Chirp and Chatter Pages

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guest Post: Blog Talk Radio Show Host Patti Shene

Step Into the Light

I reach for my phone and hit the snooze button. 5 AM. Still dark. I’ve promised to pick up my friend at 6:30. We will share a room at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Rethinking the snooze option, I wipe the sleep from my eyes, stretch my stiff sixty-five year old muscles, inch my way out of bed, and stumble to the shower.
Squeaky clean, I let my dog in, but as I shut the screen door, something catches. No matter how hard I try, I can’t work the handle into position. The more I struggle to force it back where it belongs so I can secure the door, the more I fear I’ll break it.
In the meantime, I’ve forgotten my security system is on “quick exit.” A discordant blare screams that time’s up. I rush inside, heart racing, and punch the code into the keypad with trembling fingers. I know nothing is wrong, yet that raucous blast alone conjures up the image of a seven foot tall intruder fiendishly clawing at a bedroom window.
I disarm the system entirely and resume the task of fiddling with the door handle, which finally snaps into place.
An hour later, I’m on a roll. All essentials are packed in suitcase, computer bag, or purse, last minute tasks performed, lights left on, etc., etc. It’s exactly 6:30 as I walk out the door with garage door opener in hand. I’m a tad bit late, but not bad for me, who is never on time for anything.
Exactly 6:30. Oh yeah. The time my friend had warned me a scheduled power outage would take place. Sure enough, the lights go out, the microwave emits its funny little buzz noise, and the motor in the refrigerator winds down to silence.
And my electric garage door opener is now useless. I’m not going anywhere. I’m at the mercy of the light and power company.
This is not a good beginning to a five-day trip.
The doubts swirl around me like the millions of snowflakes that later surround us in Estes Park. Maybe God doesn’t want me at this conference. What do I have to offer anyway?
I’m on faculty this year, representing Step Into the Light, the blog talk radio show I’ve been broadcasting for several weeks. Will anyone attend my class? Do I have any appointments, any conferee who is interested in a guest appearance on the show? Will I be forced to shove business cards in peoples’ faces, praying they will look at it and contact me for an interview?
Five minutes into the doldrums of this morose thinking, the power returns. I dry my tears. They flow again as my friend and I, who do not yet know each other that well, share a moment of prayer. I’m driving, and I’m sure she is entirely comfortable putting her life in the hands of an emotional wreck.
My class is small, but I am heartened by the fact that everyone who attends expresses an interest in a radio show appearance. I find myself taking appointments even with conferees not on my appointment list. The enthusiasm for what I have to offer is overwhelming.
The most exciting moment is when a conferee and I are chatting and she exclaims that she knows she has listened to an episode of Step Into the Light. We identify the guest interview she heard, and she shares that she doesn’t recall how she found the show, but that it lifted her out of a time of darkness.
I sense God’s smile, and for the first time in a long while, I step into the light.

 Patti enjoys reading and writing, but most of all, she feels called to encourage others. She promotes the work of published and unpublished writers on her two blogs Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer, found on her website.
She hosts a weekly radio show, Step Into the Light, on Blog Talk Radio. On the show, she interviews guests who share their journey from darkness to light and/or ways they inspire others to make the journey from a dark time back to light.

“Friend” Patti on her personal Facebook page
“Like” her Step Into the Light page
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Guest Author: Ane Mulligan

A great big, very warm welcome to Ane Mulligan! I always enjoy Ane's visits to Chirp 'N Chatter. This time, she brings a fun post about her part in a soon-to-be-released collection of novellas centering around tiny houses. I am so jealous! Had I known this collection was in the works, I would have been clamoring at Ane's door, begging for my name to be on one of the novellas. Tiny houses...oh, my! What a charming concept! Love it, love it, love it! You'll be excited to know that Ane will be giving away an electronic copy of Love is Sweeter in Sugar Hill. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, award-winning author Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), CEO of a Community Theatre group, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband. You can find her on her websiteAmazon Author pageNovel RocketFacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedIn, and Google+.

