Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Anita Higman about her Guideposts Novel, A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

What inspired you to incorporate Jim Crow laws and segregation into your book?

Even though A Merry Little Christmas is really a love story, I felt it needed some additional conflict, and some of the racial struggles of the 60s seemed to be the right choice for this particular plot. I grew up in the 60s, and I was always interested in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In some ways I feel I’ve waited my whole life to write this book. It came easily to me in that it’s been percolating in my imagination for a long time, but it was also hard to write because I had to consider more deeply the injustices of that era. Even though it sounds like a cliché, A Merry Little Christmas truly was the book of my heart.

The farm scenes seem pretty realistic. Did you grow up in the country?

I did. While the small towns in the book are totally fictitious I did grow up on a wheat, cattle, pig, and chicken farm in Western Oklahoma, and it was pretty much identical to the one in the novel. If the farm scenes seem realistic it’s because I got to know farm life quite well before I moved off to college at eighteen.

Franny and Charlie come from very different backgrounds, but are both looking for something very different from the way they've grown up. Do you think as humans, we all just have a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality?

Yes, that is a human frailty that is easy to succumb to, and I’ve been guilty of it as well. But God is good about reminding me that he’s placed me on my own unique life-road, and it may have little to do with anyone else’s journey. Besides, in many cases when we get a closer look at someone else’s “lush green grass” it usually turns out to be turf.

Do you think that sometimes we don't pray for what we want because we are afraid of getting what we pray for?
Perhaps that’s true, which would explain why Franny is equally nervous and excited about the sudden answer to her prayers.

Was there a reason you added the themes of Christmas and music to the story?

My editor asked me to add those elements, and it was a blessing, since Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love music. Also, female readers in general love novels that are set during the holidays, and I’m hoping the music adds a cozy feel to the overall Christmas theme.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
“The Holly and the Ivy.” The song has a melancholy feel to it, but it’s also beautifully sweet. I love the “Currier and Ives” style pictures my imagination conjures up when I’m listening to it.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

I love to have my gal friends over for brunch around Christmastime. I have been collecting tea dishes for many years, and so when I do a brunch, I go all out. Women are usually in a service mode most of their lives so when they come to my house I want them to feel wonderfully pampered. And by the time they leave, I hope their hearts are a little merrier and they feel we’ve celebrated Christmas well!

Is Franny's character based on any "real life" person?

Franny is like me in some ways, but she has a lot more courage than I have and more laughter in her heart. So, really, I want to be Franny when I grow up.

Does the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have a special significance to you?
The song makes me swoon it’s so romantic and lovely. It makes me think of being snowed-in with the man I love. Of course, that scene also needs a mountain cabin with a crackling fire and two mugs of wassail.

You have written everything from romance to suspense/thrillers to nonfiction. What is your favorite genre to write?
I love inspirational romance. There’s just nothing else like it for writing and reading. It naturally makes you want to curl up on an overstuffed couch and read the day away.

More about Anita Higman

Bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has thirty-two books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Please visit her online at

You can purchase A Merry Little Christmas in most bookstores or at this Amazon link:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Worse than the Fiscal Clilff?

What could be worse than the fiscal cliff?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about the perilous times that would occur in the last days before Jesus Christ returns to earth in bodily form, he didn’t talk about the problems of collapsing economies, wars, natural disasters and pestilence.
Although these things are mentioned several other places in the Old and New Testaments as signs about the end (see Matthew 24), Paul pointed out conditions that appear to be much worse.
Here is some of what he said in 2 Timothy 3: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful,unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
On this Thanksgiving Day one word stands out: Unthankful.”
So, Lord, today I am thankful. First, Heavenly Father, that you loved enough to send your Son to Redeem my soul from sin and give me eternal life. Thank you, Jesus, for pouring your blood out for me.
Thank you, Lord, that you hear and answer prayer. Thanks for healing our son, Gary, when doctors said he only had 40 percent of his kidney function. Thank you for healing our daughter, Gwen, when she had symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but was found to not have anything serious. Thank you for touching Gwen’s husband, Mark, when he had symptoms of a brain aneurysm, but the second test revealed he was OK. Thank you for healing our granddaughter, Melissa, who had croup and her parents were moving in a snowstorm. (By the time they arrived at their destination the croup was gone.) Thank you for six of our younger grandchildren, who are all miracles—four miracles of God’s mercy during their mothers’ pregnancy, and two through the miracle of adoption.
Thank you, God, that our children and grandchildren have the Word of God planted in their hearts and they have accepted you a Savior and are endeavoring to do those things pleasing in your sight.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving us peace when a miracle didn’t come for our daughter, Carolyn. Thank you for the gift she was to our family, and that she had a firm relationship with you.
It seems every week, if not every day, I see your hand working in me, my loved ones, and in the church, answering prayer and directing our footsteps.
Thank you for allowing me to share the gospel with others, and hopefully some of them will change their destination for eternity.
Thanks, again, Lord, for loving the world so much that you gave your one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16.).
Another prayer: Help me to understand, as Paul told Timothy, that matters of our heart, our faith, and our actions, are more important than anything on earth. Yet, I know you also are concerned about our financial needs being met, the strength of our nation, the wisdom of our leaders, and the welfare of the people.
So work in our hearts and the church, but also wake up those who have power over people’s physical and financial future. May they seek your face. Fill with godly wisdom. Thank you for your blessings on the United States in the past, and I ask you to please bless America again.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I've interviewed author Joi Copeland about her new book. This is Joi's second story about hope, and she shares about her journey to finding it for herself. She also tells about her Christmas novella-- Ada


