Author Chat with Sarah Pekkanen (author of Opposite Of Me)

It’s not really anything new for me to say I am super excited to sit and chat with an author of a book I have adored, but this particular author is always going to hold a special place in my heart for the incredible experience I had with her.  Sarah was the author who had the BEA Giveaway for the trip to New York in May, which I was beyond excited (and it still kind of takes my breath away to think of it) to win.  *Squeee*

Sarah was a delight to meet in New York and spent time with her at Simon and Schuster, and also at the Book Blogger Reception.  I am honored and delighted to have her here today, so with no further ado, please welcome Sarah Pekkanen.

Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah, before we get to chatting – how do you take your coffee?

Sarah:  With lots of cream and sugar – like a dessert!

You know I have been on cloud nine since I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and hang out with you a bit in New York during BEA.  Could you please share with me a little bit about the idea behind the BEA contest you had?

Sarah:  Absolutely! I came up with the idea because before my book came out, I learned how difficult it was for debut novels to get noticed. People aren’t reading so much anymore, I kept hearing. Then I began reading book blogs, and I realized how much bloggers are doing to support the publishing industry. They’re getting folks excited about books again. As more and more newspapers fold and authors lose the chance to have their books reviewed in print, bloggers are stepping into the breach, reviewing books, chatting them up, and generally keeping all of us authors afloat! My novel got such a warm welcome from book bloggers, who reviewed it and let me hold giveaways on their sites, that I wanted to say thank you in some small way.

I was planning on attending BEA/BCC and when Trish Collins of told me the organizers of BBC were collecting prizes for a raffle, I came up with the idea of paying for one blogger’s trip to the convention. I mentioned it to my editor, and asked if I could bring the winner blogger along with another raffle winner to Atria Books for a tour, and she loved the idea. Trust me, publishers are just as appreciative of book bloggers as we authors are!

Sarah, what would you consider to be one of your all time favorite books and why?

Sarah:  Oh, just one? So hard to pick! I’d have to say In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. It’s funny, poignant, captivating… and it’s the kind of book I want to write.

Which of course brings me to your book, The Opposite Of Me.  I really enjoyed the read and I seen Kathy (Bermuda Onion) really did as well.  How did the idea of this book come to be and was it the original idea or was it tweaked along the way?

Sarah:  Originally I had four sisters woven through my plot, but during the writing process, my original idea was reshaped and refined. I’d say the basic structure of my original idea remained intact, but during the rewriting process, lots of smaller changes popped up.

In The Opposite of Me we have two fraternal twins, Alex and Lindsey.  When developing these characters, is there one you favored more over the other?  Do these characters represent anyone – or pieces of anyone, in your life?

Sarah:  I think I felt a bit more sympathy for Lindsey, because she feels like the underdog. Although there are bits and pieces of people I know in the characters – maybe a gesture or a funny line of dialogue – they are truly fictional.

Sarah, I too had a heart for Lindsey, you wrote her well.   I told you that I had cried at the acknowledgment in the back of your book.  I thought it was so touching.  Would you share a little bit about how that was to write?

Sarah:  The acknowledgments were surprisingly easy – I just wrote what was in my heart. Seeing a book published is a bit like having a baby born – you just feel so emotional and teary and happy, all at once. And thank you for those kind words!

So Sarah, I am just dying to know – what is coming out next?  I know there is a book, I seen it pre published.  What will this one be about?

Sarah:  Skipping a Beat, my second book is the story of high school sweethearts named Michael and Julia who flee their small, poor hometown in West Virginia and move to Washington, D.C. Now in their mid-thirties, they’re living a rarified life in their multi-million dollar home. But then one day, Michael collapses in his office. For four minutes and eight seconds – until he is revived with a portable defibrillator –  he is clinically dead. And when he wakes up, he’s a totally different man. My main character, Julia, has three weeks to decide if she wants to stay with her husband or leave him.

Ooh!  That sounds wonderful!  When can we expect to see this book on the shelves?

Sarah:  It’s already up on with a publication date of Feb. 22 – which seems so soon!

What is happening now in your life?

Sarah:  I have a contract for another book which is due May 1, so as soon as I wrap up a few smaller projects, I’ll be diving into that manuscript. I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in a new plot.

Sarah, please share with me and my readers one little known fact about yourself.  It’s kind of tradition around here.

Sarah:  I was rejected as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune! It’s so unfair, because I’m actually really good at solving puzzles. Sometimes I can even do it with no letters showing. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I was rejected?

Thank you Sarah so much for your time!  I really enjoyed chatting with you and will be watching for your upcoming book!

Sarah:  It was a pleasure, Sheila, and I hope to see you again soon! I’d love it if any readers would like to friend me on Facebook or visit my website at, where I hold giveaways every month for a new book.

Sarah Pekkanen and I at the Book Blogger Convention

Be sure to sign up for a chance to win a signed copy of Sarah’s book – Opposite Of Me

Author Chat: Kay Cassidy (Author of The Cinderella Society)

Lets see… before we get started today let me take you back to late last fall.  I am not sure if you remember all the squeals of excitement over here that was related to my reading of The Cinderella Society, but there were squeals… trust me…. it was very girly here.  And a little pink.

