Monday, January 28, 2013

COTT: Delicious December New Releases

Over the following week, Clash of the Titles is featuring five, brand spanking new inspirational novels. Each of the below novels has been on book store shelves for about a month; each is a slightly different genre. Which one calls you? Take a moment to browse, then, using the voting box below, let us know which you're most likely to read first. Happy browsing! VOTE from Now until next Wednesday - tell your friends - then come back and see which book is this month's champion!

The Song of the Tree by Lotis Key

Despite promises of eternal joy given by the Tree of Life, a privileged young woman loses everything in a brutal war. Her husband disappears; her family is murdered; her home is burned to the ground.

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

 Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t.

Counterfeit Cowboy  by Lacy Williams

From the moment Jesse Baker collides with Erin O'Grady on a Boston train platform, he faces a dilemma. For once, Jesse doesn't want to lie about who and what he is.

A Promise to Protect  by Liz Johnson

When his best friend's sister is attacked, Navy SEAL Matt Waterston promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer—not on his watch. Threats are a regular part of Ashley's life as the director of a battered women's shelter, but when she and Matt uncover a crime ring more sinister than anyone imagined, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.

The Knitting Fairy by Jaime Marsman

Librarian Molly Stevenson rather expected her new job at Crabapple Yarns to be deadly boring… but somehow she just didn’t expect the “deadly” part to be quite so literal. After all, what could possibly be more sweet and innocent than a yarn store and a bunch of ladies knitting?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

COTT: Olympia Finalists Announced

Today brings Clash of the Titles to the end of Round Two of our first annual Olympia Award.

The Olympia is a literary contest dedicated to Christian fiction and offered only to unpublished writers. In Round Two, the first 3,000 words of entrants’ manuscripts were read and scored by non-industry readers. 

A hearty THANK YOU to each of these women who set aside a portion of their time for this contest. Without them, the Olympia would not be.

Of all our submissions, only the top three scores move on to Round Three. 

Those scores go to manuscripts belonging to:

Bethany Kaczmarek
Laura McClellan
Elaine Manders

Our warmest congratulations to these three authors!

During Round Three, their manuscript excerpts will be read and scored by the following generous individuals:

DEBORAH RANEY--award-winning author
AMANDA LUEDEKE--literary Agent of Macgregor Literary
STEVE HUTSON--literary Agent of WordWise Media

The winner will be announced 
Friday, March 01, 2013.

Best wishes to our finalists!

The remainder of the contest's entrants can expect to receive their scores by Friday, January 25.

In the meantime, stop by COTT and vote for your favorite book this week:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Designing Book Covers

For my third novel I'm making my own cover. Here is what I have so far. This is a draft so the photos still have watermarks on them. Once I decide to use the photos, I'll pay the fees and get clean photos.

Click on the photo for a larger view. Let me know what you think.

Monday, January 14, 2013

COTT: Shattered Silence

Today, we bring you Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley. Replete with murder and racial tension, at its core this is a story exploring something everybody can relate with--bullying. And Margaret is here to tell us in her own words exactly why she wrote this.

 Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley:
A serial killer is targeting illegal aliens in southern Texas. Texas Ranger Cody Jackson is paired with a local police officer, Liliana Rodriguez, to investigate the murders. 

While the case brings Cody and Liliana ever closer, the tension between Americans and Mexican Americans heightens. As Cody and Liliana race to discover who is behind the murders and bring peace to the area, what they uncover isn’t what they expected. Will Cody and Liliana’s faith and love be strong enough to survive the storm of violence?
Why I Wrote Shattered Silence
By Margaret Daley

I taught middle and high school for twenty-seven years, and I consoled many kids over those years that were being bullied. It broke my heart. The students I taught were children with special needs. Other kids sometimes made fun of them or had them do things then laugh at them. I do not tolerate bullying then and now. That's why I wrote Shattered Silence.

As an aside, I started a peer-tutoring program at the high school where I taught. Over the years I had a lot of popular kids take the class (top academic teens, cheerleaders, football players) and help out students who needed a peer tutor. One of those students went on to play pro football and another one became Miss Oklahoma. What was a wonderful benefit for my students with special needs was they developed friendships with their peer tutors. Those same peer tutors were the ones who stepped in and stopped other kids from making fun of my students.

I wanted to show different situations where a person was bullied (abused) by another. One storyline is centered around a high school student. The two other subplots concern the workplace and an abusive marriage. When someone is bullied, it leaves a lasting mark on that person. I've talked with many adults who can distinctively remember the circumstances around a bullying incident they were in the middle of.

It isn't always the outcasts or overweight kid or geek that are bullied. I have a friend whose daughter is beautiful and smart and was a cheerleader for her high school. Her last semester of high school was done at home through online courses because there were girls at the school that bullied her and made her life miserable. She became physically ill.

