Saturday, September 13, 2008

What Had Happened Was

What had happened was I went clubbin’ the other night and got looped. My boss had been riding my back all week for no reason other than he could. To add misery to sorrow, I had accidentally shredded a report that I’d been working on all week. The icing on the cake was when I arrived home that night from my nightmare job, I found that my dog had forgotten all of his training and had left little surprises all over my house. I deserved to get drunk.

What had happened was I met someone. No, he wasn’t a Christian, but he owned his own company, drove a Jag, traveled all over the world, and owned 5 homes—3 of which are in other countries. He showered me with flowers, jewelry, and attention. He made me feel like a million bucks. He gave me so much; I wanted to give him something in return. Okay, so I slept with him. The Lord knew my weaknesses, if He hadn’t wanted me to go there, He should have sent me a saved man a long time ago.

What had happened was I added a design to my ex’s car. I didn’t have to use fancy tools to do it, either. My car key was very effective. I just put metal to metal, added a little pressure and voilĂ —a new design. What? He deserved it. He was a lying cheat who worshipped that car’s tire tracks.

What had happened was I told people some things that were shared with me in secret. This girl I know was a prostitute before she accepted Christ as her savior. Listen, I wouldn’t have said anything if she didn’t act like she was all that and a honey bun now that she’s saved. Granted, she hasn’t exactly done or said anything out of line, but she is what she is. I know what you’re thinkin’, but you can keep your scorn to yourself. All I did was speak the truth.

What had happened was I saw myself in the mirror and became sick. My reflection was a clear image of sin. I had exercised my right to make choices, and had made some wrong choices. My heart hammered against my ribs, and I fell to the floor in despair. I rocked and cried like a baby until I was empty. Then I asked the Lord to forgive me and wash me clean. I rose from the floor and stood before the mirror again. My reflection was covered in blood—Christ’s blood—because what had happened was I had been forgiven.

Written by Toni V. Lee

About Toni V. Lee

I love to curl up with a good romance novel, and I'm passionate about writing inspirational romance novels. I'm committed to communicating the message of Christ through my novels and plays; hence my motto: Spreading Truth Through Fiction.

My first novel, Expectations, was released on April 6, 2007. Prior to my work on Expectations, I published my first stage play, The Crown Mystery.
I'm a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, and I'm a member of the leadership team of the CIC (Complete in Christ) Singles' Ministry of my church.



I'd like to tell you a little bit about my first published novel, Expectations. It was released on April 6, 2007.

Expectations is a romantic comedy-drama about a woman who prays for a husband and receives more than one unexpected answer.

When Michael Greer barges into Daria Simpson’s home to avoid a belligerent ex-girlfriend, Daria is not impressed. Then Michael renews his relationship with Christ and begins attending her church. Suddenly, the atmosphere becomes electric, and despite her best intentions, Daria can’t get her mind off that man. Soon they’re having monster alerts that have nothing to do with ogres or dragons. Hilarious encounters, eccentric aunties, and a persistent ex-girlfriend give them plenty of action, but nothing prepares them for the arrival of a secret baby who reveals an awful secret.

Will Michael walk away and fulfill Daria’s fearful expectations, or will their attraction mature into a godly love that lasts a lifetime?

I won't give away the ending. I'll let you read it for yourself. :-)

Do you remember a time when your expectations were shattered to bits, but the reality was all good?

Expectations is available at...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trish Perry's Blog Tour - Beach Dreams

Trish Perry is an award-winning writer of The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True. She served for seven years as the editor of Ink and the Spirit, a quarterly newsletter of the Capital Christian Writers organization in the Washington DC area. She has published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media, and she is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Trish lives in Northern Virginia with her son, and has a gorgeous adult daughter and an amazing grandson. You can learn more about Trish at her website,

Beach Dreams

Tiffany LeBoeuf recently lost her mother to cancer. Still grieving, Tiffany seeks rest for her body and soul at a cozy beach house in San Diego. A scheduling mix-up causes a double booking, and Tiffany ends up sharing the house with a woman named Eve. When Eve’s boyfriend, Jeremy, arrives to surprise Eve, Tiffany is surprised as well. He settles in at the beach house next door, and what happens after that surprises them all.

A fun, contemporary romance about how God uses even our mistakes to bring about His divine purposes. Beach Dreams is the perfect get-away read.

Read Excerpt
Buy Now!

Author Interview

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

I’m the middle child; middle girl. I was raised as one of five kids by my British mum and my WWII Air Force vet dad. I lived in Newfoundland (Canada), California, Colorado, and finally Virginia, which I’ve called home for the greater part of my life. I love it here. Most of my family still resides in Virginia, which is a bonus.

My late sister lived a rough lifetime of medical problems, which had a distinct bearing on our family lifestyle and our sensibilities toward the hardships of others. Her eventual death may have been a blessed relief for her, but it was a huge loss for us. The loss is what brought me to the Lord.

Both of my children are believers, which brings me such peace. I have a 29-year-old daughter, who is one of the coolest, smartest, most intuitive women I know. She’s blessed me with a remarkable grandson, now five. And my 16-year-old son is brilliant and funny, and he tells me daily that I’m weird (but I can hear the “I love you” in there when he says it).

What has God been teaching you lately?

