Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Starbucks at Your Fingertips? - Author Pam Hillman Interview and Giveaway

Pam is thrilled to announce the release of her second novel,

In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Fredrick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.

Interview with Author Pam Hillman

Pam Hillman
Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel.

What should readers know about your latest release?
Some might say that Slade Donovan doesn’t come across as very heroic to begin with, but he believes he has good reasons for his demands. He quickly softens toward the heroine and her family and eventually lets go of his bitterness. I like readers to see part of the story from an unusual angle, a point of view that shines a light a little off center, and in Claiming Mariah, that light is on Red Harper, a secondary character who plays a pivotal role in the story.

What was the main inspiration for the new book?

Several years ago, I read a novel where a bank robber tosses a sack of stolen money in the back seat of a hand-to-mouth college student’s car. She kept the money and eventually started a very successful business. She justified her actions because she anonymously created a charity to help destitute young women get back on their fee.

But, as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right, and that wasn’t quite right from a Christian’s perspective, was it? I based Claiming Mariah on the following question: “What would a Christian do if they found out their whole livelihood had been based on a lie?” Mariah does the right thing by writing to Slade’s father asking for forgiveness, but the consequences of her actions end up being way more than she bargained for.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?

I was born and raised on a farm, and from an early age I loved horses and all things western. I was a bit of a tomboy and cut my teeth on Louis L’Amour westerns. Our neighbor’s husband worked in the oil fields of Alaska and was gone months at a time. She’d invite my brother and me over to watch John Wayne movies on Friday nights. We’d have popcorn and soda, or she’d bake a butter cake (the smell of hot butter cake fresh from the oven still makes my mouth water!).

Some people are born to paint, some to sing, some to build, some to nurture, and others are born to write. I don’t know how or why God gifts each of us with certain talents, but my desire and my talent is to write.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?

I haven’t had the chance to do much travel for research over the years due to a heavy work schedule, but now that I work full-time from home, I’m hoping that changes. My mother and I took a research trip down the Natchez Trace a few years ago. We spent 3 days on the Trace and in Natchez. I visited Pens on a World Map in December and shared some of our experiences from that fun trip to Natchez. I hope we can do it again soon!

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?

Not who, but what. American Christian Fiction Writers. Through ACFW, I connected with the Seekers, my best friend, Robin Caroll, my agent, Steve Laube, and my editor, Jan Stob at Tyndale House….just to mention a few. I have found a family of writers who understand me, and once a year I get to see about 700 of the coolest people on earth.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?

The thing that surprised me the most was the sheer magnitude of work that goes into producing a book. From concept to completion, to publication, to hand-selling the finished product to the public, it is mind boggling!

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?

Focus on perfecting craft, not on premature publication. There were a few times editors seriously considered my work. Yes, I was terribly disappointed, because I offered the best I had at the time, but after I reworked the manuscript to a higher level, I was thankful the editors said no.

What’s your favorite place you have visited?

My parents and I visited The Alamo and the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas many years ago. I’d love to go back some day. I remember the cobblestone walkways, the boats, and the bridges arching over the water. I especially remember watching a professional photo shoot with a woman in a stunning wedding dress posing on a set of ivy covered stone stairs. I would love to recreate that memory of days gone by, the quiet nooks and crannies of the Walk, the peace and serenity so close to The Alamo where so many lives were lost.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?

I would love to go to Ireland on an extended tour. I would stay for months in one place and tour the countryside, ride the back roads, find out of the way spots. But, mostly, I’d listen to and learn from the people in the small villages. Then I’d move on, and do the same thing in a new part of the country. I also wouldn’t mind touring the United States the same way. Just live in a motor home for months and months at a time talking to the locals, finding out what they find amazing about their part of the world. But I wouldn’t get a thing done, writing wise. lol 

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were its founder, what would the name be and where would it be located?

I would have a huge tropical island (think Fantasy Island) where authors could have everything. They could retreat to a mountaintop cabin, or a beachside hut for their writing. Their every need would be met immediately, and they wouldn’t have to lift a finger.

The purpose of my retreat would be twofold: to write and to recharge. So, the author would arrive onsite and have a week or so to relax, plan, think, enjoy being with other writers. Then they would go to their private writing cave, whether that would be a cabin in the mountains, a beachside hut, or a stark room with a bed, bath, and computer hutch.

