Monday, July 21, 2008

Colleen Coble: The Kid Who Loved Lassie

When Colleen was just a kid, she wanted to be a Latin teacher. But if you think about it, it makes sense. She loves words. Period. Latin is the basis of much of our culture and words. Colleen conveys culture and words--in her own special way.

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles. So, if you think about it, long and hard, she went beyond her wildest dreams by writing her way into authorship.

Her over thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

And her eyes light up when she talks about her publishers, her career, but especially the words--the writing. She is not a self-centered, selfish, holing-up-in-her-lair type, either. Oh, no. She is a whirlwind of relationships--from family to friends to readers to professionals to geocachers (that last one the result of research for her book,Abomination, which is a finalist in the 2008ACFW Book of the Year contest.)

She lends out helpful advice for writers in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization and has won Mentor of the Year two years running, 2004 and 2005.She loves working with new writers as her schedule allows.

Here's a recent list of the awards Colleen's own writing has garnered:
2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year Award
2005 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year Award
2006 National Readers' Choice Award - Inspirational
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Overall Book of the Year
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Suspense Book of the Year
Distant Echoes, Thomas Nelson
2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Short Contemporary Book of the Year
Shadow Bones, Steeple Hill Suspense

Let's find out what Colleen had to say about her childhood:

Childhood Ambition: To be a Latin teacher. LOL

Fondest Memory (then): Hula hooping down the steps along the hillside of my home

Proudest Moment: The day each of my children were born.
Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: Learning to talk to boys. LOL(Crystal Editor's Note: Not only did she get over that "talking to boys" thing--she has Dave to prove it--but she is not afraid to talk to anyone. I have stories...)

My First Job: I was an aide at a nursing home. It lasted all of one day. LOL Looking back, I often wish I'd stuck it out. The experience would have come in handy when I was caring for my grandpa during his colon cancer.

Childhood indulgence: Whoppers Malted Milk Bars

Favorite clothing as a child: Buster Brown shoes

Favorite Childhood Movie: The Miracle Worker

Favorite Childhood Book: Bambi's Children

Childhood hero: Paul McCartney

My Pet Hero:

As you can see, many things here influenced her writing today.
RITA finalist Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana and is generous about her discoveries and life. Recently, she found a way to alleviate the numerous occurences of her migraines, and logged her experience and sources on her web site. If you, too, experience migraines and are finding no relief, try checking what she has to say.

She is the author of Abomination, The Lonestar Sanctuary, The Rock Harbor Series, The Aloha Reef Series, and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. Visit her website to see descriptions and a multitude of recommendations for her friends' books--you'll never lack for something to read here.
To see a list of Colleen's books published by Thomas Nelson, go here.


A serial killer mutilates his victims, leaving the bodies at various geocaching sites with obscure religious references. When the killer targets Eve Andreakos, a woman he holds responsible for his wife's death, she barely escapes with her life. Eve flees to Rock Harbor with 2 year old Keri. Eve has just begun to relax when she and her friend Bree stumble on a mutilated body at a geocaching site. Eve knows the killer has found her again. Events spiral out of control when her ex-husband shows up and her long lost sister appears. Before it's all over, Eve will need to reach inside and find the strength to fight back before the killer destroys everything she loves. To read an excerpt go to this Christian Book store site.

Lonestar Sanctuary

Allie Siders is a mom desperate to help her daughter, Betsy, speak again as they struggle to escape from a stalker looking for revenge. She has a specific sanctuary in mind—the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, in the blue-bonnet blanketed Texas hills. Betsy hasn’t spoken a word in months and Allie is determined to do everything in her power, including giving up her dream of winning the barrel racing championship, to find a safe haven for both of them and help Betsy heal.

You can only get Lonestar Sanctuary through the book club, Crossings.

Colleen herself is a voracious reader and believes firmly in writing books you would like to read. Colleen says,"Write what you read. This is a pet peeve of mine. I can’t begin to tell you how many manuscripts I’ve looked at for aspiring writers who are trying to write something they don’t like to read. It never works! There’s something about reading that helps you learn to write. You subconsciously pick up how to structure scenes and the tension and conflict necessary to write in your favorite genre. What works in suspense doesn’t work in chick lit."

Good advice to heed, if you are an aspiring writer!

To find out more about Colleen you can check out her blog that she writes with author friends, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck.

Go to this site to see an online interview with Colleen Coble and Lori Wick being interviewed on the internet program "Deeper Living."

Sharon Dunn: Wonder Woman

Ok, I'm going to show a little prejudice here. I love Sharon Dunn's books. Love them. That's why when I realized that I had all of her materials for this column, and that I had missed the debut of her latest book,I knew I was seriously losing it. Seriously. And Sharon had a book giveaway back in May. I've only missed it by two months.

NEWS FLASH: Death of a Garage Sale Newbie is a finalist in the ACFW 2008 Book of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her latest series is called The Bargain Hunter series--and this is the season for that. Don't we all love a good bargain? Even Donald Trump and Oprah love a good bargain. So that's why you have to check out her Bargain Hunter Tips page. That's just a bonus.

If you are like me, love a good mystery, quirky characters and romance, then you, too, will like Sharon's writing. She just has fun, and I'm all about that! Her latest book, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, which came out in MARCH, is about Ginger Salinski. Her heart beats faster when she passes a clearance rack and there has never been a good deal she couldn't sniff out. Ginger and her bargain hunter friends are bonded together by the need to be first in line at doorbuster sales, but when one of the bargain hunters goes missing, they must track down clues instead of discounts.

The next book in this series will be called,Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear.

So, just what was Sharon all about when growing up? Let's check that little cutie mystery girl out:

Where did you grow up?

In a little town called Garrison Junction. I went to a two-room school house that had three grades in each room and three or four kids per grade.

Childhood Ambition: To be Wonder Woman

Fondest Memory (then): Because we lived out in the country, my sisters and I had to create our own entertainment. We had these little plastic animals that we built forts for outside, and then, created elaborate soap opera-like storylines for them. We did the same thing with our Barbies in the winter,building houses out of cardboard boxes. I think the imaginative play fueled my creativity as a writer.

Proudest Moment (then): I got picked to do the closing remarks for my junior high graduation out of everyone's written entry. I think it was the first inkling I had that I could write.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: I had terrible depression as a
teenager. I missed part of my freshman year, and enough of my sophomore year,so that I didn't graduate until I was nineteen. Even though I had good grades, I had to redo my sophomore year.

My First Job: I sold fruit at a road side fruit stand when I was 14. I got paid ten dollars a day and worked from 7 AM to 7 PM. I thought I was the richest, luckiest kid in the world.

Childhood Indulgence: I used to eat fudge by the plateful.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: My sister and I had what we called Cinderella nightgowns that we got to wear in the summer. They were made of slick, cool polyester instead of itchy cotton. When I wore my white nightgown with the pink lace,I just had to dance.

Favorite Childhood Movie: When I was I a kid we didn't have videos(not like you young whipper snappers)and I didn't have much of a chance to go to the theater in town. I do remember watching Captain Kangaroo every morning. I loved the Carol Burnett Show. Mom would call me in every Saturday night from playing outside to watch Carol.

Favorite Childhood Book: Nancy Drew of course, I also remember my fifth grade teacher reading Rifles for Watie out loud to us at the end of the day.I was riveted by the story.

Childhood Hero: As a pre-teen I prayed to God to make me an child actress just like Kristy McNichol. I guess she was my hero. Although I heard she had a nervous breakdown and left acting to become a drama teacher, so maybe it is better that God didn't give me the life I thought would make me happy.

Anything you would like to add that readers might be interested in knowing about you as a child:

I had duck feet through the third or fourth grade and had to wear "special"shoes with metal plates in them. The shoes were only made in one style, so every year when everyone else got new shoes in a new style, I got the same shoes only a size bigger.

Check out Sharon at her website and at FaithChick
and read all about how Sharon is similar and different than her characters here.

