Posted on: October 18, 2014
If you enjoy reading books on an Ereader, tablet, or other electronic device, and you read more than a couple of books a month, then you need to check out Scribd.
Scribd has been called Netflix for books. For one low monthly fee, you can download and read as many books as you want.
The number of Christian fiction and non-fiction titles in Scribd’s library is growing daily.
Harlequin has begun adding their family of Love Inspired titles to the subscription service. So far, all the books in my Undercover Cops series are there, as are my Port Aster Secrets books from Revell Publishing.
And the best part is, thanks to Harlequin’s special promotion…
You can download up to 20 books at a time to read offline, as well as, organize all your chosen titles onto personal library shelves while online.
Scribd describes itself as “your personal digital library, where you have unlimited access to the world’s largest collection of e-books and written works.” With their premium subscription service you’ll have access to over half a million books from nearly a thousand publishers, from New York Times bestsellers to literary classics.
They also store an eclectic collection of user-uploaded written works, from landmark court filings to academic papers from scholars around the world.
You have nothing to lose by trying it. If you decide it’s not for you, just be sure to cancel before your free trial period ends and you won’t be charged a penny. But be sure to read all my books first.
I’m guessing that if you choose to “follow” me on at my profile on Scribd, you’ll receive notices when new books are added.
If you still have questions, check out Scribd’s frequently asked questions page here. I’m still learning my way around the place myself, working on “claiming” my author profile so I can add a photo etc.
BTW, you won’t find any erotic fiction (at least not at this time) available in the subscription service–reassuring if the kids start browsing.
Your Turn: What do you think of this concept? Do you plan to try it?
The service has been around since 2007, but I imagine with Harlequin now on board the number of users is bound to boom, at least for the next three months. However, I would very much hate to see it further undermine the viability of our local bookstores.
Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted on: October 13, 2014
Welcome to part 2 of my Christmas Reads series, but first Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian blog readers!
As regular Love Inspired readers know, the Christmas stories start rolling out this time of year, and I was fortunate to win an advanced copy of Leigh Bale’s October release, The Forest Ranger’s Christmas.
If you’re collecting Christmas stories, a couple of Christmas-themed Love Inspired Suspense that are also in stores this month are Holiday Defenders, a collection by various authors, and Covert Christmas by Hope White.
And I’ll put in a plug for my November release, Identity Withheld, since it is also Thanksgiving/Christmas themed, and already available directly from Harlequin.
I don’t read many of LI’s contemporary romance, since as a primarily romantic-suspense/mystery reader, I tend to like a lot more going on in the novels I read, but The Forest Ranger’s Christmas was a nice change of pace for me with a lot more focus on the romantic conflict than the external conflict, which tends to be the main fodder of my own novels.
A Small-Town Christmas
Josie Rushton’s in Camlin for the holidays—but not for long. She has just a few weeks to persuade her ailing grandfather to leave his small Nevada town and move closer to her Las Vegas home. But after seventy-five happy years in his house, Gramps isn’t going anywhere. Josie can’t imagine what’s so great about Camlin. When she meets single dad and forest ranger Clint Hamilton, she quickly begins to see the appeal. Clint shows Josie the joys of living in a close-knit community, especially at Christmas. She’s soon falling for the town, Clint’s charm and his adorable daughter. Can Clint convince her that love and family are the best gifts of all?
This book received a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times!
It does a great job of showing the challenge of caring for aging parents, or in this case, grandparent. And who could resist a handsome forest ranger who’s always eager to lend a helping hand?
Award-winning author, Leigh Bale, is the daughter of a retired U.S. forest ranger, and holds a B.A. in History. Married in 1981 to the love of her life, Leigh and her professor husband have two children and two grandkids. You can reach her at www.LeighBale.com.
Your Turn: Do you have other Christmas reading recommendations?
Posted on: October 5, 2014
Identity Withheld is my newest Love Inspired Suspense, and although the novel doesn’t hit bookstores until November, it’s already available directly from Harlequin. So, I thought I’d whet your appetite by interviewing the heroine today. [Just in: Tuesday & Wednesday only, buy 2 books and get 1 free at Harlequin, using coupon code: HNB2OC14]
Identity Withheld is Jake Steele’s story, brother to Sam Steele, the hero of Perilous Waters. But the identity of Jake’s romantic interest is a tad more complicated. Thankfully, I’ve managed to coax her into revealing a little more about herself here today.
Sandra: Tell us about yourself, Kara, and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
Kara: My real name is actually Nicole Redman, but after witnessing what looked like a man buying a baby while out for a jog in the park in my hometown of Boston, bad guys tried to kill me with a parcel bomb and the police sent me into witness protection. I was quietly biding my time as the rechristened Kara Grant, nighttime janitor, living across the continent in a small town outside of Seattle, until the bad guys found me and set fire to my new home. That’s how I met firefighter Jake Steele.
Sandra: Tell us about Jake. What was your first impression?
Kara: My very first impression, was not good, I’m afraid. When he spotted me running from the scene, he thought I’d set the fire and grabbed me none too gently. But once he realized his mistake, he was very gentle and protective and had the sweetest, lopsided smile, even if he was annoyingly insistent that I go to the hospital when it was the last place I wanted to go.
Sandra: It sounds like the two of you clashed more than once. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
Kara: I guess my determination to do the right thing no matter the personal cost would be my best strength. My boyfriend in Boston warned me to not go to the police after I witnessed what I was sure had to be the sale of a kidnapped child, saying it would only lead to trouble, but I couldn’t not speak up. Thankfully, I’ve always been fairly self-reliant as well, which helped me a lot once I was placed in witness protection, although Jake would probably say that is my weakness, since I’m so resistant to letting him help me.
Sandra: You have a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Kara: When I learned I would have to move across the country and cut off all contact with my friends and family, I clung to this scripture with all my might: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
Sandra: Why can you never see yourself ending up with the hero?
Kara: My life isn’t my own. Kara Grant is not who I really am. And I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone who I was. Being with me, puts Jake and his son in danger and I couldn’t live with myself if I brought them to harm or had to uproot them from their family here in Washington State, because the bad guys have found me and I have to be moved again.
Sandra: What do you hope people will learn from your experience?
Kara: To do what’s right even when it hurts and trust God to work it all out according to his plan and purpose.
A worthwhile lesson! Thank you for visiting with us today, Kara.
Blog readers, if you’d like to read more of…
Kara’s interview and other bonus features, such as deleted scenes, as well as an excerpt of chapter one, click here.
If you like to bake, you’ll want to check out the recipe for Gran’s Pumpkin Muffins, also in the bonus features. October 13th is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so in preparation we’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes. As these pumpkin muffins baked, they made the house smell wonderful. They tasted great too!
Your Turn: If you had to go into witness protection, what would be the hardest thing for you to walk away from?
Posted on: September 29, 2014
I’m still in St. Louis this week, doing research for my next series, but I’m delighted to have the talented Gina Holmes here to tell you about her newest release.
Gina is the founder of popular literary site, novelrocket.com. She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.
Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.
Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.
She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.
Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?
Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)
You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?
It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.
The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?
I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!
You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?
Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.
That’s so rewarding. You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?
Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)
What do you like most about being a writer? Least?
Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.
Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)
I know what you mean. Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
My advice is pretty much always the same:
1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work.
2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time.
3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!)
4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!
If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?
Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.
Where can readers find your books and more about you?
Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Ginaholmes.com. Thanks so much for hosting me!
You’re very welcome, Gina, and blog readers, today, Sept 29th is the…
Last Day to enter Gina’s Giveaway for a cool book table.
