Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Book Tours and More



Book Tours and More wishes all our readers a blessed Christmas. Thank you for your support this year. We look forward to bringing you more great books in 2010!

Cheryl

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: Christmas Cousins by Joy DeKok



SPECIAL HOLIDAY FEATURE

"Christmas Cousins" by Joy DeKok, author of Rain Dance

I got a small doll with a high chair and other extras. My brother got a car race track. As much as we enjoyed the presents, it was the cousins that mattered most.


We were gathered at Dorothy and Lee’s house where they lived with their three boys. My cousin Sheila was there and so was our Grandma. My uncle and dad enjoyed the race track and played with it more than the boys. My brother was a cowboy that year and our cousin Scott an army guy. Sheila and I were pretend mommies and best friends.
We were allowed to stay up late and while that sounded good, I tend to get a little on the goofy side when over tired. I was nearing exhaustion, but nowhere near ready to give up unless required to do so.

As adults do when watching the kids they love, the noticed how we’d grown – we were like stair steps– Randy the oldest to Scott the youngest. Tallest to shortest.
Lining us up for a picture was a bit of a challenge. We were all agreeable and obedient, but one of us had a problem. Me. I could not stop laughing and nothing funny had happened. I was alive and happy and tired and out of control.

For a moment driven by the need to take a deep breath (and after a stern parental look) I’d been able to stop giggling. Then, it happened. I heard Randy laugh. Then Steve. Then Sheila. Well, then it was my turn again and I was worse off than before – I now had back up!

We enjoyed our family, our gifts, and the yummy food, but the best part was the line-up of laughing cousins.



Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.

Visit Joy online at: www.joydekok.com, www.raindancebook.com, www.believe4kids.com and www.gettingitwrite.net.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: The Importance of Family Traditions by J.M. Hochstetler


SPECIAL HOLIDAY FEATURE

"The Importance of Family Traditions" by J.M. Hochstetler, author of One Holy Night

When my daughters were tiny, with the holidays fast approaching, I impulsively decided that on the night of Christmas Eve, when they were fast asleep, I would hang candy canes all over our tree as a sign that Santa had come. Well, that idea turned out to be a huge success. When my little girls ran downstairs that Christmas morning, they were so excited to find the treats on the tree that I knew I’d come up with a very special tradition.


Over the years, as holidays came and went, I continued my secret Christmas Eve ritual. As they grew older, however, the children appeared to take less and less notice of the candy canes. They would eat only a few, and then after we took the tree down I ended up throwing most of them away. It seemed a waste. So one Christmas I thoughtlessly came very close to letting that tradition die.

That year I was so busy with holiday preparations and the day-to-day routine that I kept forgetting to pick up a package of candy canes at the store. It seemed like such a simple, unimportant thing. The girls were too old to care about my little tradition anymore, I told myself and I shrugged off the quiet voice that nagged at me to get those candy canes!

One evening just a couple of days before Christmas, I was rushing around the house, as usual, burdened with too many holiday preparations. In spite of my preoccupation, I happened to notice my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who sat on the stairs with my youngest, Katie. Both were snuggled in their nightgowns, slippers, and robes, happily taking in our cozy living room before heading off to bed.

Below them, fire blazed on the hearth and colored lights twinkled on the tree. Holiday decorations were arranged everywhere, and pine garlands and tiny white lights draped the mantel as well as the banister on either side where they sat. The scene was so perfect that I stopped for just a moment to breathe in the heady scents of pine and spices and to bask in the room’s glow. And as I lingered, I overheard what the girls were whispering about.

“Now, you know,” Jennifer told her little sister, “on Christmas morning when Santa comes, he always hangs candy canes all over the tree.”

Katie’s eyes grew round. “Always?” she breathed, in sweet expectancy.

“Oh, yes, always,” Jennifer assured her with the easy confidence of a big sister. “There will be candy canes all over the tree on Christmas morning. You’ll see.”

My heart almost stopped. One look at my daughters’ faces told me that I’d better plan on a special trip to the store the very next day. And suddenly gratitude flooded over me at the realization that the Lord had pulled me up short from my preoccupation with all the things that seemed so urgent to remind me of something I had come way too close to missing—a tradition that was genuinely meaningful to my children.

On that Christmas morning and every Christmas morning since then to this very day, candy canes have adorned my Christmas tree. My grown children expect to see them there when they arrive Christmas morning every bit as much as my grandchildren now do. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t think of ending. Because of that simple, long-ago impulse and the Lord’s reminder to be faithful in its observance, my family is making memories that in one form or another will be passed down to coming generations. It’s a simple thing as many of our traditions are, but oh, how meaningful!


