Friday, July 22, 2016

#interview & #giveaway with Lisa Harris!

 I did squeal a little when I found out Lisa Harris was visiting today!! Her books are edge of the seat, don't get to bed before it's over, good! So without further ado ... welcome, Lisa!

Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

Thanks so much for having me!! Missing, which was just released this month, is book two in my Nikki Boyd Files, and the character of Nikki, the heroine, was my first inspiration for this series. One of the things I loved right from the beginning was her compelling back story. Her younger sister vanished ten years ago, and because if this Nikki has been searching for Sarah ever since. It was this loss that compelled Nikki to quit her job as a teacher in order to join the police academy, and eventually join a newly formed missing persons task force for the state of Tennessee.

Missing takes places just over ten years after her sister disappeared, and Nikki is still searching for the truth about what happened to her sister. Because of her past, she’s both strong and vulnerable as she works through these missing person cases, while trying to balance life, extended family, and love. She also finds it impossible not to get emotionally involved in her cases. But it’s that very personal scenario with high stakes that gives her the motivation and determination she needs to find her sister’s abductor. It also helps the reader connect and sympathize with her, because it’s not simply a routine case to be cracked or another murder to be solved. For Nikki, it’s personal.

In Missing, Nikki is called in when two bodies are found and a couple goes missing.When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant--and another dead body--Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business--including Nikki.

Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

I guess it goes without saying that Nikki is my favorite character in this story as well as in the series. I’ve loved having the chance to tell her story over several books as it’s given me the chance to dig deeper into her character, both her vulnerabilities and her strengths. And, of course, I’ve loved watching her romance grow with Tyler, as well as see her love for family as she searches for her sister.  

Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut J

While I rarely delete scenes in my stories, I did end up cutting an entire first chapter of Missing. It was actually a scene I really liked, set at Nikki’s parents’ BBQ restaurant. Nikki’s mom, as well as her sister-in-law, are ‘interrogating’ her over a guy she’d been dating in book one. I was looking for a bridge for Nikki’s personal life from book one to book two, but the bottom line was that for the beginning of a fast-paced suspense novel it just didn’t work. Here’s the first paragraph from the deleted chapter.

            “Nikki Boyd stared across her smoked sausage and cheese omelet at her mom and sister-in-law. Eyes widened. Mouth slightly agape. One of Nashville’s up and coming artists played over the restaurant’s sound system, but Nikki barely heard the catchy tune. How in the world had an invitation for breakfast turned into a full-fledged ambush? But that’s exactly what had happened. She’d been ambushed.”

Now the book now starts with a double homicide. J

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

When I started writing my Nikki Boyd Files series, I began thinking through different locations that would not only be interesting to the reader, but that would also help set the tone for the series. I soon decided to set the books in the beautiful state of Tennessee where I once lived.

While book one, Vendetta, is set in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, for book two, I decided to switch the setting to the Nashville area, which gave the book a completely different feel from the sometimes sinister woods of the mountains. Setting the book in the city allowed me to write very different scenes, including a confrontation with a sniper, a frantic boat chase after a possible murderer, and a tense hostage scene on the roof of an apartment building. 

What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?

I can’t start writing a book until I come up with a name that clicks in my mind. I go through baby names of specific decades and match them to last names that have a certain rhythm I like. So I didn’t chose the names for their meaning, but more for the way they sounded to me.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?

Seriously, my least favorite household chore? I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one? Ha! I suppose I’ll go with cleaning toilets. Though on the plus side of chores, those brainless ones, especially washing the dishes, always end up with me coming up with new plot twists.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I love photography and trying out new recipes.

Summer is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this summer season?

This time of year is very busy for us as we typically host short-term mission teams from the states. This year, we have two groups coming, plus my in-laws and another couple they are bringing with them. So I’ll be doing lots of cooking and cleaning, but we’ll also be taking them to Kruger (a game park in South Africa) and to the Indian Ocean which I’m excited about.

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

When it comes to spiritual threads in my stories, I find characters often dealing with things that I’m dealing with in my own life. It’s not really something that I plan, but something that is definitely there.

Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)

Hmm. . .luxurious. . .well you decide. I’m usually up by seven when I check emails, read my devotional, then clean up the house. (Getting dressed in there at some point) My daughter is home schooled so the rest of the day is usually helping her when needed, writing, and taking care of things around the house, and any ministry needs. We are ‘off the grid’ so no clothes dryer or dishwasher, plus cooking is almost 100% from scratch, so daily life in this part of the world (southern Africa) takes time.

