Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thyme for Love!

Congratulations to fellow writer Pamela S. Meyers, who’s debut novel, Thyme for Love, was recently released by OakTara. This romance with a twist of murder mystery is set in one of my favorite places, the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area, which happens to be where Pam grew up. Here’s a quick blurb about the book: When April Love signs on to be an in-house chef at an old mansion in Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, she has no idea that her former fiancĂ©, Marc Thorne, works there. It doesn’t take long for the old magnetism to recharge, but April can tell there’s something he’s reluctant to reveal. When their boss is killed, Marc is accused of the murder. Read on to learn more about the book and author, and…LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THYME FOR LOVE!

ALSO…Congratulations to Laury Hubrich, who won a copy of Mind Over Madi by leaving a comment on the previous post.

One of the lessons we writers learn from the get-go is “write what you know.” Now that doesn’t mean we can’t delve deep into our imaginations, it simply means we should pepper in people, places, bits of dialogue, images, and experiences from our life to add color and realism to our books. Pam did that in a big way with her character, April Love, who is a chef. Pam loves to cook (making her a perfect guest on Taste the World), and was raised in the area where her book is set. I don’t know if she ever had a hotty like Marc Thorne in her life, but we’ll let Pam keep that mystery to herself.

Q: Thanks for joining us, Pam. I love the combination of romance and mystery in Thyme for Love. Can you tell us a little more about it?

A: April Love has always dreamed of being a chef. When her Aunt Kitty hears of a in-house chef position for a non-profit organization housed in a lakeshore mansion next door, April returns to Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, where she’d spent many summers growing up, to apply for the job. When she discovers her former fiancĂ© Marc Thorne working there, she wonders if this position was really God’s intention for her. After all, Marc all but left her standing at the altar to chase his own dreams in California. It doesn’t take long to realize Marc is hiding secrets and despite returning feelings for the man, April determines she will not make the same mistake as she did eight years earlier. But when their boss is found dead and Marc is framed for his murder, April has no choice but to turn sleuth to keep Marc from being accused of a murder he didn’t commit.

Q: What inspired you to write this story and use the Lake Geneva setting?

A: I’ve always loved romance and mysteries, and decided to write a story that married the two elements together. I grew up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and have always been fascinated by the many 20th Century mansions that dot the lake’s shoreline. I toyed with the idea of setting the story in one of those homes, but decided to create a smaller lake and village just to the east of Lake Geneva to gain more freedom with some of the details of the story and its characters. I loved having the area located close enough to Lake Geneva that April and Marc could go there for a meal at one of the actual restaurants there. I also gave them backgrounds that involve working on Geneva Lake as many college students do during the summer months.

Q. Will there be a sequel to Thyme for Love?

A. I’m so glad you asked. Thyme for Love is part of a three-book series called On the Road to Love. Books 2 and 3 involved April and Marc, and both are set in Canoga Lake. In Book 2, Love Will Find a Way, April moves into an old Victorian home with plans to turn it into a restaurant and catering business. It isn’t long before a discovery made while they are renovating the home threatens to hijack plans for the grand opening. In Book three, Love’s Reward, April and Marc’s wedding plans are in full swing, until it becomes apparent there is someone who doesn’t want them to marry.

Q: Will we be seeing other books from you in the near future?

A. Oh yes. I’m very excited about Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, coming out in June 2012 from Summerside Press. It’s a 1933 historical romance, and I had a blast researching for the story.

Q. When you aren’t writing, what fills your days?

A. I volunteer at my church in the multicultural ministry, helping Japanese women learn to speak English and lead a women’s small group Bible study. I’m also chapter president of my local ACFW chapter which meets monthly. Also, I enjoy reading (surprise, surprise) and movies.
I love to cook and find new ways of making things. You’ll find an adaptation of a recipe someone gave me called Chicken George at the back of Thyme for Love. The original recipe involved canned soup. Very tasty, but no trained chef would use canned soup in a recipe, so I set out to break it down and compose a healthier recipe from scratch. I thought it turned out well, but what would my friends say? I served it at my women's Bible study Christmas dinner and everyone raved about it. I loved having April prepare it in the novel, and look forward to experimenting with more recipes for the sequels.

