Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cara Putnam



Cara Catlett Putman is a wife,homeschooling mother, attorney, active in church, President of the Indiana chapter of ACFW, instructor at Purdue University (in business law,)daughter,granddaughter, sibling, aunt, mini-marathon runner, publicity officer of the national AmericanChristianFictionWriters, blogger, Kanner Lake character,Suspense writer blogger,football fan,voracious reader, probably some things I'm missing, and oh, yeah, a published author of a historical romance with many more books in the works and being brainstormed as I write.

(Are you tired yet? )This (very) active young woman was an active child,too, training restaurant employees by age 12 and starting college by the age of 16. Just this month she released her very first (of more to come, of course)  book through Heartsong Presents called Canteen Dreams, a story based on her grandparents' love story.

First, let's find out how this fireball started out. Then, you'll want to check out her first book:

Childhood Ambition:

My childhood ambitions centered on journalism and politics. I was either going to be the next Katie Couric or run for office. So I worked at a TV station for the first two years of college, and then worked at the Nebraska Unicameral during my last two years of college. During the summer between my junior and senior years, I wrote an honors thesis on a constitutional law question. Wouldn’t you know, I feel in love with law research. How crazy is that! So I spent a couple years trying to talk myself out of law school before enrolling. After four years of law school, I became an attorney and added judge to the list of really cool jobs I’d like to have.

Fondest Memory (then):

A family trip we took to San Antonio when I was eleven or twelve. My dad had National Guard training at Fort Sam Houston. Mom and all four of us kids explored San Antonio, Austin, and surrounding areas for the two weeks he was buried in books. We got the best end of the deal. And I will never forget the tour guide who made the Alamo come to life, or how small the Alamo really is.

Proudest Moment (now or then):

Then:My proudest moment as a young adult was being selected as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. The application process was incredibly rigorous. I finaled as a sophomore, and won the scholarship as a junior. In many ways it was such affirmation that my homeschool education was every bit as good as anyone else’s.

Now: Wow, it’s hard to say, because so many of the occasions that I would qualify as proud moments, I really don’t have much to do with. God has blessed me abundantly with a wonderful husband, two delightful children, and a dream come true with my first book coming out in October. And He’s made it clear we aren’t done yet!

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

My dad’s National Guard unit was activated for the first Gulf War when I was sixteen and a freshman in college. That was a hard time to have him gone for six months. My mom is an amazing woman, and worked so hard to keep our family businesses going, homeschool my siblings, and be there for us. I look back and wonder how she did it.


Runza Restaurants

My First Job: Working in our family’s franchise, Runza restaurants. By the time I was 12, I was training new employees. It was always fun to keep people guessing about how old I really was.



(Are you hungry yet? Yum, this looks good!)


Favorite Outfit as a Child:

What a great question. There was a particular sundress that I literally wore out as a child. It was made of strips of calico in green and brown shades. And I would wear that dress every day that it was clean. I’m not quite sure why; maybe I felt like a princess in it

Favorite Childhood Movie:

As a child, I really enjoyed Charlotte’s Web. As a teenager, I LOVED Gone with the Wind. I practically memorized that movie, loved the book, and memorized every detail about the creation of the movie that I came across. I’ve always loved “how-they-made-it” shows.

Favorite Childhood Book:

Little House on the Prairie as a young girl, followed closely by Anne of Green Gables. What’s been fun is introducing my nieces and daughter to these books now that they are seven to eleven. And to see them enjoy the books and movies just as much as I did – and that I still enjoy them.

Childhood Heroes:

Esther, Deborah, and Margaret Thatcher.


Cara's JUST RELEASED book:

Canteen Dreams, Heartsong Presents,October 2007


About the book:

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what’s a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community starts a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kindness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher.

Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard’s worst fear is confirmed, he feels he must avenge by enlisting himself. But will his budding relationship with Audrey survive the war? Or will one of the many soldiers at the canteen steal her away from him? Can two such determined people find their place in the war and with each other?

More books by Cara Putnam to watch for:

Canteen Dreams will be followed by Sandhill Dreams (Heartsong Presents) in May 2008,Captive Dreams (Heartsong Presents) in September 2008.

 Deadly Exposure (Love Inspired Suspense) in June 2008

To be eligible for a free copy of Canteen Dreams, enter a comment here for a drawing (only U.S. addresses.) You will need to provide me with your email address, if I don't already have it. Enter your email as :nameATispaddressdotcom

Check back on Monday for the winner!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Candy Neely Arrington

This adorable and friendly Southern Belle goes by the name of Candy, but do you know what her real name is? And what surprising pastime did Candy indulge in as a child?**

Candy grew up the only child of a couple who had a large extended family with a rich heritage of Southern tradition and deep faith. It's no wonder she grew up grounded firmly in her own faith that gives her a foundation to write the hundreds of articles, sometimes on highly sensitive issues, such as her collaboration on a book about coping with suicide. She is above all a Christian, but this sets her feet on the ground to be a steady wordsmith.