Sharon's Books:

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
(Multnomah)First of the Bargain Hunter mystery series.
Garage Sale Newbie features four women who are bonded together by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at doorbuster sales. When one of the bargain hunters is found dead, it is up to the other three to figure out what happened to her and why. Ginger, a recent empty nester and bargain hunting expert, leads Suzanne, mother of three with one on the way, and Kindra, a college student with a taste for designer clothes without the budget, to hunt down clues instead of good deals.

You will also want to check out her Ruby Taylor series:
Book One - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


Nominated for Inspirational Novel of the Year

Join Ruby as she races through the Montana wilderness to find a man who disappeared weeks before his wedding.

Book Two - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


WINNER of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award

Ruby takes on a part time job as a college teacher only to learn she has replaced a man who died under mysterious circumstances.

Book Three - Ruby Taylor Mysteries


Domestically challenged Ruby makes peace with the Proverbs 31 woman while investigating a series of thefts from farms and ranches.
a little mystery, a little romance, a whole lotta fun
The Bargain Hunters mysteries
Death of a Garage Sale Newbie

Ruby Taylor Mystery series
Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves
(nominated for Inspirational Novel of the Year)

Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante
(winner of the ACRW Book of the Year)

and Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace

Mary Connealy:Building Highways to Imagination

Mary Connealy was my very first "Kid" interview on the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'. Now, she is a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year contest. See what brought Mary to be the kind of writer that she became.

When I Was Just a Kid....
Mary Connealy

Childhood Ambition: I wanted to build interstate highways. I thought that, like the Roman Appian Way, they would survive forever. I liked the idea of being part of that.

Fondest Memory (then): Oh, good grief! That's hard. We lived in this miniscule bedroom, six kids. Insane crowd. And we bought another house and picked it up and brought it over and stuck it on our house. That was a cool, cool day, seeing that house coming down the road. I was, maybe six. And the house was now HUGE. Four bedrooms and six kids, then finally eight kids. It took me years to realize that, even with the extra house added, it was STILL a miniscule house.

Proudest Moment (now or then): Now? I've got four daughters who have made me so proud, again, not an easy question.

I had two daughters graduate from college on the same day, one with a MBA and another with her Bachelor's degree, and a third daughter was home from her job in Pennsylvania for the graduation party and announced she was moving back to Nebraska. A great day.

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: I am insanely shy. That's true. I've got it pretty well under control but inside I've got this powerful withdrawal reflex. It isn't true of me when I'm writing, and again, I've got it under control in public, but it's there.

My First Job: Babysitting...oh, that's everybody's isn't it? I walked beans, detassled corn, cleaned a bakery, waited tables.

Childhood indulgence: We had pop once a year at this year-end bonfire we had at the rural school I attended. I remember agonizing over whether to take grape or orange!!!! We had candy once or twice a year, at Christmas mainly.

Favorite Outfit as a child: I actually know this one. I was a flower girl when I was five. I was the third-born of eight kids, the older two were sisters and we were three in a row, one year apart. And I got picked by a cousin to be his flower girl. I got this unbelievably FLUFFY pink dress and I just loved it and it made me feel special and valuable and loved. I wore it to church the first week after the wedding and there was another girl (they were way richer than us) who had just been a flower girl in a wedding and her dress was icky old GREEN. Mine was way, way, way prettier. It was a great moment.

Favorite Childhood Movie: The Wizard of Oz. We watched it every year. Funny thing is, we didn't have a color TV. I quit watching it after I got older and never watched it again for years. I never got it that Kansas was in black and white and Munchkin Land and all of Oz was in color until I was an adult.

Favorite Childhood Book: Mean question, Crystal, as even then I was a reader. I loved: Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Happy Hollisters. I read and read and READ.

Childhood hero: My dad. I thought he was handsome and strong and funny. He read to us a lot when we were little, doing all the voices. Mom cooking, Dad in from the farm work reading. My folks were both great.