The authors would stay a minimum of 3-4 weeks, but stays could be extended to 2-3 months if the author enjoyed the solitude and atmosphere of the island. I actually predict long-term stays from several of my friends in Seekerville, and I can think of a couple of writers who would need 3 weeks of complete solitude multiple times a year.

I’m debating the use of cell phones, but would probably confiscate all electronic devices and ban internet usage. But not to worry: Computers would have immediate access to a staff of experts who would willingly perform any needed research or fulfill any writing related request.

Oh, and all suites, cabins, caves, beachside huts, etc. would have a Starbucks button (computers would have a Starbucks app) within easy reach. Push it once and within moments, your Starbucks beverage of choice is delivered quietly and efficiently by a silent staff member whose every wish is to not disturb the writer’s muse.

Have Starbucks at Your Fingertips? Enter this giveaway.

Click here for your chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card!!

 For more info about Pam and her writing, visit Also connect with her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest or her blogs, Calico Trails or Seekerville.

To celebrate her release, Pam is giving away two eReaders

(choice of Kindle Wi-Fi, 6" Display, or Nook Simple Touch)

Two Winners: One on facebook. One through Pam’s Newsletter.

Facebook Drawing: Kindle/Nook Giveaway

Newsletter: Pam’s Newsletter.

Registering both places is not required but will double your chances of winning. Also keep in mind that you will receive updates more often being connected on facebook than through the newsletter. Just sayin’

Contest runs from January 1st until March 31st, 2013.

And....that’s not all! There will be prizes offered randomly throughout the tour.

The Prize Vault Is Open!!

This week’s giveaway on facebook. Click the links below to register:

Winner will also have their choice of ebook version of
Stealing Jake or Claiming Mariah

Pam is also blogging today with Henry McLaughlin.

Stop by and say hi!


Two for One!

January 28th: Sarah Forgrave:

and Seekerville:


January 31st: Blogging with Jennifer Slattery:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Sarah Sundin - England

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Sarah Sundin of California
Location: Bury St. Edmunds, England
Ten years ago, I received the best birthday present ever—a trip to England. Although I’m a lifelong Anglophile, I’d never had the opportunity.

When I started writing the Wings of Glory series, which follows three American B-17 pilots based in England in World War II, my desire to travel increased. Then my husband surprised me with two tickets to London—and babysitting from his parents. Oh, happiness!
Since my great-uncle served in the 94th Bombardment Group based in Bury St. Edmunds, I set the second two novels in my series there, and the town in Suffolk was high on my itinerary.

 We traveled to Bury St. Edmunds from London by train through gorgeous countryside, past farms and villages, over rolling green hills divided by hedges. From the Victorian train station, we walked downhill, tripping on the flagstone sidewalks, past rows of charming homes adorned with window boxes full of colorful flowers.

I had already imagined a crucial scene for A Memory Between Us in town, and ideas whirled in my mind as we explored. My husband loved the square Norman tower at the entrance to the Abbey gardens, complete with slits for arrows, and I was enchanted by the Abbey ruins, the clumps of ancient walls, the echoes of medieval monks, the scent of history—musty and stony and mossy.

While the Big Famous Sights in London thrilled me, our quiet day in Bury St. Edmunds was just as memorable—the small-town charm, lack of tourist trappings, and rich taste of history. Stepping off the beaten path can be delightful.

Have you visited a place you've read about or like Sarah wrote about? Have you enjoyed a trip to a English town or village? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school. Please visit her at

 Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity.

When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them? Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.

Would you like to be featured on "Penner's Spotlight"? Here's how.

I'd love to see a glimpse of your travels. It doesn't matter if you write a few sentences or the full 300 words. It's about sharing part of our journey with each other. For more on what to do for a "Penner's Spotlight," visit the link below:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Fairy Tale with a Twist = "The Fairest Beauty"

Once upon a time, there worked a young woman in a newspaper office, who thoroughly loved to travel…okay, so that’s probably not much of a fairy tale—though I do really enjoy my job and I have been blessed with many travel opportunities.

Recently at the office, fairy tales were a topic of discussion so they are fresh on my mind--and a lovely novel with a spin on Snow White was released yesterday by my sweet writer friend, Melanie Dickerson. It's called "The Fairest Beauty."