For her and the thousands of people who are bullied all over the world I wrote Shattered Silence. I didn't just present the situation of being bullied but offered a few suggestions for improving the situation.

Spread the word: Stop bullies. There are three groups involved in a bullying situation: the bully (or bullies), the person bullied and the spectators. The spectators are the ones in the triangle that can step in and change the situation. Speak up.


Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-three books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at

Buy the book!
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*guest post by Michelle Massaro

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

A young mother of two finds herself on the streets in Washington state at a time when temperatures can dip below freezing during the night. When her husband dies, she learns he had spent all their savings and had not paid the bills. She has no other family to turn to.

The story begins with Josie Meyers and her children waiting in line for a free Thanksgiving meal. Seven-year-old Jacob and five-year-old Susanna brave the situation better than their mother. She is angry. Angry at her husband for putting her in this situation and angry at God for not getting her out. At the shelter providing the free meal, they meet another street person. Rick is a Vietnam War veteran. The kids take to him and he to them. He is also a veteran of the streets and teaches Josie ways to get by.

A former babysitter spots Josie and her children in the library. When she learns they are homeless, she takes them to her house where her family lets them stay until their landlord finds out and makes them leave.

Karen, a friend of the family that took them in helps also. But, Josie is reluctant to stay with anyone on a temporary basis since the children find it too hard to leave when the time comes. Instead, she finds space in shelters or cheap hotels.

This is a wonderful story, with several interesting twists and turns you will enjoy. Even though Christmas is in the title, this is a book you can read all year long.

Monday, January 7, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The River by Michael Neale

Gabriel Clarke grows up afraid of rivers, but is inexplicably drawn to them. From age five until he is twenty, he lives with his mother in a rented apartment on a farm in Kansas. The owners of the farm, Earl and Vonda Cartwright, treat them like family, and share meals with them. Earl is a father figure for Gabriel.

When Gabriel is twenty years old his life consists of helping around the farm and working in the variety store. Jimmy Bly, Gabriel's friend since grade school, comes home from college and invites Gabriel to accompany him and his fraternity friends on a trip to Colorado. Gabriel meets Tabitha Fielding there. She helps him get past his fear of the water enough to make a river rafting trip. That excursion changes his life forever.

Author Michael Neale crafted the story in several interesting ways. One example is the way the story is told by Gabriel Clarke to a fellow passenger while sitting in the Denver airport when their flights were delayed. Another example, is the way he used journals from three generations of Clarkes to convey details.

This is a powerful story that may make you question the direction your life is headed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shared Notes and Highlights Delightful

I ran across something new to me today while reading the Amazon listing for my book, Where Love Once Lived. Way down on the screen, almost to the bottom, for the Kindle edition, there was a section headed: Shared Notes and Highlights. It consists of notes and highlights entered by readers. I've noticed this on some books when I've read them, but this is the first time I had seen any for one of my books.

There were several notes from readers such as:

Awesome book.
Great book

Another reader had highlighted on the Bible references at the beginning of the book: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” —Isaiah 30:21, and added "The only way to do it..."

Another highlighted this Bible reference: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” —Matthew 6:14-15.

The reader's Amazon name is included and the date, in time since the entry was made.

On the right side of the page is the Popular Highlights section. This shows the part of the book highlighted and the number of people who highlighted it. Here are some examples:

“In my seventy-eight years on this earth, I learned it’s always best to tell the truth.” He paused as if thinking that over. “Well, there’s no need to hurt people’s feelin’s, if we can help it, but we should never lie to someone or hide somethin’ from someone. Especially someone who loves you.”

“I think Cindy’s smart enough to pick the right guy. I don’ care what color he is. That’s what equality means.”

“Diversity separates the races. It highlights and emphasizes the differences. I sometimes think maybe Phil and Kay’s gen’ration has been brainwashed with all that political correctness garbage. Just follow the good Lord and love one another.”

You wouldn’t take credit for the good things he does, so why take credit for his bad choices?

“Dear God, I need You. I guess I always have, but I was too stubborn to admit it. I hope it’s not too late. Your love once lived deeply within me, and I took that love for granted. I am empty and alone with burdens I can’t handle.”

‘May you trust God that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.’

“Dear Lord,” she said, “watch over Your servant, Brian, today and every day. Help him to feel Your calming presence and know You’re always with him. Give him hope and guide him to the place where You want him to be. Bring love back into his heart. Amen.”

“The answer to prayer could be an idea that pops into your head or a comment you hear in a crowd.”

You can also get to these notes and highlights on your Kindle or Kindle reader software. In addition, you can log into and search for a particular books. My other book, The Vengeance Squad did not have any notes and highlights.