Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When Did You First Become Interested in Writing?

I've been interviewed several times since my first novel, Where Love Once Lived, was published and one of the questions often asked was "When did you first become interested in writing?"

My earliest memory of writing is when my sister, Barbara Cagle, decided we would publish  a neighborhood magazine. We were living on Pete's Path in Austin at the time, so I had to be about twelve years old. She had written and produced some neighborhood plays several years before this when we lived on Josephine Street in South Austin.

But, my involvement as a writer didn't occur until the magazine phase. By publish, keep in mind that the magazine was handwritten and each copy was handwritten as well. So there wasn't a wide distribution and the magazine only last for a summer. When school started we were too busy to continue it. But I remember getting to write and I remember the encouragement from Barbara.

She also told me I had to keep a journal of all the movies I went to see. We included movie reviews in the magazine as well as news about our neighbors. I remember getting a spiral notebook and on one side I pasted the ad for the movie clipped from the newspaper. On the other side was the movie review itself. I wish I still had that spiral notebook. It was lost in a heavy rain that flooded my basement bedroom years later while I was away in the Marine Corps. I lost all my precious books in that storm, but that's a story for another time.

I had the writing bug from then on. Aptitude tests showed an interest in creative writing, but my school counselors said I should think of it as a hobby since few people made a living from writing. So, I ended up majoring in computer science and wrote for the fun of it, including a novel written about my time in the marines that was never finished.

I also wrote short stories. Only one was published, but it was a thrill to see it in print. Much of the writing I did was as a part of my jobs as a computer programmer and systems analyst. I was called on to do the reports, or apply for grants, and I learned my writing gave me a way of persuading others that I couldn't do face to face.

I published one computer book, Automated Law Office Systems, but it was short lived due to the rapid changes in computers.

I realize this would be too long an answer to the question posed at the beginning, but there you have it. And, by the way, my sister is still writing. She had a funny article published in the Sunday magazine of a Houston paper and she has placed in writing contests as well.

Thank you, Barbara.

15th Review for Where Love Once Lived

5.0 out of 5 stars Where Love Once Lived, January 29, 2012

By Carol A. Brown
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Where Love Once Lived (Paperback)
You might expect Where Love Once Lived would be a contemporary romance and you would be sort of right; it is a romance, but don't be fooled by the surface presentation. There is much more to this story than losing the love of one's life only to find it rekindled thirty years later!

A very serious subplot is the loss and then the restoration of faith in God. Brian, the main character drifts away from his faith after he thinks he has caused a pregnancy. He takes on a loveless marriage and throws himself into the business he builds--he does the right thing. He's that kind of guy. After "his" child leaves home he ends the marriage and returns to the Austin, TX area in the hope of rekindling the love he walked away from thirty years prior. In the course of finding his old love, his faith is also renewed.

A second sub-plot, and the one that impressed me the most powerfully, is the importance of communication and the peck of trouble we can cause ourselves by not communicating--with each other and with God! This theme was so strong for me that the other themes only surfaced as I thought about the story in retrospect! If Brian had communicated with Karen (life-long love) he would have discovered that she carried his child, not the other woman. If Karen had communicated with Brian it is possible he could have been saved thirty years of a loveless marriage. If both Brian and Karen had not assumed that they knew what the other was thinking...if children had communicated with parents, with God...and so it went over and over again. I wanted to shake the characters! So many actions were based upon incorrect assumptions and none of them double-checked their assumptions! No one clarified! Arrgh! This story illustrates eloquently the sad consequences of the lack of and breakdown in communication. Lack of communication makes relationships a risky business.

Where Love Once Lived is the prequel to Vengeance Squad so you learn why the bookmobile and we are also introduced to Liz, the highly sensitive librarian who is able to sense things about people and hear from God. She is a prominent figure in Vengeance Squad. Where Love Once Lived keeps you on the edge--there are so many things that can go wrong--and often do! In the end God wins, but how He does that you will have to read for yourself!