Tiny Houses, Big Ideas

Have you ever had something completely off-the-wall capture your imagination? That's what happened to me when I saw the first TV show about tiny houses. I love the idea of being able to take your home with you when you travel. And I love to travel. I know it's the romantic in me, and I could probably adapt quite well to one. After all, I spend hours a day, working in a small space, while my imagination takes me worldwide.
When the mayor of Sugar Hill asked me when I was going to place a book in our town, I decided I'd put my fascination with tiny houses into the book … sometime. I still had the last two books in my Chapel Springs series to finish. Then, some of my writing pals brought up the idea of us doing a novella collection together. So I tossed out the idea of making a tiny house the unifying element.
They asked questions; I sent them links from a newsletter I get. We shared photos back and forth of the ones we liked. Within a short time, all were onboard. We wrote blurbs for our projected stories and came up with a title: Coming Home ~ a Tiny House Collection.
I took my story idea from an episode of Tiny House – Big Living about a traveling nurse, who was tired of closing up her place and renting on the road. She was buying a tiny house so she could take it with her. I should have done more research on the job of a traveling nurse rather than on tiny houses.
I'd already started working on my outline, when a plot point took me to my critique partner's daughter, who's a nurse. My idea of what a traveling nurse did and what they actually do wouldn't work for my story. Terrific.
Here it was, my idea, and all my writer pals had their stories finished or nearly so. Me? I was at the starting gate without anything. So I did what I always do in this spot. I call my critique partner Micelle Griep. A short time of brainstorming and we were on to something. Michelle's mind works so much like mine—or maybe it's because we've been critique partners for 13 years. Whatever, it works.
The city motto for Sugar Hill is "the sweet life," so naturally, I titled my novella Love is Sweeter in Sugar Hill. And while it gave me fits in the beginning, it worked out in the end to be a sweet romance.

Love is Sweeter in Sugar Hill, by Ane Mulligan
She has a tiny house. He lives in a mansion. She vows to charge a doctor with malpractice. His job depends on that doctor's finances. Will love find a way?
Kayla's Challenge, by Linda W. Yezak
She was one "I do" short of marrying the man her pushy parents chose for her. Now, half a country away, she needs a tiny house to finally be free.
If These Walls Could Talk, by Pamela S. Meyers
Both claim to have inherited the same Queen Anne until an unexpected blessing changes everything.
First Love, by Yvonne Anderson
Betrayed by her husband and desperate for healing, she can only move forward by going back home.
Dash of Pepper, by Kimberli S. McKay
His responsibilities tie him to the small town he loves, but her career plans will lead her to the big city. Will he cut his roots for her or will she clip her wings for him?
Big Love, by Michael Ehret
Homelessness expanded her world and constricted his. Now she needs his help, but he only remembers the pain. Can they find big love in a tiny house?
The Light Holding Her, by Chandra Lynn Smith
Friends since childhood. She's being stalked. He's in danger. Is their faith big enough to carry them through the trials into a deeper relationship?

Delia here. Don't these tiny house books sound amazing? I can't wait to dive right in. Short of owning one of these little jewels, I can certainly dream of having visiting the fictional worlds created by all these authors. 
Let's chat! Would you like to own a tiny house? If so, how do you see yourself living in one?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mini-interview with Author Heidi Schussman

A special welcome to Author Heidi Schussman!

What spiritual theme does El Tiburon include? How did it come to be a part of this story line?

As you may know, my books aren’t light reading. El Tiburon is a crime novel about drug and human trafficking in Central America. That being said, I attempt to show that we can cry out to the Lord in our anguish, sometimes with bitter words full of hurt and confusion. Repeatedly throughout El Tiburon and its predecessor, Counterpart, the Christian characters demonstrate a confidence in God’s presence.

In this series of books about Sean and Sport McGee I also show God’s plan for marriage and family. In Counterpart (where they meet) they fall in love but choose to not act upon the growing desire for each other, though at times it’s comically difficult.

What smell do you love most, and why?

This is a fun question. I found myself thinking of all the smells I love and realized how important smell must be to me. Smell is one of the most primal senses we have and the scent of something can evoke vivid memories. I can break it down into three categories:

Flowers… I adore the smell of flowers! Especially roses, gardenias, plumeria, and lilac. I have all but the plumeria in my yard and that’s where I usually write.

Ocean… I was born on the coast of Northern California, and I can’t wait to roll down my window when I return for a visit. The smell of the kelp churning with the heavy salt water fills my soul.

Food… I like to cook and I like to eat. When I’m preparing one of my concoctions the whole house smells delicious (probably more delicious than the taste). I love going to a friend’s house and being greeted by the savory scents of a carefully prepared meal.

Please share a verse of scripture that is especially meaningful to you, and why it is special.

Jeremiah 6:16 -- “This is what the Lord says: Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’”

Isn’t that a crack up? I don’t know for sure why this verse resonates with me so much. Maybe I can relate to God’s advice to me and my willful desire to not go down that road. Then I wonder why my soul’s not at rest. Oh well… I’m older and wiser now and I prefer the old godly road. It’s His way or the highway, as the old saying goes.

About El Tiburon:

Action packed with espionage and intrigue, Sean is a CIA agent on a mission to Guatemala with his partner, Gary, to identify an elusive drug lord trafficker. When Sean's feisty wife, Sport, is unwittingly kidnapped and caught up in the mix, the plot becomes a multi-layered web that takes the reader through the underworld of crime. El Tiburon is a thriller that kept me turning the pages. With well-developed, modern day characters on a white-knuckled ride, El Tiburon will keep you on the edge of your seat.

