Sunday, February 27, 2011

Author Leanna Ellis ~ Cover My Shift #2

SUNDAY March 6 89:13 AM ~ Congratulations to our giveaway winner: Lelia!
And, once again, thank you Leanna for "covering my shift," and to all of my readers for leaving comments.

Today, I'm excited to have fabulous women's fiction author Leanna Ellis "cover my shift." Even if we didn't share an agent and a mutual tendency toward giggle-fits, I'd be nuts about Leanna because of her work: funny, quirky, imaginative, and heart-tugging stories . . . how can you not love the title of her debut inspirational novel: Elvis Takes a Back Seat? I was hooked! And then she reeled me in with Lookin' Back Texas, Ruby Slippers, Once in a Blue Moon, and today's giveaway book: Facelift:

In life and love, we could all stand a few nips and tucks . . .

Kaye Redmond, a "can do" kind of woman, has the magical touch when it comes to staging houses to attract buyers. Her ability to make things "perfect" has served her well in her career. If only it could transform her personal life as well. With a failed marriage, an angry teenage daughter, and an ex-mother-in-law who is no fairy godmother, Kaye's life is about as imperfect as it gets.

But sometimes blessings come in the strangest packages. Like her ex-mother-in-law landing on Kaye's doorstep after a botched facelift. Could caring for the impossible woman help Kaye get what she wants most: her husband back? Isn't that what God would want? And what her daughter needs? But no fairy princess ever faced such obstacles: an ex-husband's surgically enhanced mistress, hormonal teenagers, and--worst of all--an extra handsome prince! How's a woman supposed to find happily-ever-after with all that going on?

Check this Amazon page to see a wonderful book trailer for Facelift.
And you're more than welcome to visit Leanna at her Facebook Page as well--always something fun happening there!

Here's Leanna's brief biography from the back of the book:

"Leanna Ellis, formerly known as Leanna Wilson, has sold more than one million books and been published in more than twenty countries. A recipient of the Reader's Choice Award, she lives with her family in Texas."

And now, here's a note from my friend Leanna, just for you:

What an honor to step in for Candace today! Thanks, Candace, for trusting and inviting me here and thanks to her readers for giving me a precious moment of their time. Thankfully, this duty doesn’t require knowledge of stethoscopes, I.V.’s or surgical procedures, because the sight of blood, the smell of antiseptic and the sound of others in pain are things I try to avoid. I can tell you that Candace is wonderful and nurturing and she would be my first choice for a nurse, but if you’re sick you really don’t want me around.

So, what do Candace and I have in common besides writing? When I think of Candace and the times we have spent together, I always think of laughter. We love to laugh. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” When I’m with Candace I get my monthly quota of laughter. Although Candace usually writes with drama and angst, I often have humor infused in my writing. Even when I write about deep, serious subjects, I just can’t seem to go for too long without some sort of humor. Right now, I’m writing an Amish/vampire book. Yes, you read that correctly. Okay, I’ll wait while you stop laughing. Go ahead get it all out. Finished? Yes, it’s true, I really am writing an Amish/vampire book called Forsaken and a publisher has even bought it. It’s actually a serious book in that it’s a story about good versus evil and it’s a bit darker than my last few books but I totally loved writing it. Still, I couldn’t help but add touches of humor, and since I have one major character that is Cajun it was easy for him to see things in his own unique way.

Another thing Candace and I have in common is food. We love food. She loves to cook, and I love to eat. Even though I have learned to make Paula Deen’s beef stroganoff, which I must say is yummy, I am not much of a cook. But Candace… oh boy! She writes on her Facebook page what she’s cooking each night, and she has a knack for making it sound delicious. One night, I’m gonna show up on her doorstep in time for dinner!

One last thing Candace and I have in common is our love for animals. Last year I interviewed Candace on my blog and also interviewed her horse! I often write about my personal adventures with my crazy labradoodle, which we have affectionately named the Hilo Monster. Hilo was very helpful in the days after my father’s death when I could not write and was needing to put words on the page for my book Facelift. Those were dark days for me. But Hilo was not quite a year old and she was into everything. This dog has eaten over eight pairs of eyeglasses, so many pens I lost count, nine spicy chicken wings (bones included), half a turkey, a bunch of grapes, a chocolate Easter bunny (foil wrapper included) and who knows what else. She regularly jumps on my dining room table. Obviously she does not obey well, but quite frankly she makes me laugh. So I began writing about her and she burrowed her way into my novel and not only helped me write Facelift but also helped my heroine loosen up a bit. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” And maybe that laughter and healing is what Candace and I have in common the most. May you find some laughter today and true healing through our Lord and savior.