Kayla Musso has been married to her husband, Brad, for several years. Having just had a baby, Kayla feels her life couldn't be more perfect. Then one day, Brad drops a bomb shell on her that threatens to destroy everything they have worked so hard for in their marriage. Suddenly she is faced with a choice to forgive or let go of the life she loves so much.

Emily Sorenson had always been the picture of health, but when a trip to the doctor becomes the shock of her life, she is faced with a decision, like Kayla, to either fight the battle before her or give up the life she loves. In addition, her husband Jake has to come to grips with the struggle before them as well. As he does, he begins to question God. How could He let Emily go through such pain? As he wrestles with his questions, he faces his own dilemma. Would he be willing to seek God in his time of despair or will he walk away from everything so dear to him?

Every marriage has it struggles. Into every life, rain must fall. At some point, we all question God and his motives. Although the characters in this much-anticipated follow up to Hope for Tomorrow are fictitious, the turmoils they face are very real for many people all over the world every day, and you may find the solutions are something you can apply to give you Hope for the Journey we call "life

1. Hope is a pretty general subject. How do you look at this subject differently? I look to the Cross to find hope.
2. What was the inspiration for this book? Did it come from your experience, challenges, or your testimony? I was praying about what to write for my next novel about. I realized I hadn't read many fiction books about this subject. I knew that this was a subject that needed to be written in hopes of helping women.
3. Have you been in a spot where you thought there might be no hope? Yes! I struggle with anxiety, the kind that leaves me debilitated! I would pray and pray that Jesus would take it away from me or heal me. He chose to use medicine.
4. How does hope contrast with fear? Fear takes away any hope. Fear takes our eyes off the Author of Hope.
5. You speak about a journey. How does one find the way when he’s lost or confused? By turning his/her eyes on Jesus. He's the only One who can shed light on the road home.
6. How have you helped others find hope? Goodness, I hope so!
This from Ada: Joi didn't know how to answer this, but you can see from her book summary what her books are like and often even when a fictional character finds hope, faith, and strength, a reader picks up on this. I believe uplifting fiction encourages readers.
7. Tell us about your writing journey. I've always loved writing. Ever since I was little, I'd write short stories or fiction stories. When I got married and had kids, writing fell by the wayside. Well, when my family and I moved out to Colorado, my sister, brother-in-law, and husband told me I needed to get back to writing. Hope for Tomorrow, my first novel, was born! Comfort Publishing, my amazing publishing company, believed in me! And so began my journey!
8. I see your cover has puzzle pieces. Do you love jigsaw puzzles and find them easy to put together? Not at all! But life is like a puzzle. We only see a snippet, but God knows how each piece fits together.
9. What seven pieces of your life has God put together that made all the difference? My conversion, meeting my husband, marrying my husband, the birth of my three boys, my writing career, giving me hope in regards to my anxiety, and constantly showering me with His love!
10. Tell us where we can get your book, about your blog and other important info.

Novel Crossing:

Thanks for having me! I enjoyed it!

Joi’s bio:
Joi Copeland says she is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom and also enjoys spending time with friends over a good cup of coffee or tea. She's been a Christian for over twenty years. She's the author of two books, Hope for Tomorrow and Hope for the Journey, and one novella, Christmas Rayne.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do you enjoy romantic suspense?

Susan Sleeman's DEAD WRONG is a book for you. Here is the book summary.