I’ve been blown away by how clearly He forgives my weaknesses. Things have occurred in my life over the past 18 months for which (right or wrong) I carried a burden of guilt. You know, that feeling of “how did I contribute to this mess?” Yet He has blessed me so abundantly in the midst of my feelings of conviction, that He amazes me daily with His obvious love. The blessings keep me humbly aware of how much I need Him. And they instill in me such a strong desire to serve Him and to follow His guidance and will.

Where are you headed next?

I’ve just begun work on the follow-up to Beach Dreams, which is tentatively called Sunset Beach. We’re expecting a June 2009 release, but that’s not definite yet. The book’s setting will be the same, but all of the characters will be new. I’m having fun with it!

How did you get involved in writing?

I dabbled with writing on and off when I was a kid, but I didn’t feel the great calling I hear other novelists describe. I didn’t get the itch until I went back to school as an adult. I planned to become a psychological counselor, but my English professors kept giving me wonderful feedback on the writing exercises I did for them, and I realized I liked opening up that right hemisphere and pouring out the ideas. By the time I got my B.A., I decided to skip the doctorate program and focus on writing and getting published.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Being disciplined enough, especially at the beginning of a project, to just sit here at the computer and do it. I’m always amazed, once I’ve put something up there, how easy it is to make it better. If you have something to work with, you’re halfway there. So I’m trying to be better about the beginning of a project—not to over think it before I start.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
I love writing dialogue. What a control freak’s dream, to have control over what everyone says, including the antagonist. If only life were that easy, LOL! But truly, sometimes a scene simply shapes itself right before my eyes when the characters are engaged in dialogue. I don’t know quite what will be expressed sometimes, and I love it when it flows even faster than I seem to be able to think it.

Where did you get the idea for the book?
I wanted very much to write a book about Jeremy and Tiffany, who were secondary characters in my first two books (The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True). I started to write the third book with the same setting as my first two, but then Harvest House asked if I would move the setting to fit The Beach House Series, the first two books of which were written by Sally John. So I started over and made my east coast protagonists travel across country to sunny San Diego. It was fun to create that facet of their story—it added quite a few layers to the plot. In fact, the circumstances of their getting together was completely different than what I originally planned.

What are the major themes of the book?
The importance of seeking God’s guidance constantly surfaces in my stories—the different circumstances that drive my themes usually fit under that umbrella.

Situations aren’t always as they appear, for example, and we can be fooled or we can misjudge others if we don’t constantly seek God’s wisdom and guidance. And sometimes we can miss out on His blessings if we fail to see situations as He means us to.

Another theme that emerged was how difficult it can be when a believer is drawn romantically to a nonbeliever. I’ve touched on the subject before, but in Beach Dreams, the nonbeliever is someone who feels almost real to me (and many readers) at this point. I feel a renewed empathy for Christians in these circumstances. Again, God’s guidance and strength are so important.

What is a mistake - big or small - that you’ve made that you could later see God used for a specific purpose and how did he use it?

I was deeply into adulthood when I went back to school to earn a degree. Rather than fretting over having waited so long, I focused on the fact that now I knew what I really wanted to be. A psychological therapist. You couldn’t have found a more attentive, diligent student, and I did well. So, when I neared graduation and realized I had developed an overwhelming desire to write fiction, I freaked out just a little. How could I switch gears yet again? Had I just wasted years earning a degree I wasn’t going to actually use? That felt like a huge mistake.

But God knew what He was doing. If you want to do an in-depth study of character goals, motivation, and conflict, you go on out there and earn a degree in Psychology. I may not be too quick in the plotting and scene-setting departments, but my psychological training comes in handy when creating characters and walking with them through life. I think that’s why God led me to get that degree, and now I know I didn’t waste a moment learning what I did.

Thank you for stopping by Trish!

Trish would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave her a message.

You can join her on her blog tour at the following stops:

A Christain Romance Writer’s Journey
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Amber Miller
Artistic Blogger
Behind the Mountain
Blog Tour Spot
Book Junkie Confessions
Book Nook Club
Book Room Reviews
Camy’s Loft
Christy’s Book Blog
Edgy Inspirational Author Blog
Footprints in the Sand
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Heart Chocolate
His Reading List
I Don’t Wanna Blog
Kells Creative Musings
Lighthouse Academy
Lone Star Latte and Libre
Margaret Daley
My Christian Fiction Blog
Mystery, Suspense, and God, Oh My!
Net’s Notes
Readin’ N Writin’ with Patricia
Real Women Scrap
Refresh My Soul
See Ya On the Net
Sips ‘N Cups Cafe
So Many Books. . . So Little Time
The Friendly Book Nook
The O.L.D. Blog
The Writing Road
Write by Faith
wandering, wonderings of a whacked-out woman
Writing on the Edge

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kimberly Stuart Blog Tour - Act Two: A Novel in Perfect Pitch


Kimberly Stuart holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa. She is also the author of the Heidi Elliott Series (NavPress). After teaching Spanish and English as a Second Language in Chicago, Minneapolis, Costa Rica and eastern Iowa, she took a huge increase in pay to be a full-time mom. She makes her home in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and two young children.

Kimberly's website:

Julliard Just Moved to Green Acres!

Diva, Sadie Maddox, never thought her Second Act would involve pig farms.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (January 2008) – Sadie Maddox loves New York. She’s the toast of the classical music world and the queen of all she surveys. Sadie is, in a word, a bit of a diva. But lately her CD sales are waning, not to mention parts of her anatomy.

When her agent suggests she take on a professorship at a small liberal arts college, Sadie decides to give it a go. Except the college is in rural Iowa, and the closest thing to designer clothes is the western wear shop down on Main Street. Sadie’s colleagues are intimidated, her students aren’t impressed, and she has to live far too close to farm animals.

Then Sadie meets Mac, a large animal veterinarian. She assumes they have nothing in common—he is, after all, a country music fan. Besides, she’s counting the days until she can end her exile from civilization. Er, New York. Yet when Sadie’s forced to spend some time with Mac, she finds she likes him. Her students, it seems, really need her, and this quiet Midwest community begins to grow on her.

But when the semester ends, Sadie packs up and heads for the city that never sleeps…and finds she can’t either. Will she find the courage and grace she needs to embrace her Act Two?

Release: May 2008
Paperback, 256 pages, $13.99, 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0011-7


* About Kimberly *

If you had to write your memoir in six words, what would they be?
Wanted Angst, Clung Instead to Humor.

In high school and early college, I wanted nothing more than to be the tortured artist. I read and wrote horrible, dark poetry, tried to find the paradox in everything from God to navel oranges, and made my remarkably sunny parents nutty and fretful, usually within one dinner conversation. If you were so inclined, you could dunk yourself in my many journals of self exploration, a journey which, turns out, is frightfully dull when done alone and in denial of how diverse God’s fingerprints really are. It was only after several years of marriage and the birth of my daughter that I fully let go of the idea of being someone I’m not, tossed my inner longings to wear only black and moan songs by Ani DeFranco, and instead embraced laughter and humor as God-drenched gifts to humanity. Laughter truly is medicine and finally I’m ready to take and give a generous dose on a daily basis without feeling like I’m missing the artistic boat.

Where are you headed next?
God willing, I’ll be giving birth to our third child in August, so I’m afraid I won’t be heading anywhere too quickly. Lactation seems to preclude so many of life’s adventures…In addition to caring for our growing brood and being really snippy with my husband for a few months due to sleep deprivation, I have two more books to write with David C. Cook. Act Two is the first of three, and I must ask you humbly to buy it within the next four minutes as it is time-sensitive material. And it’s a pretty good summer read, if I must be so bold. After Act Two will come two more. This will make a grand total of five books so far from the pen of Kimberly Stuart. Don’t place any bets that I’ll try to have as many children as I do books. When it comes to babies, those in print are much kinder on a uterus.

* About the Author *

What’s the most difficult part of the process for you?
*Making myself sit down each day and crank out new material, especially on days when I’m feeling about as creative as a paint tarp.

*Pushing through the middle of a novel, when the characters have lost their initial intrigue and it’d be so much more fun to daydream about the NEXT story to write.

*Getting out of the way of the story. That is, allowing the story to flesh itself out without coercion on my part.

*Being able to, as Stephen King writes, “crucify my darlings,” to part with the elements, characters, plot movements that do not serve the story, no matter how fond I am of them.

What part do you enjoy the most?
Without question, hearing from readers who connect with, cry about, laugh because of the stories I write and then take the time and effort to let me know. Unbelievable and lovely.

* About the the Novel *

Where did you get the idea for the book?
I can’t possibly reveal that to the blogosphere, and I say that only partly because I’ve always wanted to use the word blogosphere. The other reason is that this one percolated for awhile. There was no lightning bolt moment. But I will say that I’m always interested in putting quirky characters in situations that make them woefully uncomfortable and allow the reader to laugh with gusto both at and with the character. A New York opera diva on a farm seemed like a situation that might work for that purpose.

What are the major themes of the book?
Grace, redemption, my love and respect for both urban and rural dwellers, and the under-used gift of laughter.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing with us Kimberly!

Please feel free to leave Kimberly a comment. She'd love to chat with you.

You can also join her on her tour at ...

A Christain Romance Writer’s Journey
Behind the Mountain
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Book Room Reviews
Canadian Prairie Writer
Chatter Matters
Footprints in the Sand
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
His Reading List
I Don’t Wanna Blog
In the Dailies
Kells Creative Musings
Life with Missy
Lighthouse Academy
Musings on This, That, and the Other
Net’s Notes
Real Women Scrap
Refresh My Soul
See Ya On the Net
Sips ‘N Cups Cafe
So Many Books. . . So Little Time
The Friendly Book Nook
The Law, Books and Life
The Surrendered Scribe
The Writing Road
Write by Faith
Writing on the Edge

Monday, June 2, 2008

Suzanne Woods Fisher Blog Tour - Copper Fire

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s just-released historical novel Copper Fire, is the sequel to the three-time award-winning Copper Star, a World War II love story inspired by true events. Fisher was a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today’s Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to ten non-fiction books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs. A wife and mother, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The best thing about being a writer, she feels, is that all of life becomes material for writing. It’s all grit for the oyster.

Suzanne can be found at

During the month of June, Suzanne is running a book-a-day-giveaway contest. To enter, scoot on over to her blog ( to leave a comment or pop her an e-mail:

Copper Fire is the sequel to Copper Star, picking right up at the very end of World War II. On a summer day in 1945, my main character, Louisa, receives a telegram from the International Red Cross Tracing Service. She discovers that her cousin, Elisabeth, has just been released from Dachau. Louisa is determined to go to Germany to get Elisabeth…and that’s where the story begins.

