Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chapter 1
Pete pressed his elbow against his ribcage, resisting Libby’s tug on his arm. “Hold on. I want to give Jackson and Maelle a decent farewell.”

Libby let out a little huff of displeasure, but Pete ignored it. He was used to Libby’s huffs. It was the only girlish thing she did, and it was harmless. He stood watching until Jackson and Maelle reached the tall rock walls that lined the campus’ entrance. As he had suspected they might, they paused and turned back. Both waved.

Petey waved with his hand held high. A vivid memory filled his mind: standing outside his family’s tenement building, staring at the window, waiting for someone to look out and wave good-bye. He’d stood for hours, but no wave ever came.

He nodded toward Libby. “See there? How would they have felt to look back and find no one watching?”

“Sad.” Libby’s tone reflected the one-word answer and seemed to pluck the emotion from his heart. She gave a feeble wave and pulled again at his arm. “All right, you’ve given them a proper send-off. Now let’s go eat.”

Pete laughed as he turned toward the dining hall doors. He had to hop-skip on his wooden pegleg to match her swift pace. “I’ve never seen you so eager for a meal. You must have built up an appetite putting your things away. But slow down. You’re going to send me tumbling.”

She stopped so abruptly he almost fell forward. He looked down at her, ready to complain, but the tears winking in her velvet brown eyes stopped him. He’d never seen Libby cry—not when she’d fallen out of a tree and cut her chin, not when Bennett accidentally smacked her with a homemade baseball, not even when she’d earned a licking for climbing the rose trellis on the side of the school dormitory.

Concerned, he cupped his hand over hers. “Libby, what’s wrong?”

Instead of answering, she spun away from him and faced the campus. “I changed my mind. I—I don’t think I could eat a bite. I’m going to take a walk instead.” She started off in a determined gait, her arms pumping.

“Wait!” Pete trotted after her, hopping twice on his good leg for every one time on his pegleg. Even after years of using the wooden replacement for flesh and bone, it still jolted his hip when he moved too fast. He grimaced, but he caught up to her. Taking hold of her arm, he brought her to a halt. “What’s the matter? Tell me.” Over the years, he’d been privy to her secrets, her worries, her frustrations. He waited expectantly for a reply. But to his surprise, she turned stubborn.

“Nothing’s wrong. I just want to take a walk. Go eat.” She gave him a little push. “Bennett’s probably holding a spot for you. So go on.”

Even though his stomach murmured in desire, Pete shook his head. “Nah. You know when Bennett’s got food in front of him, nothing else matters. He won’t even miss me. I’ll walk with you instead.”

She pursed her lips, and for a moment Pete thought she’d send him away. But then she released another little huff. “Very well. Let’s go. That way.” Arms folded over her ribs and head low, Libby moved in the opposite direction of the path Jackson and Maelle had taken earlier. Occasionally, she kicked at a stone. Her movements seemed jerky, almost uncontrolled, so different from her usual grace. Although Pete wondered what had her in such a dither, he didn’t ask. He’d learned sometimes it was best to let Libby stew Eventually, she’d let the steam out and he’d know what was wrong.

They walked down a tree-lined path that ended in a field of uncut grass dotted with patches of wild flowers. She stopped and looked right and left, as if deciding which way to go. He waited patiently for her to make up her mind, refusing to fidget even though standing still intensified the ache in his hip. Whichever direction she chose, he’d follow...

Copyright Kim Vogel Sawyer--all rights reserved
Kim is giving away a copy of her book In Every Heartbeat. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for your chance to win!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won several awards including the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.
When did you decide to be a writer?

To be honest, I'm not sure I made an active decision to be a writer--it is a desire that was always a part of me. I told my kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out my books in the library. Of course, as a 5-year-old, I had no idea 40 years would pass before that dream became reality! But God did some amazing things along the way, and His timing was perfect.

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

I still depend on my wonderful critique partners for advice and suggestions--especially in the brainstorming stage--but I've learned to let the characters take over rather than trying to inflict "myself" on them. I realize that sounds kind of strange considering these are made-up characters (as my daughter has pointed out, made up by, but if I follow their lead a well-rounded story with a spiritual message emerges. I just to go along for the ride.

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

I have to be a disciplined writer. I've been blessed with contracts, which means deadlines, and if I don't pen a certain number of words each week the story doesn't get done on time. I read a quote somewhere that said (paraphrasing), "I only write when I'm inspired, and I'm inspired every morning at nine o'clock." That's pretty much my routine. ;o)

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

Time with my grandkids always results in lots of laughter, and laughter is a great way to relax. I also enjoy scrapbooking or working on a quilt. Hubby and I love to take rides on his Harley, and of course eating ice cream is a pleasant diversion at any time.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

Although it's been more than 30 years since I read it for the first time, I still remember To Kill A Mockingbird. The characters in that story were so real, so painfully honest, that I lived and breathed the story. It changed my view of the world. I've read the novel at least two dozen times over the years, and it never grows old. That's special.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

In Every Heartbeat is a follow-up story to my 2009 release, My Heart Remembers. In that novel, one of the characters opens a school for orphaned children. In Every Heartbeat leaps forward ten years and features three of the school's graduates who are entering college and pursuing dreams. Pete wishes to become a minister; Libby harbors the desire to be a famous journalist; and Bennett just wants to grab as much fun as possible before the United States gets tangled up in the war waging in Europe. The friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them. When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

Where did you get your inspiration for In Every Heartbeat?

Several readers requested a sequel to My Heart Remembers because they wanted to know how the three Gallagher siblings were faring. When I mentioned writing a sequel to my editor, she suggested using the Gallaghers as secondary characters and bringing some new characters to life as main characters. It was easy to choose the tow-headed orphan Pete as one main character, and he introduced me to his buddies Libby and Bennett. So I suppose, to answer the question, readers inspired this story.

Which character is most like you?

Although I didn't set out to write "myself" into the story, I did discover a lot of myself in Libby. She's a young woman with lofty aspirations--becoming a writer (much like me in college). Insecurity plagues her due to childhood events (another correlation between us), and she wants desperately to feel as though she matters. I can't say much more without giving away major elements of the story, but suffice it to say I truly connected with Libby, and I hope my readers will, too.

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

Since I am very much a seat-of-the-pants writer, I never know exactly where the story is going to go--I just follow the characters. So yes, this story took me in several directions I didn't anticipate. I must say, I found it a delightful journey!

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

The theme that emerged for me was God has glorious plans for His children, but those plans won't find completion unless we're willing to heed His voice. I hope that message resonates with my readers, and I also hope, if they've been resisting setting out on a God-ordained pathway, they'll discover the courage to take a forward step.

Want more? Stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You've done it--read a book, seen a movie, gone to a family reunion--where you come away thinking this very thought, "What A Character." You can say it disparagingly or positively, but whichever way you intend the comment, that person--real or fictional--has made a mark on you. They've charmed you, or perhaps left you shuddering with revulsion. Or fear.

For our next teaching segment we'll delve into what makes a character good, bad, or mediocre. But first, ask yourself what is it that makes a character memorable? Why do you love them/hate them? What methods did the author/writer use to bring the character to life in your mind and heart?

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, Shari Braendel teaches you how to appreciate the body God gave you and how to always look your best-from conquering the battle of finding the right swimsuit, to choosing how many bangles you should wear or how big your purse should be, to wearing the right style jeans that will best flatter your thighs or hips, to finding the best places to shop to suit your unique personal style.