Thanks for joining me here today, and thanks, Candace, for not making me don scrubs or a stethoscope because I much prefer my writing outfit: pjs and houseshoes.

Ah, thank you, Leanna--and you are welcome at my table any time.

And, now: Let's have book giveaway!

Leave a comment below, for a chance at a signed copy of FaceLift. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you.
I'll draw the winning name on Sunday, March 6th.

Good luck to everyone!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Enter the Hero . . .

Sunday 2/27 10:12 AM
I so enjoyed your responses, that I decided to draw TWO winners: CONGRATULATIONS to JAN MARIE and to KELLY. I will be sending you each signed copies of Critical Care!
As many of you know, I love to open my novels with an action scene, physical, emotional, and loaded with conflict. I want to grab my readers and pull them, breathless, into my characters' world. And in all three Mercy Hospital books, this scene introduces the story's hero. Like in this opening snippet from Critical Care, a finalist for the 2010 Carol Award:

Don’t die, little girl.

Dr. Logan Caldwell pressed the heel of his hand against Amy Hester’s chest, taking over
heart compressions in a last attempt to save the child ’s life. Her small sternum hollowed and
recoiled under his palm at a rate of one hundred times per minute, the best he could do to mimic
her natural heartbeat. A respiratory therapist forced air into her lungs. Don’t die. Logan glanced
up at the ER resuscitation clock, ticking on without mercy. Twenty-seven minutes since they’d
begun the code. No heartbeat. Not once. Time to quit, but--he turned to his charge nurse, Erin
Quinn, very aware of the insistent wail of sirens in the distance. “Last dose of epi?”

“Three minutes ago.”

“Give another.”

Logan halted compressions, his motionless hand easily spanning the width of the two year
old’s chest. He watched until satisfied with the proficiency of the therapist’s ventilations,
then turned back to the cardiac monitor and frowned. Asystole--flat line. Flogging this young
heart with atropine and then repeated doses of epinephrine wasn’t going to do it. A pacemaker,
pointless. She’d been deprived of oxygen far too long before rescue. Logan pushed his palm into
Amy’s sternum again and gritted his teeth against images of a terrified little girl hiding in a toy
cupboard as her daycare burned; and a frantic search in a suffocating cloud of smoke, amid the
chaos of two dozen other burned and panicking children . . .

Exciting, commanding--offering a hero who takes center stage immediately. In the *working draft of my newest book, (tentative title) Trauma Plan, I plan to introduce hero Jack Travis in similar fashion:
“Man on fire!”
What ?
Jackson Travis hurled his duffel bag to the floor and charged back out the clinic’s door, his government-issue mountain boots pounding the splintered wooden porch. He squinted into the April sun: the parking area was swarming with people. A car swerved toward the San Antonio Street curb, brakes screeching, as he vaulted over the porch rail. Honks joined a rising barrage of shouts and screams.
“Someone’s burning up--film it!”
Jack waded into the crowd, clenching his teeth at a confirming whiff of smoke and singed hair, far too reminiscent of those long-ago weeks in Khandahar. . . . {scene shortened for excerpt} . . .

“Hold still!” Jack raced forward, knelt beside the victim—felt an immediate jab of pain in his right knee. He ignored it and went to work, blinking against the smoke and flames as he stripped off his field jacket. “Don’t move, sir. I’ve got you.”

He used the heavy fabric to extinguish the flames; patting, slapping, smothering the still-hungry blaze. Then swaddled the man inside the jacket and eased him down to the dusty asphalt. The burn victim struggled, whimpered, and Jack pinned his arms as gently as he could to keep him from getting up again. The raw panic in the old man’s eyes made Jack’s throat tighten. “Easy, buddy. Hold still,” he whispered. “Let me help you now". . . .

Besides the action, each opening scene aims to give the reader a glimpse into the emotional character of the hero. Logan Caldwell's internal plea that his patient won't die.
Jack Travis' visceral reaction to the burning man's pain, his gentle, reassuring whisper.

