Thursday, September 30, 2010

From The Vault

Pedigreed Bloodlines
Mystery book 15

When Leigh Dennison’s dear friend and champion show-dog breeder, Addie Jordan, is killed, Leigh goes on the hunt to sniff out the murderer. If only she could devote more time to her sleuthing. . .But Leigh, who has never been a dog lover, now finds herself as the owner of Addie’s kennel, which houses a puppy with a bright future in the show ring.

Leigh must overcome one obstacle after another as she sets out to succeed with the kennel and find the person who killed the woman she loved like a mother. At the top of her suspect list: a homeless Vietnam veteran, a young Cherokee high school dropout, the owner of a rival kennel. . .and the man with whom Leigh is falling in love.

As clues unfold to the killer’s identity, she makes another surprising discovery—there’s a reason dogs are known as man’s best friend.

Key Verse:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:37-39

Excerpt from book:
In front of me, sprawled facedown on the floor, lay the woman I loved like a mother. Blood soaked her white silk blouse and covered the carpet around her still form.
I stood stone-still, trying to make sense of the scene. “Help!” I mouthed the word, realized I was hanging onto Blake’s arm to keep my balance. Had she fallen? Hit her head? Blake was speaking. His words were a rushing sound through my ears. I turned back to Addie. And then I saw it. The handle of my antique mortise chisel protruded from her back.

A scream tore from my throat. I ran forward, dropped to my knees next to her. Blake followed and knelt on the other side.

My fingers searched for the pulse in her neck, but I found nothing. Tears blurred my vision as I stared at Blake. “Addie. She’s dead.”

Do you own a dog? If no, do you another kind of pet? If yes, what breed?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Blog with Sandra Robbins Day Two

Creating an Unforgettable Character

Mystery, suspense, and romance stories that have a strong villain have always been a favorite of mine. There has to be a character who doesn’t want to see the hero and heroine to be successful in accomplishing their goals. That person provides a hook that keeps me turning the pages. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing the villain’s character so much. He or she can take the story in directions that you never thought possible when you started reading. But what makes a strong villain? Of course there must be a desire to wreak havoc on those in the story, but I’ve come to realize there must be more.

I thought about the other day when I watched a rerun of The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis. This is one of my all time favorite movies, and I’ve watched it so many times I can almost quote the dialogue. The story is set in 1757 along the Hudson River during the French and Indian War.

The villain in this story is Magua, a Huron who harbors a deep hatred for Col. Munro, a British officer. Magua’s children were killed, and he was taken slave by the Mohawks, causing his wife to marry another when Col. Munro's men attacked his village. Magua has sworn revenge on Munro and his children.

As the story builds to a climax, the hatred Magua feels is evident in all his actions, but his sorrow at the losses in his life tugs at your heart. Wes Studi plays the part of Magua so magnificently, one can understand the reasons behind his hatred. His skillful portrayal gives a glimpse into a man who harbors complex reasons for his behavior.

Every writer hopes to create a villain who will be remembered. For me, Magua is one of those characters. With villains like this, we may not want to encounter them personally, but they make for exciting reading.

From movies or literature, who is a villain that stands out in your mind?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guest Blog with Sandra Robbins Day One


It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise. ~Nancy Thayer

I first read that quote a few years ago on a friend’s blog. Since that time, I have often thought of it and how it applies to my personal life as well as my writing. When I begin a new story, I plot for days, weeks, or months before I began putting words on paper. After the first draft of the story is finished, then the next stage begins. I spend as much time rewriting as I did when I first penned the words. The end result is always a stronger story that will have more appeal to readers.

However, revising in fiction has little meaning for most people. The second part of that quote holds the key to what makes for success and happiness and can have meaning for everyone. We've all known people who have embarked upon new ventures late in life or those who have made drastic changes in lifestyle.

Many of us have dreams we've never accomplished or something in our life we want to change, and sometimes accomplishing these tasks seems too overwhelming to even attempt. So we squander our days and put off doing what we yearn for.

I was guilty of doing that. For years I ignored the urging that God was giving me to write a book. How could I be successful? It was too late in life for me to pursue the dream I’d always had, but God wouldn’t give up. One night I sat down and began to write, and now I’m a published author.

Some might wonder what gave me the strength and fortitude to revise my life—to retire from a job I loved and devote my time to writing. I didn’t do it alone. The answer lies in the One who breathes life into me. With His help I accomplished things I could never have done on my own.
How would you like to revise your life? Write a book, change a habit, connect with friends from years ago, pursue a hobby? Whatever the desire that is in your heart, it’s possible for you to accomplish it if you surrender your will to the creator. He’s waiting to set aside all your fears if you put your trust in Him.