Many of us are watching reality TV shows to get a clue on how to dress right and look good. We hungrily purchase fashion magazines any time the cover article has something to do with how we can hide our despised body parts. We make mad dashes to the local department store to pick up the new anti-wrinkle cream Oprah promised will take ten years away from our face.

We care about how we look. Why is that? Because we’re women, and women love to look and feel good. God made us that way. And this is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a wonderful thing. God loves beauty. He doesn’t want us to reflect his image being sloppy, disheveled women of God who don’t pay any attention to what we look like.

Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad will show you how to look and feel your best, no matter what day it is or what the occasion. And it will also stop you from screaming at the top of your lungs, “I have nothing to wear.”

About the Author:

Shari Braendel is a sought-after speaker for Christian women’s retreats, conferences, and youth events all over the nation. A fabulous, fun, and refreshing fashionista, she regularly hosts workshops for women to help them appreciate their beauty, discover their natural assets, and learn what to wear so they can look and feel their best.

Learn more about Shari at

Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad
Release: July 2010
Soft cover, 208 pp.
ISBN: 031032601X

Fashion Makeover Contest

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Complete and submit the entry form at, Shari Braendel FaceBook page, Zondervan FaceBook page, Zondervan Twitter account between August 9, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. (EST) and August 28, 2010 at 5:00 p.m (EST).

First Prize: One Winner will receive . . .
One $500 Visa gift card, one web camera, one-hour fashion consultation with Shari Braendel via Skype, one set of color swatches, and one autographed copy of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad. Approximate retail value: $600. The fashion consultation will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for the winner and Ms. Braendel on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday between September 15 and November 15, 2010.

Second Prize: Three Winners will receive . . .
One $100 Visa gift card, one 30-minute fashion consultation with Shari Braendel via telephone, one set of color swatches, and one autographed copy of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad. Approximate retail value: $450. The fashion consultation will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for the winner and Ms. Braendel on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday between September 15 and November 15, 2010.

Third Prize: Ten Winners will receive . . .
One autographed copy of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad. Approximate retail value $150.

For complete details, visit Shari’s website.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I have a full time job, which means for a large part of the day Max is alone. . .with the cat. While not ideal, the situation worked for a while, but gradually I started coming to home to more and more messes—a trash can turned over, things scattered around the floor, not to mention the little gifts Max sometimes left behind. You know what I mean. All of that was inconvenient, but it wasn’t a major problem until I found him tangled up with an appliance. Yep. Somehow, he’d managed to worm his way into the storage closet, tip the vacuum over, and entangle himself in the power cord. I shudder to think how long he was in there. I’m assuming it was a confrontation with the kitty that led to his predicament. Either way, I knew I had to do something.

So, it was off to Wal-Mart to buy baby gates.

Knowing what an athlete Max is, I thought it wise to buy gates too tall for him to jump over. He was curious at first, sniffing the new contraptions with interest. But then he discovered what they were for. The first time I left for work with the gates up and Max secured behind them, confined to the kitchen, hallway, and bathroom, he pouted, and whined, and cried, sadly watching me leave from the window next to the door.

I ran home at lunch to check on him. While he still wasn’t happy, he wasn’t tangled up in a cord, either. I turned the radio, having heard that any noise in the house helps keep a pet from feeling lonely. It took nearly a month, but Max has accepted that there are days he’ll be confined by the gates, and he no longer whines when I leave, content to play with the crate full of toys I’ve bought him, and listen to Bob Barker announcing the winner on the Big Wheel.

Which got me thinking.

Boundaries are a good thing. They keep us from harm. They limit the trouble we get into. So why do we buck against the boundaries God has set for us, knowing that He placed them with our best interests at heart? If we’re certain that our God loves us, shouldn’t we be glad that He cares enough to see to our welfare?

I know I am. And I think Max is, too.

Exodus 20:1-20 (New International Version)

The Ten Commandments

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other gods before [a] me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

13 "You shall not murder.

14 "You shall not commit adultery.

15 "You shall not steal.

16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

20 Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

Saturday, September 25, 2010


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

Marjorie – Hemlock Lake by Carolyn Rose
Winner, 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!

Friday, September 24, 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:

Hemlock Lake by Carolyn J. Rose ~ For generations only a few families held title to land in the isolated Catskill Mountain community of Hemlock Lake. But with the turning of the century one man, lured by easy money, sells his inheritance to a developer of luxury homes. As the contractor bulldozes farmland and forest, neighbors cry environmental rape, and someone threatens to burn what is built.

Hoping to stop the arsonist, but tormented by personal demons, Sergeant Dan Stone reluctantly returns to his family home on the shores of the lake. The previous autumn his wife died in its dark waters and his brother put a bullet in his brain. That tragedy sent Dan s father drifting toward death.

Isolated by his pain, Dan is thrust into the no man s land between newcomers and longtime residents who stonewall his investigation into threats, graffiti, theft, and a blaze that nearly kills the construction foreman. Townspeople blame outsiders, eco-terrorists, a ragged tramp haunting the woods and the mysterious creator of rock cairns that often mark the sites of crimes to come. But as summer sizzles on, the arsonist turns killer, and Dan suspects it s someone he knows well: a firefighter, a friend, or a woman with a killing in her past.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 09/25/10.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The SUV rocked onto two wheels as I took a sharp curve below Bobcat Hollow at fifty miles an hour. As I fought the wheel, I saw something shift beneath the jacket I’d flung across the passenger seat. Unconsciously I reached for it. One edge of the jacket rose. I jerked my hand back. An ugly triangular head appeared. Two eyes glittered in the green light from the dashboard. A muffled buzzing swirled around me.


I jerked my right hand from the wheel, wedged my body tight against the door. The SUV heeled out of the turn and onto a straightaway. The snake’s head bobbed. Its tongue flicked out, sampling the air. The roof of my mouth grew hot with the taste of nickel.

Get out! My mind screamed instructions to my body. Take your foot off the gas. Release the seatbelt. Flip back the door latch. Roll free.

I raised my foot from the gas pedal. I drew my right hand toward the seatbelt release.

The snake buzzed and shrugged off the jacket. Its head swayed inches from my hand.
I froze. Seconds drifted by like snowflakes. If I moved suddenly, the snake would strike. And then what? What would I do once the venom was in my bloodstream? My mind tobogganed through my options.

Call for help. But what if the cell phone didn’t work? Drive to the nearest house. But that house was a mile away. Too far to walk if the snake hit me close to the heart. I needed wheels, couldn’t take a chance on leaping out and letting my rig crash.

I shuddered. The snake drew its thick body into a tight coil. I checked the speedometer. Thirty-five and dropping. The road started downhill soon, took another sharp turn at Silver Leaf Hollow. I’d pick up speed, have to downshift or brake to make that turn.

If I reached for the stick shift the snake would strike for sure.
Carolyn is giving away a copy of her book Hemlock Lake. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
This quote from Stephen King’s novella, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, sums up the goal of every single one of Travis Thrasher’s novels: providing hope. As the novelist of twelve works of fiction, Travis has spent a decade fighting against being typecast and labeled.

“It’s a natural thing for novelists to be put into a box,” Travis says. “My goal has always been to tell stories about flawed characters who find redemption, whether it’s in a love story or a supernatural thriller.”

Having lived in places as diverse as Munich, Germany, and Sydney, Australia, during his youth, Travis moved to the Chicago area during his junior year of high school. That’s where he has remained.

After graduating from Trinity Christian College, Travis landed a job at Tyndale House Publishers as Author Relations Manager. He worked for over a decade in that position, acting as liaison between the publisher and the authors. But writing always came first, and Travis was fortunate to have his first novel published in 2000. It was THE PROMISE REMAINS, a sweet love story in the vein of Nicholas Sparks.

“I wrote six or seven dark, ambitious novels that went nowhere,” Travis says. “It was only after writing a simple love story about unrequited love that I got my first break.”

Getting that first book published was a dream come true, but Travis always saw himself having multiple books in print. Travis’s drive and imagination have allowed him to see a variety of books published: from love stories (THE WATERMARK; THREE ROADS HOME) to suspense (GUN LAKE; ADMISSION; BLINDED) to drama (THE SECOND THIEF; SKY BLUE) to supernatural thrillers (ISOLATION; GHOSTWRITER).

“I tell people this is not the way to build a writing career, but I’m thankful I’ve been able to build mine the way I wanted to. I want to entertain and surprise readers, and to continue to build a readership that will take journeys with me, whether they’re going to 1929 Brazil or current day Geneva, Illinois.”

2010 will mark a decade of publishing for Travis. It will also be a significant year with the release of BROKEN by Faithwords in May and SOLITARY by Cook in August.

“I’m excited about these two upcoming stories that will surely surprise and move readers,” Travis says. “BROKEN is about a young woman who is just that—broken and bruised by this world. SOLITARY is the first in a teen series that combines a love story with the supernatural. Both are powerful stories.”

His goal continues to be to tell powerful and moving stories that will reach fiction readers of all types. As a fulltime novelist for over two years, Travis feels he’s still just warming up.

“There are things I learn about the writing process and about myself with every novel. I believe my best stories are still in front of me, waiting to be discovered like a buried treasure. I’m thankful that I’m able to dig a little more every day.”

Travis lives with his wife and three-year-old daughter in a suburb of Chicago.

Welcome, Travis! Tell us about your latest book. How was the idea of Solitary conceived? Other than the age of the protagonists, how does this story differ from other similar stories you have written?

I’ve wanted to write a story from a teenager’s perspective for some time. I came up with this idea while I was in the Carolinas on a book tour. I lived in North Carolina when I was in high school so I wanted to document some of those experiences while writing in the supernatural vein. This is first time I’ve done a series, so there’s a lot of back-story on the town of Solitary and the characters. Solitary is the first of a four-book series. Each book will shed more light on the darkness of the town and on what’s happening to Chris.

Was it difficult to write from the viewpoint of a sixteen-year-old boy? Why or why not?

I actually found it quite easy to tell this story. I wasn’t sure what my publisher and readers would think about the job I did, but the response I’ve gotten has been very positive. I’m not sure if that means I’m doing a good job getting into the mind of a teenager, or if it simply means that I’m immature.

Do you think this will be a book that appeals to parents as well as teens? Will it provide opportunities for parents to discuss spiritual matters with their teens?

There have been lots of examples of “teen” stories being read by adults. The Solitary Tales are certainly stories that can be enjoyed by both. I think as the series progresses, there will be a lot of things to talk about. Issues like faith and spiritual warfare.

What is the greatest take-away value offered by Solitary and its characters?

My hope is that Solitary is a thrilling and slightly creepy beginning to an amazing supernatural series. I want readers to be surprised and to be eagerly awaiting the next installment. I’m not making this up as I go--the story has all be laid out. It’s going to be interesting to see how successful I am at getting to the final destination. I hope readers will come along for the ride.

Can you tell us about other projects you are working on right now?

I have four novels coming out in 2011, including book two of The Solitary Tales. That book is called Gravestone and will be released in June 2011.

For more information on Travis Thrasher, visit his website

Also, check out Travis’ blog to read about the 10 ways that Solitary is similar to Twilight and more:

Solitary: Book 1 in the Solitary Tales Series by Travis Thrasher
David C Cook/August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6421-8
336 pages/softcover/$14.99

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You're published. Now what? You market, of course. And marketing means interviews. As in requests for interviews.


Sweet because it marks the culmination of all your hard work to get published. Sweet because you can share your excitement and encouragement to others who aren’t quite as far down the path. But after the first few, they can become yet another thing to juggle as you work on edits for your contracted manuscript and write toward the deadline for your newest novel. Add in family and friends, social engagements and soccer practice, and you’ve got a problem. A big problem. So it’s easy to feel justified in serving up pat answers to the questions you’ve been asked to answer.

Don’t do it.

Interviews are important. They are a way to connect to your intended audience and gain new readers. To the question, “How long did it take for you to get published?” go ahead and answer, “Six years.” I dare you. Six years.

How profound. How inspiring. How. . .absolutely dull.

After reading the first question of an interview submitted for posting here at The Borrowed Book, I can tell whether the author has really put their heart into the answers or if the interview was approached as a necessary evil. Really good interviews will reward the time and effort you put forth in answering the questions with thought and feeling.

Here are some suggestions to make your interview more memorable.

Target your audience.

Put personality into your answers.

Use a conversational tone.

Good questions = good interviews. If a question doesn’t intrigue you skip to the next one. (Like the time someone asked me if I were an inanimate object, what would I be--huh?)

Check your spelling and punctuation. Nothing screams, “I’m an amateur” like poor grammar skills, and it is not the interviewers job to edit.

Just as in your writing, use strong verbs, colorful similes and metaphors.

If the problem is time, pace yourself. Choose the toughest question and answer it the first day. Edit that answer the next day, then answer another question and repeat the process until the interview is finished. Procrastination is your worst enemy. When you’ve completed all the questions, shoot them to your critique group and ask them to let you know if anything falls flat, doesn’t make sense, or needs to be expanded upon.

You want people to click with you on that first question and stay with you through the entire interview. By then, hopefully, you’ll have won over a new fan. Or two. Or ten.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of Hemlock Lake (July, 2010, Five Star).

When did you decide to be a writer?

I made the decision when I was about twelve and realized that one of my cousins was entertained by the stories I made up whenever she slept over at my house. I began keeping journals to record all of my “great thoughts” and “amazing ideas.” I now have a stack of journals and when I look through them I have two distinct impressions: 1) I was a deeper thinker then than I am now and 2) I must have been a real pain in the you-know-what as a teenager.

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

About five years ago I made a pact with myself to nod, smile, and promise to consider all suggestions and critiques, but to let them “settle” for several weeks before I did any rewriting. I need that time and space to get over the fact that members of my group don’t love every wart on “my baby.” I act on about one suggestion in every six. If you try to please everyone else, you can’t please yourself.

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

I have three jobs—editing manuscripts for other writers, teaching classes in novel-craft, and filling in as a high school substitute teacher—so I use time when I have it and I try to use it well. In the summer when school is out, I write 6-8 hours a day, every day.

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

I enjoy puttering in the garden, reading, and tackling minor home renovation projects. Laundry can also be restful, as long as I can stay ahead of the curve. I’m also addicted to water aerobics and sometimes lap swimming. That allows my mind to work on writing issues while I’m on “automatic pilot.”

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I have lots of favorites. When I was younger I was entranced by the language and feeling of Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel). Lately I’ve loved Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series because I like to test myself against the literary references.

