Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Resolved: to post 2x a week!

I've let some minor setbacks to my writing stop it dead in its tracks, so it's time to set goals--and stick to them. And there's nothing like a new year to fire me up with better-than-resolutions.

So, readers, hold me accountable. I'm going to try posting every Tuesday and Friday--Tuesdays, say for spiritual posts, and Fridays for writing-related posts. If I receive a blog tour date for another day of the week, I'll let you know.

Here's praying I stick with the plan!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A SHADOW OF TREASON--Book 2, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series
by tricia goyer

I've read about half this book in a few days, and my only frustration is knowing that Sophie's difficulties will not be resolved at the end. I'll have to wait it out for A Whisper of Freedom! If you haven't picked up the first book yet, be sure to read A Valley of Betrayal. Then comment on this post by
December 20, midnight, to win your own copy of
A Shadow of Treason. --- Karen H. Phillips

Video Trailer for Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

Q and A with Tricia!

A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt--not only that, she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element--to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

During the holidays, our longing to connect with family and escape from the pressures of modern life intensifies. One of the questions author Mary DeMuth (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) gets asked in radio interviews is this: What can a parent do to help kids filter their media intake? Her answer: Strategically engage. The following is five ways to help re-engage your kids in a media-saturated culture.

Five Ways to Engage Disengaged Kids
By Mary E. DeMuth

In a world of Halo, iphones, and IM, how do parents strategically engage their tuned-out kids? How can we create the kinds of homes that are irresistible to our children, enticing enough to make them tune out from games, media and texting and tune in to the rhythms of family life?

Five ways.

One: Offer ‘em Something Better

The most enticing thing to a kid is community—real, authentic, God-breathed community. To create this, learn to do the following:

- Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.
- Strive to become the person you want your child to become. Practice reconciliation, open communication, and serving each other.
- Listen, really listen to your kids. Give them eye-time. Don’t uh-huh their concerns, but strive to ask great questions to draw them out. Be willing to share your own struggles with your kids.
- Plan meal times together. And when you do, talk! One way to foster great communication is to have questions already prepared. Click here for sample questions: To purchase all 150, click here: To win them, click here:
- Have an unplug day—no phones, TV, gaming systems, and return to old fashioned board games, taking walks outside, and reading together.
- Resist DVDs in the minivan. Try books on tape instead—a wonderful way to engage your child’s mind. Discuss the book afterward.
- Welcome others into your home. Be the house all the kids want to congregate in.

Two: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em

Our kids will see movies; they will watch TV shows. Instead of always pushing against that, sit down next to your child and watch shows and movies together. Then use the time afterwards to discuss these questions:

1. What is the worldview of this movie?
2. What kind of person is the main character? Is she someone you want to be like?
3. What lies does this movie perpetuate?
4. What does this show say about materialism?
5. What part of this movie showed God’s love?

Strategically engaging alongside our kids in the very thing we’re leery of does two things: It shows our kids we are willing to sacrifice our own desires to spend time with them. And it helps prepare them to better discern the movies and media they watch.

Three: Explore Different Ways to Celebrate Sabbath

Taking time away from the crazy rush-rush of a media saturated world is a counter-cultural move your family can take. Choose a day or afternoon for rest. Limit media that day. Choose to engage in artistic, creative endeavors together:

- If a child loves music, encourage him to write a song or create an unusual soundtrack.
- Supply kids with all sorts of visual arts tools: paint, brushes, magazines, pens, glue, and let them create. If you need focus, think of five families or friends who need to be encouraged, then create cards for each one.
- Let your kids have free reign of the video camera. Encourage them to make a movie. Then watch it together as a family, complete with popcorn.
- Pull out that karaoke machine.
- Read together.
- Do a puzzle or play board games.

Four: Go Outside

We are a disconnected culture, defining ourselves by the great indoors and cyberworlds. To combat that in your family, dare to open the front door and walk on out. Take strolls with your kids. Find a local park or wilderness preserve to poke around in. Hike together. Feed the ducks. Launch rockets. Play Frisbee. Kick the ball around. Ride bikes. Pick up garbage along the road. Skateboard. Make going outside as much of a habit as going outside.

Five: Focus Outward

Computers and movies and TV and phones focus us inward. Instead, seek to find ways to focus your family outward toward the needs of the world. Sponsor a child in a third world country. Go on a mission trip as a family and take a year together to plan it. Find a cause to support—like digging wells in Africa or alleviating AIDS. Volunteer at a nursing home. Muddying our feet and hands in the real needs of the world gives kids a greater picture of the world and pulls them away from the artificial, often narcissistic world they live in.

It is possible to re-engage your disengaged child. It takes effort, creativity and pluck, but it can be done. The reward? A rejuvenated, connected relationship with your child that no gadget can compare to.

Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church.

Learn more at

Monday, October 22, 2007


Kick off day
Oct. 20th, Karen Phillips---Sky-High View

LaShaunda Hoffman—See Ya On The Net

21st Angie Arndt---The Road I'm Traveling

22nd Deena Peterson---Deena's Books

22nd Teresa Morgan---Teresa Morgan's Blog

23rd Rose McCauley---Stories of Faith, Hope and Love

23rd Pattie Reitz----Fresh Brewed Writer

24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews

Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life

25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer

Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts

26th Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance

27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within

28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey

29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor

30th Carla Stewart---Carla’s Writing Café

31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose


1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog

2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free

3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry

4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog

5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey

6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog

7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope

8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress

9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger

10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos

11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker

12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels

13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll

14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction

15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction

16th Lisa Jordan---Musings


Leave a comment on my Miralee Ferrell/The Other Daughter blog tour post (interview, posted just prior to this). You can increase your chances by visiting other blogs on the tour. For every blog on the tour you visit and comment on, your name will be entered again. Be sure to give your blog link or email address in order to be contacted if you win.

Miralee Ferrell
Author of The Other Daughter---Read the opening scene:
Web Site
Blog: a short video trailer

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Miralee, you piqued my interest in this novel by describing a situation that hits close to home. We adopted both our children. What gave you the idea for a story about a child who shows up looking for a biological parent?

Great question and one that has a very personal answer. I was brainstorming with a friend who suggested I use an experience from my life as the basis or theme for my first novel. I ran through several scenarios in my head, as we've had many interesting things happen in our marriage...some great, some not. This personal incident did indeed capture the essense of secrets, forgiveness, and healing--not as much in my life as in our marriage and the life of an 18- year-old girl. About 17 yrs ago my husband received a letter stating a young woman believed him to be her biological father she'd never met. We agreed to meet and hear her story, and after some investigation came to believe he probably was her dad. The episode was similar to that of David in the book--a one night stand prior to his becoming a Christian, but that's where the similarity stops. He was not dating me at the time, and I had a strong relationship with the Lord and didn't have a problem accepting Trish into our lives.

David's character and responses are much more me than my husband, and the way Susanne deals with stress depicted my husband in the earlier years of marriage. He struggled with alcohol and 'kicked against the pricks' to use a biblical term....or just plain fought against anyone's authority being above his, including God. That's since changed, and our marriage is strong and stable, but it wasn't always. We did have a divided household where the aspect of our faith was involved and many times it was tough. Very tough. Some of David's frustrations with Susanne and her way of dealing with life came from my memories of the same type of circumstances.

Many new writers like myself need lots of encouragement to keep plugging away! Tell us how your writing journey began and developed.

I know a lot of writer's say the Lord told them to start writing, and I'm among them, but mine circumstances were a little out of the ordinary. Two-and-a-half years ago I attended church and sat under a visiting minister who I trust and respect. I went forward for a small prayer need, can't even remember what, now. He began to pray for me and stopped and looked me in the eye. "The Lord just told me you're supposed to be writing. I have no idea what...short stories, poetry, fiction...but it needs to be published." That was the jist of his message and I took it home and spent two weeks praying it through.

I decided it witnessed to my spirit and lined up with what other's had gently suggested in the past, but I'd disregarded, as I didn't feel I had any particular talent in that area. I spent the first 3 months writing my autobiography covering the time period from my marriage to the present, but from a mostly spiritual viewpoint. After talking to a few people I discovered there was no market for something like that, so began writing short-story, non fiction and sold a few pieces to magazines. I was too new and green to realize how fast everything was happening and soared on in to someone else's suggestion that I try my hand at Christian fiction.

The idea for The Other Daughter exploded in my heart and the entire rough draft was completed 5 weeks later. It took several more months to refine and revise it, and another couple of months beyond that to secure an agent. From that point on, as He'd done so far, the Lord was in control. He brought my agent into my life, and orchestrated the circumstances for the contacts I made that landed me a contract with Kregel. I take no credit for anything that's been done so far....after all, God told me through a visiting pastor I should be writing, or I'd still be selling stuff on Ebay and puttering around the house, wondering what to do with my time, LOL!

Hopefully when a novelist writes, he or she is primarily interested in creating human characters and a page-turning story. However, consciously or unconsciously, a message or theme of some sort unfolds when the reader picks up the book. What message does The Other Daughter convey?

The most important theme to me is the one of releasing control of your life to your Heavenly Father, and seeing that He cares more about your future than you ever can. Until a person bows their will to His and falls into His arms, there will be no true, lasting peace....and it's tough to find real forgiveness, or give it to others.

The character of Grandfather, a part Native American relative of David's, didn't exist in the first rough draft, but came quite some time after. He was brought into the picture to help both David and Susanne examine their motives and reactions to one another and to Brianna, on a deeper level. He's a picture of the unconditional love that we all wish for in our lives and the type of person we could all use, when we're heading the wrong direction.
Visit the site and buy the book.
Leave a comment on my Miralee Ferrell/The Other Daughter blog tour post (interview, posted just prior to this). You can increase your chances by visiting other blogs on the tour. For every blog on the tour you visit and comment on, your name will be entered again. Be sure to give your blog link or email address in order to be contacted if you win.
Miralee Ferrell, author of The Other Daughter.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy." Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter. Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.

As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point, and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.

Read the entire opening scene at Miralee's web site:

The Other Daughter, releasing November 5th, will be available in stores near you, or you can order from or

The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell Blog Tour

New participants:

Oct. 20th, Karen Phillips--Sky-High View


LaShaunda Hoffman—See Ya On The Net

Oct. 21st Angie Arndt---The Road I'm Traveling

Oct. 22nd Deena Peterson---Deena's Books

Teresa Morgan---Teresa Morgan's Blog

Oct. 23rd Rose McCauley---Stories of Faith, Hope and Love

Pattie Reitz----Fresh Brewed Writer

Oct. 24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews

Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life

Oct. 25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer

Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts

Oct. 26th Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance

Oct. 27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within

Oct. 28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey

Oct. 29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor

Oct. 30th Carla Stewart---Carla’s Writing Café

Oct. 31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose

Nov. 1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog

Nov. 2nd Jan Parrish---Care Giver's Corner

Nov. 3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry

Nov. 4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog

Nov. 5th Pam Meyers---Pammy Meyers Writes

Nov. 6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog

Nov. 7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope

Nov. 8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress

Nov. 9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger

Nov. 10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos

Nov. 11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker

Nov. 12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels

Nov. 13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll

Nov. 14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction

Nov. 15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction


Sunday, October 07, 2007

REVIEW--Tricia Goyer's New Book

Post a comment by Thursday, October 11,

11 p.m. Eastern, to enter drawing for book!

Less than a year ago, I was still mother to one teen, less than three years ago, mother to two. Too bad in those days I couldn't refer to My Life Unscripted. Tricia Goyer has written a nonfiction book a teen daughter and her mother could relish together.

The TV/movie script format gives a novel approach to guiding teens as they navigate the minor but not insignificant and the major choices of their everyday lives. Tricia has chosen bravely, revealing mistakes she made as a teen--these are some of the book's scripted scenes--and the life-changing consequences her decisions caused.

Quotes from real teens pepper the purple-print pages. Ashley, age 17, from Pennsylvania says,"

I find it hard to root for myself. There are so many people that expect different things of me and I feel like I can't please everyone, and that makes me frustrated."

Tricia doesn't shy from tough topics, but addresses them--The Hottie (boyfriends), Admission (what does beauty cost?), Inner Conflict (battling insecurity) are three of twenty. Questions and action points for each topic provoke thought and discussion. The author speaks from her heart to young women, producing a practical study guide an individual teen can read in devotional fashion or a Sunday School or Bible study group can work through together.

In My Life Unscripted, Tricia Goyer opens up and becomes vulnerable in speaking to teen readers. The delightful result? Honesty a young woman can respect and trust and a compass for making decisions in the days and years to come.

Click here to read Chapter 1:

Buy the book:

Tricia's blogs:

Tricia's website:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Win both of these books by leaving a comment
on this post September 24-30! (Details below)

Lisa writes:

I came up with the [Gifted] series concept after reading The Da Vinci Code, and thinking long and hard about the things I both loved (pacing, mystery, suspense) and hated (heresy that made me want to throw it against a wall). I also was heavily influenced by the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film—the grandeur of an epic story, with a cast of characters, deeper symbolism, adventure. So I started talking to my friends who know Scripture, and I asked them about a good biblical mystery…two mentioned the “previous letters” mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians and I was off and running.

Considering that Paul talks a lot about spiritual gifts in his letters to the Corinthians, I gave my characters all the unique and powerful spiritual gifts he mentioned in the Scriptures—healing, prophecy, wisdom, faith, miraculous powers—and placed them in perilous times, the 14th century, pre-Reformation, pre-Renaissance. My Gifted are hunted both by the Church, who seeks to control them, and forces of evil, who wish to kill them. All in all, I think it makes for a classic Good vs. Evil read—with inspiration and application for us in the 21st century.

Karen's Interview with Lisa Bergren:

Lisa, whatever got you started on the topic of illustrators/illuminators of Scripture and the icon controversy? You mention the DaVinci code and Lord of the Rings, but you've chosen such a specific art, one of the more unusual subjects I've seen for a novel or a series.

The best part about research is that it turns up excellent plot points for a novel. Because of the furor about icons (pictures of Jesus and saints, apostles) and illuminations (the glorious gilt illustration that monks used to put in the margin of Bibles and other books) throughout Church history, it was a natural device for me to use. At various points in history, the Church either glorified these art forms or outlawed them--burning a massive number and forbidding anyone to create more. So for some to survive over time...and to hold prophetic illustrations for our Gifted to's almost like God's treasure hunt, don't you think?

How did you learn to write suspenseful fiction? I picked up The Begotten just to browse, and I had trouble letting go.

I love a good novel that keeps me up too late reading. Suspense is what flows most easily from me. Although I've written contemporary romance, historical women's fiction and general fiction, scenes that have an element of danger or intrigue are those that are fast and easy for me. So...with a series that is jam-packed with suspense, I'm rolling!

What truths from this series are most relevant for people today?

The main theme for The Begotten is really embracing God's supreme love, and finding total healing through it. The main theme for The Betrayed is perseverance and faith through trial. I'm thinking those are truths I need to be reminded of every year...and hope readers are ministered to through those lessons (even in the midst of a fast-paced read!)

What did you enjoy about writing these two books?

I love getting lost in this group of characters. They begin to feel like family to me, and alongside them, I learn more about the God we serve, battle evil, travel the world and inspire others, as if I'm in each of their heads, living each of their lives. Oh, and I got to go to Italy THREE times (and the South of France for a bit, too) to research for this series--how cool is that?!?

What can we look forward to in the future from the pen of Lisa Bergren?

As soon as I email this off to you, I must return to The Blessed, book 3 in the Gifted Series that comes out Fall 2008. After that, I think I'll write about 4 sisters in the Colorado frontier and am considering a Barbary Coast pirate trilogy. I just released The Busy Mom's Devotional and a book/Bible study called What Women Want, so we'll see if that nonfiction front bears any fruit--I may do some more. And I continue to write kids' books--I've written God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, God Gave Us Heaven (Sept 2008), How Big is God? (Jan 2008), and From God to My Arms (Jan 2009). So after a writing hiatus of 4 years, I'm back at it!

Four things you might want to know:
1) The Gifted Series has been featured in Target stores since September 4th on the Breakout Books display
2) For more info on me, go to
3) A Reader’s Guide is included in the back of each book—making it a possible choice for a book group.
4) The Begotten was a finalist for this year’s Christy Award, one of three finalists for the Best Suspense of the Year award. It didn’t win (sniff, sniff), but it was an honor to rise to the top of 31 entries.

Blessings on your heads!

Lisa T. Bergren


Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother and wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to and join her newsletter list.


The Begotten:

The Betrayed:

To win your copy of both The Begotten and The Betrayed, leave a comment on this post by September 30, midnight. Be sure to give a website or email address so I can contact both winners. One of you will be delayed, as I'm not letting go till I read the books. Sorry, it's that good. I'll mail the first one the minute I finish!


Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

People often ask where I get my ideas for my books. My answer? You never know! For Veil of Fire, the idea was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.

At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit’s story.

Can you explain the research process, since this is such a historical novel?

The research for Veil of Fire was particularly fascinating not only because of its link to my personal family history, but also because of the incredible first-person accounts of the fire that were written by people who were actually there. These stories are compiled into a book written entirely by survivors who recount their personal experience of living through the firestorm that swept through their town.

I read about a man whose hat lifted from his head and exploded above him as he ran through wind and fire. I read about another whose horse raced beside the Eastern Minnesota train as fire billowed around him. The horse swerved into the smoke, and the man was never seen again. I read about a boy racing down the tracks, falling, and surviving as the fire roared over him. Eyewitness accounts, as well as information gathered about the fire from other sources, created the realistic feel of the fire and its aftermath in Veil of Fire.

What takeaway points do you hope your readers pull from this book?

In the midst of life’s disillusionment, choices appear. Do we retreat? Hide our hurts far from probing eyes? Do we embrace bitterness and cynicism? Do we use deceit to try to obtain our goals? Do we give up, give in, forget that we ever dared to dream?

Or is it possible to reach the high places of faith in the low valleys of life’s reality? Can we still live a life of bold faith, of fierce hope, when fairy tales don’t come true? How do we live this life that God has given us when it’s not the life we dreamed?

These are the questions I wanted to explore in Veil of Fire. These are the questions which underlie each character’s journey in the aftermath of the great fire of 1894.

So, for those burned by life, for those who carry scars that cannot be seen, for those who have retreated for fear of more pain, this story is for you, this journey from the hidden places of pain to a new hope in the unhidden truth of Christ’s love.

What book project can we expect from you after Veil of Fire? Can you give us a sneak peak of the storyline?

After Veil of Fire, I’m writing 3 contemporary novels for Waterbrook-Multnomah. All of them are “Love Stories with a Twist!,” a new type of story that I think will knock readers’ socks off.
The first, Beyond the Night, releases in May 2008. With groovy 70’s trivia and a whopper of an ending twist, this one was as fun to write as it will be to read. Here’s a blurb about it:

They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.
A poignant love story . . .
A shocking twist . . .
Come, experience a love that will not die.

Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) meets M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. Watch for it next May!


Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of five books, including her latest novel VEIL OF FIRE, which explores the great Minnesota firestorm of 1894 and the mysterious figure who appeared in the hills afterward. She has also had over 500 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on three contemporary novels for Multnomah-Waterbrook Publishers, a division of Random House. She lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four daughters.

Visit Marlo at her website and blogs:

Monday, August 06, 2007


1. My husband works with the world's largest high school service organization, Key Club, as his avocation

2. He planned a retreat in a 3-story cabin out of town for students in the local club

2. I love being with my husband

3. I love being with the high-schoolers and getting to know them

4. I love being with the other adults and getting to know them better than before

5. Seeing my husband interact with these students and teach them leadership skills, as well as model the Christian walk, is an amazing experience

6. Going to the mountains is fun

7. Spending 12 hours in a warm building with non-working air conditioning is character-building

8. Getting the air conditioning fixed by 10 a.m. on a blazing-hot August Saturday is a great relief

9. Participating in non-threatening question sessions is funny, poignant, and embarrassing
Examples: What was your most embarrassing moment?
What's your favorite book?
What was your happiest moment thus far?
What's your favorite movie?
What person, living or dead, would you most want to meet, and why?

10. Grocery-shopping for the retreat with my husband is a hoot

11. Watching the kids, with their eyes closed, try to escape from our hand-held rope "corral" makes me laugh

12. When you're hungry, nothing tastes like cold Crystal Lite and a fresh tomato turkey sandwich

13. Hiding scavenger hunt envelopes with business owners or clerks or hostesses refines my people skills--My hat's off to the Harley Davidson store, the parking lot at the intersection of 321 and that other highway (up the hill), the Gatlinburg Hard Rock, Aunt Mahalia's Candies, the Pepper Palace, and Ripley's Aquarium for hanging onto the envelopes and joining in the spirit of the hunt!

14. Walking the streets of Gatlinburg while hiding clues keeps me fit and burns off those two Oreos, a peanut butter cup, and the sausage biscuit (among other things) I scarf over the weekend

15. Writing scavenger hunt clues challenges my poetic skills

16. When I'm finished with the hunt prep, hanging out in an air-conditioned bookstore (and making a few purchases for the family) is an unbeatable perk

17. Eating dinner with our group of 10 at Applebee's brings out new zaniness in the kids as they practice fake-slapping one another and one girl acts (convincingly) as if she's stung and crying

18. Watching the weekend's object lessons sink in with the kids gives me a magical feeling
Example: When they were corraled by the rope, held up by the other adults, my husband instructed them to close their eyes and try to find a way out. The rules--they couldn't go over or under or overpower anyone to get out, and they couldn't look. If they needed help, they were to raise their hands. My husband kept talking to them the entire time, repeating these instructions. When only one student was left inside, he stopped the exercise. He explained to them that in life, as in their Key Club experience, we all need to ask for help and often. Some students were quick to catch on to the trick. When they asked for help, an adult would lift the rope and pull them outside the boundaries of the rope.

19. Before and after the retreat began, I enjoyed dining out alone with my husband

20. The feeling of having an impact on the lives of others is priceless

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture

by Mary E. DeMuth
Harvest House, July 1, 2007

Mary guides parents through her ongoing postmodern parenting journey, encouraging readers as they travel the same road, in three parts:
Foundations, What Does Postmodern Parenting Look Like? and Releasing Children, Embracing Culture. She includes group discussion questions and a resource section.
You can purchase your autographed copy directly from Mary at the links below.
Read more about Mary and her books at
her website Relevant Prose. Sign up for her ezine.

Learn about Mary's faith and writing on her blog.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mary DeMuth


Released by Harvest House, July 1, 2007

One of the highlights of Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for me was sharing the dinner table of Mary DeMuth, Christian author of novels Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions and nonfiction parenting books, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God: Encouragement to Refresh Your Heart and Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide for Pioneer Parents.