A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe? 

Dickerson has once again crafted a beguiling tale in her third novel, which intertwines romance, adventure, and faith with a twist on a classic story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to women of all ages--especially if, like me, you're enjoying episodes of "Once Upon a Time."

Now...back to the story at hand. When my co-workers and I discussed fairy tales, we ended up mixing up a lot of them. So was the girl who pricked her finger on the spinning wheel the one about Rumpelstiltskin or was that the princess with the pea?

To set the record straight—because sometimes things just bug you until you find out, we consulted an old copy of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” that a co-worker has had since childhood.

We were introduced to several tales we had long forgotten about, such as Rumpelstiltskin, The Princess and the Pea, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Three of their tales that are a little different from their Disney counterparts are: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Other tales that I am familiar with, but had forgotten were: Han Christian Anderson’s “The Ugly Duckling” about a baby duckling that is teased for his differences to the other ducks until he grows up and realizes that he’s actually a beautiful swan and “Thumbelina” about a miniature girl who is kidnapped by a toad and then discovers a fairy prince just her size, who rescues her.

As I looked the classics up, I thought of some of our Louisiana fairy tales/folk lore and began searching them out too. One of them is called “Jean Sot Guards the Door.”

“One day, Jean Sot's mother wanted to go to town. ‘Now Jean,’ she said, ‘I want you to guard the door.’ ‘Yes, Mama,’ Jean Sot agreed. Jean's mother left for town. Jean waited and waited for her to get back. But she was gone a very long time. Jean got worried, and decided to look for her. But he remembered he had promised to guard the door. So Jean took the door off of its hinges and carried it on his back when he went to look for his mother.

Along the way, Jean Sot saw some robbers coming along the path, carrying a heavy sack of money. Jean Sot was frightened. He adjusted the door on his back as best as he could and climbed up a nearby tree to wait for the robbers to go by. But the robbers stopped underneath the tree! They sat down and began to count their money. The chief robber counted out the money for each man, saying: ‘This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you.’ ‘And that one's for me,’ Jean Sot cried. The robbers were startled. They looked around, but couldn't see anyone. The chief robber began counting again: ‘This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you.’

Again, Jean Sot said: ‘That one's for me!’ ‘Who is that?’ called the chief robber. ‘I will wring his fool neck!’ Jean Sot was so scared he began to shake, and the door fell off his back and down onto the robbers. ‘The Devil is throwing doors at us!’ shouted one of the robbers. They were so frightened that all the robbers ran away without their money. So Jean Sot climbed down the tree, picked up the money and the door and took them home to his mother.”

Fascinating...not only are there prominent morals and lessons to be gained from many fairy tales and folk tales, but there is the thrill of entertainment and a sense of pride in the stories infused with local culture that are passed down year after year to a new generation of children waiting to be inspired.

For more information on Dickerson's novels wih twists of faith on several classic fairy tales, visit her website here. See her new book's feature in USA Today here. Congrats on your new release, Melanie!

What is your favorite fairy tale? For writers, do your stories tend to have a moral or lesson?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-3

The Penning Board Items of the Week



Happy Travels! Thanks for visiting! :)

Movie: "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery

The world's favorite archeologist-adventurer, Indiana Jones, takes on the Nazis...again.

This movie, along with the Raiders of the Lost Ark, are my favorites. (I didn't care for all the bugs, fire and ripping out hearts of "Temple of Doom.") I can honestly say that these movies fueled my love of adventure as a child and they continue today.

It's also inspiring to watch with my current novels being about Nazi Germany. One of my favorite scenes is when Indy--dressed in Nazi uniform--gets accidentally shoved through the crowd and faces Hitler. He is sweating bullets and I don't just think it's from being close to the fire. He recovers quickly and more action ensues. Gotta love these classic movies!

Interesting News: "No Book Library? Biblio Tech is Coming"

A bookless library? Hear the creator's argument here. Should e-readers take over to promote more reading? What do you think?

Book: "The Fairest Beauty" by Melanie Dickerson

A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Author Melanie Dickerson has once again crafted a beguiling tale in her third novel, which intertwines romance, adventure, and faith with a twist on the classic Snow White story. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this novel. It releases tomorrow (Jan 22) and I think the cover is just gorgeous! And I also thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to women of all ages--especially if, like me, you're enjoying episodes of "Once Upon a Time."