So what are you waiting for? If I did it, you can, too. Revise, revise, revise.
Is there something you've been putting off? Something as big as a dream or as small as making a call, cleaning out a drawer, or sending a card?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Columns of Cottonwood by Sandra Robbins

HP 919
ISBN 978-1-60260-486-5

Cottonwood was supposed to be hers.
She grew up there; she lived through the war there; she lost her parents there. Even in its burned-out condition, it’s still home to Savannah Carmichael. But now it belongs to a stranger—a foreigner!—who paid the back taxes on it and bought it right out from under her.

Dante Rinaldi never expected that the culmination of his dream—to own some of Alabama’s rich farmland—would mean the destruction of someone else’s. He hasn’t done anything illegal; in fact, he’s worked hard for the privilege of land ownership. So why does Savannah Carmichael’s plight affect him on such a deep level?

Both believe in the sovereignty of God, but how can this situation be orchestrated by Him? Can they find a solution. . .a compromise to benefit both?

Key Verse:
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

Excerpt From the Book:
“I’m sorry. I had no idea you were Savannah Carmichael. I didn’t know any of the Carmichaels were still alive.”
Her heart began to pound in fear. She knew she was about to receive news that threatened everything she held dear. “What are you trying to tell me?”
He exhaled. “I bought Cottonwood yesterday at the courthouse in Selma.”
She heard the words, but she couldn’t believe it. A stabbing pain ripped at her heart. “You can’t have Cottonwood,” she cried. “It belongs to me.”
“The taxes haven’t been paid in years. The county had the right to sell it,” Sympathy lined his face, but she refused to acknowledge it.
She doubled her fists and advanced on him. “But I was going to pay the taxes and come back here to live. You can’t do this to me.”
He backed away. “I’m sorry, Miss Carmichael. I didn’t mean to cause you any hurt, but Cottonwood now belongs to me.”

SANDRA ROBBINS and her husband live in the small college town where she grew up. Until a few years ago she was working as an elementary school principal, but God opened the door for her to become a full time writer. Without the help of her wonderful husband, four children, and five grandchildren who've supported her dreams for many years, it would be impossible to write. As a child, Sandra accepted Jesus as her Savior and has depended on Him to guide her throughout her life. It is her prayer that God will use her words to plant seeds of hope in the lives of her readers. To find out more about Sandra and her books, go to her website at

Is there something dear to you that you inherited from a family member? An old Bible? A piece of jewelery? A tradition?

Friday, September 24, 2010

This week's winner is.....

Congratulations, Patti Jo, alias CatMom. You are the winner in this weeks random drawing. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Fine, Feathered Friend, Merely Players, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From The Vault

Merely Players
by Kathleen E. Kovach
H S #717
Bethany Hamilton followed her father to Florida to escape the star-studded and invasive culture of Hollywood. Now, training dolphins and working with challenged kids, she finally feels safe--until she comes face-to-face with the man who abandoned her love for the big screen. Brick Connor has changed. He's no longer young Ricky O'Connell, at the mercy of his father's vile temper. Now he's a star, and his movies are major hits. When his latest project brings him to an aquarium in Florida, he learns that some things have not changed--namely, his love for Bethany Hamilton. But to her, the Lord must be the main attraction, and Brick cannot give that kind of headline to the God who failed him as a youth. Can wounded hearts join together on a common stage to participate in a perfect romance penned by God?

Slowly, the newspaper lowered to reveal the source of the voice that made her toes curl. She expected the dark, neatly groomed actor named Brick Connor to meet her gaping stare. However, the man leisurely enjoying the Saturday morning paper had a softer look, as if he’d suspended his workout routine. Tousled light brown hair brushed the top of wire-rimmed glasses that enhanced his—she looked closer—yes, forest green eyes.

When she finally managed to dislodge her heart from her throat, she croaked, “Rick—Bri—Ricky! What are you doing in my house?”

“I invited him.” Her father sauntered into the kitchen as if a mega box office star was not sitting at his table, drinking from his favorite mug, and reading his paper. Glenn held out a bakery box. “Muffin?”

Key Verse:
“O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me.” Psalm 139:1

Bethany extracted the cat from her ankles and carried her into the kitchen. She put the cat down and glanced at the figure sitting at the table, his face hidden behind a newspaper.

“Hey, Dad,” she said after opening the refrigerator. “You wouldn’t have the orange juice there behind that paper, would you?”

“No. And you’re about out of milk, too.”

That was not her father’s voice. She whirled, bumping her head, making the salad dressing bottles dance in the door shelf.

“Hello, Bethy.”
Do you read the newspaper? If so, what is your favorite section?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest Blog with Kathy Kovach Day Two


You’ve seen the scripture on back covers of Heartsong Presents books. But have you ever wondered how the author arrives at that particular verse?

Heartsong is one of the few publishers that requires this verse. Not only does it enrich the reader’s experience, it also keeps the author on track with their spiritual theme as they write the book.

As I tested my wings with my debut novel, Merely Players, it would have been so easy to go into several directions. The spiritual theme wasn’t obvious to me at first since I did no pre-plotting. But eventually it was clear that the characters struggled with their identity in Christ.

Imagine my pleasure when part of my favorite passage became the theme. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” Psalm 139:1 NIV

Brick and Bethany didn’t know who they were, but once they both yielded to God, He illumined the identities they had both been born into. Brick especially struggled. He’d become a different person entirely from the one Bethany knew as a teenager, even going so far as changing his hair color and his name. But God used Bethany to bring him into his true self, because God knew who he was deep down inside.

After that book, I plotted each novel, making it clearer to know each of my characters before the first word was written. In the first of the Oregon series, God Gave the Song, Skye is challenged by God to forgive the mother who hurt him so deeply. He finds that he can’t move on until he does one crucial thing. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25. Ruthanne had to learn the same lesson due to her ex-husband’s neglect and abandonment.

The second of the Oregon series is Crossroads Bay. This verse became more than a scriptural lesson for Meranda. It became the key to finding her inner and outer treasures. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6:16

After searching for the coins that had been in her family for generations, she found herself at a crossroads. Should she continue the journey that took her father’s life and almost ended hers, or trust that if God wanted her to find the coins, He would lead her there.

For Fine, Feathered Friend, the Lord allowed me to have some unusual fun with the verse. In the story, Cyrano is a tattle-tale African Gray Parrot. He tells the heroine, Glenys, everything the hero, Tim, says about her. Glenys has no idea who is talking to Cyrano since he is exposed to so many people at the Raptor Rescue center. Cyrano’s reports are a tad skewed since he rarely relates things in the right order.

In a radical move on my part, rather than finding a verse that reflected the spiritual theme, I decided to tackle Cyrano’s problem. I went to and searched for gossip. Most of the verses were so negative, that I couldn’t burden poor Cyrano with them. After all, he was only trying to play matchmaker. So, I entered “bird” just to see what would come up. The following verse, to my delight, became the verse on the back cover of Fine, Feathered Friend. “. . .A bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.” Ecclesiastes 10:20

Yes, readers, God has a delicious sense of humor.

Within the text, I used another verse that dealt with fear, since Glenys is an actress afraid of birds and Tim is a bird handler afraid of actresses. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25. This helped me stay on track, but always, I’d have the fun verse in front of me as a reminder to play and have a blast.

What is one of your favorite verses?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Blog with Kathy Kovach Day One


For today’s article, I thought it would be fun to interview my Oregon heroines. We will cover their aspirations in life, their relationships with the Lord, and for fun, something about the men.

Please meet Ruthanne Fairfax from God Gave the Song (GGS),

Meranda Drake from Crossroads Bay (CB),

and Glenys Bernard from Fine, Feathered Friend (FFF). Welcome ladies!

Ruthanne (GGS): Hi Kathy. It’s been awhile.

K: I know! Your story came out in October 2009! It’s great to reconnect with you again.

Meranda (CB): Ahoy, Kathy! How is the landlubber?

K: You know me. I got nauseous just writing about you on your charter boat!

Glenys (FFF): Hi Kats! So great to see you this soon!

K: Absolutely! I hated to let you, or any of the ladies, go. But there are readers out there who need to hear your stories. So, let’s get started.

K: First of all, tell us what you wanted in life at the beginning of your stories. (We don’t want tell how you’re doing now, or it may spoil things for my audience! LOL)

Ruthanne (GGS): I was so focused on helping my friend, Hannie, manage her alpaca ranch, that I nearly missed how sick she’d gotten. But, I wanted so much to help this magnificent woman after the death of her husband. I guess I poured so much into the business that I forgot to have a life.

K: Well, we fixed that little problem, didn’t we? BTW, after researching alpacas, I think I want one now.

Meranda (CB): Nothing became more important to me than finding the coins that had been in my family for generations. I needed to prove that they weren’t a myth because my father died trying to find them, and the whole community labeled him “crazy.” I’m afraid I neglected the rest of my family as I became obsessed.

K; But sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones that reap the greatest rewards. Of all my heroines, Meranda, you were the one that I had to push off the edge to get you to see God’s will.

Glenys (FFF): I guess focus was the theme for all of us. I was so focused on landing that career changing role in a movie that I forgot who God wanted me to be.

K: You’re right, Glenys. All of you were living with blinders in your own little worlds. But, we must start low if we’re going to end high, and each of you came away with lessons learned.

Meranda (CB): Hey! Be careful not to spoil anything for your readers!

K: Heartsong readers know there’s always a happy ending. They wouldn’t read if you all stayed in yourselves and never grew. And speaking of growing, let’s talk about your relationships with God.

Ruthanne (GGS): I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all knew the Lord, but had strayed from His plan. For myself, Hannie had led me into the Kingdom after taking me in. Her servant’s heart touched me deeply, and I aspire to be just like her.

Meranda (CB): Yes, I also strayed. My family had gone to church when I was young, mostly because it was THE thing to do. My mother was more focused on being seen at church than seeking God. But, somehow, His word soaked in to my young soul. I drifted away after my father died, angry at Him for taking Pop away.

Glenys (FFF): My mother led me to the Lord. Between us, we worked on Dad, but she never saw his conversion. . .this side of heaven anyway. I knew I wanted to become an actress, but somehow, I forgot to pray about that. Was that God’s will for my life? Did He want me to go out for the big role? I had a tough lesson to learn, as well.

K: Yes, we all journeyed together, didn’t we girls? And now, let’s talk about our men!

Ruthanne (GGS): I thought Skye Randall was the oddest person I’d ever met. And remember, Hannie was a hippie! Despite his sky blue eyes (and yes, I did notice them!) there was a cloud hanging over him. A dark, thunder cloud. He was clearly unhappy that we raised alpacas on our ranch. But, he was a good man. I saw that through his determination as he worked through things in his own life.

Meranda (CB): I’m afraid I didn’t see Paul Godfrey as the hero in my story for quite awhile. He catered a wedding on my boat, but all I noticed was that he spent most of his time draped over the side. No way was I going to hook up with a landlubber!

K: But I had other plans.

Meranda (CB): Oh, yes you did, and when I finally saw him the way you wrote him. . .wow! Who can resist a man who not only cooks for you and but helps you follow your dream.

Glenys (FFF): I’m afraid I was so frightened of all the birds in the rescue center that I didn’t even think about Tim Vogel as a potential boyfriend.

K: Hey, you had a fear of birds because of my Aunt Helen.

(Silence and strange looks from the three women.)

K: Let me explain. My Great-Aunt Helen and Great-Uncle Cameron raised chickens at their house in Ellis, Kansas. When I was about six years old, we visited them. Aunt Helen took me out to see the chickens. She placed a hen in my arms and it wasn’t as soft as it looked! I thought the pin feathers and clawed feet felt “icky” in my arms. And when it thrashed around wanting to be let go, it frightened me. So, poor Glenys had to suffer because of me. Sorry about that. But, please, continue telling about Tim.

Glenys (FFF): Thanks a lot, Kathy! Now, back to the more pleasant subject! I gravitated toward Tim, mostly to avoid the other bird of prey, a tall, slimy man named Vic. Both men had offered to help me over my fear, but Tim seemed the safest choice. It’s a shame that he had to work through his prejudice over actresses in order to get to know me better.

K: Thank you, ladies! It still astounds me how three diverse women could have the same struggles and victories, yet such different stories. It’s been great visiting with you again. Let’s keep in touch!

Ruthanne (GGS): Thank you, Kathy! I pray your readers continue to pass your books along so that we can continue to relay God’s message through our stories.

(Meranda and Glenys nod in agreement, wide smiles on their faces.)

What a fun way to meet Kathy's heroines! Which one can you most relate to?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fine, Feathered Friend by Kathleen E. Kovach

HP #918
ISBN 978-1-60260-963-1

This could be her big break.

Actress Glenys Bernard is torn between the possibilities of a career-changing role that requires she be able to handle a falcon and the deep-seated fear that has affected most of her life.

When Glenys runs screaming from an educational tour at his raptor rescue center, Tim figures her desertion is her loss. But when she shows up again, determined to overcome her phobia, he finds his aversion to the actresses being challenged by this enigmatic, dedicated, and often funny young woman.

Glenys knows in her head that fear is not of God, but the wall keeping that knowledge from settling in her heart is well established. Will Tim’s patient teaching break through, or will her fear put them all in danger

Key Verse: “…a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.” Ecclesiastes 10:20


“Istoleamouse!” It all jumbled out of her mouth after, he assumed, being held behind her teeth for so long.

“What?” He whipped his head toward her just as they entered a curve. Bad move. They swerved slightly and he had to jerk the wheel to get them back on the road.

“Jack Jr.”

Now she was speaking in code. “Glenys, I don’t understand.”

She took a huge breath. “I stopped at the breeder barn and took the little black mouse that looked like Jack.”

“Jack. . .the mouse you had as a kid that the falcon flew away with.”

She nodded her head, tears brewing.

“To save him, I’m guessing.”

"Honestly, I’ve never done anything like that before. I never shoplifted as a kid, never took pens from businesses unless they were meant for that, never fudged on my taxes—”

“Whoa.” A chuckle bounced in his chest. “You think I’m going to fault you for trying to save one of God’s creatures? That’s what we do at the center. You just decided to rescue the food used for the creatures we’re trying to save.”

“Then. . .I’m not in trouble?”

He shook his head. “Not as long as you stop at one. If I see all the mice on the lam tomorrow, I may have some concerns.” He winked, hoping to relieve her anxiety.

KATHLEEN E. KOVACH and her husband Jim raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. She's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Now firmly planted in Colorado, she's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and leads a local writers group. Kathleen hopes her readers will giggle through her books while learning the spiritual truths God has placed there.

Where do you stand on birds? Do they kind of creep you out like they do the heroine in this book? Or do you have a pet bird? Bird feeder in your yard? Any bird stories to share?

Friday, September 17, 2010


This week's winner is.....


Congratulations, Merry. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Pure Serendipity, Stillwater Promise, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Thanks to each of you that took the time to post comments this week. We so appreciate your participation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From The Vault

Stillwater Promise

by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke

H S #857

How can Sara trust a man who abandoned her twice?

When Sara's dream of her own bed-and-breakfast is finally coming true, the man who left her twice shows up wanting to be her prince again. Life has been harsh for James since he ran out on Sara for the second time. None of his music dreams have been realized. As a new Christian, he truly wants to make amends - but knows he won't be welcomed warmly. Will James and Sara surrender their marriage to the Lord? Or will misconceptions and selfish ambitions once again cause James to run?

What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? Is Autumn approaching?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Guest Blog with Cathy Wienke


Sharing truths, laughter, and some trepidation, we created three generations of Polish women for our Illinois series. Ruby, the matriarch, her secretive daughter Jeannie, and granddaughter Angel, each struggle with their own finger pointing of self-condemnation. We explore their joys, love and frustrations with one another.

The mother-daughter relationship is a love affair of conflicting tides. I see my own weaknesses and fears in my daughter's voice, and soar with pride at her successes as the steps she takes far surpass my hopes and imagination. And to think—I'll be frank here—I was afraid of ever having a daughter. I grew up with a stepmother after the death of my mom a few days after my birth in a hostile, violent and fearful world... Cinderella had nothing on us.... I came to believe all mother-daughter relationships were like this, so I studied my friends and their moms together as if I would have to pass a final exam one day. After marrying my husband, I came to the conclusion I would just have boys. I had it all figured out. I would have boys and they would look to their father as a life example. It was going quite well, we had one son, and after having our second boy, I came to know the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords. Life was good, and when we were expecting our third child we were told by the doctor it was likely a boy. That would have been the end of the story but God had a new plan for our baby boy was born a 6 pound baby girl! I was left ...stricken! Panic rose up in my throat and I actually experienced symptoms of shock for a couple of days. I'm so glad God gives us what we fear when it is His very best.
Twenty some years later, my daughter Faith is pure joy and we do the dance—she raises her voice in frustration, I lift up a prayer. She cries, I comfort, feeling pain so deep within I barely have air left to breath. It’s a dance like no other, steps no one else could teach you, steps you learn as your feet hit the floor when you hear her first infant cry. I've got to phones ringing, my daughter is calling....I hear music.

Do you enjoy reading multi-generational stories like Cathy and Becky have written?

(Cathy and her daughter Faith.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest Blog with Becky Melby

by Becky Melby

Cathy and I approached the last books in our Minnesota and Illinois series with a hint of trepidation. With Stillwater Promise, we wondered if we’d be able to bring enough “spark” to a story about two married people whose differences had kept them separated for two years. We both dug deep, looking at times of conflict and reconciliation in our own marriages for inspiration, and one of the critical elements we agreed on was the power of laughter. Many things caused Sara and James to split, but one thing they reflect on is that at some point they’d stopped having fun together. In the scene that begins to bridge the chasm between them, Sara and James are painting a wall and reminiscing about old times. When James teases Sara about her pregnant craving for red licorice and comments on how cute she was with a red tongue, we see the cooled embers of romance rekindling.

Pure Serendipity gave us another needless concern. How do you make a romance between two people in their sixties come alive? The answer: lots of laughs. I was just starting to write the scene pictured on the cover, where Burt and Ruby go ice skating in Millennium Park in Chicago, when I got a call from my daughter-in-law Kristen, telling me she’d just found an adult-sized chicken suit at Goodwill. Muse bumps skittered down my arms! A chicken suit? I know exactly where that’s going to fit into my story! You’ll have to read the book to find out how, but that fluffy yellow thing became a focal point for many fun scenarios throughout the book.

Writing about a couple who aren’t all that far ahead of us in age turned out to be freeing rather than frightening. Burt and Ruby are long past the silliness of youth. They’re not into playing games or saying one thing when they mean another. Having both lost spouses, they well know how short this life is, and they are determined to enjoy what’s left of it. For once, we didn’t need to spend a lot of time with our main characters doing the approach/avoidance dance. They knew they liked each other from day one. But their daughters have other ideas! It was so much fun to create scenes where Burt and Ruby face their opposition with faith and humor as their weapons.

