Monday, June 20, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with K. Dawn Byrd

Most of you probably didn't notice but I missed my last Writing Wednesday. I'll make up for it this Wednesday and explain, but trust me. It was a good thing! ;o)

Today, I'm so thrilled to introduce you to another of my friends! Please, grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and welcome K.Dawn Byrd!

Thanks for being here with us today, K. Dawn. Tell me, when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I've always been an avid reader and decided about three years ago to try my hand at writing. It's was so much fun that I haven't looked back. I can't imagine NOT writing.

What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not?

Killing Time (inspirational romantic suspense) and Queen of Hearts (inspirational WWII romantic suspense), published in 2010 by Desert Breeze Publishing, available now. My first young adult novel, Mistaken Identity will release June 15. A contemporary romance will release October 15. For 2012, a new young adult mystery series will release through Desert Breeze, the first book in January.

Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?

I don’t really have one all time favorite. I prefer to read romantic suspense because I like a fast moving plot. The romance adds tension and sweetens the plot.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Writing is like therapy for me. After working what can be an emotionally charged job during the day, it's nice to come home and unwind by writing. Having a full-time job that pays the bills keeps writing from being work, allows me to set my own pace, and makes it fun.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

One of my greatest accomplishments is marrying into a wonderful Christian family. My in-laws are very special people who have always lived Godly lives before us. My husband is my best friend and I thank God for allowing me to share my life with him. My stepdaughter is the light of my life and such a beautiful Christian young woman. I'm very proud of her.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?

The greatest roadblock is finding the time to write. I work a full-time job and am on call several weekends a month. I've overcome it by using my time wisely.

Ah, yes! I GOT to learn to do that! :o) So tell me, what advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Learn everything you can about the craft and if you truly love to write, don't quit.

That's great advice, K. Dawn! Working towards getting something published can be disheartening, wouldn't you say? And for me personally, with everything else I have going on, it was tempting to just throw in the towel, but you just can't. Thank you for that. Now, tell us about the featured book - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.

Book Blurb:

Eden Morgan longs for a boyfriend of her own, an impossible goal when her best friend, Lexi Branson, gets all the attention and all the guys. When they fall in love with the same guy, Eden believes she doesn't have a chance. She can only hope that sometimes the good girl gets the guy.

The Passion Behind the Story:

I admire Christian teenagers who take a stand for God so much. Life isn't easy for them in today's world. The idea for Mistaken Identity novel came to me when I wondered what would happen if a Christian girl and her non-Christian best friend fell in love with the same guy. This book is dedicated to Christian young women who strive to live for Christ and wonder at times if it's worth it all. Temptation seems to come from all sides and sometimes it's hard to make the right decision. May God bless you richly as you carry on...

That sounds amazing! So, how can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet?


Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising.

I used to ride a Harley Davidson, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. My husband still rides, but I don't ride behind him.

If you have a young Christian woman in your life, don't pass up the chance to get her a copy of this amazing book by K. Dawn Byrd! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Testament Tuesday

I picked a Psalm that I love for Testament Tuesday because it's summer and often people vacation at the beach. I made a note of this on my personal facebook page so maybe you've already seen it, but I'll bold and cap what I want you to pay specific attention to (and I wouldn't be me if I didn't throw my $.02 in a time or two . . . or three . . . )

Psalms 139

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
         You understand my thought afar off.
 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
         And are acquainted with all my ways.
 4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
         But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
 5 You have hedged me behind and before,
         And laid Your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
         It is high, I cannot attain it.

(LOVE this section!)
 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
         Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
         And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me.
 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
         Even the night shall be light about me;
 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
         But the night shines as the day; 
         The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

(Isn't that reassuring??? Nothing you go through - good or bad times - is without the presence of God. Nothing.)
 13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb. (Is that not beautiful??? Have you ever stopped to think how amazing the human body is? How much of a miracle it is that we can just breath, let alone everything else we can do?)
 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; (Can I get an AMEN???)
         Marvelous are Your works, 
         And that my soul knows very well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret, 
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written, 
         The days fashioned for me, 
         When as yet there were none of them.


 19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
         Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
 20 For they speak against You wickedly;
         Your enemies take Your name in vain.
 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
         And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
         I count them my enemies.

(Obviously this was pre-Jesus. David hadn't yet been taught to love your enemies as yourself.)
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting.

So when you go to the beach, whether in Florida or California or the Carolinas, where ever, look at all the sand and know God loves you. Try to count the grains in just a handful. Impossible for us! But that is how much He thinks about you! Wow!

If you still have trouble believing how much He loves you, I leave you with our New Testament verse for the day: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." ~John 3:16-17

Have a blessed day, my friends, knowing you are well loved and thought about no matter where you go or what you do. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Raquel Dunn

Yea! I love Make A New Friend Monday because I get to introduce you to some of my very wonderful friends. Today I have guest blogger, Raquel Dunn.