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

When I see how some writers use description and symbolism and create complex characters I’m in awe of their ability and skill. That makes me raise the bar for my own work. I read to learn and grow.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Hemlock Lake is a mainstream mystery set in the Catskill Mountains. The core of the story involves betrayal, vengeance, love, loss, and redemption set against the search for an arsonist and killer in a remote community.

Where did you get your inspiration for Hemlock Lake?

I grew up in the Catskills in the years after World War II when everything seemed to be changing at an increasing rate of speed. New people were moving in and others were moving away. Some liked change, others denied it. I went off to college at 18 and lived in several different states over the years, but the impressions I formed as a child remain strong. When I decided to set a book in the Catskills, I knew that change and how people cope with it would be part of the equation.

Which character is most like you?

Dan Stone’s determination to get away sprang from my own desire to go to new places where I could shed the past. I like to think I also have Camille’s ability to see things as they are.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Probably Camille because she comes in from the outside and stirs things up. She’s a catalyst for Dan’s emotional journey.

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

I knew how it would end when I began writing, but there were blanks in the middle. I like to give my characters some leeway to change and develop when they get into motion and interact with each other. They came up with a murder I hadn’t anticipated and reactions I hadn’t considered.

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

Change is inevitable. We can fight it, but when we do we have to be prepared for the emotional consequences of winning or losing.

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

I’ve solicited a lot of reviews, done a bunch of guest blogging, and posted with several of the groups I belong to. I had a party for the book at my local bookstore (Cover to Cover in Vancouver, Washington) and taken part in several meet-the-authors events. I got a lot of response from my blog on Suspense Your Disbelief when I wrote about this book’s long journey to publication.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

After years of telling myself that Hemlock Lake was a stand-alone story, I’ve begun work on a sequel. Depending on how much I can scrimp on my jobs, I hope to finish in the spring.

My husband and I are also at work on book three of the Devil’s Harbor series, a cozy mystery series set on the Oregon coast and published by Krill Press.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Write. Write. Write. Think less about the destination and concentrate more on the journey. Enjoy it.

Want more? Stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from Hemlock Lake by Carolyn J. Rose.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I’ve always thought Max was a smart dog, but he really impressed me one day when my husband pulled out the treadmill do his running.

Determined to get in shape for a ski trip we are planning over spring break, my husband has been running faithfully for about three weeks. Each time he turns on the treadmill, Max sits next to him, watching the belt speed by. Worried that he might try and grab the belt with his mouth, or get his paw stuck, I usually encourage Max to move away. But today, I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to him…until my husband called my name.

“Come see what your dog is doing,” he huffed.

So I went into the living room to watch. Max took his squeaky, carefully set it on the front of the treadmill, and waited patiently until the vibration of my husband’s pounding feet knocked it onto the belt. The squeaky then shot off the back, sailing into the air a good foot before hitting the ground. The moment the squeaky fell onto the belt, Max dashed around to the back of the treadmill and tried to catch the squeaky before it fell to the floor. Over and over he pulled the same trick, each time coming just a little closer to catching the toy. My husband got to laughing so hard he had to stop running.

“Now that’s talent,” he said.

“No kidding. I need to write a Max’ism about it.”

Basically, I thought it was such a neat trick I wanted to tell people about it. I didn’t want to hide Max’s little “talent.”

Which got me to thinking. God has given each of us a talent—something He wants us to use for His glory or the furtherance of His kingdom. What are we doing with the gifts He’s given us? Are we showing off our talent—using it for Him? Or are we hiding our talent, content to keep it buried where it’s of no use to us or the One who bestowed it?

If I’m serious about serving the Lord, I going to have to use everything He’s given me, even if it means digging up “an old talent.”

Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version)

The Parable of the Talents

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Saturday, September 18, 2010

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

rbooth45 – Nudge by Leonard Sweet
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!

Friday, September 17, 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:

Nudge by Leonard Sweet ~ Evangelism is about reaching out to others. Really? You think?

Brace yourself. In Nudge, author Leonard Sweet sets out to revolutionize our understanding of evangelism. He defines evangelism as “nudge” – awakening each other to the God who is already there. Sweet’s revolution promises to affect your encounters with others, as well as shaking the very roots of your own faith. So brace yourself.

Winner will be announced on Saturday, 09/18/10.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Every bush burns with revelations. Are you alert to the shining? Are you able to see the shining? Can you read the shining? Rest assured, the fire does not burn berserk.

Evangelism for too long has been disconnected from discipleship. In Nudge, evangelism is discipleship. What yokes evangelism to discipleship, I propose, is the art of attention, attending to life and attending to God.

The art of attention goes something like this: You have an appointment with God. The address of that appointment? The dress of the next person you meet, whatever it is. Their dress is God’s address. Want to find God? Look in the face of the person next to you or the next person you meet.

You will not find in Nudge a gospel of religion; what you will find is a gospel of Christ. What’s the difference? The currency of the gospel of religion is fear and imposition. The currency of the gospel of Christ is love and invitation.

Love engenders a spirit of wonder, where fear spawns anger and distrust. Fear seeks to quash wonder and to impose. Love frees to wonder and invite.

Nicolaus Copernicus first argued that the earth was not the center of the universe, that in fact the earth revolved around the sun. The publication of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres [1543]) caused a reaction of fear in the religious establishment, which denounced the work and for a time waylaid the truth through imperfect interpretations of Scripture. But the discoveries of Copernicus, and those of Galileo Galilei, would make nautical navigation by the stars possible. It was a sense of wonder, not a sense of fear, that made discovery and invention possible.

Love, and the wonder that results from it, create a posture of invitation—as simply as the love and wonder of a wedding, as deeply as the wonder of the Spirit that nudgers invite others into, also known as evangelism. Such love is an outpouring of a sense of love, of generosity in love because of a deep sense of being loved.

The fear that permeates religion demands that to spread, a larger fear must exist. Selling or marketing religion, as opposed to offering the wonder of love, requires a maneuver not unlike that of a pots and pans salesman (I know because I was one in college for a week), who is taught to introduce people to a problem they don’t know they have then to sell them a solution he happens to be selling. Or more precisely, “Spread fear, sell hope.”

Fear breeds in a cocoon of scarcity and insecurity. A natural human response is to bargain our way out of it, the net result being that folks who have come to religion by fear have really made a business deal with God. We are sons and daughters of the living God. We are not business partners who have made a bargain to avoid some unpleasant consequences.

So, long before we can talk about evangelism, the spreading of the gospel, we’d best agree on what the gospel is. Gospel, the very word, means “good news.” When we offer our sense of wonder, when we can see ourselves as bruised and broken yet beloved, as a people in process, the gospel is the good news that Christ is alive and with us, within and without, and that health and healing is ours through his death and resurrection.

It is wonderful news, for the emotionally worn out and strung out, that counseling could help them limp better. It is wonderful news, for the infirm of mind and spirit, that with enough good therapy, we can learn to compensate and moderate. But it is great news that Christ has come to bind up the broken hearted and to set the captive free. It is great news that healing and restoration is available to those who trust and obey.

The gospel is the sensational news that we can be the sons and daughters of the Creator, and that the One who created us loved us before we were even born. The gospel is the sensational news that eternity has already started and that the laws of sin and death need not apply to us. The gospel is the sensational news that life, and life more abundant, is ours. The gospel of Christ is a no-fear gospel. There is no push point to create a pots-and-pans sales close.

Nudge evangelism is the planting of seeds. With a motivation of love, nudgers meet people in their context and nourish their souls in some way. As in Jesus’ parable of the seeds, planting frees us to be extravagant in love, yet leaves the results for God to germinate and grow. Nudging is an open-ended enterprise God may undertake directly. God may use others, and time, and circumstance to grow. Or God may even employ a continuing involvement from us. The main thing is that nudgers are free to love without consequences. Nudgers are free to invest in the lives of others through the generosity of life as a conduit of love from God.

In short, the gospel is the good news that Jesus is the Way—in a world that has lost its way and when there seems to be no way; Jesus is the Truth—in a culture of lies where deceit is king; and Jesus is the Life—in a world full of evangelists of death. Nudge is a call to evangelize life and to face death so that others may live.

Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There by Leonard Sweet
David C Cook/August 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6474-4
256 pages/Hardcover with jacket/$19.99 ~
Want more? The Borrowed Book is giving away a copy of the book Nudge by Leonard Sweet. Be sure to stop by on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Evangelism is about reaching out to others.

Really? You think?

In Nudge, author Leonard Sweet sets out to revolutionize our understanding of evangelism. He defines evangelism as “nudge”—awakening each other to the God who is already there. Sweet’s revolution promises to affect your encounters with others, and shake the very roots of your own faith.

Interacting fully with Jesus and the Kingdom of God goes beyond using your voice. Find out how using your five senses is all a part of nudge “sensing.”

Do you give ear to God?

Do you have a stomach for the kingdom?

Do you have a vision for the kingdom?

Do you have a touch for the kingdom?

Do you have a nose for the kingdom?

Sweet challenges readers to use all five senses to interact with God and others. Nudge will remind you that for God to do something through us, God must be doing something in us.
About the Author:

"One of the church’s most important and provocative thinkers."

“No church leader understands better how to navigate the seas of the 21st century.”

“A writer of vast imagination, poise and charm.”

“I can’t imagine a Christian leader in America who hasn’t read one or more of Leonard Sweet’s books.”

“Some statistician-types will drown you in doom and gloom. Sweet’s message is uplifting, hopeful and relevant.”

These are but a sampling of responses to Len’s three-ring mission: as a historian of American culture; as a futurist/semiotician who "sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;" and as a preacher and writer who communicates the gospel powerfully to a postmodem age by bridging the worlds of academe and popular culture. In 2006 and 2007, Len was voted by his peers “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine.

Currently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University, Portland, Oregon, Len has been Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at Drew University for five years, Previous to Drew Len served for eleven years as President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. Prior to 1985, Len was Provost of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. Involved in leadership positions in the United Methodist Church, Len has been chosen to speak at various Jurisdictional and General Conferences as well as the 1996 World Methodist Congress in Rio de Janeiro. He also serves as a consultant to many of America's denominational leaders and agencies. He is a member of the West Virginia Annual Conference.
Author of more than two hundred articles, over twelve hundred published sermons, and dozens of books, Len is the primary contributor (along with his wife Karen Elizabeth Rennie) to the web-based preaching resource, For nine years he and his wife wrote Homiletics, which became under their watch the premier preaching resource in North America. In 2005 Len introduced the first open-source preaching resource on the Web,

SoulTsunami was the first in a trilogy of resources to help leaders come to terms with postmodern culture. The second installment on how to “do church,” AquaChurch, was published in 1999, and reissued in revised form in 2008 as AquaChurch 2.0. How to “do life” is the focus of the third volume, SoulSalsa: 17 Surprising Steps to Godly Living, which hit the bookstores at the same time an original theme song for the book “SoulSalsa” hit the charts (you had to be age six to like it). Each book in Len’s postmodern trilogy has its own website and multi-medial components, some of which have already received national awards.

In 2000 Len authored the first religion e-book on written as an e-book, The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk: If God So Loved the World, Why Can’t We? In the past two years, Len has published The Gospel According to Starbucks, The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right, The Church of the Perfect Storm, AquaChurch 2.0, and 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. His newest book So Beautiful: God’s Design for Life and the Church will be quickly followed by Pay Attention: Every Bush is Burning in late 2009.

Founder and President of SpiritVenture Ministries (SVM), in 1995 Len launched Sweet's SoulCafe, a spirituality newsletter for postmoderns purchased by Broadman&Holman Publishing. His privately published notebook ChartNotes sold-out even before it was published. Current projects include a biography of Phoebe Palmer in the American religion biography series, a textbook on preaching entitled Giving Blood: The Art and Craft of Abductive Preaching, Followership: The Leadership Myth, The Coming 4 Horsemen, A Jesus Kind of Human, and Gridiron Gospel: A Theology of Football. Len is also working on his first novel (A Postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress), a multi-media leadership resource yet untitled, and writing projects with Frank Viola, Brian Ross, and Joe Myers.

Len has served a term on the council of the American Society of Church History, was an associate editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion for ten years, and is a member of numerous professional groups. An honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Richmond, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. The recent recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Richmond (Virginia), Baker University (Kansas), Otterbein College (Ohio), Coe College (Iowa), and Lebanon Valley College (Pennsylvania), Len has held distinguished lectureships at various colleges, universities and seminaries, and has presented academic papers before major professional societies. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, state conventions, pastors' schools, retreats.

Len is increasingly being asked to lecture around the world, and has spoken in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, England, Wales, South Africa, South Korea, Iceland, Scotland, and most recently, China, Indonesia, and Latvia.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Everyone has one. A life, that is. It might not be a great life, but it's yours. Or maybe your life has been nearly perfect. Congrats and please consider adopting me. Most of us would say that we have experienced ups and downs throughout our lives. We have learned better who we are and what we are capable of, and, especially if you have procreated, your eyes have been opened to your weakest weaknesses. Children have a way of doing that, and it's both a gift and absolutely, positively, discouraging. Whichever end of the spectrum you claim, your experiences have made you who you are.

Backstory does the same thing for characters. It takes them from one-dimensional, to multi-faceted, well rounded, I-wanna-meet-this-person heroes and heroines.

Backstory is the backbone of your story. Without a backbone, what would the human body do? If you don't know the answer to that, research it out. You will be amazed at what we would look like without a backbone. And please remember that the same concept applies to your writing. More specifically, your characters.

We end our segment on Backstory with a Q&A. You ask the questions and I'll answer them. If no one asks a question then I'll pout.

Monday, September 13, 2010

DON BROWN graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1982, and after finishing law school, continued his post-graduate studies through the Naval War College, earning the Navy’s nonresident certificate in International Law.

During his five years on active duty in the Navy, Don served in the Pentagon, was published in the Naval Law Review, and was also a recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

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

I grew up in a small town in Northeastern North Carolina, Plymouth, population about 4000. I did a lot of fishing, cut grass, worked in tobacco, played trumpet in the high school band, and was lucky to be close to four wonderful, wise, God-fearing grandparents. Plymouth is somewhat poor, with over one-third of the population on government assistance, and does not have the money for its schools that some other areas do. In fact, the school system is in the bottom ten systems in the State of North Carolina in terms of money for schools. Still, I would not trade my formative years with anyone from any other place. I learned so much growing up there that could not be replicated in areas of higher socioeconomic blessing. I later attended the University of North Carolina, went to law school, took a commission in the Navy, and served as a JAG officer. After five years active duty,I settled in the Charlotte area. I’m a single dad with two girls in college, and a 14-year son who lives me.