When I was growing up, I never expected: To get a book published. If you knew me at all, I mean REALLY, away from this writer's world, I am just the most ordinary person imaginable. There is no way I would have predicted that this pasttime that I love so much--writing,--would lead to publication. I kept submitting books but I didn't really have a lot of hope. I think that's a pretty good mindset for an aspiring writer. No hope, and then if you DO get published, well it's a great miraculous surprise.

Mary is a teacher, an author,book reviewer, mother of four girls and married to a farmer. She used her family (sort of, of course) in writing her first published novel, Petticoat Ranch. She may well be one of the funniest people I know.

You can find Mary Connealy at her blog, on My Space and at Barbour Books, as well as linked at various places on the internet!(Yes, Mary, look to the right--you are there!)

Petticoat Ranch, historical romance (love the cover!) is out(Barbour Books,) and her Heartsong Presents book, Golden Days, is out soon.

Susan Page Davis: Otherwise Known as "Water Baby"

Susan Page Davis grew up in Belgrade, Maine, a tiny town that touches several lakes and is therefore a resort area. The population doubles its size in summer as people from every state come to stay at their “camps.”

Susan says, "My father was the game warden there for many years, and our family had lived in town for seven generations."

Susan always made up stories and enjoyed make-believe play.

"I have a few stories I wrote as a child, including Marooned on an Island and House of the Dead. Oh, yeah. Nowadays my books have titles like Frasier Island and Homicide at Blue Heron Lake."

(Anyone else recognize a pattern set here?)

Susan was the youngest of five children, and admits to feeling an extreme rivalry with the sister next to her in age.

Susan explains,"Now, in our adulthood, I can see that it was mostly in my head, and Mim and I are very close. But there were times when we demanded that our bunkbeds be dismantled so we could sleep on opposite sides of the room and drew a line down the floor between."

Susan also has a nickname.

"They tell me that when I was very young I saw the Disney cartoon 'The Water Babies,' and I insisted on being called “Water Baby” for quite some time. When my siblings want to get a rise out of me 50 years later, they still call me 'Water Baby.'"

Susan remembers a wonderful childhood in a big old house with loving parents and tolerant siblings.

And what makes you into the writer you are today?
Susan says,"We had lots of books, and both my parents were avid readers. We had space to ramble, play Indians, build tree houses, and keep a horse when I got older. I always thought we were poor, but now I see we were very rich, though the income was small.

Let's get a peek into the childhood of Susan:

Childhood Ambition:
When I was very young, I thought I’d like to own a hotel and be able to put mail and keys in all those pigeonholes behind the desk for guests. Later I thought I’d like to follow my father’s footsteps as a game warden. In the 8-to-10 age period, I salvaged outdated report forms from his den wastebasket and filled out dozens of fictional boating accidents, crop damage, and night hunting reports.

Fondest Memory:
Going with my Dad in the old station wagon and bringing home ten sheep (nine ewes and a ram) to add to our small farm’s livestock. Also, my oldest sister Pat used to “play school” with me in the evening when I was about four. She started teaching me French, geography, and other subjects that I thought were just wonderful and very grown up.

Proudest Moment:
Then—When my kindergarten teacher wrote my mother a note (and I could read it) saying she thought I should skip into second grade the next year.

Now—There are so many to choose from! Seeing all of our six children together again at our older son’s wedding was great. He went off to college a week before our youngest was born, so they haven’t all six been together much. Seeing what our family had become was priceless.

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen:
I always felt I was the uncoordinated one. Of four sisters, I was the only one who never made the cheerleading squad in our tiny school, never could do a real cartwheel, and never could whistle right (only breathing in). Eventually I came to terms with this and found there WERE things I could do (swimming, horseback riding, etc.). I was horribly shy, but have gotten over that by working as a news correspondent, which forces you to buttonhole strangers with the most embarrassing questions! (I still can’t whistle or do a cartwheel).

My First Job:
Picking strawberries for 8 cents a quart.

Childhood indulgence:
Mickey Mouse Club paper dolls. I still have Karen and Cubby.

Favorite Outfit as a child:
White T-shirt with a blue color block on the left third of the front, and two little fish swimming in the blue part. With shorts or khakis.