Copper Star (ISBN: 0-9793327-4-5) and Copper Fire (ISBN: 978-0-981-5592-0-9) are available at Amazon or other on-line booksellers, at Suzanne’s website, or can be ordered through your favorite bookstore.

Author Interview:

Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

SWF: Throughout high school, reading and writing clearly became my only interests, despite dismal career options. (Besides, I was hopeless at everything else. True story: I took Algebra and got a “D,” which I blame largely on the thick accent of my Persian teacher. I couldn’t understand him. Sadly, I had to re-take the class in summer school and was greatly disappointed, on the first day, to discover the same Persian teacher standing at the front of the class. (When he saw me, he looked equally disappointed.)

I got another “D.”

Fast forward to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, a small Christian college. I was on the staff of the college newspaper and met a young student named Ginny. We became fast friends. Sharing a love of writing, we kept our relationship going through letters. A few years later, after we had both married and had started families, Ginny called me to ask if I could take over some freelancing jobs. I jumped at the chance. I started writing for Christian Retailing, then Christian Parenting Today, and eventually became a contributing editor for that magazine. And those relationships have opened other doors.

What inspires you to keep going?

SWF: This is an industry in which “no one is looking for you.” Behind every published piece, a writer has a fat file of rejection letters. But, ah, there’s just something about that published piece that makes up for that rejection file!

What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?

SWF: Most favorite part? All of life is material. It’s all grit for the oyster. Least favorite? I still only make a dime an hour. And I still get plenty of rude rejection letters!

Please tell us all about what you are working on these days.

SWF: In late August, Grit from the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, will be released from Vintage Spirit. I wrote Grit with three other very talented authors.

And another piece of great news! I just received a contract from Revell/Baker for a non-fiction book called Amish Peace in an English Life. It won’t be out until 2010…but it is taking up 90% of my brain right now.

After you finish your present project what plans do you have?

SWF: Writing, writing, writing!

Suzanne's Blog Tour Stops

6/2 On Being a Writer

6/3 So Many Books

6/4 Actual Unretouched Photo

6/5 Cecelia Dowdy

6/9 RelzReviewz

6/10 Surviving the Chaos

6/11 Mumblings of a Mommy “Monk”

6/12 Delia Latham

6/16 Bibliophile’s Retreat

6/18 Coming Home—A Christ Centered Blog by Christian Writer Miralee Ferrell

6/19 Dena Dyer

6/20 Amber Miller Writer & Author

6/23 Portrait of a Writer…Interrupted

6/23 Theresa Slack

6/24 Diane Wylie

6/25 Christy’s Book Blog

6/27 Tricia Goyer

7/08 2nd Cup of Coffee

8/03 Trish Berg

12/08 Lena Dooley

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sherri Sand's Blog Tour - Leave it to Chance

Sherri Sand is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. When she needs stress relief from wearing all the hats required to clothe, feed and ferry her rambunctious brood, you’ll find her sitting in a quiet corner of a bistro reading a book (and surrounded by chocolate). Then to elude that calorie consumption you might see her running on the trails throughout Eugene, a city considered to be the running capital of the world. Sherri is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. She finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon where she graduated cum laude.

New Release

Single mom of three, Sierra Montgomery is desperate to find a new job to keep from having to move back home and be smothered to death by her mother’s good intentions and overbearing love. So when Sierra inherits Chance, a quirky old gelding she doesn’t have a clue what to do with, she thinks her best bet may be to sell the horse to cover another month’s rent—a decision that devastates her children.

Enter Ross Morgan, a handsome landscaper who just happens to have an empty barn and fenced pasture…perfect for an old horse to live out his days as the pet of three wounded kids. Ross develops a soft spot for eldest child Braden…and he just might have one for Braden’s mother. But what he doesn’t have is time for distractions—he’s got a landscaping business to run.
But Sierra has a secret. She’s terrified of horses and—thanks to her past—wary of attractive men. Yet seeing the way her angry son idolizes Ross and adores that old horse forces Sierra to confront her fears. Will she remain distrustful and self-reliant, or will she seek help from God and those who love her?


How did you come up with the characters in your book?
They came to me. When I saw Sierra, I knew she was a mom who deeply loved her kids and wanted the best for them. Elise was so fun to write with her over-the-top ways. When she drove up to Sierra’s and pushed her ooga horn, I knew I was going to love her. And Sid is such a dear and reminds me so much of my father-in-law, Art. And Ross, how could you not love him?

Did the theme of forgiveness / unforgiveness that Sierra deals with come from your own life?
In a way it did, though I didn’t consciously implement it into the novel. Just like most of us living in this fallen world, there have been a couple significant events in my life that I had difficulty forgiving. I finally realized that if I waited until I felt like forgiving, it would never happen. And I desperately needed to forgive. The bitterness was choking the life out of me. So with God’s help and through His grace I made the choice to forgive and forgive and forgive. I wish I could say that there was instant peace and joy. Though I think that can happen for people when they forgive, I’d lived in unforgiveness for so long that I had to continually make a choice to forgive until the freedom came. And when that freedom came, it was a wow moment for me!

Thanks for stopping by Sherri Sand’s Leave it to Chance blog tour!

Here are the blogs featuring Sherri during her May 19-23 tour.

Amber Miller:

Blog Tour Spot:

Camy’s Loft:

Chatter Matters:

A Christian Romance Writer’s Journey:

Cliffy’s Mom’s Blog:


Flying Changes:

The Friendly Book Nook:

Horse Book Reviews:

I Don’t Wanna Blog:

In the Dailies:

Leap of Faith:


A Little Bit of Sunshine:

Margaret Daley:

Ma Space:

Musings on This, That & The Other Thing:

Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My!:

Net’s Notes:

Novel Journey:

Penning Prose:

Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted:

Readin N Writing with Patricia:

Real Women Scrap:

Relevant Blog:

Sharon Hinck:

Sips ‘n Cups Cafeteria:

Smells Horsey:

Toni V Lee:

Writing by Faith:

The Writing

Sherri would love to hear from you. Please leave her a comment to be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of Leave it to Chance.

The winner will be contacted via email, so don't forget to include your email address when you post your comment.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

D.C. Stewart's debut book: WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE?

D.C. Stewart grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble with her younger brother on their ranch. She began writing short stories in high school, and won a writing competition at a nearby college at age 17. After graduating, she attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in History, and also met her husband, Scott. She worked for a church in Maumelle, Arkansas as the Communications Coordinator for five years. After moving back to Oklahoma, she chose to stay home with their four year old twin boys, and six month old baby girl, and to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. The Stewart’s live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Where Would Cows Hide? is her first novel.

Author Interview:

**How did you come up with your characters, Charlie and Brad?

A combination of what my brother and I were like as kids, the stories I heard about my husband and his twin when they were kids, and how I imagined my own twin sons acting when they reached eleven years old.

**Do you have experience living or working on a farm?

Any funny stories related to that? Everyone on both sides of my family are farmers, doing a combination of growing wheat and raising cattle. Our house was in town, but we spent most of our time, especially in the summer, on tractors, combines, wheat trucks, in pick-ups, and working cattle. The only funny story I can think of about me is helping my dad, mom, and brother one morning feeding and counting the cows. The cattle all came into the lots except one, and my dad told me to hurry and open the gate to let her in before the other cows could get out. As I pulled the gate open and trotted backward, I tripped over a concrete block used to hold the gate in place, and got hung up in the chain. I was stuck at such a weird angle I couldn't get myself loose and all the cattle were rushing at me to get out. I was kicking and waving all over the place trying to keep them back, but my family thought I was panicking because I was stuck. They still give me grief over that one.

**Brad and Charlie have a quirky younger sister who sometimes drives them crazy. Do you relate?

I have a younger brother who used to drive me nuts all the time, but we were also the best playmates because we are so close in age. I have friends who were the "younger sister" and I remember them getting yelled at by their older siblings all the time.

**Brad and Charlie stay at their grandparents for an annual summer vacation. What's your favorite place to vacation and why?

Honestly, I don't really have a "favorite" place to vacation. We didn't have the opportunity to travel much when I was a kid, so ANY vacation is awesome to me. I love to travel, eat different foods, take in the scenery, watch the people. It's all new and exciting to me.

**As a writing mom, how do you juggle the demands of your kids and your career?

With great difficulty. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who gives me time in the evenings and on weekends to write. Usually if anything suffers between my writing and taking care of the kids, it's our house. I'm more of a relaxed housekeeper (fancy title for slob), and I only move on the housework if there are no clean clothes, we have to order out because there is no room to cook in the kitchen, and if I walk across the floors and they crunch.

Buy Now:

The Parker twins, Brad and Charlie, didn't want to join their parents on vacation in Hawaii. A little sister can be annoying, but little sister, Zoey, was over the top. "The three of us aren't going to Hawaii," she told them. Her parents were shocked by her statement even though it was true. This was not the first time Zoey offered surprising knowledge of future events, nor would it be the last. Arriving at their grandparent's cattle ranch in Oklahoma, the twins learn of the disappearance of cattle from the ranch. This knowledge would set of a series of events that would challenge any detective. There were the mysterious neighbors, the strange lady at church, a psychic lazy dog, and a weird little sister to keep the twins totally confused in their efforts to solve this strange mystery.

Author D.C. Stewart is giving you a chance to win a copy of WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE?, and more!

Here’s how to enter for a copy of WWCH and to enter the grand prize drawing:

1) leave a comment on this blog post (or on any of the blogs participating in the blog tour);

2) email the contest coordinator at with subject line “WWCH ENTRY”;

3) join D.C. Stewart’s ezine list by either sending a blank email to: or visiting and subscribing through the yahoogroups page.

Book winners and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be drawn on or before May 31st, 2008 and will be notified by email. Please make sure you leave a valid email address on applicable blog posts.

Blog Tour Stops:

April 15, 2008 : Lacy Williams at

April 16, 2008 : Donna Moore at

April 17, 2008 : Carolyn Strawder at

April 18, 2008 : Margaret Daley at

April 19, 2008 : Debbie Archer at

April 20, 2008 : Brittanie Terrell at

April 21, 2008 : Gina Conroy at

April 22, 2008 : Justin Boyer at

April 23, 2008 : Charlotte Schofield at

April 24, 2008 : LaShaunda Hoffman at,%20

April 25, 2008 : Jenny at

April 26, 2008 : Laura Williams at

April 27, 2008 : Mrs. Margaret Chind at

April 29, 2008 : Myra Johnson at

April 30, 2008 : Laura Hilton at

May 1, 2008 : Leslie Sowell at

May 2, 2008 : Kathy Brasby at

May 3, 2008 : Camy Tang at

May 4, 2008 : Karla Cook at

May 5, 2008 : Carla Stewart at

May 6, 2008 : Pamela Morrison at

May 7, 2008 : Ashley at

May 8, 2008 : Kim Ford at

May 9, 2008 : Christa Allen at

May 10, 2008 : Heather Thomas at

May 11, 2008 : Deena Peterson at

May 12, 2008 : Michelle Kralicek at

May 13, 2008 : Leah Sande at

May 14, 2008 : Rachelle Arlin Credo at

May 15, 2008 : Amy Lathrop at

May 16, 2008 : Janna Ryan at

May 17, 2008 : Kristy Walker at

May 18, 2008 : Amy Riley at

May 19, 2008 : Mimi Baker at

May 20, 2008 : Kathie Nolasco at

May 21, 2008 : Julia Graham at

May 22, 2008 : Ashley Rutherford at

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blog Spotlight - Vonda Skelton

Vonda Skelton is an entertaining speaker with a heart for women and their families. Her first women's book, Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe, "takes a hilarious look at all things female as we search for truth in a counterfeit world." Her first two books are part of the Bitsy Mystery Series for children 8-14 years old. The third book in the series, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island, will be released in the spring of 2008.

An RN and freelance writer, Vonda's articles frequently appear in magazines such as HomeLife, Christian Single, Focus on the Family publications, and New Man Magazine. An award-winning playwright and lyricist, her scripts have been performed in churches around the country. She is a frequent instructor at writer's conferences and enjoys mentoring and encouraging new writers.

As one who tries--and often fails--to be like Christ, Vonda is thankful God continues to take her messes and use them for His glory!

Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe

We have been seduced by half-truths and whole lies since time began. Remember the garden? In Seeing Through the Lies, author and speaker Vonda Skelton humorously addresses the disappointments women experience as they search for truth while believing a lie. Each chapter opens with amusing anecdotes from real life and ends with answers and guidance straight from God s Word. Exploring topics such as pride, fear, motherhood, and the busyness of life, this book offers practical steps for peeling away the layers of deceit and finding the joy of living in real truth. Through honesty and humility, Vonda takes women on a hilarious journey through all things female and brings them to a soul-searching point of decision. Readers will identify with both the positive and negative examples of women in the Bible, and will be encouraged by Scripture, as well as quotes from notable men and women. Each chapter ends with five steps for exposing the lie and embracing the truth of God s Word.

  • Are you striving to be a woman of excellence, but feel you're landing somewhere between mediocre and unfit?

  • Do you want to be your husband's lover, but feel more like his mother?

  • Are you convinced that busyness is next to godliness?

  • Are you trying so hard to be everything to everybody that you feel like you're nobody to anybody?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone--you've simply fallen victim to the lies of Satan! But you don't have to be seduced by his masquerade any longer. Join the fun as we take a hilarious journey through all things female on our search for real truth in a counterfeit world.

From spider veins and webs of deceit to cartoon characters and feminist funnies, Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe will help you recognize the lies and take joy in the light of His Truth.The suggested Bible readings, small group discussion questions, and meditations on the very words of Jesus will help you discover not only the lies that bind you, but the keys that set you free.

Listen, girlfriend, it doesn't matter who you are or where you've been or what you've done, God is ready to give you a fresh start on a new life--one that can only come through the acceptance of His unchanging truth.

Interview with Vonda

Why did you write Seeing Through the Lies? Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

This book was written out of my passion for women's ministry. We--not just women, but all of us --are deceived by so many lies! They are woven throughout today's culture. I wanted to help us get focused, or in some cases, refocused, on the timeless truths of God's Word. I knew I could reach many more women through a book than I ever could reach through my speaking ministry. So, I started with the key points from my Celebrating Womanhood presentation, where we look at the seasons of a woman's life and come to the conclusion that God can use each of us, no matter our age or situation. After several revisions and rethinking the needs of women, Seeing Through the Lies was born.

What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?

I hope that after women read my book they'll realize that Satan works hard to make us believe his lies, but this is what God wants you to know:

  • Your worth is not dependent on your beauty, your busyness, or your stuff.

  • A happy marriage is one that endures.

  • Motherhood is an honorable profession.

  • God has the power to overcome your fear.

  • You win when you lose.

  • Your life won't be perfect until you reach perfection in heaven.

  • You can't win God's love because of your goodness, and you can't lost His love because of your sin. And that, dear sisters, is the truth.

How do you deal with your other obligations (family, job, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near writing deadlines?

Did you have to ask that question? In all honesty, this is one of my biggest struggles--balancing my time between my husband, my family, my home, my church, and my writing and speaking ministry. The truth is, my husband, Gary, is a dream husband. As I mentioned in the book, his mother made sure he knew how to cook, clean, change diapers, and iron long before we married. And I know you're not going to believe this, but I promise it's true: I never have to ask him to take out the trash, fix the car, or pay the bills. (And no--you CAN'T have him! He's MINE!) So on those days when he comes home from work at 6:30 and there's no dinner on the stove and I'm still at the computer in my pajamas, he doesn't say a word. He simply goes to the frig, pulls out the sandwich makings and asks if I've eaten anything that day. Can you tell I tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to crunch time? Yes, God has to rein me in over and over. I'm kinda like Paul, "I don't know why I do the things I do!" (Now, if somebody out there could just tell me how to go to the potty without having to actually leave the computer--just think how much more I could accomplish in a day!)

What's your favorite worship song, and why?

One of my favorite songs is "Majesty" written by members of Delirious. The line that says, "Your grace has found me just as I am--empty-handed but alive in Your hand" just gets to me. I can see myself standing before Holy God, falling to my knees...empty-handed, with nothing to offer Him. And yet, He takes me just as I am--selfish, self-centered, and proud--and cleans me up to be used by Him. I can't wait to get to heaven, 'cause I know that when I belt out the songs there, it will be beautiful! No off-key notes, no frightened, trembling voice--it'll be loud and clear and powerful! And Jesus will be there, smiling at me. Yep. I can see it now. I'm the lead singer and Hillsong is backing me up. And Jesus is smiling real big. As we say here in the south, it just don't get no better than that!

What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer's stress?

Oh, a banana split always works, as long as it's a real one. That means chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, real fruit, and wet nuts, with whipped cream on top. And anything chocolate, of course. But then you have to balance it with salt, right?

Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

He's teaching me that I need to trust Him more. I recently had so many things going on that I couldn't prepare for three events as thoroughly as I usually do. I found myself feeling vulnerable, weak, and needy. Not that I don't ask for His help every time I speak, but this was different. I was crying out to God, begging Him to fill me with His words, His message. And you know what? Those three events were the most powerful, most amazing events I've ever had! Instead of working from a well-defined plan, I spoke the words God placed in my heart and mind. As always, I had been praying God would use the week's events to change hearts...and He did. He changed mine. I learned to relinquish my agenda and plans to His; to trust Him in a way I hadn't truly trusted Him before. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That week, God's power was made perfect through my weakness. I never want to work in my strength again.

What are some of the lies or myths women tend to believe? And what are the best ways for women to see through the lies and unmask the myths, in order to live the lives God would have for them?

You mean, besides the one that says we have to be a size 2 and perpetually 23 years old? Besides the lies we're most familiar with--like our worth is based on our beauty, our busyness, or our stuff--we look at nine areas of deceit women tend to struggle with, like the lies inadvertently promoted by the Christian community. How many times have we been told, "Just believe God and everything will be wonderful?" Or "If you have enough faith, you won't be sick." (The truth is, Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world.) Or what about the lie that says we'll get married and live happily ever after everyday? The only way we can unmask the myths and find the truth is to go to God's Word. Read His instruction. Take to heart the Bible stories of people who lived through similar experiences and then apply the principals to our own lives.

What are the effects of women being sucked in to the lies? What are the benefits of overcoming this temptation to believe what the world and the enemy would want women to believe?

Regardless of where I go, I find that women are disappointed. We're disappointed in ourselves, in our marriages, in our lives in general. The problem is, we're trying to reach some impossible dream the world sets for us. Living in truth frees us to be what God uniquely created us to be. He wants us to live the abundant life. But we can't do that as long as we're falling for the lies.

I like how you utilize humor in your writings. What is your philosophy about integrating humorous thoughts into writings that have more serious subjects?

Some people believe that Christian women speakers have somehow "arrived." Ha! All you have to do is spend a day at my house and you'll see that's one of the biggest lies of all! Let's face it, we're all in the same boat. We're all struggling along this path called the Christian life. When we laugh at ourselves, we level the playing field and see that we're not alone. That in itself removes a mask. Then we can move ahead to the truth God has for us.

You give great discussion questions at the end of the book that really helps readers assimilate what they have read. Do you have some ideas or suggestions for how churches and other groups can use this book in a group study? How would a group dynamic enhance individual growth?

For a long time, I compared myself to women at church...and always found myself lacking. But when we come together and honestly confess our hardships and celebrate our successes, we encourage each other in the struggle. Isn't it great to have a team of prayer partners who will intercede on our behalf throughout the week? What strength! What love! Oh, just imagine what we can be for Christ when we take off the masks and become real! (By completing either one or two chapters a week, the study can be used as a 6 or 12 week study.)

Win a Free Gift!

You have the opportunity to be placed in a drawing for a free gift selected just for you by Vonda. This is a GREAT prize! Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog tour post, to be included in the drawing, which will be held April 2, 2008. The winner will receive:

  • Designer Gift Box (looks like a piece of luggage with the words "Faith, Family, Friends" on the exterior).

  • One copy each of three books by the author: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe, Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island, Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island.

  • A stretchy bracelet with Sterling Silver Beads, Gold Swarovski Pearls, Turquoise and Blue Zircon Swarovski Crystals and Sterling Silver Masquerade Mask Charm.

  • Bookmark custom-made with Sterling Silver Beads, Gold Swarovski Pearls, Turquoise, Blue Zircon and Clear Swarovski Crystals and Sterling Silver Masquerade Mask Charm on a 4.75 inch Silver Plated Bookmark.

  • Gold Tri-fold picture frame.

  • Pewter-colored oval picture frame.

  • Jeweled decorated cross.

  • Peanut caramel clusters.

  • Caramel Truffles.

  • Mini-Yankee Candle.

  • Three-pack sample tea bags.

  • Sample Columbian Supremo Coffee.

  • Oh My! Itty Bitty Chai Packet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yvonne Ortega Interview

With all the books on cancer survivors already out there, why did you chose to write this book on cancer?
Cancer shattered my world. I wanted a book full of Scripture, prayer, and hope that would assure patients and their families that God would never leave them or forsake them. I also wanted a book that, with honesty and boldness, would address the emotional roller coaster ride that cancer patients, even Christian ones, endure.

Was there anything good that came about through your illness?
Oh, yes. I am a stronger Christian today. I know God loves me and that he is faithful. I no longer doubt his call on my life as a counselor as well as an author and speaker. After going through the trauma of cancer, I counsel with more effectiveness. When clients tell me they are scared, depressed, or angry, I understand because I’ve experienced those same emotions.

During your illness and now in recovery, have you ever asked God, “Why” or “Why me?”
I didn’t ask, but I lashed out in anger at God. I knew he called me to be a counselor. So I spent hundreds of hours studying, writing papers, and completing projects and paid thousands of dollars for my master’s degree in counseling. Half-way through my residency, I received my diagnosis of cancer. I thought the timing was outrageous and let God know it.

Is there ever a time when you can laugh about cancer?
I asked God to help me keep my sense of humor. The day my hair started to fall out, I went to work with wet hair. My colleagues thought I had a power outage. I told them I was afraid to blow dry my hair because I might blow it all off and arrive looking like a Buddhist monk. I laugh now about how angry I was with God. I thought he had made a mistake. Now I understand he used the cancer for good in my life and the lives of others. I laugh every time I reminisce about George, my radiation therapist. He entertained me with stories about his childhood adventures.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your experience in having cancer?
In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, not even cancer. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I prayed that God would use cancer for good in my life and the lives of others, that it would be to his honor and glory, and for furthering his kingdom here on earth. I never dreamed he would do that through the publication of my book, much less through TV and radio interviews and speaking engagements.

Was the Bible real to you during treatment?
The Bible filled me with hope and peace. I clung to God’s precious promises during treatment and wrote verses with special meaning in my 3x5 notebook. Within days, I memorized those passages and repeated them daily. Terrified after my diagnosis, I slept with the Bible literally over my heart. I took my 3x5 notebook with me daily to radiation and reviewed my Bible memory verses on the way to treatment.

Why do some cancer survivors say cancer is the best thing that ever happened to them?

We say this because God has used cancer as a refining fire for us. He has used it to make us better people, stronger Christians, and more powerful in our careers and outreach.

How do you live differently today as a result of having had cancer?

I’ve learned to listen to my body. When I get tired, I take a nap. When I’m thirsty, I stop and drink water. Short breaks from my work help me relax. A weekend at the beach revives me. I don’t put off my plans and dreams because “next year” may never come. I signed up for a phone package with unlimited long-distance calls. Now I can call my family and friends any time. I appreciate the little things in life—thirty-minute walks to enjoy God’s beautiful world, a ride in my friend’s convertible, and sunrise and sunset at the beach. I also left teaching to become a full-time counselor because I felt God leading me to do so. I’ve never looked back.

How did you keep your spirits up while going through the cancer treatments?
I played praise and worship music every day and watched videos and DVDs by Christian comedians. During treatment, I planned the party I would have after completing my residency and obtaining my state license. I selected the music for the dance my friend would choreograph for us to perform. I dreamed about the sheet cake with white icing and hot pink roses with “Yvonne Ortega, LPC” and “To God be the glory” on the cake. I chose the Bible verses for my party invitations. After my diagnosis, I accepted an invitation to present a workshop on writing devotionals at the Maine Christian Writers Fellowship state conference the following August. I listened to tapes and researched the topic to prepare for my workshop and looked forward to the reunion with fellow writers in Maine and snacks of delicious Maine blueberries.

Did you ever think about giving up—that the treatments were too hard?
After my second treatment, my blood counts dropped to 500. Normal is between 4,000 and 11,000. My doctor hospitalized me. She said she would release me when my counts rose to 1,000. My counts dropped two days in a row. I called my parents to come see me, but Dad’s heart condition prevented them from doing so. I feared I would die alone in a military hospital more than an hour from my home.

After my final chemotherapy treatment, I thought I would never stop vomiting. I experienced a weariness that made my bones ache. I had to keep reminding myself that it would soon pass and in a few months I would travel to Maine for the writers’ conference.

What kinds of emotions did you experience during this time?
I experienced denial. If I didn’t talk about the cancer, maybe it would go away.

I experienced anger at God, the government, the Food & Drug Administration, televangelists who preached health and wealth, and anyone who told me Christians couldn’t be angry with God.

Fear overwhelmed me after my diagnosis and at times during treatment.

Depression forced me to my knees in prayer. When I found out the cancer had traveled to one lymph node and adjacent to another, I became depressed.

Are these emotions typical for every cancer patient?

Not every cancer patient will experience all of them. However, these emotions are typical. Also cancer patients don’t experience one feeling, get over it, and then go on to another one. They can go back and forth.

What can people do to help friends who are going through cancer treatments?
Listen without judging them. Expect cancer patients to ride an emotional roller coaster. Send cards, post cards, or e-mail greeting cards, especially humorous ones. Phone and visit them. Prepare a meal for them and take it in a disposable container or help with yard work and house work. Buy groceries and run errands for them. Take cancer patients to their chemotherapy and radiation treatments and pray with them and for them.