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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A friend, a book and giving back

Writers write and writers read. I love doing both. What's super cool is when I have the privilege of reading as well as writing an endorsement for a friend's book. And I had the great honor of doing that for author Mike Dellosso.

What I only alluded to in my endorsement for The Hunted, I'll fill out a little for you all. This "spine-tingling tale" held me hostage in my basement office because I was too involved in the story and too scared to walk upstairs and catch some z's. The story, its characters and themes also stayed on my mind long after I finished reading.

I'll say one more thing about Mike before we jump into a more detailed look at Mike, The Hunted and links to learn more.

Mike is battling the beast of cancer. And one of the biggest things I hope will happen with his tour besides tons of readers becoming fans is that tons and tons of folks will lift up Mike, Jen and their three little girls. So please join me in praying for the Dellosso family.

Meet Mike:

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted, was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years, has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets, and has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters.

Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity. To read more about Mike’s journey into writing, check out Mike Dellosso's website.

Mike can also be found blogging at Wide-eyed fiction. A visit there is a journey into the heart of a man who loves the Lord.

You can also check out Mike's first chapter. Just be sure to keep an extra flashlight handy!

Step into the story of The Hunted:

A town’s deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith…

Joe Saunders is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the brutal mauling of his nephew.

Police Chief Maggie Gill is determined to protect her family’s deadly secret.

But neither is prepared for the truth lurking in the shadows of Dark Hills.

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible.

But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence. As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God’s hands.

Praise for The Hunted:

A great first book from an exciting new author! A vicious enemy, a family secret, a thirst for revenge, and a need for reconciliation all drive The Hunted from intriguing beginning to thrilling conclusion. Skillful prose and great storytelling make Mike Dellosso a writer to watch. I can’t wait for his next book!
—Kathryn Mackel, author of Vanished

Mike Dellosso delivers a spine-tingling tale of hidden secrets, buried hopes and second chances. Interwoven through page-turning drama is the truth about vengeance and the triumph of God’s mysterious ways. The Hunted is a story best read with all the lights on and an extra flashlight handy–just in case!
—Amy Wallace, author of Ransomed Dreams

Something’s coming for you… and you might not be able to stop it. Read this someplace safe as you experience the incredibly descriptive world of The Hunted through the vivid writing and spine-tingling imagination of Mike Dellosso. And sleep with the lights on.
—Austin Boyd, author of the Mars Hill Classified trilogy

With hints of Frank Peretti and Stephen King, The Hunted is a chilling debut. Author Mike Dellosso is certain to make his mark in Christian fiction.
—Creston Mapes, author of Nobody

Mike Dellosso’s pins and needles thriller hurtles the reader down a dark and twisted path. Flickers of faith light the way, and fateful decisions determine the outcome of a horrifying climax. I dare you to take this one home!
—Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of the To Catch a Thief suspense series

From page one The Hunted grabbed me by the collar and wouldn’t let go. Full of intrigue, supernatural undertones, and true to life characters, I highly recommend this superb debut novel.
—C.J. Darlington, Co-founder & Book Editor,

. . . The Hunted places Dellosso on the list of authors to keep your eye on.
—Vannessa Ng, Aotearoa Editorial Service

A peek inside Mike:

Tell us a little bit about your family.

I’ve been married to my lovely and supportive wife, Jen, for 10 years. We’ve been blessed with three daughters ages 5, 6, and 8. All fun-loving, sweet-spirited, and of course always well-behaved (ahem).

What do you like to do when you’re not working, writing (which is work!), churching, or familysizing?

Read and fool around with my website. Oh, I also mow the lawn, trim the hedges, paint the porch, replace rotted boards, and all that other fun stuff homeowners do to pass the time away. Actually, I’m pretty boring (except when Toby Mac is in the CD player).

Tell us about when your cancer diagnosis.

Yeah, cancer. Kind of a big thing. I was diagnosed on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Here I was getting ready to launch into trying my hand at promoting my new book and in the middle of negotiating a contract for a second book when the doctor dropped the bomb: You have colon cancer.

Funny thing is, I don’t remember ordering colon cancer. Not part of my plans at all.

How has cancer affected your writing?

How has it affected my writing? Well, immediately, it’s halted my writing. With the exception of daily journaling on my blog, I haven’t written a lick since being diagnosed. I love to write, it’s my passion, but this cancer thing trumps it.

I took this diagnosis as a nudge from God that I need to set writing aside for a little while and just concentrate on the most important things: my relationship with Him and my relationship with my family. Sometimes it takes something like cancer to refocus you, to get you to evaluate your life and do a little re-prioritizing.