If you have been around Christian writing and publishing for very long, you know the name Candy Arrington, but now let's find out the fun stuff behind that sweet name:

Candy with MaMa Ruth Anne and Mama Mildred Ruth
Tell us the story of your name:

This is always a fun story to tell! When I was born, I was named for my maternal grandmother, Ruth Anne. But within days, everyone was calling me Baby Ruth to distinguish me from my grandmother. My daddy, humorous one that he was, declared that if I was Baby Ruth I was Candy, as in one of his favorite candy bars. The name stuck, although the moniker has caused much confusion over the years.

Many people feel it necessary to christen me "Candace" for the sake of formality, I suppose. When I try to explain that Candy is a nickname that has nothing to do with Candace I usually get a blank looks. Adding to the confusion, when I married, I wanted to keep both names - Ruth Anne - and use my maiden name initial - N. So, I began writing my name as Ruthanne. Government entities, and others, followed my lead and I effectively changed my name to Ruthanne N. Arrington.

Childhood Ambition:
OK, no laughing! I wanted to be a secret agent. Remember "Get Smart?" I wanted to be Ninety-nine. In fact, I had a secret agent kit that included a finger pen that wrote with disappearing ink, glasses that let you read secret code between the lines, and a compact that was a telephone - a forerunner of the cell phone, perhaps?

Fondest Memory (then): My fondest childhood memories centered around family. I loved sitting on my grandmother's front porch with assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents singing to the rhythm of cicadas on summer evenings. I learned to sing harmony sandwiched between my two maiden aunts on the porch glider. I'm grateful for my musical heritage.

Gatherings of Daddy's side of the family numbered a hundred or more. As an only child, I loved having "cousins by the dozens." The Neely family get-togethers occurred on Christmas Eve and Fourth of July. There was always lots of music, joke-telling, hugs, and laughter. The July 4th celebration always included numerous churns of homemade ice cream served around someone's swimming pool.

Proudest Moment (now or then):

I love watching my daughter (violin) and son (cello) perform with various orchestras - high school, regional, all-state, and college. I am so thankful for the blessing they are in my life.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

I was extremely gullible. Because honesty was important to me, I assumed everyone else was honest, making me an easy target for practical jokers and/or those who were just plain mean. I was also easily embarrassed, which seemed to delight those targeting me. I was the person who got anonymous notes that said ugly things or phone calls from unidentified callers who told me I was weird and then hung up.

My First Job:

As a young teen, I worked for the Children's Director at our church in the summers making a tiny little bit of money, but excited to be on "staff."

Childhood Indulgence:

I loved to roller skate and Mama let me skate up and down the hall and into the kitchen. On Friday nights, she'd take me to Westwood Skating Rink, clear on the other side of town, and I'd rent a pair of "real" skates and skate until closing time. One year, Mama and Daddy gave me a pair of white boot skates, with toe-stops, just like the ones at the rink and a red and white starburst pattern, metal case to carry them in. I also had a pink pair and a red pair of furry pompoms to lace onto the skates. I still have the skates, pompoms, and case!

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

That's hard to answer. Mama made most of my clothes and often let me pick the fabric. I wore dresses Mama smocked until I begin to feel totally uncool in them. I remember a white organdy dress that had pastel butterflies on it and a colonial dress, complete with those hip bustles, that she made for something I was in at school. She not only made dresses, she also made my coats and hats.

Favorite Childhood Movie:

The Sound of Music. I had the album, too, and learned the words to all the songs by playing it over and over and singing along.

Favorite Childhood Book:

Anything Dr. Seuss. I was fascinated by the made-up words and rhymes. I also loved Nancy Drew. My aunt gave me five Nancy Drew books one year for my birthday and I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

Childhood Hero:

No doubt about it, my daddy. He was tall, strong, funny, compassionate, humble, and the most exemplary follower of Christ I've ever known.

Favorite Childhood Pastime:

When I was nine, Daddy built an in-ground, heated, gunite swimming pool in our back yard. I loved swimming all afternoon and into the evening. He also bought an old pinball machine and put it in our garage. One rainy summer, I entertained myself trying to surpass my personal best on the pinball machine.

Messy or Organized Child?

I was organized in a messy sort of way. One summer, a friend and I set up a Barbie house we designed under the edge of my bed. We played Barbies all summer and the sweet lady who cleaned our house graciously cleaned around my mess.

Anything else you would like to tell readers about your childhood or about current life (including activities or conference teaching?)

My current life is very much a balancing act. My mother is 87 and still lives in her home, although she no longer drives. My days are spent juggling her transportation and other needs, "doing" for my husband and senior-in-high-school son and senior-in-college daughter, and squeezing in writing as often as possible. I co-lead a local writing group, sing in the choir at church, write for the church web site and magazine, and teach at the Glorieta and Blue Ridge conferences. Jim and I will celebrate our 27th anniversary in November. We met 28 years ago in the Single's Department at church.

Candy Arrington is a Contributing Writer for Focus on the Family's Focus on Your Child parenting newsletters. Additional publishing credits include: Marriage Partnership, Today's Christian, Discipleship Journal, The Upper Room, Encounter, The Lookout, Christian Communicator, Advanced Christian Writer,, and Writer's Digest. A graduate of Wofford College with a B.A. degree in English, Candy finally realized her love of words, years of journaling, and stories that danced in her head, begging to be written, were all part of God's call on her life to write for publication.

Knowledge gained from and connections made through Christian writers conferences and online writers' groups afforded Candy the opportunity to publish over 200 articles, devotionals, and stories in numerous magazines, compilation books, and on websites.
She is coauthor of AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and is a contributor to numerous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul – Healthy Living: Diabetes. Candy is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and is on faculty for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference. Candy is a C.L.A.S.S. (Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Services) graduate . She is also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group)


"Life Lessons from Deuteronomy" - The Lookout - August 2007

"The Right Kind of Appetite"
- The Lookout - January 2007

"Empty Arms: Making the Most of the Waiting Years"
- The Lookout - September 2006

"A Recipe for True Love"
- The Lookout - May 2006

"A Delicate Balance: Caring for Aging Parents" The Lookout - March 2006

"Suicide: What does the Bible Say?"
- The Lookout - February 2006

"Managing Anger" - Focus on Your Child

"How to Help Your Child Grieve" - Focus on the Family

"Five Inspiration Killers: And How to Overcome Them" - Spirit-Led Writer

"9 Secrets to Successful Collaboration" - Writer's Digest

**(Now you know about Candy's name and that she was a pinball wizard!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kathi Macias

This little sweetie is Kathi Macias and she has so much going on, that there's no time like the present to feature this active and prolific author. Her tagline, Communicating the vision… comes from a verse in the Bible which says, "And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it." (Habakkuk 2:2) She is serious about her mission to communicate and stay in the center of God's will in her life.

She may one day be ghostwriting with another author, the next writing script for a highly controversial movie (starring Jon Voight,)

and the next writing her own stories. Recently she kept watch as the California fires burned very close to her home, so she is no stranger to adventures of her own.And she became spiritual director of Set Free Today, a ministry that was founded by another Kid interviewee, Jan Coates. In all of it she stays close to her family, and to her husband whom she has known since they were children.

Let's find out what touched Kathi as a young person to develop her into the writer, mentor,teacher and speaker that she is today:

Childhood Ambition: To be a writer! My husband, Al, and I have known each other since we were six years old. When we were walking home from junior high school one day I told him I was going to be a writer some day. He often reminds me that I’m one of the few people he knows who actually achieved their childhood dream.

Fondest Memory (then): Going to the library and checking out new books to read.

Proudest Moment(then): In the third grade I wrote a (secular) Easter story, and my teacher liked it so well she showed it to the principal, who decided to have the school put it on as a play for the PTA, so all the parents (including mine, of course!) got to see it. I played the part of a mother who read the story to my child, while other students acted it out on the stage behind me.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: I was sick a lot as a child—in and out of hospitals numerous times—but I believe that cemented my love for books, as I couldn’t do much else that the other kids did.

My First Job: Besides lots of babysitting, my first job was working in my aunt and uncle’s laundry. What a hot job! I hated it, but my dad wouldn’t let me quit, so I made it through the summer and decided the money I’d saved for new school clothes was worth all the burns I got from pulling clothes with hot zippers out of those industrial-sized dryers.

Childhood Indulgence: Books, books, and more books!

Favorite Outfit as a Child: Hmm, I never thought much about that sort of thing, I’m afraid. But I do remember how proud I was of my “majorette” outfit the summer I was feeling well enough to march in the parade and twirl my baton, so I suppose that would be it.

Favorite Childhood Movie: Old Yeller. I cried and cried, and then I’d watch it again and cry some more.

Favorite Childhood Book: Little Women. I loved Louisa May Alcott, and I also enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries and The Boxcar Children adventures.

Childhood Hero: My dad. Later, when I was a teenager, I added my boyfriend Al (now my hubby) to my hero list. Now that my dad is waiting for me in heaven, my only heroes are Al, and those who serve Jesus in the persecuted Church.

You can see Kathi and her many projects and speaking topics here.She is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a former pastor, as well as a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

To keep up with her current thoughts and blogging go here.

To learn her methods for writing check out her book, Train of Thought. If you want to know how best to put your thoughts and dreams into a clear, compelling, readable manuscript, this is the must-have book for you!

Check sample chapters at Author House and Christian Authors Network.

Kathi says, "My most recent books are all featured on (and can be ordered from) my web site, including
Emma Jean Reborn, a novel that was just signed by a Broadway producer to be come a play."

She also has three new nonfiction books scheduled for release between 2008-2009 from New Hope Publishers:

BEYOND ME: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World
(New Hope Publishers, Summer 2008)

How Can I Run a Tight Ship when I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?
(New Hope Publishers, Fall 2008)

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers Today
(New Hope Publishers, Spring 2009)


My Son, John (Sheaf House 2009)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Deborah Raney

When I Was Just a Kid...

Deb Raney

First grade was where Deb Raney learned to read, and "Tip and Mitten" stands out in her mind as the book that launched, well, quite a few books! As a farm girl in Kansas, she got inspiration from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series and at 12 decided to try this writing thing for herself. At that point all history seemed to be the same, and she had accidently put an airplane in a story set in the 1700s. It was then that Deb vowed never to write historical fiction again. Thank goodness for us she broke that vow.

[Crystal Editor's note: Do you suppose she missed her calling as a fantasy/sci fi author? Naah. She writes contemporary women's fiction very well!]

Let's take a look at Deb's past and see how that influences the writer that she is today:

Childhood Ambition: I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books when I was 11 or 12 and from that point on, I dreamed of someday writing a book. But my love for kids kicked in before my writing took off and I also dreamed of raising 12 children. The Lord blessed us with four (which most days seemed like 12) and I’d be hard-pressed to say which “career” I’ve enjoyed the most.

Deb's Family today

Fondest Memory (then): My grandparents were all very special to me and lived nearby for many of my growing up years. I have lots of happy memories involving them. Also, I grew up on a farm and that is a rich resource for great memories, too. The first one that comes to mind is having my Dad storm into the house one day acting like me and my younger siblings were in BIG trouble. In a crabby voice that held the hint of a smile, he demanded, “You kids get out here with a box right now and...take care of the new baby kittens I just found.” We were thrilled! Baby kittens were a highlight of many summers! (I’m sure that memory is close to the surface because our sweet kitty, Biscuit, who wandered onto our property several months ago and never left, just gave birth to four adorable kittens! My sixteen-year-old daughter and I are already sad for the day we’ll have to find them new homes.)

Biscuit and babies (Want a kitten??)

Proudest Moment ( then): I was a terrible klutz—not an athletic bone in my body! But one spring at the country school I attended, I was the hero of the co-ed baseball game. They had me out in right field where I could do the least damage, but a pop fly came staight at me. I put my glove over my head (mostly for protection) and the ball plopped right smack into it to win the game! I was carried away on the shoulders of the older boys, smiling so hard it’s a wonder I didn’t turn inside out. : )

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen:My biggest challenge was asthma. Wheat and hay seemed to be the triggers for my asthma attacks—NOT good things to have to avoid when you’re a little Kansas farm girl! But as I look back on all the things I missed out on because I was stuck in the house trying to breathe, I realize that my mom was always there—reading to me. I think it’s fair to say that I probably wouldn’t have discovered this wonderful career were it not for having asthma, and a mom who shared her love of reading with me.

My First Job:De-tasseling corn! Oh, did I ever hate it! Hot, windy, sweaty, bugs everywhere, scratchy corn leaves. I’m breaking out in hives just thinking about it! But I worked with a fun group of girls, and we each made $100 for a few days of work.

Childhood indulgence:Dairy Queen! One of our favorite things was when Daddy would come in from the field and tell us all to load up in the car because we were going for a drive. We all knew—even though he’d drive for miles in the wrong direction first, just to keep us guessing––that we’d wind up at the local Dairy Queen. We had a 10-cent limit, which would buy a nice-sized cone. Once in a while he’d let us spend 15-cents each and get a malt or a chocolate dipped cone. It was such a secure feeling being locked in the station wagon with my whole family.

Favorite Outfit as a child:Oh, man! Talk about memory lane! I saved my allowance for weeks for a pair of white go-go boots. I wore them with a blue double-knit mini-skirted shift and boy did I think I was hot stuff. LOL!

Favorite Childhood Movie:We didn’t go to the movies very often, and at home we only watched TV on occasional winter Sunday nights. I remember Ed Sullivan and Bonanza in particular. And the smell of fresh-popped popcorn my mom always made for us on those special TV nights.

Favorite Childhood Book:Well, it’s not politically correct to say so now, but my great grandmother used to sit us on her lap and read Little Black Sambo to us over and over again. I’m certain she had NO idea that this fanciful, delightful tale would one day be judged to have racial overtones. We just loved the story of a little boy and his family and some scary tigers who turned into butter for the 169 pancakes Sambo would eat at the end of the book.

Childhood hero:I think my parents have always been my heroes. My mother made being a wife and mom look like the most joyful job in the universe and my dad has always been a man of integrity—someone I could always trust and look up to. They are still my heroes.

From Deb's biography:
After spending two happy decades as an at-home mom to two sons and two daughters, Deborah finally began work on her first novel––a contemporary story––after an intriguing discussion about Alzheimer's disease with her husband, Ken, and their young teenagers. Drawing on her experiences working in a New York nursing home early in her marriage, she crafted a fictional account of one family's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. A VOW TO CHERISH was published by Bethany House Publishers in 1996 and won an Angel Award from Excellence in Media. It has been translated into the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian languages, and is also available in a hardcover large-print edition from Thorndike Press. Steeple Hill Books recently released an update and expanded version of the book.