In person Mary radiates the warmth of Jesus and is as genuine as the title of her latest parenting guide, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture. Below I quote some of her thoughts regarding this fresh approach to raising children in our culture:

What does postmodern mean? And why should it matter to parents?
Postmodernism is the waiting room between what used to be a modern worldview and what will be. According to several postmodern scholars, we’re in a shift right now, leaving modern ideas behind, but what we are shifting to is not yet fully defined. Postmoderns believe that rationalism and/or more education doesn’t necessarily create a better society. They typically don’t embrace the notion of absolute truth, though they reach for the transcendent. They are skeptical, and often question whether science is something to be embraced or feared. The question for parents is how will we mine the current worldview, even as it shifts? What in it can we embrace as biblical? What is not biblical? What I’ve seen in the church is a fearful adherence to what is familiar. So we cling to modern ideas, even though they may not be biblical and shun postmodern ideas even when they might be biblical. Our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is.

You talk about the twin values of engagement and purity. What does that mean?
Many parents subconsciously believe that true parenting means protection at any cost. We received a lot of flak for putting our children in French schools because the atmosphere there wasn’t exactly nurturing. Believe me, the decision was excruciating. But through it all, I realized that Jesus calls us all to be engaged in the culture we live in, yet not to be stained by it. That’s the beauty of engagement and purity. Abraham understood this. After God told him to leave everything and venture to a new place, he obeyed: “From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8). Oswald Chambers elaborates: “Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two.” As parents journeying alongside our children through a postmodern world, this concept of pitching our tent between communion with God and engagement in the world should encourage us.

What bugs you about postmodernism?
I happen to believe in absolute truth, so that’s a problem! But more than that, I worry that all our rambling about it, trying to discern what it is, has caused us to rely more heavily on our own intellectual pursuit of God than our heart. When I get caught up in that, I remind myself of my friend Jeanne’s son Jacob, whose heart after Jesus takes my breath away. Living with a brain injury, Jacob throws off pretense as he worships God, arms vaulted to the sky in unashamed heart worship. That’s the kind of believer I want to be. That’s the kind of heart I want. I love this verse: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). For me, for my children, that’s my prayer, that we’d be simply and purely devoted to Jesus no matter what worldview we find ourselves in.

Book Excerpt:
If you'd like to read an excerpt from the book, click here.

Purchase Authentic Parenting

Links to Mary’s website and blog:
Visit Mary's helpful and fun website here.

Meet Mary and read her crazy blog here.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating on the Authentic Parenting Tour this week. For a complete listing of the blogs participating in the six week tour, visit here.
A Cup of Cold Water
Aspire2 Blog
Be a Barnabas
Christian Work at Home Moms
Dawn Morton Nelson
Deborah Gyapong
Dobsons 411
Eleanor Joyce
Good Word Editing
Preacher’s Daughter
Sky-High View
Spaghetti Pie
the law, books and life
The Master’s Artist
The Surrendered Scribe
Through My Window

Friday, June 08, 2007


Tonight we have reservations for four. Our good friends will join us for dinner in a rustic but attractive setting on a mountain road at a restaurant where the food is elegant, the accommodations small, and the ambiance perfect. The best part of the evening? The company and the conversation.

We love being with this couple. Our kids have grown up together. Their son was our daughter's seventh grade boyfriend, and both, now in college, are good friends still. We even traveled together with a group of families from our kids' school to Germany. We belong to the same church, and the wife and I have sung in the choir together. In fact, she's the one who urged me to join the choir. My husband and hers meet with some other guys from church on Friday mornings (6:00 a.m, to be exact) at the local country cookery just to hang out over breakfast. We spent a rainy Labor Day cruising the river in their pontoon boat and struggled to take the boat out of the rushing water. Our relationship with this couple is comforting and comfortable.

All our times together haven't bubbled with happiness. The four of us bemoan the roller coaster ride of parenting, as we try to figure out when to speak, when to shut up, where to hold on, and where to let go. We cried with them when, without warning, they lost their young daughter. They cried with us when my husband lost each of his parents within a few years. A big part of the comfortableness in a friendship lies in the seasons of life we've weathered together.

Relationships drift in and out of our lives, depending on the phase we're in at the time, the convenience of that relationship, and the effort we're willing to put into it. This couple and my husband and I, now with at least partially-empty nests, have less responsibility regarding our children. But we still have to work at getting together, because we're all busy with our careers, families, and lives. To us, it's worth the effort of picking up the phone, getting off the couch on Friday or Saturday night, and putting aside all the obligations calling our names to spend a comfortable evening with friends.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Writing for the Christian Fiction Market
by Guest Blogger, Author Teresa Slack

For the Christian fiction author, the fast-growing Christian market has been an answer to prayer. Now Christian writers can tell the stories on their hearts without compromising their faith.

As the Christian market continues to explode in size, publishers still find it difficult to discover new talent. One of the reasons for this is many hopeful writers believe the Christian market is easier to break into than the mainstream market. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are aspiring to write for the Christian market, not only must you write gripping, compelling prose that keeps a reader turning pages, you also must write within the parameters of the Christian Booksellers Association. Certain rules and mandates apply.

Christian readers want the same subject matter as non-Christian readers, only without a bombardment of ill language, gratuitous violence, and adult situations. A Christian mother does not want to bring a book into her home that would cause an awkward situation should her child open it up.

Writing to suit a certain market isn’t difficult when you understand the mindset of people buying these books. Ask yourself what you like to read. Would the book appeal to your mother or best friend? If your character or situation would offend a reader, you can assume it will also offend a Christian publisher.