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

To be honest, there’s not a lot of spare time. But in the spare time I have, I love spending time with my son more than anything. I like taking him to the Y, fishing with him, shooting with him, working on his jump-shot, watching the Carolina football and basketball games with him, and coaching his basketball team. I also love traveling with him as much as possible. Right now most of my spare time focus is trying to be a good father to him. I just love spending time with him.

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

Well at first I thought you were asking me if I could have a superpower – i.e. a geopolitical superpower – and I was going to say that I would take the United States of America, and I was going to say that I would take the United States to try and do everything to help restore this nation to her conservative, Biblical roots. But then I realized that probably the question meant something else, like Superman’s ability to fly, or something like that, as a superpower. Well that being the case, if I could have a superpower, then think Star Trek. For me it would be the ability to instantly step into a transporter room and instantly transport myself to any place in the world at any time. Why? Well because I have friends all over the country – great and wonderful friends on the West Coast – great friends and a daughter in Texas – great friends in Europe, and two sisters and my parents who are five hours away.

What has God been teaching you lately?

Probably the thing that I want to learn least – hah — namely patience and perseverance in the face of trials. A couple of years ago, I memorized James 1, “consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face trials of many kinds, for we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work that you may be mature and complete..” Finding joy when faced by trials is awfully hard in the flesh, but it’s His way, and I think He seems to have been taking me to the woodshed on that one! :-)

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

At first I wanted to be an astronaut! Then, when I was 13, I started watching the Senate Watergate Committee hearings on TV, which was chaired by former Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, who was an affable ole Harvard-educated Country lawyer. At that point, I was inspired by “Senator Sam’s” knowledge of and love for the Constitution, and decided I wanted to be a lawyer.

Where are you headed next?

Writing-wise, I have signed a contract with Zondervan for a new three-novel series called the Pacific Rim Series. The first novel, entitled THUNDER IN THE MORNING CALM, is due out next year, and I’m extremely excited about that.

How did you get involved in writing?

Well although I had done a ton of legal writing, I had no ambition whatsoever to write a novel until January of 2003. I was attending an “Epiphany Party” at a friend’s house, which in and of itself was quite unique, being that most holiday parties are from Thanksgiving to New Years. That night, my alma mater, UNC was playing basketball against Wake Forest. To be honest, I really was more interested in the game than the party. So I snuck downstairs into the hostess’s basement, found a television all to myself, and watched the game, coming up to hobnob only during commercials and halftime.

Afterwards, I felt guilty that I had not been the most gracious guest, by virtue of the fact that I had sequestered myself in the basement watching the game rather than mixing amongst the partygoers. So I wrote the hostess a note.

The only thing I remember about the note now was the introduction. “Dear Dana. Thank you for the invitation to your party. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” The rest I don’t have a clue what I wrote. Well the hostess wrote me back and said, “that was the most eloquent note I ever received. You should write a book.”

So I thought, “What the heck?”” And so then and there, the first lightning bolt struck. Next day, I got out my laptop and started writing. Two-and-a-half years later, by the Grace of God, my first novel, Treason, was released nationwide.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?

To me, to be honest, the writing comes easy. And for that I’m very blessed. The most difficult part, by far, is balancing my writing against my other full-time job, which is practicing law. Last week, for example, I was in court four times, all the while finishing a manuscript for my next novel. For two straight weeks, I was putting in 16-17 hours a day of work, and that can get exhausting.

What did you enjoy most about the writing process?

I love it all, but the part I enjoy the most is the learning that I get to do, through the research. I like to write about different parts of the world. My most recent release MALACCA CONSPIRACY takes place in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA. By the time I was done researching and writing, I’d learned a lot about that area of the world that I would have never known about otherwise.

How do you find time to write?

Hah! Lots of coffee and shots of espresso! I’ll write early in the morning, sometimes between 5-7, then go to work with my law job, then sometimes go from 8-11 or 8-12 at night. It takes a lot of discipline. And if you want to write, you have to pretty much cut out TV, which I do cut out for the most part unless the Tar Heels are playing either football or basketball.

Tells us about your latest release. Where did you get the idea for The Malacca Conspiracy?

Because I write geopolitical thrillers, one of things I am seeking to do is to write about a hotspot that could boil over any time. That actually happened in my Novel TREASON, which some have said “predicted” subsequent events at Fort Hood in November of 2009, and BLACK SEA AFFAIR, which some have said “predicted” the 2008 Georgian-Russian War.

In this case, based upon extensive research, I believe that the Malacca Straights region is a region of the world that could blow at any minute, and I write in part to educate people about these hotspots. I want to help Americans, especially, understand through entertaining fiction, about issues and places that could. have a very profound impact on our lives at the flick of a spark.

What are the major themes of the book?

The central major theme, I would say, is based upon the Second Book of the Pentateuch, taken from the sixth chapter and eighteenth Verse, which is, to paraphrase, “do the right thing.” There are other subthemes as well, but for central characters like the Indonesian woman Kristina Wulandari, for Zack Brewer and for President Mack Williams, each is faced with very crucial decision-making of potential dire consequences in the face of real evil. They are called upon to decide to do what is right in the face of great danger and deadly consequences.

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

I researched military journals, non-classified CIA materials, local maps, local newspapers in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, various local websites, this sort of thing. A lot of times I’ll buy geography books on an area to get a better feel.

With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?

Although I have been accused of being ZACK BREWER, who is the star of this novel and is the star of the NAVY JUSTICE SERIES, in that we both are from North Carolina and were both US Navy JAG Officers, I suppose the character I identify most with is PRESIDENT MACK WILLIAMS. Why? Love of country, love of the military, his conservative values, and his determination to do what is right in spite of liberal heckling and criticism. America desperately needs men like Mack Williams in Washington today. It’s been a long time since we’ve had conservative, America-first, integrity-based leadership in the White House and in the Halls of Congress.

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

I want my readers to be entertained, certainly. As a novelist, I have an implicit duty to provide entertainment to each and every reader who picks up one of my books. Beyond that, I hope that my readers will learn about a part of the world and an important geopolitical situation that they probably would not have otherwise known about, and that through the strength of the characters in the book, that they will be inspired to “do the right thing” and to stand bravely in the face of evil.

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

Three things. First, Davis Bunn, a fellow Tar Heel and a brilliant novelist who I greatly admire, once made a speech that I heard, and these words of wisdom have stuck with me. “If you are going to be a writer,” he said, or words to this effect, “you must write every day. You must write for the love of writing, even if what you write is never published.” To paraphrase Davis, without the eloquence that he is capable of and I am not, “write every day because you love it, and let the love of writing drive you to write.” So write every day. Study other writers, and just do it.

The second thing, and I’ve given this advice a thousand times, but find some good writers conferences and attend. At a good writer’s conference, you will find people who can teach you and help you. Look for writer’s conferences that have agents and acquisitions editors, for these are indeed the people who can help a burgeoning writer get his or her foot in the door.

Third, remember the words of Churchill. “Never, never surrender.” Those words were paraphrased by the late, legendary NC State basketball coach, Jimmy Valvano, who said, “Never give up. Don’t ever, ever give up.” For anyone feeling called to do this, to write, persevere. Perseverance pays off.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Max is not a people person kind of dog. There four people in his life that he loves—me, my husband, my son, and my daughter. Oh, he tolerates a few others—my son’s girlfriend, a couple of my daughter’s friends, and the cat. But on the whole, Max pretty much believes in the old saying, “my four and no more.”

