Thursday, December 31, 2009


I don't know about all of you, but I'm ready for this new year to begin. 2009 was a turbulent year for me: a lot of high highs and low lows. It's time to move forward and look to the future.

I know it's customary to set resolutions for ourselves. Have any of you thought about the goals you'd set? I've hardly had time to think about it. But one thing has been on my mind: to lose weight! I'll be looking into Weight Watchers, which is something a friend of mine is doing. On top of that, I'd like to exercise more.

As for my hopes and dreams:

I HOPE that my weight loss is a success (I'm tired of people asking when I'm due; my stomach never went down after the last baby--every woman's nightmare--and that was two years ago, ugh. They pumped me with steroids during my postpartum state, and my body just froze. So, that's my excuse for it. Hopefully, exercise and eating less will do the trick).

And my DREAM is to finally be published. But not just published. I want my story to touch lives and be a success.

I have yet to hear from two publishers about my book The Master's Wall, and I'm praying for positive news. One of them said they'd get back to me after the first of the year. Wish I could prompt them to get back to me on the FIRST of the year. All this waiting has been painful. But 2010 means I'm that much closer to finding out! Again, I pray it's positive news. Maybe you can pray that as well!

So, tell me. What are your goals for 2010?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Want a Sample?

I'm working on book two, YAHSHUA'S BRIDGE, in my IRON AND THE STONE series. Thought it might be fun to share an excerpt.

Alexander (the main character in this book) is special to me. He's a true hero. In fact, I think he's my favorite above all the characters in this series (yes, even above David "Wendy, stop screaming"). The song here makes me think of Alexander-it inspires me.

HOLD MY HEART by Tenth Avenue North

Here's the excerpt.


Chapter One

Rome, 88 A.D.

Alexander held his breath as the man he'd never call Daddy forced him under the water. The fist in his hair shook his head from side to side and bubbles beat against his face. His head jerked to the surface from his master's fierce grip. His mamma's screams echoed off the nearby columns, and his face plunged back into the watery depths of the impluvium. Would this fountain become his grave?

This ritual of forced drowning had become so frequent that Alexander learned to hold his breath for a long time. With his mamma witnessing this spectacle, he couldn't help but wonder if she'd rather have the master's fists pounding her body as they so often did. But Alexander couldn't stand by as his mamma suffered a beating from her drunken master. It didn't matter that he was just a child and could do nothing to overpower the man. The goal was to make him stop. And he wasn't hitting her anymore, so that was good.

He released a bit of air to ease the tension in his lungs, to ease the need to gasp. But it didn't help. It never helped.

He quit thrashing. Usually if he held still for a long time, the master would pull him out, thinking he was dead. He let his arms float to the surface and his legs relax behind him. With the edge of the fountain pressing against his midriff, it made holding his breath that much more difficult. He wanted to thrash, but he forced himself to go limp like a dead rat.

He waited.

Enough time had passed for his act to become believable. But the master didn't pull him out. Maybe this was it. Maybe this time he'd actually die.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wisdom Gleaned from 2009

Another year has blown by, so I thought it'd be fun to share what I have learned—or relearned—this year:

If your gut tells you someone can't be trusted, listen to your gut.

If someone has falsely accused you of doing wrong, it's possible they're the ones who are guilty.

Some folks who aren't Christians have a better understanding of Christ-like behavior.

Some folks just don't know how to be loved.

Church-goers (including myself) are all just a bunch of sinners hoping to get into heaven.

If someone's behavior is hurting you, you have likely behaved the same (whether knowingly or unknowingly).

Remembering the times when you wronged someone else will help you to forgive when someone has wronged you.

When you screw up, don't just say you're sorry to God, but apologize to the one you've wronged—and mean it.

None of us are perfect, and that's why we need Christ.

If you sincerely ask God to help you do the right thing, He will.

When you're tempted to do the wrong thing, God will remind you; warning bells and sirens will go off in your head.

If you choose to ignore the warning bells, God won't stop you from doing wrong because He's given you a wonderful gift . . . FREE WILL.