So now, here we are about 6 months after I have read the book and I am about to introduce you to the amazing author of this book, Kay Cassidy.  Why now?  Because Kay’s book just went on the retail shelves this past week!  Now that her book is available to the public, I wanted to bring her over to Book Journey and see what all that excitement tastes like.

So please with no further ramblings by me, please welcome Kay Cassidy.

This morning I am sipping  on a steaming hot cup of mocha latte with no whip. and Kay what will you be having?

Kay:  I’m a big tea drinker, actually, so I’m having my usual mandarin orange decaf green tea with honey.  I do love the smell of your coffee though.  (Kay inhales deeply and sighs.)  If only coffee tasted as good as it smelled.

Things have been pretty crazy lately as you have prepared for the release of the book.  How would you describe the last month?

Kay:  Oh wow, it really has.  The last month has been a roller coaster.  Huge ups, crazy downs… I’m so grateful for my family who reminds me what is truly important in life.  And for my friends who make me laugh when I need it most.  🙂  Now that the book has officially been out in the world for the week, what I’m feeling is pure and simple gratitude.  The chaotic part is mostly over and I can finally take a moment to go, “Hey, I wrote a book!” 🙂

What was the idea behind Cinderella Society?

Kay:  The idea was to create a secret society of good populars dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world.  I’m always puzzled by how often the popular kids are depicted as being horrible in fiction.  This wasn’t true in my high school.  Sure, there are always kids who will use their popularity for personal gain, but most of the popular kids I knew (and know now) are popular because people genuinely like them.

I always wanted to take that fight global by introducing them to the world’s most powerful women.  Which I think would’ve been seriously cool when I was in high school.  And now too.  😉

I love that, and loved that concept when I read the book as well.  What do you hope that readers will get out of this book?

Kay:  I hope readers realize that the most important things you can learn early on in life are to be comfortable in your own skin and to be true to who you are.  It’s when we harbor bad feelings about how we look or veer off the path we believe we should take (because someone else thinks another path would be better for us) that life can get needlessly complicated.  Easy is good – follow your heart!  🙂

Love the message!  Can you give a few hints on the second book… I seriously won’t tell anyone. 😉

Kay:  Right now I’m working on the sequel to The Cinderella Society, titled Cindy on a Mission.  It follows the further adventures of Jess and the Sisters as the Wickeds launch an offensive that threatens everything the Cindys hold dear. Cindy on a Mission will be on shelves in Spring 2011.

OOH!  That is exciting!  I am marking my calendar now!  What I really want to know…. what was release day like?

Kay:  I followed the advice of my friends and did something fun on release day.  I had lunch with a friend (with cupcakes to celebrate!) and just enjoyed the gorgeous sunny day we had.  She convinced me we should go to a local Books-a-Million to see if the book was on the shelf yet.  It was and it was completely amazing seeing it there on the shelf amidst my favorite books.  We took pictures of each other with it and the gal working was so lovely about having me sign them.  And then Team Cindy planned a Twitter launch party, so I tweeted it up with friends old and new for seven solid hours!  I was completely exhausted by the end of the day, but in the best possible way.

I like to ask each author I interview to share one little known thing about themselves (it could be a little known talent, a trip you went on, a funny happening…)

Kay:  I am a ridiculously bad cook.  You know how some people joke that they could burn water?  I’m pretty sure I could burn air.  Even though I’m very organized and detailed-oriented in other areas of my life, I dissolve into a puddle of incompetence in the kitchen.  I’m terrible at timing dishes to come out at the same time, so me putting together a special dinner is cause for celebration.  Me putting together a special dinner that a) is not burned, b) does not have any food that is cold or congealed by serving time, and c) does not irreversibly damage anyone’s tastebuds is a miracle of biblical proportions.  And cause for me to reward myself with something nice like more awesome YA books.  Or a pony.

Kay, this has been a blast having you here today!  Thank you for stopping in and chatting!   Readers, feel free to leave Kay questions here – and be sure to check out The Cinderella Society as well as Kay’s super cool home on the web!

Author Chat with A.S. (Pete) Peterson (Author of The Fiddler’s Gun)

This past weekend I released to the blogosphere my ravings about the book The Fiddler’s Gun.  I had so much fun traveling through these pages that I had to see if I could chat a bit with the man behind the book.  Kindly, he said yes.  Please join us today over a cup of coffee -or tea, and welcome warmly, Pete Peterson, author of The Fiddler’s Gun.

So Pete, as long as we are in this virtual coffee shop…. how do you take your coffee?

Pete:  I’m actually more of a tea person. Which is a bit ironic I suppose since I do most of my writing in coffee shops. Right now I’ve got a tasty apple chai in front of me. They saw me drive up and had it waiting when I walked in the door, one of the awesome benefits of being a regular.

Pete, apple chai sounds good!  I am going to have to try that.  Please share a little bit about how the idea of The Fiddler’s Gun came to be.

Pete:  About ten years ago I decided that instead of wrapping Christmas presents up like a normal person that I’d lock them in treasure chests and bury them all over my parents farm. I drew a treasure map for everyone involved, gave them a skeleton key, and told them they were on their own. They had to solve the riddle on their map and dig up their presents on Christmas morning.