Author Sidney Frost does a good job of pacing the tension, almost resolution, and then tension again. I liked the application of Christian values to issues as they arose. A good clean read--I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys romantic fiction.

p.s. For visually impaired Kindle readers, if you use the largest font you may find the formatting

Go to Amazon.com to see review: http://www.amazon.com/review/RWL1MBB7AZBH4/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1451511817

Monday, January 30, 2012

COTT--An interview with April Gardner

*guest post by Michelle Massaro
(Ms. Davy) was an amazing cheerleader and I lived to make her smile with my stories. Whether I really was or not at that point, she made me believe I was a good writer. 
~ Sr. Editor April Gardner, on who inspired her writing.
Today we get to spend some time with COTT founder April Gardner. April is an amazing author, good friend, and an inspiration to me. She’s a sometime home school mom, a military wife, a talented writer, and a frugal do-it-yourselfer. So I was excited to get to pick her brain! Below are the questions that I always wanted to ask. I’m sure you will find them just as fascinating as I do.
Michelle: April, what was it like growing up with missionary parents?
April: We never lacked for excitement, that's for sure! Some MKs struggle with change, but I never minded it. I was shy and content merely to be with my family; wherever they were, I was happy, no matter the town or country! Growing up in Spain and learning Spanish was one of God's beautiful gifts to me. 
Michelle: That's so cool! Some might be surprised to hear that you are dyslexic. What advice or encouragement would you give to others out there struggling with dyslexia?
April: I'd imagine that most reading this are adults, and by the time dyslexics reach adulthood, they've managed to cope quite well. Having a child with dyslexia, however, was something that took me completely by surprise, surprisingly. LOL From what I hear, it goes through the mother, so odds were pretty good one of my kids would struggle with it. When it comes to dealing with a dyslexic child I've learned three things. 1. Patience is the name of the game! 2. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. 3. There is no shame in being dyslexic or having another learning difficulty.
Michelle: You have now experienced both the public school world and the home school world. What are your observations comparing both? 
April: My most important observation is that God's plan for our children's education is 1. God's plan for us in unique! I cannot compare how others chose to educate their children with our own choices. 2. God's plan for us is not set in stone, never to change. What might be His will one year, might not be the next. We must be flexible and keep our ears tuned to Him. He'll speak most loudly through our kids via their progress, contentment, discipline, and attitude.
Michelle: Great insights! Ok, so what began your fascination with history?
April: Laura Ingells Wilder and her Little House books! They were the first "big" books that held my attention well enough to make reading worth all the effort. I haven't looked back since!
Michelle: I love those books too! You are a military spouse--where have you lived, and which was your favorite place?
April: The military first moved us to Germany. We were 19 years old and newly married. Our tour lasted 7 years. Straight from there, we went to England for four years, and we've currently been in Georgia 2.5 years. Germany holds a very dear place in our hearts for many reasons, but I have felt most content and fulfilled right here in Georgia. God bless the USA!! Boy, it's good to be home. :-)
Michelle: Wow, that sounds so adventurous! And now you're a published author--another adventure! Who first inspired you to pursue publication and writing? Who inspires you today?
April: Several people along the path of my life worked together to inspire me to pick up the pen, but the first was my high school creative writing teacher, Ms. Davy. She was an amazing cheerleader and I lived to make her smile with my stories. Whether I really was or not at that point, she made me believe I was a good writer. Today, it's the drive to reach goals that inspires me. I do love a challenge!!
Michelle: Of the characters you've created, who is your favorite and why?
April: True Seeker, the budding Creek Indian warrior from my latest novel, Warring Spirits, is my favorite character so far. His heart is good and true to his name, he seeks wisdom, honor, and a personal relationship with the Giver and Taker of Breath.
Michelle: I like his character too. But of course, they're all good in my opinion! Besides writing excellent historical romance novels, you also have a lot to share on your blog about managing health issues with diet, frugality, and parenting. Any idea what's coming up in 2012?
April: Great question! LOL My blog is ever changing, but yes, I do tend to focus on those topics. Right now, I'm on an all-natural foods kick, so I'm sure my followers will see more of those tips in the future.
Michelle: Tell us about your recent book releases.
April: Warring Spirits is my latest adult fiction release. It's set in 1816 and is the story of a woman who might be able to hide her African heritage except for her hair, which is a dead give-away. Milly's escape from slavery leads her to the safety of Negro Fort where Major Phillip Bailey, believing her to be white, takes it upon himself to "free" her from the stronghold. At the same time, he's ordered to launch an attack against it. Accomplishing both is a virtual impossibility, especially when the beautiful woman doesn't want to be rescued. Where blood is shed, unexpected love may bloom!
Michelle: I've read it and it's awesome! Head to Amazon you guys,  you won't regret it. April, thanks for answering all my hard-hitting questions today, lol.
Readers, check out COTT this week for some of our favorite Amish Excerpts!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Clash of the Titles...And the Winner Is...