God doesn't want puppets for his children. He wants His children to come to Him willingly.

If you're inflicted with a depilating/deadly disease, it does not mean God has forgotten you.

God doesn't fit into a box; He can do more than we think or imagine.

What have you learned this year? Feel free to post your list. I'd love to learn something new from you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I want to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE . . . .

AAAARRRRG! WRITE! But I guess I'm gonna have to take a break because it's Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 18, 2009



CONGRATULATIONS, girl! I'm sure you'll LOVE The Silent Governess. I know I will! Julie's books are amazing!

I'll contact you via email. I'll need your snail-mail address so Julie can send you her book.


Sunday, December 13, 2009


Remember that new author I'd discovered a few posts down? The one who writes stories like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters? Think Pride and Predjudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights!

Well, drum roll please *~*~*~*~*~ I'm excited to introduce JULIE KLASSEN on my blog! You'll find a list of all her books on the right, with her latest release of The Silent Governess at the top.

Here's Julie in her own words:

My background is in advertising and marketing, but I am blessed with a dream job—working as an editor of Christian fiction. I have been writing since childhood, but Lady of Milkweed Manor was my first novel. It was a finalist for a Christy Award and won second place in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards. My second novel, The Apothecary's Daughter, was a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year awards. I am currently writing one novel a year.

I graduated from the University of Illinios and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps and coffee with friends.

My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

After thoroughly enjoying her first two books, The Lady of Milkweed Manor and the Apothecary's Daughter, I'm waiting with panted breath to read The Silent Governess! Here's what it's about: 

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

Doesn't that sound exciting? I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Now, please join me for an interview with a supremely talented author. Remember: If you leave a comment with your email address listed, you'll be entered to win her latest release The Silent Governess.

Julie, welcome to my blog. I'm honored and absolutely thrilled to have you here. So, please tell us, how long have you been writing? How did you get your start?

I have been writing on and off since childhood, but didn’t get serious about it until my husband was laid off several years ago. (Necessity really is the mother of invention!) In the meantime, I worked as an editor for Bethany House Publishers. I have learned so much from other authors and from reviewing and editing manuscripts—all of which, I believe, have made me a better writer.

When I (secretly) wrote my first historical, Bethany House was my hoped-for publisher. Since I work with the people who would be reviewing my novel, I submitted it under a pseudonym so that if it was accepted, it would be done so objectively. Of course, this also allowed me to cower under the protection of anonymity in case it was rejected! Fortunately, they liked it, and published Lady of Milkweed Manor in 2007, followed by The Apothecary’s Daughter in ’08 and now, The Silent Governess.

What made you decide to write fiction?

I’m a big believer in writing what you love. I have always been a fiction reader and especially enjoy novels with strong romantic elements, so that’s what I write.

What made you choose this particular genre?

I write historical fiction, set in England. I like anchoring novels to historical realities, and revealing interesting aspects of the way people used to live. I find 19th century views on women, medicine, education, and so much more, very interesting. And readers seem to as well.

I’m not sure why I am fascinated with England. Perhaps because I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre at an early age and so enjoy the works of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens.

How did things change once you became a published author? Did you lose friends? Make friends? How did it affect your family?

My life is certainly busier! Even though I have worked in publishing for years, I really had no idea how much work being a writer really was. Not only the research, writing, and revising itself, but also all the promotion components that go along with it. And don’t get me started about taxes! My husband and sons are supportive, but I still struggle to balance the competing demands of family, work, church, and writing. I haven’t lost friends, but nor do I get to see them as often as I once did. I have also made several wonderful new writer-friends, which has been such a help and a blessing.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?

I have written in coffee shops, hotels, and libraries. But mostly I write in the cluttered dining room—the only room with a door to help shut out the sounds of boy-noise and video games. Now that my sons are in school, and I am working only part-time, I can sometimes write during the day. But I usually end up writing at night, after the boys are in bed, unless I have a BBC period drama from Netflix.…

How did you come up with the story for The Silent Governess?

Even though I rarely listen to classical music, the original idea for this novel was inspired by Mahler’s Third Symphony, which I heard on a long, solo car trip. As I listened, whole scenes spun forth like a movie in my mind.

Also, having been intrigued by English governesses ever since my 6th grade teacher read Jane Eyre aloud to us (with real emotion and even mascara-tears), I thoroughly enjoyed researching real-life governesses. This research also shaped the story of The Silent Governess.

What are you working on now?
Since completing The Silent Governess, I’ve been playing catch-up at home and at work. I have also begun a fourth novel, similarly set in early 19th-century England. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but will post more information on my web site when I can.

Julie, thank you so much for stopping by and giving us a chance to get to know you!

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address in order to win a signed copy of The Silent Governess. I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Friday, December 11, 2009


CATHI H! You're the proud winner of Golden Keyes Parsons' book The Prisoner of Versailles!

Please contact me at, and I'll set you up with Golden to receive your book!


Monday, December 7, 2009


Please welcome Golden Keyes Parsons, a talented author of Inspirational Fiction. Don't you just love her name? I had the honor of meeting Golden at the ACFW conference in September, and I have to say, she's as beautiful as her name--not only in person, but also in spirit.

Her recent historical novel, A Prisoner of Versaille, was released in August. If you want to get your hands on it, just leave a comment with your email address, and you'll be entered into a drawing to receive a free, signed copy of her book!

Having fled their homeland of France because of the persecution by Louis XIV, the Clavell family seeks refuge in Switzerland. However, the king is not about to let the recently widowed Madeleine, his childhood sweetheart, escape that easily. He sends musketeers to kidnap her and her oldest son, Philippe, holding them captive in his opulent palace. King Louis is suspicious that Philippe could be his son, and he's enraged by the growing affection of one of his courtiers for Madeleine. Will Madeleine escape the king with her life or lose everything that she's fought so hard to keep?

Golden, it's an honor to have you with us today. So, how long have you been writing? How did you get your start?

I grew up in a newspaper family. My grandfather, my dad and all his brothers were newspaper owners, editors and published authors. There were essays, manuscripts, newspapers, books and magazines stacked all over our house. I was writing feature articles for our little hometown newspaper at nine years of age. I won several essay contests in school, and had some small articles published along the way. However, when I started speaking professionally in 1996, I was told that I needed to seek publication in earnest.

What made you decide to write fiction?

I loved reading fiction as a child. My mother taught me to read a little Donald Duck book when I was four years old, and I was hooked. I spent hours at the public library and participated in every reading program they offered. I fell asleep every night reading -- still do :) I devoured the typical books that young girls loved -- Black Beauty, all the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Clara Barton novels -- but I also read such things as 1984 by George Orwell, Dr. Zhivago and Gone With The Wind. However, as I grew into adulthood I began to read almost exclusively non-fiction. My spiritual gift is teaching, so it followed that my first efforts at writing professionally were non-fiction articles, Bible studies, Christian living books. I had several articles published in good magazines ... Marriage Partnership, Angels On Earth, HomeLife ... and got close to publication on a couple of my books. But never a contract.

A few years ago, I inherited a published genealogy of my mother's side of the family and read about my French Huguenot ancestors, of whom I had not been aware previously -- and wanted to tell the story in my favorite genre, historical fiction. I took a few chapters to my critique group, and they were blown away. The consensus was 100% that this was where I needed to be. So, I began to pursue publication in the fiction genre.

By the way, in my opinion, writing fiction is much more difficult than writing non-fiction.

How did things change once you became a published author? Did you lose friends? Make friends? How did it affect your family?

As a published author, there is a certain amount of respect that comes from people like bookstore owners, educators, and fellow authors that was not there before.

I also became much more observant of words, phrases and story. I am constantly writing things down that strike my fancy, especially from movies.

Did I lose friends? No, not that I know of. However, I quickly became aware of the fact that no one understands a writer, except another writer. If a writer tries to explain POV, for example, to a non-writer, you can almost see their eyes glaze over. There's just no way to be able to communicate what it's like to be a writer, driven by conveying ideas and stories through words, except to another author. Only another writer knows what it is like to struggle to find the correct word; or to wake up at night with one's characters living out the story in one's head; or to sit in front of a computer for hours on end and not realize that the whole morning has passed by.

Did I make friends? Absolutely. The networking at such conferences as ACFW and the CLASS Christian Writing Conference and the Christian Writers Guild is invaluable. I've made many, many friends since becoming a published author.

How did it affect my family? Well, our children were grown and gone by the time I started writing professionally -- and my husband is my biggest supporter -- so as far as our daily lives, it just meant that when the door is closed to my office, don't bother me! My hat is off to those who write with small children at home. I don't know how they do it.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?

I have two places that I write. I have an office where I work if I need to print out copies, because that's where the printer is set up. But much of the time I take my laptop into the den and write from my recliner.
My favorite time of day to write hands down is early in the morning. I get up anywhere from 5 am to 6:30, spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour reading my Bible and praying, then write usually until 10:30 or 11, with a break to eat a little breakfast and get dressed. Then I go work out around 11, come home, eat lunch and work on marketing and emails in the afternoon.

How did you come up with the story for A Prisoner of Versailles?

My original intention was for the Clavells to travel to the New World in Book Two, but because Louis XIV was such a colorful character, my editor asked me to stay in Europe and include him again in the second book. So I had to think of some way to do that. When in my research I read that Louis actually sent spies into Switzerland to bring the Huguenots back into France, I had my hook.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the edits for Book Three.

What do you see in your future as an author? Do you have concrete ideas for more books you'd like to write on down the line, or do you plan out a book only after you've decided to write one?

I would like to continue to write historicals. I have an interest in writing about women in various religious sects, but that is only in the idea stage.

Golden, it was such a pleasure to have you join us today. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a little about yourself.

If you'd like to get to know more about Golden, you can find her at her website. It's there you'll discover some amazing facets about Golden and her ministry.

For those that would like to receive a signed copy of Golden's book, A Prisoner of Versailles, be sure to leave a comment and your email address. I'll announce the winner on Friday.
Good luck to those that enter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Americans would consider this the "Dutch Christmas" because this is the day children (if they're good) receive presents from Sinterklaas (Santa Claus).

It all begins mid-November when Sinterklaas arrives from Spain on his steamboat. He brings, not just gifts, but his white horse, and his zwarte pieten (black Peters; they're Santa's little helpers and are black from going down so many chimneys).

When they arrive, the black Peters carry switches for all the naughty children, and they throw pepernoten to all the good children. (I guess I should explain "pepernoten." These are mini "gingersnaps" that are round or square, and not flat.)

The thought of little black men carrying around switches to spank naughty children sounds kind of scary (and if you're really naughty, you get put in Sinterklaas' sack and brought back to Spain with him!), but that aspect about them is overwhelmed with the goodies they pass out to ALL the children. They do tricks, ride unicycles, act silly, toss pepernoten to the people, etc--really, they're comparable to clowns.

Every evening after Sinterklaas' arrival, children set their shoes out for the night. Sometimes they'll leave a carrot for Sinterklaas' horse, and they sing a song, asking him to come and leave them something. Some mornings children awake to pepernoten in their shoes, straw, candy, chocolate letters, or a small toy.

On the evening of December 5th, children enjoy time with family (singing songs, playing games, etc), then a hard knock sounds on the door: BANG, BANG, BANG! Children either run to the door, or get scared a run away from it. When they, or the parents, open the door, they find a big burlap sack full of toys! Whoo, hooo!

What do the Dutch do on December 25th? They celebrate the birth of Christ. They have Christmas trees and all of that, but they don't exchange gifts on Christmas. Also, they have TWO Christmas days! December 25th and the 26th! Nice, huh?

Don't you just love the differences in cultures? It's interesting how we all have one thing in common, Santa Claus.