One of the riddles referred to a grave marker. I made the marker myself, a simple wooden cross, and meant to carve the name “Phineas Button” into it, for no particular reason. I didn’t realize until after I was finished carving the name that I’d misspelled it and left the ‘s’ off, turning it into a feminine name.
So that started the wheels turning. Who was this girl, Phinea Button, and why is she buried here and what does she have to do with all this treasure? A couple of weeks later my brother and I challenged ourselves to write books and made a bit of sibling rivalry out of trying to finish first. I won by a mile (even though his On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness was published first.)

So Fin’s story came out of that strange set of events.

Fin is such an interesting, full of life, character.   I think even the fact that she is a female in such a masculine type tale is intriguing.  Was there any reason behind that?

Pete:  It was really all born out of my stumbling onto the name. I tried to imagine why someone would name a daughter Phinea and it all flowed out of that. And early on I envisioned this young girl aboard a pirate ship, possibly even as its captain, and I wondered how such an unlikely thing could happen. That really interested me. I wanted to write a story that could explain, realistically, how a young woman, three hundred years ago, could accomplish such a thing. So I started researching the time period and discovered all sorts of interesting things. Like the legend of the Georgia War Woman, and real-life female pirates that disguised themselves as men for years, like Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. I tried to tie a lot of real history and folklore together into a single believable character.

I read in The Rabbit Room that your brother also has written a book.  When did you know you wanted to be writers?

Pete:  I think we’ve always wanted to write. He’s been telling stories as a songwriter for years and I’ve been writing in some form or other for as long as I can remember. But writing a book is a daunting task when you’ve never done it before (or even if you have) so I think it just took us a while to sneak up on the idea and finally say, “Yes, we are going to do this.” And we did. He’s published the first two books in his Wingfeather Saga ( and they are fantastic, kids go bananas over them. His imagination runs a completely different course than mine so I’m constantly amazed by his writing. He’s working on the third book in his series now.

Having recently finished The Fiddler’s Gun I am eager to see where The Fiddler’s Green will take us.  Will this book be the conclusion of the series?  When can we…ok, I, expect publication of this book?

Pete:  Yes, Fiddler’s Green will be the conclusion of Fin’s story. I can tell you that Fin and the crew will get to see the “Old World”, the Mediterranean, but I’m not promising that everyone will make it back. I like to think of The Fiddler’s Gun as a story about how Fin got lost. She really loses her way, I think, and makes some bad choices in the first book so that at the end, she’s become stronger, certainly, but not necessarily better. Fiddler’s Green is the story of Fin finding her way home, dealing with the consequences of who she’s become, and learning to resolve the conflicting facets of her nature into a whole that she can live with.Fiddler’s Green is about 2/3 done now. I hope to have it out this Christmas.

Woo hoo!  Christmas present!  What’s next for you as a writer?  Are there other ideas, other books in your future?

Pete:  I’ve got a couple more projects in the pipeline. After Fin’s story is finished I’m anxious to get back to work on a Young Adult book that I started last year and am really excited about. I’m also excited about growing the Rabbit Room Press, we’ve got a lot of great ideas that I look forward to bringing to life.

It is my tradition around here to ask those I chat with if they could share a little known fact about themselves.  How about it Pete?

Pete:  Hmmm, let’s see… I’ve been woodworking for almost as long as I’ve been writing, and throughout the process of writing The Fiddler’s Gun I took up boatbuilding. I built two cedar canoes and half a sailboat as a means of nautical research. I also built my own violin which, along with a replica of a Spanish blunderbuss, now resides in a handmade case in my living room. Whether or not there’s a hidden map to be found, well, that’s a secret.

Oh, I hope there is a hidden map!  Thank you so much Pete for the brilliant book, and for your time!

Pete:  Thank you, Sheila. It’s been a pleasure.

Be sure to check out more information about The Fiddler’s Gun, The Author, and The upcoming release of The Fiddler’s Green (as well as a pretty sweet promotional idea that could get you an advanced copy!) here at

Author Chat With Jay Asher (Author of Thirteen reasons Why)

If you have been around here lately you probably have heard me gushing about the book Thirteen reasons Why.  If you have not read my review, I highly encourage you to do so!  Every once in a while a book really touches us, many times we do not even know why.  I am not sure it is the timing, or something just strikes  cord and you think yes.  This is a wonderful book.  That is where I am with this book.

Today I am overjoyed to welcome Jay Asher to the chat room to have a cup of coffee and share a little bit about the book and himself – please give a warm welcome to author, Jay Asher.

Welcome Jay!  I am always interested about the steps one takes to write a book.  When did you decide you wanted to write a book and what steps did you take to make it happen?

Jay:  I’d actually been trying to get books published for nine years before I began Thirteen Reasons Why.  Those other books were all humorous and for younger children.  Over those years, I joined a couple critique groups and attended as many writing conferences as I could.  I also entered every writing contest I could find, winning a few along the way, and some of them brought me in contact with agents and editors that later came in handy.  The community I found at the conferences and the confidence I gained by winning contests is what kept me going through all the rejection letters.

Even though I was only interested in writing funny books for kids, the concept of Thirteen reasons Why was too intriguing to ignore.  And, something that surprised me, writing never felt as natural as it did when I began working on my serious teen novel.  So I suppose it is a good idea to try new things!  After the three years that it took to write and polish the manuscript, I queried a few agents and only one showed interest.  She sent it out and we got a dozen rejections before three houses began bidding on it.  So be willing to try new things and don’t give up!

