Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Winner of Hailee by Penny Zeller is ....

Wow! What a time I have had in selecting a winner for the drawing for Hailee!  A name was drawn on the closing day of the contest but, when I contacted the winner, she told me she had won the same book on another blog and asked that I award the book to another reader. I drew a second name, contacted her, and soon received a message from that person saying that she too had won the book in another blog drawing and asked, once again, that another winner be chosen in her place. So, I drew yet another winner, contacted her and waited with anticipation to hear back from her, fearing that I would again hear the same news that I had already heard twice. 

However, such was not the case and I can now officially announce the winner of the drawing for Hailee, written by my special friend, Penny Zeller.  And the winner is .......


Congratulations to MissKallie and thanks to all who of you who entered this giveaway.  

Penny, it was so nice to have you visit Write About Now  so faithfully these past few days. Thanks for all you do to uplift and encourage me and other bloggers. You are an extremely gifted writer and I am so thrilled to see you using your ability for the work of the Lord. 

May God richly bless each one of you! Another giveaway will be coming up real soon so check back often so you don't miss out.

Jan Marie

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Hailee by Penny Zeller

It is with great pleasure that I bring to you today a review of Hailee, written by the very gifted author, Penny Zeller. Hailee is book three in the Montana Skies series and includes many of the familiar characters that we have come to love from the first two books, McKenzie and Kaydie.

From the cover:

For years, orphan Hailee Annigan was just a ragamuffin in the Cincinnati streets, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. Her thievery landed her in a home for delinquent youngsters, where her life was changed, thanks to her teachers. Now, nineteen-year-old Hailee excitedly heads to Montana to be a teacher, yet she's still plagued by her shameful past and the fear of never seeing her brothers again.  

Based on his upbringing in high-society Boston, no one would have guessed that Maxwell Nathaniel Adams Jr. would attend seminary and become a church pastor in rugged Montana. Even now, Nate's parents refuse to put aside their own plans for his future and accept his calling.

When their paths converge, an immediate attraction draws Hailee and Nate together, even as the pressures and demands of others pull them apart. Can the unlikely pair come to terms with their pasts and face the future together?

My review:

There is always a feeling of great excitement and anticipation when I go to the Post Office and find the latest book by Penny Zeller waiting there for me. I was not disappointed when I picked up my copy of Hailee  either. I could barely wait to drive home, crack open the cover, and begin reading. The pages flew by all too quickly and I reached the final page long before I was ready for it. 

Once again, Penny has written an emotional and heart-warming story of love and adventure in the vast open spaces of the Montana frontier. The descriptions of life in in the late 1800s are so vivid that you feel as if you are one with the story. I became so engrossed in the plot that I ceased to feel like a spectator, but instead felt as if I were living the story right alongside Hailee. 

Hailee and Nate are both such likeable characters that you can't help but desire for them to be together. Hailee, however, feels unworthy of Nate's love because she has a secret past. When that past is inadvertently revealed to the townspeople and the parents of her students, Hailee's chance of a future with Nate seems doomed.  Can Hailee expect mercy from those whom she has deceived? Will Nate be able to forgive her for her wrong-doing?

What Hailee and the citizens of Pine Haven fail to take into consideration is that the misdeeds of her youth have long been forgiven and forgotten by the only One who truly matters. Since God has forgiven her, is it wrong for Hailee to hope that Nate will do likewise? Why won't the residents of the town that Hailee has already grown to love forgive her too? 

Many years ago, the English poet Alexander Pope wrote the words, "To err is human, to forgive Divine." This is the truth that Penny Zeller has so ably portrayed in the pages of Hailee.  God's forgiveness is easily obtained but it is the job of the Great Deceiver, the Father of Lies, to try to convince us that our sins are so vile that forgiveness is not possible. For a story that truly depicts the reality of Christ's mercy and forgiveness, I recommend that you read this excellent book.

Penny Zeller has generously offered to give a copy of her newest release to one lucky reader. In order to have your name entered in the drawing, please leave a comment, along with your email address in spam-proof format (yourname[at]provider[dot]com). I would also like to do something just a little bit different for this drawing. Instead of simply saying, "Please enter me in the drawing," I would like for you to tell me (and Penny) why you would like to win this book. It doesn't have to be a lengthy comment; just a few words will do the trick. 

Only entries from the United States will be eligible for the drawing and only those who comply with the guidelines stated above will be entered. For an extra entry, please become a follower of Write About Now.  If you are already a follower, please say so in a separate comment.

This contest will end on October 21st. 

Thanks to Whitaker House for providing a copy of Hailee for review purposes. This is my honest review. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I obligated to give a positive review.

For those readers who do not win a copy of this book, you can purchase it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.

Just a word of advice for those who are experiencing problems in being able to leave a comment: 

Many of us have found that it works much better to use a browser other than Internet Explorer to leave a comment on Blogger.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Congratulations ...

Congratulations to ...


LadiJo is the winner of the drawing for The Prophetess One: At Risk  by Linda Rohrbough. I have sent her an email requesting her address. If I do not hear from her within one week, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all those who entered. I will be posting several new giveaways within the next few weeks so be sure to check back for a chance to win another good book.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Prophetess One: At Risk Review and Giveaway

From the cover:  

It's a very different kind of war. Why would God choose a pregnant computer programmer to fight it? All Anna McClintock wants is a peaceful stretch of beach she can walk to with her new husband, Jack, and her soon-to-be-born child. Jack is finishing his engineering degree this semester and the two plan to leave his Kansas home to build their new lives together.