That was made evident the day we invited the varsity football team over to our house. As part of pre-game day tradition, parents of varsity football players have started making dinner for the team on Thursday nights. Around 5:30, the first boy arrived. Max barked when the car pulled into the driveway just as he always does, but when the boy came into the house, Max promptly grabbed his pant leg and started tugging. I couldn’t get him to stop. Fearful that his actions might turn even more aggressive, I shut Max up in our bedroom for the duration of the meal. It would have worked, if my daughter hadn’t gone into the bedroom for something. Out shot Max, barking, growling, the hair on his back standing straight on end. I must admit, I laughed when I saw all twenty of those macho football players pull their feet up onto the couch. Fortunately, once Max warmed up to everyone, he was pretty much content to ignore the intruders and everyone went home without a scratch.

Later that night, Max lay curled up on the loveseat next to me, his cold little nose tucked into the crook of my arm.

“It’s funny how he can be so loving to us, and so aggressive toward everyone else,” my husband said.

“Yep. I’d say he’s partial to us,” I replied, laughing.

But that got me to thinking.

Are there certain people I show partiality to? Do I show favor to some and not others? Has my church become a place where I’m content to say, “my four and no more?” Too many times, I’m afraid the answer to these questions would be yes. Even more frightening is the idea that my favor may be influenced by a person’s wealth or position in the community. I guess that’s why God saw fit to warn against showing partiality, and why I’m inclined to listen.

James 2:1-11 (New King James Version)

Beware of Personal Favoritism

1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

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

Holly (2 Kids and Tired)– Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren
lostinbelieving – High-Stakes Inheritance by Susan Sleeman

Cindy W. - Nipped in the Bud by Susan Sleeman
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, Sharlene MacLaren and Susan Sleeman, for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, September 10, 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:

Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren ~ Tender Vow is a heartwarming story about unexpected love amidst tragedy. All of my novels involve romance and most of them some measure of intrigue, mystery, or suspense. Tender Vow differs in that it’s a flat-out love story with tragedy at the forefront and God’s gentle grace the backdrop. If you enjoy a story of hope, healing, forgiveness, second chances, and renewal, then Tender Vow won’t disappoint.



High-Stakes Inheritance by Susan Sleeman ~ "Leave Logan Lake now or you will pay!"

Despite the threatening warning, Mia Blackburn won't let anyone scare her from the rustic resort she inherits from her beloved uncle. But when a fire traps her in a burning barn, she fears that she won't get out alive. Just in time her ex-boyfriend volunteer firefighter Ryan Morgan rescues her from the deadly blaze. He had once broken her heart, yet she still has feelings for him. With Ryan insisting on keeping a close eye on her, Mia feels safer—and closer to Ryan than ever before. Yet the threats haven't stopped, and soon Mia's high-stakes inheritance includes a murder—and Mia could be the next victim.


Nipped in the Bud by Susan Sleeman ~ Romance is the last thing on Paige Turner’s mind when she is fingered for murder of the small Oregon town’s city manager who is found in the park she is landscaping. Can a handsome lawyer help to keep her out of jail on the eve of the Pickle Fest?

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 09/11/10.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pinetree will never be yours. Leave Logan Lake now or you will pay.

Mia Blackburn stared at the cutout magazine letters glued to stark white paper.

Was this some kind of a joke? Did someone really plan to hurt her for honoring her late uncle's wishes? To meet the terms of his will, she had agreed to live at Pinetree for the next year in order to inherit the resort. Yet nothing about the idyllic Oregon setting and worn cabins would garner this kind of threat.

With trembling hands, she flipped the envelope and searched for clues. The hate mail held a postmark from three days ago right here in the Logan Lake Post Office.

She rubbed a finger over the neat rows of shiny magazine letters. Anger seemed to leap from the page.

Her mouth went dry, and her throat tightened, nearly cutting off her air.

Only one person harbored such bitter feelings for her. Her father. And knowing him, he'd lurk in the shadows to see her reaction to his threat.

The space seemed to darken with her thoughts.

Was he here, in the room watching her? Or would he be outside on Main Street, sitting in his Cadillac, drumming his fingers on the wheel as he did whenever he grew impatient?

The jarring clang of the front door bells ended her thoughts. She snapped her head up to see who entered.

Not her father, but just as bad. Maybe worse.

"Ryan." Her ex-boyfriend's name whispered out like a desperate plea for help as he strolled lazily into the space.

His warm expression and greetings spoke to his love of this small town and its people. He'd changed little since she'd last seen him at high school graduation. He was dressed in worn jeans, rugged boots and an army-green T-shirt that confirmed he hadn't quit working out. Curly russet hair had been cut short emphasizing his skin bronzed from the summer.

As if feeling her gaze, he turned in her direction. Recognition widened his piercing blue eyes. "Mia, is that you?" he called out with genuine fondness as if they'd parted best friends. He headed her way, giving her a quick once-over on the way. When his eyes returned to her face, appreciation radiated from his expression much like it had when they dated in high school.

"I almost didn't recognize you with the new look." He reached out to lift a strand of her shoulder-length hair she'd straightened and dyed.

His touch shot a frisson of alarm through her far greater than the letter had. She searched for a reply, but gaped instead. He directed a counseling program that leased cabins at Pine-tree in the off-season so she'd expected them to cross paths. However, she didn't count on freezing in place when she saw him again.
"I remember that look." His trademark crooked grin lit his face. "Got it every time I messed up."
This was too much. He was here…in front of her. The guy who'd hurt her like every man in her life except Uncle Wally. And she wasn't ready with the quick, witty comebacks she'd often visualized in her mind.

"You okay?" he asked.

"I'm fine." Fine? She wasn't fine. How was she going to get out of this situation?

She took a step back and focused on the waffle pattern in his T-shirt. This wasn't any better than peering into his eyes. The material stretched taut across his chest. A chest where she'd rested and received comfort after battles with her father.

"I'm sorry to hear about Wally," he said, filling the awkward space and bringing her gaze to his face. "I remember as a kid how I'd count down the days until he left Atlanta and came up here for the summer." A soft smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. "All the kids around here loved his camp. Takes a special person to give so much time and money to help underprivileged kids like he did. I'm gonna miss him."

"Me, too," she managed.

Who was this woman taking over her body? Since their tumultuous breakup, she'd often visualized the strong woman she'd become, standing up to Ryan and releasing pent-up anger from the wounds he'd inflicted. Never did she see herself shying away like a terrified mouse.

So what? Even if she pulled herself together, this wasn't the time or place to get into their botched romance. Small towns had big ears and the last thing she needed was gossip about her served as the entrée on dinner tables tonight. She'd had enough of that in high school when she'd sparked the local gossip by rebelling against her father's rigid control, skipping school and partying all hours of the night.

Her best option was to cut this short. "If you'll excuse me, I really need to get out to Pinetree and unpack."

In search of car keys, she used her hip to shift her leather purse closer as she transferred the threatening letter to the other hand already bulging with envelopes. Shaking fingers fumbled and upset the pile, sending it crashing to the floor.

"Let me help." He dropped down and reached for the alarming letter.

No. He didn't need to see the warning.

She lunged toward the page, but his hand whispered softly over hers and snatched up the paper. While he scanned the message, she slid the avalanche of envelopes into a stack.

"What's this?" His head lifted and deep crevices of concern burrowed into his face. "You can't seriously be thinking about going out there after receiving such a threat? We have to report this to the police, and you need to stay somewhere safe until they figure out who sent the letter."

