Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Summer Tour


Hey, everyone! Summer isn’t over until September 21, ya know. However, I do understand that most of you are out of “Summer” mode at this point. But don’t let that stop you from picking up some pretty awesome reads and cuddling on the deck for a few hours of bliss.

I see I’m in history mode, as I often am, with my picks to share with you.  

Wounded Spirits by April Gardner was a delight to find. From the little-explored time in American history, the early nineteenth century era of expansion and settlement, Gardner tells an evocative, thoughtful, and sensitive tale of pioneers, warriors, and Creek Nation people battling for identity in an innocent land. Gently exploring touchy issues such as slavery, romance in all the unusual places, pride and fall, readers will ask for more when finished. And you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have long to wait.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow was my surprise exciting read of the year. Cathy West’s awesome debut will knock your socks off so you can wiggle your toes in the sand. If you like true characters, the grit and the emotional pit of modern warfare in the Vietnam era, blood and guts and dirt in your wounds, you’ll be entranced by this gripping read. A young woman reporter finds more than other people’s stories when she goes to cover the war.

Undercurrent. What can I say? Lust, Vikings, Blood, ships, medieval history. Time travel. I’m on reading cloud ninety-nine. Michelle Griep is so excellent in her research, which I discovered with her first novel, Gallimore. Griep takes us back to the early days of Viking exploration, a time when petty kings ruled by magic, dark power, lust and the strength of their bodies and spirits. When a contemporary history professor is caught in a eddy of time, she must use her training and wits to survive and return to the 21st century.

Meander Scar: well, I guess I’m tooting my own horn here, but if you’re in the mood for an almost squeaky clean tale of forbidden love and faith, a twist of fate and a gasping ending, perhaps you’ll consider this contemporary love story of missing persons and love for all the right reasons. I’m also delighted to announce that A Summer In Oakville is releasing this week from the same publisher. Shellie Neumeier and I wrote a story that might have taken place in our own back yards. It’s gotten some great early reviews, has a blow-out fantastic cover and will transport you down a country lane full of angst, pride, love and faith while making peace with the past and welcoming a new future.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Birthday Party Planner for Kids

By Sharen Pearson

As a mother of five and now grandmother of seven, I’ve planned my share of birthday events. I am a creative person, so my problem is “going over the top.” My expectations supersede those of the birthday child. So, I have to step back and say, “Whose birthday is it anyway?” And, therein lies the key to a successful birthday party.
I recently assisted with my grandson, Waylon’s party. He was reaching that big-boy age of 5 years. He knew what theme he wanted: Herbie the Love Bug. He wanted a backyard campfire and a cake with Herbie on it. Simple—Herbie, campfire, cake. Got it! My daughter complied. She invited a few families from church that Waylon knew well and was comfortable around. Since entire families were represented, parents were there to help with crowd control. Bowls of chips and dip provided a place to gather around as people arrived. Children scattered to play in the back yard, parents grouped to watch and chat. Easy, huh? Daddy lit a small fire in the campfire ring in the yard. More talk, more easy playing. The cake was a simple giant chocolate chip cookie with a frosting “Herbie.” Waylon thought it was wonderful.
Mommy announced that it was gift-opening time and everyone pulled up lawn chairs and sat in family groups. Waylon sat in the middle of the circle on the grass and guests watched as he opened each gift and thanked the giver. He received many nice gifts, but to everyone’s delight, a small, inexpensive VW bug toy car was his favorite. He opened it, raised it above his head as if it were a trophy and yelled in delight. Waylon slept with his “Herbie;” woke up and greeted it; placed it on the edge of the tub so he could see it. He had the birthday he wanted. Simple party, simple gift, simple fun!
Some suggestions to consider when planning your party:
  • If your child is old enough to have input, allow it.
  • For ages 1-5 years, simple is best. Simple decorations, simple food, simple games.
  • Invite only one party guest per age of the child. Young children are very intimidated by many children of the same age. Remember, “Whose birthday is it?”
  • If guests include family/friends with older children, add activities especially for them.
  • Home is the best place for children ages 5 and under. Big party venues are confusing, scary and do not position the “birthday child” as the center of attention as he should be.
Some traps that parents fall into:
  • Making the party so complicated that you, as the parent, no longer enjoy it. (Been there, done that.)
  • Allowing young party guests to get close to and grab for gifts as as the birthday child is opening them. (Admit it, you’ve seen this haven’t you?)
  • Spending too much money. (Guilty as charged.)
  • Preparing food for adults and not age-appropriate to the guests. (The only thing to show off today is your wonderful child)
  • Engaging in sleepover parties before the age of 9 years. (Children younger than 9 or 10 years often find sleeping at someone else’s home frightening and uncomfortable.)