We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…

Oh, my. . .I always feel like I’m the only person on the planet who rarely drinks either. I avoid caffeine, so that eliminates everything but decaf, so I usually just skip it. Plus I really don’t like the taste of coffee. (I know!) If I do drink coffee it has to be mainly milk and sugar (so what’s the point) and if it’s really cold, I might have a cup of chai. The one tea I’ll never pass up is chai (tea with lots of milk and sugar) in Kenya, especially if it’s been cooked over a fire.

And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?

Well, I guess I’m kind of cheating, because I’ve been to the Amazon. While we were in language school we flew to Manaus, then took a boat a couple hours toward the rain forests, and yes, it was fantastic! The two most memorable things were fishing for piranha and then eating them, and swimming with pink dolphins.

If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?

I’ve always wondered if I lived back in the late 1800’s if I would have gone west when the settlers. I like to think that I would have been adventurous and would have headed west and started a new life there, but I guess I’ll never know. I think the bottom line is that as much as we romanticize those time periods, I’d hesitate wanting to live back then unless I had a lot of money. LOL

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:

From Missing
8:25 a.m., Thursday
Nashville suburb

Nikki Boyd slid out of her white Mini Cooper as two bagged bodies were being wheeled from the one-story house nestled in one of Nashville’s nicer suburbs. Her stomach clenched. Even
after eight years on the force, the emotional challenges of the job had yet to make her completely calloused. It was impossible not to personalize some of what she saw. The cases she couldn’t
solve. The brokenness she couldn’t fix. But neither could she let her cases become personal.
She started down the walk where half a dozen police cars and the local medical examiner had parked in front of the taped-crime scene, allowing both uniformed and plain-clothed officers
to take over the sleepy, tree-lined street. One of her teammates, Jack Spencer, stood waiting for her on the curb dressed in one of his suit jackets and white dress shirt paired with a typical
blue-and-orange paisley tie.

“Morning,” she said, holding up a takeaway box from her parents’ barbeque restaurant. “I was having breakfast with my mom and Jamie when the call came in. Thought you might like
a couple of my mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls to celebrate your first day back to work.”
Five weeks ago, he’d gotten shot in the middle of a hostage situation that had almost gotten both of them killed.

“You can’t imagine how happy I am to be back on the job,” Jack said. “Though next time, I’d appreciate it if you’d remind me to duck when someone starts shooting at me.”


Thank you so much for visiting today! It was a blast! 
Thanks so much for having me!!


Enter to win not only a copy of Missing but also of Vendetta! This is a two-book deal! :) YAY

Twitter: @heartofafrica

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/29RGAaX
Christianbook.com: http://bit.ly/2agtc4z


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat in Nashville

Gabrielle Here:

I just participated in an online Facebook Party to promote the first annual Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR), and if the Facebook Party is anything like the retreat, we are in for some serious fun!

I was invited to be a part of the CFRR by three lovely book review bloggers Carrie Booth Schmidt from Reading is my SuperPower Blog, Annie from Just Commonly Blog, and Bonnie Roof from Overcoming With God Blog. These ladies have done a phenomenal job preparing for this event!

Here's a sneak peek at the authors who will be attending.

 
Ahh! First, I'm pinching myself that my picture is included (fourth one down on the far left side!), and second, I'm pinching myself that I am going to meet some of my favorite authors and bloggers, not to mention how much I'm looking forward to spending the day with good friends.
 
Here's a sneak peek at the main speakers:
 

The day is jam-packed full of speakers, author panels, giveaways, a massive book signing, and praise & worship. I can hardly wait!
 
If you'd like to join us, here's the link to register. But don't wait! There are only eight spots available and then the registration will close.
 
I'd love to know if you've ever attended an event like this before. If you have, what was your favorite part of the day? If you haven't, what would you enjoy the most?
 
I have a winner of an advanced copy of A Mother in the Making from my blog post last week! The winner is: Gail Hollingsworth! Congrats, Gail. I'll email you shortly.   
 
Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trip Planning Tips

Erica here:

So, in about a month, my husband and I will be packing up the car and heading to Nashville for the annual ACFW Conference. Super excited here! This will be my first trip to Nashville, and I can't wait to take in the sites. Over the years, we've built in extra time to play tourist, and it's one of my favorite things we do all year.

But, we're not heading out blind. Partly because the anticipation and planning are a big slice of the fun for me when going on a trip and partly because I always want to cram in as much as I can on a trip, which calls for some strategy and planning. I've been told that I'm good at vacation itineraries, so I thought I would share with you a few tips that have helped me when planning a vacation.

1. Google is your friend. 

In the weeks running up to your departure date, you can use Google to research destinations, hotels, routes, restaurants, weather, and so much more. Gathering information is the first step to a great vacation. 

2. Check pertinent facts.

Tennessee State Capitol - we're planning on touring this place!

Museums and historic sites have specific hours of operation, so plan accordingly. Make sure the places you want to see are open on the days you have scheduled. Sundays and Mondays are often either shorter hours or closed days for a lot of museums. When making out your itinerary, be sure to find out when things are open.

3. Find ways to economize.


If you poke around a bit, you can often find a coupon/bundle deal for museums and sites. In Nashville, you can see Belmont, Belle Meade, and Traveler's Rest for $40 when you purchase the tickets all together. We found something similar in Lexington, KY. They grouped Mary Todd Lincoln's house, Henry Clay's home Ashland, and the Waveland Plantation tours together for one discounted price. Some places, like the Field Museum or Science Museum in Chicago have 'free days' where there is no admission charge (beware of big crowds on those days.) And some places are free all the time, like state capitols, city parks, etc.

4. Eating out can be spendy, but there are ways around that.



Lots of hotels these days have a breakfast bar, and we tend to choose to stay where we can get breakfast thrown into the hotel price. My husband is a particular fan of Drury Inn hotels that have a HUGE hot breakfast...as well as a 'happy hour' every evening where they serve hot dogs, popcorn and all you can drink fountain drinks. When we're setting out for a day of museum visiting and historical site hopping, we stoke up on breakfast, pack a few granola bars and graham crackers and fruit in a backpack, and set off. We tend not to eat lunch on those days, instead eating an early supper and thereby saving the cost of a midday meal. This works especially well for us, since we're not traveling with small children, but you can tailor the idea to fit your family. When we had the kids along with us, we would eat super cheaply at lunch so we could have a nicer dinner.

5. Take TONS of pictures!


Especially if you're on a research trip, but even if you're just there for the experience. Take a picture of the entrance sign. That way you'll know where the rest of the pictures in the file were taken. And take pictures of the signage that goes with an exhibit. You think you will remember, but take it from me, memories are tricky, and details that were once sharp dull over time. (***ALWAYS*** get permission to take photos in a museum. Often times photos are permissible, but sometimes there are restrictions such as 'no flash photography.' If a museum doesn't allow photos, respect that and enjoy the tour. But if photos are allowed, snap away!)

6. Do something unusual.


I love history museums. I plan my vacations around seeing historical sites. But every once in awhile, it's nice to do something different, something you wouldn't do any old day. Last summer on a girl-trip to Galena, IL with my daughter, we decided we wouldn't eat at any place we could eat at home. No fast food, chain restaurants, only local places. Man, did we eat well! And we decided to see a one-man live play. (Above is a picture of us with Mark Twain!) The experiences we had in Galena were extra-special because we went outside our 'norm' to find and do something unusual.

7. Do the expected. Sort of.


My husband and I have a couple of lists, and each vacation, we're always looking for another opportunity to check something off that list. For us, it's state capitols and Presidential homes/libraries. This year in Nashville, we're hoping to check one of each off our lists with the Tennessee State Capitol and The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home. Having something like a state capitol list is fun, and it makes you feel like you've got a team goal you're accomplishing. Not every trip we take works to check something off the list, but when it does, it's an extra little fillip to an otherwise already-awesome trip.

8. Be Flexible
My kids at Devil's Tower

Sometimes you're going to get tired, so don't feel badly if you can't do everything you had planned. Take some time out to rest. And take time to really enjoy what you are doing instead of pushing on to the next thing all the time. Take a little time out to be silly. :) Don't lose your cool if there are unexpected delays, the weather doesn't cooperate, or you find yourself tuckered out.



