Chirp and Chatter Pages

Friday, June 30, 2017

Guest post: Leeann Betts -- Creating a Pseudonym

Creating a Pseudonym

Several people have asked me “Why a pseudonym?”, so I thought perhaps more readers and authors might want to know the answer, as well. Within the Christian community, I’ve had folks who said, “Isn’t that like lying?”
The answer to the first question is perhaps easier than to the second. So I’ll start with the second.
In the Bible, we see many instances of folks being given new names. Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah because God changed who they were. Jacob became Israel, which loosely translated means “one who struggles with God” because of his night-long battle with the angel of the Lord. Joseph of the Old Testament was given a new name by the Pharaoh because of his new position, and in Isaiah 62:4 we read: Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
In Biblical times, names had a meaning, so it only makes sense that if God changes who we are in Him, it’s not lying.
How does that apply to my pen name? Well, that brings us to the answer to the first question.
I (Leeann) was created to fulfill a specific purpose, including:
  1. Donna writes historical and contemporary, and she didn’t want readers confused when they picked up one of her books as to which genre to expect.
  2. Schlachter is pretty far down the alphabet, and most people who look for books in stores or libraries tend to start at A and work their way to Z. Betts is much closer to the beginning of the alphabet.
  3. Donna wanted to experiment with voice and story-telling style, and felt that might be better accomplished through a pen name.
  4. Donna wanted to honor her mother and mother-in-law, so here’s how she did it: Lee is her husband Patrick’s middle name; Ann is her mother-in-law’s name; and Betts was her mother’s nickname in nursing school.
You will have your own reasons for creating a pseudonym. The most common reasons I’ve read about are: the desire for anonymity, the multi-genre issue, the new creation in Christ issue (if you wrote erotica, for example, in your ‘before’ life); and a desire to be somebody you just aren’t.
Please leave a comment about your thoughts on pseudonyms. As a reader, do you feel cheated if you find out your favorite author is really a pen name?

About Hidden Assets:

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?

About the Author:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.

Friday, June 23, 2017

What do you consider lovely?

During my heroine Debbie Barker’s interviews, she asks every potential husband, “What do you consider lovely?”

Oh, why is she interviewing potential husbands? It’s the brainchild of the mayor of Turtle Springs, Kansas—since the town is hurting for men, why not invite them to apply? About forty men show up to interview as potential husbands for the women of the town.

And oh, how Debbie is longing for loveliness in her life. The recently ended Civil War has decimated the country, its land and people. With both her fiancé and her brother dead, she decides to join her parents when they leave behind their life in Maine to homestead in Turtle Springs.

Only Turtle Springs is as desolate as Maine had been, without the advantage of rolling oceans, rugged coastline and towering pines. She longs for nothing more than a flower garden—but that won’t happen until after the sod is broken and the first crops harvested. A year at least. Maybe two.

So she wants to know, does her potential husband have a hankering for beauty like she does?

God Himself plants that desire within us. He even commands us, “whatever is...lovely...think about such things.” (Phil 4:7)

What are some things the Bible calls lovely that we may think about?
  •        The dwelling place of God Psalm 84:1
  •        Your family Job 5:20-26
  •        Wisdom’s house Prov 14:1
  •        Life Eccl 12:6-7
  •        Parks and gardens Isaiah 64:8-12
  •        Meadow Jeremiah 6:1-5   
  •        Hills Jer 22:6-7
  •        Songs/Voice Ez 33:32      

After all, everything is beautiful in its time! (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In the natural world, my hearts at the crash of waves on Maine’s rocky coast or the grandeur of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. There is nothing so lovely as the smile of an infant, or the innocent play of a toddler. My heart feeds on the loveliness of music.

How about you? What do you consider lovely?

Sunshine of My Heart:

About the collection: Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men...and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

About Sunshine of my Heart: Debbie Barker longs to bring beauty to her new home on the prairie, where her family moved after the war, and seeks a husband to help her father run the ranch. Zack Gage returned home from the war to a life in ruins—family dead and business bankrupted. He answers the mail-order husband ad to seek a fresh start. But neither Debbie nor Zeke know what they are doing when it comes to ranching. . .or love.