That is so exciting!  Three years, it always amazes me the time that goes into putting together a book.  Jay, Thirteen Reasons Why is a pretty deep book on teenage suicide.  What gave you the idea to write a book on such a topic?

Jay:  The topic of suicide was important to me because a close relative attempted suicide when she was a junior in high school, just like Hannah in my book.  That occurred many years before I even considered writing for teens, though.  Actually, I’d only read maybe five teen novels before I began working on my own.  I was just itching to try a new type of writing, so I thought about writing a suspenseful book for teens.  That’s all I knew I wanted to do.  And then the concept hit me.  A girl records her reasons for committing suicide onto a bunch of audio cassettes and the reader follows one boy as he listens to the tapes to find out where his name pops up.  Because of my personal understanding of this issue, when the idea came to me, I wasn’t afraid to work on it.  In fact, I thought it was something I should work on because our society has such a hard time discussing this very real problem.

The voice of Hannah after the suicide echos throughout the pages of the book by the way of cassette tapes.  This is a unique way to present the story.  How did this come about?

Jay: I had the idea for doing a sort of “audiotour book” for several years before I found the right story for it.  In Las Vegas, I took an audiotour of a mock-up of King Tut’s tomb.  It was my first audiotour, and when it was over, I immediately thought, “That would be an awesome way to format a novel.”  But I thought it was such a unique storytelling device, I didn’t want to waste it on a story where the structure was just a gimmick.  It needed to enhance the story.  Having Clay’s immediate reactions to Hannah’s recorded words was, I thought, the perfect way to tell her story.

I agree.  The way the book was written and Clay’s thoughts coming through as he listened really put me as the reader, in the moment.  Was there a part of the book that was harder to write?

Jay:  There were the usual struggles of trying to keep things moving and interesting.  But the part which made me the most nervous to write was the hot tub scene.  Again, I’d spent nine years writing manuscripts for young children.  I wasn’t used to writing anything with sexual overtones, and there wasn’t going to be anything “overtone” about that scene.  I knew that scene was extremely important in getting across the full arc of Hannah’s emotional slide, so it wasn’t a scene I could get around.  As well, I thought the reader needed to be uncomfortable while reading it in order to really grasp what was going on.  Once I began working on it, I just let myself get into “honest writer mode” and went for it.  But the fifty or so pages leading up to that scene made me a nervous wreck.  “Forty more pages until the hot tub scene.”  “Fifteen more pages.”  “The next page!”  It turns out, not only was that scene important for the story, but it was important to a lot of my readers.  I’ve had several girls thank me for writing that scene and letting others know what going through something like that is emotionally like.

Jay that is so funny you bring that up!  On my review under the spoiler link, I go into quite a bit of detail about that scene.  It did exactly what you say here you wanted it to, it made me uncomfortable.  At the same time, I understood it was necessary to show the changes in Hannah.  As I explained to a friend of mine while I was once again gushing about this book, this part of the book has to happen so the reader can understand that Hannah is giving up and letting go of who she is.

Is there a message within this book that you are hoping comes through to the readers?

Jay: It’s just another book about The Golden Rule.  It’s about the ripple effect of decisions, sometimes small decisions, made by people not following The Golden Rule.  As Hannah says, “You never know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own.”  And that’s why it’s important to always be conscious of how we treat others.  At the same time, Hannah isn’t without fault.  She pushed people away.  She made bad decisions.  I thought it was also important for people to notice times when Hannah didn’t do herself any favors.

Is there another book in the planning?

Jay:  Yes.  Later.  And not much.  (Tee-hee!)

Ok, the tee hee cracked me up a bit!  Thirteen Reasons Why has won awards.  What are some of those awards?

Jay: It’s won some state awards that were voted on by teens, which makes those my absolute favorite awards.  The California Book Award was a huge honor.  For that, I got to stand behind a podium and give an acceptance speech with Michael Chabon and Khaled Hosseini in the front row.  And I made them laugh!!!

I like to ask each author I chat with if they could share one little known fact about themselves for my readers.

Jay:  I once dressed-up as a werewolf for Halloween.  I think I was in sixth grade.  It was a very elaborate costume where I used a special glue to attach strips of fake fur to my face and arms and legs.  I actually slept in the fur because I got home so late, but I had a basketball game the next day so I woke up early to start peeling the stuff off.  That’s what the glue bottle said.  “Peels right off.”  But it didn’t.  My mom used rubbing alcohol, warm water, and lots of tugging.  We finally got most of it off before the game, but I had to keep my left sock pulled up high to cover the remaining fur around my ankle.  But I still love Halloween!  And werewolves!!!

Great story Jay!  Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing about Thirteen Reasons Why.  I am very curious as to what you have coming up next and would like to tell my readers that this is an author to watch!   If you have not read Thirteen reasons Why I highly recommend that you do!

Author Chat: Michelle Moran (and a chance for a signed copy of her new book!)

I am so excited to bring to you today a conversation I had with a wonderful author.   She is the author of Cleopatra’s Daughter, The Heretic’s Queen, and Nefertiti.  Please welcome Michelle Moran!

Michelle, thank you so much for offering to chat with me today about what is going on in your life and about your newest book, Nefertiti!  I adore historical fiction reads and know that you have traveled to many wonderful areas of the world that helped lay out the ground work for these books.  Would you share a little of how these travels turned into the wonderful books you have published today?

Michelle: My travels to archaeological sites around the world have been enormously influential in my writing career. In fact, my inspiration to write on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti happened while I was on an archaeological dig in Israel. During my sophomore year in college, I found myself sitting in Anthropology 101, and when the professor mentioned that she was looking for volunteers who would like to join a dig in Israel, I was one of the first students to sign up. When I got to Israel, however, all of my archaeological dreams were dashed (probably because they centered around Indiana Jones). There were no fedora wearing men, no cities carved into rock, and certainly no Ark of the Covenant. I was very disappointed. Not only would a fedora have seemed out of place, but I couldn’t even use the tiny brushes I had packed. Apparently, archaeology is more about digging big ditches with pickaxes rather than dusting off artifacts. And it had never occurred to me until then that in order to get to those artifacts, one had to dig deep into the earth. Volunteering on an archaeological dig was hot, it was sweaty, it was incredibly dirty, and when I look back on the experience through the rose-tinged glasses of time, I think, Wow, was it fantastic! Especially when our team discovered an Egyptian scarab that proved the ancient Israelites had once traded with the Egyptians. Looking at that scarab in the dirt, I began to wonder who had owned it, and what had possessed them to undertake the long journey from their homeland to the fledgling country of Israel.

On my flight back to America I stopped in Berlin, and with a newfound appreciation for Egyptology, I visited the museum where Nefertiti’s limestone bust was being housed. The graceful curve of Nefertiti’s neck, her arched brows, and the faintest hint of a smile were captivating to me. Who was this woman with her self-possessed gaze and stunning features? I wanted to know more about Nefertiti’s story, but when I began the research into her life, it proved incredibly difficult. She’d been a woman who’d inspired powerful emotions when she lived over three thousand years ago, and those who had despised her had attempted to erase her name from history. Yet even in the face of such ancient vengeance, some clues remained.

As a young girl Nefertiti had married a Pharaoh who was determined to erase the gods of Egypt and replace them with a sun-god he called Aten. It seemed that Nefertiti’s family allowed her to marry this impetuous king in the hopes that she would tame his wild ambitions. What happened instead, however, was that Nefertiti joined him in building his own capital of Amarna where they ruled together as god and goddess. But the alluring Nefertiti had a sister who seemed to keep her grounded, and in an image of her found in Amarna, the sister is standing off to one side, her arms down while everyone else is enthusiastically praising the royal couple. From this image, and a wealth of other evidence, I tried to recreate the epic life of an Egyptian queen whose husband was to become known as the Heretic King.

Michelle, your travels just fascinate me!  I would love to explore archeological sites!
I am curious, of your three books Michelle, was there one that was harder to write than the others?

Michelle: Actually, I think all three came with their own challenges. As a historical fiction author, it’s extremely important to me that the facts in the novel are correct. The research takes many, many months and a great deal of travel. That’s probably the most challenging part of each book.

The big news is about Target announcing Nefertiti as its book club pick. I love that!  Share a little what finding out about that was like. Don’t leave anything out… I want details!

Michelle: HA! Well, the day I found out we were waiting news from the NYT (they fax their List every Wednesday). Cleopatra’s Daughter had just been released and the numbers looked extremely good. So good, in fact, that we were hoping for a shot at the NYT List. It turns out that even though my third novel outsold some of the books on the List, it still didn’t make it (they don’t go strictly by which books have sold the most each week – it’s a secret formula). So I was moping around, feeling ten kinds of sorry for myself, when my editor called and said she had the president of Three Rivers Press on the phone. It turns out that of the thousands upon thousands of books they might have selected, Target had chosen NEFERTITI to be their next Book Club Pick. Well, that certainly made up for the NYT disappointment! It was one of the worst and best days of my career – all in one!

Oh wow!  I would be totally flipping out!  That is so exciting!  Michelle, I am just loving your books.  I am always so excited to see a new one come out and I am so excited to read Nefertiti for myself.  What is next for you?

Michelle: My next book will be about Madame Tussaud, who joined the gilded but troubled court of Marie Antoinette, and survived the French Revolution only by creating death masks of the beheaded aristocracy. I’m very excited about this novel, since Marie (the first name of Madame Tussaud) met absolutely everyone, from Jefferson to the Empress Josephine.

I always like to ask each author I interview to tell me something that is a little known fact about yourself.

Michelle: I play the harp. Not well – but I try!!

Michelle that you so much for stopping by and sharing a little bit of your life with us.  I am excited to read Nefertiti and looking forward to the next book as well!

Did I mention that Michelle has graciously offered one of my readers a signed copy of Nefertiti?  (Seriously, I even swooned a little!)  Here’s how you can you can enter for a chance at this great book:

Go to Michelle’s Travel Gallery and look at all the places she has traveled.  Then come back here and let me know in a comment which of these places you would love to see.  Blog or tweet about this giveaway and let me know on a separate comment for a bonus entry.  🙂  That’s it!

I will choose a winner on February 15th and your book will come directly from Michelle!

Michelle’s blog is here:
She has a second website here:

Author Chat with Becca Fitzpatrick (author of hush hush)

I am beyond excited today to be able to have this conversation with author, Becca Fitzpatrick.  Becca wrote the YA book hush, hush and she has agreed to take some time and join me here.

