Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unlike most dogs, Max loves his collar. I suppose that’s because from his earliest days, I used it as a way of rewarding him. For example, I never put it on him unless we went for a ride. I would hold up the tiny buckle and wave it in front of him.

“Do you want to go for a ride, Max? You want to go get ice cream?”

Max’s hind end shook furiously as he anticipated his favorite treat, a Dairy Queen single dipped cone. He ran to the door, pawing to get out.

“Collar first, Max. Let’s put it on.”

He scurried back to me, barely able to sit still as I secured the collar around his neck and then opened the door for him to go outside. In his eyes, the collar meant a day of fun, a reward, so to speak for good behavior.

So it is with God. “Take my yoke upon you,” He said. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

And yet we sometimes fight against God’s yoke, certain that a restraint of any kind can only be bad. Watching Max has convinced me that God’s yoke truly is a good thing. Bearing it leads to the reward He has planned for us, one much greater than any treat Dairy Queen can offer.

Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version)

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

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

Debbie – Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Anita Higman and Irene Brand
Doreen (purposedrivenlife4you) – Love Finds You in Humble, Texas by Anita Higman
Duhpaynes - Ozark Weddings by Anita Higman and Janice Thompson
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, Anita Higman, Irene Brand, and Janice Thompson, for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, October 29, 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 three great books:

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand and Anita Higman ~ 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.

Love Finds You in Humble, Texas by Anita Higman ~ Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant and she’s never had much luck in love. To make matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to “treat” her to a makeover and a few blind dates. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and handsome Mason Williamson.

In spite of her humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny and smart. But Lane inexplicably pushes Trudie away from Mason and toward the other willing suitors.
The makeover has transformed Trudie from ordinary into stunning but she isn’t sure how she feels about all the attention from men. Can Trudie stay true to her humble self and find her heart’s desire in the process?

Ozark Weddings by Anita Higman and Janice Thompson ~ Take a journey into the Ozarks where romance disrupts the lives of three women. Larkspur Wendell s new neighbor Everett Holden is more interested in his computer than communication. Will Larkspur s zest for life draw the reclusive Everett out of his shell or drive him in deeper? The vulnerability of Clair O Neal attracts the attention of two different men. Can she trust their interest or their motives? Nori Kelly s biological clock is ticking loud and clear. But she s also a successful entrepreneur. So why does she only attract nerds like Zachary Martin? Will God move mountains to bring hearts together?

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 10/30/10.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chapter One

Trudie Abernathy always wondered about two things. First, how was it that some people could live charmed lives while others accumulated troubles like those beetles that spent their time rolling up balls of dung? And secondly, how could one person fall in love as effortlessly as a sneeze, while another hobbled along on love as if it were a twisted ankle?

I am the dung beetle. Trudie smiled over at her sister, who sat across from her in the limo. Lane Abernathy, her sister, was the one who lived the breezy life. Lane was an image coach and always had a string of rich and handsome boyfriends while Trudie had never known the joys of having a steady anything—she was single, not-so-sexy, and somewhat sweaty.

Lane looked out the tinted window as she chatted about some new dress shop in town. Even though Trudie felt close to her sister, they invariably looked at life through different ends of the kaleidoscope. Lane always saw the pretty rainbow designs—the ever-changing wonder of being alive—while Trudie was busy turning the little contraption around to prove the whole thing was just an illusion created out of broken glass. Yeah, that’s so me.

Lane fidgeted with her bridal pink suit—a color so fragile it looked breakable—while Trudie concerned herself with the impracticality of renting a limo. “I know it’s my birthday, but you really didn’t have to go to all this trouble. And you picked the priciest restaurant in town.” Trudie ran her fingers along the butter-cream leather on the seat, thinking it looked good enough to melt over a bacon burger.

“But it’s your favorite, and I can afford it.” Lane got up and sat next to her sister. “Come on now. It’s not just any birthday. It’s your thirtieth. And this year I’ve decided your gift will be a total makeover. All my sessions for free.”

“Lane, that’s way too much.”

“No arguments. The works.”

Trudie crossed her arms over her poly-blend maroon checkered jacket—a real find she’d managed to snatch up at a garage sale for fifty cents. Trudie rubbed elbows with her sister like she’d done in school. “Remember what our English teacher said about us? There’s a certain beauty in being ugly.”

“I remember well.” Lane raised a shoulder. “We showed Mr. Belvedere, didn’t we?”

“You showed Mr. Belvedere. If he could just see you now…all slender and blonde and graceful.”

“Come on now, don’t be so hard on yourself.” Lane puckered her brow. “You just need a little polish.”

“A little polish? I’d need a whole spa crew working around the clock.”

“You can be so negative.” Lane handed Trudie a mirror out of her Prada bag. “Just look at yourself and witness all the possibilities.”

Trudie groaned. “Mirrors.” What was it she hated about mirrors? Let me count the ways. Reluctantly, she looked into the glass at her somewhat straggly blonde hair, thinnish face, and pale skin. She was no longer sure what potential should look like. Hmm. Mirrors. They were like clocks—a reminder of time. Trudie didn’t mind about the fine lines gathering around her blue eyes or her ivory plainness, but she did mind very much about the time. Each person would only be allotted so much of it. And now at thirty, the burning question was—had she fallen into the rhythm of her life yet? Was she using up the minutes and the decades wisely? “I don’t think so.”

“What did you say?” Lane shook her head. “You’re always murmuring things.”

Trudie handed the mirror back to her sister. Shame on Lane. She was going to force her to be dissatisfied with her appearance and make her want to improve. “But you enjoy preening. For me, it’s a waste of time.” Lane tugged on her sleeve while donning her puppy dog eyes. “You’ll never guess what I did. I brought the tiara. It’s in my purse. Why don’t you take it home and wear it?”

Like the contents of a cistern suddenly being stirred, things unnamed deep inside rose to the surface. “I’m too old to wear that thing. Thanks, though.” Mist stung Trudie’s eyes, but she shook off the emotion. “Listen, I don’t mean to downplay what you do as an image coach. You’ve helped a lot of people succeed in what they do. But wouldn’t it be better for me to find a man who loves me this way than to remake myself into something I’m not? I mean he might wake up the day after our honeymoon and ask for a refund.”