Dead Wrong –
When her client and old college friend is murdered, P.I. Kat Justice knows the killer will come for her next. Her survival depends on finding her unknown enemy first…and working with homicide detective Mitch Elliot, her onetime crush.
It’ll take all her professional skills to ignore the sparks between them, but Kat can’t allow the handsome cop to get close. She’s seen too many people she loves die, so she vows just to do her job without getting emotionally involved. Yet keeping her distance may not be the best way to protect her heart—or their lives.
For more info about and to read and except for Dead Wrong visit Susan’s website at about

WHY READ CHRISTIAN FICTION? Susan Sleeman, author of Romantic Suspense, tells how she has been blessed by Christian fiction

I like learning new things. Most of the time, anyway, when I’m not trying to rush about in this busy world. But you know what I like best? I like learning new things when I don’t even realize I’m learning something.

One of the best ways for me to do that is to read Christian fiction with a subtle message woven into it. I’m a firm believer that God can change or heal a broken heart, or draw a person to Him as they are being entertained with a good story.

As a reader of Christian fiction, I can learn how to handle issues in my own life by seeing characters grapple with their faith. I can see them overcome obstacles and come out the other side with victory. I can empathize with their plight and take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one facing my particular problem.

I have many authors who I routinely read to be encouraged. I write and read suspense books pretty exclusively and one of my favorite suspense authors is Mike Dellosso. He writes wonderful stories filled with faith lessons, but his writing is so creative and engaging that I don’t know I’ve learned something until the end of a book when I sit back and reflect on the story. And to me that is what reading Christian fiction is all about.

I’m very blessed to be an author of Christian fiction, too. I can share through my characters the struggles I’ve faced in life and ways I’ve found to cope with the issues. I hear from readers all the time about how the character’s struggles in my books mimic their life and how the book has blessed them with a new outlook on overcoming their issue. I’ve even had readers tell me they have been so encouraged by the book, that they are actively embracing their faith again after a dry spell. How wonderful that God makes a difference though the words He gives me. I am truly blessed.

So what about you? Has Christian fiction helped you in your struggles and encouraged you in your faith walk? If so, how?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her first romantic suspense title, High-Stakes Inheritance earned a spot on the ECPA bestseller list and her Garden Gate Mystery series, which features Nipped in the Bud, and Read Between the Tines has enjoyed time on Amazon bestseller lists as well. And The Christmas Witness was named a finalist in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to writing, Susan hosts the popular internet website

She currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan stop by any of these locations on the web.

To learn more about Susan stop by any of these locations on the web.
Review Site

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Although The U.S. Supreme Court Building has a The Ten Commandments Display over the front entrance, The Ten Commandments could be the most censored document in America.
How long has it been since you read them? If you memorized them as a child, can you still quote them?
When you read the list, do you have any idea why some people don’t like them? (There is no such thing as separation of church and state in our Constitution, but there is freedom of religion in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”)
The first four of the ten commandments have to do with loving and respecting God; the last six have to do with loving others because if we break one, we hurt people. In my way of thinking, the list also has a lot to do with loving ourselves because if we break them we hurt ourselves as well as others. For instance, all kinds of benefits are available for loving God, among them the gift of eternal life. We profit from not being stupid enough to worship an idol, which is nothing but carved wood, etched stone or some other earthly product that isn’t even living.
We are blessed by a day of rest such as the Sabbath, for our spiritual, mental and physical welfare. The reason we shouldn’t use the Lord’s name frivolously, in addition to the value of showing respect, is because it is a powerful name. The Bible says devils tremble at the sound of it (James 2:19) and it adds authenticity to our prayers.
Honor thy father and thy mother is the only commandment with promise: That we might live long on the earth. Could that tell us how valuable our parents can be to our lives?
Interesting that God placed adultery above murder? Could it be God knows adultery is a root cause of other sins, including murder, lying, theft, coveting, not to mention rebellion against God?
“Thou shalt not kill,” gives great guidance I imagine some of the angry mass murderers of this generation never heard or at least did not respect. But also, could it be that in a nation where one in three pregnancies end in abortion that a large portion of our society doesn’t want to think about that commandment?
Sir Walter Scott wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.”
We’re told when we break one commandment we are guilty of all” (James 2:10). If we step on the slippery slope by neglecting or refusing to “love the Lord our God with all our soul and with all our mind and our neighbor as ourselves,” as Jesus said (Matthew 22:37) when he quoted one of the commandments, we often end up crashing into them all.
Why not look through these again and wonder why the government has ordered them taken down and eliminated from our schools while requiring students to read material that should be X-rated?
These are great guidelines to live by.