For more information about Dickerson, click here and about this novel, click here.

Bible Verse: “[Trials and Temptations] Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” - James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Quote: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Song: “I Love Paris” by Bing Crosby

I recently discovered this nice traveler's song about fair Paris from my favorite crooner Bing Crosby. (I mentioned him in my blog post about the 1940s here last week.) He could've sang the phone book and it would have sounded like a lullaby.

Listen to the song here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Shannon Young - Singapore

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Shannon Young of Hong Kong
(originally from Arizona)

Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
Singapore in Solitude

ArtScience Museum
Marina Bay spread before me, the DNA-shaped Helix Bridge to my left, the flat stretch of the Formula One racing track to my right. In front, I saw the Marina Bay Sands. The hotel had been complete for less than two years, but already the design, like a ship atop three skyscrapers, had become an icon of Singapore.

Nearby sat the lotus ArtScience Museum and two floating crystals reflecting the silver of the looming storm clouds. Across the Bay, the towers of Singapore’s business district rose behind a row of colonial era hotels.

I crossed the Helix Bridge and made my way along the waterfront, passing the entrance to the glamorous Marina Bay Sands. A pool filled with lily pads sat beneath the smooth white petals of the ArtScience Museum. As I walked, something tugged at the back of my mind. Why did this journey give me such an eerily peaceful feeling?

Helix Bridge

Marina Bay architecture
Then I realized: it was quiet. There were a few people around, eating lunch beneath the palm trees and walking slowly along the water’s edge. A young family took pictures with the cloud-topped city in the background. But I had spent the last few years living in Hong Kong, an energetic city where the taxi horns are never quiet and the streets are never still. By comparison, Singapore felt empty, serene.

I followed the path toward the distant city. On the far edge of the Bay, I meandered between the quiet high-rises and trailed my hand along the railing at the water’s edge. It was jarring when I reached the lionfish fountain, a sort of mascot that was a popular spot for tourist photos.

Here, I finally found large groups of people. But I quickly left them behind to complete my circuit of the Bay. For now, I wanted the city to myself.

Do you have a travel story to share about travel in Singapore? Has there been a tranquil place you have visited? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.

Shannon Young is an American writer currently living in Hong Kong. She is the author of a mini travel memoir called The Olympics Beat: A Spectator’s Memoir of Beijing. Shannon blogs about books and travel at A Kindle in Hong Kong.

Would you like to be featured on "Penner's Spotlight"? Here's how.

I'd love to see a glimpse of your travels. It doesn't matter if you write a few sentences or the full 300 words. It's about sharing part of our journey with each other. For more on what to do for a "Penner's Spotlight," visit the link below:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Inspiration from film and Bing

Every time this writer heads to the country to visit her grandparents, I always end up staying up late and watching old movies with my grandpa. (Though he falls asleep before the endings.) 
One of his favorite TV channels is Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I enjoy it too. The movies we usually watch are from my favorite time period - the 1940s. 
 That time period of the Greatest Generation has always intrigued me. World War II, of course, took up nearly half the decade. Within this time period, a nation pulled together to help win a war and end atrocities worldwide--an unforgettable era.
Besides war, the decade was filled with handsome fashion trends of tilted fedoras on men and women, tailored suits, glamorous evening gowns, and tuxedos. Correspondence was through intimate lengthy hand-written letters on stationary. Families gathered around the radio to listen to news, fiction stories, and the newest tunes of the time. 
 Cinema was king with many classic films released during this decade, such as: 
“Casablanca” (1942) - Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) - Jimmy Stewart
“Citizen Kane” (1941) – Orson Welles
“Notorious” (1946) – Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman
"Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) – Judy Garland
“Red River” (1948) – John Wayne
"Holiday Inn” (1942) – Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire
“Road to Morocco” (1942) – Bob Hope and Bing Crosby
“The Big Sleep” (1946) – Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
“Anchors Aweigh” (1945) – Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire
“His Girl Friday” (1940) – Cary Grant
“National Velvet” (1944) – Elizabeth Taylor
My grandpa and I have watched several movies including the award-winning WWII drama, “Mrs. Miniver,” starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon and Teresa Wright. During this visit, we watched “Any Number Can Play” with Clark Gable and Alexis Smith.
We also talked about 1940s music and named artists back and forth such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Glen Miller and the Andrews Sisters. We even sang a bit of a few tunes. 
Bing Crosby
My favorite singer of all time is Bing Crosby. He has been my favorite for a while. I love to hear this famous crooner, with his deep and smooth voice, sing anything. His well-known songs are “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Swinging on a Star,” “Sunday, Monday or Always” and “Long Ago & Far Away.”
According to the 1940s Billboard charts, Crosby had the highest number of hits at the top of the Billboard number-one singles chart during the 1940s with nine songs. In addition, he remained the longest at the top of the Billboard number-one singles chart during the 1940s at 55 weeks.
Other hits of the 1940s were: Glen Miller’s “(I Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo,” Jimmy Dorsey’s “Besame Mucho,” Crosby’s “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Some Enchanted Evening” by Perry Como, “I’ll Walk Alone” by Dinah Shore and “I’m Making Believe” by The Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald, among many others.
I think everyone has a time period that intrigues him or her - whether they watch movies during or about the era, listen to its music or talk to those who lived it. My 1940s fascination extended to travel to Germany and inspiration to write my first novel, which is set in Nazi Germany. (Read more about it here.) It’s kind of neat to catch a glimpse of another time.
What is your favorite time period? Have you traveled somewhere involving its history? For writers, how has this favorite inspired your writing? 