How dare he express concern for her after the trauma he'd caused in her life!

She snatched the page from his hands. "Don't worry. Someone is just playing a practical joke."

Ignoring his confused expression, she bolted past him and into the crisp October morning. She didn't need Ryan worrying about or trying to take care of her. She'd been self-sufficient for years, and she didn't need a man—especially not this man—telling her what to do. She'd be fine.

"Mia, wait," he called after her. "You could be in danger."

Danger, ha! Talking to him was more dangerous than a vague warning. He'd hurt her once. She wasn't going to give him the chance to do it again.


Ryan watched as Mia charged away. After her reaction, his first instinct was to run in the other direction. Why bring up their past? Why not let things lie as they had for the last ten years?

Because her eyes seared him, that's why. Not with the guilt he deserved but with a vulnerability that tugged at his need to help a woman in distress. Now she was charging away from him into danger. He couldn't let that happen.

He rushed after the click-clack of the skyscraper shoes she wore echoing down the street and into the sweet, tantalizing fragrance lingering behind.

Had his tomboy taken to wearing perfume?

She'd definitely given up the ratty jeans and slogan-boasting T-shirts she used to favor. Today, tailored blue jeans and a leather blazer emphasized her long, lanky body. Perfect on the current Mia who'd traded her mass of red curls for a sleek style that gleamed in the brilliant sunlight. Her hands shook as she inserted a key into the door of a sweet, red Mustang, but she still managed to climb into the car in record speed.

A car that would take her straight to Pinetree. She may not want anything to do with him, but he wouldn't let her race into danger just to spite him. He breathed deep to control rising emotions and stopped next to the car. She ignored him and lowered the convertible roof.

When the top cleared, he planted his hands on the door frame. "I get that you're still mad at me, Mia, but don't do something foolish just to get away from me."

She sat, rigid and unresponsive.

He leaned into her space. "Just give me a minute and then if you still want to go, I'll back off."

Her head slowly rose, and a shimmering strand of hair blew into her face. It would take some time for him to get used to her new look. Not that he didn't like it. Layered hair curved softly around her face, giving her a sophisticated appearance that was all too appealing.

He reached up to tuck the stray strand behind her ear, but she beat him to it and fixed tired eyes on his face.

"You have exactly one minute." She tapped her jeweled watch with a brightly painted nail.

The anguish in her gaze almost stopped his words. Almost. But he had to keep her safe. "It's crazy to go to Pinetree, sw—, Mia." She didn't seem to notice his near use of sweetheart, or maybe she didn't remember or even care that he'd always called her that in high school. "You never know what the sender of this letter intends to do."

"I'm pretty sure it's from my father. You know how melodramatic he can get. If I leave town during the year, Pinetree defaults to David. So—"

"Wait. David gets Pinetree if you leave?" Ryan's tone pierced through the air. "It's got to be worth a bundle for the lakefront location. Seems like David is the logical person to want you to leave."

"I didn't say I was certain about my father. David is a possibility, but I doubt it." She sighed and closed her eyes for a moment as if she was humoring him. "David's firm handles Pinetree's finances so I've talked to him about the transition a couple of times in the last week. He said even though he was the older sibling, I deserved Pinetree because I was so much closer to Uncle Wally."

"How can you be sure he meant what he said? Maybe he was covering up his true feelings."

"His tone was sincere. Plus, he's never done anything in the past to hurt me, but Dad…" She released another sigh. "He's a different story. He always thought David was more deserving of everything, so why not this?" Her words were strong, but her voice trembled at the mention of her father and brother.

Ryan wanted to stroke her hair in comfort as he used to do after one of her father's many rampages, but he had no right. He'd seen to that.

He fisted his hands and searched for the words that would keep her away from Pinetree. But what could he say to make her see the danger she could be in?

Perhaps he had to paint a dire picture. "You may be right about the letter coming from your dad, but are you willing to risk your life on it?"

She recoiled as if he'd slapped her. "Your minute is up."

She fired up the car, and he reluctantly stepped back. He didn't know why she'd reacted so strongly but he did know he'd failed her again. Was he destined to fail her at every turn? He shook his head and watched her back out of the space.

At least this time he had God to turn to. He never disappointed anyone.

Ryan focused on the impressive stand of Douglas firs in the distance.

Lord, please keep Mia safe. And if it is your will, let her see my sincere desire to apologize for how I hurt her and help her to forgive me for what I did.

At the screech of tires, his head snapped back, and he watched the car shoot down the street. Despite the ache her resentment left behind, the familiar sight brought a brief smile. Mia might dress all prissy and girly now, but she remembered how to drive like a guy.

Oh, yeah, she'd always been a little spitfire. Rebelling against her father. Getting into trouble left and right. Calming down some the year they were together. Taking up again when they split up to show everyone she didn't need him.

And she didn't need him. Not now, anyway. He'd hurt her by how he'd handled the breakup, that was for sure, and he wanted to fix it. Now more than ever. Seeing her dredged up the horrible day they'd parted, and he needed to explain why he had to end things as he had. To seek her forgiveness so he could put this to rest.

Instincts and the desire to do the right thing with Mia told him to jump in his truck and follow her to Pinetree, but the threatening message urged him to go see Russ, his brother and chief of police. He could talk with Mia later, but not if the person behind the letter made good on his threat and harmed her in the process.

Leave Logan Lake now or you will pay…

The barn, dry from a typical rainless summer, flared in oranges and reds as if a meteor had streaked from the sky and plunged into the building.

Had he done this? Had he really made good on the threat?


Dense smoke clung to Pinetree's sign and surrounding treetops like cotton candy on a stick. The air was laden with fumes, not the sort of pleasant scents drifting from a campfire, but serious gusts of blackness settling into the open car and irritating her breathing.

Heart beating erratically, Mia remembered the advice of the 911 operator she'd just called. She should move to a safe location and wait for the fire department to arrive. But what if Uncle Wally still kept horses in the barn? If they were trapped she couldn't sit here and listen to them cry out. She had to try to rescue them. She kicked off her heels and scrambled from the car.

Listening for cries of distress, she ran the length of the barn and circled the backside. Embers shot into the air. Explosions—bullet-like pings—struck the walls. The heat and caustic air seared her lungs. Howling screams from the consuming fire eased and the heat receded a bit, allowing her to inch closer to the acrid smoke seeping through cracks in the walls.

What was that? A whimper. Quiet. Muffled. Her imagination?

She stopped and leaned closer to a window, panting from exertion and the thickened air.

There it was again. A terrified mewl. A kitten or maybe a small child.

With a large rock, she shattered the window. Blistering heat whooshed out sending her lurching back. She ripped off her jacket and held it in front of her face.

"Is someone there?" she called, and swiped thick sweat from her forehead.

"Help!" The voice was tiny and high, fragile like a porcelain doll.

Who in the world was in there?

Jacket over her fingers, Mia cleared the largest shards of glass and plunged her head through the opening. Her eyes instantly watered, her nose stung.

"Where are you?" she barked through drying lips, and squinted against the bitter smoke.

A petite tear-stained face peeked from a cave of hay bales. Mia guessed the innocent child to be under ten and terrified.

"Don't be afraid." Ignoring the abrasive air and drawing in labored breaths, Mia lowered her jacket and offered a comforting smile as she scanned the space.
Susan is giving away copies of High-Stakes Inheritance AND Nipped in the Bud. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry