Monday, April 18, 2016

Ralene Burke is giving away two e-copies copies of Bennanok: A Reluctant Savior!

We're excited to have Ralene Burke with us today talking about her book Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior. Please leave her a comment for your chance to win one of two e-copies! To learn more about Ralene and her book, read on...

1) What would you like readers to take away from your book?
 Bellanok appeals to a theme that’s near and dear to my heart: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. While I’m pretty sure there’s no island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle that houses mythical creatures of old, Brian’s struggle with his calling and where he’s supposed to be is a very real issue for most people. God prepares us as He needs us, and sometimes we have to realize that His path is not ours, and His ways are not ours. But when we sit back and let Him lead . . . oh the things He can do!

2) What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

 My biggest struggle has been balancing life and writing—a struggle I am sure many are familiar with. I’m a wife to a disabled veteran and a homeschooling mama to 3 kids. Add in duties with ACFW, Realm Makers, and my editing/writing business and life gets busy!

3) Which books on writing have been the most helpful to you and why?

 Writing the Breakout Novel (Donald Maas) and its companion workbook have helped me to learn how to develop a deeper intention with my plot and characters. To go with that, Plot vs. Character is also a great book!

4) What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?

Do my kids count? I am so proud of them and the little people they are turning out to be! Outside of them, I am very proud to have finally gotten up the gumption to self-publish Bellanok as a mini-series. It’s been a fantastic learning experience!

5) What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

I must admit, I am quite the pantster. I usually do not know much before I start writing. I might know a couple of characters and a general idea of how the story will end. I’ll write about 3-5 chapters, hit the end of what I “know”, and start playing the “what if” game or some other trick to get the next few chapters out.

6) What are your favorite writing conferences and why?

 I’ve not been to a lot of different conferences. For a long time ACFW was the favorite of the few I’d been to, and I still do love it. But now my favorite is Realm Makers, a faith-friendly conference for speculative fiction writers. It’s full of great workshops, opportunities to interact with business professionals, and of course plenty of time to be a geek with other geeks. J

7) What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing up the Bellanok series, and planning revisions for the first book in a fantasy trilogy based on the premise question, “What if the armor of God were real?”

8) What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I’d be a better soccer mom? LOL! If I weren’t writing, I’d probably be an editor or social media consultant—maybe both. I’d still be homeschooling and doing everything else in my life!

9) Tell us a little more about yourself, with three things not many people know about you.

a. I am allergic to coffee. Sad, but true.
b. While I was a pet person growing up, I now cannot imagine adding a pet to my household—and not just because I’m allergic to just about everything.
c. I am really an introvert. Most people would think because of how social I am that I am an extrovert, but I’m not. I need my time alone to process and recharge. If I don’t get it, I become quite crabby.

10) How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

E-mail: raleneburke [at] gmail [dot] com
Facebook: Ralene Burke

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leann Betts talks about her books, "Unbalanced" and "Five and Twenty Blackbirds"

We're happy to have Leann Betts with us today talking about her book, Unbalanced. The following is from the cover:

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, is at home in Bear Cove, Maine, happily planning her son's wedding, when she sees a bank robbery. The only problem is that nobody else sees the robbery, and when she tries to investigate, her credibility is called into question. Add into the mix her husband's long-lost brother who turns up then promptly leaves town, neglecting to take his young son with him, and Carly is up to her ears again in mystery and intrigue. Can Carly prove she isn't losing her mind, or will she lose her career in the bargain? 

To learn more about Leann and her book, please read on! 

  1. Why do you write?
I started writing seriously because I wanted to know if I had at least one book in me. I am a voracious reader, and even when I was in middle school, I wanted to write as well as Jack London and Louis L’Amour. I even copied four paragraphs from a book I loved (I don’t remember the title now) and submitted it as a writing assignment in a class in seventh grade. The paragraphs weren’t quite a complete story, but pretty close, but the language was beautiful. My teacher looked at me a little strangely when she gave it back to me with an A+, and asked me if I had written it. I lied and said I had. That was my one and only time I did that because her question really convicted me that I wasn’t doing the right thing.

As an adult, once I opened the floodgates of words, it seemed I couldn’t stop. I’d be part way through a book, and three more ideas would pop into my head. And just like an idea that comes to you in the middle of the night, but when you get up in the morning you can’t remember what it was, I soon learned to write those ideas down. Some of those books I’ve since written.

  1. Why mysteries and suspense?
I was raised by a father with a strong sense of justice, which I also inherited. Mysteries and suspense usually lead to the bad guy/gal getting caught and the good guy/gal living a happily ever after. And while I know--and inherently we all know--that life doesn’t work that way except in Christ--and even then we may not see it in this life--there is something built into us by God to desire justice well-sprinkled with grace and mercy. Plus, few other genres allow for ax-murderers and stalkers--but more of that later.

  1. What is your process in coming up with ideas for books?
I sometimes start with a title. Seems strange, but the original title of my first book was Just the Fax, Ma’am because one of the elements in the book is a mysterious job offer Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, receives which turns into a threat when she turns down the offer.

Sometimes the book idea comes from a newspaper article, a comment I overhear--I’m big on eavesdropping--a picture, or a place. My second book, There was a Crooked Man, came from the ranch my pastor was thinking of buying and turning in a pastor’s retreat. I thought, “What a great place to set a book, except it would be a working ranch turning into a dude ranch.”

Sometimes I start with a character. My third book, Unbalanced, began because I wanted a child to enter the story. In the first book, Carly had thought she was pregnant and when she wasn’t, she didn’t know how to react to that. So I wanted to answer the cry of her heart and carry through that character arc.

Sometimes I start with a setting. My fourth book, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is set in the fictional town of Raven Valley, Arizona, and is patterned after the small town where my dad and step-mother, who I dearly loved, were married. Although they’ve gone on to be with the Lord, whenever I read that story, I feel them near.

  1. What one conference would you recommend?
The one conference I would recommend is the one that fits your genre and challenges you to strive for the next level in your writing career. And if you’re writing for readers who aren’t Christian, that might mean attending a secular conference. Go for it. Be salt and light to the world.

  1. How do you overcome a sagging middle (of a book)?
If you find yourself bored when you’re writing the middle of the book--or any part of the book, for that matter--most likely your reader will be bored, too. When that happens, I usually do one of two things: I introduce an ax-murderer or a stalker. Depending on the book, that might come in the form of a body or a physical attack, or a reflection in a window or a threatening note or evidence of someone being in the home. Use your imagination. Even a sagging romance can benefit from some excitement. Introduce a stalker.

  1. What’s your happiest time in the writing process?
I have two happy times: writing the opening line. And writing THE END.

 Leann's latest release is Five and Twenty Blackbirds From the cover:

Join Carly Turnquist as she accompanies husband Mike to his twenty-fifth college reunion in Arizona. However, a sleepy little town is about to wake up to its first murder in over a hundred years, and Carly's nose for a mystery is on high alert.

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, released in the fall of 2015 Book 3, Unbalanced, released in January. Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is due in April, with more planned for later dates. If you like accountants or are an accountant, check out Counting the Days: a 21-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, and Donna has published a book of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. You can follow Leeann at and Donna at . All books are available at in digital and print, and at in digital.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Gail Pallotta's "Barely above Water"

We're happy to have Gail Pallotta with us today talking about Barely above Water.

The Faith of a Mustard Seed: A Devotional
Matthew 17: 20, “...I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Ten years ago I grew quite ill. After a month of tests the doctor said, “We can’t diagnose your problem, so we can’t treat you.”
But God knew what was wrong and He knew the person who could help me. By divine intervention I was led to David Lee, D.C., Ph.D, C.Ad, who began treating me immediately for a toxic substance. 
Unable to eat, I’d lost twenty-two pounds in two weeks when I saw Dr. Lee. I couldn’t even take the supplements he prescribed, but he lasered them into my body to trick it into thinking I’d taken them, and I started to heal.
Uncertainty ruled my life. I didn’t know what had happened to me, what was happening when symptoms plagued me at any given moment or what might happen next. My husband kept telling me to take one day at a time, and I kept hearing that I should think positive. It all resonated, each kindness, each thoughtful suggestion, every single one helped me take a step toward overcoming the illness.
A friend of my daughter’s sent a small jar with a tiny mustard seed in it and suggested I keep it where I could see it. He said, “Tell her that’s all the faith she needs for God to cure her.”
The more I looked at it, the more I realized how important faith is. When we’re overwhelmed with a burden, a task, a heartache or pain so big we can’t even make a dent in it, we need more than good wishes and positive thinking. We need a power much bigger and stronger than us to take over.
Even though I still have some symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease, I lead an active life, and I still keep the jar and the mustard seed where I can see them. 

About Barely above Water
My book Barely above Water is about a young woman with Chronic Lyme disease. In it an illness
comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. She turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida, and takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer league swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but must overcome his fear of losing someone close then regain Suzie’s trust. She relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, financial burdens without permanent employment and heartbreak in this contemporary romance.

Endorsements for Barely above Water
From Nancy Mehl
“Suzie Morris leaves behind a great job and the man she loved in North Carolina to become a kids’ swim coach in Florida. There is a doctor there who may finally be able to cure her of the mysterious disease that has ravaged her body. But in Gail Pallotta’s touching contemporary romance novel, Barely above Water, Suzie’s search for physical healing leads her to discover something she didn’t expect. The kind of love that can also heal her wounded soul.”
Readers can find out more about Nancy at

From Loree Lough
The main theme in Gail Pallotta's Barely above Water is “overcoming incredible odds.” Readers will find themselves rooting for characters who face illness, unemployment, and heartbreak. I think you'll thoroughly enjoy this story about trust and faith! (Loree Lough, bestselling author of more than 100 award-winning books, including RT 4.5-star Top Pick, Saving Alyssa [Harlequin Heartwarming].)  

Buy Barely above Water at (will send)
Connect with Gail
on her Web site -
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Amazon purchase link: