Thursday, August 30, 2012

From the time that she was seven, Amanda Cabot dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when she set herself the goal of selling a book by her thirtieth birthday that the dream came true. A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian historical romances. Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim, and Christmas Roses, her first stand-alone story, was just released.

You have a new book about to release. Tell us the title and give a short blurb about it.

Christmas Roses is my first novella and my first hardcover book for Revell. As you might expect, I’m excited about it. Here’s a brief description:

Celia Anderson doesn’t need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn’t have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .

Amanda Cabot invites readers to cozy up with a romantic, heartwarming tale of the greatest gift of all--love.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Almost anywhere. I’m now a fulltime writer, but until eight years ago, I wrote part-time and had a more-than-fulltime day job. One of the good/bad things about that day job was that I was a very frequent flyer. The good part was that I was able to visit a lot of different places, and some of them provided inspiration for books. For example, I was sitting in a restaurant in Phoenix, eating alone (one of the bad things about all the traveling), when the Muzak started playing “Stranger in Paradise.” “What a great title for a book,” I said to myself. (No, I haven’t gotten to the point where I talk out loud and cause strangers to stare.) That started the whole process of asking questions. “Where’s paradise?” Answer: Hawaii. “Why would someone be there and feel like a stranger?” The answers to that question turned into a book. Even though I changed the title, the story begins in Hawaii and the hero and heroine are definitely strangers there.

What are some of the spiritual themes that you write about in your books?

At first I didn’t realize that my books had common themes, but as I look back on them, I realize that I frequently write about the healing power of love. When I wrote for the secular market, that love was between a man and a woman. Now that I’m writing for the Christian market, I’ve been able to expand that to include the power of God’s love. There’s nothing that pleases me more than having a reader tell me that my characters’ stories helped her heal. Truly, that’s why I write.

What is the most enjoyable part of writing the book to you?

Besides getting letters from readers? Oh, you meant the writing process itself, didn’t you? For me second drafts are the most fun. I describe first drafts as skeletons, and like the ones you see at Halloween, they’re ugly. But you can’t have a body without a skeleton, and I can’t write a book without a first draft. I really, really, really dislike the first draft phase. But once it’s done, I have the foundation and am ready to add the flesh and blood that turn a skeleton into a body. For me, that’s fun. My husband claims it’s because I’m an editor at heart, and what I’m doing is editing that first draft. He may be right.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to someone else to read?

There’ve been so many good fiction books that I’d be hard-pressed to select just one, so I’m going to recommend a non-fiction book that I found truly inspiring. It’s Linda Evans Shepherd’s When You Don’t Know What to Pray: How to Talk to God About Anything. I believe this book has something to offer to everyone, even experienced prayer warriors.

What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?

I hope they’ll find their hearts filled with the joy of Christmas and that Celia, Mark and the other residents of Easton will feel like friends by the time they reach “The End.”

What are you working on now?

I’m not a last minute person, so I’ve already finished the two books that are due to my editor next January and am working on the first of a trilogy that takes place during World War One. That won’t be released until the fall of 2014. In the meantime, the second Westward Winds book, Waiting for Spring, is a January 2013 release, with the third one due out in early 2014. Also scheduled for early 2014 is Revell’s first novella collection. I’m very honored to be one of four authors whose stories will be included in that.

What advice would you give to writers who are still waiting to sell their first book?

I have three pieces of advice. The first is to read extensively in the genre you want to write. That’s the best way to learn what a publisher is buying. Secondly, join a writer’s group. ACFW is wonderful for writers in the Christian marketplace, and Romance Writers of America is excellent for anyone interested in writing romance. A writer’s group provides support, networking and so many other resources to the aspiring writer that I can’t over emphasize the importance of joining one. And lastly, never give up. Rejection is a fact of life. I won’t sugarcoat it: rejection hurts. But if you let it defeat you, if you stop sending out your manuscript just because it was rejected, you’ll never be published. Believe in your book and in yourself. Oh … that was four pieces of advice. Sorry!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cute, huh? Those big brown eyes, little paws, and long whiskers. Seems a shame that something so tiny and cute could carry a disease like the hantavirus.

Hantaviruses are a relatively new discovery. (Read the history here .) The most recent outbreak in the United States occurred this summer in four people who had stayed in Yosemite National Park between June and August.

The disease is rare, but humans can be infected with hantaviruses through rodent bites, urine, saliva, or contact with rodent waste products—often inhaled when waste-laden dust is disturbed. Two of the known culprits who carry the disease are the cute little guys pictured—the white-footed mouse (left) and the deer mouse (right).

So. . .maybe people who jump on tables to avoid mice have the right idea.

Read more about the recent outbreak at these two links:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Every author dreams of opening a box that’s just been delivered to her house and finding the first copies of her new book inside. The joy that comes from holding the finished product of long hours of work can be overwhelming. But no one wants the nightmare of receiving an irate letter from a reader stating displeasure over the fact that something in the book is incorrect. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, but there is a way to cut down on the possibility of that happening. The answer lies in one little word—research.

Although research can be tedious and time consuming, taking the time to make the story authentic will be worth it in the long run. Research can take many forms. The internet gives us access to the world, and we don’t have to leave home to visit foreign settings or find out about customs in other places. Libraries contain books that are great sources of information, and librarians are always eager to help a writer. Also you’ll find individuals in your hometown with expertise in areas that you may need help. Most people are delighted to help, especially if you tell them they will be thanked in print for helping make the book possible.  

In my latest book Angel of the Cove, I have a scene where a mountain midwife is delivering a breech baby. This scene proved very emotional for me to write. Women today in childbirth have all the advantages of modern medicine to assist them. In 1894 that wasn’t true in a remote cabin in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.  Although I’d searched the internet and felt I’d described the process accurately, I ran my scene by a local obstetrician, and he informed me I was correct.  

One tool that I discovered not long ago is YouTube. Recently I was going to write a chapter that dealt with a group taking a hike up a mountain. Not being an outdoorsman, I had no desire to go hike that mountain myself. However, lots of other folks have done it in the past, and some of those nice people made videos and posted them on YouTube. I’m thankful I found this resource. 

Angel of the Cove from Harvest House Publishers is the first of three books in my Smoky Mountain Dreams series,a generational series that follows a fictional family who lived in Cades Cove, Tennessee, a remote valley in the Smoky Mountains. Approximately 2,000,000 people  visit Cades Coves each year to see the preserved cabins, churches, and barns that show what life was like before the residents were forced to sell their farms to the government for inclusion in the park. I realized the setting and the way of life there had to be accurate, and I have spent untold hours researching the area. I pray I’ve done those hardy mountain people justice.

Whether you’re researching a period in history or police procedurals, the author must make every effort to give the reader accurate facts. Not being able to find something can certainly lead to madness, but it can become a sense of accomplishment when you can prove a point because you took the time to do your research. 

Sandra Robbins is a multi-published author who lives with her husband in the small Tennessee college town where she grew up. At present she has eleven books published and six more contracted. Her books have been finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Contest for excellence in mystery writing, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for romance, the Holt Medallion, and the ACFW Carol Award. I

Monday, August 27, 2012

One more C.S. Lewis book to discuss this month...

The Last Battle.

Certainly has an epic title! There's a solemn ring to it, though - after all, "last" suggests finality, a conclusion to a series and thus a farewell to the characters and the land of Narnia.

For those who haven't read the book, there are a lot of references to the book of Revelation within the pages. We won't discuss the theology behind it, but let's grab onto that idea of a book being inspired by events past, present, or future - or by other important works, stories, etc.

C.S. Lewis "Chronicles of Narnia" series fits within the fantasy genre. In The Last Battle Lewis takes elements of Revelation - people/creatures and events - and looks at them through a fantastical perspective. Narnia is taken over by an ape and a gullible donkey, and the Narnians buy into the fake Aslan these two present because they're desperate for any sign of him. But those who truly know Aslan cannot be fooled by a costume...

And so it begins.

Obviously The Last Battle is not some new form of the book of Revelation. It is simply inspired (not divinely, just to clarify!) by Scripture and presents one man's wrestling with his understanding of it, as well as his attempts to help others think about things in a new way. (At least, that's what I'm assuming. But I'm not C.S. Lewis, so only God knows what he was thinking as he was writing!) And that can be a great impetus for other stories, as well.

