Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CFBA: Double Cross by Diann Mills

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Double Cross
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 1, 2015)
by
Diann Mills


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at her website.

ABOUT THE BOOK

FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead. Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon. As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Double Cross, go HERE.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Interview with Characters from Crossroads by Cathy Bryant

You Won't Believe Who I'm Interviewing Today

I'm delighted to welcome the characters from the latest Miller's Creek novel CROSSROADS (a Christian Romance) to my blog today. Please help me welcome Mara, Carter, Ashton, and Chloe. (applause)

(Characters enter. First on stage is a lanky and slender business-woman with her hair pulled back into an attractive chignon. Behind her is a broad-shouldered man in a polo and slacks. Next is a pretty teenager with wiry curls, followed by a well-behaved little girl who looks very pleased to be here. The four take their seats.)

Let's start with Mara. I understand that you own your own business in Miller's Creek, Texas. What kind of business is it?
Mara (smoothing her business skirt and crossing her ankles in a very business-like manner): Yes. I own a real estate company. I started the business when Ashton and I first moved to Miller's Creek.

Where did you move from?
Mara: The Dallas area.

That seems like quite a stretch--from a city like Dallas to a small town like Miller's Creek.
Mara: It is quite a bit different, but I knew that Miller's Creek, because of its peaceful and nostalgic atmosphere, attracted a lot of attention from people moving to the area. I also felt like it would be a good place to raise my daughter Ashton. (She smiles at the youngest girl on stage, who has big blue eyes and a smile bigger than...well, Texas!)

Ashton, how do you like living in Miller's Creek?
Ashton (her eyes sparkling and her face radiant): It's fabulous. That's where my mom met and fell in love with Carter, and where Chloe met and fell in love with me. (The audience and characters all share a laugh.)
Chloe (the pretty teen-ager sitting beside Ashton elbows the little girl and winks): You got that right, squirt!

And Chloe, how do you like living in Miller's Creek?
Chloe (her smile disappearing): At first it was really hard. I struggled because I didn't really know my dad too well. Most of my childhood, he was in either Iraq or Afghanistan serving our country. Also, it was a new place and I didn't know anyone at school. That's hard for a teenager. (Her eyes glisten with tears.)
Carter (puts an arm around his daughter's shoulder and hugs her close): But she handled it like a pro. Now she has lots of friends in Miller's Creek and is the best cheerleader you've ever seen. (They exchange a smile.)

Carter, tell us about yourself.
Carter (places one ankle on the opposite knee): As Chloe told you, I served in the military for several years. When we first met Mara and Ashton I was on the Miller's Creek police force.

Sounds like you enjoy that kind of work.
Carter: In a sleepy place like Miller's Creek? Hardly.
Mara (begins laughing, a raucous laugh that totally doesn't fit her polished business image): Carter, is...how shall I put it? Well, let's just say that he lives for danger. (She pats him on the knee.) Miller's Creek is about as dangerous as a baby kitten.

Mara, how has knowing Carter impacted you?
(Now Carter chuckles.) Carter: Well, first of all, I taught her how to have fun again. (He reaches over and squeezes Mara's hand as they smile broadly at one another.)
Mara: That would be true.

And what is his idea of fun?
Mara (her smile disappearing and her tone wry): Jumping out of airplanes and rappelling off cliffs.

(My eyebrows shoot upward.) And you did those things as well?
Mara (her toothy grin back in place): Not right away. It took a little convincing.
Carter: Huh. More like a shove.
(Ashton giggles.)

Ashton, do you find Carter to be funny?
Ashton: All the time! If you ask me, he's the best thing that ever happened to my mom. (She rolls her eyes knowingly.) Totally necessary for her happiness, in my opinion.
Mara: Watch it, prissy. (Mara faces me.) Back to your question of how Carter and Chloe have impacted our lives. The most important way in which they've made a difference is in being there for us and never giving up hope. (Her eyes pool with tears as she turns their way, her voice husky with emotion.) Ashton and I are very grateful.

(Handing Mara a tissue, which she takes and uses to gently wipe her eyes.) Can you be more specific?

Mara (suddenly cautious): While I'd love to go in more detail, there's no telling what predicaments Cathy Bryant, the author of our story, would make us go through if I gave away the storyline of CROSSROADS. (She stands, and the other three stand with her.) Come on, let's get out of here before we get in trouble.
Carter (placing a protective arm around her waist): Agreed. (The four make their way off-stage.)

(Turning to the audience.) Well, I guess that's the end of the interview. If you want to find out more about these characters, I guess you'll have to read CROSSROADS, the sixth stand-alone book in the Miller's Creek novels and a Christian contemporary romance. Below you'll find a link where you can find out more about the book. Thank you so much for joining us today!