1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God hath giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
--- Found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Uplifting stories set in the Great Lakes

How a novelist found her niche
Donna Winters adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.
She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.
Donna has written fifteen historical romances for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she turned her attention to her hometown on the Erie Canal and produced an historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, which released as a paperback in June, and has now been offered in Kindle format for 99 cents at

Summary of Bluebird Brockport Canal (back cover blurb)

Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?
Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?

Interview with this author

1. I imagine you’ve created enough characters to populate a small city. I know you travel as a big part of your research for each book. Do you find your characters while visiting settings or do you already have a fictional person in mind when you decide the location of the book?
My fictional characters always grew out of the research for the setting. When I wrote my last trilogy about an iron smelting town, I read lots of archival material on who was actually living there. A census told me about their education level, ethnic background, occupation, and size of household. Newspaper articles covered religious beliefs and social practices. Knowing this information, I developed characters that fit these circumstances.
2. Many of your books are Great Lakes Romances. Does this mean your characters are familiar with life near a large body of water? Or do you bring in some who like the great plains or the hills instead?
Sometimes I import characters from elsewhere, such as in Sweethearts of Sleeping Bear Bay, where I brought a Mississippi River navigator heroine (there were four women licensed to navigate the inland rivers in the late 1800’s) north to take a cruise on a Great Lakes steamer.
3. Which one of your characters is your favorite? Why?
That’s a tough question, kind of like asking a parent to reveal who is his/her favorite child, and if the parent is smart, they won’t divulge the answer. But I’ll tell. My favorite character at any given moment is most often the last character I wrote, in this case, Lucina Willcox. She was unique from others I’d written with her own version of spunk, unworldliness, illiteracy, humor, and farming background, and she just exploded onto the pages of the opening chapter with idioms that defined her era and personality.
4. How do you keep up with new trends in fiction writing? How have you seen your writing talent mature over the years?
I’ve been scrambling to move forward with new writing techniques I learned about since joining ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) in Jan. 2010. In my latest story, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, I put into practice deep point of view for my hero and heroine. My writing talent has matured through the guidance of good editors and my effort to study new techniques. The ACFW courses have helped also, giving me advice on dialog, description, and humor. Over the years, my setting descriptions have become more detailed and concise, character development has deepened, and plot structure has taken more twists and turns that are unpredictable.
5. What challenges you most about writing a novel now?
Fitting the process into an active retirement lifestyle. My husband retired from teaching in 1999. We spent several years immediately thereafter caring for aging mothers, moving from Lower to Upper Michigan, remodeling our home, and becoming a part of our new community. Additionally, in 2010 we bought a used motor home and have done a good bit of traveling during spring and fall. I accomplish most of my writing during late fall, winter, and early spring.
6. How did you start with your latest book, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal?
I scoured Amazon and ebay for Erie Canal literature, both fiction and nonfiction, and bought over two dozen titles. My husband searched internet sites and printed out dozens of articles. I also purchased a copy of a doctoral dissertation about Brockport’s origins, and a history book by a local professor that was for sale at the village office. I spent lots of time reading these resources before deciding my approach to the story. Then, when spring arrived, we set out on a month-long trip to Erie Canal country and visited museums and towns, taking photos and notes.
7. How many of your books have been best sellers?
None. I’m just learning how to market my work on the internet, this blog article being part of that effort. In the old days, when books were sold primarily from bricks-and-mortar stores, I used a regional distributor who placed my titles in the Great Lakes region. My titles sold well from book stores and gift shops in tourist areas throughout Michigan. Those days are gone and online marketing is now my challenge.
8. How do you market? What has been the most effective method?
I’m still working at discovering the best method. If I get it figured out, I’ll let you know!
9. What haven’t you written that you feel compelled to do?
“Compelled” would be too strong a word for any plans I might have. Writing for older women, young adults, and the devotional market are all on the list of possibilities. My current work-in-progress, which I plan to focus on throughout the winter, is a story about an older woman who wants to prevent a local state park from closing. The working title is Saving Mossy Point, and it takes place in a fictional Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) location. I’ve done a considerable amount of character development and outlining and look forward to actually writing the story.
10. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thank you, Ada, for giving me a chance to meet your readers and tell them about Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal.
Readers can connect with me at the following links: wholesome fiction for readers 12 and up
Facebook Profile: Donna Winters
Facebook Book Page: Great Lakes Romances