“But you won’t be somebody different. You’ll be Trudie à la mode.”

She grinned, shaking her head at her sister. Then Trudie leaned back, determined to enjoy the ride—something she had trouble doing in a limo and in life. The jazzy velvet luxury of their cocoon felt nice compared to her back0ring jalopy that had so many odd parts it could no longer claim a brand name. “Sometimes I think I was born on the wrong planet.”

“That’s what you always say when you’re wrong and I’m right. Or you want to change the subject. Come on now, give me a chance to help you. Pleeease.”

It was always hard to say no to Lane. “Let me think about it.”

Even though her logic was sometimes defective, there was something irresistible about it too.

“Well, here’s my first tip. A little peachy lip gloss will light up the face instantly.” Lane handed her a pink wand. “Try it. I bought it just for you.”

Trudie swiped some of the slippery goop on her lips. She knew it was supposed to be silky and exotic, but why did it smell like dirty house shoes? “Thanks.”

“By the way, I hope it’s okay, but my 0nancial advisor is meeting us for lunch. You remember me mentioning Mason Wimberley. I went out with him some months ago. He’s a 0ne Christian man, and I think—”

“Yes, I remember you talking about him.” Trudie lifted her hand. “But please tell me this isn’t a blind date.”

Lane pinked darker than her pumps.

“Oy. A blind date.” Trudie rolled her eyes. Lane never could hide a secret from her.

“It was Mason’s idea. You know, after I told him all about you.”

“You either lied your head off about me, or he has issues you never told me about…like he uses one of those plastic toothpicks out of an army knife or his hair has all migrated from his head to his ears.” Trudie raised a big sister eyebrow.

Lane gave her a gentle slug on the arm. “None of the above.”

“Then why did you stop dating him?”

“Oh, I just thought it seemed like a conflict to date my financial advisor.” Her sister shrugged. “Kind of like dating your gynecologist.”

Trudie laughed. “Well, not quite like that.”

Lane chuckled and then stared at her sister long enough to catch her gaze. “I think it’s time for your dreams to come true, Trudie.”

As smart as Lane was, she was living proof that women who wore too much pink lost 20 percent of their reasoning abilities. !at was how the male sex always got the edge in business. They don’t wear pink! “Life’s not a fairy tale, Lane. It’s really just a cruel allegory with demented little gnomes who want to turn our happy coaches of merriment into pumpkin puree.”

Lane pulled back, gaping at Trudie. “Where did you come up with that?”

Trudie blinked. “I have no idea.”

“You used to say stuff like that all the time when we were kids.” Lane chuckled.

“I guess I did.” Trudie dug her fingernail into the dimple on her chin. “But you know, life really isn’t a bedtime story or a fun comic book. Those dreams you were talking about…they’re gone.”

Lane smoothed her already wrinkle-free skirt. “Remember on the farm when we’d climb up on the barn roof at night? We’d stare up at the stars as we talked about what we were going to do with our lives?” Trudie looked at her sister. “Yeah, I do. I remember.” Perhaps she could remember too well. She suddenly felt itchy and hot in her maroon jacket. “Why don’t we talk about something else.”

“I followed my dream, and I never gave up. I think that last part is the key.”

She guessed that Lane wasn’t going to give up easily. Trudie looked out the window at the pregnant blush of summer—like spring, it was another season for optimists—and the two seasons she could never seem to catch up with. “Yes, you did make it, but God has been smiling down on you since the first day you showed your face.”

“He’s smiling on you too.”

Trudie patted her sister’s hand. Perhaps He had once.

“You know, over the years you’ve done a lot of good at the children’s hospital. Don’t you think those kids would want you to do something for Trudie?”

Lane must feel desperate since she was playing the emotional card. “Okay. We’ll see.” Trudie cleared her throat. “So, is this Mason guy even a little bit handsome?”

Lane cocked her head as a smidgen of smugness lit her smile. “He dresses well, and he looks like Superman.”

“Oh, really?” She couldn’t imagine why her sister would give up Superman. Nobody would. Unless, of course, you were Lex Luthor’s girlfriend. Trudie chuckled to herself. Then she lifted her foot and noticed a wad of green gum stuck to her shoe. She tried wiping it off without making a scene, but it persisted in becoming one with her sole. Oh, well. What could she say? Life was sticky.

The limo finished winding its way through the tree-lined streets and came to an elegant stop in front of Gaston’s Bistro on Staitti Street. Lane ran her tongue over her teeth and fluffed her hair. “Well, it’s show time.”

“Who’s that man coming toward us?” Trudie ignored the chewing gum and instead scrubbed the perspiration off her hands.

“Oh, that’s Mason. I guess he decided to come meet us out here. That’s very sweet.” Lane waved even though no one could see them through the tinted glass.

Before the chauffeur could get to their side, the well-dressed man called Mason opened the limo door for them. He held out his hand to Trudie, and she followed his arm all the way up to his face. Nice. She was so moved by his asymmetrical but compelling smile that her feet seemed to forget how to hold up her body. She bumbled outward as her mouth released a yelp that sounded remarkably like a newborn coyote. But the highlight of Trudie’s descent into mortification was her hulking fall into the waiting arms of the man who really did look just like Superman.
Anita is giving away a copy of THREE of her books: Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, and Ozark Weddings. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen. Please visit her site at

When did you decide to be a writer?

Even when I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, but I was pretty insecure. I didn’t receive much encouragement growing up, so I put that dream on hold for a long time. But finally later when that dream surfaced again, I said, “Yes.”

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

I’ve been writing for 26 years, and so I trust myself more now than I used to. However, I still make mistakes. I still have to do lots of polishing on my manuscripts.

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

I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to writing and promoting.

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

Movies and books! I love to plunge into someone else’s story and get lost for a little while. I find it wonderfully relaxing.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

Love Finds You in Humble Texas is one of my favorites. It’s the story of two sisters who fall in love with the same man. I felt the love-triangle would be fascinating to explore, and it was. I hope readers think so too.