J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

You can find Joan online at www.jmhochstetler.com or at this book’s blog http://oneholynight.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein



SPECIAL HOLIDAY FEATURE

"How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy" by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, author of The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything!)



Parents and grandparents always wonder what will most delight their kids and grandkids. What should they get them for Birthdays? For the Holidays? Should we buy what delighted us as children? Should we really cater to their Santa or Chanukah lists? Should we go with what is ‘in’ this year?

These are important questions and all I can say, is listen to the kid even if it seems strange! We did when our grandson was three. We knew he loved to help his mother vacuum. We had noticed that many times when we visited. But it still surprised us when he asked for a vacuum. A vacuum? Who ever would want one? I would love to give mine up if someone else would just magically appear and vacuum. Why would a tiny kid want one? Wouldn’t he rather have some trucks or a train set? “No.”

All he kept asking for was a vacuum. Did toy stores even have vacuum’s for kids?

We decided we had no choice. Off we went to look. And indeed we found a vacuum that looked just like his mom’s except it was half the size. We were amazed. It was a little pricey, but hey, he is our grandson!

So we bought it and wrapped the box and appeared on Chanukah. He didn’t have a clue what we were bringing.

After lighting the candles and singing, we brought out the presents. There were a few other presents first and of course some for his baby sister who was happy to just rip off the paper. Finally the big box was brought out by his parents and handed to him. I will never forget his face when he ripped off the paper and saw a picture of a stand-up vacuum on the box. There was such joy in his eyes and his grin was as wide as could be. He looked at us with love and recognition that said that even as a three-year-old, he realized that sometimes only grandparents, not parents can really get it right. Then the magical second passed and he ripped open the box.

Soon the vacuum was plugged in and he was busy. Off in a dream world of cleaning and pushing and doing what only a kid could experience. We were so happy that we had hit it right. We kept looking at him and loving every second of his eager pretend cleaning, even though he no longer had eyes for us. He was sweet though and did turn and look at us and smile every once in awhile. Even the noise didn’t bother us-because of course, no good mechanical toy, is without its sound effects!

That was a great Chanakah!


Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! and There Comes A Time In Every Woman’s Life for DELIGHT.

Her newest book, The Truth, I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. Written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.

The girl’s edition, titled: The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide. You can get your copy now at www.enchantedself.com.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: Christmas Before Thanksgiving by Dixie Phillips



SPECIAL HOLIDAY FEATURE

"Christmas Before Thanksgiving" by Dixie Phillips, author of One Noble Journey


For as long as I can remember, the heart of my paternal grandmother and my heart were cemented together. I think our bonding began when I was a baby and my mother had to be hospitalized for extended periods of time. Grandma watched over me and even decorated her spare bedroom in soft pinks and light lavenders. She was the mother of four strapping sons and had always wanted a little girl. Ten years before I was born her only daughter was stillborn.

I never realized just how attached I was to my grandmother until she was diagnosed with a deadly disease. After her diagnosis, Grandma was forced to move from her dream home to a small, one-bedroom apartment. In her new apartment complex, other women were experiencing the similar problems; terminal illness, limited income, loss of spouse to death or a nursing home. A remnant of these women formed a weekly Bible study and Grandma became a faithful member. This band of prayer warriors became "kindred spirits" as they interceded for one another’s needs.

It was apparent by early November Grandma would not be with us much longer. Her spirit was strong, but her body was growing weaker. A few days before Thanksgiving, she had to be hospitalized. The cancer had metastasized to her lungs.

Word spread quickly among her little Bible study group that Grandma Eleanor was dying. Loving cards and concerned phone calls began pouring in.

I hurried to the hospital and hovered over my grandmother's weak frame. There was a tap on her Hospice room door and an elderly woman appeared. In her arms was a brown paper grocery sack. She tiptoed to Grandma's bedside, and stooped over the metal bedrail and planted a kiss on Grandma's cheek. Grandma's dark chocolate eyes twinkled when she recognized her friend.

"Mable, how did you get here?" Grandma asked.

"Took a cab, Eleanor. I just had to." Mable chuckled, "It's cold outside, but it was warm in the cab!"

"Oh Mable, you shouldn't have come out in this bitter cold."

"I had to, Eleanor! Christmas is coming. I wanted you to have your Christmas card and the gift I made for you! It's all right here in my bag."

Mable rummaged through her brown bag. She pulled out a bright red envelope.

"This one is from me to you, Eleanor!" She showed Grandma the card. Sunbeams splashed on the colorful card causing Mable's eyes to squint.

"Let me read it to you." Mable said,


What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I'd give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I'd do my part,
I know what I'll give Him,
All of my heart!

Tears glistened in Grandma's eyes as she whimpered, "Thank you, Mable."

"That's not all, Eleanor, there's more! Christmas is coming! I just wanted you to have your Christmas present a little early this year." Mable gushed as she pulled out a small package wrapped in previously used Christmas paper topped with a recycled, red bow.

Grandma was too weak to open her special gift. Mable handed it to me. I carefully tore the paper off the small box and opened the lid. Peering back at me was a brown teddy bear holding a lacey parasol.

"Yep, it's true, Eleanor! Christmas is coming, and I just had to give you your present a little early this year." Mable reached for Grandma's hand.

"Mable, thank you and all the other ladies for being my friend this past year. You tell our little group goodbye for me. Tell them I'll be spending Christmas with Jesus this year."

Scalding tears fell on Mable's wrinkled cheeks. "I love you, Eleanor!"

"And I love you!" Grandma closed her heavy eyelids and drifted off to sleep.

Mable reached for me. We embraced. We wept. I thanked her for her kindness to my grandmother, walked her to the door, and said goodbye.

When I returned to my grandmother’s side, I wept quietly. I realized Grandma's "home-going" would be soon. I looked at the brown teddy bear holding the lacey parasol. I reread Mable's Christmas card,

What can I give Him poor as I am?

I had just witnessed these verses lived out before my eyes. A loving friend with meager means had given her very best to her dying friend. She even celebrated Christmas before Thanksgiving knowing Grandma wouldn't live until Christmas.

I closed my eyes and silently thanked God for giving me such a wonderful grandmother, and for giving my grandmother a dear friend.

Grandma went home to be with Jesus two days after Mable's visit. My grandmother was right. She celebrated Christmas with Jesus.



Dixie Phillips began writing seasonal plays for children in 1987. These delightful programs have been published by Abingdon Press, Standard Publishing, Eldridge Publishing, Evangelizing Today's Child and Gospel Publishing House. One of Dixie's children's books, Stubby's Destiny, was awarded the 2008 Best Children's Animal Story by Books and Authors. Guardian Angel Publishing has released Angel Eyes, One Noble Journey and Baby Jesus is Missing. Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother and Stilts the Stork will be released in 2010.

Dixie also has a passion for writing God's truths for adults. She has contributed to an award-winning devotional book and has ghostwritten books on marriage, health, poetry and personal testimonies. She is currently a topical curriculum writer for Randall House. Dixie is a pastor's wife of more than 30 years. She and her husband, Paul, have four grown children and have served the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for 28 years.

You can learn more about Dixie’s books and the Phillips’ ministry by visiting www.floydslighthouse.com.


Enter to win one of two copies of One Noble Journey by Dixie Phillips at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. Contest ends at 11:59 PM Eastern on December 31st.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: A Texas Christmas by Beverly Stowe McClure



SPECIAL HOLIDAY FEATURE

"A Texas Christmas" by Beverly Stowe McClure, author of Just Breeze

On December 22, 2005, my husband had a heart attack and complications. We celebrated that Christmas in the hospital. He didn’t hear the carolers as they strolled down the hallway singing Christmas songs. He didn’t see the visitors who came to call. He wasn’t even aware it was Christmas.

The next year, we made Christmas special. Except for one daughter-in-law who was ill and was missed very much, our whole family came to share in a Texas Christmas. We had a houseful, including our eldest son, Rex, from South Carolina. (His wife, Kristina, had to stay home.) Our middle son, Scott, and Ann, his stepdaughters Briana and Kylie, live next door which is wonderful. And our youngest son, Kelly, wife Amy, and children Shawn, Scottie, and Katie drove from California. Rex’s daughters, Amanda, Courtney, and Felicity, along with their mother, Anna, were here. Amanda is married, so she brought her hubby, Paul, and children, Riley, Paige, and Henry. And of course, there was Jack and me. As you can see we had a houseful. Best of all, Jack was alive and well.

The younger grandkids decorated the Christmas tree. It was unique, the bottom half overloaded with ceramic mice, icicles, candy canes, keepsake decorations my students gave to me throughout the years I taught, and my own sons’ creations. The top half was sort of bare, except for what the older girls and I added since we were the only ones who could reach that high. The angel on the top added the finishing touch. All of us being together made it perfect, and I have a video for the memories.

Since everyone was together for the first and possibly only time since everyone lived so far apart, we decided to have a family photo taken. Finding a photographer that was working during the holidays was almost impossible. I did finally locate a sweet lady who was intrigued about doing a photo shoot for such a large family, something she’d never done before. Her photographs on the Internet were gorgeous, so we made the appointment. Even with a wiggly baby, a boy who hates having his picture taken, and a sick boy, the photographer did a marvelous job. The photos now hang on my wall as a reminder of that lovely Christmas when we shared the joy of the birth of Christ Jesus and our good health.

To me, family and Jesus are what Christmas is all about.



Beverly S. McClure started her writing career early—though she approached it kicking and screaming—when her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings. She graduated from Midwestern State University and became a teacher. As soon as she discovered Dr. Seuss and other great children’s stories, she willingly put pen to paper and had stories and articles published in Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., U. S. Kids, Jack and Jill and other leading children’s magazines, including an article that was reprinted in a Scott Foresman Pre-K anthology and a breakout article that appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer magazine.

A multi-published author, Beverly’s Listen to the Ghost, Secrets I Have Kept and Rebel in Blue Jeans are available in trade paperback. Her latest book is Just Breeze, and she has four more books under contract. A member of the National Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and their North Texas Chapter, Beverly is the mother of three grown boys and lives in the country with her husband, Jack, where an occasional deer, skunk, or armadillo come to visit.

Visit Beverly at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Special Holiday Feature: A Family Together by Bernadine Feagins




To keep things rolling in a festive way we'll be featuring authors sharing their holidays memories until Christmas Eve.

Enjoy!



"A Family Together" by Bernadine Feagins, author of Hakim & Terrance Shadow Mystery


Some of my favorite Christmas memories are the ones where my family is all together. One year, I made a sweet potato pie and my son, who I call Mickey, ate two big pieces.

That was a good year. My daughter was happy to have a new cell phone and I delighted in watching my children open their toys. I felt blessed that I had enough money to make their Christmas wishes come true.

It is our tradition to celebrate Christmas early in the morning by reading about the birth of Jesus and listening to Christmas songs. I have a feeling that the kids were too excited to sleep the night before because my daughter went back to bed after the festivities were over and my son fell asleep listening to music. We were all together and that helped make this mother very happy.

Bernadine Feagins is a new author who is looking forward to many years of writing children's books. She has always had a love of children and worked many years in early childhood education. During these times she witnessed the joy children felt as she would demonstratively read books. In addition she is a very active mom who loves to nurture not only her children, but those of family and community. She often had story time with those she loved and cared for. She developed her story telling skills through the numerous books she read to children, this gave her an inspiration to tell her own story. Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery is the result. When Bernadine isn’t reading to children or involved in some other child nurturing activity, she can be found as a business woman that works for the IRS. Bernadine is available for interviews, book signings or public reading in schools and libraries.

Visit Bernadine online at http://www.mvpmedia1.com/feaginsworld/.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 Virtual Advent Tour Stops at The Book Connection



Stop by The Book Connection on Sunday, December 13, 2009 as that blog takes part in the 2009 Virtual Advent Tour.

Every participant agrees to blog one day out of the month about the topic of their choosing. A full list of participants and links to daily postings can be found on the 2009 Virtual Advent Tour blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hearts of Courage by John M. Tippets



On January 5, 1943, an airplane with six onboard goes missing in remote Southeast Alaska with the pilot’s only radio message of “one engine has conked out, expect trouble.” The winter weather is extreme, searchers find no signs of the Lockheed-Electra aircraft, and all are presumed lost. One of those passengers was Joseph Tippets, age 29, of Anchorage, Alaska, an employee of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and the first branch president of the small Latter-day Saint Anchorage congregation. Joseph’s wife, Alta, with her two-year-old son in Anchorage does not give up hope and is a source of strength and encouragement to others. On February 3, the crew of a small coast guard vessel on a routine patrol in Boca de Quadra was stunned to discover two starved and freezing survivors of the missing plane. One of those was Joseph Tippets.

Hearts of Courage is the story of Joseph Tippets’ experiences over those twenty-nine days and his subsequent efforts to help rescue the two injured passengers still stranded in their wilderness camp. Told largely in Joseph’s own words, this is a story of courage, determination, faith, and prayers answered. It is an aviation history story, a survival story, and a love story.

“We all remember the almost incredulous joy and amazement we experienced on February 3 upon hearing that two survivors had been found, including our good friend and coworker, Joseph H. Tippets. After a month of privation and suffering, the fact that even four of the six on board the ill-fated plane survived the long, miserable month almost taxes our imagination, and proves indeed that faith and hope and courage and endurance have tangible rewards.

“The age of miracles is not past!”

Marshall C. Hoppin, Alaska Regional Manager
Civil Aeronautics Administration
Mukluk Telegraph, March 1943

EXCERPT:



In testing out the boat again, and after making a few more repairs, we became somewhat bold. We were on a point of land jutting out into the bay, which had a narrow outlet to the sea. We felt if we could make our way out to the open water, we would have a chance to get to Annette Island or find some inhabited place where we could get help.

On Saturday (day 25), we started out. We knew our chances were slim, but desperation and concern for our two comrades back in camp forced us to make a try. We sat in the bottom of the boat, actually sitting in the icy cold water. The boat leaked almost as fast as we could bail. We bailed with one hand and paddled wearily with the other for about an hour. There was only one inch of space on the side of the boat above the water. After a couple hundred yards, we had to run the boat to shore and tip it over to empty it, and then start again.

We should not have undertaken that trip. Before we left, I had a clear feeling that we should not go. It was more than a feeling, it was a warning. But we set out and, as a result, we were headed for disaster.

After we’d been rowing about two hours, a violent storm began to develop. The sky turned black and the waves got higher and higher, heavy swells forcing us to bail even faster to keep afloat. Nearly full of water, the boat capsized and we were dumped into the bay, chilling to the bone in the bitterly cold water. Cakes of ice were floating all around us. We lost our overcoats, cooking utensils, everything but the clothing we had on and our rifle.

Our clothing dragged us down and the waves tossed us around. Just for a moment, I lost all faith and was angry with the Lord. Why, I thought, have you let me go through so much, for so long, only to drown here today? But, almost as I completed that thought, with my head barely above water, I found my feet touching the bottom. Pushing off and trying to swim, we kept together and made it the short distance to the shore. But we found only rocky cliffs. The waves were dashing us against the slippery rocks and then drawing us back into the water. We could not find a hold. Our hands were so cold we could not hold on when we did get a chance. It took us more than a half hour to finally grasp a ledge and pull ourselves fully out of the water.

Fortunately, we had kept our matches in a bouillon cube tin sealed with adhesive tape and they were dry. We made a small fire and tried to warm our feet. It was like trying to thaw out a piece of ice. We then set out to try and return to our camp, encouraging each other as we went. We did find the remains of our boat washed up on the shore, beaten against the rocks and smashed. Miraculously, under the seat, I found a still preserved bundle with my scriptures and other personal papers.

We were able to shorten our return hike by a mile or more as ice at the north end of Weasel Cove was thick enough to hold our weight. We crossed there, and then worked our way back to our campsite near the point. It had been twelve hours since we had left. As we drew near the shelter, we saw a coast guard cutter circling the bay. Wildly, we ran toward shore, yelling, stumbling, and falling in desperation to get them to see us. But the boat went up the channel and right past Weasel Point before disappearing into the fog beyond.


John Tippets was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1941. In 1947, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area where John graduated from Northwestern High School (Hyattsville, MD) in 1959. He attended Brigham Young University, then served two years (1960-62) as a Mormon missionary in Eastern Canada.

John earned his B.A. and M.B.A degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles. While still in college, he started a career in aviation, checking bags for United Airlines, then working summer jobs with the FAA in Alaska and with the CAB in Washington, D.C. In 1966, he joined American Airlines as a part-timer in air freight and, subsequently, worked forty-two years associated with AMR in a variety of management and executive roles. For the final seventeen years prior to his retirement in 2008, he was the President & CEO of the American Airlines Federal Credit Union.

Publishing Hearts of Courage in 2008, John now does PowerPoint presentations of the story for interested groups, book signings, and other events. You can visit John Tippets' website at www.JohnTippets.com.


To see where John's tour stops next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/

Author Interview: J.M. Hochstetler and Wind of the Spirit


We welcome back today, author J.M. Hochstetler. Joan is the author of One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story—which we reviewed here—and The American Patriot Series, which includes Daughter of Liberty, Native Son and Wind of the Spirit (American Patriot). Joan is on a virtual book tour to discuss Wind of the Spirit and we’re thrilled she decided to drop in again.

Welcome back Joan. It’s great to have you with us. Can you give our readers a brief glimpse into who you are and when you started writing?


I’m delighted to be back again!

I was raised Mennonite and grew up on a farm outside Kokomo, Indiana. I graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic Languages. In 1977, after marrying and while raising 3 daughters, I started writing, mainly for my own amusement. But eventually I decided a story isn’t complete without readers, so I began to submit to publishers and agents and racked up a goodly pile of rejection slips.

Eventually I moved to the Nashville, Tennessee, area, where I became an editor with Abingdon Press. During that time my first 2 books, Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, were published. Then in 2006 I founded my own small press, Sheaf House Publishers. That turned out to be prescient since I was laid off from Abingdon in 2007. At that point, I jumped into building the business full-time.

When I’m not writing or working on my business, I love traveling, gardening, doing crafts, and camping in our fifth-wheel trailer with my husband. My daughter and I have just discovered canning, so this fall we’ve been canning everything we can get our hands on, with some smashing successes and some . . . er . . . mixed results. Our next project is wine jelly. Can’t wait to tackle that!

