Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diann Hunt - A Legacy in Grace, Humor, and Faith

I have been AWOL from this blog for about two months or so. Blame it on a packed schedule of editing my current WIP, preparing for the ACFW 2014 Genesis Writing Contest that I oversee, and life in general.

One very precious and important lady has drawn me out of hiding. Today, a number of ACFW members are paying tribute to fellow author, Diann Hunt, who recently passed away.

Diann was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer about five years ago. For a short while, she went into remission, and then it returned. I lost my best friend to the same cancer about ten years ago. Mary Ann died eleven months, almost to the day, after her diagnosis. I thought with Diann it would probably be about the same

But it wasn't.

God's timing is always what prevails, and He kept her alive for several more years. How long? I can't remember exactly, but during that roller coaster time of good and bad spells, she wrote several more books, including contributions to the Smitten novella anthologies, published by Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. The other authors in that series are Di's nearest and dearest friends, Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter.

She also ministered to many, often writing emails to them from her sickbed, encouraging them in their own struggles with cancer and
other ills. Diann was not only an author and dear friend of many, but a wife, mother, and grandmother. Many are grieving, but none as much as her daughter Amber, son Aaron, and husband Jim. Please keep them all in your prayers. Christmas was Di's favorite time, and their loss will be strongly felt this Christmas.

The number of books Di wrote are too numerous to mention here but Ane Mulligan managed to list quite a few on her blog .

The covers shown here are a couple of Di's books I've not read, but ordered after she died. For Better or Worse is being made into a Hallmark movie and will be on the Hallmark channel in July! Love Letters in the Sand is set during World War II, and then later in the 50s. 

Check them and other Diann Hunt books out for yourself and maybe pick up a few to read . You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Brandilyn Collins' New Release! Dark Justice!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dark Justice
B&H Books (October 1, 2013)
Brandilyn Collins

I have been a fan of Brandilyn Collins' suspense stories ever since I read Eyes of Elisha years ago. After that book Collins quickly became an "auto-buy" for me--and I've never been disappointed. Check out her newest release then run--don't walk--to your favorite book store and pick one up for yourself.


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.


If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Dark Justice, HERE.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ACFW Conference 2013 -- Frank Peretti, James Scott Bell, and Robin Jones Gunn...Oh My!

The past week or so has been a huge blur to me. Before heading out to the ACFW Conference on September 12th, my good friend and writing buddy, Ane Mulligan flew into O'Hare on Tuesday and spent two nights with me.

We first went out for some Chicago style pizza at Lou Malnati's, and then on Wednesday I took her to Lake Geneva, WI, about an hour away, so she could see my hometown and setting for my book in person.
View of the Lobby from overhead ramp

We hit Indy on Thursday and got registered for the conference and settled in our room. A good part of that day was spent hanging out in the hotel lobby giving hugs, and having great conversations about writing.

Thursday night, we headed for P.F. Changs with several other authors for dinner. Dummy me, never brought out my camera
Robin Jones Gunn

The next day Robin Jones Gunn gave the first of her two keynote addresses. I have never heard Robin speak before, but I hope it won't be the last time I do. So encouraging, so insiteful, so uplifting. So transparent.

Me Dressed as my Character with Ane Mulligan
That night, people could dress as their character from their book. What a hoot to see all the different outfits from all times in history and even the future from the speculative gang. I dressed as Meg Alden, my heroine from my 1933 historical romance,  Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Just two weeks earlier, I'd found the coolest hat from that time period in a consignment shop in downstate IL. That hat was the hit of the evening.

Saturday I spent the whole day in James Scott Bell's Quantum workshop on setting the plot for your story. An awesome instructor. I had to leave a couple times for editor or agent appointments, and I really hated to step out.

Saturday night my Penwrights critique group went to an Irish Pub that has been featured on the Food Network and had a great time.

Sunday was more editor and agent appointments, and I ended up playing hooky from the workshops I'd signed up for. I am getting the recordings and will listen to those. So much great teaching I can't wait to hear them all.

Another highlight for most everyone was meeting author Frank Peretti in person. Frank was the recipient of this year's ACFW Life Achievement Award. He spent the entire weekend hanging out and having his picture taken with just about everyone, including me!
Frank Peretti & Me at the Gala

Sunday night was the Awards Gala and my role as Genesis Head Coordinator gave me the huge blessing of being able to announce our nine category winners and give them their award plaques! What a joy to meet most of them in person and see their smiling faces when I announced their names.

Monday, I returned home exhausted, but praising God for yet another glorious ACFW conference.

Hopefully, in the near future I can report some news here, but for now it's all in God's hands. I can't think of a better place to be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Cozy Mystery Series Holds Promise of Good Reads to Come!

Not only does Julianna Deering's new release Rules of Murder take place in the thirties, but the story is written in the style of English mysteries from that period. Not to mention that the cover absolutely invites you to settle in with a spot of tea and get lost in the story.

As an avid mystery reader from the time I first learned to read chapter books and feasted on Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries, I've loved a good mystery. When I grew older I started reading mysteries that were penned in the thirties and forties from Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rhinehart. Thus, I picked up this book with great anticipation.

I found the beginning to be a bit slower paced than I generally like and the opening chapter had so many characters that I became confused more than once and found myself going back to double-check who someone was. For that reason I'd give the book 4 stars if I used the star system here.

But once the dead body (don't all cozy mysteries require a dead body??) was discovered the pace picked up, the cast became less confusing. The main character named Drew Farthing partners up with an American named Madeline and together they try to get to the bottom of the mystery - who is the murderer?

I recommend this read for anyone who likes a good mystery of the cozy variety.

The book was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes. The opinions are completely my ow

 JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Becalmed and Cooking Up Love -- Two Great Reads from Two Great Author Friends!

I am so excited to share news two of my favorite author friends have had their books come out this month. And I've had the privilege of reading both.

Becalmed by Normandie Fischer

 I already gave a strong pitch for this book on my Facebook Page this morning. I cannot say enough about this story. I took it to bed with me every night to read before lights out. I've not had time to read much during the day this summer, but knowing I had the book with its delicious characters waiting for me at bedtime, kept me looking forward to turning in.

If you love sailing, you will enjoy this book. But you don't need to know anything about the sport. Just enjoy the ride as you sail out to sea with Tadie (it rhymes wih Sadie) the heroine. But Tadie's sail hits some rough seas when she encounters Will, the hero. He's a widower with the cutest little redheaded daughter named Jilly. She's a bit precocious, but not obnoxiously so.

It's easy to see Tadie and Will are made for each other, but they're both too blinded by life to notice. How in the world will they ever get together?

I'm not going to tell you, but I will say reading this book is like enjoying a lazy hazy trip to the Carolinas and settling back with a glass of sweet tea and one of Tadie's cookies.

I was sure sorry when I read the last page. Not because of a dissatisfying ending, but because I had to say good-bye to the characters I'd come to love so much.

Watch out for Normandie Fischer. She's a new fiction author we haven't seen the last of. I'm already chomping at the bit for her next book. You can get it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, both on line, and at many of your favorite bookstores.

Cooking Up Love by Cynthia Hickey

 I first read Cynthia's new book when she submitted it to our critique group. I read the first three chapters, and then couldn't wait for her to send more. It's a fun romance that also teaches the reader about the Harvey Girls. I'd heard of Fred Harvey restaurants that used to be scattered around the U.S. before all the fast food restaurants took over. People knew that when you ate at a Fred Harvey you would get good food at a great price.

What I didn't know was that for many years Fred Harvey fed multitudes of train passengers as they rode the rails, crisscrossing the U.S. The trains would stop to refuel and while they were doing that, the passengers would file into a clean comfortable restaurant to dine on food they'd already selected from a menu earlier during the train ride. Everything had to be done precisely and quickly as the train had a schedule to keep.

Harvey Girls were held to strict rules which included no fraternizing with fellow employees of the opposite sex.  Tabitha McClelland knows this, but wouldn't you know that on her train ride to begin training as a Harvey Girl she meets handsome Fred Harvey chef, Adam Foster. Well, she doesn't have any intention of getting involved with a man, so no loss. She wants to travel and live an exciting life.

Adam is falling hard for Tabby and isn't going to take no for an answer. Other girls are angling for Adam's attention when the head waitress, Miss O'Connor (whom I picured looking a bit like O'Brian, the maid on Downton Abby) while all Adam wants is Tabby.

Adam has a plan to settle down in California. Can he convince Tabby that his plan won't be perfect unless she joins him as his wife?

I've loved all of Cynthia's historicals, but she's hit a winner with this series. A short fun, romantic read. Great to take along to the beach or pool...or just lazing in a hammock on a summer's afternoon. You can find Cooking Up Love on Amazon, iTunes,, as well as other sites.