Friday, June 28, 2013

Highlights of ICRS 2013

My heart is so full, my brain so stimulated, and my body so wiped out that it’s taking me a few days to process our experience at the International Christian Retail Show 2013. I had hoped to recap the event nightly during our stay, but the night before leaving for St. Louis, we discovered my computer was fried from the two tornadoes that hit in the four days prior. I had to leave home without it.

So now, I will share many of the highlights in random order as they come to me. I'm sure I'll probably forget something, but maybe some of the authors will remind me in the comments.

My own travel plans changed at the last minute due to the two tornadoes and some major family issues that still are not resolved. Tim stayed home to deal with some of it, and I rode to ICRS with Fay Lamb – we met for the first time at Catch the Wave last year where we both taught workshops, and both friendship and professional relationship developed. I’m honored to be publishing several of Fay’s books, and thrilled we had the opportunity to spend more time together during ICRS. Fay is hilarious, fun, curious, courageous, passionate, creative, intelligent, has a heart made of gold, and loves the Lord with all her might. (She’s all that, and I didn’t even have to tell you she considers herself a klutz, too!)

There were 10 of us representing Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing: Fay Lamb, Vicki Tiede, Peggy Cunningham and her husband Chuck, Dianne E. Butts and her husband Hal, Marie Wells Coutu and her husband Ed, volunteer assistant Suzy Moore, and myself.


Peggy Cunningham and Marie Wells Coutu
at Bailey's Range - what a fun place!
Meeting some of our authors for the very first time and getting to know them personally. When we offer contracts, I talk to most of them on the phone, and we exchange e-mails regularly, so I get a good feel for their personality, but until we’re face-to-face, it’s impossible to know if my impressions are on target. Many times during ICRS, I marveled at how special these ladies are – professionally and personally. Hardworking, dedicated, passionate, creative, intelligent, fun. And just so lovely, inside and out. Their smiles, laughter, joy are contagious and if I ever get stranded on a deserted island, I’d want every one of them with me. I’m truly grateful to God for bringing all of us together.

Hearing Peggy Cunningham’s voice for the first time. Peggy and Chuck are missionaries in Bolivia so our contract negotiations all took place by e-mail. From looking at her headshot, and reading her words, my brain thought she had a soft, Southern, genteel voice – and I was so WRONG! Peggy’s voice is bold with a Pennsylvania accent – and every word she speaks is filled with such fun I’m sitting here smiling at the memory of it.

Dianne E. Butts during her booksigning
Seeing with my own eyes that Dianne E. Butts’ voice and mannerisms are as soft as they seem in phone conversations yet her body and spirit are tough as they come. Dianne is a walking miracle, and I say that in awe of our Mighty God. A week or so before ICRS Dianne had a motorcycle accident that could have been much, much worse. She was traveling 60 mph on the interstate with her husband (riding in front of her) and a friend (riding behind her), when her front tire went flat. She sideswiped an RV before going down, rolling over and over. The good Lord gave her the ability to process everything as it was happening, and she realized she was in the middle of the highway and could get run over, so she dragged herself (by damaged elbow) to the side of the road. She has a chipped ankle, a cut requiring stitches on her elbow, and lots of road rash on arms and legs. Later, after viewing her full-face helmet, they discovered she may have landed on her face during the initial fall. Her face is beautiful and blemish-free. Dianne’s presence and active participation at ICRS was an inspiration to us all, and a reminder to take nothing in this life for granted.

Storms outside St. Louis, just before we arrived.
I continue to marvel at the very presence of all of us in attendance at ICRS. The weeks leading up the event were mind-boggling with crazy events occurring for all of us. The enemy obviously didn’t want us there, but we all persevered. In those weeks before the conference, we experienced the motorcycle accident, two tornadoes and a tree in a house, major health issues, major plumbing problems, major car problems, book and marketing issues, travel ordeals, food poisoning, trips to the ER, fried computer, fried modem, and major family issues. And 30 minutes outside St. Louis, Fay and I encountered another storm that looked like it had a funnel cloud. When her phone started blasting out warnings of flash floods we pulled over to wait out the storm! With the battles each of us went through, it’s a wonder any of us are still standing, and a great testimony to God that we all made it to ICRS. [After we left St. Louis heading home, we learned of the underground explosions across the street from the convention center. All of this is a bit overwhelming, don’t you think?]

Marie Wells Coutu during her booksigning
Discovering that Marie Wells Coutu and her husband Ed know EVERYONE. She works for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has attended ICRS in previous years. But it was amazing and fun to discover just how many people know them.