Favorite Childhood Play Time Activity:
Playing “Bonanza” in the upstairs of our barn. We used old bed headboards and footboards for the false fronts of buildings in our own Virginia City. And jumping in the hayloft full of hay.

Favorite Childhood Movie:
The Wizard of Oz. We didn’t have a TV at first, but our mother let us go to the neighbors’ and watch Oz when it came on once a year.

Favorite Childhood Book:

Miss Pickerel Goes to Mars (and thousands more!)

Childhood Hero:
That would be a toss up between my Dad, Teddy Roosevelt, and Little Joe Cartwright (we got a TV later.) I guess Dad wins, because he was really there. My father taught me a love of history and heritage. He instilled in all of us respect for family and forbears. I’ve written eight historical novels so far for Heartsong Presents, and I often think of Dad as I’m researching. In his last few years, if I told him what time period I was writing about, he would scour yard sales and used book shops to bring me appropriate material.

You can find more about Susan on her web page. And you will want to visit this page as she gives away one of her books each month. The winner chooses the title preferred.

She's also a host at Keep Me In Suspense, a site for writers of Christian mystery and suspense.

And today is the release date for Finding Marie (Harvest House,) a romantic suspense sequel to Frasier Island.Frasier Island was the October 2007 featured selection in Books-A-Million’s Faithpoint Book Club.

Finding Marie
Marie Belanger finds a computer flash drive in her luggage at the airport and learns the woman she sat beside on the plane from Tokyo was murdered. Her journey from San Francisco to Maine becomes a nightmare. Marie runs for her life, not knowing the significance of the data she carries. Her husband, Navy Lieutenant Pierre Belanger, contacts his best friend, George Hudson, and together they set out on a search for Marie that spans the country. Knowing the stakes—Marie’s life and betrayal of an international plot—drives them. But they seem to stay one step behind their enemies, who are a step behind Marie.

The next book will be Just Cause (releases January 2008 from Love Inspired Suspense.)

Homicide at Blue Heron Lake, written with her lovely daughter, Megan Davis(releases February 2008 from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries).

The Lumberjack's Lady is now out from Heartsong Presents. (Susan's bio from Heartsong.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kid Robert Elmer Grows Up

Bob Elmer gets more hits than almost anyone in google searches of my past interviews from the Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'. So, I thought I would bring Bob over to this blog and revive it.


Robert Elmer

There are some things about us that do not change as we grow up. Somewhere inside of each of us is a part of that kid, who over the years, grew up, had a multitude of experiences, got gray, got wrinkled, but still there beats a heart of that same person inside. When Bob Elmer gave me this photo for his "kid" memories here, I also got a few of his grown up photos--you tell me--something is vaguely familiar!

Robert Elmer's fiction book LIKE ALWAYS released from WaterBrook on June 19, 2007.

As Will and Merit Sullivan hit their early forties, like many couples, they struggle with mid-life decisions. Their solution: Buy a new lifestyle—a small lake resort in north Idaho in need of a little… TLC. They’re welcomed to the small lakeside community, and the Sullivans work together to make a new home. But it’s not long before Merit finds that she’s unexpectedly pregnant—and that she has an aggressive form of cancer. Though she has a chance at survival if she aborts the baby, instead she chooses not to treat the cancer, in the belief that she cannot endanger the life of her unborn child at any cost. The Sullivans face Merit’s uncertain future together in this bittersweet story of faith, sacrifice
and dedication.

You can order it at or

He also has a series for young readers right now, called "The Wall." It's a three-book series of Cold War adventures set in Berlin.

Let's get a glimpse of Bob as a child...and how he came to be the versatile writer that he is today:

Where did you grow up? Born in California (San Francisco Bay Area)
but moved to the Chicago suburbs at a young age. Lived for three years in San Juan, Puerto Rico (second through fourth grades) and then back to California.

Childhood Ambition: The earliest goal I remember is that I wanted
to be a forest ranger, and I was a Smokey Bear Junior Forest Ranger when I was five. I could say the pledge and everything. Later I wanted to be a veterinarian, or in the Coast Guard. And all that time, of course, I was writing, writing, writing.