That is not to say Christian publishers are not interested in formerly taboo subjects such as spousal abuse, divorce, abortion, and alternative lifestyles. What the Christian publisher does want is a Christian overview on how these topics are addressed. Publishers are getting more savvy every year in providing what the Christian reading public wants to read. Chick lit, thrillers, sassy heroines, and flawed heroes are immensely popular.

As a writer for the Christian market, nearly any subject is open to you. It is how you handle the subject that matters. Are your characters real? Can your reader identify with them and their problems? Would the reader handle the situation the same way, or can they at least empathize with the character’s choices? If your character acts in an unethical manner, regardless of the circumstances, the reader will not identify, thus is not likely to finish your book. Not only is that the last thing you want as a writer, many times you have lost that reader for every future work you produce. When you offend the readers you are trying hardest to reach, you have dug yourself into a pit you may never climb out of.

It is a necessary component in Christian fiction that your characters learn something through the course of the book. Not everyone must be born again within your pages, but they must have had an epiphany of some kind, a growing experience. In my book Streams of Mercy, the heroine needed to find out if her father was responsible for the disappearance and possible murder of an old girlfriend. The heroine had plenty of reasons to suspect him. In order to move on with her life, she needed to forgive her dad for the rotten way he treated her mom. In mainstream fiction, she may have exacted revenge on her father or learned to accept the fact that they could never have a relationship.

Not so in Christian fiction. Christianity is based on love and forgiveness. Jamie needed to forgive her father, whether he ever admitted any wrongdoing or not.

Finally, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do not preach to your audience. Readers of Christian literature want to be entertained, taught, and inspired as much as any other reader. But no one appreciates having a writer’s philosophies and doctrines rammed down his or her throat. Lectures are not an effective means of touching hearts and changing lives. Stories are.

Thanks to Karen for letting me post my thoughts on writing for the Christian fiction market here on her blog, and to her readers for bearing with me. Have a blessed and productive week, everyone.

Teresa Slack
Look for Evidence of Grace, Book 3 in the Jenna's Creek series by Teresa Slack in bookstores June 15th.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


What is your new book about?
Evidence of Grace is the third book in the Jenna’s Creek Novels Series. I don’t want to give too much away for readers just starting books one and two. Suffice it to say, new evidence surfaces in the murder of Sally Blake. The guilty party may be hiding more secrets about that night or may not have acted alone in the murder. Christy Blackwood has vowed never to speak to her mother again after finding out the secrets of her past. But now Christy is home and hiding some secrets of her own.

What were some of the challenges in writing the book?
Evidence of Grace is probably the hardest book to write so far in my career. I had so many story lines going on at one time, I had to make sure I gave each one ample billing. I also wanted to make sure the reader cared strongly about each story line. It was a challenging book to write, but also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it. Of course, I always say that after a book is finished. While I’m writing it, it’s a pain and I wonder why I ever started it in the first place.

Have you ever started a book you haven’t been able to finish? Not since I started writing full time. You put too much of yourself into a project to walk away from it when it gets tough. No one would do that in any other line of work. If you did, you would lose all your clients.

How many more books do you see in the Jenna’s Creek Series? At least five. I think that’s a nice round number. But it all depends on how well the folks of Jenna’s Creek, Ohio deal with me intruding on their lives every so often.

What are the challenges in writing a series and a stand-alone book?
The challenge in writing a series is keeping each new installment fresh and interesting. I have to be careful too, about giving too much back story. I don’t want to lose readers who haven’t read the previous books, but I can’t bore readers who’ve been with me since the beginning. A stand-alone book is fun because I can write the story and then walk away. That’s also the downfall. I don’t know how many people told me they are anxious to read the sequel to A Tender Reed.

Are you planning a sequel to that book?
No, that story is finished. But I’m flattered that readers were reluctant to let the story go. I’m happy the characters had such a hold on them.

Are there any more series’ in your writing future?
I am currently working on a short romance that will be paired in a book with a romance by award winning novelist Molly Noble Bull.

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you since you became a published author?
Oh, no, I don’t think I could narrow it down to one event. I have had the opportunity to meet other Christian writers, either in person at the International Christian Retailers Show in Denver, Colorado last summer, or in my online writers’ groups. But the greatest thing has been meeting with readers. I’ve done a lot of traveling to get the word out about the books, and everyone has been great. It’s wonderful to hear that the books are having a positive impact in people’s lives. That’s the most gratifying thing for a writer.

I know writing is a very isolating experience. How do you deal with being your own boss?
That is a very difficult task. I probably waste a lot more time than I would if I had a boss breathing down my neck. I’m dedicated about getting up at 6:15 every morning. I start my day with prayer and an exercise routine. If I don’t, it seems like the whole day gets frittered away with very little to show for it.

How much understanding and encouragement do you get from the people in your life?
More than I ever imagined. My husband is wonderful. He works nights, so he gets up about nine o’clock in the evening to get ready for work. If he wakes up to a tearful wife, he knows it’s been a bad writing day. If he wakes up to frozen pizza for dinner or no dinner at all, he knows it’s been a good writing day.

What would you do if you weren’t writing?
That’s a question I don’t really have an answer for since I truly feel called to write and blessed that I’m able to pursue it full time. I am naturally good with small children, so I suppose I would enjoy teaching at an early grade level. Or maybe I could become a nuclear physicist. I wonder if you need any special training for that.
Do you have any words of encouragement for people who dream of writing for publication?
Everywhere I go, someone asks me the formula for getting published. It’s like losing weight. I’m sorry to say there isn’t a twelve step program to success. We all know what to do; it’s just having the discipline to stick with it. Dedicate yourself to sitting in the chair and writing your story. Then polish and make it absolutely perfect. That includes typos and coffee stains. No editor wants to see a messy manuscript on her desk. Last but not least, don’t give up. I am living proof that an unagented, first-time novelist can find a traditional publisher. It isn’t easy or fast. But it is possible. Just keep writing.


Nearly thirty years have passed since Sally Blake disappeared from a party. Her remains were found twenty-five years later and her killer brought to justice. Or so everyone in Jenna’s Creek believes. A mysterious phone call from a potential eyewitness leads authorities to believe an innocent person may have pled guilty to her murder. Noel Wyatt enlists the help of a young attorney and David Davis, a retired judge who once prosecuted the case, to find out why.

Thus begins Evidence of Grace, the third installment of author Teresa Slack’s Jenna’s Creek series. Twists and surprises await the reader as more and more details leading up to the night of Sally’s disappearance are revealed. Did Noreen Trimble act alone in Sally’s murder? Why is she willing to sacrifice her own freedom in order to protect someone else?

Several new characters, only briefly mentioned in previous books, are introduced to keep the series fresh and moving forward. Ms. Slack’s down to earth writing style and her community of flawed and endearing characters will keep readers coming back to Jenna’s Creek for many books to come.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Gazing upward at the jelly-bean-colored assortment of balloons, a group of fifteen to twenty of us watched them soar into the crystal blue. We stood entranced for twenty minutes, until the bright orbs became specks of confetti high above us. The 292 balloons--black, red, yellow, blue, white--represented families in our North Georgia county whose lives felt the impact of abuse or neglect during 2006. On that flawless spring evening, April 30, 2007, something so heinous seemed impossible.

Kim, the organizer of this event, directs our county's Family and Children's Services. The statistics she shared startled us from our complacency. More children, Kim told us, die from neglect than from abuse. Eighty-five children from our county affected by abuse or neglect last year were under the age of one. Statewide, this number leaped to 8,461 infants. One hundred six children of various ages were investigated last year in our county for an alleged repeat episode of maltreatment.

Just as the participants released those commemorative balloons, we often want to let go of an issue too painful to comprehend. We think, "I'm one person; what can I do to change what's happening here?" Paul and Silas were only two men, yet the religious leaders of Thessalonica accused them of turning the world upside down. Did these two followers of Christ hesitate to speak truth and right wrongs?

May we take that one small but bold step today to "right-side up" the world.

Make a difference; pray for our nation, Thursday, May 3, and every day!
National Day of Prayer Task Force Home Home Page

Friday, April 27, 2007


My last post joked about how I was in "Mount Hermon" conference recovery. I wasn't joking when it came to getting back into my routines, both as a writer and as the manager of our small but lively household. Today seemed to propel me over the last hurdle to catch me up to my goals, as I finally met a deadline that I'd set for myself.

Why do some of us have such difficulty with to-do's, goals, and deadlines? Then there are others who thrive on following the list and checking things off all day long. I seem to go through phases where I live each of these experiences, but not at the same time.

Some would call it ADD, while others might say it's just lack of discipline. Whatever it is that makes me procrastinate or devote chunks of my day to useless tasks, I seriously dislike it. The Lord knows I have wrestled with this dark angel often enough that I feel guilty chastising our son for showing similar traits in his college work. At least God has given me some empathy for the struggles he faces, though I never hesitated when handling academic work.

An unstructured soul such as mine doesn't fare so well with a writer/homemaker's schedule. I need to put that timer back into my day and be more stringent with my routines. The structure I adhered to before I began writing would give me more time to write. So many things I want to write about and accomplish through my writing, the words and ideas God has placed on my heart and mind, yet at this moment I can't seem to find enough time. May the Lord grant me the guts to follow through on this plan that I've boldly committed to in this public place today.

Lord, guide me as I set my writing and personal goals. Empower me to act, so that I may accomplish the goals you've led me to set.

Monday, April 09, 2007


I'm in recovery. No, not rehab or anything that scandalous. I'm recovering from a mountaintop experience at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

First, the privilege of attending overwhelmed me. One of eight winners of a Cecil Murphey scholarship through TWV2 (The Writers View Two online discussion/panelists' group for beginning or intermediate Christian writers), I only needed to pay for my transportation and the early arrival night. Six delicious months of anticipation and preparation, and on March 29, hours before dawn, I began my journey.

After minor delays, I arrived at the perfect setting, Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, just a few miles from Santa Cruz, California. The Lord granted us picturesque cherry and dogwood trees in bloom, set before a backdrop of majestic sequoias and a flawless blue sky and surrounded by crisp cool mornings and evenings with sunny afternoons. The food we ate was plentiful and scrumptious: lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, abundant salads, and healthy snacks at our breaks.

I embraced the adventure of meeting my roommate and online buddy, Donna. We melded like jelly beans in an Easter basket. God gave me a new friend for life. I loved how we cheered each other on through our experiences: She wanted to skip a meeting with an editor; I was nervous about my appointments also. The encouragement concerning conference-related issues, as well as our commonality in our current life-stages, drew us close.

Nothing else I know can compare to the hectic, emotional blur of the conference itself. The schedule of major morning-tracks, workshops, panels, worship services, and socials, interspersed with meals, snacks, appointments and chats with faculty, conversing with fellow writers, and a sprinkle of sleep kept everyone hopping. We heard and wrote down more than anyone could absorb in a week, but it was fun to try. Once I decided to order the entire set of conference messages, some of the pressure was off, and I could enjoy listening without fear of missing anything. Trading business cards as I met other writers and shared our common bonds of Christ and our craft made connections that I will cherish.

We can’t attend every Christian writers’ conference, and we may not all be able to afford Mount Hermon every year; but if any similar opportunity arises anywhere in your vicinity, I highly recommend you go. Whatever your level of expertise or experience, you will make friends for a lifetime and learn more in one weekend than you ever dreamed possible. Who knows? Your investment of time, energy, and money could launch your writing life in a new direction as God unfolds His plan to use your gifts for His glory.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Tricia Goyer’s newest novel, set during the Spanish Civil War, just prior to World War II, premieres a series of three. In my recent interview with Tricia, here’s what she told me about her book and her writing:

1) When and how did you know you were/wanted to be a writer?

I first started writing in 1993, when I was pregnant with my third child. A friend at church was writing a novel and something clicked when she told me about it. (Cindy Martinusen now as five novels published!)

Looking back, I realized I had the heart of a writer before that. I LOVED to read. I made up all types of stories in my head. I won a few essay contests in high school, but it took a friend’s encouragement to “click.”

2) Why historical fiction?

I never planned on writing historical fiction. I wanted to write contemporary romances. Then in 2000, I was with Cindy and another writer friend, Anne de Graaf in Austria. They were researching books, and I was along for the ride. BUT I was the one who got a novel idea, after talking to an Austrian historian. The historian’s true stories about the liberation of Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps sparked my novel idea. The idea led to attending two WWII reunions and interviewing veterans. The veterans’ stories led to more novels. The rest, as they say, is history!

3) What triggered your interest in the Spanish Civil War?

When I was researching for my novel, Arms of Deliverance, one of the autobiographies I read was from a man who was a B-17 bomber pilot over Europe--but before that, he was an American volunteer for The Spanish Civil War. I had never heard of this war before, which happened right before WWII in Spain. I started researching, and I was soon fascinated. Some people call it "the first battle of WWII," because it's where that Nazis first tried their hand at modern warfare.

4) Where do you begin when you plan a new novel or series?

I start by researching the time in history, briefly; and then I start thinking of unique characters that had an impact during that time. For example, characters from my novels have been medics, war correspondents, artists, prisoners, etc. It's the people that make the story (and history) come alive. I research the real people first, and then the plot for my novel builds. Soon, I have to make myself stop researching to start writing. Research can be addictive!

5) Does the plot come first and drive the character development? Or vice versa?

Oh, it's a mix! I do a little plot, a little character development, back and forth. But . . . now that I'm currently writing my seventh novel, I'm spending more and more time up front with the characters. The plot seems to work itself out (or at least my plots do!), but boring characters will make readers put the book down and care less.

6) How do you want to affect your readers? What are your messages, themes, or purposes in writing your books?

I love sharing the true events of WWII in story form that will make history come alive to readers. I love when readers tell me, "I never knew that about WWII." All my themes seem to be similar, and they are woven externally through the plot, internally through the characters, and spiritually, too. They are Liberation, Destiny (in terms of God's calling on our lives), Promise, and Adoption. All my novels have some twist of these themes--which are themes in my own life!

7) What future projects do you believe the Lord has in mind for you? How do you see Him using you as a writer further down the road?

It's funny you should ask, because I'm asking the same thing right now! I'm currently getting together more WWII fiction ideas. I'm drawn over and over again to that period in history. I'm just praying that the messages of my heart will continue to connect with editors and readers. What more could a novelist want?

The Story Behind the Novel:

A few years ago when I was researching for my fourth World War II novel, Arms of Deliverance, I came across a unique autobiography. One B-17 crewmember I read about claimed to make it out of German-occupied Belgium after a plane crash due, in part, to his skills he picked up as a veteran of The Spanish Civil War. Reading that bit of information, I had to scratch my head. First of all, I had never heard of the war. And second, what was an American doing fighting in Spain in the late 1930s? Before I knew it, I uncovered a fascinating time in history—one that I soon discovered many people know little about.

This is what I learned:
Nazi tanks rolled across the hillsides and German bombers roared overhead, dropping bombs on helpless citizens. Italian troops fought alongside the Germans, and their opponents attempted to stand strong—Americans, British, Irishmen, and others—in unison with other volunteers from many countries. And their battleground? The beautiful Spanish countryside. From July 17, 1936-April 1, 1939, well before America was involved in World War II, another battle was fought on the hillsides of Spain.

On one side were the Spanish Republicans, joined by the Soviet Union and The International Brigade—men and women from all over the world who have volunteered to fight Fascism. Opposing them, Franco and his Fascist military leaders, supported with troops, machinery, and weapons from Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish Civil War, considered the “training ground” for the war to come, boasted of thousands of American volunteers who joined to fight on the Republican side, half of which never returned home. Unlike World War II, there is no clear line between white and black, good and evil. Both sides committed atrocities. Both sides had deep convictions they felt worth fighting and dying for.

Loyalists—also know as the Republicans were aided by the Soviet Union, the Communist movement, and the International Brigades. If not for the weapons and volunteers from these sources their fight would have ended in weeks rather than years. While many men fought side by side, their political views included that of liberal democracy, communism and socialism. The Catholic Basque Country also sided with the Republic, mainly because it sought independence from the central government and was promised this by Republican leaders in Madrid.

Nationalists—or Francoists were aided mainly by Germany and Italy. The Nationalist opposed an independent Basque state. Their main supporters were those who believed in a monarchist state and fascist interests. The Nationalist wished for Spain to continue on as it had for years, with rich landowners, the military, and the church running the country. Most of the Roman Catholic clergy supported the Nationalists, except those in the Basque region.
During the Spanish Civil war, terror tactics against civilians were common. And while history books discuss the estimated one million people who lost their lives during the conflict, we must not forget that each of those who fought, who died, had their own tales. From visitors to Spain who found themselves caught in the conflict, to the communist supporters, Basque priests, and Nazi airmen . . . each saw this war in a different light. These are the stories behind A Valley of Betrayal.

Tricia Goyer, October 2006
Coming Fall 2007 -- Book 2: A Shadow of Treason
To win your copy of A Valley of Betrayal, comment on this Sky-High View blog on any post. Your comment must be dated March 4 through March 25, midnight, after which the winner will be drawn. You MUST leave contact information in your comment, such as your email address, blog address, or website.