Monday, February 28, 2011

In the Cool of the Evening

This week's featured title is:
In the Cool of the Evening by Janet Spaeth
HP 941

Can they rebuild after devastating loss?

Although massive flooding nearly destroyed the town of wildwood, ND, youth minister Ric Jensen is determined to bring it back to life. He turns the extra rooms in his church into a daycare to help parents get back on their feet, but he finds it a daunting job. When he meets Lily Chamberlain and her son, Todd, at a church retreat, she seems to be the answer to his prayers.

But Lily and Todd have suffered their own losses - from the accident that took her husband and father away years ago, to the recent loss of her job and comfortbal existence, to a ruthless and crooked employer. Maybe she can run a daycare, but can she overcome her past? Or will her past catch up to her and destroy the dreams that grow in Wildwood?

Key Verse

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2

Book Excerpt


"Yes, sweetie?"

"Do you like Ric?"

She stopped, her hand frozen on the light switch. "Yes, Todd. I think he's very nice."

"Nice enough to kiss him?"

Her hand jerked, and the light came back on. "What on earth - ?"

He grinned at her. "Just checking. I know you wouldn't kiss him. And he wouldn't kiss you, either. No matter what."

Her heart flipped. "Why do you say that, Todd?"

His answer was short and to the point: "Cooties."

About the Author
For as long as she can remember, Janet Spaeth has loved to read, and romances were always a favorite. Today she is delighted to be able to write romances based upon the greatest love story of all, that of our Lord for us. When she isn't writing, Janet spends her time reading a romance or a cozy mystery, baking chocolate chip cookies, or spending precious hours with her family in North Dakota.

Have you ever experienced a devasting loss? If so, what did you do to overcome the devastation?

Friday, February 25, 2011

...And The Winner Is...

Bubbles on the lakephoto © 2008 Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier | more info (via: Wylio)
The winner of this week's random drawing is Amber S!

Congrats, Amber! Just send us an email at heartsongblog[at]gmail[dot]com and let us know if you would like a copy of Dinner at the St. James, The Columns of Cottonwood or ten Heartpoints to be put toward a future shipment of Heartsong books!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

From the Vault: The Columns of Cottonwood

This Week's Book from the Vault is:
The Columns of Cottonwood

Cottonwood was supposed to be hers.

She grew up there; she lived through the war there; she lost her parents there. Even in it's 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 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 of them 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?

Have you ever had a dream come true at the expense of someone else's?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Two With Sandra Robbins

Wings Like a Butterfly

Yesterday I told you about my brush with death, and how God brought me through it. In the days and months following my experience, I began to ask myself if God had a purpose in sparing my life. Was it possible that He wanted me to do something for Him?

When my heart attack occurred in July 2005, I had just begun to write. I had written one novel and was working on two others. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to write for the Christian market, but so far nothing had happened.

In September 2005, I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Nashville. There I met woman who would buy my first manuscript seven months later. When I sold the book, I knew that God wanted me to do it. He wanted me to write the words He put in my heart. Now with six books released and five more to release over the next year, I've tried to use those words to give hope to the women who read my books.

Another blessing that came from my heart attack was that I decided to retire from my job as an elementary school principal and write full time. But I had learned something from talking with young mothers during those years I was in education. I realized how many women suffer with heartache and difficult situations in their everyday lives. In researching a book I came across something that has helped me to share hope with those who are overwhelmed by life.

The message I want to convey is that God is with us, no matter what adversity comes our way, and the butterfly is used as the example. The powdery scales that cover the colorful wings of the butterfly are sensitive to any contact, and the wings lose these scales when touched. With the loss of the powdery covering, the wings become drab and dimmed, but the ability to fly is not affected. When problems cause us to become discouraged and at times without hope, God still waits to soothe our battered souls and give us wings that will lift us like eagles to face whatever comes our way.

So, if you are struggling with problems in your life, I pray that you will let God put his arms around you and lift you high. One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 40:31 - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day One With Sandra Robbins!

The San Antonio Riverwalk

My Birthday Wish

Today is my birthday, and I'm thrilled to be celebrating another one. A few years ago I thought I had probably seen my last one. I, like so many people, had taken the great gift of life for granted until I came face to face with my own mortality.