Pam was kind enough to share her Chicken George recipe so we can all give it a try. Thank you, Pam – it sounds delicious!

Pam’s Revised Chicken George

6 boneless chicken breasts, split
8 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
10 oz. sliced Baby Bellas (mini portabella mushrooms)
1 medium chopped onion
1-1/4 cup Sour Cream (non or low fat)
1-1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
½ Cup regular sherry (not cooking sherry)

Saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil. In medium bowl mix sour cream and chicken broth (I used an electric hand-held blender tool) until blended and smooth. Add mushrooms, onions and sherry to sour cream mixture. Mix together.

Arrange chicken breasts on bottom of 9 x 13 pan. Layer Swiss cheese over chicken.

Mix herb stuffing mix with Smart Balance (I use that in place of butter or margarine). Layer over cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove cover and bake additional ½ hour.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Over Madi

Congratulations to Donna Winters, who won a copy of THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS!

I am excited to feature my good friend and awesome crit partner Lynda Schab today. Lynda and I have been travelling the rocky road of writing together for a couple of years now. We first met at an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference and soon had the same agent. When I responded to Lynda’s request for a critique partner, I never knew the writing relationship would quickly blossom into a friendship…but I’m grateful that it did. Now I get to celebrate with her as she launches her debut novel, the first in a 3-book series, MIND OVER MADI. Here’s the Amazon link:

So come and meet the fabulous Lynda Schab, and…


Q. Lynda, we crazy writers seem to have this driving need to put the stories in our heads down on paper. When and how did you get started?

A. I’ve always loved to read, which seems to be a precursor for all writers. I don’t remember exactly when I picked up a pen and started to write, but I remember writing a story in 6th grade called The Summer I Went to Honolulu (no, I’d never been there – and still haven’t!), complete with caricature drawings. I moved on to writing plays for my cousins and me to perform for our parents, then tried my hand at poetry. In high school, it was all about poetry – some of it was pretty good, but some was very, very bad. I still love to write poetry, but prefer to create funny, rhyming poems for retirement parties, milestone birthdays, bridal or baby showers, and other fun occasions.

Now that I know that, I expect my very own Lynda poem next birthday.

Q. What was the first thing you ever had published?

A. Besides a little blurb in a high school newsletter, my first professionally published works were greeting cards for Blue Mountain Arts.

Q. Who has encouraged you most on your writing journey?

A. Definitely my mom.

Awww…I thought it was me. But I guess there’s no trumping Mom.

A. (continued) Mom has always believed in me and encouraged me in my gift. Professionally, one of my greatest cheerleaders has been Deb Porter, administrator for From the moment I joined FaithWriters in 2004, Deb spoke blessings and positivity into my life and motivated me more than she’ll probably ever know. Another organization that has blessed me so much is ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Joining was the best thing I’ve done for my writing career. The members, many of them published authors, have served as mentors to me and some have become fabulous friends.

Q. What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

A. Favorite: The creative process. Thinking a story through from beginning to end and then seeing my vision come to life through the characters and situations I create.

Least favorite: Definitely the self discipline it requires. Time management is something I’ve always struggled with. Making myself sit down and focus when I know the basement needs cleaning, laundry is piling up, my office needs to be organized, or I want to watch the episode of Survivor I missed the night before is my biggest challenge.

Q. Okay, now for the big question: What is Mind over Madi about?

A. Madi McCall is a 38-year-old mom of three whose insecurities are destroying her marriage. When she suspects her husband Rich is cheating with the mother of one of his fourth grade students, she kicks him out of the house and he moves in with his bachelor brother. Madi is then forced to take a deeper look at herself and her insecurities. She does this with the help of a counselor, her best friend Sylvie, and a few cartons of Edy’s Dibs. At a 20-year get-together with former high school classmates, Madi runs into “the other woman” and things come to a head. It’s a lighthearted story about taking a true look at ourselves and accepting God’s grace when we think and do dumb things.

Q. On the cover photo, Madi is wearing a tiara. What is the significance in that?

A. Madi’s therapist challenges her to think of herself as a princess – the daughter of the King. Madi has never thought of herself this way, and throughout the story, there are references to various Disney princesses as Madi tries to figure out which one she most relates to. I had fun with the theme, even giving “the other woman” the fairy tale-ish name of Fawn Witchburn.

Q. As a Christian writer, I know you want your stories to touch reader’s hearts with a message. What do you want readers to take away from Madi’s story?

A. An understanding of just how infinite God’s love is. That no matter what we’ve done, God will never stop pursuing our hearts or desiring a relationship with us. His mercies are new every morning and His grace covers our weaknesses, our mistakes, our ignorance.

Thanks, Lynda. Great answers – I expected nothing less! I’m sure you’ll have many readers looking forward to the next two books in the series: MADILY IN LOVE and SYLVIE AND GOLD.
How can readers connect with you?

My website address is I also have a blog with various writing and reading-related material at You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Lynda is the mother of 18-year old Zach and 14-year-old Lyndsey, and has been married to her husband Rob for over 23 years. Today she’s sharing one of her family’s favorite recipes, which is mentioned in MIND OVER MADI and is included in an eBook titled NOVEL MORSELS – a cookbook featuring recipes from 65 Christian Fiction authors, based on their books/characters.

Here’s the link to purchase the eBook, and here’s a little secret…USE THE CODE LYNDASCHAB TO GET THE BOOK FOR FREE!!

Excerpt from MIND OVER MADI:
I feel like Mother Hubbard. My cupboards are almost completely bare. But wait—an unopened box of mostaccioli pasta and a jar of sauce sit side-by-side on my cupboard shelf. My mostaccioli rocks, if I do say so myself. I got the recipe a long time ago from a magazine and I tweaked it a bit, perfecting it over the years. It’s the one homemade dish I make that I’m actually proud of. Okay, to be honest, it’s pretty much the only homemade dish I ever make. My family loves it. Then again, from the way Max shot down my offer to make a mostaccioli dinner for Sam sometime, I’m thinking perhaps it’s not quite as scrumptious as I’ve convinced myself.

My recipe that's featured in Novel Morsels (and Mind over Madi):

Madi's Mean Mostaccioli

1 pkg. (16 oz.) mostaccioli pasta
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 t. pepper
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 jar (28-32 oz.) Spaghetti sauce
1 can (11 oz.) Cheddar Cheese soup
3 cups (12 oz.) Shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown ground beef and drain.

Prepare pasta, as directed on package. While pasta's boiling, add seasonings, spaghetti sauce and soup to ground beef.

Simmer until pasta is ready. Drain pasta.

Combine ground beef mixture, pasta, and 2 cups mozzarella in large (3-4 qt.) baking bowl or casserole dish.

Mix well. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese, if desired, on top. Bake 40 minutes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Embrace the Spirit

Ornaments, trees, and gift wrap already fill the aisles of all the department stores. Do you ever feel like the hustle and bustle of Christmas distracts you from the amazing miracle of Christ’s birth? Sometimes I just feel deluged with shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and shopping some more. And then…I go to Christmas service, and let myself get enveloped in God’s love—a love that sees beyond my sins and flaws, washes away my past, gives me hope and a future. Last year, I had the opportunity to write a story for The Spirit of Christmas anthology, with a forward by Debbie Macomber, just recently released by St. Martin’s Press. If you think you'll be needing some Christmas Spirit in the months ahead, the kind based in LOVE, not gifts; PEACE, not chaotic shopping trips; HOPE, not stress, check it out.



My story, "Christmas Rainbow," begins in 1964 and reflects the changes in our Sicilian family through the decades, as we married, had children, and blossomed into a multi-cultural family with different backgrounds, personalities, opinions, and perspectives, but strong in our conviction to love one another, as Jesus said to do. His command had no “small print,” no caveats regarding skin color or country of origin. Just “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Mine is one of 42 short stories in the book. I hope you enjoy it.