Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Writing Sisters - One Fun Interview & #Giveaway

Howdy y'all! Crystal here. Join me today and meet The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers. They're here giving us a peek into their first book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song. Did I mention they'll be giving away a copy too? If I didn't, well, they'll be giving away a copy to one of the commenters on this post, so stick around. :)

Welcome, Betsy and Laurie! Tell us a bit about yourselves.

We are sisters - not just spiritual sisters, but real biological sisters too. Our childhood was spent in West Virginia in a writing home.  Our mother wrote children’s books and our father was a college professor who wrote books about aviation.  We were surrounded by books and have always valued reading and writing. We wrote independently for twenty years, but had collaborated on four books with our mother. Collaboration is fun - writing can be a lonely endeavor.  We enjoyed the excitement of sharing the writing, sharing the pain of rejection and also sharing the joy of successes.  When our mother decided to retire, we decided to form the Writing Sisters, specifically to show about the power of God’s Word to change lives.

I know y'all have written children's novels. What made you decide to switch gears to adult fiction?

The idea for The Shepherd’s Song began in a small coffee shop in Madison, Georgia, where we meet every week to write. That morning we prayed for God to reveal our next writing project. Up till that time we had written children’s books individually and together and we thought we had come to the coffee shop to plan our next children’s book.

Betsy had read the 23rd Psalm in her quiet time that day. We had both committed our writing to God and began to think the Psalm would be a good subject for a book. The problem was we couldn’t see it as a children’s book. As children’s writers it was hard to imagine writing a book that was longer than 64 pages! We knew that we could only do it with God leading us. The more we talked about the idea the more excited we became and we finished drafts of the first two stories that day.

I love it how the Lord leads if we'll only listen. Congratulations on your new release! What is The Shepherd's Song about?

The Shepherd’s Song is the story of a woman who, like a lot of us, wonders if her life has mattered. She writes out Psalm 23 for her wayward son, and is later in a car accident. As she is rushed to the hospital she prays, “Let my life count.” Her copy of the psalm then begins a journey around the world, changing the lives of twelve different people.

An interesting concept. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

We were both drawn to Psalm 23 and it became the inspiration for the book. We were intrigued with the idea that without any explanation the Word of God could change a life. In fact one character doesn’t speak English, and only recognizes one word of the Psalm - water. Is that enough to find God? We loved that thought. Over the course of the year that we wrote the book, God seemed to teach us personally about His role as Shepherd in our lives. We both experienced valleys of life in the form of illnesses of family members. We both had our first grandchildren in that year. Our cups overflowed! It is a passage of scripture that speaks to all of us about God’s love and faithfulness.

No doubt God's Word is powerful, and Psalm 23 holds a wonderful message. What is one message you hope readers will take away from your story?

God gives us second chances! There are so many powerful themes that flow from the twenty-third Psalm. God’s deep love and care for us and His protection and blessing, but the idea of second chances permeates the book. God is constantly seeking us and restoring us. No matter what has happened in our lives or what we have done, God is always ready to welcome us back into the fold.

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

The favorite scenes for us are those breakthrough moments that a character experiences when they see God in a new way through Psalm 23. This book was fun to write because we had so many of those moments. A lonely dry cleaning employee who lives a life of want finally sees the abundance that God wants for him. A soldier wounded in Iraq learns what it means to lie down in green pastures.
We both love scenes that bring back our childhood. Like the chapter where the two characters on the plane are discussing Thanksgiving dinner. We had such fun writing it and adding our own special parts of the meal, from the big bowl of limas with a large pat of melting butter on top, to the pies: pecan, sweet potato, chocolate cream, and vinegar. And the “moist maker” sandwich with leftovers (you’ll have to read the book to know what the “moist maker” is!)

Sounds like there are a lot of different, interesting facets to the story. What do you plan to work on next?

Writing together has been a great adventure and we are continuing the journey. We are continuing to focus on scripture as our inspiration and are currently working with the Lord’s Prayer on a follow up to The Shepherd’s Song. We also have a series of children’s book based on scripture from the viewpoint of animals. The first one, Glad Tidings: The Diaries of the Christmas Animals, will be released this fall. 

That ought to keep y'all busy. :) Where can readers connect with you? Where can readers buy your book?

We love our readers and stay in touch through our monthly updates where we reach out to those on the list and share our free devotional books and goodies. Sign up here if you want to connect with us. We are both pretty social and enjoy keeping in touch, so we like social media. Blogging ( is fun because we can freely share our thoughts or Twitter is great for those short messages to connect. And we like the personal aspects of Facebook, pages and Pinterest where you can see what’s going in people’s lives. Life is to be shared! 

You can see more about The Shepherd’s Song and buy a copy here.

Wonderful! Last but not least, apart from writing, what is your favorite creative outlet?

We love all kinds of arts and crafts. If anything can be hand made we want to make it. Our parents gave us a lot of room to create. Dad was an engineer and had a huge tool shop in the basement, and Mom loved to sew and had lots of fabrics and bric a brac around. We took full advantage of all of that, putting on puppet shows and plays and go cart races, and the like! Visit us at Pinterest to see all the things we want to make!

Oh, that sounds like great fun. Thanks, Betsy and Laurie, for taking the time to share with us today. I hope The Shepherd's Song touches many hearts for God. 

Okay, everyone, here's your opportunity to win a paperback copy of The Shepherd's Song

Have you ever had Psalm 23 minister to your heart? 
We'd love to hear about it. 
Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. 

The winner will be announced in Monday's Weekly Windup post (April 20th), so be sure to check back to see if you won. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Gift of Words

I came into this world with an intense desire to be heard. When I was born, the nurses in the hospital nursery nicknamed me “Stormy”.  In the second grade, I sat next to my teacher on a permanent basis due to my inability to stay quiet in class. It was so humiliating that by ninth grade my English teacher called me “the quiet one in the back.”

Words are a gift, allowing incredible adventures to unfold in the pages of a book. You can be anyone and do anything without ever leaving home. As a kid I read encyclopedias, dictionaries, even the back of a cereal box at breakfast. It’s possible to unload the dishwasher, sort laundry, brush teeth, or make a bed with a book in one hand or on the counter. Words express our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows, reaching across boundaries of culture, age, language, and time.

The day I woke up without the ability to make a sound, I was terrified. For two months I resorted to blowing a whistle for my children. My husband and I worked out a system of one beep for “no” and two beeps for “yes” for telephone calls, but eventually my speech returned.

A few years later, it happened again. Four and a half months of writing notes, at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office—at the bank, never knowing if I would speak again.

A speech therapist at the University of New Mexico assured me that I would speak again, and that day I made the first sound in months. Muscle Tension Dysphonia was defeated by simple exercises, and I could speak normally once again. The nuances of speech should not be underestimated. I will never take words for granted after my experiences without a voice.

However, the written word has a power to communicate what we cannot always speak. It enables us to write love letters, and advocate for political, moral, and spiritual change. There is a reason that Scripture identifies Jesus as the Word. He is the method God chose to speak to the world.

There is power in words. Use them well. Use them for good. Use them for the Lord. Make yourself heard. It is a gift.

© Copyright October 2014, Norma Gail Thurston Holtman

About the author:
Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, set in Scotland and New Mexico released in April 2014. She has led weekly women’s Bible studies for 19 years. Her devotionals, poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 38 years. They have two adult children.

Contact Norma:

Book Links:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Toro! An Allie Parsons Novel

Along the road from stripper to medical resident, Allie Parsons has worked hard to put a life of bad choices behind her. But when she begins her training in the medical examiner’s office, the nightmare of her past comes roaring back to life, jeopardizing her job, her relationship with her teenaged daughter, and her very life.

The novel reads like the back story for one of Charlie’s Angels. You mix in a dollop of CSI and spin that into an emotional whirlwind, and you have Allie Parsons. A real page turner, each chapter pulls the reader toward another impossible situation.

Allie is a doctor, a mother, and sole survivor of a serial killing spree. She’s got guts, a big heart, and an uncompromising spirit. This thriller is rich because of the complex characters and their relate-ability. Schwalbe knows how to draw a scene to maximize emotional stakes. And then he throws a bit of comic relief into the perfect spots.

Toro! is an emotionally charged story about a woman who owns her mistakes, but presses forward to live better, despite overwhelming odds. I hope you’ll give this one a try - it’s hot off the presses! (Amazon link)

Frank C. Schwalbe is a writer and anesthesiologist, who holds a liberal arts degree from North Carolina’s Davidson College and medical degree from the University of Florida. The dedicated and driven health care professionals, who surround him in the hospital’s daily grind, inspired him to write his new medical mystery, Toro!. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Schwalbe currently resides in Concord, North Carolina.

TV medical dramas are always popular. Toro! delivers absolute satisfaction in this genre. Why are we (as readers and viewers) so addicted to this type of story? What is your favorite medical drama? 

Leave us a comment for a chance to win this week's prize.

This Week's Giveaway is:

Two churches have been burned in a small Texas town. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, hears that another church will be burned. But, he hears this in the confessional and church law forbids him from telling anyone, even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by. He begins to investigate possible suspects. There’s the mysterious newcomer involved in the local drug scene, the man who burns a paper cross and says the churches deserve to burn, the school drop-out who mixes alcohol and drugs, plus other suspects. As Father Frank digs deeper, he is threatened and attacked.

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist. 

Can Father Frank prevent another church from being torched? Can he even manage to stay alive?

Now available in paperback, Kindle edition, and in audio. The audio version is narrated by five-time Emmy Award Winner Jonathan Mumm.

This giveaway runs through April 19th. Comment on any post between now and then to enter, and remember, the more comments you make, the more entries you earn! 

    Winners will be announced in the Weekly Wind-up.