I'll never forget how hot it was that July day. I had brought one of my granddaughters and two of my nieces to San Antonio to visit my daughter and her family. On that particular afternoon she and I decided we would take her two teenagers and the three I'd brought with me to the San Antonio Riverwalk. We planned to have dinner at a restaurant and then take a boat ride through the city.

All went fine until almost time for us to board the boat. I noticed some discomfort in my chest, but not wanting to cause a problem, I boarded the boat and set sail down the river. Within minutes I realized I had done the wrong thing. My daughter had the driver of the boat put us out beside the river, and we called 911. When EMTs arrived, I was having a heart attack.

As I look back on that day, I realize how God performed a great miracle and provided me with blessings like I would never have expected. I was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to a major medical center that was less than five miles from where I had gotten out of the boat. When we arrived, the doctor in the ER told me that a cardiologist was in the cath lab and had just finished with another patient. So within minutes of leaving the boat I was in surgery and having a stent implanted in an artery.

The next day the ICU nurses told me how fortunate I was to have had the doctor who performed my surgery. They said people came to San Antonio from all over the world to him for treatment and that he wrote for all the major medical journals. Only later did it occur to me that if I had wanted an appointment with him, I probably would have had to wait weeks. But that night God had made me an appointment that saved my life.

Spokespersons who wish to educate women all the time about having a healthy heart tell us that women are quick to deny they are having a heart attack. Perhaps, like me, they want to believe it's indigestion and don't want to interrupt what's going on in the life of their family. I was that way until God slowed me down.

As I blow out the candles on my birthday cake today, my wish is that you will educate yourself about the risks of heart disease for women. It's killing women all across the country, and I don't want you to experience a wake-up call like I did.

Let's all wish Sandra a happy birthday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinner at the St. James

This Week's Featured Title is:
Dinner at the St. James by Sandra Robbins

Daniel is sure he's not good enough for Tave.

Tave Spencer has lost her heart to Daniel Luckett, but he is determined to run from their love.

Knowing that he can't provide her the luxury-filled life Matthew Chandler offers, Daniel decides to leave town, telling Tave that someday she'll realize he is right. She should marry Matthew and join the social elite who dine at the exclusive St. James restaurant. But as Daniel prepares to go, Tave suggests that his real problem is that he can't love anyone because his heart is so filled with hate toward those who have wronged him.

Will Tave find healing for her broken heart as the wife of Matthew and mistress of his plantation home? Will Daniel find the peace that he so desperately seeks? And will Tave and Daniel discover the plans God has for them together - or will they wait until it is too late?

Key Verse:

Mark 11:26--But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Book Excerpt:

"I'm not the man for you, Tave."

She straightened to her full height. "Don't I get to decide that on my own?"

Daniel shook his head. "No. I'm going to decide it for you. I'm a drifter with no money or family. I want you to understand I have nothing to giver you."

She stared at him. "Can you give me love?"

His eyes grew wide. "Wh - what?"

She squared her shoulders and clenched her fists at her side. "Savannah told me she could tell that you're in love with me. As embarrassing as it is for me to ask, I have to know. Do you love me?"

He hesitated for a moment, and she held her breath. His shoulders drooped as if his whole body had deflated. "Yes, I love you. More than I ever thought it was possible to love someone else."

Her heart pounded, and she frowned. "Then what's the problem? I've fought my feelings for you, but I can't anymore." She stepped closer. "I love you, too, Daniel."

He held up his hands as if to warn her to stay back. "No, I won't saddle you with a man who can't give you everything that Matthew can."

"Matthew?" she gasped. "What does he have to do with this? I don't love him. I love you."

He reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. "It doesn't matter. I won't keep you from the life you deserve." He released her with such force that she stumbled back. "I have to leave."

Icy fear gripped her. "Leave?"

"Yes. When I'm gone, you'll know I was right."

SANDRA ROBBINS and her husband live in a small college town where she grew up in Tennessee. 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. It is 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

Have you ever had something you loved that wasn't the best thing for your life?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drum Roll, Please...

Lorain sunsetphoto © 2006 Rona Proudfoot | more info (via: Wylio)

The winner of this week's random drawing is...

Jackie S.