Raquel and I met when her husband taught at the school where I still teach third grade. Her little girl was 2 or 3 at the time and sometimes Raquel would come in to pick her up. She was always super friendly, but always "put together" and I so admired that about her. As time went on, they moved, but I continued to communicate with her periodically through facebook and I began to admire her beautiful heart even more. That is exactly what she's going to share with you in her post today. First, a little background . . .

A small town girl, with big city dreams, Raquel Dunn’s love for writing propelled her to leave her hometown of Coeburn, Virginia, to pursue a career in television news. After spending five years in various newsrooms, Raquel realized her true passion lie elsewhere and and set out to find a more creative outlet in television. In September 2006 she became a producer for The 700 Club, a truly fulfilling and rewarding career move. After two wonderful years there, her husband was called to be a pastor and she stepped down to follow God's direction for their family.

Raquel now resides in Knoxville, Tennessee where she stays at home with her two children and has now taken on the role of homeschooling her daughter. Since writing has always been a job for her, Raquel is excited to see where God will lead her as she allows Him to use her talent to share some of the amazing ways God has worked in her life. You can check out her blog to read more of her story.

Fill My Cup Lord's a simple word really with many definitions, but the first thing that come to mind is an object you pour a beverage into. Webster's defines a cup as, “a small vessel of capacity, used commonly to drink out of.” The phrase, “a small vessel of capacity” is a striking statement really because as we look at our own lives, that's exactly what we are...small vessel's of capacity. We are God's cups.

Jesus told told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25,and 26, “Woe unto you...for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” David, the great king of Israel, who beautifully orchestrated so many of the Psalms, knew what it meant to be the Lord's cup. Three times in the Psalms, he alludes to the portion of a cup. In Psalm 11:6, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Then in Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:”and finally the most famous Psalm of all...Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over.” Each and everyone of us is a small vessel, or cup, in which God wants to pour into, but that can only happen when we allow Him to do so. All too often, we choose to fill our own cups, never realizing what God is waiting to fill us with.

Examine what you fill your cup with and then think about what God wants to fill you with. Perhaps you find yourself in one of these categories.

• You worry, while God wants to fill you with peace.
• You choose resentment, but God wants to teach you how to love.

• You allow yourself to be overcome with greed as you try to keep up with “The Jones” but easily forget that God has supplied all your needs.

• Sometimes you allow anger to reign when God is asking you to forgive...because He first forgave you.

• Frustration boils over and you damage important relationships, but God wants to instill patience in you to endure those hardships.

• You busy yourself with work to avoid anymore heartaches, when God says rest and be still. It is then that you can know He is God.

• So many areas of your life are affected as bitterness spreads like a cancer within you, when if you just stopped focusing on your pain, you could see God's blessings as you walk with Him.

• There are days your cup is overrun with hopelessness, but God says He will give you hope and an expected end.

• Trials of life can bring so much sadness, but God is there asking you to let Him to restore the joy of His salvation.

None of us can ever be a completely empty vessel. We must be filled with something. It's our nature. It's how we function. Just like a car needs gas, oil and so many other parts to run...we need something to fill our hearts, minds and souls with. Think about it. Have you ever really been able to stop feeling or thinking or just being? Of course not!! God did not create us to be that way. He created us to be filled with His greatness.

So, How do we keep from filling our cups ourself? How do we allow God to pour His majesty into us? It's simple really. Where we allow our cups to be filled depends on where we go when life overwhelms us. Are we turning to the world? Finding our answers in magazines or horoscopes. Perhaps you look to Oprah or Dr. Phil, when the first place you should turn to is the Word. God breathed His Word into the pens of men so that you might find a way to fill your cup with something better than the world has to offer. He's there waiting to mold you and shape you. He is the potter and you are the clay...but what goes into your cup is up to you.

Just take a moment...maybe it's time to empty your cup with whatever you've allowed in and be filled with what God desires for you. Maybe your cup is like David's and overflowing. Wherever you find yourself today, let's just be still and know He is God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday

So I'm a day late on Writing Wednesday. It's because I was . . . WRITING!!! :o) Actually, struggling to write more like it as I wasn't feeling too good yesterday. I had a bad headache. Not good when a deadline is looming. :o(

The Heart's Lullaby is coming along, still slower than I'd like but, hey, I'm a mama first. I watch two kids a couple days a week over the summer and today when they get picked up their aunt is taking my two girls with them to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 so I'll write a lot then! Well, the little boy wanted to know what I was going to do at home all by myself! (He just graduated Kindergarten, thus life revolves around kids in his eyes.) I told them that I have to work on my book because I can't get anything done on it while the girls are home! He said, "Yeah, but you'd rather have them then your story." AMEN TO THAT!!!

