Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If there is one question that I have been asked repeatedly—especially since Plain Secrets, an Amish romantic suspense, released—it is: Did you have to do a lot of research?

The first time a writer at a conference asked me if I did research for writing romance, I’m certain that I made a queer face at her. I thought to myself, What? You don’t? Shocking business.

A couple of years later, I participated in a conference panel about research for fiction writers. And just recently, I’ve been asked to speak at a writer’s group to discuss, yep, research. Apparently, doing research is an arduous and sometimes daunting task for many people. Including writers.

Maybe you feel that way, too. But, let me tell you, research doesn’t have to be painful or complicated. In fact, it can be fun. Consider this, there are 3 types of research—first-hand, second hand and third hand.

First hand research is when you have a real-live interview; when you visit a place; when you actually see or experience that thing which you are writing about. I’m not Amish. So what did I do to in writing Plain Secrets? I got in my car and drove to Lancaster, PA. I toured. I talked to people. I spent some time there so that I could get a feel for the place and the people. This is the best way to research something. There is no substitute for seeing or doing something yourself.

Second hand research is when you talk directly to another (trusted) person who has been to a place or experienced something. For example: I have my cousins who live in Lancaster, PA. So, they have access to local and current news (which I don’t have in VA). They know Amish people. They grew up around them. They can faithfully give me information about the area and the people. Not as great as the writer seeing it for him/herself, but still a pretty effective method for gaining insight on something.

Then, there is third hand research. This is when you read something on the Internet, in a newspaper, in a book, et cetera. Also, a fine way to research. With Google at your fingertips, it’s certainly the fastest, easiest, and most economical way to find facts, pictures, or blogs/articles where someone has written about whatever it is that you want to write. (Just be careful not to waste precious writing time browsing over interesting information that is of no use to your novel—I’m terrible about that!!)

Ideally, when you write, you will have a mixture of all of these types of research, which will produce authentic, correct, and believable stories.

Now, are you still asking, Why? What’s the big deal? It’s fiction. It’s all just made up, right? Why should it matter?

Yes, your story is made up. My story is made up. But Amish people are not made-up. Police procedure is not made up. The FBI and the way it works is not made-up. If we are going to use these things (or anything like them) in a story, we need to do it with care. Do not assume your reader is stupid and doesn’t know about the topic either! Readers are smart and they don’t want to be thrown out of a story because a little detail about a subject they know well was handled carelessly. And not only will they be thrown out, they might be reluctant to pass on your book to another.

Does this mean we should only write about what we know? Just to be safe...

I don’t think so. In fact, I think sometimes when some writes about what they know they are too close to it and have a hard time deciding what needs to be told and what doesn’t.

So, be encouraged! If I can write about Amish, you can write about whatever appeals to you. Just don’t forget to do your research ;-)

Kit Wilkinson is a former Ph.D. student who once wrote discussions on the medieval feminine voice. She now prefers weaving stories of romance and redemption. Her first inspirational manuscript won the prestigious RWA Golden Heart and sold to a popular division of Harlequin. Her second novel, Sabotage, was nominated for a 2010 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. Her fourth novel releases in July 2012. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Do you ever get that feeling? Like you should be reading Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, etc., etc., etc.? OK, maybe you're one of those people who reads classics all the time. (Kudos!) But reading classics doesn't generally come easy for me - I think I associate them with homework assignments. Now that I've graduated, though, and I'm not forced to read classics, I find that I do want to try to keep up some more literary reading. I really did enjoy Shakespeare and Mark Twain (maybe not Dickens as much...), and now it's up to me if I'm going to keep reading those sorts of books.

Here's where you come in! I think (hope?) that scheduling some more "Where the Past Meets the Present" posts will motivate me to read more "classics." For the month of August, I'm planning on reading some C.S. Lewis books I didn't get to in my C.S. Lewis class - Prince Caspian, The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, The Last Battle, and The Four Loves (non-fiction). And then maybe I'll get to some Shakespeare plays I haven't yet read, with some "Shakespeare in September." ;) I still have my massive Shakespeare textbook. We'll see how it goes!

Oh, and then there's those two Agatha Christie books I own that I have yet to read...

How about you? Are there any classics you haven't read that you want to get to sometime? Are there any classics you'd like to discuss in the "Where the Past Meets the Present" feature?

And if you missed them, feel free to check out my previous "Where the Past Meets the Present" posts:

Saturday, July 28, 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:

Ariel Wilson - A Promise for Miriam by Vanetta Chapman!

Congratulations, Ariel! 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, July 27, 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 and...you 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 Vanetta Chapman and her newest release, A Promise for Miriam.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In the absence of an author interview today, I thought I would pay tribute to a group of writers who have been recognized for their work by American Christian Fiction Writers by being named finalists in the Carol Awards. To final in this prestigious competition is like being nominated for the Oscar of Christian fiction. The Borrowed Book is thrilled that two of our contributors are among this elite group--S. Dionne Moore for Promise of Time and Elizabeth Ludwig for Died in the Wool that she co-authored with Janelle Mowery. We offer congratulations to these dear friends. 

The winners will be announced at the ACFW conference in Dallas in September. Here is a list of the finalists in each category:

Debut Novel:
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
The Loom by Shella Gillus (Guideposts – Beth Adams, Editor)
Give the Lady a Ride by Linda W. Yezak (Sky Sail [Port Yonder Press] – Chila Woychik, Editor)
Long Contemporary:
Lost Melody by Lori Copeland/Virginia Smith (Zondervan – Sue Brower, Editor)
The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)
Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House Publishers – Sarah Long/Dave Long, Editors)
Long Contemporary Romance:
Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson – Jamie Chavez/Natalie Hanemann, Editors)
Lilly’s Wedding Quilt by Kelly M. Long (Thomas Nelson – Natalie Hanemann, Editor)
My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale – Karen Watson, Editor)
Long Historical:
Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis (Moody Publishers/River North – Deborah Keiser, Editor)
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
Mine Is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press – Laura Barker, Editor)
Long Historical Romance:
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House Publishers – Karen Schurrer, Editor)
Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman (Multnomah Publishers – Alice Crider, Editor)
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers – Karen Schurrer, Editor)
Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan – Sue Brower, Editor)
Died in the Wool by Elizabeth Ludwig/Janelle Mowery (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Yesterday’s Secrets by Kelly Ann Riley (Guideposts – Beth Adams, Editor)
An Accidental Christmas from A Biltmore Christmas by Diane T. Ashley/Aaron McCarver (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Reese: All Along from Smitten by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell/LB Norton, Editors)
A Star in the Night from A Log Cabin Christmas by Liz Johnson (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Romantic Suspense:
Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon (Revell – Jennifer Leep, Editor)
Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany/Julee Schwarzburg, Editor)
Short Contemporary:
The Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray (Avon Inspire/Harper Collins – Cindy DiTiberio)
Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan (Love Inspired – Melissa Endlich, Editor)
Oklahoma Reunion by Tina Radcliffe (Love Inspired – Rachel Burkot/Melissa Endlich, Editor)
Short Contemporary Suspense:
Double Identity by Diane Burke (Love Inspired Suspense – Sarah McDaniel-Dyer, Editor)
Nightwatch by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense – Melissa Endlich, Editor)
A Deadly Game by Virginia Smith (Love Inspired Suspense – Tina James, Editor)
Short Historical (four finalists due to a tie):
Promise of Time by S. Dionne Moore (Heartsong Presents – JoAnne Simmons, Editor)
Revealing Fire by Connie Stevens (Heartsong Presents – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Light to My Path by Erica Vetsch (Heartsong Presents – JoAnne Simmons, Editor)
The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)
Speculative Fiction:
The Story in the Stars by Yvonne Anderson (Risen Books – Reagan Reed, Editor)
The Chair by James L. Rubart (B & H Fiction – Julee Schwarzburg, Editor)
Broken Sight by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press – Jeff Gerke, Editor)
Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins (B & H Fiction – Karen Ball, Editor)
Fallen Angel by Major Jeff Struecker/Alton Gansky (B & H Fiction – Julie Gwinn, Editor)
Freedom’s Stand by Jeanette (J.M.) Windle (Tyndale – Jan Stob, Editor)
Women’s Fiction:
A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner (WaterBrook Press – Shannon Marchese, Editor)
When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley (Multnomah Publishers – Jessica Barnes/Shannon Marchese, Editors)
Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate (Penguin Praise/Berkley – Ellen Edwards, Editor)
Young Adult:
Wreath by Judy Christie (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany/Jamie Chavez, Editors)
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan – Jacque Alberta, Editor)
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson – Natalie Hanemann/Becky Monds/Jamie Chavez, Editors)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for The Borrowed Book about the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), specifically about rats and the fleas they carried. To my surprise, last week I came across a recent case of Bubonic Plague in the United States. A man in Oregon apparently got the disease from rescuing a stray cat that was choking on a mouse.

Here are two links to articles about this poor guy. Beware, the second link is the Daily Mail, which is sort of a gossip rag, so please don't be offended. I included it because it has more pictures for those who are interested.



It's not just Oregon here you could potentially get the plague. The above picture of the warning sign is one I took in the Badlands of South Dakota two years ago. Yes, the plague is still out there, although not rampant like it once was. Based on the Oregon man's experience, it's still a very serious disease, but we have the medical knowlege now to combat it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What IS character-driven fiction? If you've been writing more than a week, you've heard that term. Whounderstand what that means? How does an author achieve it, and most importantly why should you--as an author--care?
What: Character-driven fiction is a fictional piece whose plot is propelled forward by the personality of the main characters (my definition).
Who:  English professors, seasoned writers and readers understand what it means, though you aren't likely to see someone browsing the B&N shelves looking for the "character-driven" section. Let's focus on the last one. Readers know a character-driven book because they relate to the character. You'll hear them say things such as "Vannetta did an awesome job pulling me into the lives of Miriam, Gabe, and Grace." (Amazon review, A Promise for Miriam). Notice there is no mention of the plot in that review. It's all about the people. 
You know what I'm talking about it if you think like a reader. These are the types of books where the "people" stay in your head long after you've read the last page.
How: So how do you do it? How do YOU write character-driven fiction? You allow your character to determine what happens next. (I hear you people who outline grinding your teeth.) Your character's personality is everything to your story, and so he/she has to be someone that we can relate to, someone we are rooting for, and someone that we want to follow through whatever plot twists you've concocted. It's all about the people. Is this someone you could be best friends with? Is this someone you would know if you met them? Is this someone you will miss when you've finished writing? "It makes me want to get in my car, drive to Shipshewana and befriend these women" (Amazon review, A Perfect Square). She wants to meet my characters. I heard this repeatedly from readers--how they yearned for the type of friendship my characters had for one another. 
You can create the same attachment between your readers and your characters--regardless of your plot or your genre. The key is in your character, including enough details and back story (not too much--ever have someone tell you their WHOLE life story) to render them real.
Why: We all have our own style, our own tales to tell, and our own writing methods. So why should you be concerned about whether you have a character-driven story? Because you want people to read your story. You want them to read it and the next one and the one after that. You want them to stay up all night seeing what will happen next. They don't do this because of the plot--they do it because they care about the character. "This book had my heart pounding one minute and the next minute I was smiling and giving a little fist pump! The love between family, friends, and how far one is willing go to protect them is captured beautifully." (Destination Amish review, Material Witness). Her heart is not pounding because of my antagonist or my plot, but because someone she cares about is in peril.
You can achieve the same connection between your characters and your readers, but you have to be willing to put a lot on the line--expose more of your character's weaknesses, allow your outline to detour if your character calls for it, and always be sure this character is someone that we would want to tell our friends about.

Vannetta Chapman writes character-driven fiction for Zondervan Press, Harvest House and Abingdon. Her mystery, Falling to Pieces, was recently nominated for a 2012 Carol Award. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

For more information, visit her at 
webpage -- www.VannettaChapman.com 
blog -- http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com
facebook -- www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks, and 
pinterest -- http://pinterest.com/vannettachapman

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum
My family and I stayed at the historic Hotel Eklund on one of our trips through Clayton, New Mexico. While there, I noticed several photos hanging on the walls of the hotel with articles about an infamous criminal named Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum. Being a writer, I couldn’t resist the urge to find out more.

The proprietor shared the sad, twisted tale of Black Jack Ketchum, a train robber and murderer whose birthday on Halloween day in 1863 seemed the first harbinger of the man’s horrible fate.

According to the proprietor, Tom and his brother Sam’s outlaw careers spanned the years 1896-1899.  During that time, their focus was mainly on train robberies, though many would claim their crimes were far more reaching than that. They joined a gang whose exploits and terror left a wide mark across the southwest, including New Mexico, where Black Jack Ketchum was eventually captured and sentenced to hang. Unfortunately for Black Jack, this wasn’t the end of his story.

On April 26, 1901 Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum was hanged in Clayton, New Mexico, but the execution was bungled and the outlaw was decapitated. Perhaps it was the length of the fall, the proprietor told me, which instead of being the normal four to six feet, was more like eight. Or perhaps it was the fact that the rope used to hang Ketchum was thin, thereby severing his neck and spine. Whatever the cause, one fact remains—Tom Ketchum’s death was almost as chilling as his life.

After thanking the proprietor for his time, he smiled and encouraged me to visit the hanging site  (the North Wall of the sheriff’s office at the courthouse). He also told me I could visit Black Jack’s grave in the local cemetery east of town. I didn’t have the time to spend researching further on this trip, but you can be sure I intend to go back…one day.

In the meantime, if you’re ever passing through Clayton, be sure to check out the Hotel Eklund. Say hello to the proprietor for me, and ask him to show you around the hotel, gunshot holes in the ceiling and all.

Saturday, July 21, 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:

Kaity-Jane - Inescapable by Nancy Mehl!

Congratulations, Kaity-Jane! 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, July 20, 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 and...you 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 Nancy Mehl and her newest release, Inescapable.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Buy for Kindle
My fourth (and final?) cozy mystery released from Spyglass Lane Mysteries this month. This comes on the heels of the recent announcement that book two in my Massachussetts Mayhem series, Died in the Wool, is a 2012 Carol Award Finalist.

It thrills me to see that people enjoy this type of novel. Good, clean mysteries have been around since Agatha Christie's time. As a kid, I can remember devouring every Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. 

So, for fun, and to celebrate my finaling in the Carol Award contest, I thought I'd give you a sampling of mystery...cozy mystery! This excerpt is taken from The Trouble with Mary, and it's available now! 

Chapter 1

Crazy Cousin Mary was dead. No doubt about it.

Her black Converse tennis shoes stuck out from under the rusty old truck she drove—an International Scout with the back end sawed off. Above the wheel well she had spray-painted “La Bamba” in bright yellow letters.

“Who found her?” Clare’s voice shook as she bent to examine the axle Cousin Mary’d been working on. The roaring in her ears drowned out the hum of the cicadas.

“Elmer Lee.” Sheriff Tucker Jones jerked his thumb toward the squatty, rundown shack next door. “Said he heard a noise and come a runnin’.”

It would have to have been a noise since Elmer Lee was blind. Clare shook her head. “Poor kid. Is he inside?”

“Yep. I figured it best he not be around when the coroner arrives.”

The coroner. Clare swallowed hard and wiped her sweaty palms down her pant legs. “What do we need him for?”

“Now, Clarice, I know you and Matt Walker have a history—”

“It’s Clare now.” She blew out a breath. “Besides, it’s not about that, Tuck. I just want to know why we need him.”

Tuck took his time pushing a wad of tobacco around in his mouth. “Cousin Mary was alone when she died. Even in Chickipin, that means the coroner.”

Everyone in the tiny coastal town of Chickipin, Louisiana, called Mary ‘cousin,’ even though Clare and her mother were the only people who admitted any relation—which was why Clare’s old, high school friend, Tucker, called her seconds after he called the coroner. She sighed and stood upright, the muscles in her back protesting. As a paralegal, she’d built enough case files to know he was right. “Okay. So we wait for Matt. Then what?”

Tuck spit out the tobacco and replaced it with a blade of torpedo grass. “You’ll be free to make whatever arrangements you need. Sure am glad you was home from Baton Rouge when it happened.”

Clare’s gaze shot to the tips of her boots. “Um. . .it wasn’t a chance visit, Tuck.”

“Excuse me?”

Driven by the pounding of her heart, warmth crept up Clare’s neck to her cheeks. If only she’d stopped by Cousin Mary’s place first like she planned, instead of going on to her momma’s. Cousin Mary’s voice had sounded troubled over the telephone, and Clare sensed deep inside that something was wrong, but she’d still taken her time making her way home. She cleared her throat, fighting fingers of guilt. “Cousin Mary asked me to come.”

“Huh.” Tuck grunted, his round belly jumping up and down. “Did she say why?”

Clare shook her head.

He dismissed her concern with a shrug. “Well, regardless, you and your momma are the only kinfolk I figured would see to it. You reckon her Ma and Pa would want her buried by the mayhaw?”

The ‘mayhaw’ was an ancient tree that dominated a hilltop overlooking Broussard Cemetery. Cousin Mary played there as a child and took Clare along soon as she was old enough to walk. Tears burned her eyelids. “Yeah, I reckon they would.”

She ignored the grin he shot her way at the use of ‘reckon.’ Ever since moving into the city, she’d tried very hard to eradicate the signs of her country bred roots. Behind them, an engine growled. She turned, relieved to be spared Tuck’s teasing, to face the man who tormented her dreams.

Matt Walker.

She blinked and sucked in a breath. For just a moment, she thought she’d got it wrong. Matt drove a Camaro and kept a faded Saints air freshener dangling from the rearview. This was a truck, a four wheel drive, new, and it had lights mounted on top. But then the door swung open and Matt stood before her, stealing her breath with his tight blue jeans and beige, collared shirt rolled at the sleeves.


His low greeting raised gooseflesh on her arms. Matt refused to call her Clare, even as kids. She tipped her head. “Matt.”

“I’m sorry about Mary. I hated getting the call. Glad you were home. Your momma’s gonna need you.”

Tongue dry, she nodded. “Thanks.”

He turned. “Whatcha’ know, Tuck?”

Just like that, Matt was all business. Clare’s heart constricted. Did her presence affect him at all? Did he wonder about her, living one hundred-eighty miles away and working for a lawyer in Baton Rouge? Did he. . .miss her? She swallowed hard and followed him around the truck.

Tuck filled Matt in on the details, the phone call to the police station, his arrival, Elmer Lee’s statement. His deep voice mingled with the sounds of the bayou—tree frogs, buzzing insects, even the rumble of a distant train—all things Clare thought she’d left behind forever. She cleared her throat and interrupted. “Can we move her?” Two male gazes swung to fix upon her, both unbearable in their kindness. She hid her shaking hands in the pockets of her skirt. “It seems wrong to leave her lying in the dirt.”

Matt stepped toward her, his hand outstretched. Her jaw clenched. The sympathy she read in his gaze was worse than his disinterest.

After a moment’s hesitation, his hand fell. “As soon as I finish my report. Shouldn’t be long. It appears pretty cut and dried. Unfortunate accident.”

That about summed up Cousin Mary’s life.

Strange as she had been, Clare’s heart ached to have lost her. She yearned for her vivacious laughter, her wild abandon. She’d been Clare’s closest friend growing up, and remained so, even though Clare was now twenty-six and Cousin Mary was older by nearly ten years. Clare moved out of sight of Matt and Tuck to the driver’s side of Cousin Mary’s truck and knelt next to her body. From this vantage, Clare could see her hand, roughened by work and clutching. . .

A bit of silver glinted in the noon sun.

As far back as Clare could remember Cousin Mary carried a pocketknife. She’d probably been hauling it out to use as a screwdriver when La Bamba fell. Clare touched her fingers, ignoring the dirt and oil that crusted her nails. Already cold. She pulled back in a hurry.

“Tuck, I think we have a problem.” Matt’s voice tumbled over from the front of the truck where Cousin Mary had positioned the floor jack.

“Yeah? What’s up?” Tuck grunted as he squatted next to Matt. Their feet, all Clare could see from where she knelt, raised a small dust cloud under the front fender.

“Did you look at this?”


A mosquito buzzed by her ear. She swatted it away.

“What do you make of it?”

Tuck gave a low whistle that sent chills scurrying up Clare’s back.

“Make of what?” She got up and rounded the truck to join them. Their heads swung to look at her.

“Clare, I’m gonna have to ask you to stay put for a moment.” Tuck jumped to his feet, grasped her arm, and tugged her to the edge of the rickety wooden stairs. Long as she’d known him, that was the quickest she’d ever seen him move.

Bewildered, she cast a glance at first Matt and then Tuck. “Why? What’s going on?”

Rivers of sweat soaked Tuck’s collar. He refused to look at her.

She turned her attention to Matt. “Well?”

Something in his eyes filled Clare with unease. She moved back and groped for the railing, conscious as she did of the splinters that pierced her palm.

He took a step toward her. “Clarice, did Mary have any enemies?”

And with those words, her heart began to hurry.

About the Author...
Elizabeth Ludwig is an award winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. She is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. In 2012, No Safe Harbor, Book 1 in the Edge of Freedom Series, will release from Bethany House Publishers.  To learn more about Elizabeth and her work, visit her at www.elizabethludwig.com.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This week in my endless internet exploration, I found two interesting articles in the Daily News that might interest our readers. 

The first contains a series of pictures women from the Edwardian era. Great insight into the clothing of the day.

The second is about the discovery (and pictures) of items found in a vault in the Lengberg Castle in East Tyrol, Austria. These garments may or may not be racy women's underwear of the day. They date to the time, but the "bra" has what appears to be grommets on the side and could be part of a stay. The other garment might very well be something a woman used during her time of the month. Either way, the find is fascinating.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book, “Inescapable,” released this month.

Let’s talk about book signings. I can still remember the days when I toted my print-on-demand book to the local Borders and tried to convince them why they should carry it in their stores. Actually, I didn’t have a lot of trouble because I was writing book reviews for our local paper and actually sending business their way. But some of my friends didn’t fare quite as well. And even though the bookstores would usually accept my books, albeit grudgingly, there was still the stigma of not being “good enough” to make it out of the “local interest” area and onto the main shelves. Back then, we were convinced the way to “make it” was to get Barnes and Noble to allow us to have a book signing amid their hallowed halls. Heck, we would have been happy if Bubba’s Used Bookstore had set aside an hour for us while Bubba took his daily nap. Book signings were directly related to your success as an author, right? 
Okay, now let’s leave the Twilight Zone world of newbie authors and enter reality. I’m Nancy Mehl, and I’ll be your host. 
My first real book signing was at Waldenbooks. I had a book published by a small press, and I also had a publicist. And…the folks at Waldenbooks actually wanted me! (You like me, you really like me!) I showed up, nervous as a calf at a new gate (what does that even mean?) but ready to greet my adoring fans. Waldenbooks had a table set up in the entrance to the store, facing the interior of the mall, with my beautiful books on display. When I sat down, expecting the line of eager readers to snake down the mall and block entrances to other nearby stores, I was…well, let’s just say…surprised. No one was there. Even worse, as people walked past me, I began to wonder if I was trapped in one of those dreams where you begin to realize you’re invisible and no one can see you. (Thankfully it wasn’t the one where you discover you forgot to dress!) Now I’m not saying no one stopped. I directed several people to various places in the mall, including the bathrooms. I would say that particular request was the most frequent. Those who actually stopped to see what I was doing and picked up my book, looked at me like I was trying to sell them tickets to a rattlesnake rodeo. After a while I felt guilty about the whole thing. Not sure why, but I did. Thankfully, several friends and family stopped by, had pity on me, and bought a copy of my book. After my very painful two hours had passed and I’d only sold twelve books, I expected the folk at Waldenbooks to tell me to never darken their door again. But they seemed happy!
“Good signing,” the gal said when I dragged myself inside the store, ready to admit defeat. I’m sure my jaw dropped, but I quickly regained my composure and tried to look triumphant. Her reaction should have given me a clue to the reality of book signings. But no such luck. When I got home, I talked the experience over with my husband. Surely this was an anomaly. Future book signings would be better. And they have been. Thanks once again to friends and family. Sigh. 
Yes, now that I’m with a large publisher, book signings are much better. I had a great kick off celebrating the release of one of my books. The store went out of its way to support me. Sent out postcards, put my name on the store marquee, had flyers from my publisher on the doors. In fact, they even made a cake with my book cover on it and served food! What more could anyone ask? And we sold lots and lots of books! Mostly to my friends and family – and acquaintances. You see, I’ve learned how to send invitations to everyone I’ve ever met or passed on the street. Sigh again.
But my last signing in this same store…and let me emphasize LAST signing…was awful. The store did…well, nothing. No name on the marquee, no postcards, they didn’t even bother to put my posters on the door. I may have sold ten books. Thanks again to friends and family. Strange, huh. Especially since this was the same store that went all out for my book launch. 
This weekend, I went to a book signing for an author who is very well known. Much more so than me. Same store were my LAST book signing was held. They managed to find her posters and put them on the doors – but little else was done. In fact, they hadn’t even gotten the books in for the signing. There she stood, one of Christian fiction’s top authors, without the minimal support the store should have provided.
And in conclusion…no more signings unless the store specifically asks me or it’s a multi-author event. This advice comes from other authors who have already found out what I’ve just discovered. It ain’t worth it. It doesn’t make you enough money to take the family to McDonalds. In fact, if you want to sell books yourself, sell them outright to your friends and family and pocket the money. It will also save them the trip. Sigh repeated. Getting a little light-headed.
My publisher can get my books out better than I can. So, I’ll stick to the writing and let them do the book selling.
Oh, one interesting note: The same day of that LAST lousy signing, I first visited a store in a nearby small town. This store put out some real effort and it was a nice signing. Yes, some friends came, but there were also other people who showed up! People I didn’t even know! Imagine that…
So, for those of you just starting out, take my advice. Unless your ego needs a beating, put your energy into writing a great book and don’t worry about book signings.
Your friends and family will probably salute you. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

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Saturday, July 14, 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:

Sheri Salatin - Angel in the Cove by Sandra Robbins!

Congratulations, Sheri! 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, July 13, 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 and...you 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 Sandra Robbins and her upcoming release, Angel of the Cove.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's always exciting to have a new book to release, and I enjoy interviewing the authors who experience that. Today I wanted to take a moment to let the readers of The Borrowed Book know about a new book that I have releasing August 1.

Although this is my 12th book to release, I'm as excited as if it were the first. The idea for this book began about seven years ago, but at the time publishers had cut back on purchasing historical romance. At the time chick lit seemed to be what everybody was buying.

I put the book away and concentrated on writing mystery and suspense, but I could never get away from the dream of having this book published. I'd get it out from time to time and work on it, and then put it away again.

My agent at the time tried to sell it, but it seemed nobody was interested. In 2009 I signed with a new agent and asked her to take a look at the manuscript. With her guidance I started to rewrite the manuscript and incorporate changes that would make it stronger. Then she was able to sell Angel of the Cove in a three book contract titled Smoky Mountain Dreams Series.

The trilogy tells the story of a family who live in Cades Cove, Tennessee, a remote valley in the Smoky Mountains. The first book is about Anna Prentiss, a young girl who comes to spend the summer in the valley in 1894 and ends up remaining there as a mountain midwife and the wife of a handsome preacher.

Last week the trailer from the publisher arrived, and I'd like to share it with you. Click here to see it.

Angel of the Cove releases from Harvest House Putlishers August 1st.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I’ve been reading history stuff again. This time it’s about feeding babies in 1839.  I found the following bit of information in The Guide for Mothers and Nurses in the Management of Young Children, by Caleb Ticknor, A.M., M.D.

The influence of the mind upon the body is well exemplified in the case of nursing women; the milk always becoming deranged and being rendered unfit for nutrition when the mind is any way disturbed. There are frequent instances of infants being seized with convulsions after sucking an enraged nurse; and cases are not wanting where they have been destroyed by violent inflammations from the same cause. An infant of a year old, while he sucked milk from an enraged mother, on a sudden was seized with a fatal bleeding, and died; and infants at the breast in a short time pine away if the nurse be affected with grievous care.

I don’t normally make personal comments about the articles I post here, but I can’t help myself in this case. Wow! I know how I felt after my daughter was born. Emotional, in a word. And yes, I did get angry a couple times, hormones being what they are. Can you imagine the pressure on a new mother hearing this from her mother/sister/husband/mother-in-law/neighbor/or whoever?

“Abigail! Don’t get enraged! You’ll derange your milk and kill the baby with fatal bleeding!” 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sharon Dunn is an award winning writer of romantic suspense and humorous mysteries for the Christian market. Her suspense novel Night Prey won the 2011 Carol award. Zero Visibility is her fifth novel of Love Inspired Suspense. You can read more about Sharon at www.sharondunnbooks.net.

In writing fiction, the advice is often given to “make the stakes higher.” It took me a long time to translate that in a way that helped me construct a tighter story. To me, upping the stakes for a character just means that you increase the potential for disaster or you make what the character stands to lose even bigger if they don’t make the right choices or succeed in their goals.  

With suspense, increasing the stakes for a character usually involves the potential loss of life or of a loved one’s life. When I set out to write a suspense story, I try to come up with a threat that is relentless and escalating. For example in my current Love Inspired Suspense Zero Visibility, the inspiration for the story was a what if question. What if two character, Nathan and Merci, were completely isolated from help and they had only each other to rely on for survival? So I picked an isolated setting—a mountain side during a freak spring blizzard. Those are pretty high stakes for survival right? But harsh weather conditions and isolation are not enough to sustain a whole story.  I had to raise the stakes even more. Back to the what if questions. What if these two people were being chased by thieves bent on killing them? Those two factors help create a suspenseful story, but I can raise the stakes even more by causing more mayhem in my characters’ lives. What if one of the characters gets injured? What if they have no weapons, no way to defend themselves? What if they get lost on the mountain? With that one, I can make the stakes even higher: What if they get lost on the mountain at night? All of these factors create the potential for a character to die, thus the potential for huge loss. 

Finally, raising the stakes doesn’t just involve threats from external forces… even in suspense. Often the greatest potential for failure and best place to raise the stakes can be found within the characters. In Zero Visibility, I have points at which each character gives up hope that they will get off the mountain alive. Also, a character’s background is a good place to look for possibilities. The one thing these two characters have is each other.  What if Nathan does something that reminds Merci of her father with whom she does not have a good relationship causing Merci to walk away? When the two characters are separated, the potential for danger increases.  
Upping the stakes is not only important for good suspense writing but for all story telling. In a book I am currently working on, I couldn’t figure out why the romance between the two characters seemed so blah. The characters were forced to worked together to survive, but there was no spark between them.  Back to the what if questions. Initially, I had this hero and heroine meeting for the first time when her life is suddenly under threat. The what if question I came up with changed the dynamic of the relationship. What if hero and heroine had known each other when they were teenagers? Had in fact been in love and had a child they gave up for adoption. Their immaturity at 16 made it impossible for them to sustain the relationship. The stakes are raised not only for things to not work out romantically, but also for them not to be able to overcome the hurts of the past to work together and keep the heroine alive. 
A lot of times in a book, the stakes are emotional. A character stands to lose a relationship or faces humiliation that devastates them. The bottom line is, you need to mess with your characters. Create a situation that seems insurmountable and them make it even worse.     

Monday, July 9, 2012

Amber's Review:

Sometimes the veil separating us from our dreams is one that seems too priceless to tear apart. But sometimes our dreams - and the veil itself - aren't what they appear to be. In Veil of Pearls Adalia and Morgan both find themselves on a journey of new and unexpected perspectives, a journey that is as engaging and ultimately uplifting as I've come to expect from a Tyndall novel!

After escaping a cruel master, Adalia simply longs for freedom and a chance to live in peace. But when rich and handsome Morgan Rutledge starts to pursue her, his interest opens the door to opportunities she never imagined she could have - as well as troubles she never imagined she would have to face. What once seemed so good is suddenly not enough, especially when hearts are on the line. Where do Adalia and Morgan really belong? And do they belong together?

Veil of Pearls is a story full of frustration and uncertainty, along with some enjoyable Tyndall trademarks: a little bit of seafaring excitement, a romantic hero, and an epic ending. And as it is a book "dedicated to everyone who has longed to be one of the 'in' crowd," I think many readers can relate to Adalia's struggles and/or Morgan's fears. Tyndall has written another pearl of a book, and I eagerly await the next addition to her lovely strand of stories!

*With thanks to author MaryLu Tyndall for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Learn more about the book in the previous book-spotlight post

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I’m happy to have Patty Hall as a guest on The Borrowed Book today. Patty has been making up stories to keep herself occupied since her parents forced her on boring Sunday drives in the Georgia countryside when she was too young to stay home by herself. Now she’s happy to share her wild imagination and her love of history with others, including her husband of 29 years Danny, two smart and gorgeous daughters, and a Yorkie she spoils like a grandbaby. Patty resides in North Georgia.
Welcome to The Borrowed Book, Patty. You had a book to release in July. What’s its title and what is it about?
Engineer Edie Michaels loves her life—she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out that she’s the German daughter of a devoted Nazi. And when her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.