Congrats, Jackie! Just email us at heartsongblog[at]gmail[dot]com and let us know if you would like a copy of Romance at Rainbow's End, Romance Rides the Range or ten Heartpoints to be used toward a future shipment of Heartsong books!

Thank you Colleen for joining us this week! I hope everyone has wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Quick "Hello" From Colleen

Colleen has been having some trouble replying to your comments, so she wanted me to share the following message:

Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments this week! One of the greatest joys of being a Christian author is knowing our writing does more than entertain. We touch lives and encourage others by offering glimpses into our own "peaks and valleys," i.e., the inevitable mountain top experiences followed by valleys of rejection (smile).

A final word of encouragement. My writing students sometimes wail, "I have enough rejection slips to paper my walls."

I reply, "Sometimes I feel I have enough to insulate my house!" Then I laugh and add, "Call them returns." It is a much better word than rejection. . .and point out we are not being rejected, just a particular piece of work. Some of my best manuscripts took years and up to 50 tries before selling and making their mark.

God bless you all in your services to our Master,

From the Vault...

Today's Book From the Vault is:
Romance Rides the Range by Colleen L. Reece

Sarah doesn't dare look back. . .

Sarah Anderson refuses to become a drudge for her stepfather and his unruly children after her mother dies in 1882. Neither will she become a pawn for his indebtedness to a riverboat gambler. Sarah escapes from her Missouri home and heads for a California to find her brother Seth, trusting God to keep her safe on the perilous journey west.

Matt Sterling rescued Seth from danger and taught him to become a top hand on the Sterling ranch near Madera. Betrayed by one selfish girl, Matt has vowed the San Joaquin River will run dry before he ever gets involved with another woman. He's better off fighting cattle rustlers, floods and drought to make his spread one of the finest in the valley.

Is love's long lasso strong enough to overcome obstacles and rope in the runaway girl and the once-bitten, twice-shy rancher?

Have you ever vowed to never, ever do something again, only to find God urging you to get involved again?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day Two with Colleen L. Reece

Making God Laugh

I never hear the expression, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans" without chuckling - and remembering all the times this happened.

I grew up near the little western WA town of Darrington. Dad was a logger. Mom was a teacher. Folks took it for granted that I would follow in her capable footsteps.

Fat chance. If I had a dollar for every time I shook my head and said, "Never!" I'd be laughing all the way to my bank. (What I thought was thunder back then was probably God laughing.)

Decades later, I fulfilled the ungrammatical expression: "A few years ago I couldn't spell 'teacher' and now I are one."

If God had not ignored my protests, I would have never experienced the joy that comes from encouraging others. Many of those I've mentored through writing classes and beyond have gone on to become well-known in today's Christian marketplace.

I'd never been in a writing class until Green River Community College in Auburn, WA, signed me up to teach two classes in the fall of 1978. During the half-hour drive to my first class, I was so scared I felt sick. I had perhaps forty-five college credits but was not a college graduate. I'd never taught anything but Sunday School. My qualifications? A half-dozen published books and several articles.

I prayed, then visualized standing in front of the dozen or so students and giving my carefully-prepared lesson. This helped settle me down.

The class went great (even though I imagined quiet laughter at my foolishness in thinking God would lead me into situations without providing the ability to conquer them.) Thankfully, I never again experienced such stage fright.

I long ago gave up teaching for GRCC and Writer's Digest School but teach an intergenerational class at our local senior center, composed of both "perennial" students and newcomers. Prior to each quarter, I ask God to send those who can benefit not just from the teaching but also from the friendship that abounds.

He has responded by sending an incredibly diverse group: Christians from many denominations, non-Christians, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, New Age Followers, etc. Personal beliefs differ, but the respect and caring shown to each individual is beautiful.

God made me a teacher in spite of myself. Before going to heaven at age ninety-six, Mom, my best friend, editor, and cheerleader, attended some of my classes. She commented, "Colleen, you've been given a writing talent that will touch many. Your speaking and teaching may touch even more."

Mom was right. The camp song, "Pass It On," says it only takes a spark to get a fire going. My teaching is a spark. No matter how many copies of my books sell (presently 6 million) those I help get started will reach millions of readers I never can.

Susan is only one of the many students God has permitted me to help launch a writing career. Her six Circle C Adventure titles fit her motto: "Wholesome Books for Kids." So do the first two Circle C Beginnings, a series for younger readers. Susan also speaks, teaches and helps young authors develop their talents. Photo shows me "cashiering" for her at a Christian school bazaar.

I thank God for being able to pass on what He has helped me learn - and seeing those I teach do the same.

God bless,

Have you ever made God laugh by telling him your plans, only to find out what He had in store for you was so much better?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day One with Colleen L. Reece

History Repeats Itself

Reading a book at the beachphoto © 2010 Simon Cocks | more info (via: Wylio)

History really does repeat itself. When I finished writing Romance Rides the Range, Book One of my western series, I was planted (in spirit) on the Diamond S Ranch near Madera, California in the 1800's. I couldn't bear to say good-bye to the people who lived there. They had haunted my dreams, eaten at my table, perched on my computer, and influenced my life.

The same thing happened with Book Two, Romance Rides the River. Tangled, unexplored trails in the beautiful San Joaquin Valley and surrounding countryside lured me. Characters I had brought to life wanted back in my life. New characters clamored for a place in the sun. Romance at Rainbow's End is my response to these true-to-life "book friends" (and in a few cases, enemies) who refused to be silent.

Story Background

In 2005, Susan K. Marlow (my good friend and one of my top writing students) was going to San Francisco and Central California to research Circle C Adventures titles, a historical 'tween series (Kregel). I had been working on a historical novel set in San Francisco and the Madera/Yosemite area so I jumped at the chance to go with Susan. We gained valuable information by touring and observing, visiting libraries and historical sites, etc.

The novel for which I did the research never got off the ground. Yet none of the information I gathered while in California was wasted. (Research never is - smile.) After writing and selling Romance Rides the Range and Romance Rides the River, my original plot idea became an integral part of Romance at Rainbow's End.

More than a century had passed between Susan's and my visit and the olden days when Ellie and Josh rode the range and walked the streets of San Francisco. Yet as I wrote their [fictional] story I felt a kinship, a feeling of having been there, done that.

This title - like Romance Rides the Range and Romance Rides the River - recognizes God's unfailing love for all of His children; particularly for the "mavericks" who stray from His presence. May it serve as a reminder that we are branded with the name Jesus Christ and are called to round up others and establish His ownership. What a better way than to offer the world truly Christian novels that show the plan of salvation as a heart of a good story?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Romance at Rainbow's End

This Week's Featured Title is:
Romance at Rainbow's End by Colleen L. Reece

Ellie has gone from rags to riches. . .

But will this "Sierra Songbird" find treasure at the end of the rainbow - or only fool's gold?

Seven years after Ellianna and Timmy Stoddard are sent to frontier California by their contemptible father, eighteen-year-old Ellie still carries the weight of his sins. Surely a scoundrel's daughter cannot be the answer to the new minister's prayers for a wife!

Joshua Stanhope is also plagued by doubt. Can a small-town preacher compete with his influential twin brother? Edward can make Ellie the toast of San Francisco by helping her soar to fame and fortune like the meadowlark whose song is no sweeter than hers.

How can Josh convince his congregation that he must seek the "lost sheep," not just minister to those in the fold? And how will God rescue Tim and Ellie from danger, help them forgive their undeserving father, and free Ellie to accept Josh's love?

Key Verse:

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6

Book Excerpt:

When Ellie again fell asleep, no dreams troubled her. She awoke resolved to carry out the vow she had made in the night hours - and sent word to the Stanhopes she was willing to leave Madera.

Two days later Ellie shook the dust of her past off her new, stylish boots and left for San Francisco with Mrs. Stanhope and Edward.

Ellie bade Josh a heart-wrenching good-bye. When he clasped her hands as if he'd never let her go, Ellie wanted to fling herself into his arms, regardless of the crowd at the station. Only the desire to become worthy of the unguarded love shining in Josh's eyes kept Ellie true to her course. The last thing she saw when the train wheels began their clackety-clack to carry her away was Josh waving from the steps of Christ the Way Church. Tim stood beside him, somber faced with and with arms crossed.

Ellie's vision blurred. For one wild moment, she longed to cry out, "Stop the train!" Instead, she raised her chin, set her face toward the west, and didn't look back.

