Crystal, please give us a thumbnail sketch of your featured book.
Adorable animal babies and their parents share the tenderness of heartfelt love through various playful activities, as well as comforting hugs on days that are sad. Parents can snuggle and cuddle with their little ones as they turn the pages to read the lyrical text.
What a delightful title, Crystal. Why did you write this book?
I’m enjoying my seven grandchildren and love those early years of snuggling and cuddling. These years go by so quickly and I wanted to write something to capture those special moments.
With seven opportunities for the snuggling, did anything surprise you during the research or writing of this book?
I was surprised to learn that relationship experts believe children need 4 hugs a day to survive, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day to grow.
That’s some serious need, and I wonder how many hugs we need as adults. Did God use the message of this book in your own life?
It’s been a strong reminder to hug my grandkids and even my adult children. During this pandemic, we are starving for hugs.
So very good to remember. Do you have a favorite section in your book?
At first, I wasn’t excited about the artist wanting to feature bats in one of the spreads, but it turned out to be my favorite. She made them look adorable!
Amazing what perspective can do for us, something that you as an author share with your readers. Has being a writer impacted your perspective of and relationship with Christ?
It’s made me realize how dependent I am on having the Lord direct my writing paths. I am deeply humbled and in awe that this is what He created me to do.
What drew you to write children’s books?
I love writing for children, to teach them that God loves them. I also love to write in rhythm and rhyme, so board books and picture books are the right genre for me.
Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
A young mom sent me a video of her son reading one of my books to his military dad over Facetime. I sobbed!
That is touching indeed – reaching all the way into a parent’s heart. With such a ministry in writing, are there other ministries in which you are involved?
I am involved with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a speaker and mentor. I write for young children, and the moms are the ones who read my books to their children. I love connecting with them.
Everyone seems to struggle with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
Deadlines really stress me out, so I set my own deadline two weeks ahead of the publisher’s deadline. I divide my work into segments and figure out how much I need to write each day or week. I love surprising editors by turning in my work early (and they love it too!).
When not working on deadline, do you have any hobbies, activities or passions outside of writing?
I enjoy exercising outdoors and often go for walks. This winter, when the snow came, I bought a pair of cross-country skis and have been skiing in our backyard. It’s great exercise and has helped me enjoy a Midwest winter.
Now that is a creative way to keep moving in the grip of a snowy winter! What about your future plans – what is your next project?
I had the privilege of writing a picture book based on a true story about a young refugee who left her home in Sudan and came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old.
We’ll be looking forward to that book’s release! Thank you for spending time with us today, Crystal.
We think of gold primarily as either bullion or jewelry, but the precious metal has many other uses. In the old days, it was used for tooth fillings and even the odd false tooth. Nowadays, uses range from industrial to medical, to agricultural. For instance, gold is used to treat pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It is liquefied, injected into muscle tissue, and reportedly helpful in 70 percent of cases.
Writing historical fiction doesn’t only mean researching the time period of the book’s setting. For my newest release, Miss Wetherham’s Wedding, my heroine owns the controlling number of shares in a tunneling gold mining venture that’s gone dry. As I dug up whatever I could find on gold mining, I came across some interesting facts most of us probably aren’t aware of.
Another interesting tidbit is that 10 billion tons of gold circle the world in seawater! Before you start panning, the gold isn’t just floating around in specks or nuggets. In fact, the cost of recovering it unfortunately exceeds its value.
And here’s something to wrap your brain around: worldwide, the amount of steel poured in just one hour is more than the amount of gold that’s been extracted in all of recorded history! That’s how rare gold is.
In my book, Miss Wetherham has neither the money to explore the mine for more gold, or the heart to try it even if she did, for there is danger involved. For these reasons, she finds herself in precarious financial straits–the perfect place to introduce a hero, even if he is, by all report, a rogue. 🙂
Linore Rose Burkard An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first book (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense, contemporary romance, and romantic short stories. Linore resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.
