be the day.

Alaina guided her small flock up the walkway toward Moorhead cottage, a large home that held little in common with its name. Built on the edge of Lake Conemaugh, the huge Queen Anne-style home, with its rounded end tower, was the summer retreat for any family rich enough to afford the rental price; a privilege Jack hoped to provide for Alaina someday. Of course, they would need to be members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club first. But he held little doubt that as soon as he completed his invention, he would make that dream come true, too.

Jack turned his head and relished the bright sunshine that cast diamonds on the lake. Several boathouses squatted along the shore, waiting for the influx of summer club members to open their creaking doors and indulge in a little boating. Again, the sting of his inability to afford such luxuries stoked his determination.

Pushing his thoughts aside, Jack squinted toward the end of Lake Conemaugh, where a wide road crossed the breast of a tall dam. The view from the dam into the valley was breathtaking, one of Alaina’s favorite spots. Satisfied with the location he had chosen, he inhaled to steady his nerves and returned his attention to the dark-haired beauty.

Alaina’s steps brought her closer to him. Lily held her left hand, the three-year-old boy her right. Behind her trailed the twelve-year-old, trying to appear aloof from his siblings and “nanny.”

Jack grinned. At twelve he would have done the same thing. He stepped out from beneath the tree and into the waning sunlight.

Thomas, the toddler, saw him first. He tugged Alaina’s hand, pointing and drawing her attention to where Jack stood.

When she met his gaze, her expression softened, and she gave him a shy smile.

Jack laughed as Lily barreled into his legs. Her small face tilted back. “You bring me candy, Jack?”

“Lillian!” Alaina frowned. “Didn’t I just say no more candy?”

“But Robert brings me candy.” Lillian pouted.

Alaina’s eyes flicked to his. She flinched, then glanced back to Lillian and held out her hand. “And you know how many times I’ve told Robert not to do that.”

Jack tensed as he watched the flush creep up Alaina’s neck. Robert. Again.

Sandra is giving away THREE books. Winners will have their choice of Promise of Tomorrow, Polly Dent Loses Grip, and Murder on the Ol' Bunions! Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

S. Dionne Moore aka Sandra Moore, is an author who writes both cozy mystery and historical romance. If you would like to learn more about her, visit her Website at http://www.sdionnemoore.com/, or order a case of her books and she'll put you on her Christmas card list and send you boring newsletters of family events every year. Aren't you glad you have a choice in this?

When did you decide to be a writer?

Well now, it wasn't really a “I'll think I'll be a writer” moment. It started out with the premature birth of my daughter. Sitting with her in NICU through 75 days, not knowing whether she would live or die, built up such an emotional bubble that I poured out my heart on paper and posted it on my Geocities Website. Later, I joined a ring for Preemie Parents to both give and receive support. One day I was contacted by a woman who was putting together a book, Living Miracles, Stories of Hope from Parents of Premature Babies (http://www.amazon.com/Living-Miracles-Stories-Parents-Premature/dp/0312272723/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281382200&sr=8-1), St. Martin's Press. She wanted to use my “poem” as the introduction for the book. From there, my writing spiraled outward into other story ideas until I realized it was something I really wanted to do. So, I researched writing groups, joined a few, left a few, absorbed like a sponge, kept writing, learned some more. . .

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Oy! I'm supposed to trust my writing abilities? I wish someone had told me. I think writing is more often than not learning to trust the critiques that you receive from others who are knowledgeable in writing.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

After publication there is seldom time to write when you feel like it. If you want to make a living at this that means a flurry of ideas, proposals, and synopses need to be spinning through your mind and into your computer at all times. So even in my down moments, my mind is always sorting, stacking, assessing, or creating in some way to enhance my writing.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Walking on hot pavement. Laying on a hill of fire ants. Oh, wait, I read that wrong. I thought you asked me what it was like being on a deadline. Silly me.

I love to travel, sing, read, play the Wii. The problem is when I step away to do these things, I usually end up getting a great idea that takes me right back to the keyboard. I think it's a disease.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Promise of Tomorrow is my first of three historical romances. It is May of 1889 in Johnstown, PA, a few weeks before the flood that devastated the entire town and killed more than 2K people. Alaina Morrison loves Jack Kelly, but his drive to be rich before he marries her leads her to break off their engagement. When she returns to Johnstown after the flood, she is devastated by the destruction and begins her search for survivors. . .and Jack.

