Wednesday, September 30, 2009

with Amber Stockton

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Welcome to Patterings, Amber!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

This happened when I dabbled in writing some fan fiction for 2 different TV shows. Reader feedback returned begging me for more. I had so much fun writing and felt truly inspired, so I started writing stories with characters I’d created. After chatting with fellow author and mentor, Tracie Peterson, I joined ACFW, and the rest is history.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Oh wow! You want me to pick? Right now, I’d say it was Quills & Promises, which released last year. I loved it because it was the love story of my husband and me, only disguised in a Colonial time period setting. But my favorite character came from my first book. Gustaf Hanssen, because he embodies what every man can be when they rely fully on God. So many readers loved him and felt he was an idyllic hero.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Description. I often know in my head what a scene looks like and the appearance of characters, but I have trouble describing them for readers or remembering to include those little tidbits to set the scene. I overcome it by sending my chapters to critique partners and letting them tell me where I need to insert more description. I also have a book called “Description” from the Writer’s Digest collection.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
That would have to be William, because he had to work through his anger at God and balance it with his attraction to a young woman whose faith was evident in everything she did or said. She challenged him, and he often reacted out of his anger but also enjoyed verbally sparring with her. It was tough to cover all of the stages of his anger recovery, but the journey was worth it.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Wow, this is a tough one. I actually had to ask my husband because I couldn’t think of anything. But, when I looked at other words for ‘quirky’ and found unique or eccentric, I figured out something that would work. Anyone who knows me knows about my colorful Tiki bird slippers. Owning them alone is quirky, but I take it one step farther and wear them to an annual professional conference each year at ACFW.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Sometimes, going through and answering email because it piles up so quickly in my inbox. There is so much else that needs doing, and I know once I get started, I will get lost on the computer. There are times when I will clean, vacuum, do laundry and run errands before I’ll sit in front of my computer.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Temperatures in the 70’s, clear blue skies, minimal breeze, low humidity, being outside with my husband and baby girl and our dog, enjoying a picnic or a walk through Garden of the Gods here in Colorado Springs. Or taking a drive through the mountains.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Primarily, I read historical fiction, but I also love romantic comedies and some women’s fiction. Legal thrillers are nice once in a while for a change of pace. And of course, I’m now getting into children’s books again because I have a daughter and want to instill in her the love of books I have.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Chocolate. LOL! M-n-M’s in particular. But, I also love Goldfish crackers or Cheez-Its. And I have to have a constant flow of sweet tea to give me the “pep” I need to keep going.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
God’s faithfulness is a strong one, but also doubt, anger, and why bad things happen to good people, as that’s a question so many ask.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
That I have been hiding behind the mask of staying busy or trying too hard to be accepted by others, when I only need to receive accolades from Him to be validated in my work. It’s not an easy lesson to learn or accept, and I’m still working at it.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
December, and it’s the 3rd book in the current trilogy set in Detroit during the Industrial Revolution. The title is Patterns and Progress. Here’s the back-cover copy:
Shannon Delaney was right.
Every time she might consider changing her stance on what other people called progress, something bad would happen and she would be proven right again. Take the day Jacob Berringer almost ran her over in that new Model-T, for instance. And he had the nerve to suggest she'd been daydreaming? Or the Titanic. A marvel of modern invention. Look where that got them. Or how about the new tractor her brother insisted they try out. What did he get from that? A broken arm. Why can't things just stay the way they are—the way they should be?

Jacob's got his work cut out for him, proving to the stubborn but beautiful Shannon that just because he works for the Henry Ford Company, he isn't evil incarnate. But something about her tells him she's worth the effort, and when Jacob puts his mind to something, he doesn't turn back.

But will either of them look to God for direction?


Oh, that sounds great! Thanks so much for being with us this week!

Amber is giving away a copy of Hearts and Harvest. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget to check out and leave a comment on Nikki Arana's book giveaway!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

meet Amber Stockton

Today I'm bloging at Exemplify about wax jobs... I'd love to have you join me there too! :)

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Amber Stockton is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author and their baby daughter in beautiful Colorado Springs. They also have a vivacious Border Collie mix named Roxie. Amber has sold eight books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Other writing credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories for Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to Grit for the Oyster and 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. A born-again Christian since the age of seven, her faith in Christ has often sustained her through difficult experiences. She seeks to share that with others through her writing. Read more about her at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.

Hearts and Harvest
William's is a true riches to rags story...

Once members of Detroit's elite society, the Berringer family lost everything they had in the financial crash of 1893. From a life of influence and privilege, they now find themselves working a potato patch alongside immigrants and other destitute folk on borrowed land. William's resentment toward his current situation—and mostly toward God for allowing it—simmers barely beneath the surface. All it takes is one charitable visit to the fields from a lovely society darling to burst his façade of acceptance.
Annabelle Lawson, convicted by her pastor's admonishing words, begins delivering food and water to the workers on her father's donated land. But as she learns the stories of the people who work there, she becomes increasingly drawn to their plight. Especially that of the inscrutable William Berringer.
Can Annabelle and William overcome the stigma placed upon his family by a society that once embraced them? Will her parents remember their own meeting or forbid this budding romance altogether?

Here's an excerpt of Hearts and Harvest


CHAPTER ONE

Detroit, Michigan
Spring, 1894

"And remember," Pastor Owens saidspoke loud and clear as he concludedwrapped up his sermon. "We have placed boxes at the back by the doors for any donations you wish to make on behalf of those who are now farming the public lands in order to provide for their families."

Annabelle Lawson fixed her eyes on the pastor. His crisp, pressed purple robe with gold accents flowed in tandem with his motions as he made a sweeping gesture out over those gathered. The compassion in his light brown gaze only added to his youthful appearance, despite the traces of gray she caught at his temples.

He always looked out for those less fortunate, but never before had his plea compelled her to contribute like it had today.

"Some of you have donated pieces of your land for farming, and I know these families appreciate your generosity. But, for those who are unable to do that, you can contribute through the donation boxes. Every bit you give will go toward purchasing farming tools and equipment for these families."

Had Father been one of those the pastor mentioned as having donated land? They certainly had enough to spare. She'd ask him after the service ended.

"And now, go in peace and in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father's love."

With that, the assemblage stood, almost in unison, and Annabelle paused as individuals made their way en masse toward the back.

She clutched her handbag in one hand and held her Bible to her chest as she slipped from her family's pew after her parents and entered the center aisle. Her younger brother and sister followed. She stepped aside to let them pass, then glanced toward the front of the church at the elaborate décorfurnishings and ornate fixtures, from the hanging chandeliers to the brass candelabras. Marble tabletops sat on hand-carved wooden stands, and rich burgundy carpet adorned the steps as well as the floor of the elevated dais from where the pastor gave his sermon.

That was where the evidence of affluence ended. Annabelle observed the worn pews in great need of white-washing or a new coat of paint. It almost felt like a line divided the church from where the congregation sat and where the pastor stood. The people around her wore clothing in a wide variety of quality and style. Here, status didn't matter. Even the pastor, in all of his finery, possessed a welcoming personality that embraced everyone equally.

Annabelle again looked at the wide array of appearances in the attendees. How could her family and many who attended this church have so much when others who joined them had so little?

The financial crisis last year had struck in a random pattern. Thanks to the poor investment choices and risky building decisions by the railroad companies, financing had been lost and banks had run out of money. Both the rich and the poor had been affected. Young and old. Businessman and tradesman alike. Annabelle volunteered for one of Detroit's charity services, and her supervisor had recently confided to her that their stores and funds were either depleted or quite low. They had little to give to those in need.

This idea from Pastor Owens could help all of the city's charities. And in turn, the families could maintain their pride or self-respect as they farmed on their own without accepting handouts. Donations alone wouldn't help. It was a situationPaving the way for those who lost much to work that would bring fortune to all.

"Annabelle, dear. Don't dawdle." Her mother's voice called to her from a few pews away. "Katie will have Sunday dinner ready by the time we get home. We haven't a moment to spare."

"Yes, Mother."

After a final glance around the haven the church provided, Annabelle made her way to the back. As she passed the boxes, her conscience pricked her rather soundly. Seeing the departing backs of her family, she knew she must hurry. Service had run later than normal. A full half -hour, in fact. Without further thought, she reached into her handbag and withdrew all of the coins she had. She dropped the money in the slotted box, and smiled at the sound of it joining the other money already donated. It wasn't much, but it felt good to help.

"Annabelle!"

The sharp, yet soft, reprimand made Annabelle start. She looked up to see her mother peering around the door frame, an impatient expression on her face. If Mother had been standing inside, her foot no doubt would have been tapping against the stone floor. Felicity Lawson normally maintained a cool demeanor. But everyone had their limits.

No sense making Mother any more upset.

"Coming, Mother."

* * * * *

An hour later, the Lawson family gathered around the table. Annabelle picked at her plate while the rest of her family devoured the delicious fried chicken, potatoes and gravy, and stored vegetables from their garden. She didn't want to insult Katie, but she couldn't find much of an appetite.
She stared at how much food they had. Her thoughts wandered to those families going without today. Somehow, even Katie's best recipe failed to tempt her taste buds.

"What's the matter, Annabelle?" Her younger brother, Matthew, gave her a poke in the ribs, his voice taking on a taunting tone. "Trying to maintain your graceful figure so some poor, unsuspecting bloke will fall prey to your charms?"

"Matthew! That's enough."

Father's reprimand made her brother straighten in his chair and dip his chin. Brandt Lawson had mediated their little squabbles more times than Annabelle could count. Yet Matthew persisted. The rather tall rascal might be nearing eighteen, but at times, he acted like a ten-year-old.

"Sorry, Father."

"It's not me to whom you owe an apology."

"Sorry, Annabelle," he mumbled, not even bothering to look her way.

Annabelle pressed her lips together to hold back a grin, but Father caught her eye and winked. That made her struggle even harder. Father knew what it was like to have a younger brother. Uncle Charles always seemed to be looking for his next victim, and Father had told her he hadn't changed a bit since they were boys. It looked like Matthew inherited that streak of mischief from their uncle.

"Now, Annabelle," Father continued in a more congenial tone. "Is there something wrong with the food? Or do you have something else on your mind that's keeping you from eating?"

She set down her fork and reached for her water glass. After taking a drink, she lowered the glass and looked to her left where Father sat, waiting for an answer.

"It's not the food, Father. Katie should again be praised for her efforts."

"Then what is it, dear?"

Annabelle glanced at Mother from the corner of her eye. Matthew and their younger sister, Victoria, also waited expectantly. She hadn't meant to interrupt their meal. But now that she had their attention, she'd better take full advantage. Returning her gaze to Father, she attempted to formulate her conflicting thoughts into words.

"This morning. At church. Pastor Owens spoke of the families in need of assistance and mentioned the vacant plots of land being donated for farming use."

"Yes." Mother sighed. "It is difficult to see so many in such dire need. We, ourselves, aren't without feeling the effects of the crisis, but we fared much better than most, thanks to your father's well-spread investments." Mother looked down the table at Father, and the two shared a silent bond.

"Exactly," Annabelle continued. "And don't misunderstand me. I'm grateful that we were spared for the most part, but somehow, thanking God for our abundance feels wrong in light of those we know who have nothing."

"What do you propose we do about that, Annabelle?" Father steepled his fingers and rested his forearms on the edge of the table. "We can't exactly give everything we have in surplus and place ourselves on equal footing with them."

"Nor do I expect us to, Father. I merely wanted to say how inspired I was by Pastor Owens' sermon. The Bible commands us to help our neighbors, and what we do unto the least of them, we do as unto Christ."

Victoria leaned forward. "I put my coins in the box today, Annabelle. Did you?"

Annabelle looked across the table at her sister. Even at twelve, she possessed such a heart of gold.
"Yes, I did. Everything I had with me."

At times, Annabelle felt as if she came in second place to her sister where charity was concerned. Whatever her family did, Victoria was certain to be as involved as possible.

"But I feel we can do more. I just don't know what."

Silence fell upon the table, and her family all woretook on introspective expressions. Several moments passed. Finally, Father cleared his throat, and all eyes turned toward him.

"Well, I was going to wait until later to announce this, but I suppose now is as good a time as any."

He paused, and Annabelle turned her head to look at Mother, who nodded with a smile. They had done something. Now, she was anxious to find out what.

"Following our good mMayor's lead of sacrifice, I've put up that vacant plot we own on Marshall to be used for farming. It neighbors several other vacant plots that have also been donated. I gather it will bring about a sizeable profit for our city and those in need."

Annabelle clapped her hands and beamed a smile at him. "Oh, Father! That's wonderful. When I heard Pastor Owens this morning mention the need for land, I wanted to ask if we had any to give. When did you donate it? How much land is it? When will the workers arrive to start working? I want to be there to help in any way I can."

The deep sound of Father's chuckle rumbled from his end of the table. "Slow down, Annabelle. I only just spoke with the mayor last week. I daresay it will be another week or more before any families are assigned to our particular plot." He raised a hand, palm out, in her direction. "But I promise to notify you the moment I hear anything further."

"I want to help as well, Father."

"You will, Victoria. You will."

"Father," Matthew inserted, "didn't Mayor Pingree sell his thoroughbred horse and give the proceeds to the farming fund?"

Father nodded. "Yes, h. He did. Where did you hear about that?"

Matthew shrugged. "Oh, some of the young men at the copper refinery were talking about it the other day at work. I overheard one of them say it and wondered if they were exaggerating or not."

"It is true. And his act of goodwill encouraged many others to follow suit. Now, we have a substantial fund for farming equipment, and we should be able to provide these families with everything they need to get started."

Annabelle listened as Father continued to lay out what he knew would be the plan once the farming commenced. Just this morning, she had wanted to get involved and help. Little did she know then how close the opportunity would come to her own home. Now, she could fulfill God's commandment and at the same time feel satisfied in what she had to offer. Excitement built inside of her.

She could hardly wait to get started.

* * * * *

William Berringer trudged behind his father as they approached the barren plot of land that would become their place of work for several months, possibly even years. The abandoned factory building at the far edge of the land would house several families working this plot. He sighed. How in the world had something like this happened to them?

One day, they were're living a comfortable life with plenty to eat and had more than enough money to afford the finer things if they wanted them. The next, their stronghold had crumbled, they had lost their home, and the jobs he and his father held had been stripped away. All because of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing that set off a series of bank failures.

If it hadn't been for the bankruptcy of Philadelphia and Reading Railroad last year, concern over the economy might not have worsened. But it did, and people rushed to withdraw their money from banks. In no time at all, gold and silver reserves were depleted and the value of the dollar had decreased. Their lLife savings disappeared, and they couldn't meet their mortgage obligations. Everything they had invested was gone. William almost didn't want to blink for fear that something even more disastrous would occur.

"Well, here we are." His father gestured with a wide sweep of his arm. "Our source of income for as long as it takes until we can rebuild what we've lost."

And that could take years if they only had farming as an option. William sneered at the weed-covered ground. Gusts of wind stirred the loose dirt from a bare patch nearby and created a tiny swirl around them. Maybe he could get caught up in one and be taken far away from here. Far away from the gloomy prospect of what the financial crisis had done to him and his family.

"At least we know we aren't alone," his mother chimed in. Her forced cheerfulness was almost too much. "Many others—, friends and neighbors—, are suffering the same fate. If they can do this, so can we."

Father stepped close and wrapped his arm around his wife. "You are absolutely right, my dear. It might not be much, but our God has provided."

"God?" William couldn't help the derision that filled his voice. "You talk of God?" He swung out his arm in a sweeping gesture over the land in front of them. "Where was God when the crisis occurred? Where was Hhe when we were forced from our home? Where was Hhe when we lost everything?"

Jacob, his little brother, looked up at all three of them in silence. He moved his gaze from one to another, curiosity and uncertainty reflected in his eyes.

"God is right where He's always been, my boy," Father replied. "With us." Daniel Berringer was nothing if not forthright and stalwart. He led their family with a strength and determination William admired and hoped to have himself one day.

But that strength wasn't what he wanted right now. He wanted answers. He wanted solutions. He wanted a guarantee that this new lot in life would turn out to be a prosperous venture, and that they could return to the life they once knew before too long. From what he could see, the likelihood of that seemed as distant as the grouping of various land plots that stretched out to the north and west of the city.

"Well, if God's been right here all along, then He wanted this to happen to us. And if that's the case, I want to know why."

Lucille Berringer came and placed a gentle hand on William's shoulder. "Sometimes, William, we aren't able to ask why. We simply must obey and do the best with what we've been given."

William fought hard not to shrug off his mother's touch. She meant well, but he wasn't in the mood for comfort. "I thought we had done the best we could. Before all of this happened. Father and I had good jobs in finance and industry and had established what we thought was a rather solid family business. I was also looking to expand into manufacturing with some of Thomas Edison's ventures. We worked hard and remained faithful with the fruits of our labors. Was it not good enough to suit God?"

"That's enough, William!" Father's voice took on a hard edge, one William knew brooked no argument.

Jacob's eyes widened, and William regretted his previous words. The last thing he wanted to do was cause Jacob to become bitter. His brother didn't deserve this, either. At least he was young, though. He had his whole life ahead of him. William, on the other hand, had been making plans to move from apprenticeship to management when the crisis struck. He should be furthering his own career right now. He should be courting young ladies and thinking about starting his own family.

Father clenched his fists at his side, then relaxed them. "I realize how difficult this is for you. It's difficult for all of us. We have all lost a great deal. But I will not have you allowing your anger at the situation to poison the hope we have, thanks to a generous donor who has given us this land. There are many others who have not been as fortunate; some who even now are headed west with nothing left here in the city." A sigh, full of acceptance, blew forth from his lips. "You would do well to remember that."

William lowered his head. Father was right. His best friend growing up had done just that. Unable to see any hope in Detroit or any of the areas nearby, Ben's family had packed up and headed west toward Seattle or Portland. Others went to Denver or Salt Lake City or even San Francisco. Anywhere but here. For a moment, William wished his family had followed. But, no guarantees existed there, either. So, for now, at least they had a roof over their heads—drafty and run-down though it was—and the opportunity to grow food. He might as well make the best of it.

"I'm sorry, Father. I know we're not the only ones who are suffering. I'll try not to be so negative."
Father's expression softened, and relief spread across his face. "Thank you."

Mother gave his shoulder a squeeze before once again stepping to her husband's side. William looked down at Jacob and smiled. The lad put his hand in William's and grinned. William reached out and tousled his brother's hair. At least they hadn't lost each other. Other families he knew hadn't been as fortunate.

* * * * *

William had been working in this field for more thanover six hours. The overhead sun beat down upon his back, and sweat made his shirt stick to his skin.

He lowered his hoe to the ground and leaned his full weight on the farm tool. Reaching into his back pocket, he grabbed his handkerchief and swiped it across his brow then down his face. Without the benefit of a looking glass, he had no idea if he managed to rid himself of the dirt and grime or not. But it had to be far better than he looked a moment before.

Then he saw her.

A brown-haired young woman moving from worker to worker and carrying a pail of water with a dipper. Perfect. The last thing he wanted was another benevolent society member reminding him of where he'd been before the panic and all that he'd lost. Fresh water sounded good. He just didn't want it to come from someone like her. Yet, here she was, headed in their direction.

William glanced down at Jacob, who worked alongside him. At least for his brother's sake, he'd remain cordial. But, he didn't have to like it.


You can purchase Hearts and Harvest from CBD and Heartsong Presents.

Amber is giving away a copy of Hearts and Harvest. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget to check out and leave a comment on Nikki Arana's book giveaway!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Prayer Through the Night

The storm that went through Saturday afternoon took out our internet (which we've been wanting to replace) so we're having to run to town to connect online while we shop around for a new provider—IF we can even find one. It's one of the joys of living in the country. So, if things are even more abnormal than usual on here, that's why.

This week my parents will be visiting and we're all really looking forward to it. We get to see them twice a year, so this is a highlight for us. This is an old post, but it tells you about how special my mom is, and why.
~*~*~*~*~*~


One of the snapshot memories I have is of my mom sitting in the morning sunshine at the dining room table with her Bible, a cup of coffee and her nail file. Why her nail file? That's what she did while she prayed—and I know she prays for me even now. I rely on Mom's prayers, knowing they've helped pull me through many sticky situations.

When my husband and I moved from Illinois to Pennsylvania, Mom prayed. Our two trucks and an open trailer were loaded and there was no way to secure them while we slept, so my husband determined it'd be best if we drove straight through. He could've done it, but I couldn't—endurance was not my strong point.

It was in the middle of the night when the trailer tail lights quit working and we had just entered the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. I needed to stay right behind my husband, who was pulling the trailer, so the semi's could see and pass us as they picked up speed for the long hills--and I tried.

At one point I realized my husband was no longer in front of me and when I looked at my speedometer I saw I was below the minimum speed for an interstate highway. As I stepped on the gas I was praying he was safe—I was also asking God to wake up my mom so she could pray for me. I was terrified a semi would run into my husband and that I would fall completely asleep and run off the side of the mountain. Many twists and turns, and long hills later I caught up to him, but several other times, in my exhaustion, I fell behind. Yet throughout that long night God kept me safely on the road.

The next morning, after arriving at my sister's house, Mom called. Once she knew we were safe, she told me she hadn't sleep well—she kept waking up, thinking about me, so she had prayed through much of the night.

Mom prayed me safely through those mountains, as well as through many other mountains in my life. Mom is still praying me through. What an example she's set for me, an example I endeavor to follow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

with Debbie Fuller Thomas

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Welcome to Patterings, Debbie!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

My neighbor once mentioned that she wrote for Sunday School takehome papers and asked if I’d ever considered writing. She gave me a brief ‘how to’ about submitting, and I worked up a personal experience piece which my denominational magazine bought. I held that $15 check in my hand and thought, “This doesn’t seem too hard.” Little did I know that I wouldn’t sell another thing for almost 15 years. In between, I wrote during nap times at my home day care and eventually finished a 55,000 word manuscript.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Raising Rain was the most fun to write because of the diverse personalities of the four college roommates who raised Rain in the 70’s. They sort of ricochet off of each other. My favorite character is Andie from Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon because she touched my heart with her story. I wanted to adopt her!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My problem is finding time to write. I work full-time in a job that doesn’t allow me to mentally disconnect when I leave work, and it tends to suck my creativity dry at times. My solution is to get up early, stay up late, work weekends, holidays and take vacation days the closer I get to a deadline. I found a beautiful convent-retreat center in town where I can get away for a few days cheaply, which gives me enough time to get a good jumpstart on a first draft.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I would have to say Bebe. She is entering a time of change and an empty nest, and circumstances force her to search for closure for some past mistakes, which I can certainly relate to. I think it’s a universal issue.

What is your strangest habit?
I always take the kale off my plate when it’s used as a garnish. Twice I have found little worms in the curly leaves, and although the restaurants took my dinner off the bill, it’s made me a bit leery. I don’t like creepy crawlies or anything with scales.

Oh. my. Worms just kind of really kale! *shiver*
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Creating a department budget at work and changing the litter at home. Ugh!

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Waking up in a bed and breakfast in Monterey (possibly the Jabberwock), exploring Cannery Row and spending the afternoon sitting on the beach enjoying the waves and the sea lions. Going to The Fish House for dinner. Watching the city lights twinkle on Monterey Bay.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy upmarket fiction – a mix of literary and genre fiction - but I’m also a fan of Ray Bradbury. I am currently reading Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young and Handsome. I love the way Enger’s first book, Peace Like a River, explores spiritual topics without giving the appearance of having an agenda. I thought it was powerful, and this second book has elements of spirituality, also. I just finished Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and before that, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I also enjoy Jodi Picoult, and every amazing novel from my five sister-bloggers at Novel Matters.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I tend to write about family relationships. A family is a small cosmos of the world and just about every decision you make impacts the ones you love the most in a myriad of ways. We all need the Lord!

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
He has reminded me that I am not enough to live a successful, fulfilled life. Overwhelming circumstances turn me back to him for strength and peace every time.

Thank you, Debbie. It was great having you here!
You can follow Debbie through Twitter, at her website: www.debbiefullerthomas.com and her blog, Novel Matters, and purchase a copy of Raising Rain at CBD and Amazon:


Debbie is giving away a copy of Raising Rain. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget to check out and leave a comment on Nikki Arana's book giveaway!


Friday, September 25, 2009

meet Debbie Fuller Thomas

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Debbie Fuller Thomas writes contemporary fiction from a historic Gold Rush town in Northern California. When she’s not working on her next book or planning children’s programs for her community, she enjoys singing with Colla Voce of the Sierras with her husband and spending time catching up with her two adult children. Her debut novel, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award and the ACFW Book of the Year, and her latest release is Raising Rain.

You can follow Debbie through Twitter, at her website: www.debbiefullerthomas.com and her blog, Novel Matters.

Raising Rain
Raised to be a 'new woman' by her mother and three college roommates in the 70's amid anti-war protests, feminist rallies, and finals, Rain Rasmussen discovers that putting her career first has left her overdrawn at the egg-bank, and her baby fever has now driven off her significant other.

When her terminally ill mother demands a Celebration of Life before she dies; they all confront ghosts from the past on a 'stormy' weekend in Monterey. Bebe, the roommate closest to Rain's heart, revisits choices that have impacted Rain the most, raising doubts about God's—and her own—willingness to forgive and to be forgiven.




Here's an excerpt of Raising Rain:

CHAPTER ONE

When Bebe heard that Jude Rasmussen didn’t have long to live, she felt a curious mixture of sadness, guilt and relief. Not exactly normal feelings for a friend of more than 35 years, though you couldn’t exactly describe their relationship as ‘normal’—more like a thinly veiled hostage situation.

“Her cancer is back,” Rain said, gently swirling her coffee. “She didn’t want sympathy, so she kept it to herself. I haven’t connected with mom in awhile, so it wasn’t hard to keep it a secret. William finally made her tell me.”

Bebe put her hand on Rain’s arm. “I’m sorry, honey. I guess the hysterectomy didn’t help much. What can we do?”

Rain glanced up at the line of people snaking around their small table and leaned in toward Bebe. “Well, actually, she had her reasons for giving in to William and agreeing to tell me. I’m here on a mission.” She winced.

Bebe leaned in as well. “Go ahead. Out with it.”

“She wants to have a Celebration of Life before she dies. Not a memorial—a send-off, she calls it. One last chance to do something significant and she wants us all there to help plan it. You, me, the old college roommates. You know Mom. It’s got to be something big. I’m not exactly sure what she has in mind, but it sounds…complicated.”
Bebe blew out a breath and sat back in her chair. “That’s putting it mildly.” Then she added, “Oh, I’m sorry, Rain.”

“Don’t worry. I know what she’s like. I’ve been her daughter for 37 years.” Rain glanced at the time on her cell phone and gathered her wallet and sunglasses. “I’ve got to go. I can’t be late again. Loren’s just looking for an excuse to replace me as the lead on this Murrieta project.”

Bebe gathered her purse and dug for her keys as they headed out the door into the heat of the morning. The blast of dry air baked her skin, absorbing the layer of SPF 30 she’d slathered on to prevent more freckles. They crossed the parking lot to where their cars sat side by side like a pair of mismatched shoes.

Bebe paused to give Rain a hug before she got in, and caught the unexpected scent of baby powder. “I’ll call you later to see how you’re doing. And of course I’ll call Toni and Mare.”

They got into their cars and Bebe cranked up the air conditioning. Immediately, her cell phone rang, and Rain’s number displayed.

“You forget something?” Bebe asked, looking through her window into Rain’s car. Rain looked back from the driver’s seat, her eyes hidden behind sunglasses.

“Mom’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect.” There was a long pause. Bebe heard the insistent ‘ding’ of an unfastened seatbelt. “Hayden and I split up.”

“Oh, Rain—”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t need him. I can have a baby by myself. Love you.”

Bebe saw Rain snap the cell phone shut and glance over her shoulder as she backed her car into the street. Then she was gone.



You can purchase a copy of Raising Rain at CBD and Amazon:


Debbie is giving away a copy of Raising Rain. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget to check out and leave a comment on Nikki Arana's book giveaway!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

meet Nikki Arana

Today is a winners day here at Patterings! This time we have three...
The winners of Mary Hake's Creation are Leslie Gould and Kay and the winner of Maureen Lang's Look To the East is Laury. Send me your addresses, ladies, so we can get your books out to you! :-)

And now I'd like to introduce you to this week's nonfiction author, Nikki Arana. I've been looking forward to this because this topic has really caught my interest this summer, and it's been on my heart.

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Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of women’s fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including the Excellence in Media 2007 Silver Angel Award, American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women's Fiction, and the Beacon Award. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Best Books of the Year by Christianbook.com. Nikki is also the recipient of the Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Nikki and her husband of thirty-three years, live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. When she’s not plotting novels or giving workshops, Nikki speaks about her other passion, how to lead Muslims into the kingdom of God. You can visit her website at: www.nikkiarana.com

Through the Eyes of Christ
Are you concerned about the growing rise of Islam? Do you feel powerless to stand against the tide because you do not have enough information? Do you feel that the increasing population and influence of Muslims in the United States is a matter that is relevant to Christians?

Through the Eyes of Christ will give you step-by-step instructions, drawn from Christ’s example, to respond to the rising Muslim population here in America. You will learn how to minister and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using references to Jesus from the Muslim’s holy book the Qur’an (Koran), and, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, pray with Muslims in the name of Jesus. This startling and life-changing information will empower you to bridge the chasm that separates us from the Muslims who live among us. It is a scripturally supported call to action. A call to live out our Christian faith and change the world.

Here's an excerpt of Through the Eyes of Christ:

(One of the main purposes of the book is to help Christians understand how Muslims view us. When we understand, it helps us connect across the cultural differences. You love your church and if you had a Muslim friend you might invite him or her to join you one Sunday. Suppose they accepted! Here is an excerpt from the chapter: What I Need to Know Before I Witness)

One of the first things Orthodox Muslims would notice upon entering a church is that there are no greetings of, “Peace be unto you.” Though this is a typical Islamic greeting, notice the instruction of Luke 10:5 that Jesus gives to his followers: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘peace to this house.’” Next, they would notice the absence of any facility for ritual washing. When Muslims enter the mosque to pray, they remove their shoes and stop at the water fountain to wash their hands and feet. This reminds us of Aaron of the Old Testament, who had to first wash before entering the Tabernacle. The Muslim guests would be even more surprised to see everyone with their shoes on, singing the chorus, “Standing on Holy Ground.” In their Qur’an is a story similar to the Exodus account of God in the burning bush telling Moses to remove his shoes because of holy ground. The Muslims would also notice Christians sitting in pews. In the mosque, Muslims sit on the floor in obeisance to God the King who alone is worthy to sit on anything resembling a throne or chair.

Muslims would be surprised to see men and attractively dressed ladies sitting side by side. In most mosque settings, only men are allowed into the main worship hall lest a woman distract a man from performing his prayer. Also in most mosque settings, singing and instruments are forbidden lest the format of worship take on a worldly appearance. When Muslims hear the lively music of guitars, keyboards, and drums in a church, they cannot fathom how Christians allow “disco music” into their place of worship. Muslims would be shocked to see Christians place their Bibles on the floor. For Muslims, any book viewed as God’s word is most sacred and must never be placed on the ground where the soles of men’s feet touch. The Muslims would hear the choir sing and the preacher speak; but would be troubled to hear joking and laughter in the same setting. For them, the worship room is no place for frivolous behavior; it is the place for utmost reverence. It is the place where one fearfully submits himself in humility and homage to Almighty God.

After the church service, the Muslim visitors would think to themselves what a well-planned performance this all was: the singing of a choir; the speech of a minister, and the special music of talented individuals, just like television. But the one thing they expected to see never took place. The congregation as a whole never bowed down to the floor as an expression of submission and reverence to Almighty God. The Muslims would wonder if Christians really did believe, as they do, that God is sovereign king of the universe. How strange that Christians don’t bow to Him as people do to an earthly king. Perhaps now you can see why Muslims regard us Christians as terribly irreverent, and why they would prefer to remain within their own community where people show far more respect to God.


Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing.
I first thought about writing in May of 2001. I enrolled in an internet class given by Eva Shaw called Writeriffic. But I didn’t recognize that it was God’s call to write until much later when I began sending out things for publication and they all sold! Then I realized God was telling me something. That’s when I decided to try writing a book. There are a lot more details about this on the homepage of my website: www.nikkiarana.com

After completing my manuscript I queried four agents. When Natasha Kern wanted to sign me I thought perhaps I did have a future in writing. That’s the moment I began to seriously pursue writing. I hired a professional editor to help me polish my book. It resulted in a multiple book contract!

What prompted you to write this book?
That is a fascinating story. While writing my third novel, The Fragrance of Roses, I needed an expert in blood matching as it relates to leukemia. Against all odds I connected to a leading scientist in that area of research. He was a Muslim. I told him this was a Christian book and perhaps he would not want to promote Christ in this way. He said no, that he thought it was important to get the science right. That it was my book, not his. That lead to a ten month period of working together on the novel. He helped me in every way. He is a brilliant doctor and turned out to be an excellent plotter. As we worked together I came to admire him greatly. When the book was complete I realized that we would no longer be in contact with each other. Suddenly the reality that he is lost really hit me. And in that moment God revealed to me, in a way I cannot explain, the eternal consequences of that fact. For a fleeting moment God let me experience His love for the Muslims and His sadness that most Christians in America are not reaching out to them. It changed the direction of my life.

My ministry is not so much to Muslims as it is to the American Christian church. Calling them to reach out in friendship to the moderate Muslims who live among us, model the love of Christ to them, and then with the leading of the Holy Spirit give them the Gift that Islam can never give. Imagine my excitement when the book was endorsed by Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and Campus Crusades’ The Ishmael Project.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
It is probably the same obstacle that most authors face. Sitting down and doing it. Brandilyn Collins once said, “I like everything about being an author, except the writing.” Yep, I know what she means.

I feel deeply about many spiritual and social issues. All of my books present moral dilemmas that challenge the characters and the books are driven by the dramatic issue of the novel. So when I’m having trouble getting focused and writing, I revisit the strong feelings that inspired me to write the book in the first place. It always works. I feel God’s presence. He is with me. I can do it.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Something I do that probably looks quirky is that I drape my napkin over my chest when I’m eating in a restaurant, even a fancy one. I mean the whole napkin, like a big sheet covering my clothes. It’s been commented on by my sons and their wives many a time. Hey, I wear a lot of white and know what can happen . . . and sometimes does. You’d better believe I give them a wicked grin when something drips or drops on their white shirts and blouses.

LoL--I gave up wearing white for just that reason, Nikki! I just cannot keep it spot-free!
What would a perfect day for you look like?

It would be a sunny summer day. I would have nothing pressing to do. I would spend the morning reading and studying things that I’m interested in. At noon I’d go to lunch with one of my daughter-in-laws. I’d come back home about 2:00 and write for a few hours. The words would flow and express exactly what I was thinking. At 5:00 I’d start dinner for my husband, who I adore. After dinner we’d sit and talk and laugh.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m a big non-fiction reader. I read a lot of Watchman Nee and Oswald Chambers books. In fiction, I like all kinds but favor romance and suspense. Tamera Alexander is my favorite author.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?

Ack! I’m quite fluffy and can get fluffier by breathing air. When I first started writing in 2001 I decided I would never eat in my office. I allow myself drinks like tea, and drinks with zero calories. But no food.

Oh, now there's an idea, Nikki! I'm always afraid I'll spill on my keyboard and desk, and that would be a disaster, so I limit what I have beside me, too. ;-)
What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?

I could write a book on this. In fact, I’ve considered it. I have been on an unbelievable journey with the Lord for the past six years. It has been a time of sanctification. I have learned many spiritual truths. I keep a list of them and use them as principles to live by. Now, with His truths as a foundation, I believe He is teaching me how to love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me, and pray for those who mistreat me. This is not becoming possible for me because of who I am. It is because of who He is. It is truly understanding that I am no better than my enemies except for the provision of my Savior. I don’t believe there are degrees of sin. Well, except for blaspheming the Holy Sprit. I have wondered which offends God more – the sinful acts of the unsaved, or the sinful acts of the body of Christ! We know better, they don’t. Something to think about. And if you come to see your sins for the horrific transgression and offense to God that they are, and you find that He never withholds from you His infinite capacity for mercy, love and forgiveness, you can begin to see your enemies through the eyes of Christ. A spiritual reality revealed. But for the saving grace of Christ, but for the cross and the empty grave, I am them. A sinner capable of any depravity. How wrong for me not to extend the love I have received to them. How wrong I am not to let Christ live out His life through me when I have told Him I am His to do with as He pleases. Loving ones enemies is possible. Christ would not have told us to do it if it weren’t.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Fear No Evil is the story of Austia Donatelli, an underground missionary . . . here in the United States! She ministers to Muslims by teaching English as a Second Language to Muslim woman. One of her students, Sabirah, converts to Christianity. As often happens when a Muslim leaves Islam, Sabirah is killed by a relative for dishonoring Islam and her family.

Yes, what once was happening only “over there” is now happening here. Honor killings. Family members killing their relatives who leave Islam to follow Jesus Christ. Fear No Evil takes that sobering truth and weaves it into a suspenseful tale that takes unexpected twists and turns. The heroine a vessel of God, the villain a tool of Satan, all lives are at stake and eternity hangs in the balance. Austia must set up a secret network of safe houses before another Muslim woman answers Christ’s call.

The book is currently in committee at a major publishing house.

You can purchase Through the Eyes of Christ from her website www.AVoiceForThePersecuted.com or Amazon:


Nikki is giving away a copy of Through the Eyes of Christ. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must have a US address. Leave a comment and check back on Thursday, October 1st to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Before the Rain

It's a dark and cloudy day, not just outside, but in my soul, too. I'm tired and discouraged with my short comings. I feel as though I haven't been able to keep up with anything in life right now.

I find myself looking up at heavy clouds and crying out, “Please, Lord, rain on me! Shower me with Your life-giving rain. Renew me with Your showers of blessings that I might once again dance in the rain.”

As I stand there looking up at the rain-laden clouds, with my hands outstretched in supplication and to feel the first drops falling, I hear a still voice in my soul.

“Will you dance in anticipation of the rain?”


Slowly my hands fall to my side. He wants me to dance under the dark clouds, not just the rain and sunshine. He wants me to choose to rejoice in the life-giving rain before it even comes.

Through an act of will I lift my foot and begin to dance. A rain dance to Jesus. A rain dance of faith knowing He will send down showers that will refresh and nourish my parched soul. A rain dance of thanksgiving for the showers I trust Him to send.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth... O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.~Psalm 34:1-3

The clouds are just as dark as they were, and the rain hasn't started yet, but I know that He “will cause showers to come in their season;” and that they will be showers of blessing. (Ezekiel 34:26) So I'm choosing to dance in anticipation and praise, trusting my God for the showers to water my dry spirit.

What about you? Are you dancing or standing there looking up at the sky?

There are two book giveaways going on right now here at Patterings. One with Mary Hake and the other with Maureen Lang. Leave a comment on those posts to be entered in the drawings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Winner!

Yesterday was Sunday--and I was AWOL. We arrived home from the latest fair at 2 A.M. Sunday morning and had to be at church for nursery. Then we came home and realized our fridge fan was dying/dead so we had to transfer (and clean) the fridge and freezer contents. God is so good! If it had gone out last Sunday my hubster wouldn't have been home to deal with it and we had a fridge and freezer in back, so we had a place to transfer everything to!



Saturday it rained and we were crowded in the tent with all the fair gear. Since no one was moving about and the rain was blowing in, we lowered the sides and waited out the rain. Thankfully the older kids had books with them and they were happily lost in their own little worlds.



My youngest had fun snuggling with Dad and I scribbled a few notes about the fair, hopefully fodder for a story...whenever I get back to writing fiction. LoL

Today was spent unpacking, organizing and cleaning...and I'm just now able to get yesterday's winners posted--after five or six attempts to do so...sometimes life gets a little jumbled. LoL

The winner of Carrie Turansky's book, A Blue & Gray Christmas is Abi.

Another item of news: At this moment, tomorrow's spotlight is on hold. I haven't heard back from the party I need to, so I'll wait and if I can't run the spotlight this week, I'll reschedule. I'm really looking forward to introducing you to this particular author, but there's a complication with an exclusive...so we'll wait for the go-ahead. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

with Maureen Lang

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Welcome to Patterings, Maureen! It's a special treat having you here!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

To tell you the truth I don’t know if I had a single moment when I knew I wanted to seriously pursue publication; I just always wrote stories and wanted to share them with the widest possible audience. But as far as actively pursuing publication, I do recall a High School writing class where the teacher required each of us to submit something to a publisher. An article, a poem, a short story, a novel idea. She just wanted us to get that first rejection and put it behind us. That was probably my first taste of the “real” pursuit, but even then it seemed like one of those someday…maybe…dreams. When I was in my twenties I joined my first critique group, and it was there I realized I could get published if I just stuck with it. The group was encouraging enough to convince me I had some talent.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I always say my favorite book is whatever book I’m currently working on, which is absolutely true. Like every other writer, I get so enmeshed in my stories that I seem to be living/breathing my character’s air. But when asked about my favorite, I usually go back to The Oak Leaves. That was such an important book for me personally, because so much of it was inspired by my own life experiences and so few people have heard of Fragile X Syndrome, the genetic disorder that plays an important part of that book. But beside all that, the historical portion of that book was just plain fun. The conflict worked, and I loved the characters. It was hard to say good-bye to that one when the final edits were finished.

But, that said, I have another project that’s a close second as far as favorites go. I hesitate to say this because it might be just the typical current-book-favorititis factor creeping in. The book I just finished edits on is titled Whisper on the Wind, and it’s the second book in this Great War series. It’s set in Belgium and follows the lives of people who are involved in an underground press during the German occupation of Brussels during World War One. This one had me racing to keep up with the characters from page one.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Almost every time I start a new novel, it takes a while for me to feel like I have a good idea for a sustainable, engaging, workable story. Having my editor’s confidence is a huge plus, as well as valuable input from my critique partner. But it’s a routine I recognize, so I remind myself the beginning will likely require the most revision but it’ll be easier once I have a feel for my characters. That’s really key for me, knowing my characters and making sure the conflict between them makes sense. The one exception to this routine has been Whisper on the Wind, which will be out next summer (2010). That one, for whatever reason, just flew from my fingertips, with the characters well defined from the very beginning.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
In general, the hero is usually easier for me to write—isn’t that weird? Since I’m a woman, writing from a man’s point of view should be harder, shouldn’t it? But seeing my hero more clearly was true again in Look to the East. Charles Lassone has such flaws in the beginning, at least for the typical romance hero. I was enamored of those flaws, though. He was slightly cowardly, at least in a way that I could relate, and a little self-centered. It was so fun to see him face his flaws, feel inadequate for the first time in his pampered life, and then look outside himself to see God. It was a nice character arc, very satisfying as a writer to see.

What is your strangest habit?
My strangest habit…hmmm…I might have more than one! Actually, I habitually forget how old I am. I think, a long time ago when I turned 21, I stopped caring how old I was. Then, around the age 35 or so, I started paying attention but only insofar as to sort of “warn” myself of my age in the upcoming year. So for a while I was adding a year to my current age, until it just became something I almost never thought of. Until I turned 50. That was the only year I knew how old I was. But now I’m back to adding a year, so I’m usually a year off.

Oh, I am soooo glad that I'm not the only crazy person out there that doesn't know how old they are...and doesn't really care! LoL
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Perhaps this goes in one of the quirky habit categories, but I usually try to do first that which I hate. I guess I was raised with the old adage about work before pleasure. I can’t sit down to write with a clear conscience if my kitchen sink is filled with breakfast dishes, so I clean the kitchen first. However, I have been known to put off filling the car with gas—just long enough until I know my husband will be driving that car, so he can fill it instead. He takes care of me (and my car) and doesn’t seem to mind. What a guy!

What would a perfect day for you look like?
A perfect day for me would begin after a really good night’s sleep. (Wait until you’re over 50 to appreciate that!) I would get up just after the sun rises, refreshed and ready to take the dog for a walk. I would play music on my Ipod that would best be described as a sound track to my current work-in-progress, interspersed with praise music because that’s the best way to start any day. Then I would eat breakfast with my Bible in front of me, clean up the dishes, shower, and (without further interruption) go to my computer and start working. I would have stopped the previous day at a pivotal scene, or a point that interests me, so I’d be eager to see where my characters take me next. I would work until about 1 pm, have lunch, then tie up some loose ends, answer email, and tend to family matters from there on through evening, when I would say good-night early with a book, and fall sound asleep savoring the words of a gifted writer, so many of whom are friends of mine…

In reality, however, my day is full of interruptions and demands that have nothing to do with writing. Being an introvert, interruptions are difficult for me but if I’m deeply immersed in a project nothing keeps me from getting back to work for long.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My favorite kind of book contains a romance; it doesn’t have to be the focus of the story, but it needs to play some role in order for it to warrant being added to my favorite list. However, stellar writing can trump that. For example, Peace Like A River by Leif Enger is one of my all-time favorite books, and that’s purely because of the writing since there is barely a romance in there.

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?
Actually, foods and snacks are on my list of interruptions…not that I can go long without something sweet. Have you ever had those 100 calorie chocolate cupcakes? If I have them in the house, an image of one might pop into my head, which means I need to run and get one. (Thus, an interruption!)

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Each of my books has some kind of spiritual theme, things like doubt about God’s goodness (The Oak Leaves), forgiveness (My Sister Dilly), misplaced faith (my newest book, Look To The East) or, in Whisper on the Wind, God’s constancy. That’s one of the most exciting things about Christian fiction: that the underlying themes are bigger than the characters, and relate to something eternal.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
I’ve always been such a worrier, and recently I’ve felt the Lord really trying to calm me down. It’s a slow process, this refinement to become more like Him, and some days I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress at all. But other days, I see a glimmer of hope. I guess the older I get, the more real eternity feels to me, so all the things I worry about happening here don’t seem as permanent as I might once have thought.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

Look To The East is the first of a three book series, although each book will be fine to read independently and not necessarily even in order. Whisper on the Wind will release next summer, the story of a woman who becomes involved in the printing and distribution of a newspaper uncensored by the German army that occupies Brussels during the First World War. Lots of love and danger, as it explores the power of the printed word.

About nine months after that book releases, the third book will come out, titled Springtime of the Spirit. Each book has a European setting, with the war a backdrop and not the main focus (I’m a woman writing for women, after all!). All three of the books will have romance and adventure, plenty of angst, and always but always a happy ending!

Thanks for having me, Patty!

And thank you for being with us Maureen! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview. You can keep up with Maureen at her website: www.maureenlang.com and her blog.



Maureen is giving away a copy of Look to the East. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Thursday, September 24th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Be sure to check out Mary Hake's book giveaway which is currently going on here at Patterings!

Friday, September 18, 2009

meet Maureen Lang



Today is Fiction Friday and my dear friend Joanne is hosting for us at her blog, An Open Book. Be sure to run over there for links to fun fiction.

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Maureen Lang is the author of nine novels, both historical and contemporary. Her stories have won a variety of awards and placements, including a Golden Heart Award (RWA) and Noble Theme Award (ACFW), a Holt Award of Merit, and finaling in such contests as the Christy, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, ACFW’s Book of the Year, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her newest historical romance is the first of a three book series, Look To The East, releasing from Tyndale House in September of 2009

You can keep up with Maureen at her website: www.maureenlang.com and her blog.



Look to the East
A village under siege. A love under fire.
France 1914

At the dawn of the First World War, the French village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines.

Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life.

Here's an excerpt from Look to the East:

Once, in a little village forgotten by time, there lived two feuding families: the Toussaints and the de Colvilles. Other families inhabited Briecourt in Northern France, but their tranquil lives escape memory.

As with most enduring feuds, no one knows exactly why it began. Some say it was over une aventure—an in indiscreet love between one man and a woman not his wife. Others insist money was the cause—a squabble between the miller and the baker over the price of flour. Still others recall it beginning with a simple difference of opinion on the faults and merits of Napoleon between two old men sharing a cup of chocolat…

It is not, however, the origin but rather the result that matters. One hundred years later, even the purest flour made into the flakiest pastry would leave a bitter taste if made by one clan and sampled by the other.

Except for one brief moment in history, the feud rages to this day…

Briecourt, Northern France

Julitte Toussaint sucked in her breath and shut her eyes, as if by closing off her own vision she, too, might become invisible. Stuck high above the ground where someone so grown—just turned twenty and two—should never be caught, she shot a fervent prayer heavenward. Please let neither one look up! She clutched the book-size tin to her chest and went death-still in hopes of going unnoticed.

“. . . those days may be behind us, Anton. At least for a while.”

She heard his voice for the first time, the man who had come to visit the only château within walking distance of her village. The man whose blond hair had reflected the sun and nearly blinded her to the rest of his beauty. The perfect nose, the proportionate lips, the blue eyes that, with one glance, had taken her breath away.

Now he was near again, and her lungs froze. She feared the slightest motion might betray her.

She knew the other man was Anton Mantoux without looking. He was the closest thing to aristocracy the town of Briecourt knew. Though Julitte had never spoken to him, she had heard him speak many times. Whenever the mayor called a village meeting, M. Mantoux always held the floor longest.

“You’ll go back, Charles? join this insanity when you could follow me the other way?”
Charles . . . so that was his name. “Who would have thought I had a single noble bone in my body?”

M. Mantoux snorted. “You’ll follow your foolhardy king, will you?”

“Much can be said about a man—a king, no less—who takes for himself the same risks he asks others to bear. I should never have left Belgium. I know my sister never will. How can I do less?”

“Ah, yes, your beautiful and brave little sister, Isabelle. . . . What is it you call her? Isa?”

“Careful with your thoughts, Anton,” said the man—Charles—whose voice was every bit as lovely as his face. “She’s little more than a child.”

“A child, but not much longer. And then you may have me in the family!”

Feeling a cramp in her leg, Julitte wanted nothing more than to climb down the tree and scurry away. Let them move on! she silently pleaded to God. Send a wind to blow them on their way before—

As if in instant answer to her prayer, a gust tore through the thick leaf cover of the beech tree in which she hid. In horror she watched the tin, dampened by her perspiring hands, slip from her grasp and take the path designed by gravity. She heard a dull thud as it bounced off the perfect forehead of the taller of the two men below, grazing the blond hair that so intrigued her.

A moment later both men looked up, and she might have thought their surprised faces funny had she planned the episode and still been young enough to get away with such a prank.

“I thank You for the answered prayer of the wind, Lord,” she whispered in annoyed submission, “but not for the result, as You well know.”


I've got to tell you--I have this book from another blog giveaway (thank you, Maureen!) and I'm totally loving it! The only bad thing is that I don't have the time to just sit and read it straight through like I'm dying to do! I'm having to read a little here and a little there and it's about to kill me! You really and truly do not want to miss reading this one! It's great!! :-)

You can purchase Look to the East from CBD and Amazon:


Maureen is giving away a copy of Look to the East. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Thursday, September 24th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Be sure to check out Mary Hake's book giveaway which is currently going on here at Patterings!

I'll see you tomorrow with an interview with Maureen Lang.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

meet Mary Hake

Book Bonanza Banner

Mary A. Hake, a native Oregonian, has over thirty years experience in Christian education, having taught nursery age through high school in church programs. She has also taught ladies’ Bible studies, including some she developed herself.

A freelance writer for over twenty-five years, Mary has published hundreds of articles, plus short stories, devotions, curricula, opinion, puzzles, activities, and poetry for all ages. She has been a feature reporter for a local weekly and for a regional newspaper. Nine of her stories appear in the one-year children’s devotional book Walking with Jesus, One Step at a Time. She has also contributed to compilation books, including Life Savors for Women, Seasons of a Woman’s Heart, The Gift of Prayer, His Forever, Hello Future! and Life’s Simple Guide to God. In addition, Mary has done freelance editing the past twelve years and currently edits books for VMI and Seed Faith Publishers.

Married for thirty-six years, Mary has two grown daughters, both teachers. She homeschooled ten years, taking both girls through high school. Mary has been active with home school support groups and produced a newsletter for Linn County Christian Home Educators. When her children were in college, she went back to school and earned an associate’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon.

Mary has also been employed by a Christian bookstore, and as a part-time teacher, teacher’s aide, and childcare provider. In addition, she volunteered as a church librarian for eight years. The current president of Oregon Christian Writers, she has been a member of OCW for over twenty-three years. She also belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has also taught writing classes at writer’s conferences and to students in grades two through twelve, including a workshop at the public library.

An avid and eclectic reader, Mary enjoys research and appreciates accuracy. She feels passionate about providing wholesome material to encourage young people’s spiritual growth and their natural desire to learn. Currently she is working on a novel, in addition to other writing pursuits. Visit her website at www.maryhake.com.

Creation
Young learners discover Creation with 13 integrated, fun-filled lessons! Each 10-page set of instructions include math, English, science, art, spelling, and physical activities. These can be used separately, or along with Bible study.

Designed for first to fourth graders, bonus activities are also included for older and younger students so families can learn together. Web site links enhance and expand the scope of each Creation lesson, while key Bible verses link creation-themed concepts to the imaginative and fun activities.

From light to the day of rest, the book is adaptable to a variety of Christian education settings – from homeschool to Sunday schools. Written by a mom with 10 years homeschool experience and over 30 years in Christian education. Creation is an exceptional supplement to any learning program. There are also 12 character studies included and lessons about four Bible children.

Every lesson begins with an Introduction that discusses the Scriptural background, followed by an Object Lesson about the topic. At the end of each lesson is a Character Connection that relates a particular trait, such as Wisdom, Responsibility, and Kindness, to the lesson and to life. Each of these virtues has a Scripture Search with Bible verses about that trait. You can look up one, some, or all—maybe read one a day or hunt for more verses. An optional activity relating to the character quality and a practical reminder round out the connection.

Here's a sample:

Science Scene from Lesson 12 Creation Celebration

Materials Needed:
Paper and pencil
Things to taste: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, etc.
Magnifying glass and binoculars, optional
Computer and Internet, optional

Humans have five senses.
Can you name our five senses? (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching or feeling)

We will use each of our senses today as we explore.
Look around the room or out the window or go outdoors and list all the things you can see.
Next, list all the things you can hear. It may help to close your eyes while you listen.
Which sounds are quiet; which are loud?
Now, list the things you can smell. Sniff different objects and describe their odor.
What smells do you like?
Fourth, let’s taste different flavors.
Close your eyes and stick out your tongue. I will put a bit of something on your tongue. Tell me how it tastes. Repeat for each flavor.
Our fifth sense is touch. All of your skin can feel. Even your tongue and mouth have the sense of touch.
You feel hot or cold, soft or rough. Touch different objects and describe their texture.
Not everything is safe to touch.
Some things are sharp and may cut you.
What are some sharp things you need to be careful around? (broken glass, knife, scissors, electric fan, drill, etc.)
Some things are very hot and may burn you.
What things might be too hot to touch? (stove, fire, pan in oven, motor, etc.)
We must be careful around sharp or hot objects and other dangerous things.
If you see something dangerous, always tell an adult.
God wants us to be safe and healthy.
Eating proper foods helps keep our bodies healthy.
We need to eat a variety of food each day—fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and meat or protein foods.
God created all kinds of good food for us to eat.
You may wish to take a Nature Walk and observe God’s Creation and may collect samples, such as leaves, twigs, rocks, flowers, insects, etc.
Use your senses. Look, listen, smell, touch (carefully), and taste things that are safe to eat. Notice all the different colors. Can you see the birds you hear calling?
Try lying on the ground to get a different perspective—first on your stomach, then on your back. For each position, ask these questions:
What do you notice?
What looks different from this view?
You may wish to use a magnifying glass or binoculars in your investigations.

From Lesson 7:
Character Connection: COOPERATION
Some of the sea creatures God created cooperate to help each other out.
The little cleaner shrimp uses its claws to pick stuff from fishes’ bodies and even get inside their mouths to clean their teeth. The shrimp helps the fish keep clean and uses what it finds on the fish for food. These sea creatures cooperate for the good of both.
Co means “with” or “together.” Operate means “to act” or “to work.”
Co + operate = Cooperate. Together this makes the word cooperate.
Working together with someone else makes the work easier and faster.
It’s also more fun to work with another person.
Cooperation means working together and helping each other.
Cooperation means taking turns and sharing.
Cooperation means solving problems together. …



You can download a sample of the 1st chapter here.

There is an interactive full-color version is available from Seed Faith Books on CD, with other material included and geared toward homeschool.

Mary skillfully presents twelve quality lessons with hands-on activities plus bonus ACTIVE HYPERLINKS to many helpful websites which enhance each lesson. Just click on the website links and go directly to that website.

Also included: Parent letter, scope & sequence, suggestions on various ways to utilize the curriculum, lists of “Materials Needed” for each area of study, and two Creation Songs.

Extra Features: Homeschool Curriculum DVD
Power Point Presentations of the following:
1. Creation Big Book - 32 pages
2. Creation - Animal features
3. Character Connections: 12 Lessons on Character Traits (2 pages each)
4. Sixty Poems with Clues to guess creatures
5. Psalm 139 God Made Me - 18 p. illustrated pocket book
6. God Made Me - 32 p. picture book
7. How Big Is God's Love? - 32 p. picture book

To see the great layout of this book, click here. It's an incredible book and curriculum!


You can purchase Creation at Amazon, CBD and Seed Faith Books.

Welcome to Patterings, Mary! Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing.
I have loved to write since I first learned how as a child. I wrote poems, songs, and stories as soon as I could print. I didn’t mind essays in school since I enjoyed research and composition. Teachers encouraged me, but I was not confident enough to pursue publishing until I had children and more life experiences to draw from.
My younger daughter had a story published in a SS children’s paper before I ever did.

I served as copyeditor of my college newspaper, and can’t help noticing errors in written material.
I even corrected my biology teacher’s syllabus. But that led to work editing books, so you never know what doors God will open …

What prompted you to write this book?
David and Helen Haidle asked me to consider writing for homeschoolers. They wanted a book to accompany their Creation picture book. I came up with the idea for organizing it with various subjects, much as I used to do for special studies with my own children. I wanted to encourage learning about and exploring God’s wonderful creation.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Organizing my time and focus. I have so many interests that it’s difficult to stick to one project or type of writing. I try to seek God’s direction for what He wants me to do each day and to be open to His inspiration.

What is your strangest habit?
I sleep with a light covering over my head to keep it warm so I don’t get a sinus headache and to block out the light that would awaken me (too early).

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Feeling healthy and full of energy. No allergy symptoms or heart problems. Free to read and write and not worry about all the other things that need to be done.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Historicals, mysteries, contemporary fiction, any type of wholesome reading that lifts my spirits. Also Bible studies.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?

No. Just try to drink enough water, but you know what that leads to (bathroom breaks).
I also like licorice tea.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?

Keep trusting Him for each moment, each day, and all the future.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I am pursuing novel writing and do not have a contract, although there is some interest.
I have a completed Young Adult manuscript and am working on a woman’s contemporary.

Thanks so much for being with us this week, Mary!

Mary is giving away two copies of Creation. To be entered in the book giveaways, leave a comment and check back on Thursday, September 24th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you do, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Oh! It's a winners day!! I almost forgot! LoL--truly.
The winner of Candy Arrington's When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life is Carmen and Edna is the winner of Terry Brennan's book A Sacred Cipher. Enjoy your books, ladies! Carrie Turansky's giveaway is still going on--be sure to leave a comment to be enter in her book drawing.

On deck for tomorrow is Maureen Lang!
(and don't forget to leave a comment for Mary!)
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