So, are you planning any travels this summer, and if so, where are you headed? What are you hoping to see, and do you have any travel tips to share?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Behind The #Novella - #CaliforniaGoldRush Style

I'm more of a platinum girl myself, but for the time being I am ALL about the California Gold Rush. Why? Because in two weeks, my next novella is releasing as a part of the California Gold Rush Romance Collection from my amazing publishing house, Barbour Publishing!

Really, there's a few critical points you need to know about this novella that I wrote, Gold Haven Heiress.

1. I came up with the title before I had a clue of what the novella would be about.
2. I knew absolutely squat about the California Gold Rush
3. I Googled Wikipedia to find out what the gold rush was actually all about

WIKIPEDIA?!?! I know. *bows head in shame*

But then, a few things happened. First, I met Thalia Simmons. She isn't your typical heroine (but then when do I ever write your typical heroine?). Thalia is a used up prostitute with a scar puckering the entire right side of her face. She has an aversion to people, not just men. Her preferred friend was her pet mouse "Ounce" (thanks to Teresa Tysinger for naming it!), and she lives in a gold mining ghost town that's about as washed up as she is.

Then Jack came along. Jack is NOT my normal hero. My heroes are usually brisque, haunted, gruff, verging on arrogant, and most assuredly self-confident. Jack was opposite. Jack was first of all... wait for it ... Nice.

HOW DO I WRITE A NICE HERO!?!

Why do my characters do this to me?? I can do cynical, sarcastic, dry-witted men. I can write strong, assertive, even dominant males. But nice? I didn't even know what to do with Jack. The conversation sort of went like this:

Me: You can be nice, Jack, it's not my M.O.
Jack: I understand. I know that it can be hard, but I'm here for you. The whole time.
Me: (raises eyebrow in derision) Seriously, man. Toughen up.
Jack: Tough never served me well. I prefer to serve others.
Me: Sigh. Jack. I can't. Really. Drop me a bad-boy one-liner.
Jack: Jaime, I'm just not like that. I care too much and I am a serious thinker. I contemplate, I rescue, I save. I don't insult, goad, and irk. 
Me: Fine. Then you're going to fall in love with a prostitute. How's THAT!?
Jack: If that is what is willed for me, I will rise to the occasion and I will learn to love her with all my heart.

After that mental conversation, which should probably render me committed to a psyche ward somewhere, I acquiesced. Then I realized, my readers NEED a nice man. Especially lately. The world could use a Jack. A rescuer of the wounded. A gentle spirit who's inner strength is what kicks batooty. So then, I was all in!

Jack and Thalia have a rather estranged relationship. Not because of sarcasm or wit, but because of their futures. Rather than dwelling on their pasts, they are both attacking their future with their own forms of redemption. Jack, has it right. Thalia needs a rather severe nudge.

All in all, I am stoked to bring you Jack and Thalia's tumultuous story. One of future idealism that goes far beyond the lure of gold, to something far more inherited and a legacy far more eternal! :)

Join myself and several other contributing authors on August 2nd as we celebrate the release and also give away a Kindle Fire among other prizes!! WOO HOO!

Pre-order your copy here if you're so inclined! And if you don't like mine, well you have eight other AMAZING stories to read too! :)



_______________________________________________

Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright
... Spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense

Professional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wrightresides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.


Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jaimejowright
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaimejowright
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaimejowright 
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/jaimejowright 
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13916081.Jaime_Jo_Wright
Periscope: @jaimejowright


Friday, July 15, 2016

Kelli Stuart’s ‘Like a River from Its Course’ Blog Tour and Kindle Prize Pack

Travel back in time in Kelli Stuart's new novel, Like a River from Its Course, as the city of Kiev is bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union. This sweeping historical saga takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

A gripping tale, I (Jaime Jo), was riveted to its pages. So much of this era on the European side is unknown to me. Even though I've spent hours and hours reading World War II volumes and biographies. I was totally unaware of how it affect the Ukraine. The author takes you into the dark, gritty shadows of the War, the Nazis, the struggle, and the quest for love and redemption amid ashes. This novel is worthy of shelf-space for any WWII history buff or fiction-reader.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize Pack.

like a river - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
like a river - prize collage (1) 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

like a river - enterbanner

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Mother in the Making Book Giveaway!!

Gabrielle Here:

Last Thursday, I had a huge surprise waiting for me on my front steps. My first Love Inspired Historical book, A Mother in the Making, arrived! I had no idea it was coming so soon. I'm part of a Yahoo group of Love Inspired authors, and several of the August releases hadn't arrived yet, so I didn't expect the September releases for quite some time.


*Insert wild cheering, a few tears, and lots of giddiness.*

My six-year-old twin boys didn't know what was happening as I happy-danced around our foyer with a box in my hands. They watched me with mild interest.

I opened the box, pulled out my book baby, and cheered some more.


My boys still didn't understand.

So I told them that this was my first solo book. I pointed at my name and even opened to the dedication where I showed them their names.


Let's just say my boys weren't impressed. :) I started writing when they were two, so they've never known any different. To them, my writing is my job. No big deal.

They were happy to see their names, but they quickly disappeared outdoors to play in the yard.

To me, my writing is my dream-come-true. Something I've longed to do since I was about eleven-years-old. And that dedication? It means everything to me.

To celebrate the arrival of A Mother in the Making, I'm offering a free copy to one commenter. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. (U.S. citizens only, please.)

I'd love to know: When was the last time you squealed in delight. :)

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Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

St. Paul Gangster Tour

Erica here:

A couple of weeks ago the ACFW MN NICE group got together for a little field trip in the Twin Cities. We went  on the Wabasha Street Caves gangster tour! Did you know that St. Paul was a hotbed of gangster activity in the 1930s? I know, most folks think of Chicago or even New York when it comes to Prohibition Era Gangsters, but St. Paul was actually the Gangster Capitol of the world.

Why, you ask? It all goes back to the O'Connor System. Police Chief O'Connor decided 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' and made St. Paul a safe-haven for gangsters on the lam. He only had three rules.

1. No crime within St. Paul city limits. (Which consequently made Minneapolis the bank-robbery capitol of the world for awhile.)

2. Check in with Harry Sawyer at the Green Lantern Tavern. (So when the FBI came knocking, the St. Paul police could drop a dime and let you know to get out of town ahead of the G-men.)

3. Make a donation to the Police Chief's Retirement Fund. (Hush money spread around the 20% of the police force that was crooked and the various politicians who were looking the other way.)

Simple, right? 

Below are some photos from our tour as well as a few 'mug shots' of the gangsters we learned about.

Our group with our tour guide...and a genuine Tommy Gun!
Edna "Rabbit" Murray, a gangster's moll,
(and the persona of our tour guide.)
Edna had a penchant for escaping from prison.
 She was also know as the "Kissing Bandit."
 She once offered to kiss a clergyman who
was being robbed by her boyfriend in order
 to cheer him up. :) 

Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, one time Public
 Enemy Number One and leader of the
Barker-Karpis Gang. He was an obsessive
 planner, and he had a creepy stare,
hence the nickname.

Doc Barker, unstable, vicious, and scary!

Edward Bremer, kidnap victim.
The Barker-Karpis gang kidnapped
 Edward Bremer within St. Paul
 City Limits, fracturing the O'Connor
 System. Edward Bremer and
 his family were big in
banking in MN. Still are.
My kids call our bank,
 Bremer Bank, the "Gangster Bank."

The Wabasha Street Caves. The lady in the red hat was our tour guide. 

John Dillinger who visited St. Paul
several times and was even shot
here, though he escaped.

Ma Barker, who was not a gangster
herself but who raised a nest of them.

Tom Brown, the most corrupt policeman
you'll ever find. He facilitated
the O'Connor System and aided in both
 the commission and investigations
of the Bremer and Hamm kidnappings.

The second time I took the tour
 (I've been three times now) this fellow
was our tour guide. He portrayed
John Dillinger, and he was great!!! :)

William Hamm, kidnapped by the
Barker-Karpis Gang. Not the brightest
crayon in the box...he
owned a brewery, and when
he was returned to his family,
 he was asked by the press whether
he was upset that he hadn't been
 given Hamm Beer while in captivity
instead of another brand. He replied
 that "All beer pretty
much tastes the same, right?" 

Gabe's lovely daughters on the
bus ready to get going on the tour!

If you'd like to learn more about the Wabasha Street Caves click here: http://www.wabashastreetcaves.com/

If you'd like to read more about St. Paul Gangsters, check out this book:





What is your favorite "Gangster Movie?"

My favorite is The Untouchables with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery.


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