Where did you get your inspiration for Promise of Tomorrow?

My husband and I visited Johnstown a couple of years ago. I was stirring around for some new ideas and seldom-used settings for a new romance series, when I realized the May 1889 disaster would be an incredible setting for such a story.

Which character is most like you?

Let's see. . .I have Jack's ferocity when it comes to detail. Alaina's heart for people. Frank's humorous, tough-talk way of getting Jack to see himself, and Alaina's mother's desire for my daughter to do well. Ha! That about covers them all, huh?

Who is your favorite character and why?

I think Jack's struggle most intrigued me. A child's view of his world is often exaggerated by immaturity. That's not to discount Jack's disappointment and grief over his father (and mother), but I think, too, that part of Jack's discovery that people are more important than things helps him let go of that which he doesn't have the power to change anyway.

Did you know how Promise of Tomorrow would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Oh dear. I can't remember. You see, I just finished book three and my memory isn't so good. Once I get embroiled in a new story, the details of the old one are much harder for me to retain. (sigh) Old age, I think.

I do remember one detail. . .the epilogue. The relationship hinted at in that letter seemed to evolve naturally and was totally unplanned.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

That our pursuit of things will never satisify as much as the pursuit of relationships, God, and the nurturing of love.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

Please, please, if you are reading this, BUY MY BOOK!

Is that what you mean? :)

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Since I just finished and turned in the third book, I'm working on two proposals, one for a set of western themed books, the other for a historical romance based on a small island in the Atlantic. Plus I'm rewriting another manuscript. No rest for the weary, I guess, but that's okay, so long as I love what I'm doing. Now. . .what am I doing?

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Writer's write. And if you're reading this you're not writing! :)
Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from Promise of Tomorrow by our very own S. Dionne Moore!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We've discussed the improper use of backstory within a manuscript, but let's get to the main reason why backstory is so important. Backstory builds your characters into 3-D humans. It adds depth to who they are, what they are, and shows why they act and react as they do within the pages of your manuscript.

Let's work on an example together. This is the opening scene of your newest work-in-progress: A woman who has endured abuse in the past at the hands of her spouse is sitting at a table as he rants and raves. Remember, on paper, the reader knows nothing of this woman or of this man. They don't even know that she has been abused in the past. Yet. What we are going to do is SHOW through her actions and reactions to her spouse that she has endured violence at the hands of her husband before.

Mary focused on the vein in Larry's forehead. The one that always swelled in direct proportion to the build of Larry's anger. She gripped the edges of the kitchen chair with her hands and dared not stare down at the rough wood boards of the table.
"Listen to me!" he snapped. His mouth twisted into a cruel line and he lunged forward. His fist sliced down. The table rocked beneath the onslaught.
Her spine stiffened and she purposely blanked her expression. Fear swam in the back of her throat, an oily taste that worked her gag reflex.
Larry jammed his face up next to hers. "That's the problem, you never listen to me."
He grabbed her upper arms with all the strength of a construction worker, his breath hot on her face.

So what have you learned from this passage? What words show that she has been through this before with Larry?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we’ll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend’s prayer because she’s asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said ‘I direct deposit my tithe’ so people wouldn’t judge me.”

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny.

This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. In it you’ll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you’ve got a Metro worship leader-Use Acuff’s checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered.

Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

I grew up in Massachusetts with two younger brothers and a younger sister. My dad is a minister and that’s how I learned about a lot of the things I write about on SCL.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

I like to run when I have time. More than anything, I like to play and hang out with my wife and kids. I have two daughters, ages 6 and 4 and they are awesome.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Flight. Everyone wants to be superman.

What has God been teaching you lately?

Patience. He’s been teaching me about the slow build up of patience and how slowness is not a punishment.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In the 3rd grade I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Where are you headed next?

I’m going to Nashville, Houston and Dallas in the next few weeks.

How did you get involved in writing?

A teacher in the third grade laminated some poems I wrote and I fell in love with it then.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?

Finishing a piece. Starting is so much easier.

What did you enjoy most about the writing process?

The brainstorming part.

How do you find time to write?

I get up at 5AM before anyone in my family is up.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

There was a popular site called Stuff White People Like. I feel like it’s weird that we Christians always steal popular secular ideas like making “Got Milk?” say “Got God?” I thought it would be a good idea to discuss that problem by committing that problem.

What are the major themes of the book?

I try to clear the clutter of Christianity away so we can see the beauty of Christ.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

Writing the site gave me lots of things to talk about and write about.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That they’ll know how fun and full of laughter a life of faith can be.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?

Pick a time to write and then do it. Don’t debate whether you will write each day, just write.
About the Author:

For the last ten years, Jonathan Acuff has written advertising for clients ranging from the Home Depot to Chick-fil-A. In addition to his many day jobs, he also writes a blog called www.stuffchristianslike.net. He and his wife live with their two daughters outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Learn more about Jonathan at

Stuff Christians Like
Release: March 2010
Soft cover, 208 pp.
ISBN: 0310319943

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One of Max’s least favorite activities is bath time. He hates it. The moment I say, “Let’s give you a bath,” Max is hiding under the couch. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always give me choice.

Take, for example, last Saturday. My family and I were busy doing yard work. Max came outside with us, but since we couldn’t pay much attention to him, it wasn’t long before he found his way to the pasture. The cow pasture. Where the cows are. And the cow patties.

When I finally realized that Max wasn’t in the yard with us, it was too late. He’d found every mud puddle and cow pie in the area, and he wore the evidence proudly. Disgusted, I carried Max inside, at arm’s length mind you, and plunked him in the tub.

“Bad dog, Max,” I scolded as I scrubbed, and rinsed, and scrubbed some more. At last, I was able to wash away the stench. Max was clean, but not happy. The moment I lifted him from the bath, he bolted for the living room, dripping and shaking all the way.

What is about getting a bath that he hates so much? Why does my washing away the grime make him want to run and hide? Can it be he’s actually content to wallow in the filth?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was exactly right, and we are not much different. Our sins cling to us, covering us in an unholy stench that must disgust our God and Savior. Yet, He does not hold us at arm’s length. Instead, He bids us come to let Him wash away our sin, and though the process can be uncomfortable, I’m learning to love bath time.

Psalm 51:1-7 (New International Version)

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winner:

kate (from California) – A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
kate, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the author. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Julie Carobini, for your generosity in providing a book!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away:

A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini ~ Callie Duflay just isn’t like the rest of her family. While they’ve built white collar lives, she prefers getting her hands dirty by working with children and local California causes. When Callie learns that a beloved piece of untouched property in her town of Otter Bay may soon be developed, she confronts the architect assigned to the project.

Gage Mitchell may be an easygoing, eco-friendly professional, but he’s not about to back off this job no matter how cute Callie or her pet pooch, Moondoggy, may be. His reasons and hers are noble—both have a heart for protecting God’s creation, and the truth is these two would be perfect for each other outside of this face-off. But will they ever figure that out?

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 08/14/10.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chapter One
The rope in my hand resembled a noose. "Sorry, pal, it was all I could find."
The stray doggy with the dewdrop eyes had found me earlier today as I jogged along the shores of Otter Bay while trying to shake off a tough weekend. I slipped the makeshift leash around his skinny neck. It was almost evening and our trot through the woods on the way to my sister's house for Sunday supper would serve as my halfhearted attempt to find this dog's owner.
Hopefully, they're long gone, because until this pup's arrival, I hadn't realized just how hollow my house with its reclaimed wood flooring and single occupant had begun to sound.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. By my age--and my mother's calculations--I should be living quite comfortably as a wife and mother and keeper of a house surrounded by a white picket fence. "Men aren't attracted to tomboys, Callie," my mother always said, clutching her heart and peering into the sky. She'd always been dramatic like that. Probably a leftover from her days in musical theater, an aspiration she eventually gave up to raise children.
Click Here to read the entire first chapter of A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini. And be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win a copy of Julie's book!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Julie Carobini writes seaside novels filled with faith, flip flops and waves of grace. This summer she celebrates the release of her fourth novel, A SHORE THING (B&H Publishing Group). Julie blogs, owns an online store—Juliesbeachshop.com—and runs on the beach (when her bum knee cooperates). She lives with her husband Dan and three children on California’s central coast.

When did you decide to be a writer?

As an avid pre-teen Nancy Drew reader, I don’t really remember ever not wanting to be a writer. I began writing articles for publication when my first child was born about 19 years ago, and also wrote a couple of romance novels that didn’t sell. But as they say, third time’s a charm, and my debut novel, Chocolate Beach, released in 2007. By that time, I had a renewed faith in God as well as a redefined focus on the kinds of stories He was leading me to write.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I thought a lot about my answer to this because trusting oneself as a writer is a process that takes time and practice. My first published novel came about as a result of a mentoring group at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s conference. The first 20 pages of the manuscript were critiqued there and I learned the art of accepting face to face criticism. Yowza. Tough to do, but oh so worth it. That group, led by Randy Ingermanson, helped me fix parts of the manuscript, but also proved the subjectivity of critiquing. I learned to be teachable, but also to disagree with some suggestions and go with my instinct.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

When I’m on deadline, I’m very disciplined. With three kids on different schedules, I have to write each day to get that word count in, and often, that means shutting down email/Facebook/Twitter! When I’m not on deadline, it’s amazing how much time I can waste…

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

You know, this is so important for writers. I have to force myself to take those breaks, but when I do—wow!—I’m almost always mentally recharged and ready to hit the writing again. I live near the beach, so my favorite respites take place on the sand. Often with my dog, a dose of prayer…and a hot latte.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I love The Secret Garden because both the characters and landscare are so rich. It’s as if I can see the characters expressions, hear the creak of the garden gate, and smell the mix of new growth and withering vines beyond the crumbling wall…

I LOVE that book, too! So tell me, how do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

When I’m stuck, I often take one of my favorite books outside and get lost in it for awhile. Stirs up the creativity! Reading all kinds of writing can also provide a terrific education. I’ve read a couple of writing books that I can recommend, but usually I learn best by reading and analyzing the work of great storytellers.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

A Shore Thing is the story of Callie Duflay and her fight to stop a huge development from taking over her beloved beach front town of Otter Bay – even as romantic sparks fly with Gage, the architect on the job. Full of small town politics, quirky characters, craggy tidepools—and romance!

Where did you get your inspiration for A SHORE THING?

I’ve been fascinated by my brother, Daniel Navarro’s, career as a certified green architect, and I started to think about how his work honors God. I became equally fascinated thinking about how a person in his position could be in direct conflict with someone of the same mind, but who approaches their beliefs in a different way. Enter Callie, an eco-conscious gal who loves God, children, and the open land of Otter Bay. I kept wondering how these two could find ‘common ground’ and that was the seed for the story.

Which character is most like you?

Hmm. I’d say Callie because she’s passionate—but doesn’t always think before she speaks!

Who is your favorite character and why?

I love them all, but just thinking about Moondoggy, Callie’s adopted stray pet, makes me smile.

Did you know how A SHORE THING would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

Not initially. As the plot moved along and the characters became more and more boxed in, I kept doing research on various ideas that sprung up. I’m pleased with the way it turned out!

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

First, I hope readers are entertained. I hope they get lost in the setting…that they draw in the scent of pine mixed with the ocean breeze, and sense the brisk wind licking their cheeks. But I also hope that readers perceive the bigger picture that God has in store for those who love and follow him. For our hero and heroine, Gage and Callie, giving up is hard to do. I hope A Shore Thing demonstrates that no matter what our particular will in a situation is, the only way to be truly wise is to build our lives on the rock (see Matthew 7:24).

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

The sales & marketing team at B&H Publishing group is da bomb. They have worked with me to get my novels into all kinds of stores, especially in my local area or areas where I’ve traveled. I’ve followed up by visiting many of those stores, bringing ‘thank you’ chocolates for the staff and bookmarks for the readers. It’s been a win-win-win, I think. Of course, I also connect with readers via social networking sites, my occasional e-newsletter, and my blog. I love receiving letters from readers!

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I’ve completed the third book in the Otter Bay series of stand alone novels, and I’ve already seen the beautiful cover! Fade to Blue is the story of Suz, a character who appears in A Shore Thing, and her journey to independence.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Just that God took all the lows and highs in my life and created something new with them. Believe me when I tell you that I had no plans of my own to write beach-themed novels one day. I just kept praying and writing and seeking until an idea popped into my head. I followed that idea, and now find myself editing my fifth novel filled with ‘waves of grace’. Hope that encourages someone!
Thank you, Julie for stopping by The Borrowed Book!
Now, want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini.

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