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

I think we are always growing as writers—you know, fine-tuning our voices. And reading a lot of different kinds of books can be a part of that growth.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My latest release is a 2-in-1 novella collection entitled, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, and I’m happy to say that this book was coauthored with Irene Brand. Irene’s story is historical and dramatic, and mine is contemporary with some comedy, but both stories are tied together. My novella is entitled Once Upon a Christmas Eve.

Here’s a short blub about Once Upon a Christmas Eve:

Holly 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 Holly 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.

Where did you get your inspiration for your novella, Once Upon a Christmas Eve?

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.

Which character is most like you?

Van Keaton has some unique eccentricities, and unfortunately, some of them came from my personality.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I love my heroine, Holly Goodnight, and I want to be her when I grow up.

Did you know how Once Upon a Christmas Eve would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I knew the novella would have a happy ending, and I knew some of the basics of the storyline, but many of the little twists and turns were surprises to me. I start out with a synopsis, but when I’m writing I let the characters lead me instead of the other way around.

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

I hope they are always reminded that there is no human dilemma too messy for God to untangle.

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

Irene and I are doing a lot of promotion for Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, and one of the publicity ideas we worked on was new to both of us. Since e-books have become popular I thought maybe giving away a free Christmas e-book would be a unique way to promote our novella collection. So, Irene and I wrote a gift book, and we’re giving it away for free. The e-book is entitled, Christmas—All Things Bright and Beautiful, and it’s full of family traditions, memories, recipes, and cozy Christmas thoughts. The gift book is on our websites and is free to view, download, print, or email to a friend. There has been a lot of interest in the e-book. We hope people enjoy it. By the way, my website is, and Irene’s site is

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Well, I’m always working on a new proposal. Right now, there are two that I’m getting excited about. But they’re in the “thinking stage.”

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you have read any of my books I thank you with all my heart. And Merry Christmas…a bit early!
Want to know more about this author? Stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from one of Anita's books, Love Finds You in Humble, Texas!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ava Pennington is an author, Bible teacher, and speaker. She has written One Year Alone with God, co-authored Faith Basics for Kids, and has published numerous magazine articles and short stories in anthologies, including fourteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Ava is also a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Learn more at

When did you decide to be a writer?

I dreamed of writing from childhood…literally! I’d have the most vivid dreams, and I thought they’d make great stories. I kept pen and paper on the nightstand, and recorded as much as I could remember when I awoke.

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

When I finally started writing as a serious pursuit, I had a passion to write non-fiction. However, the advice I received was that without a significant platform I had little chance of being published. I had also developed a children’s picture book series, but was told that there was no longer a market for picture books. I dropped both projects and switched to writing fiction, but my heart wasn’t in it.

After more than three years writing fiction, I heard a keynote speaker at a writers conference speak about writing your passion. I realized I had been listening to everyone except the quiet voice that had been speaking to my heart.

I began a new non-fiction devotional project on the names of God, and revived the children’s project with a co-author. Within a year, both projects were under contract!

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

Both! I subscribe to the exhortation “BICHOK,” also known as “butt in chair, hand on keyboard.” However I’m usually juggling multiple projects—short stories for anthologies, magazine articles, blogging, and the current book manuscript—so if the creative juices are not flowing for one project, I switch to another.

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

I love to read and teach. Reading broadens my world, and teaching broadens my relationships (and usually gives me great illustrations!).

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

I love how reading helps me see life from different perspectives. And I grow in my craft as I expose myself to the work of gifted writers who create vivid mental pictures using combinations of only twenty-six letters!

Tell us a little about your latest release:

One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God (Revell Books) has been a project very close to my heart. This guide to the names of God provides 366 life-changing, personal devotions for new Christians and longtime believers. Readers will explore 122 names and attributes of God from three perspectives, discovering something special about who God is, who they are, and how they relate to others.

Where did you get your inspiration for One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God?

The first time I heard a teaching on the names of God was through a sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer when I was a new Christian. When the pastor reached “Hallowed be Thy Name,” he took a detour into a list of some of the Hebrew names of God found in the Old Testament.

A few years later, I read Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur. Once again, I was touched by the personal applications of each of the names of God. And I’m excited to say that Kay Arthur has endorsed One Year Alone with God!

Your book deals with the names of God. What is your personal favorite and why?

This may sound like a cop-out, but I don’t have any one personal favorite. The more I’ve studied the names and attributes of God, the more personal He has become to me. Different names speak to my heart depending on my circumstances. One thing I can attest to: I have never been in a situation where I haven’t been able to draw on a particular name or attribute of God to touch my spirit with healing, hope, or encouragement.

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

God is not an impersonal force “out there.” He is real, He is personal, and He desires to be in relationship with each one of us. The more we get to know Him through the names and attributes He has revealed in His Word, the easier it is for us to trust Him in every circumstance.

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

Since One Year Alone with God released October 2010, I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m using social media (Facebook, Twitter, ShoutLife) and I’m participating in a blog tour. I moved my blog from WordPress to my website ( to increase traffic to the website. I’ve scheduled a launch party and book signing, with other book signings planned as well. Since I’m a speaker and teacher, I’ve also arranged to speak at different churches for women’s events.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I’m dividing my time between two new book projects – a solo adult book on prayer and a co-authored picture book series for children, Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the children’s series will be released by Standard Publishing in January, 2011.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If God has placed a writing project on your heart, then write! Keep writing, but also keep learning. Read as much as you can in your genre. Listen to the editors, agents, and published writers who offer their expertise through websites, blogs, conferences, and books. The only sacred words are in the Bible, so be willing to consider that maybe…just maybe, there’s room for your work to improve. Don’t give up!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Max is a very persistent fellow. . .must be the Ludwig in him coming out. This was evidenced the other day when he felt like playing and I didn’t. Max brought his squeaky to me and dropped it next to my chair.

“Not right now, Max,” I said.

He nudged it with his nose until it touched my feet.

“No, Max,” I repeated.

He picked it up, squeaked it, then wedged it tightly between my crossed ankles. Laughing, I called to my husband. “Check this out. Look what Max is doing.”

My husband came into the room and together we pretended to be fascinated by the T.V. Max stared up at me, finally growling low in his throat.

“Did he just growl at you?” my husband asked, laughing.

“He sure did.” I picked up the toy and tossed it into the kitchen. Max scrambled forward to retrieve it. “He’s persistent, that’s for sure.”

