Saturday, August 31, 2013

Winner Announcement for Laura Frantz’s “Love’s Awakening”


Every writer will be encouraged to read what this grateful winner has to say about how the Lord used fiction in her life.
The time has come to announce the winner of Laura Frantz’s, “Love’s Awakening,” which will release in September with Revell Publishing. Congratulations to Cheryl Veenstra! You are the winner of this novel, which is the second in the Ballantyne Legacy series. Everyone who read "Love's Reckoning," has waited anxiously for the second book’s release. Warning! Book stores had better beware! September is almost upon us and I’m sure there will be a stampede of eager readers to purchase this novel. Hopefully, they have ordered more copies of this much awaited novel.
I asked Cheryl if she wanted to share something about herself or about winning Laura’s novel and she kindly responded. She asked me to select what I wanted from her e-mail…but I didn’t want you to miss any of her thoughtful words...



Thanks so much for writing and for the opportunity to win Laura Frantz’s book!  What a fun surprise gift and a real encouragement to me!  I so enjoyed reading your interview with Laura!  I always recommend her books to my friends...I love the way she weaves in fascinating history with a great love story that points us to the Lord!
I’ve always loved to read but didn’t have much extra time while raising three kids the last 23 years.  My youngest daughter was born with spina bifida 15 years ago and her health issues/disabilities have kept me busy (but blessed)!  I found myself learning those toughest of lessons.....when life throws you a ‘curve ball’ and you find yourself on a road you never expected to travel.   God is good....all the time.   But three years ago, I found myself in a totally unexpected crisis of faith when my other daughter (my ‘healthy’ one) suddenly had serious health issues and missed her last two years of high school because she was so ill.   I hit a wall spiritually and God felt so very far away and silent (for the first time in my life).   We were in the hospital for more days than I could count and I just felt so numb.  I picked up a few Christian fiction novels at our local bookstore, just to help pass the time.  (I’ll admit, I felt kinda guilty at first.  I should be reading the Bible...or devotionals...but to be honest, I just wanted to ‘escape’ real life for a bit.  Become engulfed in another time and place...another person’s story and challenge....maybe to feel like I wasn’t alone in my struggle to survive this crazy life).  
During those tough three years, it was humbling to realize that God often used the verses, lessons and stories in Christian fiction to touch my heart and draw me closer to Him, even in the midst of life’s trials when my faith was faltering due to life’s stresses.   More times than I’d like to admit, I would burst into tears as an author, put into words, exactly what was in my heart!  In that moment, I no longer felt alone in my struggles.  I felt.... seen and heard and understood.  God has given me many hugs through Christian fiction books.  I finally started to hear His voice again.   It may sound strange, but it’s true! 

Hahaha...that was probably a LOT more than you wanted to hear from me.  But thanks for listening!   I’m still processing the last many years and figuring out what God is teaching me.  Feel free to pick out what you may (or may not want to) use.
AND...Thank you for your wise words and thoughtful observations in your blog...especially about God using us, even when we are imperfect and weak!  I look forward to reading it in the future too!  The following verse touched me tonight while reading through some of your past entries ....”And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessings and favor] Who has called you to His {own} eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely and strengthen, and settle you.”  1 Peter 5:10 Amplified Bible

I attached a picture of my family.  I’m so thankful that God has restored the health of my oldest daughter.   Two of my kids are grown and out of the house now...thankfully, we still have one at home....I’m sure not ready for an ‘empty’ nest yet!!
God Bless and THANK YOU again!!  I look forward to following your blog...


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pens of praise

Christian Writers Group 

Next meeting…

Saturday, September 14th  at 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

This will be the second Saturday of the month.  Disregard previous message. Plans changed to accommodate our usual meeting date.