I think the combination of strength and compassion is important in a hero. Add his willingness to fight for a cause (for Logan, building a top-notch medical team) (for Jack, saving his urban free clinic), a good measure of human flaws, a conflict-filled situation that forces him out of his comfort zone and challenges him to change . . . and you have the makings of a story.

Of course, if it's a romance--and it is, if I'm writing it--there will be an equally compelling heroine. Stay tuned, in a couple of weeks, I'll give you an opening glimpse at Nurse Chaplain Riley Hale, the leading lady for Trauma Plan.

And be sure and stop by next Sunday, when fabulous author Leanna Ellis "covers my shift."

But right now, let's have a book giveaway! Leave a comment below for your chance at a signed copy of Critical Care. If you haven't read it, here's your chance. If you have, keep it for your collection of autographed books, gift it to a friend . . . or donate it to your favorite library. I want to keep sharing this (exciting and) encouraging story of hope.

Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you if I draw your name.

I'll pick the winning name in a random drawing on Sunday, February 27th.

Good luck!

* This brief, edited snippet is a working draft, and will very likely change in the (several) revisions that happen before the book goes to print*

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Winners!

This morning I dropped your names into my pretty crystal bowl, stirred them up . . . and drew two giveaway winners:

Wilma M. will receive a signed copy of Thicker than Blood

Karen K will receive my Advanced Reader Copy of Bound by Guilt

Congratulations! And a big thank you to author CJ Darlington for "covering my shift!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Author CJ Darlington ~ Cover My Shift # 1

I'm SO excited to tell you that the wonderfully talented author CJ Darlington has offered to "cover my shift" today. Some of you already know her work, but for some this will be a new introduction. Let me tell you that her wonderfully drawn characters in Thicker than Blood and( soon to be released) Bound by Guilt captured my heart, and the fast-paced and emotional stories kept me turning the pages! Today CJ has a special message for you. But first, here's a brief biography of this amazing young woman:

C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats.

And now here's that special message from CJ just for you:

Even though we live on opposite coasts, Candace Calvert and I share a few things in life---like wonderful Tyndale House editors and the love of flavored coffee. But one thing we've recently discovered about each other is our mutual love of horses. I don't own a horse of my own (yet), but I've been privileged to know several who've touched my heart. I'm not exactly sure what it is about horses that attracts people, especially us gals, to them. Maybe it's that amazing combination of beauty and strength all rolled into one furry package. But there's something, and I'm glad God made them for us to enjoy.

One of the joys of being a novelist is the ability to include many of our interests in our novels, and Candace and I both got to put horses in our latest books! Finally all those hours of barn time are being put to good use, right Candace? Ha ha.

Have you ever thought about how horses forgive like God forgives? How many times will we make a mistake that upsets our horse only to turn around the next day and they're nickering for us at the gate? They live in the moment, as do all animals, and it's a great reminder of how we should too. After all, didn't Jesus say to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread? Don't worry about tomorrow for it has enough worries of its own?" Horses get that. They apply it to their lives. They don't care how much money we have, what we look like, or who we are in the world. It's what's in our hearts that counts.

So while Candace is pounding away at the keyboard to bring you her next soulful drama, may we take the time to give some extra attention to the animals in our lives and remember that God put them there to bring us great joy! (Of course, our cats are there to keep us humble.) Animals aren't our whole lives... but they make our lives whole.

Thanks for letting me scrub in here, Candace! Keep up the great work, my friend. We're all rooting for you!

Very best,

Oh, I SO agree about the animals . . . Thank you, CJ! Now here is an introduction to her upcoming release, Bound by Guilt:
Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?

And here's Thicker than Blood, her award-winning debut novel:

Winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest

Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged, younger sister, May, who she abandoned in their childhood after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. May’s Triple Cross ranch could be the safe haven she’s searching for, but will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?

Trust me, both of these books are must-reads, and here's your chance to win a copy. Leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. I'll randomly draw two names on Monday, February 7th. One lucky person will receive my Advanced Reader Copy of Bound by Guilt. And the other winner will receive a signed copy of Thicker than Blood, courtesy of CJ.

Be sure that you leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you.
I'll post winning names here on Monday the 7th.

Best of luck to all of you. And thank you, CJ, for covering my shift!