In the long run, I think the experience of traveling through this valley will only enhance my writing, give it more depth, more texture, more emotion and passion. I know firsthand what it’s like to traverse that Valley of the Shadow of Death, to question Why me?, to be scared of dying, not for dying’s sake but for my family’s sake, to live with a monster inside me that wants to kill me (hey, that gives me a great story idea), to be poked, prodded, scoped, and stuck, to live a life that revolves around the next test result or the next doctor’s appointment. I’ve been there now and I can incorporate those experiences into my stories, into the life of my characters. It’ll be interesting to see how my writing changes once I get back to it.

What has cancer taught you?

One thing I’ve learned is to fully rely on God, to willingly submit myself and put my life in His hands. And of course, this carries over into my writing as well. We writers never know where the next contract is coming from or how much the next royalty check will be for, or even how the next story will unfold, if there is a next story. We are constantly at His mercy, and I’m learning that’s a good place to be.

Where did you get your idea for The Hunted?

The idea for The Hunted came from the internet. I was surfing one day just looking for ideas or something to spark my imagination and get the wheel churning when I came across this story of a small town in Indiana that reported lion sightings back in the 1920’s. Several of the townsfolk said they saw an African lion in the fields surrounding the town. A couple cows were mauled and eaten. Then the sightings just stopped. No one knows where the lion came from or where it went. I thought it was a pretty neat idea and ran with it. Story born. Happy birthday!

What are some of the underlying themes in The Hunted?

Themes are something else, aren’t they? An author can write a story expecting to convey one message and then, when the book’s done, look back and find he’s actually conveyed several messages and none are the one he intended. And then someone can read the book and get something out of it totally different from what the author thought he conveyed.

So, here’s what I think the themes are, what I wanted the themes to be when I wrote the book (whether anyone actually finds these themes is another story entirely, and I’m okay with that, really I am, as long as they get something meaningful out of it).

One theme is the idea of not putting God in a box, of letting Him be God, letting Him work in your life and do some miraculous things. I think too often we put a leash on God and tell Him what He’s allowed and not allowed to do. That’s not our place. God can do anything He wants to do. He’s the one in charge, remember?

Okay, enough of that. The second theme is the danger of a vengeful heart. Vengeance is a powerful thing; I think that’s why God said He’d take care of it. In the hands of mere mortals, it’s a deadly poison, able to consume a man and turn him into a monster. Revenge is not something we should try to harness. We have no business playing with that fire. In The Hunted we see the end result of a vengeful heart unbound.

Lastly, there’s the theme of forgiveness and acceptance and redemption. Beautiful things we experience from the heart our Heavenly Father and pass on to others.

What is one thing writing has taught you about God?

I think part of being made in the image of God is our desire to create. I experience great joy by bringing people to life, forming a world for them to live in and things for them to do. Putting them in a situation where there is no easy out and watching how they react. I can only imagine the fun God must have had creating this world. What a wonderful thought, the Creator at play.

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?

God’s done so much for me. He loves me while I am so unlovable. Lifted me up out of that miry clay, wrapped His arms around me, and set my feet on solid ground. Made me a new creation and gave me a new life. I’m so undeserving of His love, and yet He so willingly and freely gives it. Why wouldn’t I want to give all of me back to Him?

And that includes my writing. God’s given me a gift and I want to give it back to Him to be used for His service, His Kingdom. I hope and pray my writing and my stories impact people on a spiritual level, if they don’t then I will feel like I’ve somehow failed. Really, when life is all said and done, when we get rid of all the materialism and ambition and rat race stuff, isn’t our sole purpose to glorify God? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Really? That’s what I want to accomplish with my writing . . . to just glorify God and let Him take care of the rest.

To learn more about Mike, hop on The Hunted blog tour~ don't forget to keep the lights on!

A Peek at My Bookshelf
Alien Dream
An Author’s Life
Artistic Blogger
Behind the Mountain
Blog Tour Spot
Camy’s Loft
Canadian Prairie Writer
Chatter Matters
Dee’s Christian Fiction
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Good Word Editing
Heart Chocolate
His Reading List
Home-Steeped Hope
In the Dailies
Kells Creative Musings
Life in the Midst of Writing
Life with Missy
Light for the Writer’s Soul
Margaret Daley
Mommy Come Lately
My Cup 2 Yours
My Name is Michael Snyder
Not Just Romance but a Love Story
Notes in the Key of Life
Novel Journey
One Day
Penning Prose
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted
Real Women Scrap
Refresh My Soul
Relevant Blog
Savvy ReViews
See Ya On the Net
Terri’s Treasures
The Book Beat
The Law, Books and Life
The Surrendered Scribe
The Suspense Zone
The Write Message
wandering, wonderings of a whacked-out woman
Windows to My Soul
Wisdom Walk
Writing Career Coach
Writing on the Edge

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Looking for a great summer read?