Tune in next Friday to hear a travel story from WWII author Sarah Sundin! :)
I thought this was an interesting WWII poster

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-2

The Penning Board Items of the Week

Vlog: Happy Travels! Thanks for watching! :)


Movie: "The Hunger Games" (2012) with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth

I certainly enjoyed the book (see below) and the movie too. There's always a big discussion among readers when a book is presented on the silver screen. I like this adaptation and I thought the casting was superb. I'm looking forward to the sequel film, "Catching Fire," which will be released in the fall.

Interesting News: "Hundreds attend vigil for elk killed by police"

Okay...I like and appreciate animals as much as the next person, but I just think things are sometimes taken a bit too far? I mean a vigil for victims of Sandy Hook is one thing...but for an elk. What do you think?

Book: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

This book may not be among history's greatest literature, but it held my attention...not captured it until I could barely sleep until finishing it. Collins does a fantastic job of pacing and cliffhangers at the end of chapters. I read the book last year and last week I finished listening to it on audio book. It captivated me just like the first time I read it.

This book not only kept me interested, but long after I reached "The End" it stayed with me. This dystopian novel should be added to your reading list (if you haven't read it already). It's not just another hyped novel--pick it up and be ready for a rollercoaster ride.

Bible Verse: "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” - 2 Corinthian 5:19-20

Quote: “Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover / Breath’s aware that will not keep. / Up, lad: when the journey’s over there’ll be time enough to sleep.” – A.E. Housman

Song: “Without You” by Fefe Byram

Listen to the song here.

Here's one of my favorite songs from a lovely singer-songwriter from New Orleans named Fefe Byram. This is her first music video and she has other song videos on her YouTube channel. Her CD can be found here on iTunes. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Patti Shene - US - NYC

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Patti Shene of Colorado
(originally from New York)

Location: New York City, New York
United States
For a girl who grew up a mere fifty miles out of New York City, I only visited the metropolis a couple of times during my childhood. When our son and daughter-in-law took up residence in the Bronx, my daughter, granddaughter, and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to experience one of the largest cities in the world first hand.
In NYC's Union Square with my daughter and granddaughter
We covered a lot of ground in three days, from the magnificent panorama of city lights viewed from the top of the Empire State Building at night to the green grass of Central Park overshadowed by tall buildings that towered above us.

We browsed through Union Square, perusing the many wares sold there, from foods to crafts. We joined other tourists in a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and stood next to the mammoth Wall Street bull. Of course, we had to eat in Chinatown and visit the M&M store!

On the Staten Island Ferry with the Statue of Liberty behind me
We observed the Statue of Liberty quite clearly as we took the five mile, twenty-five minute ride on the Staten Island ferry. Did you know that approximately 60,000 passengers make this short water voyage daily?  The nine vessels in the fleet make 109 trips daily during the week.
In stark contrast was the site of Ground Zero, where evil men spit in the face of all that Lady Liberty stands for one September day almost a decade before. Still, the bronzed wall commemorating firefighters and rescue personnel, along with the construction site where the  9-11 memorial now stands, symbolized hope for the future of our country, even in the face of adversity.