Consider historical fiction. Those books are not attempting to replace true history. Rather, they are often representations of authors' passions for certain eras, their struggles with getting into the hearts and minds of people who lived during certain historical events, and their efforts to help readers understand timeless truths in a different light.

How do you feel about historical fiction? Biblical fiction? Fantasy?

How about your own writing? Is there a certain historical event you want to look at from an entirely different perspective? Is there a famous story that you think could be told in a new, thought-provoking way? (Consider the popularity of fairy-tale retellings!)

P.S. If you missed them, here are my posts on Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming! This week's winner is:
Christy Janes - Words in the Wind by Yvonne Anderson!

Congratulations, Christy! Please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your email address. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive. Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!
To enter:
Follow Us! Followers are automatically entered. Or...
Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.
Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!
Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Yvonne Anderson and her newest release, Words in the Wind.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Missing people, serial killers, and a psychic in Kansas. Sounds like a modern reality show on cable, right? But it’s not. This family of criminals, the Benders, committed their crimes in the 1870s.
Following the Civil War, the Bender family settled on 160 acres of land located adjacent the Great Osage Trail, which was then the only open road for traveling further west. They built a cabin about 17 miles out of the county seat of Independence.

They began using their place as a general store using a canvas wagon cover to separate their living quarters from the public quarters. Travelers stopped for meals and even spent the night.
Daughter Kate was a self-proclaimed healer and psychic who conducted séances and gave lectures on spiritualism. Her popularity brought visitors to the Benders’ inn.

In May 1871, the body of a man was found with a crushed skull and cut throat. In 1872, two more men were found with the same types of injuries. By 1873, reports of missing people who had passed through the area had grown to the point that travelers began to avoid the trail. Turns out the Benders were bashing wealthy travelers over the head while they stayed at the inn.

After their crimes came to light, the Benders disappeared. Strange mounds were discovered on their property. By the time the posse finished digging, more than two dozen bodies were discovered. It’s not known how many more were never found. Neither were the Benders.

If you want to know more, here are some links where you can read more about the clan:  (this link is to the Daily Mail, a gossip rag, so don’t be offended by the side bars, please.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We are very fortunate to have two guests with us today! Visit with Yvonne Anderson, and then scroll down and check out the latest from author Cara C. Putman. Check out her Mackinac Island book tour, and learn how to win a taste of Murdick's famous fudge!!

Readers love a good series. A story world they can lose themselves in. A Middle Earth they can center on again and again.

Many writers like to create a series, too. In the first book, you establish the setting and breathe life into the characters. Maybe your research unearths too much good stuff to squeeze into one novel. Or, a facet of a character’s backstory opens up a whole new story line you just have to pursue. Writing a sequel, or maybe a prequel, is the natural next step.

That’s what happened in my situation. I wrote a book called The Story in the Stars. I created the planet Gannah for the story’s setting. And I spent so much time there that I found way more cool things about the place than I could use. So, while I polished up Stars and pitched it for sale, I started another book about Gannah to showcase some of the planet’s most interesting facets.

After a couple years of casting out that Stars hook, I finally got a bite. A small press I’d queried was interested—but asked a surprising question: “What is your vision for the series?”

I hadn’t been thinking of it in those terms; mostly, I was just having fun. But once I shifted my mental gears to accommodate the idea, I realized a series was eminently doable. Apparently, Risen Books agreed, because in June of 2011, we unleashed the “Gateway to Gannah” series upon the reading world.

Words in the Wind, released on August 1, 2012, continues the adventure. The third in the series is complete and in the publishing pipeline, and I’m currently drafting the fourth and final Gannah book. Each can be a stand-alone novel; you won’t get lost if you don’t read them in order. However, one does build upon the other, and the four will unite to tell a story that over-arches and encompasses the whole.

Writing a series is fun, but it can present some unique difficulties. For instance, how much explanation is needed in each subsequent book to bring a first-time reader up to speed? Too much backstory weighs things down, but too little leaves people feeling confused.  

There’s also the issue of consistency. When we carry details over from one book to the next, those details must be the same. Is a character dark-haired or blond? What’s his favorite pizza topping? Names should be spelled the same from one book to the next. Better get those things right, or one of your readers will catch your mistake. It’s amazing how many details there are to keep straight.

This can be done a number of ways. You can create a style sheet, keep notes in spiral notebooks, jot reminders on note cards or sticky notes, or use writing software, like Scrivener. Or, if you’re so inclined, a combination of the above. 

Being the low-tech type, I have a spiral notebook in which I keep a map of Gannah, along with lists of character names and assorted other details. When an invented word (I write sci-fi, remember) recurs frequently but I have trouble remembering the spelling, I write it on a sticky note and tack it to the bulletin board above my desk so I can see it in a quick glance. 

For the past five years, a chart on that same bulletin board has helped me keep straight the subtle ear movements that express a Karkar’s emotions: displeasure = backward tilt; amusement = lift; sadness = tilt outward; etc. (If you’re not familiar with what a Karkar is, read one of my books!) 

When I’m not sure of a detail I’ve forgotten to make note of, I’ll sometimes open a previous book’s file on my computer and do a search for what I need to know. (What color was Adam’s hair in Book 2? Search that manuscript for “hair” and find a place where it refers to Adam’s.)

For final quality control, nothing can beat good crit partners. They’ve caught my inconsistencies more than once, saving me much embarrassment. 

If you’re writing a series, or think your WIP could turn into one, my advice is threefold: (1) Keep track of every detail that might possibly be pertinent, using whatever method(s) you find most efficient and comfortable; (2) don’t become so lost in the story that you forget to check your facts; (3) and, get yourself some good critique partners. We writers need all the help we can get!

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you 
out of this world. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband of 37 years and two of her four grown kids. (One’s getting married in October. Woo hoo!) She also has three grandchildren and two more on the way.

Her first novel, The Story in the Stars (Book 1 in the Gateway to Gannah series), is a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist (Speculative Fiction category).

Yvonne shares a few wise words on her personal site, Y’sWords. You may also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mackinac Island. It’s a magical place that allows you to step back in time from the moment you first step off the ferry. Authors Cara Putman and Melanie Dobson have teamed up for a tour of the island, now and then. Comment at each stop for a chance to win a copy of one of their books set on Mackinac Island. You’ll find the list of stops here. Share the tour on twitter, Facebook, pinterest and other places, and you’ll gain extra entries for the grand prize of a copy of each of their books and a 5 slice box of Murdick’s Fudge, straight from Mackinac Island. Just be sure to email Cara at, so she can record your entries.

Growing up in Ohio, I always wanted to visit Mackinac Island where there are no cars, where I could freely walk and bike and explore. Researching and then writing Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan was truly a dream come true for me. From the moment I stepped off the ferry and heard the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves along the island’s historic Main Street, I was transported back a good hundred years. Pronounced “Mackinaw” like Mackinaw City (but spelled differently so the post office could differentiate between the island and town), Mackinac Island is a place that time seemed to forget. The diverse history on this island goes back hundreds of years, when Native Americans considered the island the home of their Great Spirit and local tribes gathered there each summer to fish. In the 1700s, lucrative French and American fur companies made their homes and millions of dollars on Mackinac until the British took over during the War of 1812 and held the island for three years before returning it to the United States. Then, in 1819, the first steamship of tourists arrived. The tourists have never stopped coming.

I didn't grow up aware of Mackinac Island. I wasn't even sure what I was getting into the first time we drove the ten hours from Lafayette, Indiana to the tip of Michigan's mitten. I knew is it took a long time to reach this tiny dot on the map. It didn't take me long to learn the island had worked hard to preserve a feel of days long ago. It took even less time to fall in love with this retreat. We've stayed at the Grand, in B&Bs and in Mackinaw City. Each time, I couldn't wait to reach the island and explore its roads, shops, and Fort. It was only natural that it became the perfect place to set a contemporary romance.

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island Join attorney Alanna Stone as she returns home despite her determination to never set foot on Mackinac Island again. Once again in close proximity to Jonathan Covington, her first love, she vows to protect her privacy and her heart from the man who still makes her pulse race. But when her worst fears are realized and history repeats itself—landing her in the midst of a murder investigation—Jonathan may be her only hope. Will they be able to lay aside the past and let God heal their hearts, or will reconciliation come too late?  Read the first chapter here.
Love Finds You on Mackinac Island It’s the height of the Gilded Age, but Elena Bissette’s family has lost most of its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, and they spend summers there in hopes of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls at the Grand Hotel, she spends her days walking along the island’s rugged coastline. There she meets Chase, a young fisherman who invites her to watch the ships from an abandoned lighthouse. The two begin to meet there in secret, hoping to solve a decades-old mystery. Meanwhile, Elena’s mother contrives introductions between Elena and the island’s most eligible bachelor, an elusive millionaire named Chester Darrington. When Elena’s two worlds unexpectedly collide, she will be in for the surprise of her life. Read the first chapter here.
About the Book:

"Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration."

Book Trailer:


About the Author:

"Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. She writes stories that combine danger, suspense, and adventure for readers of all ages. Her first book released in April 2009 from Marcher Lord Press. By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings, Book 1) is a medieval fantasy. Jill has served alongside her youth pastor husband for the past ten years and loves working with teenagers, especially to encourage young writers. She gives writing workshops at churches and schools. You can learn more about Jill on her Web site at"

Read Amber's reviews of two of Jill's other works:
The New Recruit is coming soon (September 2012) from Marcher Lord Press!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming! This week's winner is:

  Liz R - At Every Turn by Anne Mateer!

Congratulations, Liz R! Please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your email address. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive. Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!
To enter:
Follow Us! Followers are automatically entered. Or...
Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.
Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!
Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Anne Mateer and her newest release, At Every Turn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dr. Joseph Lister was the father of modern sterile surgery. He noticed that babies born at home by midwife had a lower mortality rate than babies delivered by surgeons in the hospital. He surmised this was because surgeons often went directly from one surgery to another without washing their hands. (Think draining an abscess and then delivering a baby with the same icky hands.) In 1960 he moved to Glasgow and became a Professor of Surgery. There he decided to apply Louis Pasteur’s theory that invisible germs caused infection, and began to experiment using one of Pasteur’s proposed techniques—exposing the wound to chemical. Dr. Lister chose dressing soaked with carbolic acid (phenol) to cover the wounds, and the rate of infection was dramatically reduced. He also experimented with hand-washing, sterilizing instruments and spraying carbolic in the surgery theater while operating.
His techniques were scorned by other physicians until his post-operative death rate plummeted relative to those of other surgeons. His Listerian principles were adopted by surgeons in many countries. 

Listerine, developed in 1879 as a surgical antiseptic, was named in honor of Doctor Lister.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When my three sons and I determined to finish the novel my late husband Stephen Bly began, we had quite a challenge. Could a committee create fiction? We had the passion to find out.

Janet and Stephen Bly
We started with 7,000 words, a one-page synopsis, and a list of character names. We had four months to do the research, craft the rest of the story, and turn in the manuscript of 77,000 words. 

Then we divvied out the 1905 research.  

The Places
I toured the Oregon coast, from Seaside to Astoria to study the sights, smells and sounds and historical details: law enforcement, the layout of the town sites, the Salt Works Lewis & Clark memorial, razor clams and the Gearhart golf course. I also learned all I could about gray whales, snakes and wild horses. Even discovered the rare presence of a cougar.

I ventured to Fort Clatsop, where explorers Lewis and Clark wintered in1805 and scanned their journals. I investigated the Portland Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration of 1905. 

We all listened over and over to the audio of the original Stuart Brannon Series, to know Stuart Brannon as close as a brother and the substance of his Arizona ranch life.  

Each of the sons probed at least one other topic. Choices included Europe and assassinations. England's weddings and royalty. Goldfield, Nevada with its mining and labor unions. Panama and the canal project, with connections to France, Nicaragua and Colombia. 

The controversy and intrigues of the Panama Canal project formed a large part of the plot. “I’m going to make the dirt fly,” President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed. And he did. It's alleged he supported a revolution that pressured support of that project when Congress balked. Then, there was the war to win against malaria and yellow fever, as well as gold to be mined.

The Tillamook Head promontory near Seaside was a late addition to our landscape scheme, to substitute for the island off the coast of Oregon we'd chosen, that we discovered couldn't exist. No islands anywhere, only rock outcroppings.

The People
We settled on the Clatsop tribe for the Indian characters.
We gathered biographies on famous golfers and historical persons, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and W.C. Fields.
We needed to know about orphan farms and Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
We also had to study horse behavior, to determine Brannon's interaction with an out-of-control Tres Vientos.

Gearhart pioneer Narcissa Kinney died before our story begins, but her presence permeates the city. For one thing, she made it a dry town, which it remained more than seventy years after her death. 

Narcissa also brought culture in the form of a 200-acre Gearhart Park that included an auditorium for traveling circuit speakers and fiery orators, Broadway hits and bands such as John Philip Sousa's. Inspired by the Chautauqua movement, more than four hundred cities across the country sponsored these same events. President Theodore Roosevelt called them, “the most American thing in America.”

Narcissa’s husband, Marshall Kinney, instigated the links golf course on the north side of Gearhart. My husband loved playing on the grass-covered dunes so much he determined to set a story there. Gearhart Golf Links opened circa 1892 and ranks the second oldest course in the west. 

The Products and Inventions
We found ads about cigars and cigarettes, clothing styles and golf equipment in old newspapers. We had to learn western genre basics like types of guns and knives, about flashlights and lawnmowers, telephones and walking sticks. In our study of trains, we uncovered railroad land controversies. We searched out transportation, such as motor cars and boats, bicycles and fire trucks. We wondered if 1905 autos had horns. Found out a few did.

The main story begins on a train. The railroad opened up more tourists for the seacoast village of Gearhart, Oregon, tucked between crashing surf and Pacific forests. 

The Culture and Events
We delved into the artwork and books, plays and music, crimes and diseases and also the politics of 1905. We studied the Spanish-American War, especially the U.S.S. Maine explosion in the Havana, Cuba harbor.
Creating a story like Stuart Brannon's Final Shot begins with facts, the truth in fiction.

Stephen Bly (1944-2011) was a Christy Award winning western author of 106 fiction and nonfiction works.     
Janet Chester Bly has authored and co-authored with Stephen Bly 31  nonfiction and fiction books, including Awakening Your Sense of Wonder, Hope Lives Here, The Heart of a Runaway, The Hidden West Series and The Carson City Chronicles. She lives at 4,000 ft. elev. in Winchester, Idaho. 
Russell Bly is married to Lois, father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross), and grandfather of 1-year-old Alayah. He is manager of Deranleau’s department store in Moscow, Idaho.
Michael Bly is married to Michelle and is Director of Business Operations for Inland Cellular in Lewiston, Idaho.
Aaron Bly is married to Rina, father of Keaton and Deckard. He’s Manufacturing Supervisor for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Lewiston, Idaho.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who doesn't love an adventure?

What fun The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis was to read! There were so many twists and turns in the plot - so many challenges that the characters had to face, and so many surprises along the way.

Now, stories are all about adventures and journeys. Sometimes it's more internal than external. The characters can stay in one general location but still face challenges that test their faith, their loyalty, etc. But it can also be quite enjoyable to read about a character(s) going on a real journey - battling dragons (or becoming them), facing the storms, meeting new creatures, and traveling to the end of the world.

So what can you imagine? As you're writing your story, where can you take the characters, and what can you throw in their way? One of "the 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar" says,

"#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself."

No matter where you're setting your story, it might help to consider the journey (in whatever form) your characters are taking - and then have fun letting your imagination take flight. Should your character turn into something? Instead of a dragon, perhaps your hero can turn into the villain for a time, or into the favored one, or into someone he/she had never wanted to be. Consider Kenai's transformation in Brother Bear, or the prince's transformation in The Beauty and the Beast, or Cora's transformation into a wealthy socialite in Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Bergren. Or maybe your heroine needs to save the day, like Lucy Pevensie with the Magician's Book. Or maybe your hero needs to see unexplored lands, new constellations, etc.

It really can be fun to ponder the possibilities, can't it? I'm so grateful God gave us language - the ability to read and write and share stories with one another! So have fun on the writing journey, and have fun taking your characters on their journeys/voyages!