About Darlene Franklin:

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin's greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. In July she will reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Her most recent titles are Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands and Acadian Hearts. You can find her online at: Website and blog, Facebook, Amazon author page

Twitter: @darlenefranklin

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guest Author: Theresa Lynn Hall

Struggling with Forgiveness

As Christians, we know if we repent our sins, our God is faithful and just, and He forgives our sins. We also know we are commanded to forgive those who sin against us. If God commands us to do these things, why do we find ourselves in situations where it is so hard to forgive? Especially when the one who has hurt us doesn’t seem to care? Or apologize? Even worse is when we’re hurt by family or someone who is supposed to love and care for us. I think we’ve all been there and have had to search deep within ourselves to find the strength to move forward. Most of us only need to be hurt once to know that we don’t want to open ourselves up to that kind of hurt again. But what if we forgive only to have someone hurt us again and again? What then?
God doesn’t want us to allow people to hurt us repeatedly. Just because we’re supposed to forgive, even in the absence of an apology, it doesn’t mean people have the right to take advantage of us. Sometimes, distance along with forgiveness is the only solution. Moving on and putting certain people in our past is the only way to protect ourselves. But there are times when we can’t do that. What if you work with this person? What if they are your family? Learning to get past it and move on is often not for the one who has hurt us, it is for us. Holding on to hurt and anger will slowly tear you apart and can even pull you away from God and weaken your faith. It’s something every Christian has struggled with, no matter who you are. We all have this in common. But what if someone is not a Christian? I can’t imagine the inner struggles and heartache that non-Christians go through.
In Ransom in Rio, Lexi faces the loss of her brother and the realization of a family secret that rips her apart. Her faith is weak and she isn’t sure what she’s going to do. What she goes through is something we can all relate to in one way or another. The only answer is forgiveness, but sometimes the journey to forgiveness is a long one. One thing I know from experience is that it doesn’t happen overnight. But when you find the will to forgive, your heart will have a peace that washes over it. It will free you from the pain, hurt, and anger that weighs your heart down. If you’re struggling with forgiving someone, I pray that you will continue to seek God’s will for you and find it in your heart to let your grievances go—even if it takes time.
Colossians 3:13—Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

A Chat with Theresa:

What inspired you to write Ransom in Rio?
Pelican Book Group began a new series call Passport to Romance. They provided a list of international settings to choose from, each with a list of three things that had to be written into the book. My husband had just returned from Rio on a business trip and had brought back pictures of this beautiful place. He spent two weeks there and learned a lot about the people and their culture. His pictures and stories inspired me to choose Rio. Hopefully, I’ll get to go someday!

What household task do you most dislike? Which do you most enjoy?
I dislike doing laundry! It never ends! You can’t get caught up no matter how hard you try. I love to cook. I love spending all day making a great meal for my family. It’s hard to do while working full-time, but on weekends and holidays, I love cooking their favorite meals and spending time together around the table. Cleaning up is another story!

Please share a verse of scripture that is especially meaningful to you, and why it is special.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is my favorite verse. It hangs framed in my office and is the screen saver on my phone. I have been through some hard times, like we all have, and when I feel like I can’t go on, I recite this verse and keep it close. This verse reminds me where my strength comes from. It is only through Him that we can endure the trials of this world.

About Ransom in Rio:

Private Investigator Braden McCoy wants nothing more than to finish out the week doing a little fishing from his boat. The ex-special ops vet enjoys his peaceful life and loves his new career. He’s learned to put his past behind him and enjoy his blessings. Until a mourning redhead walks into his office and changes his plans.
Lexi Ramos always knew her family was dysfunctional. Until the sudden death of her brother, she never knew exactly how much. Consumed with questions surrounding his accident, she seeks the help of a private investigator. What starts out as a murder investigation in Cozumel, quickly crosses borders and escalates into a race against time to save them both from Brazilian kidnappers, who somehow know more about her family secrets than she does. Lexi soon realizes that life comes with a price.

About Theresa Lynn Hall:

Theresa is an award-winning author of Christian Fiction. A native Texan, she loves to write suspenseful stories that happen in small Texas towns with old-fashioned Southern values. She’s an elementary teacher and mom to two boys—the oldest being in law enforcement, which comes in handy when she’s researching. When she’s not teaching kids or writing, she loves to cook, read a good suspense, and binge-watch episodes of Dateline. She loves to hear from readers and can be found at and @theresalynnhall. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book Review: The Silent Corner (Dean Koontz)

Dean Koontz still has it, people. The man can write a tale that leaves readers begging for the next book. He had it 30 years ago, when I read my first Koontz book, and he still has it today.

The Silent Corner is one of those storylines that grabs you from the get-go and never lets go. Jane Hawk is one of the strongest female characters I’ve read in a long time. The story line is fascinating. The suspense is totally gripping. The writing is…well, this is Dean Koontz, after all. The writing is phenomenal.

I won’t rehash the story line, which is available everywhere the book sells. Just know this: There’s absolutely nothing to criticize about The Silent Corner. Some say Koontz’s style changed over the years, and it probably did. We all change with time, and as we change, so does our way of communicating. I loved this author through every ‘change,’ because one thing remained unchanging throughout the years: Dean Koontz can write. He can tell a story better than all but a couple of other authors that I’m aware of, and he holds his own even with them. His stories never disappoint, and The Silent Corner certainly doesn’t. I was glued to the pages from start to finish.

Unpredictable. Unforgettable. Fascinating. Thought-provoking. Endless heart-pounding excitement. Yes, it’s really that good. 

Off to read The Whispering Room. Another Jane Hawk story? I’m already there!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Guest Author: Donna Schlachter

Donna Schlachter

Research Isn't Work

I always thought history was boring, probably because about the only thing I remember is memorizing dates for the reigns of monarchs (I’m from Canada, so we focused on British history). And I don’t do well with memorizing.
But give me a tidbit of historical information, like the Pony Express, and I’m off to the races. And while not all research is historical, I thought you might be interested in a list of places where you can do research.
  1. Your local library: Most libraries have a local history section or a genealogy section, and in larger towns and cities, you will likely also find newspaper archives. Look for books written during the time period you’re writing about.
  2. Historical societies: often have diaries and journals of residents, albums of pictures, and lots of newspaper and magazine clippings. Most do a calendar each year as a fund raiser, so ask for back copies that are probably reduced in price now.
  3. Historical markers: Most states have dozens of historical markers along the highways. Don’t be afraid to get off the highway for a few miles and follow a rutted trail into the middle of a huge meadow to discover a single marker about an obscure Civil War Battle that few have heard of.
  4. Trail Interpretation Centers: Not only do they talk about the trail but usually they include history of the local area as well.
  5. Visitor Centers: Often the people who work or volunteer at these centers are locals who know the local history or have an interest in a special piece of history.
  6. State Park centers and gift shops: The people who work here usually know a lot about the area, or know the people in the area who know a lot.
  7. Museums: There are museums for just about every interest. I have visited airplane and glider museums; Pony Express museums; Old Western Town museums; War museums; aircraft carrier museum; police and military museum; firearms museums; stagecoach museum; carriage museum; and automobile museums.
  8. History Museums: Particularly in larger cities, these museums bring in and rotate through a variety of exhibits during the year. Become a member and get on their mailing list to stay up to date. For example, Denver recently had the Sherlock Holmes exhibit and the Poison exhibit.
  9. Entertainment attractions: For example, in Las Vegas, there are virtual reality-type shows where you can be a CSI and walk through a crime scene, look at evidence, and enter a report as to your findings.
  10. Movies: I like to watch movies set in the time period I’m currently writing in. The closer the movie was made to the event the better, I’ve found.
For my latest release, Echoes of the Heart, I spent a lot of time in museums, in the library, online, and in the car driving from one Pony Express station to the next. While I haven’t covered the entire trail, I hope to. Which will probably germinate more stories about the Pony Express.