Which got me to thinking. God said we are to be persistent in approaching Him. We are not to give up nor surrender the powerful weapon we have in prayer. God will bring justice for His chosen ones, those whom He has called members of the household of faith. The question then, really is do we have enough faith in Him in to keep seeking?

Luke 18:1-8 (New International Version)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

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

Emma Schummer – The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

connieed53 – Promise of Yesterday by S. Dionne Moore

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 to the publicists for River Jordan and S. Dionne Moore for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, October 22, 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:

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan ~ What if you had the power to amend choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.

Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves—forever.

Promise of Yesterday by S. Dionne Moore ~ Marylu can’t bear to love again.

Marylu Biloxi is a true heroine in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, rescuing several people during the Battle of Gettysburg. But even heroes have broken hearts, and Marylu’s is shattered. So much so that she intends to never open it to love again.

Escaping the horrors of slavery, Chester Jones returns home after many years. After meeting the enigmatic Marylu, sparks fly as he gently pushes his way into her heart.

As love blossoms, secrets from Marylu’s past arise, causing her to question her newfound feelings. And then what about those rumors linking Chester to a murder. . .? Will Marylu allow God to heal her heart or will it be shattered again?

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 10/23/10.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This week, I thought I'd share an excerpt from my bookshelf...the book I'm currently reading. It's The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan, and it's a perfect example of tight writing, deep meaningful prose, and intriguing characters. Enjoy!


I was born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek. Mama said it was a prophecy, and as she is given to having visions of the biblical kind, no one argues with her. She can match what she sees with ancient words, and truth be told, she is frightening with the speaking of them. Mama can swipe you with her eyes so that you feel like you have either been hushed or resurrected by God’s own hand.

On the fateful day of my birth, there had been no signs, natural or otherwise, that foretold what the day would bring. No wild birds roosting in the trees, no funny-yolked eggs, no hints to suggest that a baby was about to show up in a stormy kind of way. The only visible condition at all had been Mama’s fat feet. They were so swollen by that time that they were no longer like feet at all. That’s what drove her down to the creek bed, searching out an herb known for helping such as this. She had on Daddy’s big boots on account of the fact that not a single pair of her own would fit over her feet, and she had just managed to get down to the water’s edge when the first thing happened: the storm came up. The second was I showed up, just as quick and sudden as the wild wind.

Mama tried to call for Ida, but her cries were snuffed by the rolling thunder. So there she was with bolts of lightning crashing all around, hitting the water—she told me she could feel that electricity run through her body, that it was like fire coming from the sky—then she cried out for mercy. That’s how me and Mama came to have a private moment suspended in the crook of the bank. By the time Aunt Ida found us, the storm had passed, the clouds had given way, and the blue sky hovered above her like an eagle’s eye. Mama said she took one look at me and said the only
name that came to mind. “Mercy,” she whispered to me. I answered her with a wailing cry.

Bittersweet is a knotty gathering of simple people who live along the riverbank. The entire place is no more than a boot stomp. It has no official standing as a town at all. It is simply called that by the people who have built their lives along those banks. Had I stayed there, rocking on Aunt Ida’s front porch, watching the water rise and fall, fearing the floods and staying on in spite of them, I wouldn’t be in the middle of where I am now: Bay City. Well, they call it a city, such as it is. But it is nothing more, really, than a beautiful little town rolled out right around the warm, gulf water bay of southern Alabama. It is a city of refuge, bright with possibilities. Everyone who has ever crossed into this place feels that way right down to their toes. When you visit, it will make you believe that it is a place where you can live in fruitful fullness. All sugar, no spice. Or at least that was what it was like when I arrived.

But that was seven years ago. Everything was more peaceful then, but now, it seemed that the whole world was on the verge of war. President Roosevelt said we were staying out of it, but the dark things that were happening overseas tugged at our ankles like a small, nipping dog. The world would not go away no matter how much we tried to shake it off. The events that lay before us as a nation were a large, uncharted territory, watery in their shifting possibilities. The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected. In the meantime we went through our daily routine with a type of laughter we hoped would stave off impending enemies and allow our sacred routines to remain a part of our carefully plotted lives. For the moment the edges of our existence played out sweetly, simply, and untouched by the things we knew were happening beyond the borders of our existence. There was a whole ocean between us and the trouble. It seemed like an ocean should be enough.

Maybe that’s why, in the midst of our time of innocence and uncertainty, the very thing that happened to me was the most wildly unexpected: the mysterious wonder of something that I will attempt to understand fully for the rest of my days. I should make a feeble effort at explaining what took place. My words might be nothing more than a ripple across the waters of time, but they are surely better than no record at all. It began last winter along the Alabama shores. And it was all because of Doc. That’s where the business started.

Doc Philips owned the Banner, and owning Bay City’s only paper was better than being mayor. It was better than being anybody else in town. People trusted Doc with the most important thing of all—the truth.

The second best thing to owning the paper is what I did. I was Doc’s assistant, and that meant I was really the assistant editor. To his credit, Doc tried to give me that title, but it didn’t stick because people just called me Doc’s girl. That’s what they’d say ’cause it made it easy on them. No official title would tarry. They made up their own. Doc’s girl. I didn’t mind.

The Banner was my life, and I loved everything about it. It was a pinch-me-quick-I’m-dreaming kind of situation: the smell of the ink from the printer downstairs. I could probably typeset the whole thing, but that’s Herman’s job, though I’ve helped him in a rush, put on an apron, and hit the presses with him showing me the ropes. I know the smell and sound of every corner of the Banner. The ticker machines clicking off the news by the minute, going to sleep when nothing in the world is happening but then coming alive all at once when the wires are just burning up with stories. That’s my favorite part of the job: getting the skinny on what’s happening around the world before most folks have even had their morning coffee.

Sometimes we ran the stories just the way they were, straight off the wire, but other times Doc decided to give them a little local flavor. He’d tie in DiMaggio’s home run with what one of the local boys did Saturday down at the park. That’s the way he was— “bringing it home,” he called it. “Let’s just remember, Mercy,” he’d tell me. “The news doesn’t mean a thing at all unless we’re bringing it home.”

I always said, “You got it, Doc. Sure thing.” But I didn’t get a huge chance to bring the big news home. That was Doc’s job. I wrote up the smaller stories that happened around Bay City, like all the events of people’s lives that must be made public. Births and deaths, marriages and other procurements. Doc covered the real news—any criminal cases, bank robberies, and kidnappings. Since we hadn’t had any of those, he mostly reported on things like the new traffic light going in and the worldwide news from the wire.

But that was before Doc’s big secret showed up in town. It’s not that I loved the paper less; neither did Doc. How could we? It was the heart of Bay City and the pulse of the world. But then something just appeared—from another world or time or, well, let’s just say, it sure wasn’t from around here. To say it became a distraction would be a flat-out lie. It became an obsession.Doc swore me to complete secrecy so that no one in town knew a thing. But that wasn’t the toughest part; he swore me to keep the secret even from everyone in Bittersweet Creek. All of them thought I was going about my regular life, taking care of business and printing the news. They were completely wrong. The greatest story in the entire world had fallen right into my hands, and I couldn’t print a word of it.

Excerpted from The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan Copyright © 2010 by River Jordan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bible Smuggling 101
Legally Saturating High Schools with God’s Word

In today’s divisive culture-war society, when news stories about separation of church and state thrive with controversy, one cutting-edge Christian ministry is having remarkable success spreading the Word of God. What makes it remarkable? They are doing it by distributing Bibles in public schools—legally.

Carl Blunt is the president and CEO of The Life Book Movement, a Christian mission centered on Blunt’s own contemporary, youth-oriented edition of a portion of the Bible called The Life Book, a unique presentation of Scripture designed to engage high school students with the truth of God’s Word. The Life Book presents a brief overview of the Old Testament and the Book of John using an interactive format with honest student comments and real-life questions in the margins. Readers are drawn into the only story that can change their lives forever.

Founded by The Gideons International as an innovative strategy to reach high school students with God’s Word, The Life Book Movement works in collaboration with churches throughout the country to provide the books for free to high school students. Blunt’s organization brilliantly threads a separation-of-church-and-state loophole by getting his publication into the hands of Christian high school students and having them pass the books out to classmates at school—a practice that is entirely legal, as long as the books are not distributed by school staff or other adults. Blunt says, “It’s like we’re helping students smuggle God’s Word into a closed country (public high schools) to reach an unreached people group because studies show that only 4% of today’s teenagers are Bible-believing Christians.” The goal is to ensure that every student in every high school in the United States has an opportunity to receive the gift of The Life Book. This approach presents a phenomenal opportunity to impact a generation with the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Life Book Movement is best described to students as a week-long mission trip to their local high school. Local churches work together in targeted areas to ensure The Life Book is offered to every student in each chosen high school. All churches involved receive the books at no cost from The Life Book Movement and provide the books, along with some evangelism training, to the students in their youth groups. The students then spend a week passing them out to their friends and classmates at school. One student who received the book said, “I got one today. I read it in almost every class today. I like it. It’s pretty neat and other people asked to look at it and then asked where to get one.”

Flying under the radar since its inception last fall, The Life Book Movement is rapidly closing in on distribution of more than 300,000 copies in public high schools across 21 states and even the British Virgin Islands. A quiet success, indeed, but extremely ambitious, The Life Book Movement has an ultimate goal of distributing The Life Book to nearly 18 million high school students when all is said and done. And, so far, the outlook is extremely promising.
To learn more about The Life Book Movement or to read the online version of The Life Book, visit their website at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is what I promised at the end of last weeks post.
This is what I have so far. . .

I am truly hanging my head in shame for not finishing my article. But I *was* working, you see, just not on articles and the like. I was working on HTML and colors and fonts and, well. . .A. New. Website.

Now, to console the scores of people who will no doubt miss my amazing lessons on writing (Amber, are you there? I think I just called you "scores of people"), I give you this:

And this:

For those of you who do not find comfort in the best chocolate chip cookie recipe EVER, then I propose a contest. . .

You know what you like in a Website. So tell me, please, what you like and do not like about my new Website. What would you like to see that is not there, and what do you think is there but unnecessary? Leave your comments for a chance to win a copy of my new book, Promise of Yesterday. It won't be out until November, but, hey, that's just around the corner!

Vist me here:

Oh, and a warning. Please, please, for the sake of your waistline, do NOT try the Bacon-Blue Cheese Pasta recipe on my site. It will make you think of Olive Garden and garlic breadsticks, and you will hate me when you get on the scales. I really couldn't live with myself if you hated me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What could possibly be more fun than reading a great book this summer (well, maybe not more fun, but a totally different kind of fun)?

Celebrating 2011 with national bestselling author, Lisa Wingate, in beautiful, historic, antique-filled Jefferson, Texas for the fun-filled reader event of the year, the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Week
end 2011 book extravaganza! If you've never been to the Pulpwood Queens annual tiara-wearing, book sharing event, or even if you have, you'd be in for a treat! Head Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick hosts a weekend filled with books, authors, beautiful bed and breakfast hotels, antiques, a costume ball, and more fun with books than you can imagine. Kathy has over 50 authors on the slate, including Lisa Wingate. This year, the Keynote speakers are Fannie Flagg, Rick Bragg, and Pat Conroy!

The best thing about this girlfriend getaway is that the winner and companion can do as much or as little as they like. Girlfriend Weekend offers two days of amazing events,
and the town of Jefferson features everything from museums and antique shopping, to quilts, history tours, and carriage rides!

The prize package does not include travel. The winner be responsible for travel for herself/himself and guest (that's right, this package is for TWO). If you're the lucky winner, you'll get:

***TWO fully-paid admission armbands for Girlfriend Weekend 2011 (one for you and one for your best girlfriend, or your favorite Timber Guy). This includes admission to Saturday night's big-hair extravaganza, the "Great Big Ball of Hair" where you can come as you are, or arrive dressed as your favorite book character and compete in the costume contest. Who knows? You might become "Miss Hairball Queen 2011!"

***TWO nights in a room fit for a queen, amid the opulence and grace of the 1920s at the beautiful Delta Street Inn bed and breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. (double occupancy)

***Your very own "Insta-Queen Kit" featuring a gorgeous tiara and a smaller porta-tiara for more casual occasions (or one to keep and one to share with your best girlfriend), free autographed Lisa Wingate books, your scepter, a copy of Kathy Patrick's Tiara Wearing Book Sharing Guide to Life, your very own Pulpwood Queens T-shirt, and everything else you need to crown yourself and read like a Pulpwood Queen!

More details and entry form are available at This is a great opportunity for readers or writers, so don't forget to spread the word to your book clubs, co-workers, family members, and girlfriends -- after all, if one of your friends wins, you can come along as the guest!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I was sick recently, struck by the flu. It was the twenty-four hour variety—the kind that hits you hard and fast and sends you directly to bed until it passes.

Max seemed to sense my illness. The moment I walked in the door, he became my shadow, following me from room to room and collapsing into bed beside me. I slept for several hours, never even moving until I heard the door open and my husband enter.

“Aren’t you feeling good,” he whispered, smoothing the hair from my forehead.

“Nope,” I rasped.

“Can I get you anything?”

“Nope.” My eyes drifted closed.

He kissed my cheek. “C’mon, Max,” I heard him whisper. Max never moved. “Max, c’mon. Leave Mommy alone.”

Beside me, Max lifted his head, but refused to budge.

“It’s okay, he can stay,” I said. After the door quietly closed, I flipped onto my side to look at Max. He was wide awake, staring at me with his big brown eyes. I think I saw concern in those depths, and undying devotion. I poked my hand out from under the covers to touch his nose.

“Thanks for sticking by me, Max,” I whispered.

He gave a soft sigh, content to lie beside me until I felt better, and sharing in my misery for those few hours. Suddenly, I understood what a gift it is that God has promised to never leave or forsake me. I forget, sometimes, that He sees me when I hurt, and comes alongside me when I despair. In all situations, He sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:20-24 (New International Version)

20 From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

23 A poor man pleads for mercy, but a rich man answers harshly.

24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

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

Cheryl Barker – A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman
Charity – Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink

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, Vanetta Chapman and Dana Mentink for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, October 15, 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:

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman ~ Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer and Annie has several important choices to make.

Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink ~ Isabel Ling returned to the barren Badlands of South Dakota to bury her sister—but she stayed to find answers no one wants to give. Cassie's death was no accident, and Isabel will find the killer, no matter what she has to do. And no matter who stands in her way.

The one thing former pararescue soldier Logan Price wants is to avoid the kind of trouble Isabel brings. Yet he can't deny his attraction to her. In this desolate, treacherous land, Isabel needs all the protection she can get—and all the love that Logan can give.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 10/16/10.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out of the darkness someone rose up, pushing her forward with a violent shove. Arms flailing, she fought to keep her balance, but tumbled forward.

A loud crack of rock sounded above the wind and the ground began to move under Isabel’s feet. She slid on an avalanche of rock down into a ravine, concealed by darkness and foliage.

Rocks and dirt rained down as she tried to shield her head with her arms. Desperately she dug her feet into the sliding debris but the effort did nothing to stop her momentum as she was carried along.

With a sudden jolt that shook her to the core, Isabel slammed into a boulder at the bottom. A shower of material continued to move past her until the rush slowed into a trickle and then stopped.

Her head spun and sparks danced before her eyes. For a strange moment, she thought she heard snatches of a man singing.

The old flag, the lovely flag.

She tried to clear the muddle in her head.

Eyes closed, she took stock. Gingerly she moved her legs and arms, fearful of setting loose another rock slide. Wiping the grime from her face she discovered she was wedged against the large boulder, her legs buried under a foot of soil and rock. Inch by inch she wiggled her feet, testing to see if anything was broken. A shooting pain up her ankle made her gasp, and she realized with a start of terror that her foot was pinned between two enormous hunks of rock. Try as she might she could not pull it free.

Struggling to catch her breath and control the fear, Isabel looked up toward the mouth of the ravine. It was steep, the top bathed in darkness.

She’d been pushed; there was no mistaking that, probably by the person who let Blue Boy loose. She could still feel the blow that toppled her over the edge. Someone wanted to kill her, someone who could very well be waiting at the top for her to crawl out. Or maybe on their way down to make sure she hadn’t survived.

Her entire body was shaking and she could feel her ankle beginning to swell.

Screaming for help would alert her attacker that he or she hadn’t completed their mission and the chances of a passer-by hearing her cries were negligible.

Isabel’s teeth chattered and panic flowed through her veins like a strong poison. Hugging herself to try to stop the shudders, she felt the hard surface of the satellite cell phone in her pocket, under a blanket of rubble.

The phone with Logan’s phone number programmed in.

Her heart thudded wildly.

Call Logan.

She didn’t trust him, didn’t even remember his last name.

He could have something to do with her sister’s accident, or be covering for the people who knew what had happened to Cassie. He might have even been the one who pushed her.

But he’d offered to help her before, his smile gentle and seemingly genuine and strangely familiar.

Trust your instincts, Is.

Instincts? Instincts hadn’t help her steer clear of Rawley Pike. Instinct hadn’t helped her at all. Except for one important thing, she reminded herself. That strong urge inside had brought her back to the faith her mother had tried so desperately to instill in her girls. Should she follow her heart now?

Trust a stranger?

She clenched her hands together and mumbled a prayer.

Help me trust the right person this time.

Biting her lip until she tasted blood, Isabel dialed.
Dana is giving away a copy of her book, Betrayal in the Badlands. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dana Mentink is a resident of California where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. After many years teaching elementary school, she now writes full length fiction for Harlequin and Barbour Books. She is a 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense. She juggles her writing career along with a husband, two children and a dog with social anxiety problems. Visit her on the web at

When did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve always written for as long as I can remember, but I decided to have a go at writing professionally about ten years ago.

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

Hmmm. Still working on that. I’m at the point where I decide for myself whether or not to follow the suggestions I receive from my crit group or others but I would still like to improve my ‘gut’ instinct about whether something will work or not. Sometimes I just have to write it first and then realize it’s not going to work.

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

I’m a get up at 4 a.m. and write every morning except Sundays kinda gal.

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

Well of course I’m a huge reader. That’s true relaxation. To be honest, I’m not a good relaxer. Must make a note to work on that!