Hanging with Vicki Tiede twice in the same year! What a blessing. But I keep wondering if she set any records with the number of media interviews she had? Wow! And she never lost her voice at all! (Keep an eye out – we’ll be sharing some of those interviews in the coming days and weeks.)

Vicki Tiede and Shaun Tabatt
Meeting Shaun Tabatt, owner of Cross Focused Media. What a special man. He interviewed so many people – including all our authors. Watch for those too! (Shaun is also one who knew the Coutus – Ed was his Boy Scout leader years ago!)

Meeting in person for the first time several precious prayer warriors I’ve known online for years: Pam Meyers, Laura Hilton, Martha Rogers, Bonnie Calhoun. These precious ladies have been a blessing to me for years, and meeting them in person was an honor and a heart blessing.

Visiting with Cecil Murphey for the second time this year, and FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY meeting the incredible Twila Belk.

Discovering how special the husbands truly are – Chuck Cunningham, Hal Butts, Ed Coutu – supported, participated, assisted, encouraged, prayed. The ones who weren’t – Marc Lamb, Mike Tiede, Tim Ruckman, Lanny Moore – held down the forts at home, at times managing some pretty difficult situations yet also provided support, encouragement, and prayers for all of us in our absence. (Marc and Fay lost a beloved pet during our trip, Tim dealt with all the storm mess I left behind, and Mike dealt with a houseful of kids – in addition to all their regular responsibilities.)  The support and love I witnessed between all the couples just brings me to tears as I write this. What a blessing.

Left side, front to back: Hal and Dianne E. Butts, Vicki Tiede, Suzy Moore.
Right side, front to back: Chuck Cunningham, Hal Coutu,
Marie Wells Coutu, Peggy Cunningham, and Tracy Ruckman. Fay Lamb is behind the camera.

Suzy Moore. My goodness. I only met Suzy online a few weeks ago, through Dianne. Suzy lives in the St. Louis area, and volunteered her services to assist us any way we needed while we were in town. She is incredible – and such fun. She fit right in with all of us, and instantly became part of the WIP/PNP family. Suzy, thank you for all you did – you went above and beyond every step of the way, and we all appreciate you so much.

I find it interesting that I’m already at 1000 words on this post, and I haven’t even mentioned the book signings, which is why we were there in the first place! Each author had one hour to sign and give away 60 books. (I realized sometime between the 4th and 5th signings that we were actually giving away 65 books each, because I’d taken 5 extra copies of each book to get the authors to sign them for the FaithFunder campaign. I’ll be gathering and sending those out in the coming weeks!)

Our book signings were brisk and fun, and we met book buyers from Nigeria, Finland, Scotland, Australia, New
Zealand (Debbie Roome, you’ll be proud to know I recognized their accents!), the UK, Canada, Mexico, and all over the United States. A representative from one of the large publishing houses told one of our authors that the only way we’d give out all of our books was if we offered chocolate – but we didn’t need to do that! One of our authors gave away 65 books in 28 minutes! Talk about a fast signing! We averaged about 40 minutes for each of the signings – what a blessing.

Teamwork. I’ve never experienced a group of people acting as a team as much as this group at ICRS – and it wasn’t even intentionally done. We all seemed to operate in sync – and it was so remarkable I know it was truly God’s hand directing us. At one point, several of us were walking down one of the aisles – surrounded by the big guys like Zondervan and Harper Collins. I heard someone we passed say, “There goes Write Integrity.” Only God could have made that happen!!

One personal note about the trip. On Monday, I had brunch with a dear friend I haven’t seen since I graduated high school. Maggie Madonia showed me around St. Louis – the town really is incredible and I hope we can go visit and play there some more! The architecture is beautiful! I just don’t understand how Maggie hasn’t aged a bit in all these years!! Maggie, thank you for the awesome bag of St. Louis goodies. And for the recommendation of Bailey's Range - the food, atmosphere, and service were awesome.That gooey butter cake made it home to Tim safe and sound – and we love it!! Pete – I’m so sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet.

A special, public thank you to all those who contributed to the FaithFunder campaign. None of this would have happened without you – we’re truly grateful to you for making the book signings possible. You’ll be hearing from me in the next couple of weeks!

When I returned home, I had a check waiting to replace the computer that was fried. It arrived just moments ago. The check came from a friend who believes in our mission, believes in our company, and wanted to bless us in a tangible way. I’m grateful beyond words.

Fay and I returned to North Carolina on Wednesday, Tim's birthday, so I was able to spend the rest of the day with him, celebrating his special day.