**guest post by Michelle Massaro
For the last couple weeks, Clash of the Titles has been exploring two books delivering powerful death scenes. That's right, death scenes. The two books were The Vengeance Squad and The Redemption. We met authors Sidney Frost and MaryLu Tyndall and waited with bated breath to find out which title got the most votes. If you missed Friday's announcement, I won't keep you in suspense. Though the competition was stiff, the champion title is...

The Redemption, by MaryLu Tyndall

About the book:

Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a deserted island. After weeks of combating the elements, her salvation comes in the form of a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. Will Charlisse free herself from the seductive lure of this pirate captain and find the father's love she so ardently craves?

While battling his attraction to this winsome lady and learning to walk a more godly path, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest--until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelest pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice?

Can the supernatural power of God rescue Charlisse and Edmund from the danger and treachery that await them as they ride upon the tumultuous waves of the Caribbean?
A few of the comments from readers:

I loved the Excerpt B.....I look forward to reading the book..it seemed more historical and the genre of books I enjoy reading. I am personally blessed by many of the Christian fiction authors and want to say thank you for all you for your readers. God bless you both!

Someone turning to Christ at the last moment is always a touching scene. It tugs at your heart to know that someone you would never see again, now you will. Very touching!

Keep writing as God leads you. You are bringing God's truth to readers; some who really need those truths in their lives.

About the author:

MaryLu Tyndall, a Christy Award finalist, and author of more than ten novels is known for her swashbuckling historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. 

MaryLu dreamt of tall ships and swashbuckling pirates during her childhood years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Unfortunately, instead of pursuing that dream, she worked as a miserable, landlocked software engineer for fifteen years. Only by the grace and providence of God, did she decide to answer His call to write a Christian Pirate series. Today, while writing her eleventh novel, she manages a home, husband, and six kids while battling three cats who have decided that her keyboard is the best place to sleep!  She believes that without popcorn and chocolate, life would not be worth living, and her sole motivation is to bring others closer to God.
What fun! For a sneak peak at the book, check out the winning excerpt here. You might also enjoy her fascinating interview here.
Right now, COTT is in the middle of a brand new clash so be sure to head over there to cast your vote. You just might win a free book!

Happy reading!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Piffle, Piffle, Piffle

Where Love Once Lived was written to conform to the definition of Christian Fiction and be eligible for sale by members of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). CBA novels contain no explicit sex, no premarital sex, no swearing, a Christian worldview of some sort, and normally a strong evangelical message. What was most difficult for me was the swearing rule. My characters sometimes felt like screaming a few four-letter words, especially when they were alone or in the presence of an understanding friend.

That's why you'll find my fictional character Karen saying piffle from time to time. I learned that word from Jinx. Before she died, Jinx was a school counselor and had to be careful about what she said in front of the students. However, I think everyone, including the students, knew what she meant by piffle. It was the way she said it, not the word itself. She had so-called clean words for just about any situation. My favorite was fluff, because it was a word you didn't often hear in mixed company.

The Vengeance Squad, my second book in the Bookmobile Series, was a contestant in a Clash of the Titles recently. Here is a disclaimer as posted on their website:

As of July 2011, each of COTT's participating authors are required to sign a disclaimer stating that there is no foul language, explicit sex, or defaming of the name of Christ in their novels. Because COTT staff cannot review every novel to verify this, please read at your own discretion.

I'm not sure what all is included in the term foul language, but The Vengeance Squad does contain two instances of the word "bastard." To be honest, I didn't mean to include the word and didn't know I had until a reviewer mentioned it. In my defense, my characters were dealing with pretty tough foes and got carried away.

There is a lot of discussion among writers of Christian fiction about what to include and what to exclude, but if we want our books in Christian bookstores we need to follow the rules.

