Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Walking through Fire?

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead. 
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you...
(Isaiah 43:1b-4a NIV)

Are you sinking in the cold water of pain? Is it swirling around your chest, suffocating, pressing, closing in?

What about the fire of anxiety and trouble? 
Are the hot flames leaping closer, sizzling, smoking, threatening to devour you in their intensity?
Do the troubles of life consume you? 
Too much to handle? Too emotionally painful?

As a 40+ year survivor of a significant burn injury, I know not to take this passage literally.
God never promises a peaceful, painless journey through life. Actually, He warns that we'll experience trouble and heartbreak along the road.

But He vows to never leave you, never give up on you. 
He promises to carry you through the water and the fire.
Why? Because He loves you.

Through more surgeries than I can remember. Countless skin graphs. Extended hospital stays. Self-esteem issues. Pain.
God has carried me through this journey. He's never left me. 
I trust Him.
What about you? 
Will you trust Him?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Plotter or Pantser?

Which side are you on?

You're a plotter if:
You like the idea of using a "roadmap" and find your rhythm by organizing your thoughts and notes prior to any actual writing.
You type out a rough outline and think through any plot twists ahead of time.
You've logged hours and hours in your hero and heroine's heads, with fully developed character charts, so you know they'll follow the path you've forged for them and why.
You've written a detailed, chapter-by-chapter synopsis before you start the book, so you know where your book is going, and how it will end.
You plan. You plot.

You're a pantser if:
You sit down in front of your laptop and just start typing, with just a few rough ideas for either characters or story floating around in your head.
You love the freedom of allowing the characters to write their own story.
You don't care that the story you end up with is not necessarily the same as the idea you started with. If it's a great story, why should you?
You write by the "seat of your pants." 

Which one are you? 
A plotter or a pantser?
Or are you somewhere in the middle?

I'm organized to the point of dividing my shopping list by aisles in the grocery store, like frozen foods, canned goods, produce, etc. 
I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning. I go to bed at the same time every night. My hubby will tell you that I really don't like surprises. 
So what do you think I am?
Ahhh! You'd be wrong.
I'm a pantser!

Where do you fall on the scale?

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where are you at today?

Three books. Done.

That's not an easy task for me. I'
m a perfectionist. I could edit until after the book's printed and I'd still find changes to make. But, I'm working on that. Time to let go of the Marshals and free my brain for something different.  

Where do I turn for ideas and inspiration?  Not where. Who. 

God used a newspaper article to plant the seed for Journey's End, and a tv newscast for Journey's Edge. For both books, I asked "what if?" until the idea for the books no longer resembled the original story. And Journey's Embrace all started with a dream. Yep. I see you shaking your head. No kidding. The dream actually became the opening scene.

I never know how God will plant an idea. So, it's time to scour newspapers, soak up my favorite television shows (not easy in the summertime!) and keep a pen and paper handy by my bed to jot down ideas. Now, I'm sitting at my desk, wading through files and notes, poring through story lines and characters, waiting for one to take hold of my head and capture my heart. My computer screen idles. Empty...blank...white. 

With Edge under consideration with White Rose Publishing and Embrace ready to submit, I'm at a crossroads. Waiting on God. Praying for peace. Growing patience.  

Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
That's where I'm at. Asking God for the ancient paths, where the good way is, so I can walk in it and find rest for my soul.

Where are you at today?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 Hot Summer Reads with Edge Summer blog tour

The Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Summer Blog Tour is in full swing. Check out these awesome books at Tammy Doherty's blog.  (Grin)

My blog stop is on Monday, August 22nd, so stay tuned! You can find the entire blog tour schedule here.

I'll be hanging out on two awesome blogs today. Grab your iced tea and click on over to Fighter Writer and read my answer to J.C.'s famous Kung Fu KAPOW! question. Then skip over to Sunnybank Meanderings for yet another chance to win a free copy of Journey's End. Don't you just love the names of these blogs??

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011


What happens when a hot cowboy turned P.I. falls for the woman he's hunting? And what if she's nothing like he expected, everything he's always wanted, and pushes him towards a faith he's long since forgotten? Find out in Faithful Danger!

After her husband's financial crimes and suicide, Caffey Matthews leaves behind her wealthy Manhattan life-knowing her husband's enemies are in pursuit. Frightened and alone, Caffey hides her identity and finds succor in the remote California ranch land, which helps her to reclaim faith and trust in God.

Believing Caffey is involved in her late husband's misdeeds, cowboy-turned high-priced private investigator Rhee Ryland arrives in Rancho Lorena ready to haul her back to justice. He doesn't expect to fall in love with her. Even more surprising is his return to his childhood Lord.

Want to read an excerpt?Locked in the trunk of the car!

Caffey battled to stay calm, to breathe normally, to hold down panic. To conserve air. The compartment wasn’t air tight, but heat and hyperventilation could kill. Lord, keep me safe, she begged. But even knowing He was at her side, she had to figure out what to do by herself.

Breathe deep, slow. Breathe deep, slow. Amazingly, she did know what to do. Everett had borne a pathological fear that one day, either one of them might be kidnapped and held to ransom. Now, he was the abductor. Her lip quivered, and she swallowed tears.

Scrunched into a bundle of bones and hot, tightened skin, she widened her eyes in the darkness to try to detect a glow-in-the-dark-handle. Spirits deflating, she understood the car wasn’t a late model with a required trunk release. Just in case, she groped with her fingers to try for a toggle switch or button.

Nothing. Her heart flew into her throat, and she concentrated on easing the pain in her cramped shoulders. Maybe, just maybe the backseat would fold down. Doubtful she’d find a release in the trunk, she explored anyway with her fingertips, then unsuccessful, tried to unwind her legs enough to push the seat down. It didn’t give a centimeter.

Panic started to roil, but she refused to let it. A Psalm of David dashed through her mind. Keep my soul and deliver me, for I put my trust in You. The words had saved her before, too many times to count, and a smidge of relief skittered through her. The Lord wouldn’t let her face this alone.

Wow! Faithful Danger looks like it packs a punch! Now let's find out a little about Tanya.
What does a normal workday look like for you? I am lucky to have been able to retire early from my career as a high school English teacher, and I’m more “lark” than “owl,” so early mornings are not really my thing. I like leisurely mornings over the newspaper and coffee with my hubby. I get to the computer about nine thirty a.m. Since I nearly lost him to cancer three years ago, we love hanging out together, and often go to lunch and run errands after I write for a while. Then I get back to it in the afternoon. I also like to ride my Exerbike or actual bike, do Wii yoga, take a walk, or do Zumba (Latin American aerobics) with my neighbor galpals in the afternoon or early evening. I especially enjoy Zumba because writing is pretty isolating.

In general, I don’t have a regular time line for writing or a daily word count goal. I think I’m reacting to the very structured way of life in the high school classroom. I enjoy flexibility now. Of course I am way busy and disciplined when I’ve got a pending deadline. Which I actually do now LOL. The seventh in the Hearts Crossing Ranch Series. My editor and I have fine-tuned the synopsis, and I’ve gotten a good start.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?I’m a bit of both, especially since I sold my HCR series on synopsis. I need to stick with the program…but there are always surprises along the way. Nothing is ever static. I get ideas and inspirations all the time and have plenty of leeway as the synopsis are pretty skeletal. I can really flesh them out.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not writing?
Most of all, I love hanging out with my four year old grandson and traveling with my hubby. We spent two weeks in Hawaii not long ago and are bound for Washington DC and other historic spots like Gettysburg, Jamestown, Williamsburg and Philadelphia in the fall. Oh, I’m getting another baby grandson in November!

Least favorite?
Trying to lose weight LOL. I am a chocoholic and cookie monster. I’m actually powering down some Chips A Hoy while I write this.

If you had a Friday night all to yourself, what would you do?
Curl up with my Kindle or watch a Hallmark movie. Either way, there will be a steaming cup of Café Francais by my side.

Where can readers find your books? 
My books are all available on Kindle, most e-book outlets, and through The Wild Rose Press (where I have a historical Western series going on) or White Rose Publishing. I blog first and third Wednesdays at the all-western romance site, Petticoats and Pistols. I have two blogspots, but finding time to keep them flowing is hard. For over a year, I’ve had quite a few deadlines and edits, with the eight-book Hearts Crossing Ranch series and several other books in the works. (Sanctuary, which released about three weeks ago, is the fourth book in the HCR series, one story for each of eight siblings.)

It had been both emotionally rewarding and totally mind-boggling to have two books released just three weeks apart. Whew. You can find me here: please sign the guest book and leave comments!

Thanks for inviting me here, Dora. I hope you and your readers join me at Petticoats and Pistols tomorrow for a chance to win a pdf copy of Faithful Danger. I’ll pull one commenter’s name from the Stetson. Hope to see you all there.

I’d love y’all to “like” my AUTHOR PAGE at Facebook, too.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

NEED TO KNOW by Susan Tuttle

Now for the conclusion of Need to Know...

Quinn’s skin cooled when Noah pulled his hands away. What would have happened if he hadn’t been here? 
“Want me to call your sister?”
She froze. “No.”
His eyes narrowed in on her.
“I—I’ll call once we’re inside.  Can you grab my purse?”
The officer stepped in.  “Your purse still here?  Wasn’t this a robbery?”
Quinn’s stomach dropped.  Noah watched her closely. 
“Quinn?” he asked slowly.
Why did this have to happen?  She’d had a fresh start here. No one knew who her father was.  She could just be normal.  It was why she’d denied her father when he insisted on putting a body guard on her.  Once he found out what happened, he’d be furious, she’d have a body guard, and Noah wouldn’t think of her as a normal friend anymore.  She winced.
“She needs some pain killers, and I’ve got to get that wound cleaned and stitched.  You can speak with her once I’m through.”
She smiled her thanks.
A half-hour later her head dulled to a low throb as Noah worked from behind.
“You’re down a couple strands of hair.” His warm tone spoke in her ear.  He was in full-fledged doctor mode.
“I figured.  How’s it look?”
“Inch wide gap, not too deep.  I’ve just about got it closed.”
Silence descended again.  Finally he snapped off his gloves.  “You’re all set.”
Quinn slowly rolled onto her back and scooched up into a sitting position.  Noah leaned against a counter, watching her. 
“You ready to tell me what happened out there?”
She looked down.
“Are you in some sort of trouble, Quinn?”
Here went nothing.
“They wanted money.”
“You told the officer it wasn’t a robbery.”
She looked up at him.  “Ransom.  My father’s Robert Cummings.”
He stiffened.  His head tilted and his eyes looked her over from top to bottom.  “As in Robert Cummings, the billionaire who owns half of Los Angeles and may run for a Senate seat?”
“The one and only.”
“But your name—“
“I use my mother’s maiden name.”
She turned away from his stunned look.  “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”

Noah bit back his reply.  A lot?  How about her entire life.
Her emerald eyes shone with unshed tears. 
“Why didn’t your father have a body guard with you?” he asked.
“I didn’t want one.”
“But you need one.”
“Noah, I just want to be normal for once and toting a body guard with me every where doesn’t exactly scream ‘normal’.”
“No, it doesn’t.  But your safety is worth more than that.”
She turned on him.  “You don’t understand.  People find out who I am and they change.  Either they are so intimidated that I never see them again, or they become friends with my money instead of me.  I’m not letting him put a guard on me.”
 Heat turned his gut.  “Apparently there’s a lot you don’t know about me, either, Quinn.  The top of that list is not letting people I care about get hurt.”
“It’s not your decision.”
Their stubborn gazes locked in a silent battle. She may think she could win, but no way was he letting her.
“Call your sister,” he said and strode from the room. 

Two days later, Quinn sat in the quiet hospital chapel.  Her stitches itched, but her head didn’t pound as much.  Her heart, on the other hand, ached. 
Word of who she was spread through the hospital.  People looked at her like she’d grown an extra head.  A few suddenly wanted to be her best friend.  None of that hurt as badly as Noah’s silence.  She’d not seen or heard from him since he’d stitched her head.  In the quiet of his absence her heart spoke.  She was in love with the man.  How and when that happened, she didn’t know.  But the moment before he almost kissed her in the garage replayed over and over in her mind. 
The chapel door swished open behind her.  She didn’t even look.  Her newly acquired body guard would stop any threat that may walk in.
Her father’s strong voice pulled her around. 
            “Daddy!  What are you doing here?”
“My daughter was attacked.  You didn’t think I’d come?”
She hugged him.  “I told you not to.  You were in Europe.”
“You’re more important than any business I could ever have.  Besides, I had pressing matter to attend to here.”
Apparently she looked confused because he smiled.  “That would be you, dear.  I wanted to see where you live.  Make sure you’re cared for adequately.  I’m still not fond of you living on the other side of the country from me, but I can at least make sure you’re watched out for.”
No surprise there.  She nodded to the back of the room.  “I already have the guard from the company you hired.  He hasn’t left me once.”
“Oh him?  He’s just temporary.  I hired your permanent body guard today—a young man who sought me out for the job.”
The chapel door breezed open again, and Noah came striding towards them.
“Quinn, I’d like you to meet Noah Kingston.” Her father’s eyes twinkled at her.
“Huh?”  It was the only word in her arsenal right now.  She looked back and forth between the two men.  “No offense, but you know he’s a doctor and not a body guard, right?”
Her father’s laughter filled the room.  “I think I’ll let you two talk.” 
Noah slid into the pew next to her, his eyes on hers.
“My body guard?  How exactly did you sell him on that one?”
That smirk of his played over his face. She almost leaned in and kissed it off his face, but he spoke before she could.
“The Army paid for my college.”
“Yeah?  And being a member of the ROTC qualifies you?”
“No.  But I think the fact that I was an Army Rangers medic who served in special forces maybe pushed him over the edge.”
Quinn didn’t even blink.  “A lot I don’t know about you is right.”
He leaned in, his breath tickling her lips.  “How about this one, I’m crazy about you.”
Her heart skipped a beat.  “Really?”
“Really.” His lips lowered over hers in a soft kiss. 
That was all she needed to know.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

NEED TO KNOW by Susan Tuttle

Meet Susan Tuttle. Encourager extraordinaire. Thought-provoking blogger. Homeschooling mom of three. Loving wife of nearly fourteen years. Daughter of the King. And one of those friends who makes your life richer and sweeter from knowing her.

A member of ACFW, Susan is busy writing the stories and devotions God places on her heart with the goal of one day adding ‘published’ in front of ‘author’. Her heart’s desire is to keep people stepping forward into God’s grace. Her blog, StepSusan, offers inspiring and uplifting devotionals, where you'll find comfort knowing you're not alone on your journey.

Today and tomorrow, enjoy Susan's short romantic story, Need to Know.

Need to Know

“Hey, Anderson!  Look alive!”
Quinn Anderson’s hand shot in the air to grab the icy can lobbed at her head.  “Cute, King, real cute.”  She popped the top on the Monster he’d just thrown at her and followed his laughter to the elevators. “You’d be sewing my head up if I’d miss that catch.”
“Nah.” Noah Kingston smiled as he punched the button for the parking garage.  “Your reflexes are too quick.  I knew you’d catch it.”
“You greatly underestimate my skills after a double shift.”  She covered a yawn.  “I need to wake up.”
His eyes shifted to her, moving from her pony-tailed head to her rubber-soled toes.  “Still going out?  That’s some lucky guy.” 
She didn’t miss his smirk.  Yeah, she was a mess.
“Look.  I stayed as a favor to you.  I’m going on this blind date as a favor to my sister.”
“And what about a favor to yourself?”
“Sleep.  Tonight.  After a very expensive meal.”
The elevator dinged and they stepped on. “Louie’s?”
She nodded.
They rode in silence until the elevator dropped them in the belly of the hospital.  Noah motioned her off first.
“You’re more of a steak and potatoes kinda gal.  Think you’ll handle all those forks all right or do I need to give you a crash course in table etiquette?”
If only he knew her parents.  It was one reason she was so comfortable around Noah.  The only thing he cared about was she was a good nurse—not the trust fund sitting in her father’s bank.
She took a long, noisy slurp from her caffeine fix and wiped her mouth on her sleeve. Her eyes cut to him and she grinned.  “Nah. I think I’ll be just fine.”
His rich laughter filled the garage followed by the beep of his car locks releasing.  “Can’t wait to hear how this goes.”
“You’ll hear every detail Sunday morning, long as you bring me a coffee.”
“I’ll be there—hospital chapel before our shift starts?”
“It’s a date.”
His face changed, the smirk gone as his eyes went from grey to black.  “Date?”
Heat crawled up her face and her insides twisted.  Who turned on the electric current that suddenly raced between them?  “Yeah, well…you know what I mean.  Coffee date, between two co-workers?”
He blinked, took a step closer.  “Come on, Quinn.  We’re more than co-workers.”
She inched backward.  “We…we are?” 
He took another step, backing her into the car behind her.  He leaned down to bring his face next to hers, his eyes flicked to her lips.  Was he going to kiss her?  Her breath caught in her throat. 
A car door slammed and Noah jerked back, his smirk suddenly back in place.  “We’re friends, right?”
A buzzing filled her ears, and she released her breath.  “Yep.  Friends.” 
Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ played from her phone.
Noah’s left brow raised.  “Cute.”
Quinn fumbled for it.  “My niece was playing with my phone again.”  She slid her finger across the screen.  “Hey, Nicky.  Yeah, I stayed for an extra shift but I’ll be there.”  She looked at Noah.  “It’s my sister.  I gotta go.”
“Have a great time tonight.”
Something in his eyes didn’t match his words. 
She didn’t have time for this.  She definitely didn’t have room for whatever feelings he’d tugged from her a moment ago. 
“Sure.  I’ll see you Sunday.”

Noah slammed his car door.  Idiot!  He’d worked with the woman for six months and hadn’t asked her out yet. Hadn’t even told her he was interested. And he’d almost kissed her back there—no warning.  He’d meant to tease her about her slip-up, but stepping that close, her dark green eyes fixed wide on him, and her lavender scent filling his senses; he was lost. 
He revved his engine. His mother had taught him better than that.
Slipping out of his parking spot, his headlights illuminated the other end of the parking garage.  Man it was dark in here.  Where were the lights?  And why hadn’t he walked Quinn to her car? 
Because he was too busy kicking himself.
In the shadows of his headlights he could just make out her form ahead, still talking on her phone.  Movement to her left caught his attention, and he froze.  Two large men rushed towards her.  Quinn never had a chance.  One grabbed her arms, the other her legs and they moved towards a van. 
Noah hit the gas, his car catapulting into the back of their van.  The stunned men dropped Quinn and dove for their vehicle.  Noah erupted from his car, and launched himself at the man closest to him.  Two quick hits and the man was out.  He spun around to grab the second assailant and was met with the smell or burnt rubber as the van peeled out of the garage.  
For a fleeting second he thought about chasing the man, but a weak groan stopped him cold. 
Two quick steps brought him to her small frame.  He knelt next to her and her eyes flitted open.  She tried to sit up but he gently pushed her back.
“Lie still,” he ordered.  He stifled a curse at the small pool of blood beside her head.  She’d caught the sharp edge of a curb. 
“I’m fine.” Her eyes pinned on his, fire in their emerald depths.  Good.  Maybe she wasn’t hurt as badly as he first thought.
“No, you’re not.  You’re bleeding pretty good from a head wound.  Looks like I’m gonna have to sew you up tonight after all.”
She reached around to feel the back of her head.  “Ouch.”
His hand still held her down.  “Ouch is right.  You didn’t even see them coming.”
He palmed his cell phone and dialed for the hospital security and a stretcher.  She tensed beneath him, shoving his hand away. 
“No way am I going in on a stretcher.  Let me up.”
“Not on your life.”
She shoved at him, but he held her down.  “Be a good patient now, Quinn.”
She glared, but stopped fighting.
Red and blue strobes filled the garage and a navy uniform stepped out into the headlights. 
“Over here,” Noah called.
“Why’re the lights out?”
“Not sure.  But two men tried to grab my friend here.  One of them is to your left, on the pavement.”
The officer turned and looked at the man, out cold.  “Care to tell me what happened?”
A side door slammed opened before he could answer and two co-workers from upstairs spilled out.
“Look, I need to get her upstairs and stitched up.  Her head wound is bleeding heavily, and I’m worried she has a concussion.”
“I don’t.” Quinn’s steely voice answered.
“I’m doing a complete work-up so we can be sure.”
“Guess I’m gonna be late for that date.”
Noah shook his head and helped load her onto the stretcher.  Guilt filled him. Making her late—hoping she missed the date all together—had been his original plan when he asked her to stay for an extra shift.  If he’d kept his mouth shut she’d have been long gone, not attacked in a dark parking lot.  This was all his fault.

Will Quinn make her date? What is Quinn not telling him? Stay tuned tomorrow to find out.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


When Caroline flees Chicago following the brutal murder of her husband, the last thing she expects—or wants—is to fall for Matt Carlson, a builder with strong roots in the small town of Mountainview, Tennessee. She needs to focus on raising her six-year-old daughter and protecting both their hearts from ever being shattered again.

Matt is struggling with issues of his own…guilt over the death of his wife and the responsibility of raising a cynical teenaged nephew who is dropped on his doorstep, abandoned by Matt's alcoholic sister. He doesn't have time to fall in love, yet he can't help being drawn to the woman who is ready to defend her home—and her daughter—with nothing more than a feisty attitude and a broom handle.

Can Matt's help and friendship convince Caroline to trust again…and when Caroline's daughter goes missing, will Matt be able to find the girl before it's too late and he loses everything he loves…again?

Let’s find out a little about Mary, shall we? What does a normal workday look like for you?
During the school year I get up at 3am and head to the quiet confines of my classroom, where I write until the students arrive. I have found that driving to work on the dark, quiet roads is quite pleasant (no rush hour...yeah)! In the evening I like to spend time with my husband and daughter, so I don't do much writing then...maybe a bit of follow-up on emails and marketing.

But in the summer, when school is out, it's GAME ON. I get up with my husband, usually about 6:30, and begin to write as soon as he leaves for work and until he gets home in the evening. it's not unusual for me to spend 10-12 hours straight at my computer. I love days like that. In the evening my husband and I like to ride our bikes or take long walks and then sit on our porch swing and talk. I used to be OCD about housecleaning, but as you can imagine, my standards have become a bit more lax. Who wants to clean the house when they can write instead?

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, I am definitely a pantser! I pray before I begin each story, and am led to a Bible verse. I have an idea--usually just a scene--and the story goes from there. When I get stuck, I mow! I live on two acres, and I love to push mow. My husband thinks I'm nuts, and my neighbors used to, as well. But now when they see me they know I'm writing, too...just in my head. Once my husband tried to take over the mowing, and we actually owned a riding mower for about two months. Then we sold it!

Anyway...back to writing. I do a lot of self-editing as I go along, usually beginning with the previous day's work and moving forward from there. It seems to save time in the long run, at least for me, and helps to keep my writing 'cleaner and tighter'.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not writing? Least favorite? I love to take long walks with my husband and work in the yard. I like to run, too. I have run three marathons, and I think the mental mindset there is much the same as that needed for writing. A writer, like a runner, must be extremely dedicated and methodical, and must be willing to endure a measure of pain and sacrifice in order to accomplish the task.

I also like to read. That's the one thing I miss since I've started writing more...I don't have the time to read as much as I used to. But i still make some time, because reading is an important part of writing.

My least favorite thing to do, I would say, is shopping. Especially if it's a warm and sunny day. I'd much rather be outside than stuck at the mall...with a million people. Yuck!

If you had a Friday night all to yourself, what would you do?'s been so long since I've had a Friday night all to myself. I think I'd curl up with a good book (one from the White Rose catalog, of course!) and read in the peace and quiet...aaahhh...
Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary. Congrats on the release of Buried Treasures!

Mary Manners is an award-winning author of inspirational romance who lives in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband and teen-aged daughter. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Smoky Mountain Romance Writers.

During the school year, she teaches middle-schoolers reading and Algebra. In her free time, she likes to garden, take long walks with her husband, and read romance novels in a hammock beneath century-old shade trees.

Visit Mary at

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

More opportunities to win a free copy of JOURNEY'S END

Have you read Journey's End yet?

What? You haven't? Well, you'll have three chances this week to win a free copy of Journey's End.

On Tuesday, join me at K Dawn Byrd's blog. Then, on Wednesday, click over to Piedmont Island Trilogy. On Thursday, I'll be visiting with Joanne Troppello at It Only Takes A Mustard Seed.

Stop by all three blogs and comment for a chance to win a free copy of Journey's End. I look forward to seeing you!

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Are you ready to wake up?


We've all had them. Some dreams so vivid, so terrifying, you wake up panting or screaming, gasping for air and a firm grip on reality. Other dreams are hazy, foggy, and hard to recall.

Life whizzes by. One day your parents wave as you leave your childhood home, setting off for a life of adventure, chasing your dreams. You blink, and suddenly you're waving good-bye to your own children.

You're living a dream. Today, right now, and maybe tomorrow, if God blesses you with another day. But soon you'll wake up, firmly entrenched in eternity. This life is a dream, not reality. Reality means no more tomorrows. No more second chances. Eternity is reality.

Are you ready to wake up?

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Video for Journey's End

Yay! Here it is, my video for Journey's End from Long & Short Reviews. Check it out!

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July!

This year we're celebrating the holiday with family. We haven't been able to do that the last few years because of proximity. But this year my sister and her family moved to NC. My sister's family and our youngest son joined us for a weekend of fun in the mountains. 

And we've had fun! Laughing, playing ping-pong, eating watermelon, relaxing on the deck, and cooking out. And did I mention eating?

Storms have knocked out the internet every day, which is frustrating, but somewhat freeing in itself.

What about you? How are you celebrating Independence Day?

Thank you to all who serve, and all who have served, to keep America free. God bless you and God bless America.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Burning Hearts by Nike Chillemi

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with have fallen in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

Burning Hearts is available at: AmazonBarnes & Noble. Desert Breeze. 

Let's find out a little more about Nike Chillemi, Crime Fictionista:

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes monthly book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. Burning Hearts is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series.
Crime Fictionista. What a cool title. How did you get that name?
NC:  I'm a crime fictionista all right because my passion is crime fiction. For me a good book starts out with a dead body and then the detective character(s) with all his/her flaws showing must seek justice for the victim by finding the killer.

How did you come up with the premise for Burning Hearts?
NC:  I have a vivid imagination. I get caught up in the various scenarios I come up with. I think…what if this, or that? I sometimes actually dream a scene in my book, or it comes to me in that twilight state in between sleep and awakeness. I'll jump out of bed in the morning and run to my computer with a scene in my head I have to get down. Once I had the entire thing, word for word with dialog. That was incredible. I keep a potential plot file. As soon as I get the idea, in a dream, while washing dishes, whatever…I get to my computer as fast as possible and add it to my file.
The idea for BURNING HEARTS started with thoughts about two people, a heroine and a hero battling a raging fire. The story took off from there. It took four years to write and went through many drafts. Since it's set in 1946, I had a lot of research to do. Some of the characters changed over time. The basic story line stayed the same, but I realized I had to add a few more twists. That meant rewriting…again. Not all my novels have taken four years to write, but every story has taken at least a year to get it the way I want it for my readers.
What does a normal workday look like for you? (when do you start, how long do you write, etc.)
NC:  I'm a wife, mother, and homeschooling mom as well as an author. I get up and walk the dog. Then I have cats who want to eat breakfast. After the feline attack, I've got to have my cup of tea. At that point, the house is still quiet. DH is getting ready for work and I have about an hour to write, which I do every day. Then it's five hours of homeschooling and another hour of writing. Then it's getting dinner on the table, reminding DD that she REALLY needs a shower. I try to get in some reading before bed.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
NC:  I'm both. I start off a seat-of-the pantser. I get an idea, like a raging house fire that opens chapter one in BURNING HEARTS. I've got my characters set in my mind and I drop them into the scene. I write seat of the pants at that point. When I'm done with the chapter, I put a short synopsis of it in my "plot outline file." After the first chapter is set in the outline, I have to get technical. I've got to pretty much alternate scenes between my heroine and my hero. One can dominate, but not by much. As I enter the synopsis for each chapter, I see how the plot is flowing. If there's too much darkness, I might have to go back and add a little humor. However when I'm writing the first draft of a chapter, it's totally seat of the pants. Of course, then there's editing. Sometimes I edit a chapter two or three times. When I submit to my publisher, it's pretty clean.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not writing? Least favorite?
NC:  I love the ocean, particularly the eastern seaboard and the Atlantic Ocean. There's nothing I like more than sitting under a pavilion or cabana by the sea with a good book. I'm also a foodie and spend a considerable amount of time looking recipes up on the Food Channel's website. I love eating out in a good restaurant, a little café perhaps. My least favorite is cleaning house, though I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when it's done.
If you had a Friday night all to yourself, what would you do?
NC: I'd read. Or, I might write. Since I have to be alone for this, I can't get DH to take me out to eat. So, I might go to Starbucks and get a cappuccino, soak up the atmosphere and soft music, and read. I love to drive. I could take Sophie, our malti-poo to Long Island and drive out to the ocean in Southampton, or Montauk. I'd find a café that allows dogs outside and order an exotic coffee drink and read or write and watch the surf come in.
Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?
NC:  My blog is Crime Fictionista (crime fiction and faith). Readers can find Burning Hearts at the following sites:  Desert Breeze Publishing. . AmazonBarnes & Noble

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