Here is a list of fiction books Deb has written:

  • Remember to Forget-February 2007
    • A Nest of Sparrows - June 2004
    • A Scarlet Cord - June 2003
    • Playing by Heart - August 2003

    • After the Rains - September 2002
    • Currier and Ives Christmas - Christmas 2002
    • Beneath a Southern Sky - June 2001
    • A Vow to Cherish:
    August 1999 2nd Release
    January 1996 1st Release (Out of Print)
    • Kindred Bond - May 1998
    • In the Still of Night - February 1997

    Storytellers Series
    •The Storytellers Collection - September 2000
    •The Storytellers Collection: Tales From Home - Summer 2001

    Teatime Stories Series
    • Teatime Stories for Women - Honor Books 2000
    • Teatime Stories for Mothers - River Oak 2001
    But Deb doesn't just write fiction. Here are some of the books she wrote in the nonfiction realm:
CHILDREN'S SERMONS TO GO (Abingdon Press 1998)
both written with Deb's sister, Vicky Miller

Contributor to:
THE STORYTELLERS' COLLECTION-Tales from Home (Multnomah 2001)
THE STORYTELLERS' COLLECTION-Tales of Faraway Places (Multnomah 2000)

Featured in:
LET GOD SURPRISE YOU by Heather Whitestone McCallum (Zondervan 2003)
BEHIND THE STORIES by Diane Eble (Bethany House 2002)

Also, she blogs regularly with about two dozen other multi-published authors on The Charis Connection as well as at her own blogspot.
She is now at work on her seventeenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Readers' Choice Award and the Silver Angel from Excellence in Media. Deborah's first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title.

A Vow to Cherish will be released again as a new Steeple Hill version in mass market in October, with a sequel to follow in November, also in mass market. Upcoming books include aforementioned sequel, Within This Circle, Steeple Hill, November 2007 (mass market) and a novella, “Finally Home” in the anthology, Missouri Memories, from Barbour to release in December 2007. The next Clayburn novel, Leaving November, (Howard) will come out early in 2008.

In Deb's own words:

My married daughter ––the one who made me a “Mimi” a year ago!––writes a monthly column with me for, a great Web magazine devoted to faith, family and community. My husband and I share an August anniversary with Tobi and her husband, Ryan Layton. Each month, Marriage Perspectives explores various aspects of marriage as viewed from the perspectives of a young married woman (Tobi) and an, I mean long married woman (me). We've had such fun writing together, though I'm not sure our husbands are quite so thrilled, since they are featured prominently every month. : )
[Crystal Editor's note: I will be featuring Deb's daughter, Tobi, in this same column, so look for that soon! One of those article titles is Should In-laws be outlawed? ]

Remember to Forget (just released Feb. with Howard Publishing) Deb at ICRS Advance in Indianapolis

[Crystal editor's note: I just reviewed this book for Church Libraries magazine (not yet published.) All I can say at this point is that I give it "two thumbs up!" And I've gotten a little picky after over 500 published book reviews here and there.

Some of Deb's many awards:
• 2003 American Christian Romance Writers Book of the Year
• First Place Blue Boa Award Inspirational Fiction
• A Book of the Year for American Christian Romance Writers
• 2002 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee
• Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence finalist
• Also named one of the Top 20 Fiction books of 2002
in's Fiction Newsletter, Dec. 27, 2002
Go here to see the When I Was Just a Kid interview with her daughter, Tobi Layton.

Deb also serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Latest book:  May 2010
ALMOST FOREVER (newest novel by author Deborah Raney)

A Hanover Falls Novel from Howard/Simon &Schuster

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear. but could it also set her free?

Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam.

Now a terrifying absence of memory has her wondering if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds' wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he she's the one who's died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer...

Deborah Raney books always captivate me! Almost Forever is a beautifully written and enthralling read. It made my heart sing, dance, cry, and turn more than a few flips!
~CindyWoodsmallNew York Times best-selling author

As a fan of the very talented Deborah Raney, I expected a great read and I got it in the richly emotional Almost Forever, a story of faith, forgiveness and redemption.  It began with a gripping scene and proceeded to hold me enthralled to the end.  Don't miss this one!
~Karen Young, author of Missing Max and Blood Bayou

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 20th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, will release in May from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away.

Visit Deb on the web at
Order her books here:

I love Deb Raney and her books. She's a first class, truly nice person who happens to write novels I love to read. 

Monday, October 8, 2007

Teena Stewart

When Teena Lanning was growing up in Virginia, she never expected she would ever leave. But one day she met an exciting American-Scotsman and married him, and it was off on adventures with her pastor-husband from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Colorado to California to Scotland, and who knows where next? Moss doesn't grow under the Stewarts' feet, and certainly not under Teena's. No matter how long she stays in one place, she is moving.

This photo shows Teena with her siblings before her baby sister entered the scene. She's the skinny kid in the dress.

Teena remembers about the photo: "We had a neighborhood 4th of July parade and there was a contest for best theme. My dad chose To Market, To Market to Buy a Fat Pig or something about a farmer taking pigs to market. I was the farmer's wife and my older sister, Vicki, was the farmer. I really didn't wear glasses. I think those were an old pair of sunglasses. Dad made pigs out of Clorox bottles and stuck them on my brother's and sister's heads.

And today Teena, a writer who has penned over 1000 articles, as well as short stories, fiction and ezines, and then finds time to head up ministries from one ocean to the other, still finds occasions to dress up. If we could get her three grown-up kids to talk to us, they'd tell us of the many funny skits and "dress-up" occasions, like posing for the famous Stewart Christmas cards, much like what Teena's dad instigated in a Fourth of July parade.

But Teena is shy and humble about what she does--even though her lifetime of work thus far speaks volumes about her talents. She has a B.A. degree in fine arts and paints portraits of pets, furniture that would make Mary Englebreit feature her if she only knew about her work, and she designs anything--from logos that appear on blogs, to web designs and web sites--well, Teena is an artist, too.