I would love to hear how you feel about the use of foul language in books.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Still Another Amazon Review for The Vengeance Squad

5.0 out of 5 stars
Vengeance Squad, January 18, 2012
By Carol A. Brown
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Vengeance Squad (Paperback)
Sidney Frost's Vengeance Squad delighted me in that I don't usually read "shoot `em ups" or cop or crime types of books--but this one wasn't like that, or was it? I almost thought it might be mushy romance until the helicopter landed and a bunch of thugs robbed the bank and killed Sarah. Chris, the main character is a computer nerd, a professor type with OCD tendencies! Not your typical protagonist for a crime story! Yes, there was crime--murder, robbery, illegal aliens and a terror plot. Chris wanted vengeance, wanted to blow his fiancé's killers off the earth and make their families suffer as badly as he did. An ex-con/ex-marine in a wheelchair and a grandmotherly librarian complete the unlikely core of Chris's "vengeance squad." Using computer savvy they follow one clue after another and end up traveling from Texas to Massachusetts and back, closely followed by the FBI or maybe MI5...

The author, Sid Frost, did an excellent job keeping the action moving. Some stories suspend the action to spend pages on scene description. Sid didn't go into laborious detail--he told you enough so you knew where you were without drowning in it. I didn't notice the sparseness of description because the action pulled me in. What was going on in the action and in people's thoughts was what was important.

I asked myself, "If it wasn't a crime story, what was it? It is a story of one man's response to grief; it chronicles the temptation to turn from faith in God in the face of a bitter loss. Such a time is a turning point--you turn to God for strength or away from Him in anger because He did not intervene. It is a story of how turning from God leads to other things, and sin becomes easy. Without intervention on God's part and the part of some big hearted, big spirited people the story would have had a much different ending! Overall I came away feeling that love triumphed over violence.

Warning: This book will grab you. And if it does, you could end up staying up late to finish it--like I did! I would definitely recommend this book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making a Sweet Story Interesting

I wrote a review of Elizabeth Berg's novel The Last Time I Saw You back in 2010. After reading the review, my friend Peg Case commented, "Good grief -- can't a book be written about people who are happily married?"

The simple answer, is no.

And now, as I write Book 3, I am reminded of that every day. This is a sequel to Where Love Once Lived which ends with Karen and Brian getting engaged after thirty years of heartache and separation. It took more than eighty-thousand words to get them to this happy place in their lives. Now, I have to start the conflicts all over again.


Without conflict, you wouldn't read the book. And if you did, you'd be able to quit reading anytime you wanted to. There'd be nothing to get you to read on, to learn what happens next. You wouldn't care what happened to the characters.

That makes it even harder to write sequels. Some of you who read Where Love Once Lived have written to tell me what should be in the sequel. You want Liz to get a boyfriend. You want to know what happened to Laura. Did she have her baby? Some have asked how the marriage between Josh and Cindy is doing. I think many of you care as much about these fictional characters as I do.

The logical place to start the sequel is with the wedding between Brian and Karen. After all, we left off with their engagement. But, that's too happy. Not enough conflict. I want you to keep reading. What if the bride doesn't show? What would that do to the happy couple? What if Liz meets the man of her dreams, but he isn't the man he pretends to be. What would she do if she found out?

See what I mean. I can't tell you more now. I don't want to spoil it for you.

If you want to write a novel that keeps readers reading, keep this in mind: Every scene has a goal that is never achieved.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Laurel Award-Winning Novel, Fairer Than Morning

*by Sr. Editor, April W Gardner

“I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told.” –Rosslyn Elliott, Clash of the Titles 2011 Laurel Award Winner

Portions of that story—Fairer Than Morning—won the majority of COTT reader votes in June when it took the victory in the “Best Protagonist” ring. In November, it competed against a long list of other COTT champion novels then took home the Laurel. More hearty congratulations go to author Rosslyn Elliott for her win.

Read June’s winning excerpt (excerpt B).
Read the Laurel Award winning excerpt (excerpt A)

The Saddler's Legacy series is inspired by a real family in American history--the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio.

About Laurel Award-winning novel, Fairer Than Morning:
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.