To be held at…

Debby Erdmann’s Campsite

Cedar Valley Campground
N5098 Cedar Valley Rd.
Kewaunee, WI
Site# 89A

Stop at the office for directions to the campsite. Your $5 admission fee has been waived, in case they ask.
Lunch to follow. Debby will put on a nice meal for all of us since we have to drive so far. Please let Debby know if you are attending so that she will be able to plan the  menu.
Cedar Valley Campground is about 40 minutes from Manitowoc. The easiest way there is take Hwy. Q all the way to Hwy. 29. (Q turns into Manitowoc Rd. halfway.) At Hwy. 29 it's a T intersection. Turn right. Take Hwy. 29 to Cty. B. turn left. The campground is north of the B/C intersection.

During our September meeting, we will explore the benefits of using the Christian Writer’s Market and the Writer’s Market books for publication ideas and information. If you desire, bring poetry, short story, article, or novel ideas along to check the specifications for submission.

Joseph Lubega from Uganda will provide our devotion and we may be able to twist his arm and have him speak about the orphanage he represents! J

Our prompt for September is “Letter to the Editor.” You are not limited to any one newspaper. Our Herald Times Reporter will accept letters which are 300 or fewer words. Occasionally they will take a 600 words or less submission. You may submit online on their website 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Laura Frantz's "Love's Reckoning" Interview & Book Giveaway

Laura Frantz's Ballantyne Novel Interview and Book Giveaway
This Ballantyne Legacy, starting with “Love’s Reckoning” by Laura Frantz, is a spellbinding tale that will tether you to the pages. Eden and Elspeth Lee’s secrets and strivings will put you in a quandary of: “Will I have the strength to put this book down? If I do, will I be able to think about anything else?”
This is a beautifully written story, one that captured my heart and pulled me willingly along the whole way through. I had to know what would happen next. What choices would be made? The twists this story took kept me engrossed in the business of watching their secrets unfold and rooting for the hero and heroine. The first time I read this captivating tale I was in perfect angst when I had to put the book down to take care of the mundane duties awaiting my attention. Unimportant tasks such as going to work or making dinner!
The second time I flipped these pages was during my summer vacation. I found “Loves Reckoning” to be just as intriguing and satisfying. This novel is on my reread and reread again and again and again list. If you are looking for a well written novel that deals with imperfect people, harsh realities life can toss your way, and strength to overcome, then this will be the novel for you. The characters are well rounded, unique, and interesting. The historical information is carefully woven in to move the story along and yet put the reader there. My advice is that you purchase “Love’s Reckoning” this month so that you will be ready when book two, “Love’s Awakening,” is available in September 2013.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR  - Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz
1.   I’m curious, are you a writer who plots your story beforehand or do you discover the adventure along the way? Generally, I’m one of those crazy people who just sits down with pen and paper and writes, no map. But this new series of mine, The Ballantyne Legacy, required a proposal or synopsis of each story which was new to me. Thankfully, my publisher lets me deviate for the good of the book if needed and stray from the synopsis for the good of the story.
2.  How did you choose the location of your story? (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) My head editor wanted to set the story in Pittsburgh and so I also brought in Philadelphia, a city I love. I think there’s a danger of authors becoming pigeon-holed in a particular setting (in my case, Kentucky) which can be limiting. Branching out can be beneficial to both author and reader at times, or so I hope.
3.  Do you have any funny or stand out experiences you would like to share about researching this novel? I am such an unfunny person (can you tell that by my emotionally intense books?!). I did learn SO MUCH about blacksmithing I felt I could work in the smithy right along with Silas. And yet the more I learned the more I felt I’d only touched the tip of the iceberg.  The blacksmithing trade was quite complicated and required a great deal of skill and artisanship to be truly good.
4.  I love the quotes in the beginning of your chapters. Do you find them before you write the chapter or afterwards? Both. I’m always on the lookout for great quotes and have fun looking them up or asking readers to share those they like best. It’s amazing how easy it is to match a quote with a chapter, sort of setting the scene for what is to come without spoiling things.
5.  Your characterization of the two sisters, Eden and Elspeth, are so well done. Did you create them realizing how helpful their conflicts will be to young girls who experience dysfunction in their families interactions? I did not realize this until a professional library recommended the book to teen girls for the very reasons you mention. I’ve always wanted to reach young women/teens and pray this book makes that kind of an impact. I don’t have a sister though I wish I did. But if I did I wouldn’t want an Elspeth!
6.  How long does it take you to accomplish the research for a book series such as this? I always seem to be researching, filling notebooks with historical info and keeping a filing system of the same. While I’m writing the story I continue researching. This series is especially a challenge because I’m dealing with stories leaping from 1780 to 1820 to 1850 or so. Times and customs and everything changed radically then so it’s crucial to stay relevant.
7.    How do you glean ideas you need for your stories? Can you give an example? The idea for Love’s Reckoning came from a snippet of research I discovered in the fabulous FOXFIRE books. These are how-to books about Appalachian life with interviews of old-timers, etc. One of the tradesmen therein spoke about apprentices marrying into the master tradesman’s family in early America. I found this intriguing and full of possibilities. What if the apprentice had to choose between not one daughter but two? What if he didn’t get along with the father/master? What if both sisters fell in love with him? That’s all the fire imagination needs…
8.    Do you have any book signings scheduled in the near future? My last signing was at the International Christian Retail Show in St. Louis. I don’t often do them but this was a great venue given the Christy Awards, etc.
9.    How can your readers reach you?  FB    WEB page  Publisher  Revell/Baker Publishing Group    e-mail
10.  Do you have any television or radio interviews scheduled that your readers or interested parties could tune into? Not at present though if that changes I’ll let you know. I did do a local radio show early on when my debut novel released which is probably still in the radio archives but I’m mortified even thinking of it now!
11.   Have you written articles or historic pieces, which would expand on the information of this time period? I have not but that’s always an interesting possibility.
12.  Would you like to see your books become movies? I think every author dreams of this. It’s really fun to think of who you’d cast as the principal actors and such.
13.  Is this novel available on audio?  I keep hoping but not yet! It will be available in Dutch and French, thankfully.
14.  I absolutely love Love’s Reckoning. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your journey writing this work of fiction? Love’s Reckoning went in an entirely different direction than I had planned so feel it has a unique readership in some respects, perhaps not the typical CBA audience. Soon after the book released, I was contacted by a Pennsylvania native/New York Times romance author who told me how much she enjoyed the book. She even presented the novel at a Pittsburgh book event where she was the keynote. I’ve been contacted by readers who have told me that Eden’s tragedy is their own and that the story brought healing. Looking back, there were a couple of things I wish I’d done differently as far as plot line and character development but now believe the book is written as it was meant to be written, flaws and all.
15.  What can we expect from the next Ballantyne Legacy book 2 available this fall? Love’s Awakening is a very different book! Some readers will be relieved but others might miss that almost dark, emotional intensity of the first. Ellie’s story does have its moments but it’s a lighter book in some respects, especially since we’re dealing with a happy family rather than a first class dysfunctional one.
16.  Who are other authors you enjoy reading? I am a huge fan of Liz Curtis Higgs and her Scottish historicals. Serena Miller is a fellow Revell author and friend whose books I cannot put down. She won the RITA last year – and with good reason! Actually I have so many authors I admire/read in the CBA that I’m afraid to name them all lest I leave one out. So I’ll just say Liz and Serena for starters J
17.  You have several other books in print. (The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady) Which one is your favorite book and why? Each of my books holds a special place for me. The Frontiersman’s Daughter is beloved because it has the most of my family heritage and history therein. Courting Morrow Little is a favorite because of the half-native hero, Red Shirt. I’ve always had a soft spot for Colonel McLinn and a man in Revolutionary War uniform so that takes care of The Colonel’s Lady. In Love’s Reckoning Silas swept me off my feet along with Eden. And in Love’s Awakening in which I explore the power of prayer in a small way, I love Ellie’s character.



Laura Frantz will use to pick a winner from the comments left on this post. She will then e-mail the winner to receive the address needed to send an autographed copy of “Love’s Awakening.” I wait in anticipation, wondering who will be our winner come this August 29, 2013! I wish to extend an early congratulations to the winner…who knows maybe it will be you….


Saturday, August 10, 2013


Pens of Praise Prompt 2013

Susan Marlene Kinney


I am the door. John 10:9 Jesus spoke these words because He knew His Identity. Forever and always He is our savior, brother, and friend. First and foremost, His is the Only Begotten Son of God. The list of His attributes would fill more than every book ever created. When I visualize Him as ‘The Door,’ I imagine His face radiant with love, extending the most important of invitations; the invitation to reside with Him forever. He stands beside an exquisite doorway, exotic wood gleams, showing off intricately carved holy visions, so fitting for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Yet, He beckons for us to share His wealth.

Treasure troves of perfectly flowing loving-kindness and trustworthy faithfulness abound for us just beyond the threshold. His presence is our all and all. We are complete in Him and Him alone. I remember the night I took His invitation seriously, when I realized who He was… His identity. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life—my Savior. My heart nearly pounded out of my chest with emotions whirling strongly. This moment was so relevant to whom I would become. His powerful mercy took me by surprise and changed my identity in a flicker of a second. Now I’m His beloved, His friend, and a woman of value. Though I may not be anyone special in this world, because of Him I’ve become more than I’d hoped to be. I took that step onto His welcome mat decades ago and stepped through the entryway, my adoring arm looped through His. He gazes at me with the joy of who I will become and I found there is much to learn.  I’m growing day by day in knowledge about our relationship. He takes my breath away when I think of what He gave up to set me free from fear and insecurities and mistrust. Though I don’t fully walk in the liberty He provides, I’m releasing my grip on worthless bondage. I delight to see that He uses me to encourage or assist others, so that they can take His hand and follow His lead.

His pure and holy identity paid the price on Calvary’s tree so that I could have a fresh and clean identity. Everything good or pleasing I’ve done is because of Him. Always He encourages and leads me through valleys and mountaintop experiences, through waterfalls and spiritual droughts.

If you ask me who I am, I would have to say it depends on who’s viewpoint you see me from. Jesus delights in me and knows my future. He trusts in me though I’m imperfect and sometimes fearful. He calls me beautiful though some would think me old. He calls me sweet though some would think I’m difficult. My estimation of myself includes journeyer, sometimes scared, sometimes courageous, lover of the Lover of My Soul, imperfect but perfect in position and astonished by my Anchor and Bright Morning Star. I am His beloved believer and writer of precious truths and destinations He plots for our journey together. Who am I?

I am amazed.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Christian Writers Group

Next meeting.
Saturday, August 10th  ~  10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Country Memories Farm Llc in Manitowoc

9225 Carstens Lake Rd Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220-9140

§   Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43. Follow 42 south. Turn right onto Carstens Lake Road. Drive straight past Union Road and Country Memories Farm is on the left.

Our August meeting is about creating FB author pages and is taught by our very own Stephenie Hovland. Stephenie is a published author of devotions and children's books. She also teaches grade school classes and music. Come and discover how to set up your professional page. I think we can all agree that we need wisdom when deciding what information to include for such public communication. I for one am excited about this Saturday's meeting.
Our prompt for August is.
You are invited to bring a short five minute sample of you own work in progress if you so desire to share it in a safe friendly environment. This is not required to attend the meeting.

We may share a book report on a novel or a "how to" for writing!

 Warning you may end up loving to write!

Remember to visit a local shop or bring your coffee or cappuccino with you.

Let us know if you're attending so we can save a seat just for you.

If you have questions or contact Becky McLafferty at or Susan Kinney at

We look forward to seeing you there! May God bless you richly and always as you write for His glory!