I got my new author pic yesterday. What do you think??? My friend that shoots my covers took it and took several of my family. I've got them up on facebook. So things are coming slowly but surely. I'd appreciate just a few prayers for continued inspiration these next few weeks. And may my fingers fly!   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Testament Tuesday

Confession moment: I am not as knowledgable about the Bible as I should be. I can't pull verses to mind when I need them and I admit it's because I don't spend the time I know I should studying the Scripture. It makes me feel really inadequate, but I have a feeling I'm not alone. It's why I've felt led to start Testament Tuesdays where I'll post a verse from the Old and New Testaments for us to meditate on throughout the week. Maybe it'll speak to your heart. Hopefully it'll make us more familiar with the Bible which should be our goal, right?
This week's verses are two of my favorites: Isaiah 40:31 and Romans 5:3-4.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." This verse has been a comfort to me when I feel I'm pursuing an unattainable goal. It means different things to different people but to me it means that if we keep our sights on the Lord, in His time, we WILL achieve HIS WILL which is more important than our goals. He will never disappoint.

Romans 5:3-4 says, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Kinda makes you feel good about the trials we go through, doesn't it? It does for me. It reminds me of the story of the silversmith. When a silversmith makes silver he has to hold the piece over the fire. He can't take his eye off of it and he knows the piece is ready when he sees his own reflection in it. Through every fire we're held over, we develop the drive to make it through. As we make it through, we learn more about ourselves and our place in God's world. We develop our character and we develop a deeper desire for our Lord to see Himself when He looks at us. That's the hope. That's what I get out of this verse.

What do these verses mean to you? How do they speak to your heart?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Kaye Dacus

Some authors can blog every day of the week. Most have some sort of schedule. I can't ever reach a good balance between blogging and writing and besides that I can't believe I have anything to say that others would be interested in. But consistency is key, so I came up with a mon-wed schedule that I think I can maintain and anything above and beyond that is bonus.

So, introducing . . . MAKE-A-NEW-FRIEND MONDAYS! On Mondays I'll introduce you to my writer friends (both published and prepublished because there are a lot of talented prepublished writers out there!), other friends with important missions, and maybe even some of my characters! I thought today it'd only be right to start this new blogging schedule with an interview from a talented author who I'm blessed to be able to call one of my mentors, Kaye Dacus.

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

Welcome, Kaye! Thank you for joining us today and being my first "new friend". Also, on a personal note, thank you for all the advice and help you've given me with The Heart's Lullaby (update on that coming up on Writing Wednesday). When one pursues writing for more than a hobby (in addition to having a "real" job, and kids, and a husband, and a house to take care of . . . Need I go on???) it's so important to have a network of writers that truly supports and encourages and you have. So thank you! :o) Now I know my readers would like to get to know more about you, so on to the interview!

Q. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Even though I started writing when I was a young teen (because I wanted to be able to continue the next day the story I’d been playing out with my Barbies—until one day, I forgot to pick up the dolls and just went straight to the pencil and paper), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I really wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty, that I truly thinking about and pursuing publication.

Q. What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not? 
Having started writing when I was young, I have a bunch of “stuff”—lots of first chapters and story ideas which never got finished (and never will), along with a more than 200,000-word tome that I wrote for almost ten years, based on the imaginary/fantasy lives of my college friends and me—more of a long series of slice-of-life vignettes than a true novel with a single driving plot line. It wasn’t until after I attended my first writers’ conference in 2001 that I stopped playing and got serious about crafting a novel. From 2001 to 2003, I wrote three complete manuscripts. In 2003, I came up with an idea that would, several years later, become my first published novel, Stand-In Groom, which was published in December 2008. Since then, I’ve written eight additional novels, which means that by the end of 2011, I’ll have nine published novels out:

The Brides of Bonneterre
Stand-In Groom
Menu for Romance
A Case for Love
(All three are now available in a one-volume Brides of Bonneterre omnibus)

The Ransome Trilogy
Ransome’s Honor
Ransome’s Crossing
Ransome’s Quest (August 2011)

The Matchmakers
Love Remains
The Art of Romance
Turnabout’s Fair Play (November 2011)

Q. Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?
I’ve been such an avid reader since childhood that it’s hard to choose just one book as a favorite. The book that had the greatest impact on my life was one of a series of historical YA romances from the 1980s—Victoria by Willo Davis Roberts. Even more than wanting to remember the stories I’d been playing out with my dolls, this book is what drove me to write, as I couldn’t let go of the characters after their happy ending, so I began writing a sequel. I never finished it—because too many of my own story ideas started taking precedence.