Check it out at her website: http://www.ginaholmes.com/
Posted on: September 22, 2014
I know, I know, it’s only September, still 3 months and 3 days until Christmas! But…
one of the ways I treat my overworked brain at Christmastime is by indulging in a month-long fest of reading Christmas themed romance novels and novellas. I start collecting them as soon as I find them and I decided that this year, I’d share some of those finds with you. My first is…
This is a Christmas romance, with two books in one, celebrating Montana’s 125th anniversary. They both have the same great hook:
What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?
Now usually, I collect the Christmas novellas I find and save them for December, but I actually read these two novellas while traveling earlier this month. They were a fabulous way to fill in all those hours between flights. They are both set in Helena, Montana, and center around a fictional beauty pageant–the first a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and the second this year.
In the first novella: The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT)
Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?
I’ve got to admit that I was so swept up by the historical details that I was convinced that Angie and Valerie based the books on a real event. But Valerie has since told me that no, the event is completely fiction, although Helena was the wealthiest city in the world per capita in 1889 (thanks to the gold rush), so it’s not too big a stretch that someone may have considered something of that nature.
The Debutante Queen mentions the first recorded American pageant in Delaware, which took place a few short years before 1889. While her heroine and hero, Calista and Albert, are fictional (as is his inn), many of the other characters and locations and historical tidbits are real.
In the second novella: More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT)
Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip, zero, zilch when she discovers the official photographer is former boyfriend, Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?
True to her farm lit roots, Valerie does a fabulous job of marrying two seemingly incompatible worlds, that of farmer and beauty queen. I love how she weaves in her own personal passion for local grown produce.
I asked Valerie what inspired their collaboration on Snowflake Tiara
Here’s what she had to say: Angela entered pageantry as a means to develop her platform as a speaker and author. Being Mrs. Montana International 2009 has expanded her opportunities to speak on an increasingly wide basis, which is something Angie loves to do!
I, Valerie, have never entered a pageant, nor played a contestant on television. In fact, I grew up a little Mennonite girl in a traditional household, where beauty, elegance, and grace were not celebrated. Writing More Than a Tiara (my novella in Snowflake Tiara) gave me opportunities to internalize God’s views.
We hatched the general idea of writing a novella duo together several years ago, but agreed immediately we’d only do it if the stories fit both our brands. Angie loves turn-of-the-century Montana, and I love to write farm lit. It took several Google hangout sessions before we narrowed in on the pageantry themes with my character’s platform centered on real food. Focusing both novellas on children in need, both in Helena and around the world, further pulled the stories together.
As we worked back and forth, brainstorming, sharing snippets, critiquing, and editing, we were able to tighten the connections between the stories and themes.
We’re both delighted with how the stories developed, and are thankful that our readers are enjoying the collaboration as well!
Sandra, again. The stories are fun and I wholeheartedly recommend this unique pairing for my blog readers’ Christmas reading list.
This book is available in print, but is under $4 on Kindle. Learn about other novels by these talented authors by clicking on their names above the book image to link to their individual websites.
Your Turn: Do you like to indulge in Christmas-themed books or movies as the season approaches? Or crafting or decorating?
Posted on: September 15, 2014
At the Writers’ Police Academy, I had the privilege of attending a class on this topic taught by Master Corporal Dee Jackson. And I’d like to share some of her excellent tips with my female readers.
Dee emphasized that an encounter will last at least two minutes and helped us experience the stamina that takes by having us high step in place for only one minute. Many were winded after that short time, which helped illustrate why she teaches self-protection as opposed to self-defense. She says, if you can’t last two minutes, you need to be able to disengage quickly.
The key to avoiding an encounter is hyper-vigilance.
You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Swivel your head and look. If anyone is closing in within an arm’s length, turn to face them on a diagonal, with your strongest arm and foot back, your weight evenly distributed, your palm raised and firmly say “Stop” as loudly as deemed necessary for the situation.
You shouldn’t care if the person thinks you’re crazy or rude. Someone who means no harm will stop and back up. You can apologize later with a “you can never be too careful these days” if need be, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Think the best, but plan for the worst.
Facing the person who makes you uneasy and demanding they stop with your hand blocking them also serves the purpose of attracting attention from others, which will further discourage the perpetrator who may move on to an easier mark. And the dramatic move will hopefully prompt others to help.
Always park beneath a light standard, preferably one with a video camera.
If the person continues to approach, take a step back and say more forcefully, “I said get back.” For added shock value you might add some more colorful language.
What if an attacker grabs you by the throat?
Do not let him get you to the ground. The ground is your enemy. Remember your hands are free. Don’t use them to grab at his hands. Slam them down on his elbows to break the hold.
Or if he’s too tall, grab his shirt, dig in your fingers, pull him close and knee his groin as often as needed until he releases you. Then run.
If he grabs from behind, use one hand to try to ease his hold off your throat, use the elbow of your other arm to smash his head.
You can see how in a panic situation that unless you’ve practiced this over and over and built muscle memory, you are unlikely to react quickly enough, which is why hyper-vigilance is so important.
Long before you get close to your car, scan under it and around it. At a distance, you can do this without leaning down. Remember, the ground is your enemy.
The only door you unlock should be the one you are using and not until you’ve done a visual check of the interior.
If you have stuff to put away in your trunk, open your driver’s door first, shove your purse under the seat and relock. Next, lock kids in the car. Then put your purchases in the trunk.
When you leave the house, note where things are. When you return, pay attention. Is anything out of place? If so, take appropriate precautions.
One last tip from Eli Jackson, a martial arts expert and founder of the Authors Combat Academy, is run from a knife. If you engage, you will be cut. If you can’t get away, take advantage of pivot points to push the knife away. Swing your side being attacked out of the way and grab wrist with other hand, with thumb at back knuckle. This is a pivot point that will force the knife a different direction.
She demonstrated various other pivot points that can be used to advantage, but to do this in the middle of an attack takes continual practice to build muscle memory.
Your Turn: Any tips or stories to share from your own experience?
Posted on: September 8, 2014
Attend the Writer’s Police Academy.
Only at the Writer’s Police Academy would you come across a scene like this and think “oh, cool!” while you’re waiting for these guys to arrive:
Or think it’s fun to be arrested.
And yes, a pretty woman can get out of a ticket by agreeing to a date.
I’ll share more about “romance behind the badge” in a post at Craftie Ladies on Thursday.
And of course, watching things blow up is always fun. Well, if you’re a safe distance away. This was a demo of a door breach. No battering rams for this SWAT team when you need to make a quick entry.
I took a lot of notes on the EMS ridealong, since I’m putting the polishing touches on my paramedic story. Gotta say that if I was a victim and this guy was my local EMT, I might have a lot of medical emergencies.
I learned lots of fabulous details, brainstormed bombs with the chief of the airport’s security. Quizzed a group about a scenario in my current wip, including a former secret service agent, a retired police officer who now teaches munitions amongst other things and a retired officer/air force/swat guy who even found me the next day with a better idea he’d come up with while thinking over my dilemma since we’d last talked.
Since I didn’t get in until 2 am, I’ll save more details for future posts. I’m saving lots of pics for future bonus features in my books.
Next week, I’ll share important strategies the female attendees learned for self protection and defense.
Lee Lofland – He’s the man
And I’ll close by thanking Lee Lofland, author of the fabulous Police Procedure & Investigation book for organizing this incomparable academy, Sisters in Crime and Ninc for helping to support it, the Guilford Technical Community College/Public Safety for hosting and the participation of too many fantastic instructors to name.
For the writers amongst my readers, word on the street is that not only will this event be held in NC again next year, Lee is also taking it on the road.
Posted on: August 31, 2014
First the Story
Remember your first day back to school when the teacher would ask you to write about your summer? Well…have I got a story to tell.
“He’s gone over!” my daughter yelled as we walked along the windblown beach and glanced behind us at the choppy water where my son had been playing in the waves with his kayak, confident he could handle them and well-protected from the chilly water by a waterproof boat skirt.
As my gaze lurched from the overturned kayak to the surrounding waves, my heart slammed into my ribs.
I was desperate for a glimpse of my son’s face.
We had no idea how long ago he’d flipped—a split second before we’d glanced over? Or longer? Much longer?
The previous day, when the water was calm, he’d been practicing flipping his kayak, trying to master rolling it back upright. He never managed to do it, but the practice helped him learn how to react to flipping over.
Picture him clamped into a kayak by a tight-fitting rubberized skirt.
Then picture him hanging upside down in choppy water, trapped by that same skirt. Yes, he’d had lots of practice yanking the release strap so he could escape, but that had been in planned flips.
Flips in which he’d had the chance to take a full breath and hold it before going under.
Not being sideswiped by a strong wave and then held under by the unusually high undertow.
Finally his head broke the surface, not because he’d managed to get out, but because the water was shallow enough that he could brace his hand in the sand and push his head above water.
It took another couple of frantic seconds to release the skirt.
Perhaps only nanoseconds, but it felt a lot longer to him and to a mother torn between crashing through the water fully clothed to haul him out and trusting her adult son to do what he’d trained himself to do.
Why have I shared this story?
Because it is a snapshot of my summer. I was working on a manuscript that didn’t come together the way I thought it would, drowning under waves of doubt, desperate for a glimpse of light, a snatch of breath, divine help.
Even though my son had practiced capsizing, it did little to temper his panic when he couldn’t escape. But sheer determination and the steps he’d practiced served him well.
In the same way, I’ve studied writing craft inside out and, this summer, read a few more books on the topic. And I’d long ago formed the habit of turning to God in times of trouble, both big and small, especially with my writing struggles. But when weeks at my keyboard went by with few new words, that I actually liked, to show for my time, my prayers started to sound like a broken record.
Yet… I had a quiet confidence that the right words would come.
My deadline wasn’t that ominously close…yet.
And this wasn’t the first time I’d gotten stuck in a story. In fact, I flipped back through my journal and found that I had similar desperate moments at some point with just about every book I’d written.
And God had always answered my prayers…eventually.
The eventually part relates to me, the mother, standing on shore, trusting my son to apply the skills he’d learned.
God doesn’t always choose to give us what we ask for in the way we want or hope or expect, but He promises to never leave us.
Perhaps, as with my son…
Our small “capsizes” are practice rounds to equip us for the storms ahead.
Which begs the question: Why doesn’t He just take away the storm and calm our turbulent seas?
I think, because…
Sometimes, it takes coming to the end of ourselves to know He’s always near.
Your Turn: What did you learn this summer?
Water image courtesy of my talented daughter JL Orchard
Posted on: August 26, 2014
Wow, this summer has flown for me. And once again, I’m breaking my blogging break to bring you breaking news.
How’s that for a tongue twister?!
On Tuesday August 26th
The Ebook version of Blind Trust will be on sale for only $1.99 at participating retailers. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’d really appreciate it if you tell your friends about this great deal.
And… I’m on another search for a great TITLE
This one is for my paramedic story for Love Inspired Suspense. I’ve received some great suggestions on my Facebook page, but I’m not quite sure that we’ve hit on one that my publisher will latch onto just yet. If you’d like to offer some suggestions, I’d appreciate it. If my publisher chooses your suggestion, I’ll mail you a copy of the book when it’s available.
The basic plot is…
My paramedic heroine is threatened by an unknown stalker. But with his brother the prime suspect, can the sheriff’s deputy determined to protect her win her trust and his brother’s in time to save her from the real bad guy?
I look forward to hearing your suggestions!
Posted on: July 30, 2014
Thank you so much to all who voted for
To continue the celebration…
Visit me this week at
and leave a comment for a chance to win an E copy of Blind Trust (or other Orchard title of your choice)
for a second opportunity…
on Friday, August 1st hop over to