Fondest Memory (then): Family camping vacations to Fallen Leaf Lake (near Lake Tahoe),Devil's Lake (Wisconsin) and La Paguera (Puerto Rico).

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen:Starting in the fifth grade I used to find old wrecked boats and fix them up. That was always a challenge, but fun.

My First Job:
I was a worm shoveler at a bait farm. My job was to turn all the worm beds with a pitchfork, keeping them aerated. Fun, huh? My next job was a little better, driving an old Jeep around a golf course driving range, picking up golf balls and serving as a target.

Childhood indulgence: My dad, who is from Denmark, taught me to love black, salty Danish licorice. We still love that stuff, and I'll eat as much as I canfind. It's an acquired taste.

Favorite Childhood Play Time Activity:
Probably bike riding. Once I got on two wheels, there was nostopping me. I would ride around the neighborhood for hours with my friends.Then as a young teen I would take longer and longer bike hikes.

Favorite Childhood Movie:
Hmm -- We didn't get out to see that many movies, except Sunday
nights we always enjoyed the TV movies on Disney's "Wonderful World of Disney." I loved the animal stories like "Old Yeller" or "The Incredible Journey."

Favorite Childhood Book: Probably my favorite author was Beverly Cleary, and I loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle. But I also loved the Henry Reed books and anything by Robert McCloskey, like Homer Price. I collected Hardy Boys books for a while. You know, boy books! Summer was always my favorite time because I could go to the library and stock up on great adventures.

Childhood hero:
One of my earliest heroes was Ranger Porter Ricks from the Flipper TV show, because he would always come in his big boat to rescue Bud and Sandy when they got in trouble. Interesting that a novelist's early hero was a fictional character, right? But of course my ultimate hero was my dad, and I always looked up to him. He was a salesman, and though I never wanted to be a salesman, I wanted to be like him.

As a kid, life was always a big adventure. Still is. I loved traveling with my family, camping,hiking, biking. I also loved listening to foreign broadcasts on my ancient short wave radio at night. Looking at the stars and building treehouses. Dreaming. Fixing up old boats and exploring San Francisco Bay as a Sea Scout. Training my dog Sheba to do new tricks. Raising and flying homing pigeons.

Now when I write I like to draw on that deep well of adventure, a very happy childhood and a family life where I knew without a doubt that my parents loved each other (and me and my sister)very much.

Though that kind of childhood may not be as common, anymore, I think it helps me instill a touch of optimism in my books, as my characters seek a deeper relationship with God and search for life as it ought to be. So for kids I write adventures, and for adults I write stories
of renewed hope and second chances.

Right now I’m immersed in another world, a sci-fi fantasy trilogy for kids called Shadowside that I’m working on with ZonderKidz. It’s the story of Orianon—a very unusual girl on a very unusual planet, where the people on the light side don’t know of the people on the shadow side… until an odd music teacher arrives to shake everything up. I hope kids will love this story as much as I’m loving the new writing challenge.

Crystal Editor says: One of my favorite Robert Elmer books, besides his fiction, is a little book he worked on as an editor called Practicing God's Presence by Brother Lawrence.

You can find out more about Robert Elmer and his many books at:

Bob also does speaking and school visits and you can find out more about having him in your school or event on his web site.

Bob says:
"Last fall (2006) I enjoyed speaking trips to a number of Christian schools in Minnesota and also Florida. This spring I’m planning a trip to California, a visit to a local public school, and then over the mountains to western Washington. If you have any contacts at schools where they might appreciate a visit from an author, just tell them to check out details here at!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Chemistry is Write: Marlo Schalesky

Little cutie, Marlo, at age 2

Marlo tells this story about wanting to write when she was 13 on her Frequently Asked Questions page of her web site(see links below to read more):

"Q: Tell us about your journey to publication.

A: When I was thirteen years old, I wrote a poem on the bus on the way to school. It was about an old tree, forlorn and desolate, standing alone in a field. I read that poem at every recess, tweaked it, polished it, and for the first time, felt the thrill of how the written word can convey profound beauty. That day, I fell in love with writing.

Shortly after that, I told my mother (with all the angst of a newly-turned teenager), 'I will just die if I don’t write!' So naturally when I grew up I decided to get my degree in Chemistry. And, oddly enough, I didn’t die. I enjoyed chemistry. But always that desire to write was with me, in the back of my mind, saying 'Someday, someday.'

Someday finally came. I started writing articles for various magazines and putting out proposals for book projects. I thought it would be easy to get my first book published, but alas, it took years of writing and honing my craft (6 years, in fact). And more than that, it took giving up my dream entirely. For me, I had to come to a place in my heart where I didn’t have to write to be content. I had to let go of that strong desire born at thirteen years old and embrace God’s will for me whether that will included writing or not. Only then, only when my dream had given way to God’s, was I offered a contract by Crossway Books for my first published book, Cry Freedom.

So, Marlo's chemistry was set up to write from way back when. Let's see what sorts of things in her childhood was in that mix:

Childhood Ambition: To become a writer (what was I thinking???)

Fondest Memory (then):

Buying my first horse at age 9 (I saved up my own money for him). His name was Hustling Hobo, and I rode him all over the place. Sometimes I’d just tie his lead rope around to the other side of the halter and jump on bareback. And sometimes I’d lay back, with my head on his rump, and look at the sky. Hobo and I did a lot of dreaming back then . . .

Marlo and her horse, Hobo, the day she bought him. Marlo made her dreams come true--with help from God, to Whom she pledged her life.

Proudest Moment (then):

Winning a regional essay contest in the fifth grade . . . I was supposed to write about why we should pledge allegiance to the flag. Instead, I wrote about how we should pledge allegiance to God first. It was a big risk, especially in a public setting (the contest was in the public school system), and I was so surprised when I won and got to read the essay aloud at a big ceremony.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

Being the smartest girl in class. It doesn’t seem like that ought to have been a challenge, but for me, it was. It meant I never really fit in, I was always different from the other kids. I was “the smart girl” who everyone liked just fine, but no one was really close to. It tended to create a polite distance between me and others.

My First Job:

Working as a secretary (now called “office manager”) at an engineering firm. The owner of the firm would later become my step dad.

Childhood Indulgence:

Fifteen cents for a fudgesicle at the little downtown market in Newcastle, California.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

I had this absolutely horrible blue velour top that I wore with bell bottoms that faded from dark blue (at the top) to light blue (at the bottom). Oh, I thought that velour top was the coolest thing ever. Ick.

Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:

I loved Happy Days. And when my mom signed me up for ballet lessons at the same time as Happy Days, well, let’s just say I never learned ballet!

Marlo with her "Grampie" as he read to her
Favorite Childhood Book:

My mom tells me it was Joe the Crow. But I don’t remember Joe the Crow. I do remember reading A LOT of Marguerite Henry horse books. My favorite was King of the Wind (still is). I was also a big fan of the Narnian Chronicles.

Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:

I loved to ride horses, make “forts” out in the woods, and read horse stories and fantasy stories. I was always reading!

Childhood Hero: Aslan

Childhood Pals: Lisa Winterhalter (she had horses too), Chris Adams (who loved Star Wars).

Childhood Pets:

Pepe (our German shepherd/poodle mix), Fifi (my first calico cat), Kemo (our next dog), ChiChi (my white cat), my horses Hobo and Misty (she was a jumper!), and various parakeets, all named “Tweety.”

Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become?

When I was a kid, my bedtime was REALLY early. It took me hours between the time I went to bed until the time I fell asleep. So, the way I would pass the time would be to tell myself stories. I’d make up stories of princes and princesses, knights and dragons, talking animals, and all kinds of fun, fantastical adventures. I think it was those times, more than anything, that birthed in me a love for story and made me into the writer I am today.

Marlo and Dusty Baker, meeting him when he played left field with the Dodgers was no daydream--it happened!

Marlo's Blog:
Marlo's shoutlife page:
Marlo's CCM page:

Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of six books, including her latest novel BEYOND THE NIGHT, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Multnomah-Waterbrook Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.