Author Bio
Sharen Pearson’s Goof & Giggle classes and materials continue to provide a quality Mom/Tot interaction. Widely popular, Goof & Giggle’s child-focused play plans are offered in various Arizona communities. She’s also created a variety of Goof Juice DVDs and filmed episodes of Baby D.I.Y. and written workbooks for BabyFirstTV. Arizona Midday (NBC) tapes monthly segments with Sharen to provide their audience with a variety of original and creative “easy to do” activities for babies and preschoolers. Sharen’s creativity reaches a combined audience over 200 million viewers worldwide. Goof & Giggle classes and products encourage green living, repurposing materials from around the house into affordable objects for play and learning. Learn more at:
**This article is used by permission from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tomato canning time!

I'm learning new tricks with our abundance of garden tomatoes. Last year it was tomato jam. This year it's canning tomato soup. I tried it yesterday with a batch, and will definitely make more. I love tomato soup for lunch on winter afternoons. I took a class my senior high of college in preserving, got this book, Keeping the Harvest; still use it and buy it for gifts.

This tomato soup for canning recipe came from my home shopper paper, and is by Beth Desens, a neighbor over in Fredonia. I only had five quarts of tomatoes yesterday, so I didn't make this entire batch. She also didn't specify making a roux with the butter/flour, so I didn't.

Tomato Soup for Canning

14 qrts fresh tomatoes, cut up
14 stalks of celery
a good size clump of parsley (I used dried)
20 whole cloves
12 bay leaves
7 sweet onions
medium sized clump of basil
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. salt
1 heaping tsp. paprika
3/4 pound melted butter
3/4 c flour

Boil tomatoes, celery, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, basil and onions together for about an hour. Stir frequently. Put through a food mill and put back in pot.
Mix together sugar, salt, paprika and flour and butter, add to liquids, stirring continuously. Cook another fifteen-twenty minutes. Pour into hot jars and process fifty minutes in the pressure canner, 5 pounds. Makes 10 quarts.

Thursday, August 25, 2011




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tracy Krauss! John 316 marketing network summer tour

Tracy Krauss is an author, artist, playwright, director, worship leader, and teacher. Originally from a small prairie town, she received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Saskatchewan.  She has lived in many places in northern Canada with her husband, a pastor, and their children. They currently live in Tumbler Ridge, BC.

Back Cover
What’s a girl to do? Joleen Allen is on the hunt. For a man, that is. Unfortunately, every time the mother of five meets a prospect, he falls for one of her daughters instead!

Meanwhile, her ex-husband, Harold, is back in the picture after a stint in prison, and he’s looking for revenge. He’ll do anything to see Joleen’s reputation and her relationship with their children ruined. Harold has devised an elaborate plan to slander Joleen and ruin her financially, and will stop at nothing – even murder – to see it through.

At forty-four, Joleen has seen a thing or two. She became a mother at sixteen, and her five highly independent children are now grown. Jasmine is a successful ad executive, but has a drinking problem. Jill is a tough cop, while middle child Jennifer surprises them all with her tenacity. Jinger is a self-centered glamour girl, and the baby of the family, Jade, is utterly spoiled.

All the interesting men they meet get tossed around by this pack of barracudas. Adding to the mix are some drug deals, a kidnapping, insurance fraud, and secrets from the past, making life very complicated, indeed.

With grit, humor, action, intrigue and romance, My Mother the Man-Eater is a redemptive story about a woman whose search for meaning in life sends her straight into . . . the arms of God.

Inspiration and why I love it
My Mother The Man-Eater was a lot of fun to write. Believe it or not, it was originally inspired while I was playing the Sims! (Who says gaming isn’t a productive use of your time?) I had created all these characters, but there suddenly came a point where I said, “I’ve got to stop playing and write this down!” As soon as I started writing, I realized the potential for a redemptive element. I immediately thought of the prophet Hosea and God’s instructions to marry a prostitute. God uses unlikely people for His purposes all the time. This was the premise for my heroine’s character – a promiscuous woman whom God could use despite herself.

I love the quirky characters, the complexity of the relationships in the story, and the way so many elements weave together. I like complexity - and surprises – when reading or watching movies etc. and this seems to come out in my writing as well.

Contact and purchase info:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Marva Dasef, mystery writer!