A view from Central Park
I believed New Yorkers to be rude and impersonal, but whenever we entered the subway, someone stood to offer me one of the limited seats when they saw this old lady limping after miles of walking.

Did you have a unique experience in NYC? Have you taken a memorable trip with a relative? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.

Patti Shene is a retired RN, formerly from Long Island, who has resided in Colorado for the past forty years. She serves as Division Manager for YA and Children’s Imprints with Written World Communications (WWC).
She also edits Starsongs, a publication of WWC written for kids by kids. Patti’s son and daughter-in-law, infected with the travel bug, have moved on and now make their home in the UK.
Visit Patti’s three blogs at her website ( and leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Starsongs Magazine issues (Check it out at

Would you like to be featured on "Penner's Spotlight"? Here's how.

I'd love to see a glimpse of your travels. It doesn't matter if you write a few sentences or the full 300 words. It's about sharing part of our journey with each other. For more on what to do for a "Penner's Spotlight," visit the link below:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blog Hop Tour - About My WWII Novel

A new blogging friend named Kiersti Plog asked me to participate in my first blog hop to share about the books we’re writing. Check out Kiersti Plog’s fascinating novel about a young teacher in 1911 with a mission to educate Navajo children and two men who fight for her heart here. Also please check out the blog of another great blogger linked at the bottom of my answers!

Here's the interview about my book:

1) What is the working title of your book?

Serving the Enemy

2) Where did the idea come from?

I spent twelve days in Germany and Austria in November 2011 to visit friends. I came away from experiencing the fascinating culture, visiting the magical Christmas markets, and unforgettable former concentration camp at Dachau. I was so inspired by the whole trip that I knew in my heart that God wanted me to write something about it all. I had no idea what it was until January 2012 when the base of the storyline popped into my head and my heart. :)

Me in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
3) What genre does your book fall under?

Well, that’s been interesting actually because my book goes back and forth from the present day to the past and I wasn’t sure what to call it exactly. I found out the genre is actually called Contemporary-Historical Fiction.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Great question! I actually already have it all planned out, so if Steven Spielberg would just go ahead and call already! Lol. Seriously though, I made a character storyboard while I was writing my book. To play my present day leads, I picked Danielle Panabaker (The Shunning) and Joanne Woodward and to play my past leads—Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) and Christopher Egan (Letters to Juliet).

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An American-raised Nazi is sent to Germany before World War II, whose story is hidden over 70 years until regaled by the now elderly woman who lived it.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’d love to be represented by an agent and actually right now, my top agent pick is reviewing my book proposal after she requested it! So we’ll see what happens. :)

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took five months to write from the initial idea to “The End.” I never thought I could write anything so quickly. I’m about to start on my sequel, so we’ll see if I keep up the pace. I hope to go a bit slower with this one. With all the editing/revising thrown in, it’s taken a year to completely write and edit this book.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm…well my comparable authors are Susan Meissner (The Shape of Mercy, The Girl in the Glass), Tina Ann Forkner (Ruby Among Us) and Lynn Austin (All She Ever Wanted). It’s also similar in style and subject to works by Cindy Martinusen Coloma and Bodie & Brock Thoene.

Meissner’s “The Shape of Mercy” is similar in the weaving of the past and present day within the novel and the leads being young women. I really enjoyed reading it and hope her readers will enjoy my novels too.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I hadn’t found my niche yet. I had written two young adult novels, but it just didn’t feel right yet. I couldn’t finish them. After my trip to Germany and the inspiration for the book came last year, I knew while I was writing it that it’s the book God would have me to write. World War II is my favorite historical era, so the book idea—plus seeing many sites firsthand—pushed me to write and finish the novel.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book idea was spurred from my thoughts about being a Christian and living in Nazi Germany. I thought “Would I have gone along with the Nazi beliefs and actions if God was telling me otherwise?” 