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I loved Rebecca by Du Maurier. Oh! Did you mean a novel that I’ve written? I loved Trouble Up Finny’s Nose because that was truly a book of the heart thing and I got to use my wacky sense of humor!

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

It’s like a doctor watching another doctor operate. Think of all the new techniques you can learn!

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Betrayal in the Badlands is a book set in the remote badlands of South Dakota about a woman who is trying to make peace with her past and stay alive at the same time. The protag Isabel Ling is having a VERY bad week!

Where did you get your inspiration for Betrayal in the Badlands?

I came up with the idea for Betrayal in the Badlands when I saw pictures of these fantastic hoodoos, twisted rock formations that pepper the South Dakota badlands. I’ve always been mindful of how dependent we have become on technology and the idea of setting the crucial scenes of a book in a place that’s so remote it might as well be on the moon, was appealing.

Which character is most like you?

I think probably Isabel Ling because she’s really trying hard to keep it all together like yours truly!

Who is your favorite character and why?

The hero, Logan Price is my favorite. Former pararescueman, fit and faithful, what’s not to love?

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

I knew how it would turn out, but I am always surprised at the connections that emerge between the characters during the course of the book.

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

The take away message is that it’s never too late to give yourself to the Lord. He doesn’t hold grudges or hang onto mistakes the way people do.

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

I’m fortunate to write for Harlequin who does a brilliant job of marketing. It’s been fun to participate on various blogs and such. There’s going to be a Harvest Festival on the Harlequin site the week of October 18th so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Currently, I’m working the sequel to Betrayal and another book that comes after that, also set in South Dakota.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

As Kermit the frog says, “It’s nice to be important but it’s important to be nice.” If you have a chance to be good to someone and lift them up today, go for it! That’s a much better accomplishment than writing a book! :-)
Thank you for having me.

Want more? Be sure to stop by on Thursday for an excerpt from Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week before last, I asked you to consider what qualities make a character memorable and draw you to continue reading the book. The verdict?

Reasons we care:

*We care about a character because their issue mirrors something of our own life, thus a connection is made.
*The character has a goal that we deem worthy or noble.
*We see something in them the other characters do not see, pressing us to cheer for them.
*Sympathy for the character has been stirred because we know what they have experienced/endured (through well-laid snippets of backstory).
*Their goals and attitudes are similar to our own.

Unlike life, reading gives us the opportunity to not only see a characters reaction, but understand the basis for it. This is important to understand. In real life, we want others to judge us not by our actions but by our motives. The problem is life doesn’t afford the ability to explain our motive before we propagate a reaction that can be viewed negatively by others.

Now really think that through. It's a lot to comprehend. Perhaps an example will help.

Character A just screamed at her eight year old child for tripping and tearing a hole in the knee of her new pants. Viewed by a stranger in real life, Character A’s reaction to the child would be a big negative and there would be no second chances for Character A to redeem herself. How dare that woman scream at that poor kid. But in story, if we need to draw sympathy for the character in order to build a connection with the reader we simply show the course of her day. She just got fired and returned home early to find her husband in bed with another woman. Then, after crying and packing her husband out the door, her child’s bus pulls up ten minutes earlier than expected. . . Under these circumstances we can better come to terms with the reason why Character A might lash out at the child.

So writing as a whole allows us unique opportunity to create a character that we are sure will connect with our
intended audience. We must learn how to manipulate information and interaction within a scene to show the best and justify the worst traits of our protagonists. And then, according to how many main characters you have, do this again for each of them. Easy-peasy, right?

Next week: Personalities (and how to drive your characters crazy!)

Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award winning member of Romance Writers of America and holds a B.A. and M.A. in English. She currently teaches in the Texas hill country, where she lives with her husband. A Simple Amish Christmas is her debut novel.

When did you decide to be a writer?
After I finished my MA in English.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?
Eight years.

Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?
Write more. Don’t keep perfecting the first book. Write a second and then a third, but also take a workshop or two. Purchase a how-to book by someone you admire. In other words, balance learning from others with perfecting your own craft.

Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?
I’m surprised at how willing established authors are to help a complete newbie. I’m also surprised at how quickly I went from oblivion to having more deadlines than I knew what to do with. I had read about that happening to other authors, and I had envisioned it happening to me—but it’s still a surprise when it does.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
Oh my—very disciplined, though my closest friends call it by a harsher name (compulsive). I’m up every morning at 5:00 a.m. so I can write for two hours before my “real” job.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
Hiking (since I’m only athletic enough to walk, and still sometimes I fall down). Needlework (again, sometimes I poke myself, so I keep bandages nearby). Kayaking and canoeing (you don’t want to know about those injuries). Seriously, I very much enjoy the outdoors, birding, gardening, etc.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?
You’re going to make me pick one? I’ll choose a different novel for every interview over the next ten years, and then perhaps I’ll hit them all. Hmmmm . . . Most recently, I adored Cindy Woodsmall’s The Sound of Sleigh Bells. The characters were crisply drawn, and the story line quite poignant. Stepping outside my genre, one of my favorite books of all times is entitled “The Poet of Tolstoy Park” by Sonny Brewer. It’s an absolutely lovely depiction of one man’s acceptance of death, and subsequent journey to embrace life—with quite the surprise ending.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
I don’t think I could be a writer without being a reader. When I’m in full “writing” mode, I have to devote ¼ of my time to reading. I can’t separate the two. Reading is the stone that sharpens the blade.

Tell us a little about your latest release:
A Simple Amish Christmas is the story of a young woman who embraces her Amish heritage, but must leave it for a time. Annie Weaver is a nurturer at heart, a born healer. She leaves home to stay with her aenti in Philadelphia for a few months, which becomes a few years. She always planned to return home. Twenty years old and a nurse at Mercy Hospital, her time of rumschpringe comes to an abrupt end when she receives a call that her father has been in an accident. Over the next month, Annie will have several important choices to make, and the most important one will be made Christmas morning and will involve a young man named Samuel.

Where did you get your inspiration for A Simple Amish Christmas?
I was very curious about how the Amish community meet their medical needs, and also how the women who want more education satisfy that desire. As far as the title, it was originally something quite different. When Zondervan offered me a contract for the book, they were looking for a Christmas release, so we changed the title. I love it though, and I think it fits very nicely.

Which character is most like you?
I did briefly consider going into nursing instead of teaching, so I see a little of myself in Annie. I also had fun with Reba, her youngest sister. Reba loves animals and is very full of energy. She’s a little bit of the family-clown, and I sort of had that reputation as a teenager. I was also the youngest child in my family.

Who is your favorite character and why?
I like Samuel a lot. I always relate well to my male characters—they’re not perfect, but they’re very much like real people I know and respect. Samuel is stubborn, somewhat brooding, and a little fatalistic, but he’s a good man. He does the right thing, and he can be counted on when you need him. He’s faithful, and his love is enduring. He’s also very passionate, very devoted to both the people of his district and the woman he commits his life to.

Did you know how A Simple Amish Christmas would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
My characters do NOT behave, so I was a bit surprised by the ending. Okay, I had a different ending written, had to cut it out, paste it back in, rework it, and I finally realized what everyone needed to do. About three-quarters through, I stepped back from the manuscript a bit, wrote the ending then picked up where I left off and wrote to the end. It’s a process that often works for me.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
Jeremiah 29:11. Life is terribly hard at times. So often things happen that we just don’t understand, but the one thing we can trust is God plans to give us a hope and a future. He planned that for Annie and Samuel, and he plans it for us.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
Blog interviews, in-store book-signings, and of course I’ll be at RWA national and ACFW. I think social networking is productive as long as you don’t let it take over your writing time!

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
I’m so glad you asked. : ) I’m working on an Amish cozy for Zondervan entitled A Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series. The first of 3 books is due to my editor August 1.

Do you have any parting words of advice?
Please don’t listen to the stats about who can/cannot become published. I believe they are so misleading. If God intends you to be a writer, you will be. Your job is to be the best writer you can be—allow God to do the rest.
Vanetta is giving away a copy of her book A Simple Amish Christmas. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Max doesn’t like having his toenails trimmed. For a dachshund, that’s a big deal since their feet are made specifically for digging. His toenails stick out, becoming little stilts that make it impossible for him to walk on tiled floors when they get too long. And I can always tell when they need to be cut because he starts making a clicking sound when he walks across the kitchen.

Anyway, the moment I go for the clippers, Max runs for the coffee table. He peeks out from under it, looking for all the world as though he thinks I can’t see him there. I used to try and catch him and drag him out, but he got to be too quick for me. Finally, exasperated by the attempt, I sat down on the couch and in my best mamma voice said, “Max, come here!”

He stopped dead.

“Come!” I ordered again, a little more firmly. I’ve gotta admit, I was surprised he listened the first time.

We made eye contact. I didn’t waver.

Finally, he skulked from the coffee table, made a wide arc around me, ran to my husband who told him to go see me, and then ended up cowering on the couch beside me.

“Lay down,” I said.

Trembling, Max did as commanded.

“Good grief, you’d think I was going to hurt him,” I told my husband.

“At least he’s doing it,” he said.

I rubbed Max’s cold little nose, thinking. “Yeah, he is.”

Cutting Max’s nails took no time at all once he finally surrendered to me and lay down on the couch. But I couldn’t help wondering how many times God has asked us to do something, and we run from Him, trembling—hiding as though we fear He may harm us. Thankfully, God is very patient with us. He understands our doubts, and asks only that we come to know Him better, so that our trust for Him may deepen.

Overall, I think I’m finally beginning to learn that.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. [a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

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

Ariel - The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Cara Putman - On This Day by Dianne Neal Matthews
Nicholle - The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews
earlymorn23 - Drawing Closer to God by Dianne Neal Matthews
Cindy W. - Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho by Janelle Mowery
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, Melanie Dickerson, Dianne Neal Matthews, and Janelle Mowery for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, October 8, 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 FIVE great books:

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson ~ In author Melanie Dickerson's new historical romance, a young healer's apprentice named Rose believes she will never marry ... until she meets Lord Hamlin, the future ruler of her region. Hamlin is everything she could ever want---kind, understanding, and a man of faith---but her low station and the fact he's already betrothed to a mysterious woman makes their romance impossible. As Lord Hamlin seeks to find the sorcerer who cursed his future bride, Rose's life spins toward confusion. A creative retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale.

On This Day by Dianne Neal Matthews ~ Discover daily spiritual truth and application gleaned each day from current events and historic happenings. Each devotional relates something signifi cant that happened on that day and then connects the reader with a devotional takeaway from that event. Readers will experience spiritual truths and connection with God through lessons from the past.

The One Year Women of the Bible by Dianne Neal Matthews ~Each devotional in The One Year Women of the Bible focuses on a woman in the Bible and a woman today. You'll hear the perspective of faithful women like Sarah, Elizabeth, and Abigail along with the less faithful women, such as Jezebel. You'll also read about everyday contemporary women struggling with busyness and commitment to God. Dianne Matthews masterfully transitions to the scriptural account of a woman in the Bible who faced a similar story or issue and brings readers the spiritual lessons and direction to apply to our own lives.

Drawing Closer to God by Dianne Neal Matthews ~ The Bible is full of questions asked by God, Jesus, ordinary people, Satan, and even a donkey. Some are questions that we've wrestled with but have been reluctant to voice. Others are asked to comfort, to convict, or to reinforce spiritual principles. Drawing Closer to God examines 365 of these questions to uncover biblical truth readers can apply personally to their lives. Each devotional concludes with a question designed to encourage reflection and prayer, leaving readers with practical takeaway and a renewed appreciation for God's Word.

Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho by Janelle Mowery ~ It’s 1869, and chaos rules Silver City. As Rebekah Weaver recovers from an accident that has left her badly burned, she worries that her father’s handsome new assistant won’t see past her scarred exterior. Deputy Marshal Nathaniel Kirkland is working undercover to investigate a series of explosions in the mines and businesses of Silver City. When ominous notes begin appearing on townspeople’s doors, Nate needs Rebekah’s help to uncover the identity of the perpetrator. As they work together, Nate begins to speculate that Rebekah’s "accident" was really a case of intentional sabotage - and that she might still be in danger.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 10/09/10.

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