Oh, that sounds exciting. Your heroine intrigues me. Tell us about Edie Michaels, the daughter of a devoted Nazi.
Yeah! Edie is an interesting character! The idea for Edie first took seed while my husband and I were watching ‘Band of Brothers.’ In one scene, the American troops are walking down a road in France and come upon a group of German prisoners, one of which hails from Oregon. Which got me thinking—how many families living in the United States sent their sons to Germany to enlist in Hitler’s army? It was more than you could imagine! But Edie’s story really took shape during a conversation with my youngest daughter’s German teachers. Her father ran away after her grandparents demanded he go to Germany for the war, a rift in the family that never healed. After my research uncovered that their daughters with certain educational backgrounds were also sent back, Edie’s story was born.
How did Beau Daniels, your hero, come to spend time in a Nazi POW camp?
The POW camp came to life after my mother-in-law gave ma a book about a man in her church who had been a prisoner of war during WWII. The one thing that I took away from it was the humanity the Americans showed by sharing the Red Cross rations between themselves and with some of the German people who were starving due to the war. In what should have been a God-forsaken place, I felt God’s presence there in those soldiers’ actions—and thought that should be the place where Beau found his own spiritual freedom.
With a hero and heroine from different lifestyles, there must be a lot of conflict between these two. What do you want readers to take away as they read this story where the hero and heroine face such differences in ther backgrounds?
I do have a habit of throwing the kitchen sink at my characters!~grin~The one thing I would love readers to take from this book is to embrace the truth of loving the sinner while hating the sin. It’s a concept we all struggle with, but one of the fundamental truths Christ taught throughout his entire ministry.
What made you want to focus on a historical romance when you began to write?
Honestly, I started writing contemporaries and while I had some of the nicest rejection letters, they never sold. Now I look back and think the rejections came because I was writing the same old stuff everybody was wrote, nothing new, nothing fresh. And if there’s one thing editors tell you time and time again, it’s that they want ‘the same but different.’ I found a way to accomplish that with historical romance.

What are you working on now?

Tons of stuff. First I’m finishing up the third book of this WWII book for Love Inspired Historical. Then I’m working on a proposal for a new series based in the Georgia gold rush that started in 1829 and continues even today.

Many of our readers would like to write for Love Inspired. What advice would you give them to make their manuscript stand out from the rest?

Don’t submit too early! I know it’s hard to have that manuscript finished and not rush to submit, but it’s best to polish your work first. Send it to your critique buddies. Enter contests and study what the judges have to tell you because your submission is your chance to impress those editors for the very first time, and like everyone, you want to put your best foot forward.

Do you have other words of encouragement for prepublished authors?

In the words of Winston Churchill, never, never, NEVER GIVE UP!

Thank you for being with us on The Borrowed Book. It's always a pleasure to welcome one of my Love Inspired sisters to our blog.

Maybe some of you are interested in writing for Love Inspired. I'm sure Patty would be willing to answer any other questions you might have about writing for the line. If so, leave a question in the comments, and we'll try to help you.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In this day and age of pest control companies, pesticides for sale, and well built houses, it’s hard to imagine the pests that our forefathers had to put up with. Our prairie foremothers had bugs, snakes and mice falling from the ceiling of their soddies. Nowadays we aren’t so used to seeing things like that. In fact, many of us panic at the sight of creepy crawlies, whether they be of the buggy type like centipedes, the no legged type like snakes, or the four-legged type. . .like rats.

Recently I acquired two Woman’s World magazines, one from September, 1922 and one from July, 1926. Both had an ad for products to get rid of rats. 
That struck me weird because I’ve never seen ads like that in present day women’s magazines. That’s probably because we’ve become relatively successful at keeping the pest population at bay in the United States. Notice I said, “at bay,” not controlled or eliminated. I think the recent upsurge in bedbugs is a good example that we aren’t really in control (a topic I’d like to address in a future blog).

But back to the rats. . .they’ve played a significant role in the history of man, for instance, in spreading the Black Death through another pest--fleas. 

I just finished a book about the first epidemic of bubonic plague (spread by fleas via host rats) here in the continental United State. It makes for fascinating reading and tells not just the history of the plague, but how it impacted the path of medicine.

Now that I think about it, given the history of plague and rats (not to mention ticks and Lyme disease, brown recluse spiders and necrosis, or snake bites and death), perhaps screaming at the sight of a pest and running away isn’t such a bad idea.
Here's the Amazon link for the book:

Here is an article about the San Francisco plague:

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