Monday, February 6, 2012

Donna Fletcher Crow's "A Darkly Hidden Truth, The Monastery Myrders 2"

Title: A Darkly Hidden Truth, The Monastery Murders 2
Publisher: Monarch Books, an imprint of Lion Hudson in the UK. My American publisher is Kregel Books.

Cover blurb: Felicity can’t possibly help Father Antony find the valuable missing icon. She’s off to become a nun. Then her impossible mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered. . .

Breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services, dashes through remote waterlogged landscapes, the wisdom of ancient holy women, and the arcane rites of the Knights Hospitaller keep the pages turning. Will Felicity choose the veil— or Antony?

1) How did this story come to you?
I have wanted to tell the stories of the mystical medieval women writers Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe for years. When my daughter, whose experiences studying in a monastery in Yorkshire provided the background for The Monastery Murders, told me about visiting an ancient abbey in Norfolk in an area so soggy the ruins were said to have sunk into the ooze and a beautiful church that survived Cromwell’s destruction because it was so wet his soldiers’ horses sank in the marsh I knew I had my setting. Then I visited the church myself and experienced climbing the bell tower. I knew I’d found the perfect spot for a chase scene.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
The real journey was getting A Very Private Grave, the first book in the series published because, although I had published 30 books in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, I had been out of the publishing loop for 10 years. I found Janet Benrey in a listing of agents online, but it wasn’t until I spoke to her on the telephone that I realized she is English. She was able to sell the book to an English publisher who appreciated the English background. Each book is a challenge, though, because they wait to contract a new book based on the American sales record of the current title.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
Although my favorite activities are growing roses, drinking tea and reading Jane Austen, I was a tomboy growing up. As an only child I was my father’s son, which led to many adventures on horseback and becoming Miss Rodeo Idaho and runner-up to Miss Rodeo America. I am also an intrepid researcher and will do whatever I have to do for a book. One of the biggest challenges was rappelling into a lava cave even though I’m claustrophobic.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
An Unholy Communion, The Monastery Murders 3, is almost complete. It’s based on a research trip I took to Wales and England last spring which included walking 126 miles from London to Walsingham. I’m also looking for the perfect Victorian murder to use in book 4 of my Lord Danvers true-crime series and planning book 3 in the Elizabeth & Richard Murders which will have Jane Austen as the background literary figure.

5) Parting comments?
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit today, Kdawn. I love meeting readers. If anyone has any questions for me please leave them below and I’ll drop by to answer. Can’t wait to see who wins the free copy of A Darkly Hidden Truth!

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Please visit my website at I have trailers for both of the Monastery Murders on my homepage, an album of photos from each of my research trips, a lot of information about all of my books and a slideshow of my garden.

Nicole O'Dell's "Girl Talk"

Q: I recently lost a lot of weight and started high school at the same time. I'm getting all sorts of attention from boys, and I just don't know what to do about it because it's so new to me. I kind of like it. . .but I'm nervous. What should I do?

That's a question I would have asked if I'd written to Girl Talk at the start of my freshman year of high school. But, I didn't know to ask. I didn't know I was facing a challenge. I simply reacted to things as I faced them. And I made mistakes. Many of them.

Each of us has a set of experiences and circumstances, some within our control, and some not, that shapes the way we look at choices, temptation, sin, peer pressure, and everything that comes up along the way. If we can help prepare girls before they find themselves staring peer pressure in the face, they'll feel more equipped to stand strong. To say NO to whatever life throws at them.

Why girls?
Hmm. What is it about girls? That's a great question. I guess I relate to them because I am one. But, more than that, I have an ache in my heart that wants to help 'em out. I've said it 1000 times, but I'll say it 1000 more, I'm sure. It's the memory of the poor choices I made as a teen, and the results of those choices, that motivates me to help today's teenagers avoid those same mistakes.

And bad decisions are one thing, but there's also the stuff girls deal with that they have no control over: Divorce, Abuse, Loss, Grief, Illness, financial strain, etc. . .etc. . . Those life-altering circumstances make it even more difficult for girls to stand against the pressure when all they want is friendship, acceptance, and love.

It takes pro-active, intentional effort to make the necessary preparations to help teens combat peer pressure.
That's why my daughters and I started the Girl Talk Column on my blog. We wanted to give girls a place they could go with those tough questions about life. The column grew and the questions built up to the point when we, along with Barbour Publishing, decided to put 180 questions from readers and our answers into a book. But it's not just any book--the vibrant, trendy format has a scrapbook-y feel as each page is full color with graphics galore. Take a look at the trailer to get a better feel for what it looks like:

And here's some info right from the back cover:
Q: My mom is always on me about what I wear. I just don’t see why it should matter to her. I mean, she got to wear the things she wanted to wear when she was young–the styles are different now, though. She won’t let me wear any shirts that show even a fraction of my stomach, and I have to actually bend over in jeans to prove to her that nothing shows in the back—if you know what I mean. She even says there’s stuff in the Bible about the way to dress right. Is that true? What should I do to change her mind?

Q: I have a friend who is pretty skinny, but she thinks she’s fat. . . . I actually heard her make herself throw up in the school bathroom a couple of times. What should I do about it? Or is it none of my business?

It’s Time for Some Girl Talk! . . .

Popular blogging trio—mother, Nicole O’Dell, along with daughters, Emily and Natalie—offer trustworthy, biblically-based advice for all your ups, downs, and in-betweens. Culled from actual questions they’ve encountered on their blog site, this fabulous resource offers real-life helps for issues including relationships, character, body image, fashion, gossip, and more. You’ll find 180 questions along with answers and related scripture selections that will both encourage and challenge you in your faith walk.

Nat, Em, and I hope you'll pass this resource along to the teens in your life. Also, the Girl Talk column is ongoing. You can write to us with your questions anytime! Contact us here.

And if you'd like to win a copy of Girl Talk, signed by all three of us, just leave a comment here. Tweeting about this post will earn you another entry if you let us know you did. I'd also love it if you signed up for my Choices e-Zine/newsletter, too--that will earn you a third entry!

Remember, it's all about choices!

Nicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Teen Talk Radio, is a mom of six—ranging from 20 all the way down to a set of toddler triplets. She writes fiction for teens including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series. Her nonfiction focuses on helping teens make good choices and bridging the gap in parent/teen communication. On Teen Talk Radio, Nicole talks with teens and special guests about the real issues young people face today, and she loves getting out among teens and parents when speaking at youth groups and conferences. Visit or

Emily is a straight-A fifth grader at Eastlawn School in Paxton, IL. She lives with her mom, stepdad, three sisters, and two broth- ers. Never found without her iPod, Emily loves to dance and sing. She’s a busy girl who enjoys swimming, skateboarding, and hanging out with friends. She’s active in her community and local church, and plans to be a teacher when she grows up.

NatalieNatalie is an honor student in the eighth grade at PBL Middle School in Paxton, IL. The oldest daughter of six kids, Natalie is a very loving and hands-on big sister. She’s passionate about her walk with Christ, and almost as passionate about the game of volleyball. She holds first- chair clarinet in the school band and looks forward to high school marching band. At this point, Natalie aspires to a career in the culinary arts, but is open to other possibilities.

Sexual content? Say what? Register to win a $10 Amazon gift card

When I began plotting the Zoe Mack Mystery Series, I wanted to write a mystery story that was heavy on the romance. My characters are college age, which means this series could easily be a cross-over between young adult and adult. Zoe is 19 and a virgin. She is a Christian and helps her grandmother teach Sunday School. She faces the same temptations of all dating teens, but is determined to save herself until marriage. Zoe and her boyfried, Nate, kiss, but that's as far as it goes. All of my books are clean. I do address sex in that Zoe is abstaining and makes it clear to Nate that she's holding onto her convictions. Maybe some readers would call this book "edgy" because it deals with problems that teenagers face. Zoe is a good role model, one I wouldn't mind hanging out with my teenage daughter if I had one.

Just to show how different perspectives can be, check out the email below from a lady I provided a copy so she could read and review it. She's a nice lady and I have nothing against her. I'm just amazed at our difference in perspective.

Dear K. Dawn,
I finished reading this book today but don’t feel I can endorse it. I’m sorry, but my constituents are conservative and I cannot recommend this to homeschool families, etc. who don’t want such sexual content. It doesn’t seem YA with a MC 19.

And, now on to a different perspective that came from the Women of Faith blog at

Today's Fiction Spotlight is with author K.Dawn Byrd, whose latest release, The Secret of the Love Letters introduces endearing characters that you'll want to see more of. The heroine, Zoe, is 19 and in love and she doesn't let the reader forget it for more than a page or two at a time. Fortunately, there's a whole lot more going on and it all happens at a smart pace. At only 97 pages, there's no time to waste, but enough character development to make us want to see more of the main characters in a next installment.

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Mystery
Profanity: No profanity, gore, or sex (a little more going weak in the knees than was necessary, but then again some readers will probably love that).
Christian Element: Low, but there.
Fun Element: Yes.
Recommended? Yes, boyfriend-obsessed heroine notwithstanding!

The Zoe Mack Series was written for those who like mystery and love romance. Yes, it is a little weak in the knees because I'm a sap for romance and let's face it, teenagers live for the next wink, the next smile, the next kiss from whoever they happen to be in love with. That said, please leave me a comment in response to this post for your chance to win your choice of my books. And, don't forget to check out the reviews that are starting to come in on Amazon.

To register to win a $10 Amazon gift card, leave me a comment. Thanks!