Marva is offering a prize drawing for one person who comments on each blog on the tour:

Marva Dasef is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published books and a few more scheduled for 2011 and 2012 from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.

Follow the tour!

What do I love about this book?
Its setting (eastern Oregon high desert) and its theme of the consequences of prejudice of a type that most readers might not even be aware. Drop in a nice romance, and I hope it's a book that will appeal to a wide audience.

What did I learn in the process of publishing it?
I learned that there are fabulous small publishers available for writers. MuseItUp has been a revelation and a joy to work with. From Lea Schizas, the publisher, my editors, Anne Duguid and Penny Ehrenkranz, and the cover artist, Suzannah Safi--what a class act from beginning to end!


Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

Back Cover Copy:

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

Kam gasped and jumped down the embankment toward the creek, stumbling through the underbrush. She heard the pickup tires screech and glanced back. Scruffy had gotten out and headed down the slope behind her. She moved faster, gripping her hair spray. A strap broke on her sandal, and she kicked it off. Ignoring the brambles poking into her legs through her jeans, she moved as fast as she could, the terrain preventing her from flat out running.

She heard the crashing of bushes behind her and put on more steam. She knew the pickup would have reached her car by now, but she’d be coming up on the passenger door, slightly downhill from the driver’s side. She switched the hair spray to her left hand and pawed into her purse for the keys. Finding them, she dropped the bag on the ground to free her hands and kept moving.

When she reached the Chrysler, the driver had already skidded down the embankment and was standing on the driver’s side. Thin compared to the other man, but his arms were solid muscle under the tats. She rushed to the passenger side, jerked open the heavy door, dived in, slammed the door and hit the lock button on the key fob.

The driver pounded the window with his fist. The scruffy one had caught up and pulled on the passenger side door handle. Kam hit the panic button on the fob. The deep and seriously loud Chrysler horn went off with honking bursts. Both men jumped back from the car.

The driver yelled, “I’ll fetch the rifle.” He scrambled to climb up the embankment.

Kam’s heart almost stopped. Even the shatterproof windows wouldn’t stand up against a hunting rifle. She looked around the car wildly, her breath coming in sharp rasps, and then launched herself over the console and into the rear. Sweat ran from her armpits, soaking her blouse. She ran her shaking hands across the top of the seat back hunting for the latch. She hoped the Chrysler had fold down back seats.

If she could just reach the tire iron, she’d have a weapon. If this stupid car even had one that is.

She felt the latch pin, grasped it and pulled it up. It clicked. She grasped the seat back in both hands and pulled it down. On her belly, she crawled halfway into the trunk searching for the spare tire well.

by Marva Dasef

Twitter Handle: @Gurina

MuseItUp Author page:

Book Trailer:


This action-packed mystery is rich with colorful characters, a tight plot, and a warm romance. Recommended! ‹L.J. Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mysteries>

A town with too many secrets makes Kam a target for a killer. Filled with wonderful characters, twists and surprises, here's a novel I couldn't put down until the end. <Lorrie Unites-Struiff, author of Gypsy Crystal>

Thursday, August 4, 2011

LeAnne Hardy and Glastonbury Tor

Meet LeAnne Hardy, author of Glastonbury Tor. I feel like I've met a sister after learning some of her history and a fellow Mary Stewart fan. I first met LeAnne when she was on my group site, on July 6. Read her touching story behind the picture, left. She'll also be on ReflectionsInHindsight on August 23, talking about her great wealth of stories.

LeAnne says:
I fell in love with King Arthur my freshman year in high school by way of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s romantic poetry (Idylls of the King) and Lerner and Loewe’s delightful Broadway score (Camelot—give me Julie Andrews over Vanessa Redgrave any day!) Someone loaned me a copy of Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave, and I was hooked for life on the Matter of Britain, that cycle of stories passed down from the Middle Ages about ancient British Kings, fighting to save civilization after they had been abandoned by Rome.

I am a librarian by training. My husband and I have served for many years in several countries as missionaries in theological education. Once when we needed to be in Oxford, England, for a week of meetings, he suggested we take a few days of vacation and explore some of the Arthurian sites.

We drove out to the coast of Cornwall where the winds sweep over the cliffs at Tintagel and the waves crash on the rocks below. It is Arthur’s birthplace if you believe Tennyson. Of course, if you believe the archeologists, there was no castle in that location until long after Arthur’s time. I prefer Tennyson.

We drove back toward England and Somerset—the “Summer Country,” so low it was under water during winter rains until monks at Glastonbury Abbey began the work of digging drainage ditches. Today’s towns were all once islands that rose just a few feet above the surrounding bogs in the Vale of Avalon, where the Lady of the Lake took King Arthur in a barge to be healed of his wounds. From there he will return in England’s time of greatest need (if you believe the stories.)

Glastonbury sits on three hills rising above the Somerset Levels—Wyrral Hill, where Joseph of Arimathea and his party are said to have rested, “weary all”, after fleeing the first century persecution of Christians in Jerusalem; Chalice Hill, above the spring that runs red with iron where folk say Joseph dipped the Holy Grail he had brought; and the Tor, whose conical shape seen from the Mendip Hills that rim the vale was once believed to cover the entrance to the ancient Celtic underworld.

But amidst the tangle of ancient tales that undergirds every inch of this town, it was the violent dissolution of the abbey under King Henry VIII that most caught my imagination. I was beginning to think like a writer (although I would never have publically claimed that title) when I stood in the museum, reading the placards about how the abbot defied the king and suffered for it. I thought, Now THAT would make a good story.

I had started writing in my spare time when Ben Bradley, a hockey player who wanted to learn to jump and spin, popped into my mind. His story later became Crossovers, but that day when I stood in the abbey museum Ben’s story was locked in a computer file lest someone discover that I had the audacity to try to write a novel for young people. I was reading a book about writing and publishing fiction, and trying to do the exercises on my own. I had even started a second manuscript, but I knew I couldn’t begin yet another project. So I typed the opening paragraphs to capture my idea, filed them under “future projects”, and went back to plugging away at learning my craft.

I finally broke into publishing when we moved back to the US for a few years for my husband to work as a consultant for theological schools in various parts of the world. The Wooden Ox was published first (about an American family kidnapped by rebels during the Mozambican Civil War.) It was followed by Between Two Worlds (about a girl raised in Brazil and stuck in the States the year of her important fifteenth birthday) and a picture book set in Africa, So That’s What God is Like. Contracts signed, I began looking at my “future projects” file. Those opening paragraphs leapt out at me. I wanted to read that book! The trouble was, I had to write it first.

I’m not a fast writer. Glastonbury Tor was several years in the making. Meanwhile Donna Fletcher Crowe came out with her book Glastonbury, and I nearly cried thinking my story had already been told.  But a place that rich in legend has many stories to tell even about the Dissolution and early Reformation.  I traveled back to Somerset to spend a couple weeks with new friends who loaned me a bike, a map and a pair of Wellington boots and sent me out to explore my setting.

I was back in Africa writing for children affected by HIV&AIDS when Glastonbury Tor was nominated as a Christy Award finalist. These last few years I have been busy with short stories and a novel about HIV in South Africa, but I think Glastonbury has more stories to tell. Someday I will hope to tell them. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet Bernard Boulton on the John 316 Summer Tour!

Bernard Boulton has been a reader since at the age of five when his cousin Yvette placed a book in his hand and introduced him to the wonderful world of books. Throughout his life he has read fiction and non fiction books that has gripped his imagination and made him believe in greater things.

Bernard’s reading sparked a desire in him to one day produce his own story. As he got older the spark became a vision and the vision is about to be manifested through his first novel.

Bernard attended the Cleveland Ohio Public School System graduating from East High in June 1985. He attended Cuyahoga Community College, Warren Bible Institute, Moody Bible Institute and he graduated from Christian Life School of Theology  where he received an Associate degree in Theology.

Bernard gave his life to Jesus at the age of eight and entered the preaching ministry at the age of seventeen. He is a widely traveled preacher with a relevant word and he has  ministered in the Word through out the United States and Haiti. He has pastored churches in the states of West Virginia, Texas and Virginia. He is the pastor of the New Mine Creek Church in south Virginia.
Bernard’s hobbies include reading, traveling and supporting his hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bernard, why did you write your novel?
I wrote Do You Wanna Be Made Whole because I wanted to tell a story about men from the perspective of a man. I wanted to reveal a man's process for dealing with tragedy, heartbreak and the consequences of poor choices. I love this novel because it is my production. Born out of my imagination.

Where can readers find the book?
The book can be purchased at my website, Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and it is available as a e-book on my website and at Smashword.

How can we get in touch with you?
I can be contacted at BERNARDBOULTON@YAHOO.COM, Facebook, Twitter (IDEALWRITER).

Enjoy the book trailer here if you can't see it below. It's gorgeous, worth your three minutes.

Bernard Boulton, Pastor of New Mine Creek Church http://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/NEWMINECREEK