COLLEEN L. REECE was born and raised in a small western Washington logging town. She learned to read by kerosene lamplight and dreamed of someday writing a book. God has multiplied Colleen's "someday" book into more than 140 titles that have sold six million copies. Colleen was twice voted Heartsong Presents' Favorite Author and later inducted into Heartsong's Hall of Fame. Several of her books have appeared on the CBA Bestseller list.
I think it would be so rough to be a twin - always competing with each other, etc. Are any of you twins? Have twins? Know twins?

Friday, February 11, 2011

And the Winner is...

Definition of lovephoto © 2009 Billy Rowlinson | more info (via: Wylio)

Patti Jo!

Congrats Patti Jo! You are the winner of this week's random drawing! Just send us an email at heartsongblog[at]gmail[dot]com and let us know if you would like a copy of Betting on Love, Gaining Love or ten Heartpoints to be used toward a future shipment of Heartsong Books!

Thanks for joining us this week, Jennifer! I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

From the Vault: Gaining Love

Today's Book From the Vault Is:
Gaining Love by Jennifer Johnson

Mark and Zoey must make some changes.

At just 27, bank loan officer Mark White is overweight and already suffers from high blood pressure - a condition that contributed to his father's early death. Determined to get back in shape before it's too late, Mark joins a gym.

Zoey Coyle is a fitness trainer who has turned her life around and back to the Lord. She has faced the consequences of poor choices before. Her next major hurdle is getting on top of her credit card debt by controlling her impulse shopping.

Mark can't believe a beautiful, godly woman like Zoey could be interested in a balding, out-of-shape former quarterback like him. And Zoey fears Mark will run when he learns her three-year-old cousin is really her illegitimate son.

God has forgiven their sins. But will Mark and Zoey extend grace to one another?

This sounds like another great book that deals with real life issues. What is your favorite kind of book to read? One that relates to your life? Something that takes you back in time? A book that puts you in a reality not your own? Fantasy? Please share!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Teenagers

Hello Friends,

Tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to read about one of my past books, titles Gaining Love. The book is about a girl who gave her God (and her mother) quite a run for their money during her teenage years; however this book is about God's redemption and blessing of love.

It was alot of fun to write. . .kind of hard too as it also deals with needing to lose weight and needing to stop using credit cards. UGH! Talk about some tough subjects. But still, it was fun to watch the mian character, Zoey, become the woman God had called her to be.

I'm curious about how many of you have teenagers or have had them in the past. They're a wonderful crew of people. I love my teenagers. I better. I have three of them. All girls. I deserve some kind of medal! :)

Seriously though, teenagers are going through a lot of "stuff." It's really hard for them to stay true to their faith because innately their flesh screams that they know what is best. Independence is beckoning. Emotions are raging. The body is blossoming. And more than anything they want to do what they want to do.

No doubt about it. The word teenager equates challenge. I'm blessed to have wonderful daughters. They are "good" girls who have professed their faith in God. Don't misunderstand my last sentence. They are not perfect girls. They are very much trying to figure out what this world holds for them. I pray every day that their greatest desire will be Christ. Sometimes, I see that. Sometimes, I pray a little extra that day. Thankfully, God's got them. . .all three of them. :)

Brooke, Haley, and me at a friend's wedding shower

Me, Brooke, Hayley, and Allie in Myrtle Beach

Me and Allie before going to see Eclipse. We are Team Edward all the way! :)

All three silly girls at the Hard Rock Cafe in Myrtle Beach.

Tell us about your teenagers!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day One With Jennifer Johnson

The Inspiration Around Me

Hello Friends,
I am so glad to join you on the Heartsong Blog once again. Yesterday, you read about my newest release, Betting on Love. I had an absolute blast writing that book. At the beginning, my heroine, Melody, was not a Christian. In face, she was very much against God. But God had a way of wooing her to himself. . .isn't He so good?!

In the story, I used actual people from around my own church family to be witnesses for Christ. They didn't do anything profound, didn't preach at Melody or pummel her over the head with their Bibles, they simply lived their faith.

We have a lady at our church whose hands are gnarled from rheumatoid arthritis, yet Bonnie paints Christmas ornaments, pins, and knickknacks for EVERY woman in the church every year. I don't know how she does it! Another woman, Rhonda, lost her only daughter at the age of sixteen from a heart defect they'd only just learned she had. Still, she and her husband organize meals for families as well as feeding the ENTIRE church every Wednesday evening.