To find out more about CROSSROADS and its characters, please visit:


After checking out this interview, who is your favorite character and why? Who are you most intrigued with? Which character makes you most interested in reading this book? 

Friday, Food, and Recipes from Cathy Bryant, author of Crossroads

by Cathy Bryant
Not only am I a foodie, but I married a foodie. And as a self-confessed foodie, I see it as my responsibility to tantalize my reader's taste buds with lots of food descriptions in the course of the Miller's Creek novels. (In writer's lingo, it's called sensory detail.) ;)
Anyway, I thought you might enjoy some of the recipes that the characters in the latest stand-alone book CROSSROADS enjoy. Bon appetit!
Carter's Crab Dip
(Carter, the brawny soldier-turned-policeman and hero of CROSSROADS, uncovers the heroine's penchant for seafood. He creates this special seafood dip for a picnic lunch the two share.)
INGREDIENTS:
1 8-oz. cream cheese and 1 3-oz. cream cheese, softened
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. mayonnaise
1/2 small finely chopped white onion
garlic powder and salt to taste
1/2 bottle of cocktail sauce on top (can substitute Tabasco sauce if you want the heat)
1 7-oz. can of crab meat
fresh or dried parsley
cocktail crackers
DIRECTIONS:
1. Blend the first six ingredients together well, and spread thin on a serving dish.
2. Spread the cocktail sauce on top as a sort of icing.
3. Garnish with fresh or dried parsley.
4. Chill in the refrigerator, and serve with cocktail crackers.
* * *
Mara's Roast Beef
(Mara, the bitter single mom, cynic, and heroine from CROSSROADS, knows full well that Carter Callahan is a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. She fixes this meal when he and his daughter Chloe come over for dinner.)
INGREDIENTS:
1 (3-1/2- to 4-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 can beef broth
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 peppercorns
1 t. dried and crushed rosemary
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. garlic powder
12 French sandwich rolls, split
Provolone cheese
sautéed onion (if desired)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Place trimmed roast in a 5-quart slow cooker. Combine soy sauce and next six ingredients; pour over roast. Add water to slow cooker until roast is almost covered.
2. Cook, covered, on LOW for 7 hours or until very tender. Remove roast and reserve the broth for dipping, if desired. Shred roast with a fork.
3. Can be eaten alone or with sandwich rolls. If eaten with rolls, place the roast on the open-faced rolls, add sautéed onions (if desired), and Provolone cheese. Place in your oven on high broil, until bread is toasty and cheese is bubbly.
Yield: 12 servings (or one hungry policeman).
* * *
Hope you enjoy these delightful delicacies from Mara and Carter, the hero and heroine of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian romance by Cathy Bryant). To find out more about the book, please visit: http://www.CatBryant.com/Crossroads.

For more mouth-watering recipes from the back-roads Texas town of Miller's Creek--where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons--snag this free PDF download of the Miller's Creek Cookbook: http://www.catbryant.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Millers-Creek-Cookbook-1.pdf

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Interview with Cathy Bryant, Author of Crossroads


Tell us about yourself.
I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, Nana, daughter, mini-farmer, and Christian writer. I enjoy just about anything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, camping, and gardening. I also enjoy creative activities—home improvement projects, scrap-booking, painting, composing, and of course, writing. I love to watch movies and read, though since becoming a writer, I can’t stop analyzing what I’m watching and reading. I’m a big reality TV fan, my favorites being Survivor and The Amazing Race–both great material for analyzing human behavior for my books! In addition to fiction, I also write Bible studies and devotionals.
Where do you write?
We currently live in the lovely Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, but will soon be making the move eastward to get closer to our family. Our current home has an upstairs sleeping loft that has served as my writing space. It’s one large open room with the best view in the entire house. My writing desk is there, but I force myself to write in a corner facing a wall to keep myself from being distracted. (It works most of the time…)
What are you writing now?
I just finished writing Crossroads, the sixth book in the Miller’s Creek novels. The book tells the story of a bitter single mom and atheist and the former soldier who battles for her soul. Her little girl’s life-threatening illness forces her to re-think her beliefs of Carter Callahan and his God. Will she return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge?
What inspired you to write CROSSROADS? All of the Miller’s Creek Novels feature a spiritual theme that is relevant to me for different seasons in my life. In Texas Roads it was Christ being our home rather than placing our security in a place or building. A Path Less Traveled was about finding enough faith to follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. (Boy, has He used that lesson in my life, and proven His faithfulness through it all!) The Way of Grace was my spiritual journey of learning how perfectionist tendencies can be a real hindrance to spiritual progress. The spiritual theme of Pilgrimage of Promise followed right along with my hubby and I stepping out in faith in a bad economy and high unemployment rates to do what we sensed God telling us to do, and the resulting joy and peace spurred on by the Lord’s faithfulness. A Bridge Unbroken follows my own quest to be obedient to Christ in the matter of forgiveness. The spiritual theme of Crossroads came from watching the movie God’s Not Dead and realizing that we all know someone who has defected from the faith. As believers, we need to love them unconditionally, pray for them consistently, and never give up in our efforts to lead them back to God.
What do you want readers to take away from this book in particular? I hope that readers will realize the importance of living out the faith we profess. My prayer is that God will embolden us and make us ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), so that we can win back these prodigals from the faith.
Tell us how you come up with characters. The characters actually introduce themselves to me. (I know, I know, they’re not real. I promise I’m not certifiable…) After they make their appearance, I fill out extensive character charts, including taking online personality tests for them! (Hmm, maybe I am certifiable…) But no matter how much preparation I put into the characters in the pre-writing process, they always reveal another facet of their personality during the actual writing of the book.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?
Without a doubt the answer would have to be Mama Beth, the wise woman/matriarch of Miller’s Creek who makes an appearance in all the books. She’s also the main character in the fourth book of the series, Pilgrimage of Promise. She is everything I want to be when I grow up—wise, kind, and loving. Just so you know, I’m not alone in choosing her as the favorite character. When I asked this question to the Miller’s Creek Reader’s Group on Facebook, the majority’s answer was Mama Beth, followed closely by Matt Tyler, the hero from The Way of Grace.
Have the books received any special recognition or awards?                                                                            I’ve been blessed to have all the Miller’s Creek novels make the Amazon Kindle Best-Sellers list. The first book Texas Roads was an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis finalist. The fourth book Pilgrimage of Promise was reader-nominated for the 2013 Grace Award.
What do you hope to accomplish through your writing? I want my writing to honor and glorify God. If only one person is touched and moved closer to God as a result of my writing, then the hours of hard labor (and numb backside!) are worth it. One early reader of Texas Roads (the first book in the series) told me the story brought healing to her life. I can think of no higher compliment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Crossroads by Cathy Bryant

Crossroads (Miller's Creek #6)Crossroads by Cathy Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this sixth book of the Miller's Creek series, we meet Mara and Ashton. Mara is a bitter, cynical single mom who is looking to make a way for herself and her daughter, Ashton. Trying her best to make ends meet, Mara meets up with Carter, the town deputy, to show him some homes. Carter is looking for a place for him and his teenage daughter, Chloe. Like Mara, Carter is a single parent. However, he is generally an upbeat, positive person. At first, I really didn't like Mara, maybe because in some ways she reminds me of myself. It takes a lot of prayer, encouragement, and pure grit to get through to Mara that she is worth a life and the love of Christ.

While reading this book, I had many different emotions. One minute I find myself laughing at the antics of Chloe (especially since I've already raised two teenage girls and have another one plus a boy to go!), and the next weeping with Mara as she watches her baby girl fight leukemia. This was a definite page turner and I had a very hard time putting this book down once I got started on it.


A few notes: Even though this is the sixth book in the series, it is a stand alone book. I have read the first book in this series but somehow missed the other ones in between! I'll be fixing that soon! Also, I do have some differences in beliefs religiously than the author but overall, this is a good book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something inspirational to read!

I did receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which you have received here. Many thanks to the author and publisher for this opportunity!

View all my reviews

CROSSROADS

a Miller's Creek novel and Christian contemporary romance

A former soldier battles for the soul of a prodigal...

After a devastating divorce, a bitter single mom and atheist starts her own real estate company in the nostalgic and picturesque town of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Then her young daughter’s disturbing symptoms lead doctors to discover that her leukemia has relapsed. With her new life now turned upside down, Mara Hedwig struggles to keep her business afloat. And her daughter’s worsening condition forces her to rethink her beliefs about Carter Callahan and his God. Will Mara make the return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge?
An ex-military operative struggles with the return to civilian life while coping with his rebellious teen-aged daughter. During a house-search, Carter meets Mara, a headstrong Realtor who wants nothing to do with his God. But when Mara’s little girl is diagnosed with leukemia, the clock begins ticking for him to convince Mara to return to a life of faith. Just as he seems to be making headway, circumstances beyond his control throw his efforts into a tailspin. Can Carter learn to rest in the sovereignty of God?
==========================================================================
Amazon best-selling author Cathy Bryant writes Christian fiction set in the heart of Texas. Her popular romance and romantic suspense novels take place in the fictional town of Miller's Creek, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons. All the Miller's Creek novels have been on the Amazon Best-Seller list and are rated at 4.5 stars or higher on Amazon. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Since then five other stand-alone novels have been added to the series, one of which was a reader-nominated 2013 Grace Award nominee (PILGRIMAGE OF PROMISE). Readers have compared her work to that of Karen Kingsbury and Nicholas Sparks. 

A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico with her minister husband of over thirty years. She's written devotions for The Upper Room devotional magazine, two devotional books in collaboration with other Christian authors, and for online sites. She also has released a Bible study book, THE FRAGRANCE OF CRUSHED VIOLETS. In addition to her writing, she enjoys thrift store shopping, romping in the great outdoors, and mini-farming. To learn more about Cathy and her books, visit her website at www.CatBryant.com or make contact with her in these places:

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YOU'RE INVITED!

What: CROSSROADS Book Launch Party

Where: Facebook (from the comfort & convenience of your own home)

When: April 30, 2015 ~ 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Central time)

Why: To celebrate the book launch of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian Romance by Cathy Bryant)

LOTS of Fun, Games and Prizes!

Prizes Include: Miller's Creek pens, tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, digital books, autographed print books, Amazon gift cards, and
an Amazon Kindle Fire HD6!
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Link:

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Link:


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CFBA: Jaded by Varina Denman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jaded
David C. Cook (March 1, 2015)
by
Varina Denman


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on a three book Texas series which will soon be published by David C. Cook. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.

Varina attended three Texas universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in the local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature.

Even though Varina has spoken at ladies’ retreats and taught women’s Bible classes, she finds the greatest fulfillment facilitating prayer groups. She lives in Burleson, Texas, where she helps with Family Ministry in her home congregation. Varina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and North Texas Christian Writers.

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jaded, go HERE.


I'm looking into diving into this book in the next few hours! I will post a review when finished! ;) 

Guest Post: Cathy Bryant and her new release Crossroads

Guest blog post by Cathy Bryant

By far, the question I receive most often when it comes to writing fiction is: What's the story behind the story? In other words, people want to know my motivation and inspiration for writing the book.

With CROSSROADS, the sixth Miller's Creek novel and a Christian contemporary romance, the original germ of an idea actually came as I watched the movie, God's Not Dead. The thought occurred to me that each of us knows someone who has either defected from the faith or altogether refuses to acknowledge the existence of God. It might be a friend, co-worker, or even a family member.

All fiction writers are taught to ask the question, 'what if?' So for me, my 'what if?' became this story question: What if an ex-military man and Christian found himself involved in the life of a bitter atheist and single mom who wanted nothing to do with his God?

Once that question was in place, other questions popped up. What happened to the female lead in the story to make her antagonistic toward the faith? What questions and arguments would she have? How would our ex-military hero--a man who sees himself as a defender--go to battle in a spiritual sense? What internal dilemma would he have to overcome to defend his faith? And most importantly, what would it take to turn our heroine around?


In the book, I sought to explore this spiritual topic, not just for the sake of the storyline, but also for each of us as believers. I wanted to know how I could best handle the objections of those opposed to faith in Christ. I wanted to be prepared to answer the tough questions these folks often have. And I hoped in the process to also help others in their own defense of the faith.

Some of the questions non-believers tend to have are: If God is so good and loving, then why does He allow evil? If God cares about me, then why have so many bad things happened to me? How do you know the Bible is true? What if the people who wrote the Bible made it up? How do you know that Jesus is really who He claims to be? What if He was just a delusional man with dubious motivies?

Can you think of other tough questions often
levied at Christians by non-believers?

I've been confronted by all these questions at one time or another, but suddenly it became personal for me. How did God want me to respond to these people? What could I do to make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom when it came to answering their questions? And how could I incorporate all this in the story of CROSSROADS?

Here's what the process involved for me: I devoured my Bible and books on apologetics to find answers for tough questions. I wrote the PROOF blog post series about what I'd learned. Next, I turned some of these posts into videos. And of course, I included it all in the storyline of the book.

As I wrote the story, a few things crystallized in my mind.

1) In the end, it all comes down to faith, and that's a decision each person must make for themselves. While we can hope and pray for others to turn to God, ultimately the decision is theirs. Faith is something we can't force on others.
2) Based on 1 Peter 3:15, we need to be prepared to answer the tough questions that come our way from those who don't believe.
3) And above all, our response should be one of unconditional love and persistent prayer. No one is a lost cause or beyond the power of God.


I pray we'll all be prepared to give a defense to those who ask about the reason for our hope.



Look for more posts on Cathy's new release as the week progresses!