Now, when you first started Daughter of Liberty, did you know at the time that you were planning a series?

That was the last thing on my mind. I started writing it back in 1983 after watching a TV movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. I fell in love with the story—and with Anthony Andrews!—and wanted to write a version with different characters in a different setting. Since I’m not very interested in the French Revolution, I decided the American Revolution would be a natural for the setting. And instead of having my spy and smuggler be a man, I turned him into a woman. The story was an absolute blast to write, and if you’ve ever seen the movie, you may recognize a few scenes, though I’ve tweaked them some. It wasn’t until I was well into the search for a publisher that I realized I’d have a better chance if I made it the first book in a series. And that’s what got me a contract.

Can you share with us who the main characters are in this first book?

The female lead is Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of a well-known and well-to-do Loyalist doctor in Boston who has many ties to the British occupying the city in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party. Unknown to her parents, however, she’s at heart a rebel who’s working with her maternal uncle and paternal aunt to smuggle intelligence and munitions out of Boston under the noses of the British. As the elusive rebel spy and courier Oriole, she’s infamous and intensely sought by the British, who’ve placed a high price on her head.

The male lead is Jonathan Carleton, the younger son of a Scottish nobleman who was a confidante of George II and a beautiful young French woman of noble birth. As a child Carleton was adopted by his father’s older brother, who fled to the colonies after one of the disastrous clashes between the Scots and the British that eventually led to the Scots’ final defeat. Carleton’s uncle settled in Virginia, where he became as rich as Croesus. So Carleton, who was brought up in Virginia, is immensely wealthy, but he’s also a Major in the British 17th Light Dragoons who is called to Boston to become the British commander’s aide de camp. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, he’s ordered to find and capture Oriole.

Naturally Carleton and Elizabeth are destined to fall madly in love.

Let’s move on to Book 2, Native Son. Who returns from the first book in this one?

The full cast returns in Native Son, and the story begins right after the Battle of Bunker Hill, which concludes Daughter of Liberty. Carleton, who is now a brigadier general under General George Washington, is sent on a mission to the Indians to try to persuade them to support the Americans instead of the British. Meanwhile, Elizabeth returns to Boston to spy on the new commander, General William Howe, and the 2 generals sent along with him to get the situation in the colonies under control.

What new situations are they dealing with?

Everything has changed in book 2. Elizabeth and Carleton are now engaged to be married, but Washington refuses to grant them permission. Because of Carleton’s background with the Shawnee, Washington needs him to be his ambassador to the native peoples. And he desperately needs Elizabeth to keep him informed about what the British are up to. So he effectively gives them no choice but to do his bidding.

Out on the western frontier, Carleton is captured by the Seneca and enslaved, and Elizabeth can find no information about what happened to him. She’s placed in grave danger herself and narrowly avoids being exposed. After the British evacuate Boston the conflict moves to New York City, and she and her aunt must follow. There she meets a handsome and kind young doctor to whom she is very attracted. Yet her heart is fixed on Carleton, and she can find no peace.

Meanwhile, Carleton is rescued by the Shawnee, taken even farther west, and adopted by their sachem. As he fights to guard his heart against the advances of the beautiful young widow Blue Sky, he must also walk a deadly tightrope in a brewing conflict with the malevolent shaman Wolfslayer. When he’s forced to become war chief and lead a war against white settlers flooding into Ohio Territory, he despairs of ever returning to Elizabeth, for he has again become her enemy.



Elizabeth and Carleton return in Book 3, Wind of the Spirit. Where in history are we at this point and what is going on in these characters’ lives?

Wind of the Spirit begins in July 1776. The Declaration of Independence has just been signed, and the Battle of Brooklyn Heights looms for Elizabeth. While Carleton continues highly effective raids against the white settlers, he is increasingly pressured to marry Blue Sky, and the conflict with Wolfslayer is coming to a head.

Elizabeth is caught up in battle and almost killed as the British overrun Washington’s forces on Long Island, and the patriot cause is all but extinguished. Yet by a miracle, Washington manages to withdraw the remainder of his army across the East River and out of Howe’s clutches under cover of night. Elizabeth finally learns of Carleton’s possible whereabouts, and she takes a perilous journey to Ohio Territory in the hope she can find him and persuade him to return home with her.

With this series being set during the American Revolution, there must have been a great deal of research involved. How did you accomplish it all?

I did a ton of research, that’s for sure. I came up with the idea for Daughter of Liberty in 1983, and it was finally published in 2004. So although life happened and I wasn’t writing all the time, I still had a long time to make sure it was accurate. Having accumulated considerable knowledge and a wide range of research materials, the subsequent volumes haven’t been as time consuming to write.

Thankfully, I’m obsessed with this era and I love to do research, so I enjoyed all of it. My library has expanded considerably since I began writing this series, thanks in large part to Amazon. I also have a number of older works on the period that I’ve accumulated over the years from library book sales, antiques stores, and other places that have been invaluable. I especially look for primary materials—firsthand accounts that provide the small details that give the story authenticity. It’s like a treasure hunt. I love it!

How did you know it was time to stop researching and time to start writing?

What? Stop researching? Um . . . well, I’m usually researching as I write!

There are additional books planned for The American Patriot Series. What can you tell us about those?

So far I have 4 more books planned for the series. Each one of the stories picks up right after the previous one ends, and they continue the stories of all the main characters. Of course, from time to time I’ll introduce more important characters whose stories will become continuing threads. Crucible of War, which I’m writing now, begins with Washington crossing the Delaware to attack Trenton and covers 1777. Then Valley of the Shadow takes the war onto the high seas in 1778 and 1779. Refiner’s Fire follows the war into the southern colonies in 1780, and Forge of Freedom ends with the final British defeat at Yorktown in 1781.

I—and several good friends who are following the story avidly—are praying it doesn’t expand any farther than that. They’d like to see Elizabeth and Carleton finally get married—which they will, of course! But I have gotten e-mail from readers who encourage me to keep on writing more volumes and not to stop. So who knows? I seem to be making a career of the American Revolution!

Where can readers purchase a copy of any of the books in The American Patriot Series?

Daughter of Liberty and Native Son are currently out of print, but they’re freely available from most online retailers such as Amazon, Christianbook.com, and Barnes and Noble. They’re also available directly through Sheaf House at www.sheafhouse.com. We’re planning to release new, updated editions, but since readers can still get them easily, and Sheaf House still has a good-sized stash, it may be another couple of years before they’re issued. Sheaf House may release the updated versions in e-book format before then, however.

Wind of the Spirit is available from most local booksellers and also online at all the same places books 1 and 2 are, so readers won’t have any trouble getting it. It’s also available in the Kindle format.

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more?

Absolutely! My Web site is www.jmhochstetler.com, and the American Patriot Series blog is at americanpatriotseries.blogspot.com.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I just want to thank you very much for inviting me to do this interview! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Joan. I hope you’ll come back when your next book comes out. We wish you continued success!

You can view a video trailer for Wind of Spirit by visiting the book section of Joan's website.

To see where Joan's virtual book tour stops next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/


Monday, December 7, 2009

Bernadine Feagins and Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery



Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery is a wonderful story about a lost dog. Two best friends go on an adventure to bring Shadow home. Along the way you will meet nice neighbors, some kind business owners and many others. The mystery begins when someone finally provides a clue. What do you think that clue is? Find out today with your purchase of Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery.



Bernadine Feagins is a new author who is looking forward to many years of writing children's books. She has always had a love of children and worked many years in early childhood education. During these times she witnessed the joy children felt as she would demonstratively read books. In addition she is a very active mom who loves to nurture not only her children, but those of family and community. She often had story time with those she loved and cared for. She developed her story telling skills through the numerous books she read to children, this gave her an inspiration to tell her own story. Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery is the result. When Bernadine isn’t reading to children or involved in some other child nurturing activity, she can be found as a business woman that works for the IRS. Bernadine is available for interviews, book signings or public reading in schools and libraries.

Visit Bernadine online at http://www.mvpmedia1.com/feaginsworld/.

To see where Bernadine's virtual book tour stops next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Wind of the Spirit by J.M. Hochstetler


A young country struggling for independence is the setting for Wind of the Spirit by J.M. Hochstetler, the third book in The American Patriot Series.

As the overwhelming forces of British General William Howe threaten to wipe out General Washington's Continental Army, Elizabeth Howard risks her life to obtain and return with critical intelligence. Meanwhile, the man she wished to marry is far out on the western borders. General Jonathan Carleton, now known as the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, has helped his braves drive white settlers out of Ohio territory, while fighting a more personal battle of his own--finding a way to get Elizabeth out of his heart and steeling himself against the seductive charms of Pathfinder's widow, Blue Sky, as the conflict between him and the shaman Wolfslayer escalates.

With Washington putting in a last-ditch gamble to save the American cause at Trenton, Elizabeth rejoins Colonel Charles Andrews on a journey to find Carelton before the British close in on his whereabouts and try him for treason. Will she find him before the British do? Will he be the same man she still loves? And will her love be enough to convince him to come back with her?

In the continuation of this sweeping saga of the American Revolution, Hochstetler has one again proven herself to be a masterful storyteller. The rich descriptions, the complex characters, and the balanced mix of history and fiction, all combine to create an engaging page turner.

While I have not read the first two books in this series: Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, I fell easily into this storyline and was able to connect the dots through the backstory that is seamlessly woven into the present day events, though I did purchase books 1 and 2 to read later.

The level of research the author must have performed to create The American Patriot Series is evident in every page, but it is her characters that make this story as wonderful as it is. I am eager to read the next book when it comes out.

Having now read two very different books from Hochstetler--my review of One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story appears here--I can easily add this author to my list of favorites.

Lovers of historical fiction, historical romance, and inspirational fiction will certainly want to own Wind of the Spirit!


Title: Wind of the Spirit
Author: J.M. Hochstetler
Publisher: Sheaf House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0979748534
ISBN-13: 978-0979748530
SRP: $13.99 (U.S.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Author Spotlight: Stephen Masse and A Jolly Good Fellow



Two weeks before Christmas, Duncan Wagner gets into his car for another attempt at kidnapping the son of his most despised enemy, State Representative Win Booker. When he drives into the wealthy Boston suburb, he is surprised to find the boy hitchhiking.

So begins Wagner’s quest for revenge as he finds himself face to face with a real boy, and without a clue about how to run a kidnapping. Wagner, a self-styled charity Santa Claus, comes to realize that eleven year old Gabriel Booker is truly a runaway, much more curious than scared. Gabriel has no idea who Duncan Wagner is—or could be.

Here’s what reviewers have to say!

"Stephen Masse does an excellent job of creating memorable, likeable characters. He takes a man and a boy from very different backgrounds and creates a tight bond of friendship between them. The story itself is full of numerous twists and turns and is an extremely fast read. The 203 pages really fly by, and I finished the book in one morning.” -Kam Aures for Rebecca’s Reads

"'A Jolly Good Fellow' is delightfully funny, with a unique plot, an amazing cast of characters, and enough suspense to keep the reading guessing right up to the surprising unexpected conclusion. Stephen V. Masse is witty, clever, and entertaining. His books are destined to become best sellers. I am eager to read his upcoming book “Short Circus.” -Richard Blake for Reader Views

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing and historical biography, and was the author of a weekly column, “Out of Control.” His first novel, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. When not writing, he restores and renovates homes in the Boston area, and serves as an ambassador each year in the Santa Claus Anonymous fundraising benefit. You can visit his website at www.ajollygoodfellowthebook.com.

Buy A Jolly Good Fellow from Amazon.com!

To see where Stephen's virtual book tour stops next, please visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ every weekday in December between the 1st and the 16th.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Author Spotlight: Maryann Paige and Cemtery Gates


All the signs are there.

Dead things everywhere. Nightmares of bloody bodies and eaten corpses. Michael knows he’s coming for him. The prophecy cannot be fulfilled without him. From behind the Cemetery Gates, his brother, Shane, enters the world. He’ll force Michael and the others to take their rightful place at his side.

When Michael decides to go to a neighbor’s party, a beautiful stranger thrusts him into his past. Through meditation, Michael is thrown back into a world he had long tried to forget. He works quickly because time is short. Shane is on the prowl. He’ll force Michael to fulfill his destiny.

Only, Michael has a problem with what he was created to do, and he’s tired of running. As he recalls who and what he is, he realizes he’s humankind’s only hope for survival. He decides to battle his brother, not only for the woman he loves, but also for the redemption of his soul.

Also available in a Kindle edition.

EXCERPT:

Gloria moved closer into the shadows and stood before him.

“What can I do for you?” she asked.

“In a bit of a rush this evening?” he snickered.

“Yes, I am. I want to get the hell out of here.”

“Where are you heading to?”

“Away from this mess.”

“Feel bad for what occurred here?” He said with a grin.

She was shocked that he asked her that, “Of course I do. An innocent man is dead, and for what?”

“For what? I cannot believe you asked that.”

“Two innocent men are dead,” she answered, putting down her head.

“Oh, please, Gloria, spare me your sentimental nonsense. With all of the evil you’ve unleashed on the world, you’re sorry for this? Sorry for stopping the one man that can bring us all down?”


Maryann Paige was born in Brooklyn, New York, lived in Nevada and Texas and landed back in her home state. She resides in the beautiful Hudson Valley and uses the area as the setting for her novels and stories.

She attributes the idea for her first novel, Hidden Shadows, to her younger son, who claims to have met the shadow people on a nightly basis. After researching and learning of them, she decided to write a novel loosely based on her son’s experiences.

Please visit Maryann at www.maryannpaige.com.


To see where Maryann's virtual book tour stops next, visit http://virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/