About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and  under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express Romance Collection" released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Guest Author Julie Arduini: When There's No Plan B

A huge welcome to my guest author, Julie Arduini!

When There’s No Plan B

About Julie Arduini’s June Release: ENGAGED

When I wrote book one in my Surrendering Time series, ENTRUSTED, Trish Maxwell was in New York City fulfilling a dream job. Although Trish spent time in Speculator Falls, she made it clear that she resented the Adirondack mountain community. Of all the characters in the village, Trish definitely was not the nicest.

Fast forward and in book three, ENGAGED, Trish is the heroine. She’s back in Speculator Falls without a career, living with her parents. Life has not worked out like she planned. More than not having her dream job, she left her hometown in a hurry without saying goodbye to hardly anyone. The senior citizens she used to take care of at the senior center are angry. Her ex-boyfriend eventually got over his hurt and married the girl who replaced her at the senior center. Trish returns home with no friends and no prospects in her field.

Trish’s mom offers her a job at the department store she manages, and as Trish mingles throughout the community asking forgiveness of those she hurt by leaving with a superior attitude and without saying goodbye, they all ask the same thing—what’s next? She realizes her education and dreams were all invested in getting an events planning job in New York City. She has no idea what comes next.

ENGAGED has been fun to write and explore the theme of finding commitment when there is no Plan B. Trish gets in all sorts of predicaments as she tries to forge a new path as someone who can be trusted to stick around. When she meets paramedic Wayne Peterson, she also has to take him and his son into consideration as she decides what she wants to do. The department store isn’t a passion for her, but it’s close to home and helps her family. Creating window displays throughout the Adirondacks is something she loves, but it would require a lot of marketing, travel, and fundraising. And the bright lights of New York City haven’t completely dimmed for her. Trish has a lot on her plate as she discovers who she is and what she’s supposed to do.

I remember as a new college graduate, I was certain my adult life was going to be in Rochester, New York in public relations. Each resume I sent out was with visions of what my apartment would look like, who my colleagues would be. Not long after graduation I became a Christian, and even so new in faith, I realized doors were closing for my dream. Not only did I not end up in Rochester, I was back in my hometown, living at home. When I did get a job, it wasn’t as much publicity as it was human services. Only God knew that the job would be a decade long ministry adventure where I placed senior citizens fifty-five years and older into not for profit volunteer positions. That plan not only gave me many grandparents after never having any growing up, it gave me a delightful blend of characters you see in the Surrendering Time series.

Does Trish ever find what she’s meant to do? Can she be grateful for the death of her dream and exchange it for God’s plans? Well, you need to read ENGAGED to find out. I believe you’ll enjoy her story, available on Amazon June 26.

How about you? Have you ever had to exchange your dreams for God’s plans? I’d love to hear your story!

Trish Maxwell’s back in Speculator Falls with egg on her face and a lot of apologies to make. She left the mountain town for her dream job in New York City, only to come back unemployed. With no prospects, she works at her mom’s department store and makes amends as she finds a new passion creating window displays for Adirondack businesses. She works hard and tries to convince the people of Speculator Falls she’s changed for the better.

As Trish pitches in with community events, she meets paramedic Wayne Peterson, the one man who doesn’t seem to judge her. She even makes friends with Jenna Regan, who helps Trish when people demand to know what’s next in Trish’s life. Living in New York City has been her goal, but the more she’s around Wayne and the Adirondack area, the more she’s drawn to revising her plans. Just when Trish thinks the plan for her life’s coming together, a second chance comes her way that could give her every career goal she’s ever wanted, but threaten to tear her and Wayne apart. Can Trish surrender fears about her future and discover God’s plan for her?

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. The last book in the series, ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future, is coming in June. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and also is a blogger for Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Guest Author: Marilyn Leach

Pentecost, A Glorious Birthday Celebration

This coming Sunday, June 5, is known in the world-wide church as Pentecost Sunday. It’s celebrated in commemoration of an event that was spectacular by any standard. (It’s the moment the Holy Spirit of God manifested itself and came to dwell in people of Christian faith on this earth. Many call it the birth of the church.)
If you like drama, this episode in church history is loaded with it. Jesus had recently ascended into heaven with the promise that His Holy Spirit would come. His followers were gathered together in a single place when there was a huge gush of wind and fire danced above their heads. Wow! They suddenly burst into speaking languages they had never spoken before and bystanders from various parts of the world recognized them as their mother tongues. The inspired speakers shared all about God’s glory with visitors from countries near and far. What an amazing way to introduce the Christian faith to the globe!
Different churches in multiple countries have their own traditions of commemorating that occasion. In France, they blow horns to mimic the gush of wind. In Italy, they spread red and pink petals across the church floor to represent fire. In Northwest England, they have Whit Walks, processions from church and chapel with brass bands and choirs. Some areas have special fetes and contests. I attended a church on Pentecost Sunday that draped their sanctuary ceiling and walls with great swathes of brightly colored fabric.
However and wherever Pentecost is celebrated, it’s a commemoration of God’s good gifts to people of faith. I hope your coming Sunday is filled with His unsearchable goodness.

Enigma of Fire: A Berdie Elliott Pentecost Mystery

In the English village of Aidan Kirkwood, no divine gifts are going spare when Berdie Elliott flames into action and demystifies the enigma of fire.
When English village, Aidan Kirkwood, experiences an explosive fire, the entire parish is aflame with rumor and innuendo until Berdie Elliott, the scorching sleuth and vicar’s wife, can douse the flames with cold, hard facts that expose the perpetrator.  A heroic dog, elusive book, and military champions come together to reveal the enigma of fire.

Enigma of Fire Excerpt:

 “Cedric. Don’t chance it. Please.” Doug’s voice trembled as he shot out the command.
“Don’t what?” Berdie asked herself as much as Doug.
“Down, Mrs. Elliott.”  Doug’s eyes wide, his breathing was short and rapid for the toil of making his wheels go toward them as fast as he could manage.
“Down?  What are you talking about?”
Berdie suddenly experienced a jolt to her body that propelled her to the ground with such force it left her breathless.  A stab of pain coursed through her while the reverberation of full-on colliding trains penetrated her ears.  The horrific ache that shot through her knees focused her senses as she tried to gather her thoughts.  Grass etched itself into her cheek, making it itch.  Then the smell of acrid smoke assaulted her nose.  She worked to catch a breath of air.  What’s happened?


Are you an Agatha Christie fan?  Does the thought of an English village make you long to grab your passport and head across the pond?  Are cozy mysteries your cup of tea?  If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you won’t want to miss Marilyn Leach’s newest release, Enigma of Fire
Intrepid heroine Berdie Elliott, a vicar’s wife whose sleuthing skills were honed as an investigative reporter, faces her most challenging mystery yet when her husband’s former military comrades come to the sleepy village of Aiden Kirkwood for a sculling regatta.  From its riveting prologue to the final resolution, this story showcases Leach at her best. 
—Amanda Cabot, CBA and ECPA bestselling author

Marilyn Leach is a dyed-in-the-wool British enthusiast who lives lakeside near the Colorado foothills.  She enjoys viewing and reading mysteries that originate across the pond.  From the Scottish Boarders to Devon, city buzz to rural church bells, she enjoys excursions throughout the beautiful isle that inspire her writing.  Her dear friends, who have become like family, live in Reading, England. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vote, vote, vote!

I'm so pleased to announce that SUMMER DREAMS is in the running for Non-erotic Book of the Month on Long and Short Reviews. Here's a piece of their review:

This book is inspirational in many ways more than religion. This story gave a feeling of warmth and love. enjoyable read and provided the warmth, conflict and resolution to make it excellent.

I'd love it if everyone who reads this post would pop over to LASR and place your vote...hopefully for SUMMER DREAMS. 😀 But if another book sounds better to you, by all means vote for it. I know all the authors appreciate every single thumbs-up. 

Voting lasts only two days...TODAY and TOMORROW. The poll closes at midnight on Friday, June 2, so don't dally. Do it only takes a moment.

Thank you in advance...I appreciate you!