But when Anna finds herself in jail for the murder of a preschool child she tried to save, she realizes she is alone, except for God. She has to rely on new-found spiritual gifts as well as her wits and skills in order to save herself, her unborn son, and her marriage.

And she has another decision to make. This one affects the entire nation.

The Prophetess One: At Risk
by Linda Rohrbough (
Publication date: April 20, 2011
High Hill Inspirations, an imprint of High Hill Press, St. Charles, Missouri
ISBN: 978-1606530429
Retail: $17.95

Linda Rohrbough is the author of numerous non-fiction books and has won many awards for her writing. The Prophetess One:At Risk was written as a consequence of events following the Columbine shooting, of which her husband's nephew was, sadly, a victim. As she researched material related to this shooting and other similar events, she came to believe that this sort of horrible event could be prevented. She has stated that one of her goals with this book is to demonstrate the importance of fathers in their children's lives. 

The Prophetess One: At Risk has already won some prestigious awards including The Global eBook Award and second place overall in the Millennium Star Publishing Awards.

In this book, the main character, Anna McClintock, becomes a vessel anointed by God to bring an important message to the people. Falsely accused, ridiculed, and rejected by others, including the members of the church she attends, Anna continues, in spite of all obstacles, to make known the message with which she has been charged by God. God sends Anna an ally in the form of nurse Theo Kline.

The Prophetess One: At Risk is Book One in The Prophetess Trilogy and is a fast-paced book with a strong message. There were a couple of times that I felt that the story skimmed over some pertinent facts and I had to backtrack to decipher what was taking place but, overall, I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to you. Not only will you enjoy the writing style of Linda Rohrbough, you will come away with a deeper understanding of some serious societal issues and a desire to become a part of the solution.

I am offering my review copy of this book to some lucky reader. Please leave a comment, along with your email address in spam-proof format, in order to be included in the drawing which will take place on September 17th. For extra chances to win, become a follower of this blog and/or visit Linda's website and name one fact that you read there.

I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. This review is my honest opinion and I received no compensation for it. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

McKenzie by Penny Zeller - A Review

McKenzie, by author Penny Zeller, tells the story of the depth of one sister's love for another. McKenzie Worthington loves her younger sister, Kaydie, so much that she is willing to risk everything in order to rescue Kaydie from a disastrous marriage to an abusive and evil man. McKenzie goes so far as to enter into a marriage via the venue of becoming a mail-order bride as a means to travel to the Montana Territory in search of her younger sister.

Having come from a wealthy and privileged background in Boston, McKenzie was not prepared for the lifestyle that she encountered when she moved to Pine Haven to marry Zach Sawyer. Zach was looking for a wife and mother for his son; McKenzie was looking for a place to stay and a means of support while she attempted to rescue her sister. The master plan was to have her lawyer father annul the marriage, leave Zach behind, and return her life in Boston once Kaydie was found.

Penny Zeller has created a beautiful love story and shown how the best laid plans are often foiled when God steps into the picture and reveals His plan. In spite of all the obstacles that Kaydie, McKenzie and Zach had to overcome, the author has shown that, as the Bible states in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." (KJV)

I have always been interested in the concept of mail-order brides and, in the story of McKenzie, Penny has revealed a realistic picture that vividly portrays this process. Her main male character, Zach Sawyer, is the same age as my middle son so, as I read, I could not help but compare Zach to my own son. This contrast helped the story to come alive in a very real way.

In the rapidly-growing field of extremely talented Christian fiction authors, Penny Zeller has excelled and has distinguished herself with her superb ability. She uses the tools of her trade with surgical precision to craft believable and captivating stories filled with a message of love and forgiveness. 

McKenzie is the first book in The Montana Skies Series and is followed by Kaydie (see review in previous post dated April, 2011). In a few short weeks, Hailee, book three, will be released. Be sure to check back for a review of this book also.

McKenzie was provided to me by the publisher, Whitaker House, for review purposes. I was not obligated to give a positive review nor did I receive any other form of recompense for this review. McKenzie and Penny's other books can be purchased at Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite book seller.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Winner of Bound by Guilt

Sigh! For those of you who read my previous post, I am sad to report that, once again, my plans have not gone as hoped. Last week I had a bicycle accident that has put me on complete, albeit temporary, disability. I am incapable of doing anything with my left arm, a big problem inasmuch as I am left-handed. I am typing this post with one hand, not an easy task. I cannot even hold a book because the weight of the book is more than my injured muscles can tolerate. Nothing is broken, there is no permanent damage, for which I am extremely thankful. However, the orthopedist said that there is major muscle injury and I am looking at four to six weeks of pretty intense pain. It looks as if I will most likely mend just in time to return to school, thus losing most of the summer and consequently failing to accomplish many of my personal and professional goals.

All of the above is just a brief explanation of why I am, once again, late in posting on my blog. I apologize to those people who have been patiently waiting for the promised results of the drawing for the giveaway of Bound by Guilt, by author C.J. Darlington. As always, I thank you for your patience. Without further delay, the winner of this exciting book is ....

Congratulations! I will be sending you an email shortly asking for your mailing address. MissKallie will have one week to respond to the email. If I do not hear from her within that time, I will draw another name.