This question turned into my lead character’s story about being raised in the U.S., becoming a Christian (her family doesn’t convert), and moving to Nazi Germany to serve with the Hitler Youth. It’s a story of compassion, sacrifice, and great faith to do what we must to follow God’s will—even if it’s to take on a dictator, his thousands of loyal followers, and the possible deaths of those you love.

Next week, January 16, please visit my blogging friend (below) for the next stop on this blog hop book tour! :)

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-1

The Penning Board Items of the Week

Vlog: Happy New Year!!! And Happy Travels! Thanks for watching! :)

Check out Grant Terry's song of the week below.


Movie: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2002) with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett

This movie is one of my favorite "wedding" films. It's an appropriate topic because this weekend was one of my close friend's first wedding showers. I'm a bridesmaid, so I attended to support her and help with the event. It was a nice experience and nothing like the mad house wedding events in this movie. The film never fails to make me laugh and cheer me up. I highly recommend it for everyone. Enjoy. 

Interesting News: "Quadruple Amputee's New Hands"

Losing a limb poses great challenges, but losing four is what happened to a young woman named Jessica Ess. Thanks to a new experimental procedure--a hand transplant. Yes, you heard right. She has someone else's hands. Hear more about Ess's story and the results at the link below.

What do you think of this new breakthrough procedure? Will we one day have all mixed match parts like in some sci-fi movie? Will we create clones like in the movie, "The Island," to use for spare parts?

Book: "Digging For the Truth: One Man's Epic Adventure Exploring the World's Greatest Archaelogical Mysteries" by Josh Bernstein

Survival Expert-Adventurer-TV Host-Author Josh Bernstein has penned an excellent travel book about a few of his life and travel experiences while filming his popular History Channel TV show, "Digging For the Truth." The show is no longer airing, but the seasons can be purchased here and here. I highly recommend the show and this book. I especially loved re-visiting places I have visited such as Egypt and Petra in Jordan.

Check out Bernstein's website here and the book here.

Bible Verse: "...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." - Matthew 6:10

Quote: “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'" - Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

Song:Beautiful” by Grant Terry

I've been a fan of this Louisiana singer-songwriter for several years now. His songs are catchy, upbeat, and just really great listening. I attended his concert this past weekend and enjoyed his performance, which included a few new songs.

Check out his song, "Beautiful." Click here.

For more info about Terry, check out his website here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Karin Beery - U.S. - Nevada

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Karin Beery of Michigan

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
United States

When I tell people I’m going to Vegas, I get one of two reactions: “That’s sin city!” or “Lucky you!” People can’t seem to think past the casinos and shows, but a trip to Vegas also puts you in a desert, near the mountains, and a short drive away from the Hoover Dam.

Named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century, it’s easy to see why Hoover Dam attracts more than a million visitors every year. The massive concrete monument sneaks up on you as you navigate the sparsely populated road to the dam. 

A "Winged Figure of the Republic" statue
As you creep closer, the size of the structure impresses, but it’s still just a lot of cement. Park your car, step outside, and make your way over the dam to truly appreciate the modern marvel.

Craggy mountains contrast the smooth, sleek lines of the functioning dam. Look one way to see Lake Mead up close, its brilliant blue water popping out against the pale mountainside, evidence of the declining water level. Turn around and look down, down, down – 725 feet to the Colorado River below, and the self-sustaining electric plant fueled by the power of the river.

Arrive early enough and you can pay to join a tour to see the inner workings of the dam, but a self-guided foot won’t disappoint. Don’t forget to rub the toes of the 30 foot tall bronze statues on your way out – legend has it, it will bring you good luck!

Like Karin, have you visited one of the U.S. man made wonders? Do you have a story to share about your trip to Las Vegas? We'd love to hear about it. Please join the travel discussion below in the comment section.

Karin Beery is a freelance writer, editor, and coach. With over 300 articles published, her work also includes blogs, novels, guide books, and more. An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association and the Evangelical Press Association, Karin enjoys writing and editing in all forms, as well as helping others achieve their writing goals. Karin lives in northern Michigan with her husband, aunt, and two cats. Find Karin on her website,, and through Twitter here or Facebook here.

Would you like to be featured on "Penner's Spotlight"? Here's how.

I'd love to see a glimpse of your travels. It doesn't matter if you write a few sentences or the full 300 words. It's about sharing part of our journey with each other. For more on what to do for a "Penner's Spotlight," visit the link below: