Monday, December 20, 2010

Maurice Gray's "To Whom Much is Given"

We're happy to have Maurice Gray with us today talking about his book, To Whom Much is Given. To learn more about Maurice and his book, read on!


Title: To Whom Much Is Given
Publisher: Write The Vison, Inc.

Cover blurb: Max Carson’s goals in life are to live a life pleasing to God, to achieve as a journalist and to find and marry the woman God has for him. His life is quiet and he is content. If only those dreams would go away- - -
Donna Randall is establishing her adult life. Having moved to Delaware after college, her concerns are to find a job, a church home and eventually, a husband. She has no time for dreams and visions, but now she has no choice but to deal with them.
Merry Lucas is convinced that one day she will have the life of luxury she thinks she deserves. When she sees her chance, she reaches for it, but her plans will be derailed if she can’t forestall a threat from her past.
Fred Bennett has a good job, Max as a best friend and all the women he can handle. Life is good, but at thirty, Fred feels like something is missing. Is Merry the answer, or only another question? And could Max be right about God?
Yolanda Mason has helped Donna decipher prophetic dreams and visions since they were children, but this time, Yolanda can’t shake the feeling that the stakes are much higher.
Max and Donna learn that their individual dreams are pieces of a puzzle. If they don’t solve the mystery, hundreds of innocents will die. They are caught up in a whirlwind adventure wherein they explore the mysteries of the Holy Spirit and of their own hearts. Their only recourse is to trust in God to work things out.

1) How did this story come to you?
A phrase came to my mind: “the woman of my dreams.” I flipped that around to “the dreams of my woman.” I thought “what if this man dreamed about a woman he’s never met and then he meets her someplace?” The story took off from there.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
It took me ten years from idea to finished product. I started writing the first draft in 1990 (the year I graduated college) and had the first edition in my hands in October 2000. In between, I wrote, I learned the craft and I met authors who helped me along the way. I met author Gayle Roper at the Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference in 1997. She critiqued the first chapter of To Whom and gave me great advice that helped me fine-tune it. I also made contacts with several publishing companies, and submitted my manuscript to them. Not long after that, I met another author, Patricia Haley, who also helped me. She taught me everything she knew about self-publishing, and helped me realize that this was a viable option. After about thirty rejection letters from various traditional publishers, I decided to self-publish and I’ve never regretted that decision.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1) In college, I briefly played on a coed intramural flag football team that went undefeated.
2) On my first ever job (at a Roy Rogers restaurant), I got a raise and promotion for being able to speak Spanish to some Mexican new hires.
3) I sing bass in a men’s quartet at my church

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
My next novel, Female Problems, is set to release in April 2011. I also have plans to write another book featuring Max, Donna, Fred, Yolanda and friends in the near future.

5) Parting comments?
My second novel is the sequel to To Whom Much Is Given. It’s called All Things Work Together, and it features Max and Donna’s best friends Fred and Yolanda.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I can be found at http://www.mauricemgrayjr.com/, on Facebook, Shoutlife and Shelfari.



Chuck Black's "Sir Quinlan" and "Sir Rowan"

We're happy to have Chuck Black with us today talking about his books, Sir Quinlan and Sir Rowan. To learn more about Chuck and his books, read on!

Titles: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor, and Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest (ages 8+)
Publisher: Multnomah Books

Cover blurbs:
Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor: Two friends are called into duty, but only one has the courage to follow. Will Quinlan choose a life of comfortable apathy or faithful service to the Prince? When things go wrong, will he face his past and overcome distrust to bring the Valor Knights back together?

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest: Sir Rowan, Cameria’s most prestigious tournament knight, is attacked and left for dead. Meanwhile, his people suffer as the Dark Knight expands his tyranny. The final battle looms – will Sir Rowan recognize his true purpose as a Knight of the Prince in time to save Cameria?

1. How did this story come to you?
My original inspiration for writing biblical allegory in the form of children’s adventure stories came from my own kids, and finding that their attention was so much more engaged when the stories of God and themes of the Christian life were told in the form of medieval knights and castles.
When it comes to my development of these books in particular, the stories grew out of the themes I wanted to illustrate. The theme of Sir Quinlan is apathy. I realized that the best way to show the perils of a life of apathy was to show the contrast between one character who lives in apathy and one who lives with purpose.
The theme of Sir Rowan is pride. The fame and fortune of people in our entertainment industry was a natural backdrop for Sir Rowan. Additionally I wanted to close out the series with a lead-in to the end times. I’ve always been fascinated by the biblical account of the two witnesses, so I used this Revelation account to help tell the story.

2. Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I self-published the first four books until enough interest was generated to catch the attention of a publisher, Multnomah Books. They quickly caught the vision for the story and here we are five years and twelve books later. The journey has been a whirlwind full of labor, adventure, and blessing!

3. Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. Writing a book was never a goal or plan of mine, but now I’ve written twelve.
2. My wife and I were never going to have children, but we now have six.
3. I’ve written twelve books I was never going to write for my six children I was never going to have. I’m still learning to give up my selfish ways, listen quietly to God, and say yes when He calls.

4. What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I have three different ideas for my next work but haven’t yet decided which to pursue. I am taking a short break from writing to rejuvenate myself, my family, and my creativity.

5. Parting comments?
I consider it a great honor and privilege to be able to share these stories with people everywhere. The power of an inspiring story is immense, and aspiring to live with purpose for something greater is motivating. Jesus Christ gives us both story and greatness by which we can live a life filled with purpose and adventure. That is the heart of all of my books. Although my characters are not perfect, they are noble and true to that call. I know there are faithful Christians that have done that well, and it is my desire to one day be as noble and courageous.

6. Where can fans find you on the internet?
They can find me at http://www.kingdomseries.com/ or www.facebook.com/ChuckBlack.Author or write to me at chuck@perfect-praise.com. Fans can see all my books and read free excerpts at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author-spotlight.php?authorid=75395.



Leeann Cronk's "Chop, Chop"

We're happy to have Leeann Cronk with us today talking about her book, Chop, Chop. To learn more about Leeann and her book, read on!

Title: Chop, Chop
Publisher: Rivulet Publishing.

Cover blurb: Ever since Laci was a little girl she's been growing out her pretty, brown hair and chopping it off to send to Locks of Love. When Greg moves into town and finds out what she's doing, he thinks it's a great idea...so he starts doing it too! It's just one of the things that reserved, young David must tolerate as their friendship grows throughout the years. As they near adulthood, they grow not only closer to each other, but closer to God as well. Eventually, David finds himself content in every way, but when tragedy stikes he must struggle to find his way back to God.

1) How did this story come to you?
God literally put the whole story in my head while I was driving home from work one night. It took exactly two months to write it – I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with what He was giving me.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Early on in the process God let me know that He wanted me to self-publish Chop, Chop, so I did. It’s probably a good thing that I had no idea how much time and money it was going to cost or I might not have had the courage to obey Him! In the end, though, I am really glad I went this route – it has been very fulfilling.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
#1 If my readers only know me as L.N. Cronk, they would probably be surprised to find that I am a woman (since all my books are written from a male’s point of view). #2 I’ve had the same cell phone for four years and the same car for ten! #3 In my “real job” I’m a math teacher!

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Since publishing Chop, Chop, I have written and published three sequels and I am currently working on the next four.

5) Parting comments?
In Colossians 3:2, Paul gives encouragement to "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. I believe that reading Christian literature is a lot like listening to Christian music or watching Christian movies – it is another way to keep our minds on things that are above. Keep filling your minds with uplifting things! I am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to be one small part of the community that helps people to keep their mind focused on Christ and I am having a lot of fun doing it!

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
http://www.lncronk.com/ and on Facebook: Leeann Cronk or the fan page: Chop, Chop.



Penny Zeller's "McKenzie"

We're happy to have Penny Zeller with us today talking about her book, McKenzie. To learn more about Penny and her book, read on!

Title: McKenzie.
Publisher: Whitaker House

Cover blurb: Desperation to rescue her younger sister from an abusive husband prompts McKenzie Worthington to run away from her stately Boston home as a mail-order bride for a rancher in the rugged Montana Territory.
Desperation also prompted Zachary Sawyer to post the ad for a bride, and he eagerly awaits the woman God has chosen for his wife.
When they meet, McKenzie tries to keep her distance, but she can't help feeling attracted to Zach and his selfless ways. What will become of her plan to annul the marriage when she finds her sister?

1) How did this story come to you?
My family and I were in a car accident a couple years ago where I suffered neck and leg injuries. During that time period of seven months, I was also hit with back-to-back bacterial infections. Because of the injuries and illness, I was pretty much homebound and my active athletic lifestyle suddenly became limited. I look back now and praise God that He gave me McKenzie, as well as two other manuscripts (another historical and a contemporary) I wrote in that seven month period of pain and illness. God took what was a difficult time for me and turned it around to something positive that can be used for His Kingdom – taking the time to write the books that I had always wanted to write.
He has since healed me and I pray daily that the path I have chosen in life will glorify Him. I think that’s why Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “’For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” is so close to my heart.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
After I wrote the book and after much prayer, I sent the proposal to Whitaker House. They responded and asked to see the entire manuscript. McKenzie was accepted and released in September 2010. It is the first in my Montana Skies Historical Romance series.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
Hmmm, let’s see – three things. Well, first, right out of a romance novel, I met my husband of 18 years through a prank phone call while we were in high school (he was a football player from a school 20 minutes from mine and I was a cheerleader). The rest, as they say, is history. Secondly, and quite humorous, I might add, I had two imaginary friends as a young child. They were two gray-haired grandpas (the ones from Sesame Street). I imagined they lived at the end of my street. And finally, some may find it interesting that I never do outlines for my novels. I dream up the entire book in my head as if I were watching a movie then write it down scene by scene. My husband and kids always tease me and ask if I’ve “watched” any movies lately *grins.*

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Book two of my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series is scheduled for release in April 2011. The book is titled Kaydie and is a touching story of God’s provision. (The full description of Kaydie can be seen at http://www.whitakerhouse.com/DeskTop.aspx?page=ProductInfo&item=431956)
I am currently working on Book Three in my Montana Skies Series, which will take fans of the series into the lives of more Pine Haven characters and a glimpse at the main character’s chance for love in an unexpected place. In addition, I just completed the first book in a new historical romance series that takes place in the Civil War era.

5) Parting comments?
I would like to say a special thank you to Dawn for having me here. I’d also like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May the Lord bless you with His love and faithfulness in 2011 and beyond.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
I love to connect with my readers at my website http://www.pennyzeller.com/, http://www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com/, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pennyzeller, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Penny-A-zeller/96391560959?ref=ts

Angela Ruth's "Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho"

We're happy to have Angela Ruth with us today talking about her book, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho. To learn more about Angela and her book, read on!

Title: Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho by Angela Ruth
Publisher: Summerside Press

Cover blurb: Actress Emily Van Arsdale has returned to her Idaho hometown - with an entire film crew in tow! With its stunning scenery and reputation for hosting celebrities, Sun Valley is the perfect setting for Emily’s newest romantic comedy. Tracen Lake is happy to work as a stunt consultant for the movie but not as thrilled to deal with a bunch of high-maintenance Hollywood types. But Tracen is surprised to discover in Emily a down-to-earth Idaho girl who does all her own stunts and loves the outdoors. As filming wraps up and Emily heads off to her next gig, will she be able to leave Sun Valley - and Tracen - behind?

1) How did this story come to you?
I took a trampoline class in college and was intrigued that a lot of the students went on to work as stuntmen in Hollywood, so I decided to have my main character do the same. The story was originially set in Sweet Home, Oregon so it has a "home sweet home" vs. "home is where the heart is" theme to it. And since Sweet Home is located on a river between two lakes the water symbolism originated there. I've never had a story come together this easily. The toughest part was moving the setting to Sun Valley, Idaho when my publisher requested the change, though moving it definitely works because Sun Valley is known for having celebrities visit, which is what turns the hero off from the heroine in the first place. Kinda fun, huh?

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I'd written two women's fiction manuscripts that were being represented by my agent. Then I saw Summerside Press was looking for stories that had specific settings and they only needed an outline and three chapters to submit. I thought, "Well, I can do that," and wrote thirty pages in one day. When my agent called with good news I expected it to be for one of the novels I'd spend years on. Selling this book couldn't have been any easier, but I believe it's because I'd already learned so much through writing my first two novels. Probably won't ever be this easy again...

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. I actually went through a divorce during the publication process of this book, and I really struggled with my characters being so happy and in love while I was mourning the death of my marriage. But at the same time it gave me hope for my future and comfort knowing that I am loved unconditionally by God.
2. The story in my book about Grandma falling off a raft really happened to my grandmother.
3. My uncle worked in special effects for The Tonight Show, and I got to visit the studio where he works as research for writing this novel.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
1. I have a middle grade novel coming out in 2012 titled The Water Fight Professional. Your kids will love, love, love it.
2. I'm putting a proposal together with my award-winning critique partner Christina Berry for an anthology of four romance novellas called California Classics with modern versions of classics like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Scarlet Pimpernel set in California.
3. I'm writing a non-fiction title called The Other Woman Never Wins with relationship expert Dr. Todd Bennett. It's to help women move on after their husband moves out. Todd writes the self-help while I write the I-need-help.

5) Parting comments?
Wherever you are at, this is not the last chapter of your life. Get excited for what the Author of Life is plotting for you. It's gonna be good.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
http://www.angelameuser.com/