Thanks to all who participated in this contest - may God richly bless each and every one of you!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Giveaway: Bound by Guilt by C.J. Darlington

OK, the vacation is over now and it is time to get back to work. Did I say vacation? Well, it was not really a vacation in the sense of how we normally think when we hear the word vacation. I have been on an entirely unwelcome but compulsory leave from posting on my blog for several weeks now.

What a year this has been thus far. First, there were the two severe sinus infections that kept me physically drained for weeks. Immediately following the recovery from the sinus infections came the whooping cough - that was no fun either and served to further deplete my physical reserves. It seemed that I had no sooner recovered from the whooping cough than I developed a chronic illness with some exceptionally unusual and debilitating symptoms. This time the doctors thought it was cancer. Several tests and many dollars later it was determined that, praise God, I didn't have cancer but instead had an acute bacterial infection that had completely invaded my body.

I was still on the mend from that particular bout of illness when my mother-in-law unexpectedly passed away, necessitating yet more time away from the computer.

I had determined that, just as soon as school was dismissed for summer break, my days would be spent seated at the computer in an effort to get caught up on the book reviews that I have committed to and am so very far behind on posting. (I apologize to the writers who are patiently waiting for me to post the reviews of their new releases). Fortunately, as one long-suffering individual put it, there is no firm deadline and it is never too late for a review to be posted. Perhaps there will be an added bonus for my not being able to post the reviews when I had intended to by prolonging the time frame in which the books are  highlighted in the public's eyes.

The first few days after school was dismissed were occupied with traveling out of state to family graduation ceremonies and also the annual birthday gathering for the birthdays of both of my sons and myself, all of which take place within less than a week.  Graduations were over, birthdays were in the past and, finally, I was ready to devote my time to writing book reviews.

What I didn't anticipate was waking up in the middle of the night in agony, suffering from a phantom pain that was indescribable in its ferocity. A trip to the podiatrist confirmed what I had suspected; I had developed my first, and I hope my last, case of gout. According to my doctor, it was not your ordinary gout either but, instead, a "classic" case that was unique enough to warrant taking pictures to share at a podiatrists' convention. Just what I always wanted - to have pictures of my foot shown on the screen at a medical convention.  Had I but known, I could have at least gotten a pedicure beforehand. This case was so brutal that I spent nearly five days flat on my back in bed, foot elevated, fighting the pain, and unable to do anything but fret about the book reviews.
Now, at long last, I am physically on the mend and ready to tackle the stack of books awaiting my attention.  I am fervently praying for no further maladies to attack me, my mind to be quick, and for my fingers to fly on the keyboard.

To begin what I hope will be a steady stream of book reviews and/or giveaways, I am offering a giveaway for a book for which I have already posted both a blog tour book review and an author interview. In order to be eligible for this giveaway, you must meet two requirements. First, you MUST be a follower of this blog and must say so in your comment. Second, you must refer to either the blog book tour or the author interview and comment on something that you read in one of the posts. Hint: both the author interview and the TitleTrakk blog tour post can be found in the sidebar at the right under the March posts in the Blog Archive.

The book that I am offering for giveaway is Bound by Guilt by C.J. Darlington. This is an excellent book that you are sure to enjoy. Please leave a comment which includes your email address in spam-proof format (username[at]provider[dot]com). If there is no email address, your entry will be discarded since I must have some way to contact you in the event that you are the winner. If you do not follow the directions for the contest, your entry will be invalid. The contest will be open to United States entries only and will conclude on July 16th.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: Tomorrow's Garden by Amanda Cabot

From the cover:

Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new school teacher in Ladreville, Texas, is just what she needs--a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn't count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood-- or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness?

Tomorrow's Garden is Book #3 in the popular series, Texas Dreams, written by the talented and gifted author, Amanda Cabot (see previous post for author interview). I would like to preface my remarks by stating that I read this book without having first read the first two books in the series. I had no difficulty at all in following the story line and feel that this book can stand alone and be thoroughly enjoyed without the benefit of reading the first books. However, having read book 3, I am completely in love with the series and fully intend to read the other books also.

My Opinion:

There are two major components that I look for when reading a book.  One component, of course, is that it must be enjoyable and entertaining. Tomorrow's Garden fulfills this need on many levels. The characters are well-developed and possess personalities that are believable, complete with very real flaws and redeeming attributes. The storyline is captivating and moves along at a pace that quickly grabs the reader and catches them up in the action in such a way that they feel as if they are a partner in the unfolding drama. A good story transports the reader to another reality, a time and place that exist only in the reader's mind and the words on the page.  Based on these criteria, Tomorrow' Garden successfully accomplishes the objectives.

The second feature that I look for is "does the book help me to be a better person?" Most of the time I read Christian fiction because in it I find elements that minister to me and make me examine my life and attempt to become a better person/Christian as a result. This does not in any way mean that the book must preach or sermonize. The intent can be achieved quite readily without going to these lengths. Indeed, much of Jesus Christ's ministry consisted of telling stories in the form of parables in order to deliver His message. So too, can a book of Christian fiction minister in this manner.

Specifically, Tomorrow's Garden delivers a message of patience, of waiting upon the Lord for the answers which will be revealed in His time. Amanda Cabot has skillfully shown, through the simple act of having her students plant a garden, the lesson of patience found in James 5:7 (KJV) which states "the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it..." It also speaks a message of hope and reinforces the fact that through Christ we have hope of deliverance, both in this temporal life and also eternity. 

Harriet and Lawrence both lived with a dreadful fear, a fear that, based on past events in their lives, was completely justified.  Harriet's every action was governed by an emotional fear that was planted in her by her hypocritical parents  and also by a physical fear based on the circumstances surrounding their death.  To the observer, the actions and reactions of Harriet and Lawrence are seemingly irrational but, when the full picture is revealed, it is readily apparent why each of them responded in the manner that they did to events that transpired.

It was as I pondered this thought that the Lord began dealing with me regarding an acquaintance of mine. This person's behavior, like Harriet's, didn't seem appropriate based on known facts. Their conduct had begun to attract attention and people began to react to this person in a negative manner. It was only after I had read Tomorrow's Garden that I began to wonder if there was something going on in this person's life that no one was aware of but that was contributing to the unusual actions. Consequently, I began to pray for this person in a different manner than I had been previously. In a  matter of only a few days, it was revealed to me that this individual was indeed going through some very severe trials and their behavior was directly a result of the situation. Had I not benefited from the message found in Tomorrow's Garden, it may never have occurred to me that this person was desperately in need of prayer, comfort,  and support. 

I  know that I have digressed somewhat from providing a simple book review but I wanted to give you my personal testimony about the immediate influence this book had on me. I have taken a  rather round-about way to let you know that this book fulfills my personal requirements to be qualified as an extremely good book. This is one that I will read more than once.  I highly recommend this book to you and hope that you will waste no time in getting your own copy of Tomorrow's Garden. You won't be sorry you did!

Tomorrow's Garden was provided to me by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for review purposes. I was not obligated to give a positive review and received no other compensation for this review.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Interview with Amanda Cabot, author of Tomorrow's Garden

Today I am blessed to have author Amanda Cabot as my guest on Write About Now.

Welcome, Amanda! It is so nice to have you with us today. Before we begin the interview, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

The short version is, I’ve always wanted to be a writer and now I’m living out that dream, but here’s my official bio:
Amanda Cabot has always been a dreamer, and so it’s no coincidence that her first books for the CBA market are called Texas Dreams. Set in the Hill Country beginning in 1856, these deeply emotional historical romances showcase God’s love as well as that between a man and a woman. The first in the trilogy, Paper Roses, was a finalist for the Carol Award. Scattered Petals received critical acclaim, and the final Texas Dreams book, Tomorrow’s Garden, has just been released. A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a full time writer living in Cheyenne, WY with her high school sweetheart/ husband of many years.

That's quite an impressive background! Let's talk about your writing. Why don't we begin with your least favorite part of the writing process?

Without a doubt, first drafts are my nemesis. I used to get halfway through one and be convinced that I had created the worst prose in the English language and that my editor would roll on the floor laughing just before she canceled my contract. Now I know that it’s not the worst prose – perhaps it’s the second worst – and that I can fix it during the second draft. The truth is, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I start the second draft and realize that that what I had written wasn’t awful. It simply wasn’t finished.

On the other side of the picture, what is your favorite part of the writing process?

Hearing from readers. There’s nothing better than that. But I think you’re asking about the actual writing process. Having told you how difficult I find first drafts, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I enjoy second drafts. Perhaps I’m an editor at heart, but once I have the first draft completed, turning that ugly manuscript that I refer to as the skeleton into a flesh and blood, living thing is pure joy.

Tell us a bit about your typical, if there is such a thing as typical, day.

I’m one of those terribly organized people who needs a lot of structure, so I do have a typical day. It starts with exercise (essential for reducing stress, not to mention chasing cobwebs out of the brain), a shower and breakfast, and then the rest of the morning is spent writing. Afternoons are for fun, which might involve cooking or sewing or a simple walk around the block, and for the publicity-related part of writing, including email, Facebook, and web page updates.

It is kind of difficult to make the connection between being so organized and being a dreamer. Most dreamers that I have met are not terribly organized so that alone makes you very unique and interesting. Pretend that you just finished your book two days before deadline. How will you celebrate or reward yourself?

I’m cringing at the thought of getting within two days of a deadline and not having the manuscript finished. At that point, I’d be the proverbial nervous wreck, probably not sleeping, and drinking far too much caffeine to stay awake while my fingers flew over the keyboard. The truth is, I try to finish my books at least two months before deadline. I suspect that’s the result of all those years I spent in corporate America, juggling deadlines and trying – unsuccessfully, I might add – to convince my boss that he really could not give me a third Number One priority two days before it was due and expect it to be done on time. As for celebrations, I usually take a few days off between books so my husband and I can take a trip.

It does indeed sound as if you are an extremely organized person and I envy that. I used to be much more organized but lately it seems that any plans or schedules I develop are inevitably doomed to failure. I hope to be able to get some of those skills under better control while school is out for the summer. Do you focus on one project at a time or do you have multiple projects going simultaneously?

I have a lot of admiration for authors who can work on multiple projects, but that just doesn’t work for me. I get so deeply involved in my characters’ lives that it would be jarring to switch to another story.

What was your favorite subject, or subjects, in school?

I loved foreign languages. It started with Latin, which I learned in seventh grade. I found it exciting to be able to read classics in their original language, but there were some disadvantages to dealing with what everyone called a dead language. After all, how many people do you meet who actually speak Latin? All that changed when I started learning French. I really fell in love then. The language is so beautiful, and people actually speak it. After that, I was hooked on modern languages and studied Russian, German and Spanish as well as French. I wound up majoring in French in college and was fortunate enough to be able to study in France. I also lived in Germany while my husband was stationed there with the Army, so I’ve had a chance to put all those classes to use. Ironically – or perhaps not – my first job out of college was as a computer programmer, learning a couple new languages that no one speaks. I felt as if I’d come full circle.

I wish you could meet my daughter. She is studying to be a translator and is studying several different languages simultaneously. She lives in Paris and is attending the university there, so you would have much to share with her.

You and I have had previous discussions about things that we have in common. You have revealed even more with your remarks about Latin and computer programming. I too studied computer programming and also took four years of Latin and loved it, especially when we got to the point that it was all the translation of historical works such as Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars.  I too wondered about the value of studying a dead language but the advantage of understanding root words in English vocabulary was extremely beneficial. Now I am teaching Latin to our students in fifth and sixth grades and loving every minute of it. I just received a letter from one of my students thanking me for the instruction and indicating how much it has helped her with her English.

Moving on with the interview, what is your favorite meal?

I used to travel a lot for business, and – though some might find it hard to believe – restaurant meals quickly lost their appeal. But I did develop a favorite meal and tried to have it once on every trip. It started with a tossed salad with lemon wedges instead of a dressing. That was followed by grilled salmon, a naked baked potato and green beans with no butter or spices. Are you frowning at this point, thinking that I must be some sort of weird person who’s afraid of fat? Not the case. All that virtuous eating was for a good reason: dessert. Yes, my perfect meal ended with something truly decadent. Sometimes it was French bread pudding, covered (of course) with a caramel sauce. Other times, it would be cheesecake. Still other times, a hot fudge sundae. And then there was my favorite – a restaurant that produced a dessert sampler. Half a dozen different treats, all waiting for me to eat them. I’m getting hungry, just thinking about it.

You are really making me hungry and it's a good thing I haven't been to the grocery yet.  Otherwise, I would be walking away from this interview to go to the kitchen and gather the ingredients to concoct a dish of bread pudding but I think I would go with lemon sauce instead of caramel! I agree with you about restaurants not having much appeal. About the only thing I enjoy about eating in a restaurant is that I don't have to clean up after the meal. 

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

I like that one! Too often we allow fear to govern our lives and need to be reminded that there is no need to fear for He will never leave us and never forsake us.

Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a space that is all yours just for your writing? Can you describe your work area for us? If you don’t have a place of your own, can you describe what you would consider to be an ideal work area?
 Although I’ve managed to write everywhere from hotel rooms and airport lounges to a friend’s guest room, since we moved to Cheyenne, I’ve been fortunate to have my own office. It’s wonderful to have all my research books close at hand, not to mention having framed copies of my book covers on the wall as inspiration. The best/ worst part is that I have sliding glass doors leading to the back yard, and sometimes the view from those windows, particularly the antics of birds at the birdbath, are distracting.

That sounds ideal to me. What’s up next for your readers?

The big news right now is the publication of Tomorrow’s Garden, the third of the Texas Dreams books. I’m very excited about its release and hope that readers enjoy it as much as they did the first two books. I know some readers have been frustrated with the fact that those books weren’t released as quickly as they would have liked. It was fourteen months between Paper Roses and Scattered Petals and thirteen months until Tomorrow’s Garden. The good news is, my publisher listened, and the wait for Summer of Promise will be shorter. It’s the first of my Westward Winds trilogy, and it’ll be out next January. For me, 2012 is going to be an exciting year, because in addition to that full-length book, I have a Christmas novella scheduled out in September. It’s a stand-alone story, also set in Wyoming.

I have to confess that Tomorrow's Garden is the first book of yours that I have read. However, I enjoyed it so much that I recently obtained Paper Roses and can't wait to find time to read it. Do you have any words of wisdom to share for those who are just starting out on the writing path?

I have three pieces of advice. The first is to read extensively in the genre you want to write. That’s the best way to learn what a publisher is buying. Secondly, join a writer’s group. ACFW is wonderful for writers in the Christian marketplace, and Romance Writers of America is excellent for anyone interested in writing romance. A writer’s group provides support, networking and so many other resources to the aspiring writer that I can’t over emphasize the importance of joining one. And lastly, never give up. Rejection is a fact of life. I won’t sugarcoat it: rejection hurts. But if you let it defeat you, if you stop sending out your manuscript just because it was rejected, you’ll never be published. Believe in your book and in yourself. Oh … that was four pieces of advice. Sorry!

All of those are excellent advice. Thanks for sharing the wisdom and lessons that you have learned with us.  Is there anything else you would like to add before we say farewell?

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I’ve enjoyed our time together.

Thank you, Amanda, for joining us today. It has been my pleasure to visit with you and introduce you to my followers. Readers, be sure to check back in a few days for my review of Amanda Cabot's recent release, Tomorrow's Garden. To learn more about Amanda and her books, visit her website at

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where Love Once Lived by Sidney W. Frost

Where Love Once Lived is a well-written love story, a story about a love that has remained constant even though the lovers have been separated for thirty years.

From the cover:

She'd once loved a bookmobile driver. Memories of that time with him poured in so rapidly she caught her breath. It'd been long ago, but her heart remembered. At first she remembered the love she'd felt back then, but the good memories didn't last long. She'd gone to the bookmobile as usual that last day, but nothing was to be the same again. She went to Brian with love and exciting news. She left alone. Not just without him, but alone in the world and apart from God.

Is it ever too late to find happiness? "No," says Sidney W. Frost in his inspirational Christian novel, Where Love Once Lived. Brian Donelson returns to his hometown after a thirty-year absence to win back his beloved Karen. But Karen, who has grown closer to God than he has, harbors a secret that keeps her away from Brian at all costs. While driving the local bookmobile, Brian struggles to earn her trust, even as he grapples with secrets of his own. With God's help, can these two find happiness? Beautifully written and told with wit and grace, Where Love Once Lived is a moving love story filled with the glory of God.

About the author:

Sidney W. Frost is a Stephen Leader, a Stephen Minister, and a member of his church choir at First United Methodist Church in Georgetown, Texas. He has served on the session at a Presbyterian church, and has been on the vestry at Episcopal churches.

While singing with the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus, he was in 42 productions. He and his wife, Celeste, sing with the San Gabriel Chorale and have been in several Berkshire Festivals.

He is an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College where he teaches computer courses. He received the adjunct teaching excellence award in 2005.

While attending the University of Texas in the 1960's he worked part-time at the Austin Public Library driving a bookmobile after completing service in the U.S. Marines.

He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Writers League of Texas, and the San Gabriel Writers' League.

He has a Master of Science degree from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Long Beach.

My opinion:

Most of the books that I read, and there are many (just ask my long-suffering husband), by male authors are books about mystery and suspense, filled with breath-taking action and adventure. Therefore, when I heard about this book, written by a male author, and learned it was not the usual fare but was, instead, a love story, I wondered how a love story might be presented by a  male author. I was very interested to see if it would be very different from a love story written from a female perspective. I have to say that Mr. Frost has written a touching, heartfelt, romantic story. He has done an excellent job of portraying the love from the viewpoint of the male figure. In Brian, Mr. Frost has molded a character who portrays the attributes that Christ demands of a husband in Ephesians 5:25-33 (KJV) when He says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church..."

This is not a story about the love of a young person who is discovering love for the first time. It is about a love that is seasoned, a love that endures the test of time and still burns just as brightly, if not more so, as it did in its youth. For anyone who has ever doubted the power of love, I recommend that you read this moving story of two people who made mistakes and consequently lost that first love and their subsequent journey to recover it. In a very realistic and heartfelt manner, we see how how each of the lovers dealt with those mistakes. One drew closer to God while the other turned away. Through it all, God remained constant and steadfast, never-changing, never failing. This is truly a story that demonstrates the truth of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4 (KJV) that says, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind..." Since Cruden's Bible Concordance tells us that the word charity is also translated to mean love, then we could substitute the word love in this scripture to read that "Love suffereth long, and is kind..." Indeed, the love that Brian and Karen share and the love that Christ displays to them most definitely fit this description.

But, will love be enough to overcome all of the past mistakes?  Will love endure when the secrets that both Karen and Brian have hidden from each other are revealed?  Will it be enough to surmount all of the obstacles that stand in the way?  Can love break down the barricades of hurt and bitterness that have been allowed to fester and flourish?  Is it strong enough to bring about healing and  forgiveness? For the answers to these and many other questions, you will have to read the book - I'm not telling!

Where Love Finds You can be purchased online at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. It is also available in Kindle format.

I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. I was not obligated to provide a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Announcing the Winner:

You know what they say about the best laid plans? Well, I am here to testify that you can make all the plans you want to, develop all the schedules you desire, set time-frames to complete certain tasks, and all of those detailed plans can come to a screeching halt when technology enters the picture. For example, it was my PLAN to announce the winner of the drawing for Kaydie, written by Penny Zeller, yesterday afternoon. What was not in my plans was for was for my Internet to go down for several hours, thus completely negating all of my carefully laid plans.
So, with my apologies once again (I seem to be doing that a lot lately), it is now time to announce that the winner of the drawing for Kaydie is:
Unfortunately, there were several comments submitted for this drawing which had no email address accompanying them. Therefore, I reluctantly had to disqualify those entries since I had no way to contact those people. Please accept this as a friendly reminder to always leave an email address when you enter a giveaway so that the blog host will be able to notify you if you win.
Diana, I will be sending you an email shortly requesting your address. Readers, Diana will have ten days to contact me. If I don't hear from her by May 11th, another name will be drawn and a new winner selected.
Thanks so much for all of the encouraging remarks that were left for Penny. I have grown to love Penny and consider her a dear friend. She has such a sweet, kind, and generous spirit; I feel honored to have had the opportunity to introduce her to so many of you.
A new giveaway will be posted very soon so check back again for the chance to win yet another good book.
May God richly bless each and every one of you!
Jan Marie

Saturday, April 23, 2011

CSS People of the Book Blog Tour and Contest

Interview with Kathi Macias

People of the Book is the fourth and final book in your Extreme Devotion series. Each book is set in a different country, with the theme of first devotion and commitment to Christ above all else running through all four. How is People of the Book different, and who/what inspired you to write this book?

People of the Book was the most difficult of the four Extreme Devotion series books to write, but it is also the strongest when it comes to a call to personal commitment to Christ and to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. With each of the books, I began drafting the manuscripts through Internet research, since I had never lived in any of the four countries and had only visited one of them. After the original draft, I worked with someone who either currently lived in the country or who had recently spent many years there. People of the Book was the toughest because the Saudi women I connected with via the Internet were understandably apprehensive about associating with me. Most, in fact, were terrified to do so. I was therefore quite pleased to meet a young woman named Dolly Dahdal here in the States who, until just a few years ago, had spent the majority of her life in Saudi Arabia and understood perfectly why I had chosen to write this book. We shared a passion to help expose the fallacy of “honor killings,” a horrific crime perpetrated primarily against women and girls who in some way bring “dishonor” on their Muslim families, and Dolly was a major contributor to the authenticity of this book.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

Eighteen-year-old Farah, who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, wants nothing more than to develop a deeper, more meaningful devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and she pursues that goal throughout the holiday. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. At the same time, her only brother, Kareem, who has never liked Farah, actively seeks an opportunity to expose her for the sham he believes she is.

Meanwhile, Farah’s seventeen-year-old cousin, Nura, has begun to frequent an online chat room where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. While there, Nura becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian named Sara—and a friendship quickly develops. However, Sara has problems of her own due to her fifteen-year-old brother Emir’s involvement with a gang.

The lives of Farah, Nura, and Sara ultimately dovetail until each finds herself at a place where her faith is put to the test. Will they remain faithful to the end? Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution and treachery? Or will they be required to pay the ultimate price for their faith?

Kathi, how did you get into writing? Has it always been your passion, or is it something you came to later in life?

I’ve always wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. I was an avid reader even before I started kindergarten. I wrote a short story in third grade that the teacher liked so much she showed it to the principal, and they decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! One day when I was about 13, I was walking home from school with my then boyfriend (now husband), Al, and I told him I’d be a writer some day. He often reminds me how blessed I am to have been able to do what I dreamed of all my life.

I understand you’re running a special contest that has to do with this book. Can you tell us about it?

Not only are there several opportunities to win a copy of the book on various blog sites included in this tour, but I’m giving away the entire four-book series at the end of the tour to someone who leaves a comment on one of the blogs, so be sure to check them all out and leave comments on each one!

In addition to writing, you are a popular speaker at women’s event, writers’ conferences, and various venues around the country. How can people find out more about you, your writing and speaking, sign up for your weekly devotional newsletter (in English or Spanish), and/or just view your many book videos, etc.?

They can find me at one of my websites (; or on my Easy Writer blog at There is a “contact” button on my Kathi Macias website if they’d like to send me a message. I always respond to all my emails!

Please join me later this week for my personal review of this outstanding book by the very talented writer, Kathi Macia.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services (

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Kaydie by Penny Zeller

This week Write About Now was graced by a visit from author Penny Zeller. Today, it is my pleasure to bring to you a review of her newest release, Kaydie, which is book #2 in the Montana Skies Series.

Penny Zeller has created a book whose pages leap into life as the extremely credible characters are thrust into situations that no one should ever be forced to face. Kaydie, widowed and pregnant, takes refuge with her sister and brother-in-law following the death of her abusive husband. Kaydie has determined that she will never again be in a situation where she and her as-yet-unborn child will be in danger of being abused. Deciding that love and marriage are only for others, she vows to remain single and raise her child alone.

Jonah Dickenson is a man who has vowed he will never marry. Deserted by his mother when he was just a small child and left with a bitter and drunken father, Jonah wants no part of a wife and family because he fears that he will turn out to be just like his father.

 As we journey through the pages of this book we see Kaydie grow from a meek and cowering girl to a strong and brave young woman. Jonah has grown from the days of a wild and reckless youth into a kind, considerate, and compassionate man.

As Jonah and Kaydie are thrown together more and more often, feelings begin to grow between them. However, both of them are adamant that there will never be anything more than friendship between them. In spite of their dissimilarities, Kaydie and Jonah both share a love for God and gratitude for all that He has done for them.

Throughout the pages of Kaydie, you will experience laughter, fear, tears, sorrow, and joy. You will meet the self-proclaimed matchmaker, Lucille Granger, who declares that she is going to find the perfect wife for Jonah. You will also meet Kaydie's mother, who insists on arranging a more appropriate marriage for Kaydie. It sometimes seems as if Jonah and Kaydie have little control over their lives and will be forced into marriages of convenience by well-meaning individuals.

As I read this book, I was frequently reminded of the scripture in Proverbs 3:5 that says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (KJV) Kaydie and Jonah thought that they knew what they wanted for themselves but Penny Zeller has very capably shown us that, " ...all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 - KJV)

Since Kaydie is the second book in the series, there were several occasions when I found myself wishing that I had read book one first simply because I felt that some portions of the story that were revealed from book one will make it rather anticlimactic to read the first book, which I most definitely plan to do. However, there was nothing in the story that I could not understand and Kaydie can easily stand on its own.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kaydie  and now I am going to offer you an opportunity to read it also. I am certain that you will enjoy it and it gives me great pleasure to recommend it to you. For the chance to win this book, please leave a comment of encouragement for Penny. 

In addition, please become a follower of Write About Now and tell me in your comment that you are a follower for a second chance to win. Be certain to leave your email address in spam-proof format (name[at]provider[dot]com) so that I will be able to notify you if you are the lucky winner. If you do not leave an email address, I will be forced to select another name.

As with all giveaways on this blog, this contest is open only to those who reside within the United States. The giveaway will run until April 29th and the winner will be chosen on April 30th.

A copy of Kaydie was provided to me by the author in exchange for reviewing the book. All statements and opinions are my own and I was not obligated to provide a favorable review.

You can purchase Kaydie and Penny's other books from the publisher, Whitaker House, Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite online or retail book store.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Interview with Penny Zeller

We have a very special guest with us today but first, before I begin the interview with her,  here is a brief biography about this lovely lady.

Penny Zeller is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles in national and regional publications. She is also the author of the humor blog “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” ( She is an active volunteer in her community, serving as a women’s Bible study small-group leader and co-organizing a women’s prayer group. Penny devotes her time to assisting and nurturing women and children into a closer relationship with Christ. Her passion is to use the gift of the written word that God has given her to glorify Him and to benefit His kingdom. Kaydie follows McKenzie in Montana Skies, her first series with Whitaker House. When she’s not writing, Penny enjoys spending time with her family and camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball. She and her husband, Lon, reside in Wyoming with their two children. Penny loves to hear from her readers at her Website,

And now, it is with great pleasure that I welcome a new found friend to my blog today.  Please join with me in welcoming Penny Zeller, author of both Mandie and its sequel, Kaydie.

Hello, Jan Marie, it’s great to be a guest on your blog!

Hello, Penny!  Your bio makes it sound as if you are an extremely busy and active person. It makes me wonder how you find time to write such outstanding books. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I love the creation of characters. My books are character-driven, so I love being able to create situations and dialogue. I enjoy developing how the characters will respond to various situations throughout the book based on their personalities.

What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

That would be easy – editing.

Wow! I certainly didn't expect that quick response! Most writers do say that editing is their least favorite part of the entire process but you answered so succinctly and without hesitation that it is quite obvious just how little you enjoy it! Tell us a bit about your typical (if there is such a thing as typical) day.

I agree, Jan Marie, there really is no such thing as a typical day!  Each day varies, but most of my weekdays follow this routine: When the alarm goes off in the morning, my young daughters come in for some snuggle time and morning prayers. Finally on the fourth or fifth alarm, we climb out of bed and prepare for our day. While my girls are getting ready for school, I spend time alone in God’s Word; then right before breakfast, we read Keys for Kids devotions together.

What a wonderful way to start the day! I work in an elementary school and see so many students come to school each morning with no breakfast, their parents have been yelling at them, or they have had to fend for themselves just to get to school at all. I wish more students could begin each day in such a positive manner. What a difference it would make!

After dropping my daughters off at school, I spend the first couple hours or so responding to emails and taking care of the marketing side of writing. Then I break for some exercise and to listen to David Jeremiah’s broadcast on the radio.  After that, it’s time for lunch, then back to writing. I spend the latter half of the day working on my newest writing projects.

Because I do a lot of volunteer work, I also factor in time for that as well, which varies from day to day. (And I also fit in the housework too, LOL). Once I pick my girls up from school, writing work for the day is done, unless I’m on a tight deadline. Time for my “mom/wife life” to begin - soccer and piano practice, homework, and preparing dinner before my husband comes home become my focus.

It wears me out just thinking about that hectic schedule. You must have a lot more stamina than I do! Let's pretend that you just finished your book several days before your deadline. How will you celebrate or reward yourself?

My husband takes us out for a delicious dinner at this tiny Mexican restaurant in our town. I am quite fond of cheese enchiladas and Spanish rice. 

That sounds good to me too. What genre do you enjoy reading the most?

My favorite is historical romance. There’s something neat about being able to pick up this genre and escape into a simpler time.

For many years, I was interested only in contemporary reading. It is only recently that I have begun reading more historical fiction and I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of escaping into a simpler time. What was your favorite subject, or subjects, in school?

English was my favorite subject (surprise, surprise) after recess, of course! I liked pretty much all of the subjects in school, with the exception of anything related to math. Math and I have never gotten  along!

Ha! I loved both English and math but didn't care much for the science. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I love so many verses in the Bible that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. However, Psalm 91 is high on the list of all-time favorites.

Good choice and I agree with you on that! That chapter thrills me anew each time I read it! Your most recent book is Kaydie, which is Book 2 in your Montana Skies Series, and is scheduled for release this month. Can you please give us a brief synopsis?

I am thrilled about the release of Kaydie. A short synopsis is as follows:

Since the death of her abusive husband, Kaydie Kraemer’s life has been easier, but she’s wary of men and builds a wall of protection around her, staying with her sister McKenzie as she awaits the birth of her baby. Haunted by her painful marriage, Kaydie is determined never to fall in love again, and it will take the grace of God to change her mind—the same grace that works in the heart of ranch hand Jonah Dickenson, a confirmed bachelor who has unhealed wounds of his own to overcome.

Cindy Sproles produced a fantastic book trailer for Kaydie, which can be viewed at

I was fortunate enough to be able to read an advance copy of Kaydie and I can promise everyone that they will fall in love with Kaydie and the other characters in this book. Where can readers purchase a copy of Kaydie?

Kaydie is available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon at

What’s up next for your readers?

I just finished the third book in the series, Hailee, which is scheduled for release in September. I'm also working on a second historical romance series that takes place in the Post-Civil War Era. I recently finished book one in the series and have started writing book two.

I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new books! Where can fans find you on the Internet?

I love to connect with my readers at my website, my blog; on Twitter at; and on Facebook at

It's been a real pleasure to have you join us today, Penny! Do you have any parting comments for our readers?

I would like to thank you, Jan Marie, for having me here, and also thank my readers for their support and encouragement. I couldn’t do it without you! Secondly, I would like to let everyone know that from April 1 – May 15 is my official blog tour for Kaydie. I will have all the details (including a chance to win Hailee, the third book in the series) on my FB author page, so be sure to stop by!

Be sure to visit again on Sunday when I will be posting a review of Kaydie and giving you the chance to win a copy of Penny Zeller's newest release!