If you need some inspiration, I highly recommend reading "the 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar" - and then writing some notes about your own work-in-progress using some of those rules.

(Movie cover image from

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming! This week's winner is:

Lottie - A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James!

Congratulations, Lottie! Please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your email address. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive. Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!
To enter:
Follow Us! Followers are automatically entered. Or...
Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.
Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!
Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Cara Lynn James and her newest release, A Path Toward Love.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

I forgive you’ are probably three of the most difficult words in the English language to say. To forgive someone who has wronged you isn’t an easy thing to do. As Christians, we know this is what Jesus would have us do, but it can be a very difficult thing. That’s why I was so captivated by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo’s story of forgiveness in The Devil in Pew Number Seven. I’m so glad a friend suggested I read this true story of a family’s persecution in 1970s America.

Before Rebecca was born, her father became the pastor at a small church in Sellerstown, North Carolina. The small, rural community should have been a happy place for a child to grow up, but it turned out to be something quite different. When her father took over the pastorate at the church, he and his wife poured their lives into ministering to the people in the community. Soon the church was growing, and the old ways of doing things were changing. This didn’t set well with Mr. H.J. Watts, a wealthy man in town, who had practically been in control of the church for years even though he wasn’t a member. As he began to lose his power, he became obsessed with his mission to rid the community of the man who had dared defy him.

For the next seven years he orchestrated a campaign of terror and violence against the family that seems unbelievable. It started with anonymous phone calls and warnings and escalated to dynamite explosions of home and property. Gunshots to the house and the car occurred regularly. And always Mr. Watts was nearby watching the aftermath. While Rebecca’s father hung on with determination that God, not the devil, would remove him from his church, he taught his children to forgive. The climax came when an armed man invaded the Nichols’ home one night and wounded Rev. Nichols and murdered his wife in front of Rebecca and her brother. Rebecca’s father passed away a few years later with problems related to his ordeal.

As I read this story, I thought of how I sometimes find it difficult to forgive. Yet when Rebecca received a call from Mr. Watts years later telling her he had repented and wanted her forgiveness, she was able to tell him she had forgiven him long ago. If you are struggling with a wrong someone has inflicted on you, I recommend you read this book. It will remind you of Jesus’s words when He was on the cross—“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One of my vintage magazines, The Household Magazine, dated April, 1936, contains an ad for a salve called Penetro. I’d never heard of the item, so naturally I had to look it up. Here’s what I found out.

The hugely successful product was manufactured in Memphis by the Plough Chemical Company (known today as Schering-Plough). It was available in drug stores until sometime in the 1950s.

Besides colds, the makers claimed Penetro cured superficial burns and scalds, bronchial irritation, cuts, scratches, sunburn, bruises, abrasion, and the list went on.

As you can see in the ad, mutton suet is the magic ingredient (sheep fat). That was combined with menthol, camphor, methyl salicylate, turpentine, oil of pine, and thymol. The suet supposedly aided the penetration of the other ingredients.

Just to clarify some of those ingredients, thymol is a white crystalline aromatic compound derived from thyme oil and other oils, or it's made synthetically, and used as an antiseptic, a fungicide, and a preservative. Turpentine oil (not to be confused with gum turpentine) is made from the resin of certain pine trees. Methyl salicylate is a compound similar to aspirin, used today in products like Ben Gay.

So, like many of the old time remedies, there were some ingredients in the compound that did indeed help some ailments. But I can't imagine putting this on burns. Ouch!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How important is setting to your story? Do you think much about setting? In some books it seems almost irrelevant. The story can take place anywhere—any small town, suburb or city will do since it doesn’t have much impact on the plot or characters.
But in my Ladies of Summerhill series (historical romance) I could only set the books in Newport, Rhode Island because the stories involve the richest people of the Gilded Age who loved to socialize and spend their time among their own elite crowd. This was the age of conspicuous consumption and Mrs. Astor’s ‘Four Hundred.’ That was the number who could comfortably fit in her New York ballroom. 

