Thursday, June 30, 2016

ACFW 2015 Conference Catch Up

Obvious confession #1: I’m late posting this blog.

Obvious confession #2: I’m seriously late posting these photos!

Thought y’all might like to get a peek into last year’s American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. So I’ve scrounged up the photos I took with my cell phone and have added a bit of commentary. :) I have lots of other photos, but there was no room in this post. If you REALLY want to see them, tell me so in the comments, and I'll do more posts or put them on Facebook. :)

Also, I’m super excited to say the Lord has worked an all-out God-thing and made it where I can attend this year as well. I don’t know what all He has in store, but I’m looking forward to finding out! The conference this year will be held at the Omni Hotel and Resort in Nashville, TN, a gorgeous venue that I’m excited to explore. I’ll try to bring back lots of photos if I can keep my head on straight. :)

This is obviously what I felt when I found out I was able to go to the ACFW 2015 Writers Conference.

Of course, then I had to figure out how to wear my hair at the gala.
Turns out the hairstyle's not as easy as it looks on Youtube.
Finally got my business cards in the mail after one failed batch.
My fairy godmother--um, I mean critique partner Elaine Manders sewed this beautiful historical costume to my specifications with her excellent seamstress skills and a heart made of gold.

Trying on the dress as soon as it came in the mail, because I couldn't stand it.

Dallas skyscrapers!

Me with Jeanne Takenaka. Such a friendly and encouraging lady!
Revell author Beth White and I in costume at the genre dinner!
The incomparable Francine Rivers and I--can you see the excitement pinging off of me? My crit partner and I were exploring the hotel at 11pm and happened to run into Frannie. Total God thing!

Appetizer at the gala.

The amazing Sara Ella! I'm so excited I got to meet her in person after being friends online through our awesome friend Nancy Kimball!

My roommate--a total dream! She was awesome and so workable. Can't wait to see you this year, Elizabeth Van Tassel!

People cheering at the gala as awards were being granted.

Since the hotel was in Texas, they had some excellent decor. I love this movie!

The hotel walls were papered with famous Texan quotes!

Comment fodder:
What's the coolest place you visited in 2015?
Have you ever been to the Dallas, TX area? What was your favorite thing about your visit?

***REMEMBER, if you have a question for me, any question, I'll try to answer it on July 18th! Ask me in the comments! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Blogging

1. THOU SHALT POST REGULARLY. Once a week shalt thou post. Thou shalt not post less than once a week. More than once a week may thou post, but too many posts too often too soon shalt thou not make, lest thou vex thy soul and thus hate thy blog and destroy it. Seriously, though, if you want a consistent readership, you have to make consistent posts. Commit. Write. Grow.

2. THOU SHALT LET READERS KNOW THY SCHEDULE. How shall they read thy blog lest they know what day upon which thou postest, prithee? And don't get discouraged if you don't have 200 followers right off or comments on every post. Bloggers more successful than you and I still have low-comment days. Embrace the first fruitless months as a part of growing pains. You'll see results soon enough, but only if you keep going.

3. THOU SHALT ASK READERS' OPINIONS. Set up an improvement questionnaire (I created mine with Google docs) and make changes according to your readers’ feedback.

4. THOU SHALT SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Because bloggers and blog readers are social people. They’re internet people. Social media websites are where social internet people hang out. It’s not too complicated. If it videos are a great way to learn how to use social media. Remember to make your posts shareable. Install a gadget/widget/app/whatevertheycallit on your blog to make sharing easier for your readers.

5. THOU SHALT NETWORK. Host/share/support others' content via your blog and social media. Reply to the comments on your blog. Strike up conversations. Comment on other blogs, make friendships, build relationships. Relationships, people. That’s what blogging is about. Readers don’t want to be a number. They want to be your friend.

6. THOU SHALT SCHEDULE POSTS AHEAD. Do yourself a favor and write/schedule your posts the week or month or several months before you want them to go live. Set aside a block of time for writing, develop a post template, whatever saves time and encourages you to be consistent. 

7. THOU SHALT SET GOALS. Think about what you want your blog to look like in the future. A year from now. Five years from now. Fifteen (if we still have blogs in 2031). If you don’t make a plan to succeed, you’ve already failed. Put your blogging dreams on paper and grab them by the throat. Or bribe them with marshmallows. Dreams are finicky like that.

8. THOU SHALT CREATE A BRAND FOR THY SITE. All colors, fonts, logos, blog headers and photos should create a sense of continuity and theme. (I’m still working on this one, folks. All in good time.)

9. THOU SHALT TELL READERS ABOUT THYSELF. I’m working on this one, too. It all goes back to the friendships thing. Hard to develop a relationship with someone you don’t know, right? P.S. Wanna get to know me better? Ask me a question, any question, in the comments of this blog, and I’ll try to answer them all in a blog post on July 18th. Make it silly, make it serious, or make it nerdy. I don’t care. You can satisfy your readerly curiosity, and I’ll have material for a new blog post. Win-win! :)

YOU’LL NOTICE THERE’S NO #10. That’s where you come in, friends. :} I need your help to finish writing this post. I want to know what you think is the tenth commandment of blogging. Get on your soapbox. Think I’ve got this blogging thing all wrong? Speak up! I can’t wait to hear from you.

The Ten Commandments of Blogging by Natalie Monk (Click to Tweet!) 
Thou Shalt Blog This Way (Click to Tweet!) 
10 Simple Tips for a Better Blog by Natalie Monk (Click to Tweet!) 

Monday, June 13, 2016

NO OTHER WILL DO by Karen Witemeyer ~ Character Interview

 Welcome, welcome! 
Karen needs no introduction here. Read on! 

 She Trusts Him For the Job,
But Can She Trust Him With Her Heart?

 Men are optional. That was the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts taught her and why she established Harper's Station, a women's colony that offers a fresh start to females in need. But when a dangerous and shadowy assailant tries repeatedly to drive the women out, Emma is forced to admit they might need a man after all. One who can fight. And there is only one man she trusts enough to ask.

Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he's always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's telegram arrives, he rushes back to Texas to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.

As the danger intensifies, Emma, Mal, and the ladies of Harper's Station must choose between safety or risking everything to fight for their future.

You can purchase this book at:
Christian Book
Barnes & Noble

Interview of Emma Chandler from No Other Will Do

Your most embarrassing moment?

Heavens! There are so many to choose from. My best friend, Tori, is always warning me to stop and think before I act, but I tend to lead with my heart. Like when I saw Malachi for the first time in ten years and nearly bowled him over with a hug that had a running start. The poor man stood there, stiff as a board, probably praying for deliverance from the crazy woman who'd just attacked him, and all I could think about was how much I'd missed him. It took several long moments of no response from him beyond one awkward pat to my back before I recalled we weren't children anymore and finally released him. It's a miracle he didn't run back to Montana that very night.

What happened the last time you spoke to a large group of people?

As town founder and director, I speak to large groups on a regular basis. I established the women's colony of Harper's Station with a firm belief in the democratic process. I never make a major decision without first consulting the ladies of the community and gaining their opinions. Even when the outlaw threatening our town grew so bold as to necessitate bringing in help from outside, I waited to send for Malachi until all the ladies had been consulted and had the chance to vote on whether or not to allow a male to temporarily reside in our community. Thankfully, my testimony to his character swayed the vote, and Malachi was permitted to come.

What are your hobbies?

Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies? Between running the bank, running the town, and doing everything I can to outsmart this mysterious outlaw that keeps trying to evict us, I barely have time to breathe. Several of our ladies left the colony out of fear for their safety after that stunt the outlaw pulled by shooting up the church, so any free time I manage to find has been devoted to quilting. Definitely not a hobby, though. I can barely sew a straight line, and I tend to poke my finger more regularly than the fabric, but we have quotas to fill, and if the quilting ladies don't meet them, they'll default on their loans and send our delicate economy into a downward spiral. I can't let that happen.

Do you have any grandparent figures in your life? How have they influenced you?

My aunts, Henrietta and Alberta Chandler, though they are really more like parents than grandparents. Henry and Bertie have had the raising of me since my father passed when I was a young girl. They are both so incredibly strong, but in different ways. Henry is a suffragette through and through, always ready to draw up battle lines and fight against injustice and the feminine cause. Bertie, on the other hand, is the nurturer. She'll feed you, hug you, and is the best at talking impulsive girls off of ledges. These women taught me to dream big, love strong, and never let conventional thinking stand in my way. It's because of their influence that the women's colony at Harper's Station exists.

Any current romantic interests?

I have to admit that I had a rather serious crush on Malachi when we were kids. He was two years older and always stood up for me. He was my best friend and my hero. Then he left. It's been ten years since I've seen him face-to-face, though we kept in touch via letters. Seeing him as a man, well . . . my heart still hasn't quite recovered. He grew into those long arms and legs rather nicely, I must say. And the man is just as heroic as the boy had ever been. Leaving his job at the drop of a hat to ride to my rescue. How could I not dream of a future with him? At least in the dark, secret hours of the night. In reality, he's a temporary solution to a problem, not a permanent answer to my heart's yearning. I run a women's colony. He's a man. He's an explosives expert for the railroad, living in camps that are filled with low morals and high prejudices against women. He can't live in my world, and I can't live in his. So, I'll enjoy the reunion while it lasts and focus on preserving the safety of my ladies. My own personal dreams come a distant second.

What is your worst fear?

My worst fear is that I'll let my ladies down. So many women have come to Harper's Station looking for a second chance. Some are escaping horrible abuse, others craved the opportunity to practice a trade usually only accepted for men, while others simply needed a place to earn an honest living after being widowed or abandoned. They are my family, and they look to me to lead them. But now that we are being threatened by an outlaw that attacks from the shadows and won't even face us in a fair fight, I'm out of my depth. I can manage loans, work assignments, and create economic stability out of the leanest means, but I don't know how to do battle with renegades. If I fail, my ladies pay the price.

When’s the last time you had a really good meal? Courtesy of whom?

Ever since Malachi returned, Bertie has been pulling out all the stops in the kitchen. The other morning, she made these glorious pancakes with homemade blackberry syrup. I think Malachi ate about seven of the things. I was distracted by the previous night's fire and didn't have much of an appetite, but even so, I put away at least two. Nothing beats Bertie's flapjacks and blackberry syrup.

Christy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. To learn more about her books or to sign up for her newsletter, please visit her website at

NO OTHER WILL DO by Karen Witemeyer ~ Character Interview (Click to Tweet!)

Comment Fodder:
  • Have you ever heard of a woman's colony in Texas in the 1800s?
  • What do you think would be the pros and cons of such an arrangement?
  • Have you ever eaten flapjacks and blackberry syrup? 

Monday, June 6, 2016

June 2016 New Fiction Releases #ACFW

June 2016 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Sweet Dreams by Cecelia Dowdy -- A single mom trying to distance herself and her two year old daughter from their dysfunctional family is torn when she falls for a grieving baker dealing with his own family struggles. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

In Love and War by Miralee Ferrell, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Debby Mayne, and Trish Perry -- In this collection, four couples have to decide whether to fight or find love. A gift shop clerk at a fancy resort fights to redeem her reputation with her high-school crush turned new boss. To save her fledgling business, a landscape artist competes in a design competition against two handsome men--her ex- fiancé and her one-time best friend. An ad agent disapproves of the new playboy working at her Washington, D.C. agency, until they're forced to work together on a campaign and she finds herself falling for him. A man starts a new restaurant in the town where his childhood sweetheart owns a diner, and the sparks that fly aren't just competitive ones.

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon -- After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who's invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

A Love to Treasure by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- While on vacation an amateur sleuth follows left by her deceased grandmother, and ends up working with a local police officer to solve several mysterious burglaries. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt -- Caron Hollister goes on vacation to Colorado and ends up working as a home stager for her ex-boyfriend, a realtor participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. But she can't let herself fall for him when she's already won an all-expenses paid destination wedding for her and her current boyfriend—who hasn't proposed to her yet. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

General Fiction:

Sapphire Secrets by Dawn V. Cahill -- Twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary open a dance studio in honor of their late mother, whom they lost when they were six. Problem is, Livy remembers nothing of the day her mother died. The more she questions her family about that awful day, the more she suspects she's been lied to all her life. While she's seeking answers to what really happened, she keeps crossing paths with handsome engineer Scott Lorenzo, who compels her to question the New Age philosophy she was raised on. What if there is a personal God out there who cares about her? Before Livy can discover answers, a brutal accident interrupts her search. Can she find the strength to keep on with her quest, even if it means losing the two people dearest to her--her twin, and the man she loves? (General, Independently Published)

Close to Home by Deborah Raney -- Bree Cordel Whitman is a Whitman by marriage, but sometimes she forgets she wasn't born into Grant and Audrey's family. Her late husband, Timothy Whitman, gave his life for his country on a windblown hill in Afghanistan. Bree has let the love of Tim's family keep her ties to him strong--in the same way she keeps Tim's memory alive for them. But it's been almost five years, and she can't hang onto the past forever. Fighting the guilt she feels for wanting to love again, she can't help her dreams about a tall, dark, and handsome man--a man who is not her Tim. How can she accept the flirtations from Drew Brooks without throwing the Whitman family back into grieving? And how can Drew compete with the ghost of a hero and the hero's very alive family who seem to hold some spell over the woman who shares their name . . . a woman he might just love? (General from Abingdon Press)

Historical Literary:

Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart -- An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope through the eyes of four people. Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine. Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences. Luda is sixteen when German soldiers attack her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits. Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. (Historical Literary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

A Nanny for Keeps by Janet Lee Barton -- With no teaching positions open, Georgia Marshall agrees to become the temporary nanny for the two little girls next door. She soon becomes enamored of the precocious children and their distant widowed father, but the nobleman is out of her reach. Tyler Walker swore he'd never again give his heart away. He refuses to allow this arrangement with the pretty teacher to become permanent…no matter how much he wants Georgia by his side--forever. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Amanda Cabot, Mary Connealy, Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule -- Meet 12 adventurous Victorian era women--a beekeeper who is afraid of bees, a music teacher whose dog has dug up a treasure, a baker who enters a faux courtship, and six more--along with the men they encounter while making summertime memories. Will these loves sown during summer be strengthened by faith and able to endure a lifetime? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron -- Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling. When Rosamund's path crosses with Mable's and the Ringlings' glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers' circus. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels -- After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family's farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne's brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding--a reality made worse when Johan spots the "priest" who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne's former fiancé arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again-but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall -- Ruth Deloach's world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America's Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said. To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not. (Young Adult, Independently Published)