Hopefully, from this massive list, you’ll see why my heart is so full – overflowing, actually – with God’s goodness and mercy. I am encouraged by our authors and challenged anew to publish, support, encourage, and promote their books with my whole being – and I encourage YOU to support and encourage them too. How? Buy their books for yourself and to give as gifts. Leave reviews. Visit their websites and blogs – leave comments. Send notes. Invite them to your church or local bookstore, writer’s group, civic group, for a book signing, reading, or even a Skype session. Talk about their books with your family and friends. Pray for them. Our books are our mission field, and the more people we encounter, the larger our field – and potential to impact more lives – grows.

A grateful heart, indeed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Favorite Childhood Summers - Part 3

The Beach Party continues. Thanks for your patience as we weathered a tornado and loss of power and internet for a few days.

Last week, we began talking about our childhood summers (Part 1, Part 2). And Ann Knowles provided a helpful blog on writing book reviews.

Today, we'll finish up the childhood summer posts, and we invite you to share some of your own memories with us! If you want to share a photo, send it to me at editor [at] writeintegrity [dot] com and I'll share them on our Facebook page!

Now more of our authors share their favorite childhood summers:

Maria (Mariska) and J.A.
J.A. MARX - Estes Park, CO, where the population fluctuated by the millions. During the winter, we claimed about 5,000 residents (’70s). But once summer hit, we swelled to a million, and not all were tourists. Many were families who’d bought second homes so they could escape the sweltering south.

Several of those families lived in my neck of the woods (literally). My parents were both real estate brokers and therefore knew every resident in the development. They had become good friends with the Peers who lived just over the hill. Lucky for me, the Peers’ grandchildren routinely visited from California. The youngest, Maria, and I played every summer throughout our grade school years.

My favorite thing to do was put together performances for our families. We did great during rehearsals, but when show time came, Maria giggled our act out of business. Talk about frustration! I don’t recall us completing a single performance.

Maria apparently gained some confidence during secondary schooling because every once in a while I catch her, Mariska Hargitay, playing Olivia on Law and Order, SVU.

Maybe today we could pull off a decent performance—without her tittering. She definitely made my summers memorable.

PEGGY CUNNINGHAM - My grandparents owned a summer home in the country. My times with them are by far my most wonderful memories of my childhood. They would take me with them on weekends, and most of my summers were spent at this place we called The Farm, even though it wasn’t a farm––more like a setting from a storybook. My collie dog, Nellie became my best friend as we hiked through the woods and the meadows daily. My grandparents cooked the most delicious Italian meals, and relatives visited on the weekends. My cousins also stayed with us at times, and family bonds were cemented at The Farm every summer of my childhood.

STEPHANIE CRAIG - It's hard to remember what summer of my childhood was the greatest.  While in elementary school, they all were great.  We had a swimming pool, the only one in the neighborhood, so all the kids wanted to be at our house during the summer.  We rode bikes, had sleepovers, and played backyard games.  My family never took any summer vacations, but I never felt like I missed out on anything because spending time with my friends in my backyard was better than a vacation.

VICKI TIEDE - My childhood summers all blur together as they were all much the same. We lived in the country only 3 miles from town, but you would have thought we were 20 miles out. We would say "goodbye" to our school friends on the last day of classes and wouldn't see them again until the fall. Our days were filled with wild, imagination-filled adventure on the farm, camping in a pick-up camper, walking beans, often painting something (fence/barn/etc.), 4-H, and the county fair. I loved every minute of it.

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Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3
Authors' Childhood Summers - Part 1
Authors' Childhood Summers - Part 2
What is a Book Review?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beach Party ... Interrupted

Thursday night a small tornado hit our neighborhood and other parts of town. We had several trees down - including a 100-yr old walnut tree with a 15-20 ft wide root system, but we're thankful that no one was hurt, and only minimal damage to one neighbor's house.

We've been without power since then - with no estimate of when power will be restored. We're in an odd pocket neighborhood and five houses remain without electricity. Because it's such a low number, we've been told by the power company that we're not a priority.

Beach Party will continue on Monday. Stay tuned - we'll get caught up as quickly as possible.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What is a Book Review?

Today, we welcome guest blogger Ann Knowles to WIP. Ann has coordinated book reviews for The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network for numerous years, and I asked if she would write an article about writing book reviews.

What is a book review?
A book review is a description, analysis, and evaluation of a book. It reflects your opinion of the book, how you feel about the book’s purpose, content and authority. It talks about the quality, meaning and significance of the book as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

When people read your review, they can decide for themselves if it’s worth their money and time to read the book. Therefore, it is valuable not only to readers looking for books, but also to the author who is trying to promote the book in a positive way.

A book review is not:
  • a summary of the book that reveals the plot and climax. No one wants to read a book if they already know the story so take caution not to give away too many details about the book.
  • a book report like you did in high school
  • an opportunity to expound on your relationship to the author. The review is about the                              book.

How to Write a Book Review

Before you write your review, ask yourself “What would I have wanted to know before I read the book?”

Steps to writing a book review:

1. Write a bibliographical statement, giving important information about the book: title, author,      copyright date, type of book, general subject matter, special features, price and ISBN. (If you are leaving this review on a site like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CBD, this information is already provided. But if you’re writing the review for a blog post, newsletter, newspaper, or magazine, you’ll need to provide as much information as you can to avoid any confusion about the book being reviewed.

            2. State the author’s purpose in writing the book. Look in the preface or first chapter to find this
                 information. If you don’t find it there, ask yourself some questions:
                        a. Who is the intended audience?
                        b. What is the genre, and how does the book fit into it?
                        c. Why did the author write on this subject?
                        d. Did the author try to give information, explain something technical, or convince the reader of something?
                        e. How did the book affect you? Did you change your ideas because of it? How did it fit in
                            with your worldview? Did it bring up old memories?
                        f. Did the book achieve its purpose? Would you recommend it to a friend?

            3. Comment on how the author tells the story and keeps you interested.

            4. Research the author online through biographical information, reputation, qualifications and
                experience. This allows you to establish the authority of the author.

            5. Depending on the type of book, you may need to comment on cover, layout and any pictures or 
maps that helped you understand the book better.

            6. Check the back matter: index, endnotes, bibliography. Is the material accurate and useful?

            7. Briefly summarize and comment on the author’s ideas and main points. Use quotations from the book to support your statements.

     8. Be detailed and specific, without giving away the plot. There is no set length for a book review. The publisher usually sets the number of words. Online they are usually 150-300 words, but in a magazine, they may be as much as 500 words.

Any time you read a good book, take the time to write a review on at least one of the Web sites like,,, Remember you are doing a service for the writer and the reader.

Ann Knowles – Freelance Writer, Editor, Speaker, and Workshop Leader – After thirty-two years in the classroom, Ann launched a new career in writing and editing. She is passionate about helping others improve their writing skills. Contact her at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Favorite Childhood Summers - Part 2

Water. Summer is not summer without water, whether it be a lake, an ocean, a river, a Slip-N-Slide, or a sprinkler in the backyard.

Does water play a role in your childhood summers? Tell us about your childhood summers for a chance to win the massive Beach Basket Extravaganza we're giving away. Check out the new goodies we added on Monday!

If you're playing Beach Party Bingo with us, here are this week's cards:

Week 2 - HOPE
Week 2 - JOY

We continue sharing some of our authors' childhood summers. If you missed any of the previous posts, check out the links below. We'd love for you to show your support for our authors by checking out their websites (linked below) and their books over to the right - we're having a summer sale on print and digital books, so now's a great time to stock up!

JENNIFER FROMKE - I’m switching the question around (sorry!) Best thing about summer as a child: going up north. It’s a “thing” in Michigan to go up north. Almost everybody does it at some point. Lots of people do it every weekend. My family had a place on a lake and we’d go up for weekends, playing in the water, hiking in the woods, hanging out with cousins and aunts and uncles, playing cards, picnics by the water, croquet, waterskiing, campfires, sailing, boat rides, s’mores, canoeing, swimming, and looking for Petoskey stones in the water. These are my favorite summer things from childhood.

LYNDA LEE SCHAB - All of them! We didn't have video games back then, but found ways to entertain ourselves (Can you imagine?). The best memories I have include getting the neighborhood kids together to play a mean game of Kick the Can, spending 10 hours a day in the pool, and reading under a shade tree. Oh, how I long to enjoy the lazy days of summer again!

MARIE WELLS COUTU - the summer before I went into 7th grade, when my family traveled from Kentucky to Niagara Falls, and through Canada, visiting Toronto, stopping at a so-called “ghost” town, and on to Sault Ste. Marie (I especially liked the name), Mackinac Island, Detroit, in the process seeing all 5 Great Lakes. It involved a lot of car time, but it was my first time out of the U.S., with many memorable experiences.

RUTH O'NEIL - Summers as a kid kind of all run together. Summers were always filled with camping, parades, cookouts, swimming, and playing outside all day long. We often went to my Grandparents’ summer home in PA for a weekend getaway.

MARJI LAINE - In 1976, my family went to Boston to visit my cousins. Best Fourth of July celebration ever. And their small town even had a giant cake - largest my 8-year-old self had ever seen.

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Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3
Authors' Childhood Summers - Part 1

Monday, June 10, 2013

Favorite Childhood Summers - Part 1

Our Summer Beach Party continues! If you've missed all the fun, check the links below to see what you missed last week.

We’re adding more to the Beach Basket Extravaganza this week!


  • 42-quart plastic tub to fill with goodies all summer long!
  • 2 extra-long beach towels
  • 1 pair of fun sunglasses to bring some bling to the beach
  • A festive photo album as a reminder to capture all those summer memories
  • $50 Visa gift card
  • Paperback AND digital copies of Stalking Willow by Fay Lamb and Destiny Defied by J.A. Marx


  • $50 Darden Restaurants Gift Certificate (can be used at any Bahama Breeze, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, or Seasons 52)
  • Giant Beach ball
  • Fun inflatable Air Mattress for swimming
  • Beach Badminton set
  • Paperback AND digital copies of A Familiar Shore by Jennifer Fromke and For Such a Moment by Marie Wells Coutu

This week, we’re talking about our childhood summers. Long, sun-filled days overflowing with games, laughter, fresh foods, and new adventures. Evenings filled with fireflies, star-gazing, and learning to distinguish between the sounds of frogs and crickets. I long for those days again at times, what about you?

Readers, share with us some of your favorite memories of childhood summers.

This week, our authors will share some of their favorite childhood memories. I love getting to know our authors more with all these answers! Be sure to check out their books, too - all the links are over to the right. And click on their names below to visit their websites and blogs.

We're having a summer sale on all the digital books, and even on several of the print books too, so now's a great time to stock up or try someone new. You may discover a new favorite author - or more!

Authors, share with us your favorite memories of childhood summers.

Photo courtesy of Fay Lamb
FAY LAMB - The summer I turned twelve years old. As Stephen King said, in Stand by Me: “You’ll never have friends like the friends you had when you were twelve years old. It was the first summer I spent at my grandmother’s house in Louisa, Kentucky. I was a shy backward kid whose doctor ordered me to Kentucky to de-stress, and one neighbor girl asked me if I wanted to play kickball. I joined in with several kids in the neighborhood, but she and I were inseparable for several summers after that, and I’m still friends today with her and several others.

MARIE WELLS COUTU - the summer before I went into 7th grade, when my family traveled from Kentucky to Niagara Falls, and through Canada, visiting Toronto, stopping at a so-called “ghost” town, and on to Sault Ste. Marie (I especially liked the name), Mackinac Island, Detroit, in the process seeing all 5 Great Lakes. It involved a lot of car time, but it was my first time out of the U.S., with many memorable experiences.

DEANNA - All my summers were great growing up: Vacation Bible School, Scout camp, my first summer jobs, riding bikes, eating popsicles, picnics in the park downtown, building secret clubhouses. All of it was wonderful. The freedom children today don’t know.

Don't forget to sign in to Rafflecopter for your chance to win the ever-growing Beach Basket Extravaganza!

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Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Fun!

It's Friday, so it's FUN day! We're playing a virtual game of beach volleyball over on Facebook - if you see the volleyball and want to get in the game, just leave a comment on that FB post, and one of the players could volley the ball (or spike it, if I know J.A. Marx) to YOU! Then you just volley it to someone else by tagging them when you share it on your wall.

Here's the photo to look for:

Radiant Joy is looking for sandcastles. I started looking online for some to share, and found this fun video that turned into an ad. I'm not promoting the product, just sharing the fun.

J.A. Marx's new supernatural suspense, Destiny Defied, is no longer free, but you can get print and digital copies on sale now! Check it out!

[REMINDER TO WRITERS: The deadline for the first round of the Books of Joy contest is next week - June 15! You could win a publishing contract for your SERIES of books!]

And don't forget - enter to win our humongous gift basket we'll be giving away in August, valued at over $500! I'll have more pictures and add more goodies to the basket on Monday!

Yesterday, a reader asked about the Bingo Game. All the answers for this weeks' cards will be found in the blog posts about the authors' vacations.

If you're just joining us, click on the links to read all about our summer Beach Party.

Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

Readers: Have you ever built a sand castle? Tell us about it!

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

A couple of quick notes before we discover more favorite vacations!

Yesterday afternoon, I announced all the details about the Beach Party Bingo Game. I'll add new bingo cards there every Wednesday. You could win YOUR name for one of the characters in an upcoming book!

Also, TODAY is the final day that J.A. Marx's novel Destiny Defied is FREE on Kindle! It has some great five star reviews already. Here's a snippet from one: "You won't forget these characters and won't want to because their stories continue. In this book, the foursome hunky guys meet Chiara. [nothing over PG in this book] And she is something else! Her genre of Embattled Spirits is teamed up with psychology and spiritual warfare and make this an interesting read."

Now, more of our authors' favorite vacations.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Fromke
JENNIFER FROMKE - Grand Cayman with 6 kids, 4 adults, perfect weather, and a pile of books. The view is breathtaking. I could almost literally sit there and stare at it all day. The sand is pure - all crushed coral, clean, beautiful. The water is clear, clean, turquoise. And the food on the island is first rate. Plus, we didn’t use our phones for a whole week (in order to avoid the international rates). That might be the best part. Great togetherness, stunning scenery, warm water and sun. Can’t wait to go back someday!

VICKI TIEDE - Two years ago we took our kids to FL, rented a house and enjoyed everything Disney and Universal Studios and the beach had to offer.

MARJI LAINE - (This is really hard. I'm a homebody.) The year before we got married, my fiance joined my family on a ski vacation to Red River, NM. There were 12 of us in all, staying in a large condominium. Skied all day and laughed all night. I love being together with my family!

If you're just joining us, catch up on all the fun by starting here:

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Let's Play Bingo!

I decided to do a separate post for the Bingo Game, so all of the information and links wouldn't get lost. Each week, I'll add the new bingo cards to THIS post, and then bump it to the top on Wednesdays.

Here's how we play.

Each week, I'll post two Bingo cards - HOPE and JOY.

The HOPE card represents answers from WIP authors, the JOY card represents answers from PNP authors - and yes, some authors are on both cards!

First, download the cards (click HOPE and JOY for each card), then read that week's blog posts to find the clues. Under the clue, type (or write, if you can scan the document to email it) the AUTHOR'S NAME associated with that clue.

To show an example, I'll post a picture here.

You would read that weeks' posts and discover that CHAMPS ELYSEE was mentioned in J.A. Marx's answer on Tuesday's post, so you'd type/write J.A. MARX in that box.

I'm going to give another example and a hint for this week. On both cards this week, you'll find 40th Anniversary. We have TWO authors who mentioned favorite vacations then - one author, Marie Wells Coutu, writes for WIP and the other, Peggy Cunningham, writes for both PNP and WIP, so you'd put Marie's name on HOPE's card, and Peggy's name on JOY's card.

We'll make it easy for you - you can get ONE bingo - vertical, horizontal, or diagonal OR you can fill the whole card. If you fill the whole card, we'll put it in the bucket twice to give you an extra entry.

When you've filled out the card, e-mail it to me at magnificenthope [at] yahoo [dot] com with BINGO CARD - WEEK [#] in the subject line (replace the brackets and hash tag with the week number, please.) Deadline to submit cards is Wednesday of the following week, all during the contest. (Wednesday, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time - so deadline to submit cards for Week 1 is 6/12, Week 2 is 6/19, etc.) The cards have to be submitted weekly by deadline to qualify for weekly and grand prizes.

Starting on Friday of the 2nd week, we'll announce weekly winners from the previous week's entries. We'll draw winners from correct entries and give away some digital books. But that's not all.

At the end of the summer, all bingo cards submitted with correct answers, are eligible to win a unique grand prize - we'll use the winner's name (first and/or last, winner's choice) in one of our upcoming books!! (And no worries - we won't use your name in a negative way!) If you have a preference on genre and/or author, include that preference in the email, along with your contact information. We can't guaranteed that you'll get exactly what you want, but we'll do our best to make it happen.

Weekly winners announced on Fridays, beginning next week. Grand Prize winner announced the first week of September.

Read More:

Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2

Print version is ready ahead of schedule
so it's available TODAY! 

Before we get started with the Beach Party Bingo, I thought I'd let you in on a little secret! Marie Wells Coutu's debut novel, For Such a Moment, is ready ahead of schedule! You can order the print version as of TODAY! The Kindle version will be here soon!

Revealing her secret could save lives … or change hers forever. In this book that re-imagines the story of Queen Esther in a contemporary setting, Ellen Neilson enjoys her comfortable life as the wife of an American CEO. Having lived in America since the age of ten, she has forsaken her mixed heritage and kept aspects of her childhood secret. Her husband has become engrossed in his job, and she believes having a child will salvage their troubled marriage. When her cousin Manuel, whom she hasn’t seen for twenty years, shows up as one of her husband’s managers, Ellen fears that her past will be revealed. The company buys a banana plantation in her native country of Guatemala, and Manuel informs her that illegal pesticides have poisoned the water. People are dying, but she doesn’t know who’s to blame for the cover-up.

Wouldn't this be a great book for the beach? Let's get back there!

As I compiled the list of all the various questions and answers, I didn't read them - just scanned. When I got ready to create this post, I realized we had TWO favorite vacations that occurred on 40th wedding anniversaries! Love that!

Readers, share with us your favorite vacations for a chance to win! Did any of your favorite vacations fall on an anniversary? 

More of our authors share their favorite vacations.

MARIE WELLS COUTU - February 2012 when we took our children and 3 grandsons on a week-long cruise to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary (which was actually in December). We also celebrated four birthdays that actually occurred close to or during the trip.

RUTH O'NEIL - Atlantic Beach weekend with my sister. No one called me “mom” or needed me for any reason for three whole days! The sharks were a bit disturbing, but let’s be honest; I hardly ever go in the water anyway, except to pee.

PEGGY CUNNINGHAM - It was only a short get away, but memorable and just what we needed. We were on furlough and made it a point to block out two days for our 40  th anniversary. It was September. When we arrived at the lakeside resort hotel, it was apparent tourist season had ended. The silence in the lobby calmed our stressed mood. We had a lakeside view from our room. The misty air with the fragrance of pine trees set the mood for relaxation. For two glorious days, we listened to the rain pounding on the deck outside the sliding doors while we huddled by the crackling fire and watched movies and ate take out from the nearby restaurant. Did I mention the hotel was owned by a man from our hometown who invented the Big Mac?

LYNDA SCHAB -  Definitely the All-Inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There's nothing like lounging by the pool with umbrella drinks, with nothing to do except read a good book.

STEPHANIE CRAIG - After three long and tiring years of a pediatric cancer battle for my son, we were fortunate enough to go to a resort called "Give Kids the World" in Kissimmee, Florida.  It's a place exclusively for wish kids (from organizations like Make-A-Wish) and their families.  They gave us tickets to all the major attractions in the area.  But the resort itself was amazing.  It had a pool with the best splash pad we've ever seen.  The playground area was a life-sized game of Candy Land.  It had a magical Castle with a merry-go-round for the kids.  Every day, they left gifts for the kids and every night they had a themed party such as Christmas, Pirates and Princesses, or Candy Land night.  Plus they had so much more.  Any family would be thrilled to stay at a resort like that, but after spending years in treatment and in and out of the hospital, it was absolute paradise.  It was the first time we really were able to dream about what life could be like after treatment. 

[Ed. Note: Shannon Vannatter is running a special series all month long on her Inkslinger blog with the authors of Heart Bouquets. Be sure to check it out - I know they're giving away some prizes!]

DIANNE E. BUTTS - Hmm. Hard to pick a favorite.

Maybe it was last year in 2012 when we drove from Colorado to Orlando and got to see a large part of the U.S. we hadn't seen before. In Orlando we visited the Holy Land Experience, which was very awesome and memorable. Then also rode a bunch of rides at Universal Resorts and spent a day on the beach at Cocoa Beach. Or my favorite might have been in 2010 when I spent two weeks in Los Angeles at the Act One: Writing for Hollywood seminar. That was definitely the longest trip (time-wise) I've ever been gone from home, but was more work than vacation. But then my husband drove out and picked me up and we took a vacation. We spent some time on a beach near Malibu.

If you haven't picked up your copy of Destiny Defied - grab it now! The Kindle version is FREE through tomorrow!

Answer this question in the comments for your chance to win!

Bingo cards aren't quite ready - I'll post them and the rules to that portion of the game on Friday!

Readers, share with us your favorite vacations for a chance to win! Did any of your favorite vacations fall on an anniversary? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read More:

Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1

Beach Party Bingo is off to a great start! We'll have posts all during the week, but we're also having fun on Facebook and Twitter, so come join all the fun! Yesterday, we started a game of virtual beach volleyball - and Magnificent Hope joined in the fun!

But Radiant Joy wasn't about to be outdone - she decided to throw her own little contest over on the Pix-N-Pens Facebook page. She's wanting readers to send in photos of SANDCASTLES!

We asked our authors to tell us about their favorite vacations. We'll share their answers the rest of this week. Readers, we want you to share your favorite vacation with us in the comments. And be sure to sign in to the Rafflecopter below for more entries in the Beach Bucket Extravaganza worth over $500!

Be sure to come back tomorrow to read more AND get the whole scoop on the BINGO portion of this beach party!

And now, here are some of our authors' favorite vacations:

DEANNA KLINGEL - I had a very romantic week in Paris with my husband in 1979 that I will always

Summer sale! Print and digital formats
FAY LAMB - My children were still young, and my husband and I planned to surprise them with a special trip. If they’d known they were going to Disney World for the first time ever, even though we only lived forty-five minutes away, they wouldn’t have slept that night. So we told them that we were going to their great-grandma’s house. She lived in Avon Park, and we’d been going for visits so much that the kids just didn’t want to take the drive. To get to Avon Park, you have to drive through Orlando and past the exit for the theme parks, so the ploy worked wonderfully. When Marc veered in another direction away from great-grandma’s, the car got very quiet. I turned a bit so I could watch the boys. Our youngest, Ethan, wasn’t in the mood for looking out the window, but our oldest, Corey, was watching the passing scenery. His eyes narrowed as we kept passing the information signs. Then Marc turned into the drive toward Disney where it was obvious we were on park property. “Ethan, we’re going to Disney World!” Corey screamed. I have never forgotten the delight in their excited chatter.

J.A. MARX - Alpine Sledding and the Louvre

December 2010. Before the nest emptied out, we made our last Christmas together a memorable one. We rented a flat for the week that cost a fraction of the price of a hotel in the picturesque town of Interlaken, Switzerland, in the middle of the Alps. 

On Christmas Day, while the townspeople celebrated in their homes, we rode the train to the slopes. Each of us got our own metal sled with a canvas seat.

We rode the gondola up through the clouds to the top of the mountain where the yellow avalanche warning light was flashing. I glided up to a metal barrier and peered over the edge into a snowy abyss at least a couple thousand feet deep. From there, we zigzagged down the slope—for almost 2 hours. A most adventurous ride.

To France, via train. 

Accrued Marriott points allowed us to stay free right on Avenue des Champs-Élysées. While touring the Louvre, climbing la Tour Eiffel, and visiting other attractions, we feasted daily on giant crêpes lathered with Nutella. 

In Paris, you walk. Everywhere. In spite of eating all their good food, we came home thinner, our soles worn. 

Best vacation ever.

And we've got some FUN news to share today. 

Supernatural Suspense Destiny Defied by @JA_Marx FREE on #Kindle <Tweet This>

Trapped on a mysterious island, eighteen-year-old Riki finds refuge with four strangers. Isaac, the rugged EMT, insists no one else is around, but Riki cannot ignore her fear that someone is stalking her. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness, Riki will choose death over returning to captivity. 

Lord Vétis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim the chosen one, but he must do so before her introduction to the real world ruins her royal destiny. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known.

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Read More:

Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3

Monday, June 3, 2013

Beach Party Bingo!

It's been quiet here on the blog lately - we've been planning and plotting and working behind the scenes to create a fun summer event. And today, we get to share it. I LOVE summer. And I love the beach. So this summer, we're throwing a virtual beach party.

Welcome to Beach Party Bingo!

We've asked all our authors to share some favorite things, and each week, we'll share their answers in blog posts, two or three times per week. I'm loving the answers coming in, so it promises to be a great time.

Beach Bucket is waiting for YOU!
There will be one theme per week, and it's that theme that will help you win our GIGANTIC Beach Bucket (42 quart!) filled with goodies. Each week, through August 30, we'll add a few more goodies to the basket.

This week, we'll start the basket off with:

  • 42 quart plastic tub to fill with goodies all summer long!
  • 2 extra-long beach towels
  • 1 pair of fun sunglasses to bring some bling to the beach
  • A festive photo album as a reminder to capture all those summer memories
  • $50 Visa gift card
  • Paperback copies of Stalking Willow by Fay Lamb and Destiny Defied by J.A. Marx

We're using Rafflecopter to give away this GINORMOUS Beach Bucket - you can earn up to 10 entries a day for your chance to win!

We're also giving away some weekly prizes - more details about that on Wednesday!

Tomorrow, we'll begin sharing our authors' answers to this:

Tell us your FAVORITE VACATION ever.

That's our theme for this week, so readers, share YOUR own favorite vacation in the comments here and/or on any post this week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recap of this week's posts:

Beach Party Bingo
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 1
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 2
Let's Play Bingo!
Authors' Favorite Vacations - Part 3