Both of these books have challenged me to live life to the fullest and not take for granted a single day I’m gifted with my husband. After thirty-eight years of marriage, we still make fun times together a priority. We just got back from a motorcycle weekend in Door County, Wisconsin, the setting for a Barbour novella collection in which I have a story called Christmas Crazy. (Okay, I admit, I worked this in as a shameless plug, but I think I did it rather smoothly, don’t you? Please visit the characters of A Door County Christmas at In spite of cold and rain, Bill and I and two good friends had a blast soaking up the beauty, shopping, playing Scrabble, and eating our weight in chocolate. In real life, as in fiction, I hope to always keep the fun alive!

(The top picture is the Cloud Gate Sculpture in Chicago. The middle picuture is Galena Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and the bottom picture is Becky and Bill)

Have you ever visited Chicago? Would you share what you did or a favorite memory?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pure Serendipity by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke

HP 917
ISBN 978-1-60260-954-9
Ruby knows life is short.

Her only daughter is finally married, and at sixty-three, Ruby Cholewinski isn’t going to waste a moment feeling sad about her empty nest. Life is short and Ruby intends to enjoy what’s left of it. When her new son-in-law’s best man interrupts her one-woman celebration and offers to join in, she finds it shockingly easy to be impulsive and spontaneous.
For eleven years, Burt Jacobs has convinced himself he’s perfectly happy living alone, but ten minutes with the feisty lady in red reveals the lie. After twenty-four hours with Ruby, his world has flipped upside-down—all for the better until the opinions of six women play havoc with his newfound joy.
Will Burt and Ruby get their second chance at love or will the people who think they know what’s best for them keep them apart?

A Wisconsin resident, BECKY MELBY has four sons and ten grandchildren. When not writing or spending time with family, Becky enjoys motorcycle rides with her husband and reading. Becky has co-authored several books with her writing partner Cathy Wienke for Barbour Publishing.

Wisconsin native CATHY WIENKE and her husband have two sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren. Her favorite pastimes include reading and walking her dog. Cathy has co-authored numerous books with her writing partner Becky Melby for Barbour Publishing.

Have you ever partnered with a good good friend on a project and what was it? Can be anything from a grade school project to business venture or anything inbetween.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This week's winner!

Wow, what a fun week! I think we had a record number of folks chime in this week with comments! YAY!

This week's winner is.....


Congratulations, Terri. Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of either Lily and the Lawman, The Bartered Bride, or 10 Heartpoints to be used for future shipments of Heartsong Bookclub books.

Next week, Jeri Odell will take over the moderating for a few weeks, and the feature authors will be Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke with their new release Pure Serendipity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

From The Vault

Today's book from the vault is:

The Bartered Bride
By Erica Vetsch
HP 875
Historical Romance

From the Back Cover:

Can True Love Result From a Business Deal?

Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or be disinherited. Jonathan has invested years of his life in Kennabrae Shipping, but heaven help him if Grandfather decides to take it all away for this.

Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father’s business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Engaged to marry a man she has never met—someone “considerably older” than herself? What have her parents done?

Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?

From the Book:

“My wife and I,” Almina had joined Lawrence Brooke, tucking her arm into his elbow and beaming on the crowd, her gaze lingering longest on Jonathan and Melissa. “Are pleased to announce the engagement of our daughter, Melissa, to Mr. Jonathan Kennebrae. Please join us in congratulating the happy couple.” He lifted the glass in their direction. A polite wave of applause welled up.

Melissa stood, knocking her chair over onto the grass. She put her hand to her mouth, turning her head wildly from Jonathan to her parents, then back again. Jonathan rose slowly, easing up on numb legs.

“Kennebrae?” She whispered so low he had to stoop to hear her. “Your name is Kennebrae?”

“Of course it is. What else would it be?”

She blinked, staring at him. “But, I thought—” Her throat spasmed as she tried to swallow. “I thought…”

He caught her just before she hit the grass in a dead faint.

Key Verse:

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

The question of the day is: Have you ever fainted?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Wednesday Friday Five :)

Each week on my personal blog I do what I call The Friday Five. This is one of the most popular posts each week, and I love doing them. Readers learn about me, and when they offer their own answers to the Friday Five, I learn about them.

Basically, it’s five things about me on a given topic. At the moment I’m going through the alphabet, one letter each week, telling the readers four things I like that start with that letter and one thing I don’t. But I've covered dozens of other topics.

I’ve covered topics like:

Favorite Candies

Memories of my Mother-in-law

Animals with funny names

Animals that look funny to me

Things I remember from First Grade

And so many more. I've been doing this pretty much every week since April 12th of 2007. If you go to my blog and use the search feature at the top for The Friday Five, you’ll find dozens of posts that give you a peek into my mind. (Scary place that it is.)

Why do I have the Friday Five each week on my blog? Some weeks when I can’t think of what to post, I wonder that very thing. But the truth is, I blog because I want to make friends, and friendships are formed through finding out our common ground and where our lives intersect.

I hope I’m accomplishing that on my personal blog, and we as the moderators of the Heartsong Connections blog hope we’re facilitating the forming of friendships between authors and readers by hosting the authors here where they can share a bit of their lives. Hopefully readers will find some common ground, places where our lives intersect, where we’ve had the same experiences.

I’ll give you a quick Friday Five on a Wednesday, and I hope you’ll chime in with some of your own.

Since school just started across most of the country, I’ll tell you five things I loved about the first day of school when I was a kid.

1. New crayons. Was there ever anything better than a box of new, never-before-been-used crayons?

2. Seeing friends. There were some kids we never saw outside of school, and it was always great to be reunited.

3. New tennis shoes. I wore Converse tennis shoes from Sears when I was in early elementary school. Black canvas ones with the rubber toe caps and big silver grommets for the laces.

4. New books. I’m a sucker for a new book, even new school books, but my favorite was a new reader. Stories to take me far away.

5. The fresh start. Feeling as if everything was new and possible and pit-fall free.

So, how about you? What did you like about the first day of school?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Blessing of Reader Feedback ~ Erica Vetsch

The blessing of reader feedback.

Have you ever written to an author or filled out a reader feedback sheet?

Reader Feedback Sheet, you ask?

Did you know that in the back of every Heartsong title is a page (front and back) that provides an easy way for readers to communicate with the author? (I've included a scan of the front of the sheet up above.)

It’s true!

If you’ve noticed this page in the back of the book, you might wonder who looks at those sheets once they’re mailed in. Does the author ever get to see them?

The answer is YES! :)

First, the editor of the line, JoAnne Simmons, looks at them. She reads every one that comes in and sorts them to be mailed to each author. The feedback directly from the reader is invaluable. This information helps JoAnne know what resonates with readers, what they’d like to see more of, and what the spiritual takeaway is. It helps her evaluate where the readers think the author is strong: plot, characters, setting, spiritual thread.

Second, the sheets are all saved and mailed to the author. The author gets a chance to read the notes and comments and learn what the readers think and want, what they enjoyed and what they might not.

Another thing related to the reader feedback sheets are the Heartsong Awards. Every year, the feedback numbers are tallied, and based upon those scores, Heartsong names the most popular authors in various categories. You can read a list of the most recent winners HERE.

Oh! And lest I forget, I should mention that in addition to evaluating the story, the reader also has a chance to comment on the cover art for each Heartsong. I love this, because while we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I often find myself drawn to certain covers and ambivalent about others. It’s interesting to me to hear what other folks think about cover art. When you take the time to fill out this part of the response sheet, it helps guide the graphic arts departments to create covers that will draw readers to the story.

Last week I received a packet of reader feedback sheets, letters, and cards from JoAnne. What a timely blessing! I was encouraged and uplifted by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Heartsong readers. Their response to my stories warmed my heart right through. :) Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a personal note and fill out the sheets.

If you haven’t ever filled out one of the response sheets, I encourage you to give it a try. You’ll be blessing an author, providing valuable information for the publishers, and getting to have a say in what type of books you might see in the future.

Question of the day: Have you ever written to an author?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lily and the Lawman by Erica Vetsch

This week's feature title is:

Lily and the Lawman
By Erica Vetsch
HP 916
Historical Romance

From the back cover:

Lily has never been so alone.

Her sister Violet has died and her niece Rose has been kidnapped. The U.S. Marshals who are supposed to be looking for Rose are ill and injured. Lily has two choices: find Rose herself (which she has no idea how to do) or trust Trace McConnell to find the baby for her. But Lily has trusted men for the last time. So maybe she will do this on her own.

Trace McConnell—almost-bad-boy-turned-local-lawman—would be happy to hunt down the kidnappers and return Rose to the intriguing Lily Whitman, except Lily won’t let him go alone. How is he supposed deal with kidnappers and killers when his mind and heart are so distracted by this frustrating woman?

Is a God whose ways seem inexplicable really a God who is trustworthy? Is He really with them, or has He forsaken them, despite what His Word says?

Key Verse Psalm 9:10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

From the book:

Trace stood in front of the fireplace, hands on hips, and glared at her. “Lily, we have to get married. It’s the right thing to do.”

Not that she was going to agree to this, but he didn’t have to look like he’d just licked a toad. “Thank you, but I decline your noble gesture.”

“I’m not asking. I’m telling. Either marry me, or you go home in the morning. I should’ve thought it through before bringing you, what you coming along would do to your reputation.”

The fires of rebellion lit in her middle. “Trace McConnell, are you deaf? I’m not marrying you. I am going to Garnett in search of my niece. I don’t need your permission, nor do I need your help. I certainly don’t need you to marry me, regardless of what you think.”

About the Author:

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at

Question of the day: Are you a fan of the marriage of convenience story? I personally love it, but I won’t be offended if you say you don’t. :)

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

This Week's Winner

Isn't this bunny the cutest? :)

This week's winner of one of Laurie Alice Eakes's books or 10 Heartpoints is....


Congratulations, Casey. Please contact us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your snail mail address and choice of a prize!

I'd love it if you all came back next week to join me in talking about my newest release, Lily and the Lawman.

From the Vault

This week's title from the Vault is:

The Glassblower
by Laurie Alice Eakes
ISBN 978-1602606746

From the book cover:

Now that Colin Grassick, a master glassblower from Scotland, has arrived to help at the Jordan glassworks, Meg Jordan s dreams of teaching the poor, local children are coming true. Finally, someone will have time to make windows for the rural New Jersey schoolhouse, to keep out the cold and vandals. To Joseph Pyle, the wealthy, arrogant man to whom Meg will soon be betrothed, the destruction of Meg s new windows is inconsequential as his wife, she will be forbidden from teaching. Why would Meg s father insist she marry a man like Joseph and stay away from the endearing Colin?

From the book:

“But what if—” Meg gazed into her coffee. “What happens if I find someone else to love first?”

“Margaret Jordan, you’re one and twenty and haven’t yet. What makes you think—” Sarah gasped and set down her cookie. “You have met someone else.”

“No. That is—” Meg pushed back her chair and paced to the hearth. She shoved a few sticks onto the already merrily crackling fire. Her face felt as hot as the flames.

“Who? When? Where?” Sarah posed the single words like sharp cracks of a whip. “Tell me.”

“It’s nothing.” Meg pressed her hands to her cheeks. “I only met him once, so I can’t have any feelings for him. But there’s something about his spirit. His eyes are warm, and he looks right at you like he’s not trying to hide anything. He—intrigues me.”

“Is this mysterious man handsome?” Sarah sounded like someone placating a child who talked about an imaginary playmate.

“Hmm.” Meg closed her eyes and conjured an image of Colin’s face. “I think some people would think so. He has very strong bones and beautiful green eyes and red hair.”

“Ugh, red hair.” Sarah made exaggerated shuddering noises. “That’s a vulgar color.”

The Glassblower is a 2010 Carol Award Finalist and is available for purchase on the Heartsong Presents Website at
Question of the day: I love Marigold Carnival Glass, and I know someone who collects paperweights. Do you have any Carnival or Depression glass or a glass paperweight? Do you collect anything that is glass?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Guest post with Laurie Alice Eakes - Day Two


In writing any historical novel, a great deal of research is necessary. Because I couldn’t get to Cape May before writing The Newcomer, I talked to people who had and read both contemporary and historical—contemporary to my time—accounts of the area.

Cape May was quite the resort in its day with excursion trains bringing scores of tourists down every weekend and for weeks in the summer. The elephant mentioned in the book was a real structure. The lighthouse and Victorian homes are still there.

Nowhere did I find evidence of an excursion boat company, and it stood to reason that one would exist on a cape with the Atlantic on one side and Delaware Bay on the other. Surely people wanted to go off for dolphin watches then, too.

Glassmaking is an integral part to all three books, though not directly in The Newcomer. Although I had talked to some glassblowers over the years, the art always fascinating me, I didn’t know how it was done in the past. So I set out to find research materials.

My sister gave me my first resource. She runs a children’s library and recommended the book The Glassmakers by Leonard Everett Fisher. It’s part of a series on colonial artisans and an excellent start, being illustrated and written in simple terms.

Other resources included an 1809 encyclopedia entry I found on Google Books. Through this and some other such sources, I learned some fascinating facts, a few of which I include in the book.

Because in my other life I write Regency romances, I knew that Great Britain has a long history of glassmaking. Scotland produced some of the finest glass in the world; thus, having a Scots hero to be my glassblower emerged as a natural outcome of the research.

One of the most interesting points of research came from learning how the glassmakers produced colored glass. They added various minerals.

Some minerals used to produce glass include: Iron produces green. In fact, due to impurities in the sand, most glass has a greenish tint. Iron and sulfur produces amber and browns, quite possibly the minerals Colin uses in producing his gift for Meg. Tin can produce white glass, and gold can produce red glass. To produce the amethyst goblets for Meg, Colin used manganese.

In the 1830s, uranium began to be used to produce yellowish-green glass. During the Depression, more iron oxide was added for a greener glass, becoming the famous and now collectable Depression Green Glass.

Nowadays, most glass is mass-produced in factories. Where once those who produced it by hand and their own breath were considered artisans, glassmakers today, who use blowpipe and tongs are considered artists. From the work glassmakers left us, we know many of the glassblowers in history were also artists.

Question of the Day: It's September first. What's on tap for you this month? Anything special?