Well...I've got a laugh-out-loud book that's sure to please. And a giveaway copy to jump start someone's summer fun.

SKID by Rene Gutteridge is my favorite Occupational Hazzard novel yet! And I totally enjoyed Scoop and Snitch. Rene is a master at comedic writing and creating fascinating characters you'd love to chat with over cofee.

As a homeschool mom, I quickly fell in love with the Hazzard family, homeschoolers that turn sterotypes on their heads. They are where Old School meets New School meets Homeschool and laughter abounds. But you don't have to be a homeschooler to get a kick out of the Hazzard family and their zany adventures.

Each Occupational Hazzard novel focuses on one of the Hazzard children as they set out to discover their place in the career world. What readers find will be lots of laughs, characters to care about and plenty of things to think over when the last page is turned.

So without further ado... here's a little about Rene and her newest novel, SKID.

About the Author:

Rene Gutteridge is the author of twelve novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, and the novelization for The Ultimate Gift, as well as Scoop and Snitch, the first two Occupational Hazard novels. She lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

About the Book:

Come Fly The Frenzied Skies!

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests–prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline–test the limits of the crew’s customer service.

But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.

Ready to relax, read and laugh out loud? If so, leave me a comment and I'll get a copy of SKID flying your way!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day - Remember

As you enjoy pools, picnics and a day off work, I hope you'll remember to pray for the veterans and the families of those who have given their lives for freedom. Also for the men and women serving our country right now.

My grandfather died in World War 2. My dad is a veteran who proudly served our country in Desert Storm. So to my family and to all the men and women and their families who have served and are serving us well...THANK YOU!

Remember Our Veterans

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
who has given us the right to vote.

It is the VETERAN,who serves under the Flag.

Freedom isn't free. Please remember to pray for our VETERANS and those serving our country today!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sun, sand and books- oh, my!

Ahhhh... the ocean. After a week of body surfing, swimming and splashing in the ocean, I'm semi-sad to be back home. But only semi. See, I'm not a beach girl. I truly despise the sand, and sun with a burn is not my friend.

But I love the water. Especially, the emerald coast. Add a good book to that and I'm enjoying a taste of heaven.

During this year's beach trip, I did something I've never done before... Here's a picture to illustrate.

Unfortunately, the reason I've never enjoyed reading a great book on the beach is because I'm usually catching waves and splashing around with my family. Or I'm making sure said waves don't drown my children or nefarious sharks attack and drag my kids away.

I'm happy to report none of the negative, over-active imaginations happened.

I did however finish two books on our vacation and start a third. I finished Death, Deceit and some Smooth Jazz while staying up waaayyy to late. Always do with Claudia Mair Burney's books. She's just that good. I'd highly recommend dancing with some smooth Jazz and cheering Bell on as she slides into sleuthing one more time.

The second book I finished is Sharon Hinck's The Restorer's Journey. Another amazing story told with beautiful and thought-provoking skill. I laughed, cried and worshipped the One as I read this third book in the Sword of Lyric series.

Here's a blurb about The Restorer's Journey:

Back in our world with her teenage son, Jake, in tow, suburban mom Susan Mitchell is ready for life as usual. But when a foreign threat invades their comfortable home, Susan and Jake soon find themselves drawn back through the portal to the world of the People of the Verses. Now she will struggle to love a people who have become her captors, while Jake suffers a tragic betrayal and discovers his destiny as the next Restorer.

Filled with adventure, warmth, and humorous asides, the Sword of Lyric series offers readers an exciting reading experience unlike any other.

So there's two more books to add to your summer reading list~ both receive my HIGHEST recommendations!

And coming this week and next... two giveaways not to be missed. I'll be sharing my thoughts on Skid and Fatal Deduction along with the chance to win copies of both.

Happy Summer Reading!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Excuse number 101 for not blogging...

Have you missed me? I've been reading, critiquing, radio interviewing, blog touring and trying to catch a few zzzz's along the way.

At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

But I wanted to let you all know a few of the books I'll be sharing here soon with some awesome giveaways. Plus, a sneak peek at what I'll be taking to the beach to read and relax...

Coming up the end of May is the super fun and funny book SKID by Rene Gutteridge. I'll be sharing my thoughts and giving away a copy of this awesome summer read.

Next, I'll be reading and giving away two copies of FATAL DEDUCTION by Gayle Roper. I loved her Seaside Seasons books and am looking forward to her newest suspense.

And here are the books that I'm packing in my suitcase..

Death, Deceit and some smooth Jazz by Claudia Mair Burney. I LOVE Claudia and her amazing Amanda Bell Brown mysteries. Claudia can write! And I'm looking forward to spending some time with Bell and Jazz while the ocean waves soothe and Claudia's story keeps me up waaaayyy to late. Like four AM late. Yep, that's how good these books are!

The second book I'm taking with me is by my all-time favorite author, Sharon Hinck. I'm finally able to kick back and read her amazing third Restorer book: The Restorer's Journey. I started reading and had to force myself to step away from the book so I could actually homeschool this week and get some work done. It's not just kids who get summeritis. ;-)

Hope this makes up for my recent silence. ;-) Give yourself a sweet treat and enjoy a great book!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hanging out with the FBI in DC

I spent this past week in writer euphoria as my family and I toured Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. And to the many folks praying for me not to get arrested by trying to slip into the FBI building ~ thank you.

God heard and I'm arrest free. ;-)

But I did walk by the Hoover building often and enjoyed a few writer "moments." My kids thought I was a little loopy. But I couldn't help getting giddy thinking, "This is where Steven, Clint and Michael actually walked!"

Okay, I do know they didn't actually walk there, but still. It was a good "moment."

Tuesday, the day I got up the nerve to have my picture taken in front of the FBI building, started with a series of unfortunate events. First, our White House tour was cancelled. Then we morphed into walking robots and took in so many sights my head is still spinning. There were also some "lost" moments where maps were studied and I tried to put on a brave face and just keep walking, hoping we'd end up somewhere safe.

After that, I paced in front of the FBI building like a lost puppy, begging for a peek inside.

That I did not get.

But what came next made up for it.

On a whim, my husband suggested we take a different street to head back to the car. And there before us~ just a few blocks from the FBI building~ was a Borders bookstore. My husband suggested we go in.

I hesitated. What if my books aren't there? That would so stink.

But in we went.

And not only was my book there....multiple copies were on a face-out, eye-level special shelf!!!! RIGHT NEAR THE FBI BUILDING!!!

I did a jig, my kids rolled their eyes and my hubby snapped a picture.

It was a "moment" of pure bliss.

And the manager asked me to sign their stock to boot. In my mind's eye, I was walking down red carpet and waving. ;-)

But God wasn't finished with His little surprises and funny shuffling of my itinerary.

The next day, we had a rescheduled White House tour and ended up behind a huge group of eighth graders and in front of another group of folks. Things got all mixed up and everyone had to move to yet another line.

When that happened, we ended up behind one person we'd spoken to with the eighth grade field trip and in front of a very friendly older couple. My kiddos struck up a conversation and soon this couple asked about the book my husband was holding.

The book I'd sort of ridiculously hoped I'd be able to leave for President Bush.

Between my kids' excited chatter about my writing and my husband handing out my business cards like candy, tons of folks were excited about the Defenders of Hope stories.

It was another "moment."

Needless to say, I didn't get to leave my copy of Healing Promises at the White House. But one of the ladies from the eighth grade tour group was so excited to see me after the tour and asked if I'd left the book. It was so sweet how much she'd hoped I'd get to do that.

We chatted a little and then I joined my family again. But God had another surprise and nudged me to go back to this kind woman and give her the book.

I did.

She nearly cried and called to all of the other teachers and parents, telling them about both of my books and that I'd given her a copy. Seeing her face and how much joy that little offering gave reminded me of why I write and that God has so much more in store than I can imagine.

I came home super charged that I'd actually rubbed elbows with real, live FBI heroes and walked in the footsteps of my characters.

Even more, that God's shuffling of my plans on multiple days resulted in a special God-kiss of knowing Healing Promises is hanging out right down the road from the FBI.

Most of all, I saw God do what I've prayed He'd do through every book~ encourage hearts and draw people closer to Him.

That was the best "moment" of all~ sensing His smile as I enjoyed the God-kisses and needed reminders He'd planned long before I stepped foot in DC.

So a special thanks to all of you who prayed. God showed up and filled me to overflowing with the sights, experiences and fun we had during our week away.

And maybe next trip I'll figure out a way inside the FBI fortress.... completely legally, of course!
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