Friday, May 31, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Joselyn Vaughn

Today I welcome an author who has chosen to give a portion of the proceeds from her recent book, Climbing Heartbreak Hill, to One Fund Boston to help those who were injured.  She is a Christ-like lady who can warm your heart: Joselyn Vaughn

Enter to win Joselyn's book,
 Sucker for a Hot Rod
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

I met Joselyn when I moved to Michigan and joined the local ACFW chapter. We immediately connected and I found what a wonderful friend she was. When talking with her I asked her to share how God has led her on her journey. This is what she answered:

How God Has Lead Me on My Writing Journey

It can be simply described as ‘in His time.’

And as much as I want to struggle against that and have things happen when I want them to, God’s timing has been best.

In high school and college, I could never fit writing classes into my schedule. My parents believed I had some talent and allowed me to enroll in a correspondence course which taught me an abundance about story structure, but I never had time to do anything with it.

The dream lingered, but was buried under grad school, a new job, and all the other things of life. Every now and then, it would pop to the surface. I would take an online writing class, but never went much farther than the assignments. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know what.

One day, my co-worker and I were discussing a story idea related to some things that had happened at our library. I went home at lunch and started writing. A month or so later, I was searching for program ideas for the library and decided to try a writing group. I received a quick response from W.S. Gager, who had taken a leadership class with me a few years before. She was writing, too. Did we want to meet?

We started meeting weekly. The writing group at the library took off. We met a lot of aspiring writers that encouraged us to keep going.  From that group, Tess Grant, J.Q. Rose, W.S. Gager and I formed a core group, determined to see our work published. As I came closer to finishing my novel, I started sending queries to agents. There were a few nibbles, but no offers.

I stopped working at the library when my twins were born, but kept writing. Since no agents offered contracts, I sent queries to a couple editors, but figured the manuscript was destined from burial among the dust bunnies and dog hair under my bed. Then one of the editors offered me a contract.

Since then I’ve written and contracted six books. With my kids as preschoolers, writing gives me an outlet to keep my mind functioning amid the repeated questions about when snack time is and when we are going to Grandma’s house. Not having an agent, also gives me the flexibility to work at my own pace. I don’t have deadlines looming while the kids get sick; I can work around their schedule.

I’ve also found publishers are interested in what I am writing, not something like what I am writing where I have to add scenes or situations that I’m not comfortable writing about. I’m writing sweet romances that I can share with my family and friends and even my mother (who still has issues with what I write, but I suppose that’s what mothers are for).

As I look back, if anything had happened differently, I could have deadlines that I was overstressed about, travel commitments that would take me away from my kids and their special events, or be pressured to write things that I wasn’t comfortable with. As I look back, it’s easy to see that God is guiding my career and putting the right people there when I needed them.

While at times I wish there was more money or that I could write faster and my career would take off, right now God had given me what I can handle.

My Bible study has been studying the book of Exodus and how God told the Israelites that He would deliver them from his oppression in Egypt, yet they had to wait through all the plagues (I’m not comparing writing to locusts and hail.). But I imagine the people were wondering when their deliverance was going to come. Later when the Egyptians were chasing them across the Red Sea, He told the Israelites to be still. Both are good reminders when I wish my career was on a steeper trajectory.

I live in the Great Lakes state with my husband, three rambunctious children and two barking Beagles (I suppose that is redundant.) When not suffering the woes of potty training three toddler/preschoolers, I enjoy reading, running (sometimes it's fleeing the craziness at home), reconstructing clothing, thrift store shopping and surfing (I spend way too much time there and am getting all kinds of exciting ideas for projects for my husband to do. He is less than thrilled by this.)

I love writing romance because I enjoy stories where everything works out all right in the end and the main characters have a happily ever after. My stories are set in small towns with quirky characters that take on a life of their own.

Contact Links:
Twitter: @joselynvaughn

To enter the contest for a copy of Joselyn's book: "Sucker for a Hot Rod" (this will be a pdf copy):
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Joselyn, for Joining us This Weekend!

The road to publication has different routes. Joselyn found one without an agent. Which shows me God knows our needs, our understandings, and helps us complete the goal He's given in a way we can handle. 

How has God guided you to complete a difficult task?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When the Whole Town Shows Up

There are few events in which the whole town will show up for. But when one happens, it is well worth the while to go.

A few days ago Sheridan, Michigan, a small rural town in the lower peninsula, had a Memorial Day parade. 

Being from the small town farther south, I didn't know about the parade until I set out on a day trip with my daughter. To get to our destination we had to go through Sheridan. As we approached the city we found "road closed" signs.

At first I was bothered at the inconvenience. Following detour signs always leaves me wondering if the person setting up the signs really wanted to play a joke on unsuspecting travelers. Seriously, when the detour lasts more than a few minutes, I wonder if I will every find the way to where I'm going.

I turned the corner at the first detour sign and saw the gathering place for a parade. What a treat!

Men, women, and children pushing strollers, pulling wagons, and carrying packs hustled toward Main Street. Not a single open parking spot could be found. Front yards became the new parking lots, and alleys blocked. No fee charged, of course. 

To maneuver through the crowded side streets, the car couldn't exceed ten miles per hour. I felt like a participant in a pre parade ceremony. A farmer's tractor passed to my right. The two front wheels wobbled, in need of repair. Putting along behind the tractor was the sheriff. He rubbed his forehead, probably hoping he could follow something else, like the high school marching band.

In the corner parking lot, overgrown with grass, six horses mounted by young riders pranced in the open space. To the right, young families stepped out of their homes and led their troops across the street to find the perfect viewing spot.

When the whole town shows up for a parade there is no use in trying to go to a business, like a grocery store for a drink or sandwich. Chairs are wedged together, those standing fill in any open space. Inventive ways are found to add chairs, like setting them on a piece of roof outside a window, or precariously placed on steps. There is not one inch left to maneuver.

There are venders, though. Ready to sell elephant ears, popcorn, juice, soda, jewelry, crafts, clothes, glow sticks. My favorite are the lemonade stands manned by ten-year-olds with "we're going to be rich" determination on their faces.

Driving north to the next small town I was disappointed to see it empty. Not one person on the street, not one vehicle. 

And then I figured it out. 

The people from this town went to the parade in Sheridan!

I love small town parades. They may not have the huge floats, the flashy, glimmer and sparkly extras, the bleachers, TV coverage, etc...but they have small town community. And that is exciting, too.

Do you remember enjoying a T ball game more than a pro baseball game? Or an elementary school band concert more than a symphony orchestra?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day-A Double Celebration

Every once in a while two celebration events happen on the same day. Isn't it fun?

The first event I celebrate with you is: Memorial Day

A day of parades, patriotism, and parties.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate the sacrifice of soldiers both past and present. 

My family participated in this way:
My husband served in the Air Force, 
My father in the Army, 
My brother in the Marines, 
My brother-in-law in the Navy 

I believe all four served during war or "police action". How blessed our nation is to have the men and women who protect us.

Let us celebrate and appreciate each one's sacrifice.

I am thankful to you. May God bring great blessings in your life and your family's life.

The second celebration event today is my daughter's birthday.

Birthdays are always fun, but when a holiday enables family to come together and celebrate as a larger group the merriment increases tenfold. 

My daughter's birthday doesn't always fall on Memorial Day, but every once in a while it does.

We'll probably have the traditional American meal, hamburgers on the grill, potato salad, leaf salad, watermelon, birthday cake, go for a bike ride (it's supposed to be sunny), laugh, tell stories, and sing happy birthday. 

She'll smile her lovely smile, not say much because she never knows what to say at times like this. But she will know she is loved. And when I peek in her bedroom, I'll see her holding her gifts and smiling again. She is happy.

So there you have it.  This is how we will celebrate our Memorial Day. What are you planning to do? 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Kathy Herman

Today I welcome an author who discovered her gift for writing after an illness. She is a Christ-like lady who can warm your heart:
Kathy Herman

Enter to win Kathy's new release,
Not By Sight 
Five Books will be awarded!
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

The Discovered Gift

I had never aspired to be a writer. But at age fifty, I had to retire from our family-owned Christian book store due to joint problems and decided to take a stab at writing a children’s book. I had managed the children's department at our store, read every book I put on the shelves, and thought for sure I could write them. But after two weeks of staring at the blank screen on my laptop, I was sorely discouraged. 

My husband, Paul, told me to write something—anything—it didn’t have to be a children’s book. So I wrote a scene: a detective sitting on a park bench, a lake in front of him and a quaint little town behind him. He was waiting for something to surface in the lake…I had no idea what it was and was intrigued that I didn’t! 

The next day I wrote the prologue to Tested By Fire, which was my first suspense novel. When it was finished, I let my former coworkers read it, and they got really excited. I honestly thought it was a fluke, and that I could never do it again. But then I started on Day of Reckoning, and ten weeks later, it was finished. Same enthusiastic reaction. So I wrote Vital Signs—they loved that too. I finally conceded that it wasn't a fluke, and perhaps it was time to seek a publisher.

Paul called someone we knew at Multnomah Publishers simply to find out about the process and accidentally got the voice mail for the president, Don Jacobson. Because we had prayed about it, Paul decided to leave a message. Don actually called back. And after Paul explained our situation, Don indicated that he was interested. He asked us to come to the Christian Booksellers convention, which was just two months away, and he would give us an hour-long interview with their publishing board. That just never happens, and we eagerly accepted the invitation. Paul created a clever marketing kit, and we kept our meeting with the pub board.

Two weeks later, we got a call from Bill Jensen, the VP of Editorial, who sounded very excited about the "series," and said they were offering me a contract for all three books. Paul said (I remember wanting to wring his neck at the time), “Oh, Kathy’s got at least two more in her.” Bill replied, “Then we’ll give her a contract for five.”

My reaction? Tears, joy, sheer disbelief‑‑and fear.  I had expected to be rejected. Instead, it felt as though I had just been drafted off the sandlot into the major leagues.  I wasn't sure I could write another novel, let alone two. But I believed God had answered our prayers and opened a door. So I walked through it in total and utter dependence on Him.

And that ongoing dependence on God has resulted in twenty published novels, and a contract for five more.  My writing method (known to authors and publishers as "seat of the pants) is such that I don't outline or know much of the story ahead of time. So I have to trust that what God has gifted me to do, He will give me the grace to finish. Every time.

Rev. Michael Beckwith is credited with saying, "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called."  That pretty much describes my writing journey. I'm not sure if I was born talented or if God gifted me at fifty years old when I could no longer work at the bookstore. I suppose a part of me enjoys believing the latter.

Kathy Herman is no stranger to the Christian book industry.  Before becoming a bestselling author, she worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association in Colorado Springs. She also worked for eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler as a children’s products specialist, and drew on that expertise to conduct related seminars in the U.S. and Canada.

Kathy quickly rose to the rank of bestselling author when her first book, Tested by Fire became a CBA bestseller. Since then, eight more of her twenty suspense novels have claimed bestseller status, including her latest release, Not by Sight.

 Kathy and her husband Paul live in Tyler and have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, and an adorable cat named Samantha. Her hobbies include world travel, photography, bird watching—and an ongoing fascination with hummingbirds.

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Kathy's book: "Not By Sight":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
U.S. residents only
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Kathy, for Joining us This Weekend!

Wow! I feel blessed just having read this story, Kathy. Reader, how about you? Have you witnessed God qualifying your calling, whatever it may be for?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Can All...

...make a joyful sound unto the Lord

How will you make your sound today?

This doesn't refer to singing only. There are so many ways to make a joyful sound to the Lord. Let's talk about some.

A friend of mine is concerned about a neighbor. She is planning on making a meal to take to the neighbor next week, perhaps taking a fun movie, and spending time brightening the neighbor's day. I can't wait to hear what happens.

My daughter and I spent time chatting today. We laughed and snorted at funny stories.

On Sunday, there will be singing in the sanctuary. 

During the weekday, writers of Christian works write words of encouragement, mystery, love, and suspense.

At work, our smile is likened to a joyful sound.

At home, our meals ease growling stomachs.

Our driving could make a joyful sound....I think many of us need to work on this one. :)

Taking care of our appearance can make a joyful sound. 

Spending time with God can produce a joyful sound in our heart and thoughts.

Walking outside


Knitting, crocheting, woodworking, cooking, etc things for others

Calling a family member, sibling, or friend 

sending e cards

give a hug

So think outside the box. A joyful sound unto the Lord may not necessarily be something audible. How can you make a joyful sound to the Lord today?

photo courtesy of

Monday, May 20, 2013

Retreat-A Positive Opportunity

Seven of ten gals from the Writers Alley met for a retreat this last weekend. We came from Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and Iowa.

Our excellent hostess, Angie, offered her home. Her awesome hubby took the kids camping while we invaded the home.

We arrived at various times during the day on Friday, Ashley arrived at the airport in the evening. We celebrated with a cupcake party, stayed up 'til the morning hours and talked.

Saturday, our work day began. We began with worship, praise, devotion, and prayer. 

Next, We spread our work around the table.
Each Alley Cat.

And moved outside to discuss each member's current work, read a scene from their current work, brainstorm ways to take the story deeper, and present near future goals.

During lunch we continued the discussion digging deep into each story, identifying what the hero and heroines goals, motivations, misconceptions, black moment, etc.. The individual presentations didn't seem to take long, but the day sailed past before we knew it. 

Later in the afternoon we Skyped with Karen Schravemade, Alley Cat living in Australia, and Julia Reffner Alley Cat living in New York talking with them about their current story. 

Pepper cooked southern foods for dinner and Melissa Tagg stopped by. The Dinner discussion wrapped around the publication process.

We continued working past midnight with the discussing switching to our commitment to Christ and our need to serve Him with our writing. The day ended around 2-3 am,

Sunday morning we went to Angie's church.

After lunch we had to say our farewells. Pepper Basham, Amy Leigh Simpson, and Krista Phillips left for home Sunday. Ashley Clark and I will go home today, and Casey Herringshaw will leave Tuesday.

All in all we learned so much, grew our friendships closer together, and are primed to get back to writing!

Would we have another Writers Alley Retreat?

Are you kidding? Of course. The last decision...where to have next year's retreat. On an ocean beach. will be fabulous.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Tricia Goyer

Today I welcome an author who has a tremendous gift for writing and ministry. She is an award winning author: Tricia Goyer

Enter to win Trish's book,
Lead Your Family Like Jesus

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

God Opened Doors I didn't Think Possible

A year after I helped launch Hope Pregnancy Center, I was invited to take a trip to Europe with my two writing friends. One day, after visiting the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria, the true events of WWII inspired a new novel idea. 

After arriving home, I poured the story onto the paper, writing from the perspective of a Nazi wife forced to witness the horrors of a death camp, yet powerless to do anything about it. The story was different from anything I’d written before. It was much deeper, heart-wrenching. It expressed a young woman’s helplessness and pain—things I’d recently learned about on deeper levels.

I started researching and contacting WWII veterans who’d liberated the death camp. They invited me to their reunion and excitedly poured out their stories to me. I felt like God had given me dozen grandpas!

Within nine months, my agent called. I had a contract for my first novel, From Dust and Ashes (Moody Publishing). It was released January 2003. Since then I've published several more WWII novels and a series set during The Spanish Civil War. 

Tricia's new release May21, 2013
The WWII veterans are my biggest fans, and I’ve been able to share the good news of Jesus’ salvation with these men as they buy my Christian novel for themselves, their families, and their friends too! Some of the men have passed away since I’ve interviewed them, but I know they heard the good news of Jesus before they died!

Whenever I attended a writer’s conference, I tried to see what the editors needed and then attempted to craft a novel that fit that niche. None of them sold. But when God opened my eyes to a story—one I thought would be too hard for me to write, watch out. He opened doors I didn’t think were possible. And He showed me ALL things are possible with Him.

I don’t think these successes are a coincidence. For years, as freelancer, I thought I was doing all right. I followed the formulas and kept “pounding out the words.” And although those words sounded good on paper, something more was needed before they became alive on the page.

God showed me something more was needed to experience “Him at work” with those hurting and in need. It was only then that I had something worthy to share. My sandpapered heart now bleeds onto the page, and I’m able to connect in a new way with readers who often find themselves helpless, hurting, and in need of hope.

I tell people that “since I took care of God’s business (the pregnancy center), He took care of mine (the writing).” Actually, our businesses have merged!

I guess that all this wordiness is just to say: “See what God’s doing and join Him.” I’ve come to learn that it’s not about writing or publishing. It’s about God’s desire to reach people for Him. I’m just thrilled He’s let me be part of the process! 

Tricia Goyer has written more than thirty-five fiction and non-fiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. Her books have won awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers and Mt. Hermon Writers' Conference. She is also a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee.

She has authored several books on family and parenting, as well as co-written with Max Lucado and Robin Jones Gunn. She collaborated with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges for Lead Your Family Like Jesus, published by Focus on the Family/Tyndale and released in spring 2013.

Tricia's contemporary and historical novels feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She recreates historic wartime eras with precise detail through perseverant and comprehensive research. Tricia speaks to groups interested in these eras, with the intention of preserving and honoring the memory of the men and women who served.

You can keep up with Tricia via: 

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Tricia's book: "Lead Your Family Like Jesus":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
U.S. residents only
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Tricia, for Joining us This Weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review-Catch a Falling Star by Beth Vogt

This book tells a tale we can all relate to: rejection.

At some point in our life we have been rejected for something or by someone. And while we try to cope, our hearts still hurt.

Dr. Kendall Haynes is a successful thirty something doctor with her own practice. Her investment in years of training and hours of dedication to her patients could be seen in her busy office and an unwanted status as a single female.

Sure the occasional guy came along, like Griffin Walker, military pilot who needed her professional help, even a dose of friendship, but any request for a date stalled.

Griffin wouldn't have encroached on Dr.Haynes time except his younger brother's asthma attack required her medical services. Had she not saved his life in a crowded restaurant, he'd probably never met her in the first place. And how she happened to appear when his jeep broke down in the middle of nowhere, he couldn't say. There was no room for love in his flight plan, especially after his parents suddenly died leaving him as guardian of a sixteen-year-old brother.

What seems as a delightfully woven story of two lives, soon roller coasters into braided tales of tragedy and triumph. Readers can't help but whisk pages deeper into the story, curious and concerned about events to come.

Stepping past the first page into the second I lost several midnight hours spellbound. This is much more than a story of romance, mystery, and suspense  It is a story of rejection healed. I invite you to step into the pages of this book and experience God's loving care.

Beth Vogt demonstrates her growing skills as a Christian fiction writer crafting intriguing characters and story. 

This review is my honest opinion. I thank the publisher for my review copy.

And so readers, have you waded through the waters of rejection and found God's loving hand firmly holding you up?

Monday, May 13, 2013

To Those Who...We Celebrate

For the mothers and daughters, husbands and sons out there, did you home have fun celebrating Mother's Day? I hope so.  

The following is used with permission from Pastor Dan Mead:

To those who gave birth this year to their first child--we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year--we mourn with you.

Tho those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away--we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment--we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don't mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are adoptive moms, foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms--we need you.

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children--we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children--we sit with you in grief.

To those who lost their mothers this year--we grieve with you.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood--we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year--we grieve and rejoice with you.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising--we anticipate with you.

This Mother's Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midsts. We remember you.

May the Lord bless your family and all the mothers.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Beth Vogt

Today I welcome an author who has a tremendous gift for writing, teaching, mentoring, and friendship. She is a Christ-like lady who can warm your heart:
Beth Vogt

Enter to win Beth's new release,
Catch a Falling Star

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

I felt honored and blessed to meet Beth at ACFW. I'd seen her presence at My Book Therapy, spoke with her on FB, but really understood her tremendous gift as a writer, teacher, mentor, and friend when I met her at the conference. 

I asked Beth to share how God has led her on her journey. This is what she answered:

When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Things Change … And So Do I

Every novel wrestles with a Story Question – the great “what if?” of the heart and mind. The Story Question for my second novel, Catch a Falling Star, crystallized quickly: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? There were many versions of this question woven into the story:

·      What if your dreams of motherhood elude you?
·      What if Mr. Right keeps turning into Mr. Wrong?
·      What if your career crashes and burns?

The catalyst for Catch a Falling Star was a conversation with a friend whose life, while successful in lots of ways, lacked some of her lifelong dreams. She wrestled not only with “what if?” but “what now?”

Everyone faces life not going according to plan – and that’s one of the reasons I believe readers will connect with Catch a Falling Star. Yes, it’s a romance – but it’s a real life romance.

Here’s the funny thing: As I focused on my deadline, I forgot that whole “life not going according to plan” reality applied to me too.

At first it was little things disrupting my schedule. I joked that I was learning to write through the interruptions in my life, not in spite of them. Ha ha – no big deal.

Then the back pain flared up. Okay, that happens. I have a “wonky” back. At times it degenerates into a “wretched” back. But I keep on writing. I walk on my treadmill – sometimes writing at the same time, thanks to the “tread-desk” my husband made for me. I do yoga – avoiding any and all poses that might recreate the double black eyes I sported for almost a month after trying the “Crow” position.  

This time? The pain went from “wonky” to “wretched” to “now I’m immobilized to the point I can’t sit up … I can’t get in my bed … and I can’t think to write a word, much less a scene.”


Did I mention I was on deadline?

I couldn’t write for 10 days. Ten days. You know that whole “ticking time bomb” element screenwriters put in movies to build tension? I had a virtual “tick, tick, tick” inside my head, ratcheting up my anxiety and doing nothing to relieve my pain.

My life wasn’t going according to plan. The question was: What was I going to do?

I admitted there was nothing I could do to fix my back. I couldn’t regain those writing days. I took the advice of two trusted mentors and accepted I wasn’t going to meet my deadline. And then I called my agent and talked about an extension.

My agent was understanding – and handled the request for me.

My editor was understanding – and granted the request.

And I had to be understanding – gracious – to myself. Missing the deadline wasn’t the end of the world, even though my former-editor self wanted to react like it was. I realized if I could have met my deadline, I would have. When life doesn’t go according to plan that means things in my life change – and that I have to change too.

What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan?

Beth K. Vogt discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”  After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she'd never writer fiction, Beth's inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, released this week. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, as well as a former consulting editor for MomSense magazine. She is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. Connect with Beth at

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Beth's book: "Catch a Falling Star":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
U.S. residents only
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Beth, for Joining us This Weekend!