On a small farm in 19th century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

When Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her minister father on business, she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. Anne’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul.
Through his encounters with Anne’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage even in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

Learn more about the book as Clash of the Titles staff interviews the author:

Hostess Raqul Byrnes asks, “What led you to use the inspirational Hanby family and how did you first come to know about them?”
Rosslyn: After I finished my doctoral dissertation, I decided to try my hand at writing my first historical novel. I was living in Westerville, Ohio at the time, so I decided to go visit a small local house museum so I could research all the kitchen artifacts and farm tools. Before the tour, a guide took me into an outbuilding and showed me a video about the Hanby family, who had lived in that house. By the time I stood up thirty minutes later, I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told. The Hanbys lived romantic, action-filled lives marked by courage, and most importantly, they served others out of faith and love.

Hostess Lisa Lickel asks,“Rosslyn, what does “nobility” mean to you and to the era of your story and today? What made you choose that character trait?”
Rosslyn: The origin of that word on the back jacket of the book is that when my publisher and I were creating jacket copy, I had to come up with a condensed way to describe what it means to find a man of true value. And both in Ann’s time and today, the words noble man mean a man of great worth and high virtue. It also made a nice contrast with the apparent gentility and breeding of one suitor, who would fit the other meaning of nobleman far more obviously than the ragged Will Hanby!

Assistant Editor Michelle Massaro asks, “What circumstances led up to Will Hanby's down-trodden situation?”
Rosslyn: In the novel, we learn that Will’s parents and his sisters all died of a virulent form of tuberculosis which killed much more quickly than ordinary TB. (The novel never reveals this in such specifics, but the TB was disseminated bovine TB, for those who care, acquired through milk ingested on a visit to a cattle farm, when Will and his brother were not with the others!). Their deaths left only Will and his younger brother, who were forced to indenture themselves to farmers to avoid infection and work in exchange for food and board. The farmers were kind, but Will ends up under a much harsher master when he signs a new indenture with Master Good.  The historical facts behind what happened to the real William Hanby were somewhat different, but the effect was the same: out of dire poverty, he indentured himself in his youth to Master Good, and much of what followed was what also happens in the novel.

Talent Scout Katie McCurdy asks, “Which character, not counting Ann or Will, is your favorite? Did you have a certain character that kinda suddenly took a main role that you didn't forsee when you plotted Fairer Than Morning?”
Rosslyn: My favorite supporting character is Ann’s father, Mr. Miller, whom I admire so much that I honestly wonder how I wrote him sometimes. His was the part of the novel that seemed most spirit-led. But the characters who suddenly appeared onstage who weren’t part of the novel at all, in the original sketchy outline, were Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and their daughter Amelia! They showed up on that steamboat and began to take on a life of their own, and before I knew it they were a major subplot.

Listen to Another Interview:
After her Laurel Award win, Author Rosslyn Elliott was also interviewed by Christian Authors Guild board member, Cynthia L. Simmons. This is a podcast you won’t want to miss. You can listen to in our sidebar or find it by visiting this link.

The second in the series, Sweeter Than Birdsong, releases next month and promises to be just as compelling as the first. Below, in two short, yet intriguing excerpts, the author shares a taste of what’s to come.

But first, here’s a brief summary of Sweeter Than Birdsong, book two in the Saddler’s Legacy series.

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles… But real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance--and use it to mask her flight.

Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.
A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.


Chapter One

Westerville, Ohio 1855
Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner’s march.
Kate’s heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.
She climbed the stone steps of the whitewashed college building and laid hold of the black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs. It had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an hour ago. Up ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall’s oaken door, which stood ajar.
She paused on the threshold. Inside the hall, a baritone voice lifted in clear, well-balanced phrases. The speaker’s persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she did not go in now, she would not go at all.
At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman’s neat coattails fell open over his knees, black against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to the current vogue, longer than a Roman’s but never past the collar.
On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.
He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.
Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with his friends.
“Miss Winter.” Professor Hayworth’s bass rumbled across the hall.
Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat, her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright?—the thought made it worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.
“I am glad you choose to join us today.” Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais, beside the podium, full bearded in his formal black robe. “You have arrived just in time to give the first of our ladies’ speeches.”
She avoided their curious stares as her pulse quickened and her mouth dried.
“Please proceed to the podium,” he said.


All was quiet and dark. The boat bobbed like a cradle soothing a baby to sleep.
It didn’t calm Kate, who sat immobile in the prow. She laced her hands together in her lap where John Parker could not see them and dug her fingers into the back of her knuckles. She couldn’t stop the faint tremble that had started inside her and traveled to her hands. He mustn’t see her shaking or he would think her unfit for the errand.
The chirp of crickets set a rhythm for little splashes from the oars as John rowed them toward the Kentucky side. They were quite close now.
 She must shake off this dreamlike state. She peered at the riverbank as far as she could see to left and right. At least there was no sign of a lantern.
They bumped up against the reeds. John jumped out, heedless of the mud and several inches of water. He lashed the tow rope of the fishing boat to a birch tree.
She must move now. She clambered over the side and into the dark water.
The unfamiliar feeling of the breeches increased her sense of having traveled to some different life, some strange body. It could not be she, traipsing around the wild in men’s trousers. Someone else entirely had come on this errand—someone braver and stronger who just happened to resemble her on the outside.
A few waterlogged steps brought her to where John stood on the riverbank, like the shadow of a tree in the moonlight.
“This way.” He walked ahead of her, straight towards the thickest tangle of thorny bush.
If you would like to join the COTT Blog Alliance tour for this award-winning novel (Jan 14-18), please email us at contactcott(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet ZEKE LAM is the founder of SUBMISSION Ministries

Zeke Lam with two Dominicn Republic children
ZEKE LAM is the founder of SUBMISSION Ministries—a ministry devoted to seeing lost souls encounter God and live lives fully surrendered to the risen Christ. A graduate of Liberty University, Zeke’s deep passion for following Christ’s will has led him through many years of youth ministry and itinerant evangelism. Both of these experiences have enriched and fueled his desire to hand others the keys to a Christ-centered life. Zeke resides in Virginia with his beautiful wife, Kathleen, and a growing family of future world-changers.
In his recently released book, subMISSION: heeding only His voice, Zeke Lam suggests that the following is the greatest challenge: submission, or the lack thereof. It is not the external forces that nullify the testimony of a vibrant and Christ-centered Church. Instead it is the lack of submission to the Lord within the heart of each believer. Zeke Lam shares Scriptural truths coupled with real life experiences to demonstrate a life of biblical submission. Are you ready to live a life of joyful submission unto Christ?
Learn more about Zeke and his ministry as you read his responses to the following questions.

Tell us about yourself.

I am 27 years old and have been married to my beautiful wife, Kathleen, for six years. We have three children (four, two, and two months) who we love very much. I have ministered since the age of 18 as a youth minister and evangelist. In addition to this, I operate a small business which constructs ornamental concrete such as flower pots, bird baths, etc. I also help out with the family furniture when time permits. We are passionate to see Christ glorified through our lives, and constantly seek ways to use our lives to share the Gospel. This has led our family all over the world.  Our most recent “adventure” involved us driving to a town in Texas, renting an apartment, and seeking the Lord. Although we knew nobody or nothing about the place, God gave us an entire church fellowship in two days! This turned into an incredible seven-month stay that is surely not finished yet.

What motivated you to write this book?

Compromise is way too commonplace today. I have seen it in the church, in families, and in my own life. If revival is to take place in or society, God’s people must be willing to operate with the level of obedience and submission God requires. Mixing our opinions with God’s commands or desires is a recipe for disaster. If we will fully release ourselves to Jesus Christ, and follow Him the way He commands, a shift will take place in our society! Ultimately, shortcomings in my own life with regards to submissions sparked this fire.

What do you hope this book accomplishes?

My hope and prayer is that Christians nationwide will be challenged to step into a realm of Scriptural obedience that will spark revival!

Did you learn anything (or did God show you anything) as you were writing?

I certainly experienced moments where I was convicted about the level of submission I lived under. God revealed to me the importance of denying any and all voices that seek to lure us from His presence. Submission to Him will position us for spiritual greatness!

Do you believe people struggle with the idea of "submission"? If so, why?

Yes, we all struggle with the idea of full submission. It means releasing our control and desires to the Lord. When we do not feel in control, it creates an emotion of insecurity. This insecurity is what makes us resists submission on many levels. When it comes to submitting to our Lord Jesus, we must reject these emotions, and faithfully surrender our lives.

Your subtitle mentions obeying only God's voice. What are some ways people can hear God's voice?

God desires to interact with us in ways we could never imagine. The Holy Spirit is very much alive and active, but the question is, will we allow ourselves to get in position to hear Him. He speaks through the Scriptures, His written word. He speaks to our hearts as we intimately seek Him daily through prayer and fasting. He can speak through people and situations around us. God is not limited to anything and can therefore speak any way He chooses. The only real issue is that which restricts and hinders us from hearing.

What people are saying about Zeke's book:

Prepare to be stirred by this authentic calling to return to Scriptural obedience.

—Pastor Gabe Turner, The Point Church of Charlottesville, Virginia

In my opinion Zeke has laid his finger on the defining message for our time. This message is essential for believers everywhere…

—Eric Stephens, Pastor of Life Changing Ministries and Fellowship in Sugarland, Texas

For more information, see the author's website: http://submissionministries.org/

Monday, January 9, 2012

COTT Rings In The New Year


*by COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner
January is in full swing, starting 2012 off with a bang. At Clash of the Titles, you can take that quite literally! For the next two weeks, we’re featuring Death. That’s right. Death.

Death has the power to intrigue and terrify, and it’s that power that a good book taps into, often leaving a permanent mark on the reader’s memory. Visit Clash of the Titles today, to read two Death excerpts and vote for the one that impacts you the most. 

Remember that every book you send to the Champions Ring will have a shot at our Laurel Award, handed out at the end of our Tournament of Champions. Coming October 2012!

Between now and our October Tournament, we'll have a slew of exciting clashes—some, old reliables; others, brand new. 

Here’s  what's on the COTT calendar:
Almost Kiss-- 
Unpublished Hooks-- 

Here's a glimpse at clashes you might see in the future:
Good Guy
Bad Guy
Leading Lady
Back Cover Summary
Comparable Covers
Mayhem and Mishaps
Creepy Covers
Author’s Choice
Reader’s Choice
Tantalizing Titles
Young Adult

Is there a specific book that comes to mind that you would like to see compete on Clash of the Titles in one of these clashes? We want to know!! Please enter the book title in the survey box below.

Also new in 2012, once a quarter, a specially selected COTT Champ will be featured in a podcast interview with Christian Authors Guild board member, Cynthia L. Simmons. You can hear our current podcast HERE.

Clash of the Titles thanks each of our readers and voters for making COTT such a fun hang-out during 2011. We look forward to another year of introducing you to amazing new books and giving you the opportunity to win them!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another Amazon Review for The Vengeance Squad

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Great Team, Great Thriller, Great Fun, December 26, 2011
By VicG

Sidney W. Frost in his new book, "The Vengeance Squad" published by Sidney W. Frost gives us a round-the-country thriller.

If you play chess then you know that to win you need to watch the whole board not individual pieces. The champion players not only know what they are going to move but their opponents moves as well. That's why you hear them say "Check-mate in 16 moves" they are watching the whole board. If you focus on just one piece then you pretty much have lost the game. Life is like chess you need to live in the present to capture the future. If you focus on a past event you lose the present and have no future.

This is the situation with Chris McCowan. He had a bright future until his fiancée is killed and he decides he was revenge on those who took her life and ruined his future. To accomplish this mission he teams up with Percy "Tex" Thompson, a 40-year-old wheelchair bound ex-con student at the community college where Chris teaches and Liz Siedo, the 65-year-old head librarian at the city library where Tex works. This unlikely trio will hunt down these murderers after law enforcement gives up the effort. Following lead after lead they travel around the country one step short of their goal with the FBI right on their trail. Will this "Vengeance Squad" be able to track down these killers or be eliminated themselves?

Get ready this is a high explosive thriller page turning delight. There are twists and turns galore that will make your head swim with some of the tightest just barely escapes you will ever read. On top of everything there is the theme of vengeance and what it does to a person. As long as Chris focuses on his vengeance for what was done to his fiancée then he has lost all hope for his future. It is up to God to heal Chris but only if Chris lets Him. I am so looking forward to Mr. Frost's next book and hope it is a sequel to this one. I did enjoy all these characters and they do deserve another story. In the meantime I recommend "The Vengeance Squad" highly.