Please welcome Becca Fitzpatrick!

So Becca, thank you for taking the time to share a little with me and my readers about you and your wonderful book hush hush.  This being your first book, what was the idea that brought this story line together?

Becca:  I started writing HUSH, HUSH in 2003, after my husband enrolled me in a writing class for my birthday (I should add that he’s very creative when it comes to gifts). For one of the class assignments, my instructor asked me to write a scene “showing, not telling, humiliation.” Typically for these assignments, I wrote fictional pieces, but with this particular assignment, I was struck by the memory of something that happened to me in my tenth-grade biology class. My teacher had asked me, in front of the whole class, to name characteristics I’d want in a mate. It was really embarrassing. For those who’ve read HUSH, HUSH, you can probably guess exactly which scene in the book was the result of this writing assignment! Over the course of five years, that scene expanded into a chapter, then several chapters, then an entire book – HUSH, HUSH.

That is such a great memory!  Describe that feeling when you first knew your book is going to be published?

Becca: *Laughing*   I’m having a really hard time finding the words to describe the shock and euphoria of achieving a dream!   Even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious seems to fall a little short. After what probably amounted to close to one hundred rejections for HUSH, HUSH, I thought it would be a miracle if the book was published. And maybe it was a miracle. I find the whole thing was pretty miraculous!

Oh my gosh – that is fantastic.  You hear of so many authors that are rejected tim eand again and it just s takes that one person… well, here you are!  The title hush hush is fantastic.  How did you come up with this title and why is is in small letters?

Becca:  I’m not sure why it’s in small letters. You’ll have to ask Lucy Cummins at Simon & Schuster, the creative mind behind HUSH, HUSH’s cover design. I can say, however, that I love it! When I was searching for titles, I stumbled across the definition of the word hush in the dictionary. It means “to keep concealed.” I thought that was a perfect description of Patch and Nora’s relationship in this book. After all, he’s keeping quite a few things from her.

That is perfect!  To me the small “hush hush” makes me think of quiet…. like a secret.  What advice would you give someone who would like to write a novel?

Becca: I highly recommend keeping a journal, and writing in it daily. You never know when your own life experiences will inspire a story. Try not to procrastinate. Sometimes it can be tempting to think and plan and plot the novel, but never actually sit down to write it. The crazy thing is, most of the time, the plot and characters evolve during the writing process. And while this might seem a little repetitive, it bears repeating. READ. Read, read, read. It’s brain candy 🙂

Every Author I chat with I ask them to share one little known fact about themselves.

Becca: I played the clarinet in my high school marching band. After the halftime performance, I always sneaked off and went home. School spirit, right here!

That is seriously awesome!  I think that right there is a great scene for a book.  You are filled with great material!  Is there anything new and exciting coming up?

Becca: Lots of exciting things coming up! I’m going on tour for HUSH, HUSH during January and February. I’ll be in Texas, Arizona, and California. For a full lineup, visit my website at

Well Becca I am excited for the second book that is due out fall 2010!  Thank you so much for stopping by and hanging out with us here at One Persons Journey Through A World of Books!

My review of Hush Hush

My review on Amazon

Author Chat with Pam Cope (author of Jantsen’s Gift)

If you follow this blog you are probably aware of my recent gushing review of Jantsen’s Gift by Pam Cope. The book left me at times with laughter, other times with tears. Once I finished the book, I decided to try to email Pam Cope to see if she would be willing to answer a few questions for an interview that she could email me back the answers and I could post here. Instead, she emailed me back and asked if she could call me and we could talk about the book on the phone.

Uhhh….. YEAH!

So we set up a day and time last week when she was going to give me a call and she did.  We had a fantastic conversation and chatted like old friends for about an hour!  I think she interviewed me as much as I did her!  She kept asking about the work we have done in Honduras… and we even discussed my book club which by the picture on my sidebar here she had determined had to be quite the group!  I agreed, they are!  🙂

So with no further babbling and gushing by me…. please enjoy the following conversation I had with author, Pam Cope.

Pam, I am so excited that you have taken the time out of your busy schedule to chat here with me.  As you share in the book, this is about a total change of lifestyle for you.  Share with me a bit what creating the book, Jantsen’s Gift was like.

Pam:  Aimee was a great help with the book, she took so much of it having written other books before.  I really learned a lot from her.  On some of your travels Aimee and I were not together so we just kept journals of all that we were doing and seeing.  At one point I had seven journals that I turned over to Aimee… unedited logs that she was able to pick through.

Has this book been everything you had hoped it would be?

Pam:  It is hard being a first time author.  You really work hard to get your name out there.  I am so thankful tot he bloggers who have reviewed my book and talked about it.  These promotions have been so helpful!  It is fun to see the reviews coming through on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  It takes a lot of time, but this is what I do to get the word out.

What was the last trip you were on?

Pam:  All of us went to Ghana, west Africa in August.  This to us is family time.  We have a family camp sort of s etting.  We go to see an orphanage we have partnered with there.  This orphanage has 21 kids that have been taken off of the lake.  I will be going in back in January and March of 2010.

Pam, that is so amazing.  When I think about all those kids.  Well, you and I have already talked about this… I tear up. It rips me up inside to think about those kids.  In your book, I keep going back to when you describe the boy you had to leave behind on the lake.  That one statement haunts me.  I know he is one of many.  What is that like Pam, saying yes to one, but leaving another?

Pam:  It is so hard.  You have to remind yourself that you can only save so many.  You keep moving forward.  You keep being positive and doing what you can.  There are 7,000 kids on the lake right now.

How are the two children you did adopt, Van and Tatum?

Pam:  They are wonderful.  They have adjusted well.  We have had Van since he was 16 months old and Tatum since she was 2 1/2.  They are both in fifth grade right now.  They are so much fun to be around.

If there another book in the planning?

Pam:  We have talked about it.  Right now it is just a vision but I feel there is another book.  I am thinking it may be a book about people who are empowered to live out their dreams – like advocates for something, people who get to do what they really love to do.  I think it would be short stories about these people.  Something to the effect of what is that moment when we are launched into our passion… that dream that causes you to dig deeper.

Pam that sounds amazing!  Please keep me informed about that vision!  Before I close here I was wondering if there is anything you want to say about the Touch A Life Foundation.

Pam:  Of course!  We are currently very excited about a building project.  There are so many needs always.  I hope everyone will take a moment to check out the Touch a Life Foundation website.  Every donation, helps  a child.

Johannes, who was rescued off Lake Volta by Touch A Life in August 2009.

Pam thank you so much for talking with me and sharing more about your book Jantsen’s Gift and what you do to help children in extreme impoverish conditions.  Your book really spoke to me and I believe it will do the same for others as well.

Last Chance Rescue by Tracey Cramer-Kelly

When Brad Sievers runs into his old friend Jessie Van Dyke at his high school reunion, little does he know how much it will change his life. When his high-powered advertising career fizzles, he falls into a most unlikely career opportunity — becoming a member of Jessie’s search-and-rescue team. Nothing in his life has prepared Brad for this, but he finds it more fulfilling than a dozen advertising campaigns.

Through dangerous rescues and personal trials, Brad and Jessie become close friends. They share in the birth of her first colt from her rescued horse; Jessie helps Brad when one of his first rescues doesn’t make it. When one of their rescue victims turns out to be a fellow soldier from Jessie’s Iraq War days, Brad almost loses her to old demons. But when Brad is severely injured in a training accident, Jessie nurses him back to health as only she can. And when she goes missing one night, Brad realizes just how important she has become to him.

Both Brad and Jessie must fight their own defenses to finally let down the walls that will allow them to rescue each other. This is a story about breath-taking action and adventurous lives, and the heart that is behind it all.

An Author Chat with Author Tracey Cramer-Kelly

Tracey, What books have been an influence in your life?

There are so many that I can’t list specific ones. I like books with complex, more adult characters (Nicolas Sparks comes to mind); I am particularly fascinated by how a male character may change/be changed by events/situations (a major theme in Last Chance Rescue as well). I like unusual settings, but not to the point of unbelievability (which is why I did ride-alongs with a medevac team before I finished writing Last Chance Rescue). My ‘pet peeve’ is a book with too much ‘headhopping’ (constantly changing points of view).

What do you do when you are not writing?

I am wife and mother to two young children (2 and 6) and I enjoy spending time with them, especially outdoors. I ride my motorcycle as often as possible! I just started taking lessons for my fixed-wing pilot license (an ‘add-on’ to my helicopter license). I play the taiko drums every Saturday morning and sing with my friend’s band when I can. When I can get away, I enjoy skiing (all kinds) and white-water rafting/kayaking.

How did you come up with this topic for your book?

My writing is heavily influenced by the time I spent in the military and by the medical training I received there. And when I became a helicopter pilot, it opened new relationships with some amazing people—and Last Chance Rescue really came together after I did some ride-alongs with medevac and search-and-rescue.

Last Chance Rescue (a finalist in the 2009 Indie Awards) is about two people who must fight their own defenses to finally let down the walls that will allow them to rescue each other. It is a story about breath-taking search-and-rescue action and adventurous lives—and the heart that is behind it all.

If you could wish for anything, what would it be?

I’m pretty satisfied with where I am in life. But in terms of my writing … what the heck, if you’re going to dream, why not dream big? I would like my next novel to be picked up by an agent and publisher and become ridiculously popular—to the point there’s a bidding war for the movie rights (to BOTH novels) and I finally get to produce a musical (in which I would do the singing). 🙂

LOL Tracey.  That is an awesome response!  Thanks for visiting with us today!


Tracey will be giving away an autographed copy of her book “Last Chance Rescue” to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour and an autographed copy of her book to the tour host with the most comments, excluding duplicates or Tracey’s responses.


Author Chat with Jewell R. Powell

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to post my review of Marriage 101 by Jewell R. Powell.  I really enjoyed her insight into marriage and the book was a pleasure to read.  I asked Jewell if she would have a little time to join me here at One Person’s Journey Through Books and share a little bit about her book with us.

She said yes.  Please warmly welcome, Jewell R. Powell.

Jewell, I am so excited to have you here.  I enjoyed reading your book and found a couple…. errr, maybe more, things that I could apply into my own marriage.   What are some of the unrealistic expectations couples have today about marriage?

Jewell: Thank you Sheila, my answer to that question would be:

  • #1 Couples who are happy in their marriages, don’t have problems.
  • #2 Your spouse should be perfect with no imperfections.
  • #3 What we see on TV, read in fictional books and see in movies regarding relationships are real.
  • #4 Marriage should be easy, it shouldn’t require so much work.

What advice would you give to  husbands to improve their marriage?

Jewell: My husband says, “tell them not to think about the negative things going on in their marriage or else they will be angry most of the time.” I say, men must know they are ultimately responsible for the failure and/or success of their family. Men need to understand they are not only responsible to be head of their family but they are directly accountable to Christ. This enables him to get in position to hear directly from God concerning the will of God for their family. Lewis says that when we separated, although I was praying to God for our marriage, he was too.  The reconciliation would have not taken place, if he also wasn’t seeking God as to his family and what He should do.

What advice do you have for wives to improve their marriage?

Jewell: The biggest lesson for me was how I can honor God through my marriage. God taught me that to honor Him, I was to honor Lewis. Also, God created men with the need for respect from his wife, it’s the top of his list and he needs it almost as much as he needs air to breathe. When we value and respect someone, we invest ourselves in their care & and take the time to build up their feelings of self-worth. A man who doesn’t receive respect from his wife is a man who begins to deteriorate and so will the relationship. The kind of love & respect God is calling wives to have for their husbands is sacrificial and unconditional.

That’ s good advice.  I have read that before that while women find the most important thing is to feel loved, to a man the most important thing is to be respected.  What would you say to that person who is literally at the end of their rope…. and can’t do it anymore?

Jewell: I was at that point so I completely understand. I will say what someone said to me, DON”T GIVE UP! God says, I know the plans I have toward you they are good and not evil to give you an expected end.

I must admit that my struggle was me concentrating on what he was doing or was not doing that I didn’t like. I learned to stop looking at him and focus on the changes I needed to make within me to be a better wife. It took a lot of work! We all want better marriages but no one is willing to change and there lies the problem. So the question to them, Are you willing to change?

(NOTE: I am not speaking to the one who is going through physical abuse)

How can spouses put the spark back in their marriage?

Jewell: It doesn’t take money or any grand gesture such as taking a Hawaiian vacation.  Start small, eat dinner by candlelight. Have a picnic in the middle of the living room floor. Email an e card or go for a walk. Talk kindly to one another.  In the back of Marriage 101 and on the website (, I have a list of 30 love deposits to get you started.

That’s a good idea Jewell!  I will check that out on your website.  Is their one biblical verse that you cling too?

Jewell: Isaiah 55:8-11 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts…” I have realized, as a Christian, that God expects me (us) to do things that really don’t make sense. I must say that it is not my favorite scripture but it helps me to stay focus – to do the right thing.

Jewell, this book is so timely and well written, are their any plans for any more books in your future?

Jewell: I have a four (4) book mini-series coming out in December 2009 that covers marriage topics we all face: Sex & Intimacy, Communication, Parenting, and Finance. In addition, there is a Marriage 101 Marriage Enrichment and Premarital Curriculum.

Thank you Jewell so much for taking the time to sit and chat with us today.  Readers, please take time to read the Review of Marriage 101 and check out the “Date Package Giveaway” being offered to one lucky commenter.

Author Chat: Sarah Lindberg

author chatSarah is a friend who I used to work with and I was there when she was working on her first book, Life’s Compass For Eternal Treasure.  I even was able to be one of her proof readers as she self published this book and that was pretty exciting!

Since that first book, Sarah was married and moved away from Minnesota to Florida where she now lives happily with her husband Paul.  She has written a  second book, His Hope For Your Destiny and is currently working on her third.  I had the opportunity in July of this year to interview Sarah here and she graciously offered her books for a giveaway.

This past weekend Sarah was in town for her sisters wedding and she and I were able to connect over coffee and catch up on what was new with her and about this third book that those who have followed her incredible writing style are waiting anxiously for.

Me and Sarah Lindberg

Ahhh!  Sarah it seems like forever since we have been able to connect!  I am excited to hear about the next book!

Sarah: Well, I am still working on it.  This one is coming along a bit slower than the first two.

What do you mean by coming along slower?

Sarah: In the first two books I was speaking directly about scriptures that were on my heart and I felt as though God just lead me through the writing.  In this book, I am coming in with a different approach and since this book is more in depth in different ways, I have to do more research.

So what is this book going to be about?

Sarah: This book is going to be about how thoughts and especially the negative thoughts that are verbalized around us can be taken in to ourselves almost like a toxin or poison.  This book is going to be how to keep true to God’s word, and to learn through His word how to snap off those dead branches, dead relationships even that are unhealthy for us to keep us growing in the right direction towards Him.  I am basing this book off of Philippians 4: 4 – 8, mainly on pure thoughts.  We have to train our thinking process, almost prune our thoughts.

Wow – that sounds really interesting!  Do you have a title yet?

Sarah: The title usually does not come to me until the book is finished.

Any time frame we can be looking at for this book to be available?

Sarah: The research is very interesting and I am still working on that part.  I am hopeful that it can be in print by late 2010.

Well I look forward to it!  Thanks Sarah as always for hanging out here at One Persons;s Journey Through A World Of Books with me.  Its always fun to hear what you are up to and I look forward to having you back to review and discuss your book!

Sarah’s Website