Greetings fromMarti Pieper in beautiful, blooming Seneca, South Carolina, where bright azalea and gentle wisteria blossoms enrich our views. Today, I’m delighted to introduce to you a friend I’ve not met in person but who lives near where I grew up in southern Ohio. I’m excited to share the work and the words of Linore Rose Burkard with you today!
Welcome, Linore! Please tell us about your book.
My goal with The Brides of Mayfair Series was to fill every regency romance reader’s wish list for what they enjoy most in the genre. There’s nothing more fun than a clean, traditional regency, but too often modern writers contemporize the plots or their main characters. A recent reviewer’s comment that Miss Wetherham is “an entertaining and romantic tale full of all the story line elements that Regency romance fans adore,” was music to my ears. Another reviewer called me “the Queen of Regency,” (a title I ascribe to Georgette Heyer), so that was hugely gratifying!
(Please note: Miss Wetherham’s Wedding is forthcoming via Ingram. The other two books in the Brides Series are already available.)
Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, Robin Currie, but she is no newcomer to children’s book writing. Robin has an impressive of list of titles, including the Baby Bible, a popular staple when my kids were little—and now!
Welcome, Robin! Please tell us about your book, The Very Best Story Ever Told: The Gospel with American Sign Language.
The Very Best Story Ever Told shares the Gospel in a unique way: each line of this story includes important words reinforced with American Sign Language. As kids learn the signs and words, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning to equip them to retell the Gospel story again and again.
WINNER: 2020 Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade; Focus on Family Top 10 Family Friendly Picture Books 2019; First Place, Wright Medal, North Carolina Christian Writers Conference, 2019; Finalist: 2019 Selah Award.
Thank you to CAN member and contributor Michelle Medlock Adams for today’s edition of Fascinating Fridays!
I had just finished signing my latest children’s book at the Guideposts Booth at the largest Christian Book Show. To celebrate my signing, my mom and my sister took me to lunch at a beautiful restaurant in downtown Atlanta. As we studied the menu, I couldn’t help but notice a group of women sitting at a nearby table. You know why I noticed them? Because they were all staring at me.
I tried to ignore them, but their staring turned to pointing and whispering. I started feeling a little self-conscious. Just as the waitress brought our food, I watched as one of the ladies slowly walked toward our table.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said, “but I just had to meet you. Your book literally changed my life.”
Davalynn Spencer here, celebrating spring-at-last in Colorado. Please join me today in welcoming authorDenise Weimer as she shares about life as an author and her featured book, Bent Tree Bride.
Denise – what a great title. Please give us a thumb-nail sketch of this book.
Susanna Moore can’t get him out of her mind—Sam Hicks, the man who delivered the commission making her father colonel of Andrew Jackson’s Cherokee Regiment. But Susanna’s father wants a better match for her than the mixed-blood lieutenant—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart.
What inspired you to write this story?
Bent Tree Bride was originally intended to be part of a Native Patriots Series that did not come to fruition. However, this story poured out of me in about six weeks, a record time for any of my novels, especially a historical! The hero, Sam, was a boy at the mission school for children of Cherokee chiefs in my Moravian marriage of convenience romance, The Witness Tree (Smitten, 2019). I realized the timing would be perfect for him to grow up and fight in The Cherokee Regiment during the War of 1812.
The Cherokee people wanted so badly to keep their land that many had adopted white culture by the early 1800s. When I learned that the Cherokee Regiment turned the tide of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against the Red Stick Creeks, fighting alongside Andrew Jackson’s militia in an attempt to keep their homes, Sam, an educated, mixed-blood son of a chief, seemed the perfect hero to embody his people’s noble aspirations in this conflict.
With such specific historical context, did you face any particular challenge in writing the book?
We all know the formation of America involved many different cultures coming together, often not in a seamless or praiseworthy manner. So writing historicals set in our country always brings with it a double challenge: 1. To portray those ethnicities accurately and sensitively and 2. To portray all the characters through the barrier and filter of hundreds of years.
Was any one scene harder to write than the others?
Following the same thread of thought from my last question, I added another hurdle to those of ethnicity and history … a war. And a war means violence. I take very seriously any battles where men lost their lives fighting for their people groups. My goal is to honor their courage and sacrifice and to give the reader realistic accounts without magnifying disturbing details. I often cut short battle scenes, but there are individual fight scenes just as essential to the action and the formation of the main characters as the heart-stopping romance. So … if you’re someone who is disturbed by such, maybe try one of my light-hearted contemporary stories.
Considering your efforts to tell the tale of battles while preserving dignity, what was your favorite scene in this book?
A parallel to the last question … something that I can’t get out of my head. Charles Hicks was a real-life Cherokee chief who owned what was purported to be the largest library in the Southeast. Sam, my hero, is his fictional son. After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Charles walked over the battlefield, preaching about Jesus to the wounded and dying. What a beautiful picture of the redemption of humanity! Charles’ preaching is actually mentioned in my Author’s Notes, but it’s the essence of this story at its deepest level.
What themes draw you over and over again in your writing?
I’d say, the healing power of God. We’ve all been through painful situations, and many of us carry insecurities or wounds from childhood. Our attempts to operate out of these without God’s complete healing leads to dysfunction. Because this is a reality of the world we live in, I don’t write perfect, bubbly characters—even in my warm-fuzzy romances. Sometimes I get knocked for that. But that’s okay. I’d rather show a character who learns how to bring that hurt or weakness to Christ and be transformed, positioning them for other blessings in life such as romance and reaching their personal goals.
Is there anything about writing that you wish non-writers understood?
I’m always surprised when I make new friends, and they think I’m famous. I may have over a dozen titles traditionally published, but I’m still a small fish in a big pond. With e-books and self-publishing, there are countless authors and books to choose from. So even when we appear to have “made it,” we’re still struggling to grow our readership, to get signed by a big publisher, to make ends meet. Most authors net under $5,000 a year. We’re definitely not celebrities, and we want you to know that YOU matter. Your reviews, your social media connections, your e-mails, your smiling face at a book signing. You are the reason we write and the only way we can continue to do what God has called us to do. So please don’t ever be afraid to approach us or feel that your feedback or encouragement doesn’t matter. YOU may be the reason an author doesn’t give up on the dream God gave them.
Such an important aspect, Denise, and one I suspect not many readers fully appreciate.
Do you have a “day job” or career that influences your writing?
I serve as managing editor for both historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The training and experience I’ve received as an editor has definitely improved my writing, enabling me to plot better and write a cleaner first draft—not to mention the short and long synopses and back cover copy. I’ve especially learned how to get rid of the “fluff” words and scenes and go straight to what’s truly important to the story and character development. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, it doesn’t need to be in there! But that doesn’t mean no details. A measured amount of details are essential to setting and mood and tell us more about the characters. My authors will tell you, I’m frequently prompting them to add in tidbits about a character’s appearance, a room, or a landscape.
What are your hobbies, activities, or passions outside of writing?
For many years, I participated in living history and vintage dance, even leading a vintage dance group. This all sprang out of a desire to inspire my writing. Over time, weekend swim meets for my girls and then book events edged out re-enacting. But I still enjoy an occasional living history or visiting a historical festival or site, especially when I’m doing book research!
Time with my husband, college-aged daughters, parents, and friends—especially our small group from church—rank at the top of my list. You might find us visiting a boutique, coffee shop, or an antique store, or walking our cockapoo, Lucy, at the park.
It sounds like you have a full and entertaining life. Tell us a little about your next book project.
I was recently surprised to learn that the remains of a War of 1812 frontier fort was discovered very near where I grew up. I was even more surprised to learn that it was built during the exact same time I set Bent Tree Bride, 1813-14. While most of the action of BTB takes place in Creek Territory in what is modern-day Alabama, I’m researching for a potential story set here at home in Georgia during that same period. The dividing line where three cultures came together—Creeks, Cherokees, and white settlers—ran right through this area. How is that not fodder for a great frontier romance?
Thank you, Denise, for sharing your writing journey with us.
Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing novelist James Hannibal, one of our newest CAN members. A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, James has flown both fighter aircraft and the Stealth Bomber—and has done covert work on the ground! So he knows what he’s talking about when he writes thrillers.
Welcome, James! Please tell us about your book The Paris Betrayal.
The Paris Betrayal is a “spy left out in the cold” story. To restore his name and stop an attack, Ben Calix must find the sniper who tried to assassinate him, the doctor who saved him, the spymaster who trained him, and the man who killed the woman he loved.
That sounds amazing! What inspired you to write this book?
One day in Sunday School, my mind drifted. I know. I should have been listening. But we were deep in the book of Job, and in that book, the mind wanders. Anyway, it occurred to me that this was a “spy left out in the cold” story. Job feels betrayed. He’s been turned out of God’s grace, so he thinks, and he doesn’t understand why. The friends he seeks for help don’t have an understanding of the Creator’s ways. None of us do. And they give him poor answers. The Paris Betrayal is not strictly allegorical, but that story of a man coming to grips with his own place in the world and the sovereignty of his Creator (or spymaster) is what I tried to capture. I also had fun recreating Job’s friends as members of Ben’s elite covert operations world.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes story notes at church. Ahem. So how has God used the message of your book in your own life?
When COVID-19 struck, Cindy and I had just started a new business creating games and stories for use in discipling Christians. This is the same fantasy world in which my next upcoming novel Wolf Soldier lies. We experienced a loss of income in one of my jobs, income which was supporting the new business. We cried out to God, “Why would you do this?” But I was working on The Paris Betrayal at the time, studying Job. We realized our error in questioning Him and repented. Within hours, orders for one of our games started pouring in. Long story short, God had used a well-thought-out review by an atheist in the game community to generate enough sales to keep us going for a year. He is so good.
He is indeed. With such an exciting story line in your novel, you must have some incredible scenes. What was the hardest scene to write?
Ben’s frozen lake scene was the hardest for me. I had to get the details right for surviving a fall through the ice, complicated by the fact there for a spy, there’s no help, no paramedics to call once you’re out. But I also had to capture the agony and delirium that accompanies frostbite and hypothermia. Having experienced some of that on a small scale in the past while working as a survival instructor and battalion air liaison officer, it was painful to relive. It also hurt to put my beloved character through it.
Those painful-to-write scenes are the richest to read.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
I love London, so I see a lot of stories turning up there. Of course, you can’t throw a stone in London without hitting some incredible piece of history. I also see forgiveness showing up. God’s grace is so incredible, it has to be shared. Maybe I don’t speak about it in day-to-day life enough to meet that need, and so His forgiveness and our need to forgive each other crops up—often unexpectedly—in my writing.
Why do you love writing?
I always wanted to write and to be that person telling the story in the light of the campfire. As a kid, I checked a seek-and-find book out of the library. On the center spread, the artist had drawn a fair in a grassy vale with tents, colorful guests, and a juggling jester, but my eye went straight to a little boy peeking out from the edge of the forest, watching it all. I felt the boy wanting to know the stories of all those people at the fair, especially the jester. I wanted to know their stories too. And I knew, even then, if I wanted to know their stories, I’d have to write them myself. I’ve been working at it and loving it ever since.
I love that! Now, you’ve done a lot with your life. Do you still have an unfulfilled dream?
Racing flying cars. Hopefully I will remedy that soon, but I’ve got to lose some weight. No joke.
What ministries are you involved in, and why?
Lightraider Academy is our family’s ministry, and it is the focus of God’s calling for me to use my artistic skills for His purposes. He’s been incredibly clear on that point. The Lightraider world is a fantasy world from the 1980s that we took over. Today, it has two sides and two functions. On the one side are games and the other are stories and books. These two “sides,” of course, cross paths, especially since the games are story-based. The two functions are evangelism and discipleship. Too often, Christians attempt to use evangelistic tools for discipleship and vice versa. Did a parent or mentor ever say, “Use the right tool for the right job?” Same concept. Through Lightraider Academy we hope to create distinct tools for each job.
It seems obvious that you have talents aside from storytelling—any more talents you’d like to share?
I was pretty good at catching bad guys for a time, but those days are past. Nowadays, I’m not bad with digital art programs, including CAD, and I’m getting better at 3D printing. I’ve also learned how much math goes into good board game development.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I studied the Middle East and counterterrorism at the US Air Force Academy. I went on to fly a fighter aircraft that had me doing occasional ground work with international special forces groups. After that, I flew the Stealth Bomber, which also included all sorts of fun, non-flying extracurricular activities, and then Predator drones. I’ve worked undercover, and I’ve hunted (and found) snipers in a combat zone. All that experience in tactical and secret worlds gets poured into my novels—enough that the first three had to be reviewed by multiple security committees before publication.
I’ve had lots of kinds of edits, but never a security edit. Well. You certainly have a lot on your plate. Please tell us about your next project.
Wolf Soldier is a young adult fantasy set in a world first created for a 1980s Christian adventure simulation (similar to a role-playing game). The Keledan Assembly has stopped sending knights of the Lightraider Order into Tanelethar to rescue those oppressed by the dragons. By pulling back within their borders, they’ve let evil fester at the gate, and now it encroaches on the land. A new class of lightraider knights must train fast and set out across the mountain barrier to find a hidden portal before a full-scale invasion destroys their home.
That sounds incredible! And thank you, James, for a fascinating interview.
Author: Diane Stortz Title: Say & Pray Bible Wipe Clean: First Words, Stories, and Prayers Publisher: Tommy Nelson Release: February 16, 2021 ISBN-13: 978-1400229826 Genre: Children Bible stories activity book Link to Book: https://www.dianestortz.com/books/say-pray-bible
Author: Karen Whiting Title: Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future Publisher: AMG Publishers Release: February 23, 2021 ISBN 978-1617155604 Genre: NF/Parenting Link to Book: https://karenwhiting.com/viewproduct/27
Author: Caryl McAdoo Title: Texas Trails Publisher: Peaceable Publishing Release: March 6, 2021 ISBN-13: 979-8587396340 Genre: Historical Fiction Link to Book: Amazon Only
Author: Carol Grace Stratton Title: Deep End of the Lake Publisher: Iron Stream Media/LPC Release: March 9, 2021 ISBN-13: 978-1645262770 Genre: Women’s Contemporary Inspirational Link to Book: https://www.carolgstratton.com
Author: Nancy Mehl Title: Night Fall Book 1 in The Quantico Files series Publisher: Bethany House Release: March 30, 2021 ISBN-13: tbd Genre: Suspense Link to Book: http://nancymehl.com
Author: Dr. Craig von Buseck Title: Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S. Grant’s final battlefor his family and for freedom Publisher: Iron Stream Release: April 4, 2021 ISBN-13: 978-1645263159 Genre: NF Biography/History Link to Book: https://www.vonbuseck.com/victor-ulysses-s-grant
Author: Denise Weimer Title: Bent Tree Bride Publisher: Iron Stream Media/Smitten Historical Romance Release: April 13, 2021 ISBN-13: 978-1645262954 Genre: Historical Romance Link to Book: https://shoplpc.com/bent-tree-bride
Greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Seneca, South Carolina, where April showers came in March this year! No April Fools here today as I introduce author, editor, and friend Dr. Craig von Buseck! Craig and I first met at the Florida Christian Writers Conference a number of years ago and have renewed our acquaintance at various conferences along the way. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from him.
Welcome, Craig! Please tell us about your featured book.
In the greatest victory of his life, Ulysses S. Grant overcame financial collapse and throat cancer to write an American classic and to care for his wife after his death. Read this inspiring true story in Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S. Grant, from Dr. Craig von Buseck.
Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing author, speaker, and relationship expert Deb DeArmond. Deb writes and speaks about family relationships, but her latest book . . . well, honk if you love the concept!
Welcome, Deb! Please tell us about your book Bumper Sticker Be-Attitudes.
Bumper Sticker Be-Attitudes is a humorous devotional built on the belief there are spiritual principles everywhere we look—if we open our eyes to the truth. From the bumper of the car in front of us to the fortune cookie after the Chow Mein, one-liners meant to entertain often hold a deeper meaning when seen through the eyes of Christ-followers.