America’s Gilded Age began after the Civil War and extended into the early twentieth century. This was the era of rapid and enormous economic and population growth. The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain and refers to the gilding of something with a superficial layer of gold. The phrase makes fun of the ostentatious display of wealth that characterized high society. These millionaires were industrialists, financiers and entrepreneurs whose names still ring with the sound of wealth—or former riches. Who hasn’t heard the names Rockefeller, Carnegie, Astor and Vanderbilt? These so-called “robber barons” were sometimes admired and sometimes reviled by the common folk. But they and their life style fascinated their generation and ours as well.
During most of the year a lot of the super rich resided in New York or other East coast cities. But for the short summer season they flocked to places like Bar Harbor, Maine or Saratoga Springs, New York or the Berkshires or Adirondacks.
So the society itself can become a great part of the setting. If the Gilded Age social climbers are the main characters it might be better to set your story in a place like Newport or Saratoga Springs with horse races etc. They only vacationed in certain locations and with certain people. Exclusivity ruled the day. In books about the turn-of-the-century elite you’ll mainly find upper class characters and their servants, with a few ‘social climbers.’ 
Different places attracted different classes and types of people. While the millionaires who vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine enjoyed a more sedate life and less ostentation, they purposely chose to stay away from Newport, the premier summer resort on the east coast. Make sure you pick the right location for the story you want to tell.
The people of the Gilded Age didn’t stay in one place for very long. They travelled from resort to resort in their private railcars with family and friends while enjoying their privileged lives -- for the most part. I’m happily following them to their other playgrounds.
My newest book, A Path toward Love, (available August 14th) also has Gilded Age millionaires (billionaires in 21st century dollars) as characters. But they enjoyed ‘roughing it’ in the mountains.
Sagamore, one of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks, was owned by Alfred Vanderbilt. The ‘campers’ loved the rural life, the sights and sounds of the forest, the call of the loon over secluded lakes, and the simple pleasures of hunting and fishing. But they did bring their taste for luxury and comfort even into the rustic north country. 

“An Adirondack camp does not mean a canvas tent or a bark wigwam, but a permanent summer home where the fortunate owners assemble for several weeks each year and live in perfect comfort and even luxury,
tho in the heart of the woods, with no very near neighbors, no roads and no danger of intrusion.” - William Frederick Dix, Summer Life in Luxurious Adirondack Camps, 1903
Setting determines the kind of activities the story people take part in. Those hardy souls who camped in the Adirondacks fished, canoed, swam, hunted, hiked and picnicked. Since they owned enormous tracks of forested land, they had fewer neighbors to socialize with. They invited friends to visit. Unlike Newport there weren’t exclusive clubs to meet at every day or ornate ballrooms where the rich danced several times a week. The campers stayed close to home and led quieter, more relaxing lives.  
They also lived a far less formal lifestyle than they did in the city or at other summer resorts. As writers, we have to take into account the kinds of personalities, temperaments, likes and dislikes our characters would have. The socially inclined would be out of their element in a mountain camp without constant entertainment and variety. But other types of people love the outdoors and thrive among nature’s beautiful environment. 
It’s always fun to drop a character into a setting where she’s completely unsuited and see how she adapts. Or doesn’t.
A Path toward Love. This is a historical romance, set in the Adirondack Mountains during the summer of 1905. 
Katherine came home to forget her past.
The last thing she expected is a hopeful future.
Young widow Katherine Osborne returns to her family’s rustic camp on Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. She’s determined to live a quiet life, but her socialite mother is equally determined to push her into a new marriage while she’s still young.
Andrew Townsend has known Katherine since they were children. An attorney who is successful, but not wealthy, he knows she is socially out of his reach. But he’s curious what changed the free-spirited girl he once knew into this private, somber young woman.
Katherine has kept hidden the details of her unsuccessful marriage. When past sins come to light, she must turn to God for the courage to be honest. But how can she trust the God she feels has let her down? When she confides in Andrew, their relationship takes a dramatic turn into uncharted territory.
Amid impossible obstacles, two young people must learn to trust enough to walk the path that God has cleared for them. A path that leads to healing and restoration. A path toward love.

Cara Lynn James has written three historical romances, Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment and Love by the Book. Her newest novel, A Path toward Love, is set during the Gilded Age in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Originally from Connecticut, Cara lives with her family in northwest Florida. 

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