So what can we find out about Teena Stewart as a child that molded a woman so extremely talented? She's still shy, even though she can speak in front of groups with boldness about the God she serves, and topics that drive her passions.

Childhood Ambition: To be a ballerina

Fondest Memory (then): Riding my pony

Proudest Moment (now): Becoming a mom

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: Extremely shy + severe asthma

My First Job: Clerical worker for the Department of the Navy in Arlington, VA

Childhood indulgence: Moravian Sugar Cake

Favorite Outfit as a child:Dress up clothes--my mom's open-toed black heels and white curtain sheers with red lipstick to match

[Crystal editor's note: Wish we had a photo of her in that! Scarlett O'Hara, move over!]

Favorite Childhood Movie: Pinocchio

Favorite Childhood Book: Little Black, a Pony

Childhood hero: My Dad

Childhood pastime: Playing Tin Can Hide

While growing up, I never expected to: move away from Virginia

Teena Stewart writes a monthly column for DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion's MIM Ezine, a place where those in ministry--whether pastor or other staff members in churches--can go to find solutions, support and materials and ideas and ministry resources. What she didn't include in her information for me is that she created and continues to develop this ministry, and she then was able to recruit others into keeping it going. Don't know what your spiritual gifts are? Teena has answers. If you need some help and support on raising your teen, Teena (alone and with her sometime co-author) covers that.

If you are interested in writing for Dreambuilders, check out the writers' guidelines.
She has published and written numerous suspenseful short stories and fiction, and started a blog covering the topic of suspense fiction called Whispers in the Darkness.

And look into Java Journey as Teena and husband, Jeff, are getting ready to embark on a coffee house ministry.

Whatever Teena turns her attention to, you can bet she will soon be an expert, and her blog explores the gamut on fiction books and within the genres of mystery and suspense. If you have an interest in this type of writing, check out this blog.

Here is just some of her work that is available in book form:

Soul Matters for Mothers

The World's Easiest Pocket Guide to Marriage and Moneywith Jeff Stewart and Larry Burkett

God's Way book series

Her publication credits also include but are not limited to: Discipleship Journal, Leadership Journal, Minister’s Family Magazine, Ministry Magazine, Woman Alive, Woman's Touch and many other publications.

Teena's passions have caused her to write so many articles, she seriously has lost track of the number, but now she is turning her writing to books and Successful Small Groups: From Concept to Practice(Beacon Hill) on small groups will be released in November 2007.

Teena's latest book is for leading small groups in church and ministry:

Marti Kramer Suddarth

Even as a baby Marti Suddarth was watching over children. Her whole life has centered around family and children. And because she is a fellow Hoosier, her stories seem incredibly familiar, even though I just met her a few years ago in my SALT (Struggling Artists of Literary Talent) group. Of all the memories I've collected so far, some of Marti's resonant with me. See if you don't find a familiar chord, as well. She is kind to everyone, even giving in to keep a stray dog who came to liven up their lives--Splash, The Wonder Dog, a dog of beagle persuasion.

Marti has a special talent for music and writing songs and skits to use with kids--and she is music CD reviewer, publishing reviews in various places. Her writing revolves around things to do with children. She's married to a music teacher(Daniel--22 years! and she looks like a kid still) and they have 3 children (Kate, Scott, and Abby) who all exhibit many talents that she has nurtured. Oh, and did I mention she's a teacher?

Meet Marti--whose byline is Marti Kramer Suddarth.

Childhood Ambition: When I was 3 or 4, I wanted to do the weather on TV! I saw people on TV, pointing to a map, and thought that would be fun. In grade school, I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to compose music for "Schoolhouse Rock." And now I AM a writer, and I'd still like to compose music for "Schoolhouse Rock" or something similar. And then for a while, I wanted to be a concert pianist.

Fondest Memory (then): Wow! I have so many good memories, it would be hard to pick ONE. I remember "camping out" in the living room with my brother and sisters. We'd drag our pillows and blankets into the living room and sleep there - all 5 of us. I remember stopping the Merrymobile to get ice-cream. My brother and I would each have a nickel and the Merrymobile would actually stop!My sister Emily and I used to stand in front of the mirror, singing into hairbrushes, pretending we had our own TV show like Donny & Marie! When I was in mid-to-late elementary school, my dad rode his bicycle to work, just a couple of miles from home. Every once in a while, I'd get to go out to breakfast with Dad. Mom would wake me up early, I'd get dressed, and then Dad and I would ride our bicycles to the Farmer's Daughter Restaurant for breakfast. We'd ride most of the way home together, until we had to part company. I'd go home and Dad would go to work. I'd usually get home about the time my brother and sisters were getting up to get ready for school. (Of course, they had their turns too.) I loved going out for breakfast with Dad!

Proudest Moment (now or then): I know it sounds corny, but I'm so proud of my children. What could I possibly do that would top having these three wonderful people calling me, "Mom?"

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: I was such a geeky child. Really. I was short and skinny and covered in freckles and I had big, huge glasses. Of course, I was extremely UNathletic. I was the child who sat in the corner and read books almost as fast as I could turn the pages. So I suppose my biggest challenge is that I never felt like part of the crowd. I always felt like I was on the outside. And I guess that makes me pretty lucky, huh? Think how many people have worse problems .... health problems ... family problems ... and the worst thing I can say about my childhood was that I was a dork.

My First Job: I used to give piano lessons to several children in the neighborhood. I think I only made $2 a lesson, and I had to walk to their houses! Of course, to a seventh grader, that $2 seemed like a lot of money.

Childhood indulgence: The Merrymobile ... breakfast with Dad ... trips to the zoo with Dad. (He's such a big kid, I think he loved going as much as we did.)

Play time favorite that influenced your writing: Reading, of course. I loved reading, which lead me to want to be a writer. I loved "Schoolhouse Rock," and wanted (ok, still want) to work on projects like that. I used to listen to Keith Green's music (although that was in high school), which influenced the way I played the piano. That, in turn, influenced the way I compose, which influences the way I write.

Favorite Childhood Movie: I don't know! When I was in grade school we watched an old black and white movie called "Life with Father." (Elizabeth Taylor was a teenager, and one of the policemen from "Adam 12" was a little younger.) Some of the humor was so subtle (especially the part about the pug dog) that my brother and sisters and I loved that movie and still talk about it, even though I haven't seen it in years.

Crystal Editor's note: Marti knows more about old TV shows than anyone I know. She is a walking library. And she knows all sorts of details--in case you need an expert when you're writing. Ask her or daughter Katie about Star Trek.

Favorite Childhood Book: Laura Ingall's Wilder's "Little House" series. I read them over and over, and even now, as an adult, sometimes I feel a little nostalgic and go read them again.

Childhood hero: This'll be the third time I've mentioned this, but in the mid-1970's, I thought that the people who wrote "Schoolhouse Rock" had THE best jobs in the world!

Favorite Childhood Easter Memory: I don't know that there is a specific memory so much as remembering my Easter dresses. My mother is such an amazing seamstress ... and when I was really little, she made me dresses every year. I always thought mine were the best because everyone else had store bought dresses, but mine were made by Mom.

Crystal Editor's Note: Marti is famous in our SALT sisters group for telling stories about her family. They are really good stories. And she could not resist telling us a story about children in her life as an adult. So, because Marti is a good storyteller, I am indulging this here! (Hey, I'm the boss of this blog...)

The Kramer Sisters (brother Bill is in the baby photo above.) Marti is to the left.

And if I'm allowed into adulthood :-): Several years ago, all 5 Kramer children and their spouses and children met at Mom & Dad's for Easter weekend. Mom asked sister Nancy and Kate & Scott to color the eggs on Saturday ... pointed them out in the fridge and then left them to do the coloring. They colored ALL of the eggs in the fridge, instead of just the hard boiled ones. So the next day, not knowing which eggs were which, Mom hid all of the eggs and told everyone just to be very careful when eating the eggs later.

The egg hunt went well. The grandchildren found them all. My nephew Logan (probably 8 at the time) had a stuffed snake ... it was so long he could coil it around his neck and still have plenty of snake left to scare cousins with. He jumped out at Abby (age 4) & scared her with his snake. Abby was so startled that she dropped her basket. And that's when we found some of the raw eggs! Of course, it ruined her chocolate bunny.

Logan felt so badly about it that he gave his bunny to Abby.That was a really special memory for me because it showed what a kind, concerned young man Logan already was, and still is. He was only 8 but already understood how to show Jesus's love to other people.

Crystal Editor's note: Now, see why I love Marti? She's a genius storyteller. She should be writing Hoosier novels. Just my professional opinion.

Marti's book of children's sermons is coming out in CSS's Fall catalog. It is, as yet, untitled (though it could possibly be: Four-minute Lessons for Young Ears, Eyes, and Hearts. )

She's published with Contemporary Drama Service:
Broadcasting Christmas
Mini-Musicals for Special Days

Marti's Educational Website Little Hands on the Computer

Marti's Other Educational Website
She also has written stories in compilation books, including Chicken Soup for the Shopper's Soul.

Her CD reviews appear at
(Check under Marti Kramer Suddarth.)
Red Veda's latest CD
Oh, one more thing to mention: she's a Daughter of the American Revolution and an expert in genealogy. Marti is one of the unrecognized geniuses of our time. Keep an eyeball on her.

Hot off the press! Looking for a book to help with your children's sermons? Marti has written it!

Ping-Pong Words
And 30 More Children's Sermons
By: Marti Kramer Suddarth
CSS Publishing Co., Inc.

CSS Price: $12.95

CSS Item #: 0788024841

Saturday, October 6, 2007

LeAnne Martin

When I Was Just a Kid...

LeAnne Martin

LeAnne Martin has written hundreds of articles, she's brilliant in English with the degrees to prove it, and has modeled perfume, as well as is a member in good standing in various writers organizations. Her elegance, gentle accent and gracious manners mark her as a woman who has spent her entire life in the South.(And her favoritism to Coca-Cola might also "mark" her, also.)

As a child, she wanted to be a writer, but she also wanted to hit the baseball far and make homeruns. Yeah, this little "lady" had skinned knees, and her best friend was a boy who played as tough as she did! When I think of LeAnne as a child, images of "Scout" in To Kill a Mockingbird (without all the drama, Boo Radley and people trying to kill her) form in my mind.

LeAnne can still throw a baseball around, but she also loves the arts--and she shares that love with others with her writing. Each week on Mondays and Thursdays you'll meet the people who create, promote and adore the arts in many forms and media. Entitled Christians in the Arts, she features artists working professionally in a variety of fields as well as art experts, enthusiasts, and educators.

LeAnne says,"I'm especially interested in encouraging artists who are Christians struggling to blend their faith and their art. I also want to encourage the Church to get more involved with the arts. It's a topic that I feel so passionate about, and I'm finding that many other people do as well. It has been exciting to meet so many people who love the arts and love the Lord."

That passion is contagious. To find out what went into the molding and sculpting of such a beautiful, intelligent and giving person(one of our eight SALT* sisters,) let's meet LeAnne when she was just a kid: (*Struggling Artists of Literary Talent):

Childhood Ambition: From the time I was seven years old, I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story at the age of eight about a set of twins--a boy and a girl--who solved the mystery of the lost ring. (They found the ring in their front yard.) As I got a little older, I wrote "novels"--one about a doll with magical powers and one about a girl and her best friend who go to another world. That was my sci-fi/fantasy stage. I still have all these stories.

As a tomboy, I also wanted to be a police officer, a fireman, or a paramedic. I guess I wanted to either be a hero, or imagine one, and write about her.

Fondest Memory (then): Playing softball with my family and in our church league throughout my childhood and teen years. My fondest memory is the first time I stepped onto the field in a real game. I was a rookie, untried but not green--I'd been playing in our backyard for years. My dad was coaching, and in the fourth inning, he put me in at right field. Everybody knows that you put your weakest player in right field so I figured I'd get a little action from the hitters who could pull the ball.

I was right. Before long, a low fly ball headed my way. I took a few steps, put my glove up, and caught it like I'd been doing it my whole life, which was pretty much true. My teammates and our fans went wild. I think I probably jumped up and down. Dee Dee Brown, the first baseman who was just a couple of years older than me told Dad, "I almost ran out and hugged her!" I don't remember if we won the game or not, but it doesn't really matter.

Proudest Moment (now): When I gave birth to my baby girl. She was 10 lbs, 2 oz. My joy and my delight. I still can't believe I did that! [Crystal editor's note: If you've ever met LeAnne, you'd know that she's not much bigger than that baby was!! And that baby girl is growing up to be as sweet as mom.]

LeAnne,"Smartest Girl" and Bionic Woman Wannabe(who can make the "sound" while running,) even on the go, takes time to connect to home.

Biggest Challenge as a child or teen: I was named "Smartest Girl" in my class in ninth grade. I spent the rest of my high school years trying to live up to that. It was too hard! :)

My First Job: Salesperson in a sporting goods store. I also sold Clinique cosmetics and men's and women's fragrances. Yes, I was a "fragrance model"--one of those women you see in department stores, spray bottle in hand. I never sprayed anyone without permission, though. It was good money for a college student but it involved a lot of rejection--the perfect training ground for a writing career, actually.

Childhood indulgence: Chocolate milk shakes from Dairy Queen (a weekly treat on Friday nights--I loved them!). I would suck mine down before we even got home. My folks would often get banana splits. One night the DQ was especially busy. Mom saw one frustrated employee kick a banana all the way across the floor. Mom watched carefully to be sure that same banana didn't end up in her or Dad's banana split.

Favorite Outfit as a child: In third or fourth grade, I had these dark green pants with fall-colored leaves embroidered on the bell bottoms. I thought I looked pretty groovy.

Favorite Childhood Movie: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. "Truly Scrumptious..." I loved the windup doll scene and the big rescue at the end but that scary child-napper gave me nightmares.

Favorite Childhood Book: Corduroy (I still love it!). Who wouldn't love a sweet old bear like that? I was fascinated by the pretty African-American girl Lisa, her sweet little room with a bed just the right size for a bear, and the apartment where she lived. Living in the suburbs, I had never seen an apartment building before.

Childhood hero: The Bionic Woman. She was pretty but she was tough and strong and tender too. A winning combination. I pretended I was Jaime and could even make that bionic sound when I ran through the yard.

Art you adored as a child: My grandmother Daisy gave my mother a painting that hung in my mother's bedroom when she was growing up. Daisy had given some food to a man in their small town who was struggling financially and he gave her this painting in return. It's of a beautiful blonde-haired young woman in a long blue dress playing a piano with a dark blue candlestick on top of it. When I was young, my mom stored the painting in the back of the closet in my room. I didn't really notice it until my pre-teen years. Since it wasn't hanging up, I asked my mother for it. She promised to let me have it when I left home, and she did. I still love that painting and plan to give it to my daughter one day.

LeAnne's writing these days can cover many topics, as well as her blog about Christians in the Arts on Mondays and Thursdays:

Here are a few articles LeAnne has written that you can view on the internet:

Sabbath Suggestions"

"Where He Leads Me"

"Ministering to Your Minister's Wife"

"From This Day Forward"

Eat, Drink, and Be Family"

"Beautiful Words: Christian Poets, Past and Present"