About Heidi:

Traveling with my husband of twenty-eight years is my favorite past-time. We love visiting other cultures, especially if it gives us the opportunity to brush up on our Spanish. When in the tropics we scuba dive every chance we get. The rest is divided between gardening, exercise and of course writing.
In addition to fiction I write three blogs: A Dashing Bold Adventure is about our travels throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe. The Wine Tribe covers a monthly food and wine pairing competition. And lastly is my author blog, Author H. Schussman, where you can find author interviews and what’s happening in my career.
I worked with US Veterans for 15 years as a physical therapist. I specialized in cognitive and psychiatric disorders. I was a clinical instructor for CSUS throughout my career as a PT and have the privilege of being a guest lecturer on two subjects: Cognitive and Psychiatric Disorders in the Geriatric Population, and Documentation for Skilled Intervention.
I’ve since retired from that profession and devote myself to writing fulltime. I’ve written two books (Counterpart and El Tiburon) and one screenplay (Piratessa). I am currently writing about an American youth group in Colombia with the adventurous McGees as chaperones… what could go wrong with eight teenagers in the jungle?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guest Author: Tamera Lynn Kraft

Tamera Lynn Kraft

The Scary Road

My husband and I went to New Mexico on vacation a few years ago. One of the sites my husband and I wanted to see was Sandia Crest. There’s a tram that goes to the top of the mountain, but we decided to drive, so we typed Sandia Crest into our GPS. What we didn’t know is that there are two roads to the top of Sandia Mountain. One road is paved with wide lanes and guard rails. The other road is an unmaintained state highway that you travel at your own risk. Our GPS took us up the second path.
We should have guessed how scary the road would be when the sign said “Unmaintained Roads Ahead. Travel at your own risk.” But we decided it wouldn’t be that bad. After all, we had a four-wheel drive SUV, and it wasn’t winter, so when it became a gravel road we weren’t that worried.
We did get a little nervous when the road started having ruts and stones the size of the Grand Canyon. Then the road narrowed until most of the time, it was one lane. The fallen trees blocking part of the road were interesting.
Then there were the steep drop-offs with no guardrails. Of course, the “Beware of Bears” signs didn’t make us feel any better. We had to go slow, very slow, so the journey to the top took much longer than we expected, but the view made it all worth it. It was spectacular.
Finally, we made it to the paved road. Soon after that, we reached Sandia Crest, elevation 10,689 feet. The view was like nothing I’d ever seen. We went back down over the safe way. It was a nice drive, but not nearly as fun or as beautiful as the scary road.
Being on the journey of becoming a published writer over the age of 50 is a lot like driving on that scary road. Few travel there, and there’s the constant feeling of “what am I doing here?” When that first publishing contract comes through, you know the view is worth the drive.
In  my new novel, Alice’s Notions, Alice Brighton is afraid of driving and has to confront her fears and drive up a winding West Virginia mountain road. She’s wanted to play it safe since her husband died in the war, but life doesn’t work that way sometimes.
Sometimes God takes us on scary paths. We travel those roads alone, because nobody else wants to take a chance. These paths take us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes they’re dangerous, but God never promised us safety. He did promise to travel these roads with us. And the view is spectacular. When we reach the crest where the air is thin, so thin few travel there, and we experience the magnificence of God’s glory, we realize it was worth it all.

About Alice’s Notions:

In this quaint mountain town, things aren't always what they seem.
World War 2 widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn't know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons
Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn't know who she can trust.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories.
She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions, released in April.
Contact Tamera on her website or at these online locations:

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guest Author: Judythe Morgan

Listening to Plot Ideas

People love to share their plot ideas once they find out you are an author. Truth is, for most writers, there are far more story ideas than time to write.
Most plots grow out of an author’s experiences. That is certainly true for me.
My debut novel grew from my time at Eighth Army Headquarters, South Korea. The Pendant’s Promise, published in 2012, chronicles the lives of three people who met during the Vietnam era.
A second book with the same characters came about because readers wanted to know more about their past. While flattered at the readers’ desire to know more, the requests put me in a quandary.
Stories about actions and events that precede something else are called preludes and usually written first. The order of publication would be all wrong.
Still, after multiple appeals over the next year, I caved and published a prelude then moved on to other writing projects.
I never dreamed there would be any more books about the three characters, but recently, a reader contacted me and wanted to know how two secondary characters in the original story got together.
That story idea had not occurred to me. Plus, it had now been years since the out-of-order prelude. Would readers even want to read another book with the same characters?
I promised her I’d think about it.
Shortly after my discussion with that reader, I stumbled upon an article about the recovery of the remains of First Lieutenant William Ryan, who was killed in action when his plane was shot down in Laos on May 11, 1969. After nearly 48 years, Lieutenant Ryan will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on May 10, 2017.
After further research on POW/MIAs and reading numerous personal accounts of families with loved ones missing in military actions, I realized there were so many wives and mothers without closure. An idea formed, one that would accommodate the time lapse between the previously published novels.
Until He Returns, the story my reader wanted, releases this summer. While writing it, another plot sprouted and now a fourth book in the PROMISES series is in the works.
As writers, we have all experienced long-winded discussions with those who have a story we should write. Most of the time, we simply smile and nod.
I’m so glad I didn’t this time.

Shirley Carlson’s husband has been MIA in Vietnam for decades. She’s filled her life with family, friends, her business, and David Sands’ companionship. Now David wants more. Only she wants her husband home and buried before she moves forward with another relationship.
David Sands has loved Shirley for years, patiently waiting for her to come to terms with her husband’s death. After one last assignment to the Middle East, he’s retiring from the Army. All he wants is Shirley at his side, as his wife. He proposes before he deploys.
Will Shirley make a commitment without closure to her past life, or will she watch her new love walk away?
Author Bio:
Award-winning author Judythe Morgan juggles many hats. She’s an Air Force brat, an Army wife, one time-Department of Army Civilian, mother/grandmother, antiques dealer, schoolteacher, mayor’s wife, and sometimes-church pianist.
Her diverse experiences bring life to her characters. Her belief in true love, second chances, and forgiveness means you’ll always find a happy ending.
She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of American.
Connect with Judythe:


Sign up for Judythe’s newsletter to receive a free eReader copy of Love in the Morning Calm, Prelude to The Pendant’s Promise (the out-of-order prelude) in the PROMISES series and be first to know the official release dates for her new releases.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Author Interview: Christine Lindsay

A huge welcome to fellow PelicanBook Group author Christine Lindsay! Christine agreed to 'sit still' for my 3-question mini-interview. Enjoy!
Christine Lindsay

Your book and you
What inspired you to write Sofi’s Bridge?
Sofi’s Bridge was inspired by watching how loved ones go through the steps of grief. We don’t take the basic steps to grief recovery in the same order. Nor do all of us come out of our grief in healthy ways. Throughout the basic steps listed below, some of us can get stuck.
Below are the 7 basic steps in grief recovery, and where each of my characters gets stuck and how the intertwining of the characters’ individual grief creates the plot for Sofi’s Bridge. Often, the stages of grief are blurred, and people can go through several steps at the same time.
  •  Shock & DenialSofi’s younger sister, Trina, is stuck here for most of the story. Witnessing her and Sofi’s father drown results in Trina’s Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Her almost catatonic state puts her at risk of being placed in a sanitorium for the mentally ill.

Sofi is stuck in Denial.  As the eldest sister, and due to the fact, their mother collapses in her grief, Sofi doesn’t allow herself to express her own sadness as she cares for Trina and their mother. 
  • Pain & Guilt – As Sofi bottles up her own grief, her emotions snowball into guilt; that she should forego all of her own ambitions to care for her loved ones.
  •    Anger & Bargaining – Neil (who is really Dr. Neil Galloway) is on the run from the English police for the murder of the man in Ireland. This man and his industrial neglect led to the death of Neil’s father. Neil’s anger turns into retaliation. It is while he is hiding under a fake identity at Sofi’s family home in Washington, that he notices the PTSS that Sofi’s sister is undergoing. As a doctor, he can’t turn his back on a person who needs his medical help.
  • Depression, Reflections, Loneliness – While each character in the story goes through this stage of grief, this step is most exemplified by Sofi’s Mother, Rosella. Suffering the loss of her beloved husband in his drowning accident, Rosella buries and blurs her emotions under the influence of Laudanum. While pharmaceutical help is often needed through grief, some of us can get stuck there, and are unable to move on to healing.

The last three steps in grief recovery set up the climax of the book and bring the story to a happy and healthy conclusion.
  •  The Upward Turn

  • Reconstruction & Working Through

  • Acceptance & Hope

About you
What smell do you love most, and why?
The flowers in my garden. I’m an avid gardener, and often the sensuousness of my garden is displayed in my novels.

God and you

Do you usually insert a spiritual theme into your books? If so, do you have a favorite?
Each of my books has a strong spiritual theme particular to that story. My personal favorite though, is the spiritual theme in Captured by Moonlight (Book 2 of my trilogy Twilight of the British Raj). That spiritual theme is dying to one’s own agenda that God may have full sway in our life to create His agenda in our lives, only to discover that His agenda gives us the greatest joy.

About Sofi’s Bridge

Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busybody, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

About Author Christine Lindsay
Irish born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama. Christine's fictional novels have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite as well as 2nd place in RWA’s Faith Hope and Love contest.  
Purchase sites for SOFI’S BRIDGE:     (Winner 2nd place for RWA Faith, Hope, & Love 2009)
Barnes and Noble