I could go on about the many women in our church. Women, who have overcome tremendous obstacles because God is faithful, and as a result live and serve Him. My church is filled with women who are imperfect and flawed and yet God uses them to glorify Him. I can't help but squirm as I type this. Glory to God! Hallelujah!

From left to right: Robin Ratliff, Andrew Allen (the bird), and Me.

Robin is my best friend and one of the Godliest women I know! :)

2010 Women of Joy Conference in Sevierville, TN

Front row: My second daughter, Haley, Tricia, Joan

Second row: Ann, Martha Joyce, Me, Patti

Top Row" Elizabeth, Freda, Jan, Cindy, Katie

This is Rhonda and her granddaughter, Whitney

This is Bonnie and her granddaughter, Bethany. Can you see Bonnie's sweet, God-kissed hands?

What about your church? I bet you have some amazing women you could tell us about.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Betting on Love by Jennifer Johnson

This week's featured title is:
Betting on Love by Jennifer Johnson

Melody likes control.

Certified diesel mechanic Melody Markwell needs to be in control. Putting faith in the God her friends go on and on about is out of the question. Where was God when her father abandoned his wife and young daughter? Or when a woman saved Melody from a brutal attack as a teen? Or when nightmares destroy her peace of mind?

Drew Wilson can't figure out how tiny, dark-haired spitfire Melody gets under his skin so quickly. Despite her fierce competitive nature and penchant for stepping all over his shade-tree mechanic's toes, he can't ignore her need for salvation. He prays for God's help in being a good witness to Melody, even though she drives him crazy.
Can Drew rein in his own competitive nature and convince her that not all men are untrustworthy? Will Melody ever believe that a relationship with God can bring her peace, especially in times of trouble?

Key Verse:

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Book Excerpt:

"Melody, it's so good to see you. Come on--"

Melody interrupted her friend and sped into the house. "I need your help."

Gracie furrowed her eyebrows as she shut the door. "Okay. Is something wrong?"

Wyatt squealed from inside his playpen and reached up to Melody. Unable to withstand any fussing from the precious boy, Melody scooped him up into her arms. He immediately reached for her hair. "Nothing's wrong. I've agreed to do Bible study with Drew, but just as friends."

"Okay?" Gracie still looked confused.

"And I want you do to something about my hair."

"What's wrong with your hair? It's gorgeous."

Warmth trailed up her neck. "I mean I don't want to wear it up in a ponytail, and I don't know what to do with it."

Gracie squinted and cocked her head. "I thought you were going to be just friends."

Melody huffed and shifted Wyatt to her other hip. "We are." She nestled her nose into the baby's neck, avoiding eye contact with her friend. "I just want to look a little prettier."

Gracie lifted her eyebrows and slowly nodded her head. "I see."
Melody rolled her eyes. "I'm not ready for Drew to be my boyfriend, but when I am ready--"

"You want Drew to be your boyfriend."

Jennifer Johnson and the world's most supportive redheaded husband are happily married and raising the three cutest girls on the planet. Jennifer is an 8th grade math teacher in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. (Pray for her.) She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Jennifer loves to read, write, and figure her checkbook -- when the numbers match. She also likes to scrapbook and chauffeur and cheer for her daughters' soccer, basketball, singing, and youth events. Blessed beyond measure by her heavenly Father, Jennifer hopes to always think like a child -- bigger than she can imagine with her complete faith.
What do you enjoy doing/what are you hobbies?

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Week's Winner!

Baloons of © 2008 Tijmen Kielen | more info (via: Wylio)

The winner of this week's random drawing is...

Kim F!!

Congrats, Kim! Just send us an email at heartsongblog[at]gmail[dot]com and let us know if you would like a copy of White Pearls, White Roses or ten Heartpoints to be put towards a future shipment of Heartsong books!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

From the Vault: White Roses

Today's Book From the Vault is:
White Roses by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Grayson can't seem to move on.

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. Grayson knows he needs to move on, that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy for him or his young son. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve him of some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at his church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her.

For years, florist Adrea Welch has been artfully arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a faithful, grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife?

When secrets from Adrea's past collide with their building relationship, both she and Grayson must learn to lean on God's abiding wisdom.

I just love the name Grayson! Tell me, do you have a favorite character name?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day Two With Shannon Taylor Vannatter!

2010 was a dream come true. For nine and a half years, I dreamed of publication with Heartsong Presents. Last year, Heartsong published my first book, I wrote two more for the line, and held my first real, traditionally published book in my hands.

Today, I'm counting a few blessings:

The people of Romance, Rose Bud and White County Arkansas, where the books are set, adopted me and really embraced my books. I had my launch party at the Romance Waterfalls and was invited to the 30th Romance Reunion. The Rambler Cafe let me have a book signing there.

I saw my books on store shelves and met really great readers like mother and daughter Martha Overby and Sarah Crouse.

I signed books next to Cara Putnam and Mary Connealy at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis.

2011 kicked off with a bang and another dream realized: seeing my name in the 18th Annual Heartsong Awards. Thanks readers!
I have more signings scheduled, but this leg of the journey is almost over. I'm kind of sad to see this series end. But then I think of all the new characters and worlds I get to create. Writers get paid to daydream. God has richly blessed me with more than I could dream of.

What's the dream you hold close to your heart? Has God fulfilled a dream for you lately?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Blog with Shannon Taylor Vannatter!

The Darden-Gifford house in Rose Bud is one of those houses you can't pass without craning your neck to get a better view. I never knew the name, it was just the big white house in Rose Bud.

I was torn on whether to set White Roses in Rose Bud or Romance. The towns are seven miles apart. While Rose Bud seemed like the perfect setting for my florist, Romance had the post office,the re-mailing program, and weddings. So I decided to use both towns.

In the story, I mentioned a bleach blond bimbo who'd wrecked a few lives including my heroine's. At the time I thought, ooh, I'd like to write a book about her and figure why she's like that.

When JoAnne expressed interest in White Roses, she asked if it could be made into a series. I knew the post office would be perfect for book two and the big white house in Rose Bud would be book three. At the time, the house was kind of rundown. I decided that my bleach blond bimbo would be in charge of restoring it into a bed and breakfast and the hero would be the landscaper.

I asked around at the Rambler Cafe, learned the owner's name, and found out he planned to restore the house. Mr. Stark gave me permission to take pictures of the outside and promised a future tour. My mom and son were with me when I was taking pictures. My mom said, "Look at that balcony. Something big has to happen there."

I immediately thought of a scene and fell into a pattern. All the pivotal scenes happen on the balcony. While writing, I kept the inside of the house vague until my official tour. I took fictional liberty and uprooted the church to move it across the street for added conflict since my hero and heroine are unsaved at the beginning of the story.

My heroine, Shell Evans had a rough childhood, and unstable single mom, and always felt like people looked down on her whether they really did or not. Thankfully, I've experienced none of those things. It was tough getting inside Shell's cynical head. Having her think and say things that I'd never think or say.

Hopefully I have enough of her background that readers will understand why she's like that and empathize with her. I loved watching Shell blossom through the course of the story and had fun wrapping up all the lose ends in the series.

In each book, I include and Arkansas made product. My bed and breakfast had to serve coffee and RoZark Hills Coffee Roasterie just happens to be in Rose Bud. The owner knows his coffee since he set up the first Starbucks factory in New York before moving to Arkansas.

A few months later, my writer friend and her assistant went with me for the official tour of the Darden-Gifford house, something I'd wanted to do for thirty years. The description of the interior in the book is accurate, except for the attic. With the stained-glass window over the balcony, I just had to add a bedroom up there.

We learned that the house was build in the late 1890's, is on the National Historical registry and was designed by famous architects of the time, DeVoss and Carr. I was reminded that in 1982 a tornado leveled Rose Bud. It took out several outbuildings, but the house was undamaged. In the book, my heroine stays in the apartment behind the house during the restoration. The apartment is real and occupied, so I used my imagination on the interior.

Mr. Stark recently had the exterior of the house painted and thanks to White Pearls, there were rumors in Rose Bud that it was being turned into a bed and breakfast. Recently, I visited once more to get after pictures. It's nice to see the house being restored into its stately condition and Mr. Stark agreed to let me have a book signing there. I'm really looking forward to it.

Is there a house near where you live that you can't drive by without looking?