Friday, June 22, 2007

Reluctant Runaway

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Multnomah, March 2007)



Jill Elizabeth Nelson is a member of the CFBA. Her blog, Artistic Blogger, addresses issues about art, art theft, antiquities preservation, and the art of fiction writing. She takes art seriously - when she's not having fun with it, that is. The To Catch a Thief Series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms.

The first in the series was Reluctant Burglar , second is Reluctant Runaway. In January 2008, she will reveal the third book, Reluctant Smuggler. Jill is thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft - deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Jill and her husband, Doug, have four children and live in Minnesota.


Stolen Indian artifacts...A murdered museum guard

A missing woman…A baby in danger

Only Desiree can unearth the horrifying secret that links them all.

Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs doesn’t mean to get in danger’s path. Really she doesn’t. But when a friend is in trouble you don’t just walk away. No matter what your overprotective FBI agent boyfriend says! So when Desi and Tony’s date at a presidential ball is interrupted by a frantic Maxine Webb, Desi doesn’t hesitate to jump in.

Soon Desi is neck-deep in a confusing array of villains. Did Max’s niece run away or was she taken? Is she still alive or the victim of a perverse ritual? And who wants her infant son–and why?

Then Tony’s organized crime case collides with Desi’s investigation, throwing them both into the path of something dark and sinister. Something that craves blood...

From the streets of Desi’s beloved Boston to the mountain desert of New Mexico, Desi and Tony must rely on God to thwart unseen forces–and save a young woman and her baby from a villain more evil than any of them can imagine.

"A fresh voice, strong heroine, and unique plot make Reluctant Runaway a can't-put-down read. Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an author to watch in the realm of romantic suspense!"
----SUSAN MAY WARREN award-winning author of In Sheep's Clothing

My brother's getting married tomorrow, so I haven't had time to read this book yet. But here's my review of the first book in the series:

To Catch a Thief Book One
by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Desi Jacobs loves her father's company, HJ Securities, and hates the federal agent, Lucano, whose unfounded allegations may ruin their reputation among museums and art curators. But when her father is murdered in Europe, Desi's world turns upside down. A ring of thieves wants the art Hiram Jacobs has stashed without Desi's knowledge, and they're not content with asking nicely. Desi has to face her beloved father being a criminal and any friend of his could be an accomplice. The only person she can trust may be the last person she wants to - Tony Lucano.
The action begins in the first sentence and doesn't let up until the denouement. The characters and their conflict match the plot well, and I loved the unique glimpse into Desi's job. "Stealing" valuable items to prove the need for a security company had been done before in The Jewel in the Crown, but while that novel didn't meet my expectations, this one exceeded them. Intrigue, action, and romance combine for a great catch that I give the Waterfall Books rating of Whitewater.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Restorer by Sharon Hinck

The attic hideaway her husband designed seemed like the perfect place for Susan to take a break from her frazzled life as a mother of four. Yet before she completes her first journal entry in the solitude, she is pulled into another reality, a world of swords and transports, lighted walls and powerful words.

Confused and scared, Susan learns she has the indicators of a promised Restorer – one of those sent to aid the People of the Verses in time of need. But the other Restorers have been fearless Guardians, warriors. How can an ordinary mom hope to combat enemy forces without and within in an alien world?

I have too many books (I'm even selling some - see this post for more info) . . . or perhaps too little time to read them. So it’s rare anymore that a book arrives in the mail and is read within the week. I simply have too many other priorities, like finding other work now that my bookstore job has come to an end. Or preparing for my brother’s wedding this Saturday – he’s the first one of us nine Hart kids to get married off.

So unfortunately books languish – even books I’ve wanted to read for months or years. Then The Restorer arrived, all 450 pages of fantasy goodness. Within 24 hours I’d devoured it and was going back to reread my favorite bits. Even today as I was preparing for this review, my eyes would snag on a sentence and I’d wind up reading two chapters before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

Sharon Hinck has created a compelling tale full of twists, surprises, and enduring characters, set in a fascinating world you don’t want to leave (unless, of course, the assassins are attacking and you’re not handy with a sword). Detailed and rich enough for fantasy diehard, The Restorer is also surprising accessible to those uneager to explore strange new worlds, due to the book’s unlikely protagonist. This book is a keeper and one you’ll want to read over and over again.

For more about this wonderful novel, visit the following blogs:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Friday, June 08, 2007

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking

(WATERBROOK Press June 19, 2007)


Melody Carlson


Melody Carlson has published over 100 books for adults, children, and teens, including On This Day, Finding Alice, the Notes from a Spinning Planet series, and Homeward, which won the Rita Award from Romance Writers of America. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, make their home near the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Melody is a full-time writer as well as an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.


Willing to make the necessary sacrifices–even skipping the occasional latte–to ensure career success, 31-year-old Cassidy Cantrell "invests" in a chic pair of boots, certain they’ll make a spectacular impression and help seal the deal on a long-anticipated promotion from her Seattle employer.

But reality tromps all over her expectations. Cassie’s job is abruptly eliminated–and her love life obliterated, when her longtime boyfriend dumps her for a "friend." Her self-esteem in tatters, Cassie limps home to the resort town she once so eagerly fled–only to find her recently divorced mother transformed into a gorgeous fifty-something babe with a thriving social life. Cassie wrestles with envy and apathy as she considers the dismal shape of her own physique and romantic prospects. What will it take for her to jump back into life and regain her stride?

This sassy and hilarious novel leads readers on a romp through the wilds of relationships, romance, career, and spirituality, revealing that, while God’s plans may look drastically different than our own, it’ll always be a perfect fit.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Link Love and Laughter

I'm catching up on my Bloglines reading, and came across a few posts I just had to share:

Karen Hancock came across a story about graying heroes and wanting to know how a book ends.

Jason Joyner ponders what would happen if Christian authors switched genres.

Brenda Coulter tells how to make your own book trailer.

Oh, and Chris Mikesell won first place in Dragons, Knights & Angels Magazine's annual short story contest!

Flashes of Inspiration

Originally posted on

One of the things I enjoy most about being a writer: those flashes of inspiration. You can be doing anything - working on your current novel, taking a walk, listening to a sermon (and if you're taking notes, you have pen and paper to jot down the idea before you lose it!), or even brushing your teeth.

My latest flash of inspiration came yesterday. I was sending a paragraph from one of my query letters to a writers' email group, and feeling a little down because my target publisher had already contracted books for my book's setting. But what other setting could I use? I didn't even know much about the state that was 5 minutes from my home . . .

Wait a minute. There was one aspect of the neighboring state I was very familiar with. Rogers. A live auction and farmer's market combined with open-air and indoor booths selling nearly everything imaginable - from homemade wood products to candy to Italian charms. Books and CDs and movies. Dogs and fish and parakeets, and if you picked the right day, a free kitten or two to a good home.

What a setting! Though my novel with the paragraph wouldn't work (being set in December), another story would. One that I still needed to dream up.

And that leads to several guidelines (they aren't exactly rules) I've discovered for keeping inspiration flowing.

One, don't talk about it much. You'll notice that above, there's nothing about my ideas for this future novel. Just bare facts about the setting. Sharing your ideas can set them in concrete. Right now, you need to focus on possibilities. If you share an early idea with a friend or family member and they think it's awesome, what happens when you come up with a different angle? Will you wonder if it's as awesome?

Two, wait for the characters. If you try to mass-produce characters to fit your idea, it's going to show. Sometimes the characters are your inspiration. Great. Otherwise, wait for them. Even if it takes months. It'll be worth it.

Three, know when you need to start. For every writer it's different. When I begin filling notebook pages with questions and answers about my story, I know it's about time. Beginning too soon can bring the story out in fits and starts. Waiting too long can be fatal. When I was part of a novel-writing course last year, I got to the point where I couldn't wait to start writing. Yet the course still had more weeks of planning the novel. So I waited, continuing to complete the planning assignments. When the time came to write, I only wrote a few chapters before setting it aside for the moment. That "moment" continues through today, and I wish I would have ignored the schedule and written.

Do you have guidelines for your flashes of inspiration? And do you have another name for them? (Flashes of inspiration is a bit awkward!)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Prints Charming

It is JUNE 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Rebeca Seitz

and her book:


(Thomas Nelson Publishers, March 15, 2007)


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview. Rebeca has worked with such esteemed authors as Robin Jones Gunn, Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Walter Wangerin, Jr., DiAnn Mills, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen Coble, Melody Carlson, and numerous others. She has secured coverage for novelists in a variety of media outlets, including The Today Show, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Publishers Weekly, Christian Retailing, Aspiring Retail, Southern Living, Daystar Television, HarvestTV, WAY-FM, K-LOVE, and others. Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Chapter One

"Girl, where are you?" Lydia tightened her grip on the cell phone as she wondered anew how any woman could be late to every single thing in her life. She had thought Jane might’ve changed in the two years they’d been apart, but Jane was evidently still living up to her old high school nickname of Late Jane. The woman would get to her own funeral about an hour after they started the music.

"I’m coming, I’m coming." Jane kept one hand on the steering wheel while frantically sifting through the things in the passenger seat of her Blazer. There was a brush somewhere, she just knew it, but finding anything at seven in the morning was difficult at best. Why in the world she’d allowed herself to be talked into attending a sale that started at seven a.m. was beyond her ability to fathom. Finding her shoes had been a reason for cheering. A brush might just be asking too much.

"Do I need to grab anything for you? This stuff is going fast." Lydia watched a woman stretch for the last package of Times-style foam alphabet letters and readjusted her own heavy shopping basket. In the five minutes she’d been in the store, it had already begun biting into the skin on her arm.

"Nope, I don’t think so. I’ll be there in about two minutes," Jane said, still searching for the brush while trying not to drop the cell phone from her shoulder.

"Okay, but hurry. I’ll be over in the baby girl section. I need to find something for Olivia’s first bath pages and get ribbon for Mac."

"Got it. Baby girl. Be there in a flash."


Jane snapped the phone together and slammed to a stop at the red light. Turning her attention to her still searching hand, she finally grasped the elusive hairbrush and quickly raked it through her long black hair. She had been looking forward to this sale all week but, of course, Mr. Wonderful had chosen to make his appearance a mere thirty minutes before she walked out the door. They had fought over Wilson. Again. When would the man get it through his head that Wilson was in her life forever?

She pushed thoughts of her soon-to-be ex-husband out of her mind as the green arrow finally appeared. Squealing her tires, she tore into the parking lot of The Savvy Scrapper. Tossing the hairbrush back into the passenger seat, she threw the car into Park, grabbed her purse, and flung open the door.


Jane looked up just as her door collided with the midsection of one very tall man.

"Ohmigosh. I am so, so sorry. I’m just in a rush. The sale is happening and I’m late and—"

"It’s okay."
Mr. Tall held his hands up as if to ward off any other car doors she might be hiding somewhere and she noticed the coffee cup in one hand and bagel bag in the other. Bagels would be so heavenly right now.

"I’m fine, really." He set the bag down on the ground and brushed the dust off of his olive-green sweater, then looked at her. "I know how women can be when there’s a sale involved." He grinned as he knelt to pick the bag back up.

She tried hard to ignore his sexist statement and not remind him of how many guys camp out at golf stores before a sale or sleep in the parking lot to get tickets to a concert.

"Are you sure you’re okay? I mean, I have insurance and we can call somebody." Jane forcefully tucked her hair behind her ears, willing herself to focus on the problem at hand rather than the sale happening about ten yards away or the way her stomach was now grumbling for coffee and a bagel.

"Really, go ahead. I’m fine."

"Okay, thanks." She turned and made her way around the back of the car. "Really, I appreciate this. It’s just that this only happens once a year and my friend is waiting . . ." She stopped on the far side of the car and looked at him. He could sue if he was really hurt and her luck with men right now meant he would definitely sue and she would surely lose. "You’re absolutely fine?"

"Go." He made a shooing motion with the bag. "Happy shopping."

Her mother always said to never look a gift horse in the mouth and this was one time Jane would be obeying Elizabeth rather than giving in to her own desire to argue. She practically sprinted to the front door of The Savvy Scrapper, yanked it open, and burst inside.


"Jane!" Lydia was in the front corner of the store, surrounded by pink, yellow, blue, lilac, and pale green. She waved a die-cut of a bathtub and bubbles above her head. "I found the perfect stuff for Olivia and Oliver’s First Bath page."

"Great." Jane joined her, looking a bit frazzled but otherwise okay.

"Okay, here’s the deal." Lydia turned toward the back of the store and pointed. "All the Times letters are gone, the vellum is quickly going, and the dog section is getting riffled through as we speak. Where do you want to start?"

"Dog section, definitely." Jane stuffed her keys into her purse. "I took great pictures of the ex this morning picking up Wilson’s poop while stepping in another pile."

"You are so gross. What was he doing there?"

"Trying to get me to give him Wilson again." Jane scanned the rest of the store, making a quick plan to get the most stuff. "He’ll get the picture one day, just not today. He’s insane if he thinks I’m letting my puppy come live with him while he’s spending all hours online with his e-mistress."

"Okay, that still sounds so weird." Lydia’s eyebrows rose as she gave Jane a disbelieving look. "E-mistress? Really? That’s what we’re calling her?"

"E-mistress is the only thing I could think of that’s fit for public consumption." Jane grimaced. "Anyway, forget her and him. I’m here to shop, honey."

"Right. Go on over to the dog section. I’ll come over there when I’m finished here. Can you grab me that new paper with the red stripes and dark-brown bones? I’ve got some pictures of Otis with Olivia and Oliver from last week."

"Dale let that pug get near his precious twins? I thought you said the only thing he cared more about than SportsCenter was those babies."

"Dale hasn’t seen the pictures yet. He never comes in my scrapbook studio. Says it’s my workspace and that I spend too much money on all this junk as it is." Lydia waved her hand to encompass the store. "He’s probably right."

"Oh, please. Men are never right," Jane said and turned toward the dog section. "Dogs, on the other hand, are absolutely wonderful companions who never cheat and can’t even turn a computer on."

Lydia laughed and turned back to the wall of baby-themed paper in front of her, leaving Jane to take care of the dog paper. Stripes or flowers? She didn’t want to make the scrapbook too babyish, but she also didn’t want it to look too grownup. The papers were all on sale, so maybe she would just get both. Dale would never know since he didn’t come into her studio anyway, and she could give some of it to Mac for Kesa’s baby book. She took two sheets of the pink-and-lime-green-striped paper, then two of the blue rosebud ones.

"Men are never right," she muttered under her breath. Maybe Jane had a good point.

Prints CharmingRebeca SeitzCopyright © 2006 by Rebeca Seitz.