My favorite genre to read is historical romance, especially British and Scottish medievals, probably because those are some of the first historical romances I ever read. 

Q. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
You’re implying that I’m sane? ;-)

My friends and family keep me as grounded as I ever get—I know I can call my mom or closest friends at any time and they’ll talk me off the ledge. It’s also one of the reasons why I spend so much time online between Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, communicating with family, friends, colleagues, and readers—sometimes, those online interactions are the only communication I have with others for days at a time. 

Q. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
After dropping out of college at age twenty-one, my proudest moment came at age thirty-five when I walked across the stage at Seton Hill University to be “hooded” and accept my Master of Arts degree. Although I know it made my family proud, the greatest sense of accomplishment came from completing what God called me to start in the first place.

Q. What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?  
I had two pretty big roadblocks with this book—the first was a very short turnaround time—only two and a half months from the time I finished writing another book (Ransome’s Quest) and the due date for The Art of Romance. And then, two weeks after the book was due—and with me only about two-thirds of the way finished, I fell and really messed up my ankle—breaking both bones and dislocating the foot, causing a lot of soft-tissue damage. Because I live alone—and in a house with steps to get in and out—I ended up relocating to Arkansas to stay with my parents while I went through surgery and recovery. And while it would seem logical that being laid-up with a broken ankle would be the perfect time to concentrate on writing, it actually made writing harder. Because I’d spent the previous two years constantly on writing deadlines and not being able to take a break from it, my creative well was already dry, so the stress and turmoil of surgery and doctor appointments and everything that went along with the injury, as well as being away from home for so long just compounded that lack of creativity. But what a blessing my parents were (and are)—taking care of me, chauffeuring me around, and giving me the room/time I needed to get my work done. The book was due October 15, and I finally got it finished and turned in on January 3.

Q. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
The best writing tip I ever received was from Davis Bunn at the 2001 Blue Ridge conference: “Above all else, FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT!”

We learn more about writing by actually completing novels than we do by obsessively polishing and editing our first three chapters. So set the beginning aside and get that manuscript finished! And then finish another one. And another one. And another one.
If I hadn’t learned how to write a manuscript all the way through from beginning to end without getting caught up in that revision loop, I never would have been able to publish nine novels in less than three years.

Q. Tell us about the featured book, Art of Romance, - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.
It was fun to dig into the psyche of an artist for Dylan Bradley’s character—especially since both of my grandfathers were hobbyists (one was an oil painter the other a sketch artist). And then having a heroine who’s a romance novelist. . .let’s just say a lot of me went into Caylor Evans’s character!

This book gave me a chance to write a different kind of hero—a creative-type who’s more in touch with his emotions and who’s more sensitive than most of the male characters I write. . .even more than me in some instances. I know this has created difficulty for some readers who expect the “alpha male” type of hero in a romance novel. But it was nice for me to be able to write a story which turns those stereotypical hero/heroine roles on their head. She’s older, she’s stronger, she’s settled, she’s successful; he’s younger, he’s just come out of an emotionally abusive relationship, he has no job, he’s trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life.

Here’s the official blurb:
Sassy Evans and Perty Bradley are determined to get their older grandchildren married off, but when twenty-eight-year-old Dylan comes home after being fired from his teaching position because of the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend, Perty knows her grandson has more important issues to deal with first.

Sassy understands her friend’s reservations about timing, but she also sees so many ways in which Dylan would be the perfect match for her thirty-four-year-old granddaughter Caylor. With his record of acclaimed paintings and Caylor’s bestselling novels, they could complement each other’s talents and provide each other support and encouragement. And there’s no denying the spark of attraction between the English professor with the untamed red hair and the painter with the unusual tattoos.

But neither grandmother realizes the secrets both Caylor and Dylan are keeping from each other. Will pain and embarrassment from the past keep Caylor and Dylan apart, or will they develop the courage to be truthful with each other and discover the true art of romance?

Q. How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet? 
You can find out more about my books (with links to all the different buying options) here: 

I blog five days a week at I also love connecting with readers on my Facebook page ( and on Twitter (!/kayedacus).

Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising. 
It’s usually most surprising when people find out that, even though I’m a forty-year-old romance-novel author, I’ve never been kissed—never even had a boyfriend!

Wow! That is interesting. All I can say to that is the fellas don't know what they're missing! And there's so much to be said for your character that you're waiting for your special hero and not settling for a secondary character in the meantime. I hope and pray my two little girls have the same integrity.

I haven't been able to read this book but it's first on my list after I meet my deadline so my review will be coming. In the meantime, my friends, go grab you a copy and let us know what you think! 'Tis pool reading season after all and I'm confident you WON'T be disappointed!