Marlo's Books:

Beyond the Night

A poignant love story... A shocking twist... A love that will not die.

They say love is blind. This time they’re right. In this Nicholas-Sparks-meets-M.-Night-Shymalan story, set to the music of the 70’s, we discover two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman losing her sight, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed.

Come, see what mystery awaits . . . beyond the night.


To celebrate the release of Beyond the Night, the first of Marlo’s new Love Stories With a Twist!, she’s running a contest.

The prize? An entire bag full of surprise gifts--each directly related to the storyline for Beyond the Night--hand packed and shipped directly to you!

So how do you enter? Great question. You have four choices, and four ways to win:





Read on for the details . . .


What you’ll need: Acrobat Reader, your Bible, your copy of Beyond the Night

1) Download and print out the PDF puzzle. Use the provided Braille key, and search out clues in Braille, in your Bible, and in your copy of Beyond the Night, to solve the puzzle … and discover the “big picture” theme of Marlo’s Love Stories With a Twist!

2) E-mail Marlo the answer through her Contact page

3) Include your mailing address and first and last name.

4) And include where you got your copy of Beyond the Night.


What you’ll need: An Internet connection, an e-mail account, and 12 friends!

1) E-mail 12 or more of your friends to tell them about Beyond the Night.

2) Include a link to her web site ( in your e-mail.

3) Copy Marlo at contest[at]marloschaleskyDOTcom in your e-mail. (Your friends’ addresses will NOT be used, saved to a database, or harvested in any way!)


What you’ll need: A digital camera, an Internet connection, and a personal blog

1) Go somewhere fun and interesting.

2) Take along your copy of Beyond the Night to read.

3) Ask someone to snap a digital photo of you reading Beyond the Night (make sure we can see the cover!) at your exotic location.

4) Post the photo on your blog, or in your Flickr, Slide, or Photobucket account, with a note or caption about where the photo was taken.

5) E-mail Marlo at contest[at]marloschaleskydotcom with a link to your blog or photo album as well as your name and mailing address.


What you’ll need: A blog, Facebook, MySpace, or Bebo account, and an Internet connection

1) Post a message about Beyond the Night on your blog or social networking profile.

2) Include the Beyond the Night video trailer by cutting and pasting the code from You Tube or from Marlo's web site into the post:

3) E-mail the link to your post to contest[AT]marloschaleskyDOTcom . Be sure to include your regular mail address and your first and last name.

How to Get Your Copy of Beyond the Night:

Beyond the Night is available at your local Christian bookstore, many regular bookstores, and online at sites such as Amazon and Christianbook.

So you’ve got your options, and your prize awaits you! Solve the puzzle, tell your friends, take a picture, or post a video! And most of all . . .HAVE FUN!!!

The Fine Print:

Beyond the Night gift bags can only be sent to recipients in the United States and Canada.

Each person is eligible to receive only one gift bag.

Recipients MUST include their regular mailing address and full name (first and last) to win.

Contest will run only while supplies last!
No refunds, exchanges, or complaints. Encouraging comments are always welcome.

Veil of Fire

A raging firestorm, a light in the hills, and a mystery rises from the ashes...

On September 1, 1894, one of the worst fires in history ravages east central Minnesota. The first firestorm in Minnesota history, it descends on the towns like a red demon, consuming 4 communities over 400 square miles, and killing 418 people in four hours.

In the aftermath, the town rises from the ashes, its people determined to rebuild their lives. But in the shadows, someone is watching. Someone is waiting. Someone who knows the secrets that can free them all.

A rumor begins of a hermit in the hills - a person severely burned, disfigured beyond recognition. Doubts rise. Fear whispers. Is the hermit a monster or a memory? An enemy or a love once-lost?

Based on historical events, Veil of Fire beckons to a time when hope rose from the smoke of sacrifice, when trust hid behind a veil of fear, when dreams were clothed in a mantle of fire.

Want to know more?
FAQs for Marlo.

Marlo's Nonfiction book: