Friday, January 30, 2015

The Adventures of Agnes Hopper! new book by Carol Guthrie Hilman

How much trouble can there be in Sweetbriar, a retirement home?
With Agnes as a new resident, plenty!

Summer's steamy haze coats North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, but feisty Agnes Marie Hopper discovers the heat isn't the only thing causing her blood to boil. After a kitchen fire destroys her home, Agnes moves in with her daughter, Betty Jo. Three months later they come to an understanding: neither can tolerate living with the other. So on a sultry August morning, Betty Jo drives Agnes and her few belongings to Sweetbrier Manor, a local retirement home and former house of ill repute.

With no intention of staying, Agnes devises a scheme to sneak out of the Manor and find another place to live. Before she can make her exit, she runs into her best friend from high school, along with some other quirky characters. With a nose for trouble, Agnes learns some of the residents are being robbed, over-medicated, and denied basic cable and Internet access. Armed with nothing more than seventy-one years of common sense and a knack for pushing people's buttons, Agnes sets out to expose the unscrupulous administrator, protect her new friends, and restore Sweetbriar Manor s reputation as a "rewarding and enriching lifestyle. But the real moment of truth comes when Agnes is forced to choose between her feisty self-reliance and the self-sacrifice that comes from caring for others.

$3.99 eBook
$11.99 pBook

Buy from:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sara Jayne Townsend and her book Dead Cool




They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with. Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window. It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed.  His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

DEAD COOL is the second novel in the series about her contemporary amateur sleuth, Canadian actress Shara Summers

DEAD COOL is available in all e-book formats from MuseItUp Publishing’s book store.
Price:  $5.50
ISBN:  978-1-77127-579-8
Nov 2014

Currently DEAD COOL is available at a discounted sale price and can be found at the following e-book vendors:

Sara Jayne, what do you love about this book?

I really love writing about Shara.  Through her I can vicariously explore the acting life.  She’s also far more shamelessly nosy than me, and has no problem sneaking into places she shouldn’t and poking about.  I’m not nearly brave enough to do things like that.  In DEAD COOL Shara is hired as backing singer for an up and coming rock band, so writing this book also gave me the opportunity to explore a fantasy I’ve held since high school about being a rock star.

Introduce us to the character who gave you the most trouble.

DC Aaron Blake, who is the police officer investigating the murder.  He rather fancies Shara, and I wanted to have some chemistry between them but I was worried that it was unprofessional for a police officer to flirt with someone who was at best a witness to a murder, and at worst a suspect.

My source for researching police procedure is a retired copper who served on the London Metropolitan murder squad, and he was hugely helpful.  He also reassured me that police officers are human beings, and sometimes fancy people they shouldn’t.  He helped me shape Aaron Blake into a realistic (if flawed) character.

Can you share one or two things you learned during the process of writing and publishing this book?

When I first started writing about Shara, she had a casual, conversational voice that included quite a lot of detail that ended up being cut out of the book – detail that I thought was essential to her as a character, but turned out not to be essential to moving the plot forward.  I think about this a lot more in my writing now.  Is this scene essential to moving the plot forward in some way?  If it is not, it shouldn’t be in the book.

--Excellent point!

In some ways the publishing process is harder work than the actual writing.  You finally finish the manuscript, and submit it.  Once it’s been accepted, you think that’s the end of the story but it’s actually the beginning.  Rounds and rounds of edits follow, where you end up reading the manuscript so many times you get sick to death of your own story, and often you have to do it to tight deadlines.  And no matter how many times you and your editors go through it, you get to final galley stage and you still find mistakes that have somehow slipped through.  I never read the final published copy of my own books when I receive them.  Firstly because by the time I get to that stage I’ve read the story so much I’ve grown to hate it, and secondly because I’m afraid of what mistakes I might find, that have still managed to slip through the net and at that stage it’s too late to do anything about them.

What do you want readers to tell others when they’re done?

That it’s a good holiday read. I’m not aiming to win any literary prizes, but if I can write books that people find an enjoyable way to pass the time while they are lying on the beach, then I will be happy.  And I hope readers will tell others – reviews and word of mouth are the best forms of publicity for any author.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the third Shara Summers novel, which places her in a remote house off the Scottish coast as part of a reality show.  The novel is an homage to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”.  I’m at an early stage of draft 1, though, so a long way to go yet.

I’m also working on a horror novel about a group of live action role players who unwittingly release an ancient evil entity during a game.  That one I’m hoping to have finished and ready to submit very soon.

About the Author:
Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers, DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL, are available as e-books from the MuseitUp book store. 

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at or her blog.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Beast of Stratton COVER REVEAL! with Renee Blare

Beast of Stratton

by Renee Blare
Release Date:  March 11, 2015 from Prism Book Group

Join the January 17 Cover Reveal Facebook Party HERE starting at 7:00 PM.

Enjoy the fun with other Christian authors, and readers, including games, and giveaways! Stay tuned for more exciting events around the release in March!

He appears the beast, but she sees his heart.

Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.

Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide than help, especially the man's daughter. But something's not right. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A decorated war veteran, he's defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Even with the enemy at his side.

Semi-finalist in the 2014 ACFW Genesis Contest.

About the Author:

Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.


The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Susan Craft's American historical novel, Laurel

About Laurel 
Desperate to rescue their kidnapped daughter, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek two hundred miles through South Carolina mountains and backcountry wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness, and despair. When the trail grows cold, the couple battles guilt and personal shame; Lilyan for letting Laurel out of her sight, and Nicholas for failing to keep his family safe.

They track Laurel to the port of Charleston as post-Revolutionary War passions reach fever pitch.  There, Lilyan, a former patriot spy, is charged for the murder of a British officer. She is thrown into the Exchange Building dungeon and chained alongside prostitutes, thieves, and murderers. Separated from her husband, she digs deep inside to re-ignite the courage and faith that helped her survive the war.  Determined to free his wife at any cost, Nicholas finds himself forced back into a life of violence he thought he’d left behind.

Following a rumor that Laurel may be aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore, Lilyan and Nicholas secure passage on a departing schooner, but two days into the voyage, a storm blows their ship aground on Diamond Shoals. As the ship founders, both are swept overboard.

Will their love for each other and their faith sustain them as they await word of their missing child? Or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Purchase The Chamomile and Laurel from, Amazon, print and Kindle and from


Question and Answer with Susan Craft

Did you have to travel much concerning your books? If so, what’s the most interesting place you traveled?
Since I want my history to be right in my novels, I do extensive research and travel to the locations of my novels to absorb, to breathe in, everything I can: sights, sounds, smells.  Thank goodness my husband drives us, because I have no sense of direction and can get lost in my driveway.

The most fun trip was one we took to the North Carolina Outer Banks to research for my upcoming books, Laurel and its sequel, Cassia. In Laurel, which takes place in 1783, my characters are shipwrecked on an Outer Banks island.  Cassia, which takes place in 1799, has pirates.  Between the two books, I knew I needed to learn more about the ships that sailed at that time, some of the nautical terms, and seafaring jargon. In Beaufort, NC, I stumbled upon a Maritime Museum where I spent hours in the library that still uses a card catalogue system (at my age, I felt right at home). I learned about the wild ponies that have roamed Ocracoke Island for hundreds of years and I became fascinated by the pirate lore of the area. A local restaurant owner pointed out an area for us to visit that still looks the same today as it did in the late 1700s.

You say you’d rather research than write.
It’s true. Researching for my novels brings me the same excitement Alan Quartermain must have felt hunting for King Solomon’s Mines. I’ve been known to spend an entire day in a library scribbling notes from someone’s diary, spending a wallet of quarters making copies of maps and old newspapers, and trekking from one book or document to the next with a perseverance Lewis and Clark would have applauded.

I enjoy the chase when one clue leads me to the next, to the next…
On my website,, I have over twenty years of research on a wide range of topics. I knew I’d never be able to write enough novels to use all my “historical treasures,” so I decided to share and put them on my website.

Will you share one of your “historical treasures” that we can find in Laurel?
What people in the past did in their daily lives always interests me. One thing that caught my attention was the bathing habits.

American colonists, like their European ancestors, feared that bathing would destroy their natural oils and leave them open to the ravages of diseases, so getting clean meant sponging off. More affluent people had chinaware washbasins. If they desired a full bath, their servants would heat buckets of water in the kitchen and haul them to the bedroom.  There were no towels to dry with, so they used large pieces of cloth or blankets. Full baths were considered a luxury not done more than a couple of times a year.

In Laurel, Lilyan Xanthakos watches her husband bathe using lemon soap their hostess makes. It brings back a sweet memory before their daughter was kidnapped.
The last time she saw him bathe, he had been sitting in the bathtub in front of the fire in their cabin with Laurel balanced on his chest. Laurel slapped her hands against the water and splashed it into his eyes. His comical faces sent their little girl into a fit of giggles.
How she longed for those special family times. And to look upon her husband again with a desire free from the burden of grief and loss and guilt.

Which of your characters is most/least like you, and in what ways?
Except for not being able to find my way out of the woods, I identify most with my main character, Lilyan, who relies on her faith in God to get her through the dangerous and tragic happenings in her life.

If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
That’s an easy one. I’d have dinner with Nicholas Xanthakos. I have a place in my heart for this gorgeous Greek who embodies all the traits you want in a hero—bravery, gentleness, honor, faith. (No need to tell my husband of 45 years—he knows already J)

Here’s how Lilyan describes her husband in Laurel:
She turned over and watched her husband’s chest rise and fall in his slumber, observing him as he lay in a partial shadow cast from the moonlight. His hands that could wield a knife with deadly accuracy—and yet gently rock a cradle. His arms that could sling an axe for hours—but also encircle his child and wife in a tender embrace. His broad shoulders that could bear the weight of a felled tree, and yet they provided a nestling place for his wife’s head. His firm chin that jutted out in moments of white-hot anger—but also nuzzled into his daughter’s feathery curls. Lips that shouted orders so harshly grown men cringed but also whispered endearments to his wife in their most intimate moments. She regretted the furrow that creased his brow, the only outward sign of how much he missed his koukla—his little doll.

Tell me about some of your personality traits.
I could be the poster child for persistence (some might call it hard-headedness). I’ve been writing for 35 years, honing my craft at more writing conferences and reading more books about writing than I can remember. I simply refused to give up until I found someone interested in representing and publishing my novels. For all those years I worked fulltime, took care of my family, and made time for writing—sometimes into the early morning hours. I’m sentimental and cry at Hallmark commercials. I love the Lord with all my heart and strive daily to please Him, though I fail miserably at times.

About the Author
Susan F. Craft, who writes inspirational historical romantic suspense, recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader.  To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” Susan worked with the Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer's Guide to Horses (also known as An Equestrian Writer’s Guide) that can be found at Forty-five years ago, she married her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. An admitted history nerd, she enjoys researching for her novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on her porch watching the rabbits and geese eat her daylilies.  She has two post-Revolutionary War novels being released in 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—Laurel, was released January 15, and its sequel Cassia in September. Her Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. 

 Find Susan at the following social media sites: (Historical Fiction a Light in Time; my personal blog) (post fourth Monday of each month) (Heroes, Heroines and History; post on the 31st of each month that has a 31st)

Twitter: @susanfcraft

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CrossReads Book Blast with Paula Rose Michelson

No Other Choice: The Naomi Chronicles, Book One By Paula Rose Michelson

About the Book:
Naomi will be sent back! She left her family and all she held dear, traveled half way around the word while accompanying a blind, old grandmother because they promised to help her enter America and find her uncle. Instead they handed her over to immigration. What she does now, she does because there is no other choice! This is Naomi’s journey from adolescence to womanhood, from frightened isolation and captivity to the noble status of heiress. Trapped in a life where all who know her think her a saint, saddled with a mission and responsibility many would shirk from placed upon her shoulders, Naomi agrees to marry because that seems to be the easiest way to sidestep more issues. As timely as the immigration debate of today is, author, William Struse’s endorsement says, “Duty, sacrifice, and faith are carried in the arms of love by a courageous young woman, who rises above her own flaws to help others.”

Paula Rose Michelson0011Paula Rose Michelson As a Messianic Jew, Paula Rose Michelson wanted to write about life, love, choices, and forgiveness. She researched what befell the Jews baptized into the Catholic faith to survive the Inquisition, and when she began to write The Naomi Chronicles, Naomi told her the story you are about to read. Because of her extensive background in recovery as a Chemical Dependency - Lifestyle Disorder Councilor, her work with The Rubicon Center, and as the founded LAMB Ministries in 1988, where she continues to mentor women suffering from trauma and abuse the way God mentored her, the author knows that though her heroine’s story is unique, Naomi’s issues of fear and hiding are universal, for they are seen in anyone who is masking their real pain. Paula Rose Michelson is the wife of Lutheran Pastor and Chosen People Field Missionary, Ron Michelson. The mother of two married daughters, and grandmother of seven grandchildren, when not involved in ministry, writing, speaking, or teaching the effective use of scripture, you will find Paula researching her next book or meeting with friends.  

Follow Paula Rose Michelson

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Enter below to enter a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by author Paula Rose Michelson! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Album Remnant by Cherie Norquay

While I did a few CD reviews for the a now defunct site, I haven't done any recently. I was surprised and pleased to be asked to review this debut album for Cherie Norquay from my home state of Wisconsin. It was produced by Phil Naish, and after listening to the sample on her site, how could I not?

Cherie Norquay

Review of album Remnant by Cherie Norquay
10 tunes

CreativeSoul Records
Produced by Phil Naish

To purchase from the website, click here
Each track is available for .99
the MP3 is $5.99
the CD is $8.95
Amazon prices are slightly higher - click here.

Three of the tunes, Norquay says, were inspired by the hymns of the venerable Fanny Crosby. I found Norquay’s voice beautiful and clear, the music complementary and not overwhelming - a very good background foundation of guitars and piano. A mixture of worship and confession, these ten tunes all had something special to offer listeners of inspirational music. Drawing on scripture as well as familiar hymns, the music winds from sure to become popular praise band music in "Heaven to Me," to simple worshipful repetition, "You Are Holy"---what else is there?

This album will become a staple in my play list.

1 – Heaven to Me
Joyful tune, bouncy and full
Light steel guitar riff
Heavy on the r’s of the lyrics, cross over Jordan to Canaan’s fair land

2 – Your Love
Jesus loves me take – Love is Everlasting
Nothing could ever separate me from your love
Take on the children’s song that goes on from the verses
Good drums

3 – Redeemed
Chiming, tinkling piano
Redeemed – how I love to happy in Jesus
Very clear tones
"Your child I am" –speaking to the Lord in heartfelt, thankful
Will make listeners long to claim the same promise, “Your love is my song.”

4 – Whispering Hope
Such is the voice of an angel
Moody tone, plaintive, pleading – whispering hope
Wait, Speak to me, strengthen my heart, never depart
Undertone music of mechanical organ weaves among the lyrics, breathe on me

5 – Tell Me Jesus
Blend of guitars and drums, opening
Another pleading...dark and moody
Please tell me how to win the battle—cleanse my sin—how much more till I vow
Electric guitar underscore

6 – You Carry Me
Carry me through – I need you every breath I take
All I need is you
Almost a realization and repetition of understanding and thanksgiving
Mix of drums and guitars hold the platform for the repetition of phrasing

7 – The Remnant of My Heart – inspired by the book of Ezekiel
The Remnant of my heart – the title song – no matter what I’m doing, “From the tops of the mountain, under every tree”
Piano backs the lyrics, subtle drumbeat and guitar strengthens deeper into the song
I know someday I will be with you – I remember you
8 – Save Me
Piano, a prayer, a worship song directly to the savior,
A confession – for my sins you have died
Acceptance, plea—oh, save me, receive me, redeem me
Clear piano and background percussion measuring the beats of the words in a simple daily prayer
9 – You Are Holy
Chimes, humming, ohhh, a prayer of worship from the heart and soul and mind
Clear piano and gentle guitar riff – Hymn – You are Holy, Holy, Lord –
simple repetition, as what else is there?

10 – Trust In Me
"Remnant" photo shootEnding on a peppy note, with popping drums and guitar echoing the short spurts of the repetitive chorus lyrics - "ever, oh, trust in me, trust in me."

Norquay and her husband live in Wisconsin, have several children and a grandchild. She has been involved in church music her entire life, she says. It was a mission trip in 2009 that inspired her to turn in a new direction and she began writing the music of her heart. “God is the forever. His Word never changes. The truths spoken of in the music long ago is still relevant today. I desire to help people fall in love with hymns all over a new ways,” she says.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Sisterhood of World Bloggers

Thanks to Gail Pallotta for nominating me for this award.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the one who nominated you.
2. Put up the award.
3. Answer the questions you have been sent.
4. Make up ten new questions for nominees to answer.

Here are my questions and answers.

1. What was something that brought you lots of joy this year?
My two new grandchildren!

2. What is your hope for 2015?
To continue to grow my craft, and to earn at least 10% more than last year.

3. What is your favorite leisure time activity?

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Have you ever written a blog about that place or set a book there?  
I would love to travel to Scotland and Wales and England, and no I've never done blogs or books there. I'm working on a book that's partially set in Germany.

5. Who has had the biggest influence on you? 
Lorilyn Roberts, owner and founder of the John 316 Marketing Network.

6. Have you learned something new this year about life, people, or writing?
I've learned to enjoy the way authors want to learn to grow themselves through the writers I've been blessed to edit for and mentor.

7. Do you have a favorite genre to read? Do you write in that genre? 
I love to read sci/fi fantasy, and no, I don't write in it. Some of the mystery would vanish, I'm afraid, if I tried to figure it out.

8. Please share a Bible verse or insightful quote with us. 
I still live on Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold firm to our faith, for He who promised is faithful. Still a challenge and a call with a reward.

9. What helps you shut out the busyness of the world when you write?
Focusing on the screen and moving into that realm.

10. Tell us about one of your blogs or books and what you just love about it.
I love to write for The Barn It's a blog about midwesterners, written by a group of buddies who happen to be writers. We share what's unique and special about our communities and it's a lot of fun.

My nominees are Cherie Burbach, Cheryl Colwell, Tracy Krauss and Chris Eirschele

Here are their questions:

1. Where did you find joy this past year?
2. What is your hope for 2015?
3. What do you do for fun?
4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Have you ever written a blog about that place or set a book there?
5. Who are some people you admire most and why?
6. Share three things you learned this past year.
7. Are you working on a writing project now? What’s it about?
8. Please share a Bible verse or insightful quote with us.
9. How you do balance your time?
10. Tell us about one of your blogs or books and what you just love about it.

God's blessings on all for 2015!