Friday, April 26, 2013

Author Interview: Joanne Bischof

I am delighted to have Christy award finalist Joanne Bischof on the blog today.

I loved Be Still my Soul as well as Though My Heart is Torn. To read my review of the latter, check out Novel Crossing today

Joanne was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

1.)When you were first inspired to write Lonnie and Gideon’s saga, did you have an vague outline of some of the events that would transpire during their marriage--- such as the appearance of Cassie in Though My Heart is Torn?

In truth, I didn’t. When I set out to write Be Still My Soul, it was a standalone. It’s when it was finished, that I looked back and realized that Gideon had more growing to do which meant more lessons—and more troubles. For a redeemed womanizer, I wanted to think of what was the greatest challenge he could face: that’s when the story took the twist for him to lose his family, the only thing he held dear in the end of Be Still My Soul and to be forced to reunite with his old flame, Cassie in Though My Heart is Torn. It becomes a bit of a “will he/ won’t he” story and most readers have mentioned that they’ve read it so quickly just to find out what’s going to happen!

2.)Music is such grand part of the story-telling tradition in regions such as the Appalachian mountain setting of your work. Indeed, Gideon’s popularity and talent as a bluegrass musician is a bit of a catalyst for the action in the story. How much research went into this facet of your series?

This was one of the areas of the story that came the most naturally. I was raised in a home filled with music. My dad plays the guitar and a handful of other instruments like the banjo, mandolin and harmonica and he and my mom both sing. I’ve spent so much of my life surrounded by the tuning of a stringed instrument, that the sound is like coming home to me. Incorporating it into Gideon’s character was so fun. Playing the mandolin is something he’s truly good at and for a man who can’t read or write all that well, I really wanted him to have a few things that made him stand out in unique ways.

3.)I am very much moved by the grace of Elsie and Jebediah ---not only as salt-of-the-earth Christians; but as parental figures to two characters who have tattered backgrounds. What inspired their creation? Are they based on a couple you know?

I believe that sometimes it’s those who show us love and grace who become our closest family. Though Jebediah and Elsie are in no way related to Lonnie and Gideon, it was in their loving home where they learned about God’s goodness and for Gideon, his need for a savior. I think that many of us may be able to look back at our lives and spot a Jebediah or Elsie along the way. Someone who stepped in and was a guiding light just when we needed it the most.

4.)I would say very certainly that the setting of Rocky Knob and the Applachian mountains are as much a character in Though My Heart Is Torn as Lonnie and Gideon. What drew you to the majestic beauty of this region and what are some of the ways that helped you capture its essence and spirit in your prose?

Looking back, I think the the region sort of found me. I’d been listening to a lot of folk music at this time, even taking bluegrass lessons for the mandolin and had recently moved to the mountains from the hot valley I’d grown up in. One random day, I was listening to Alison Krauss’ “Sleep On” that the idea for Be Still My Soul struck me. There’s a line where she asks, “will your heart ever be mine?” In that moment, I saw Lonnie’s character and I knew she would be married to a man who didn’t love her. That’s where Gideon came in and the Cadence of Grace series began. Then on, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the region and almost always had some kind of folk music playing while I worked. I adore this area and culture and infusing all that into the series has been such a joy. I knew I’d found my writing home in the hills of Appalachia.

5.)If your readers could have one “takeaway” from the novel to help strengthen their faith walk, what do you hope it would be?

I always hope readers will take away from my stories the idea that God can take even the worst of sinners and use them for His glory. I think this truth is sprinkled throughout the Bible in so many ways. It’s not who we are or where we came from, but what we can grow into by looking to the Lord for direction. It’s never too late to be used and we’re never too far gone to seek redemption. 

Visit Joanne on the web

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In Which I am Over at Tag(g)lines

So, there is this gal named Melissa Tagg whom I love because I have an inkling her fiction is going to re-imagine familiar screwball tropes of the classic hollywood age in modern-Chicklit

Anyways, I am over at her blog today waxing not-so-eloquently about Neil MacNeill and how he is, well, the greatest hero in all of Christian fiction. Ever.

Get your 'Christy' on, kittens and check out my blog post at Tag(g)lines

Come by and comment and have a blast!


a.) the book is better than ANY series (and better than any cover they slap on it
b.) Neil MacNeill, David and Christy= the Love triangle to end all love triangles
c.) DAVID GRANTLAND NEVER BRINGS his A-GAME (buddy, no wonder Neil beats you to the girl)

UGH! I can't even hold up this stupid tree 

Now you're all: wait! I kinda wanna watch clips from the CBS series now! RATS!

And I'm all: dude! got your back, yo!

There are youtube videos galore dedicated to JUST Neil and Christy's arguments

knock yourselves out:

Melissa's debut novel with Bethany House, Made to Last, is available for pre-order on amazon

Monday, April 22, 2013

How 'Remember Sunday' should have ended.....

MOLLY:{stares at computer. Reads “Ask Molly to Marry Me”. smiles. Turns back to Gustave}

GUSTAVE: everything okay?


GUSTAVE: [takes Molly in his arms] I feel the same way, Molly.  I only remember this moment. Not tomorrow… not yesterday… just this.
[they kiss]


MOLLY [voice over] the day that Gustave asked me to marry him was a sunny, New Orlean’s summer day bloated with heat. My too-short skirt stuck to my thighs and the wisps of my perfectly-imperfect braid licked at the sides of my face.  I went to the jewellery store to see Gustave to tell him that everything would be okay. That we should get married. … that is if he forgets.



MOLLY: [flabberghasted] you know me? what? Really?

GUSTAVE: you see, my short term memory thing was all a dream! I mean, it was real;  but I was able to switch it off in my mind. In my slumber. It looks like the surgery worked it just took a few years to kick in.

MOLLY: wha…? How??? Whaaa?

GUSTAVE: molly, do you remember this?  [extracts ruby ring from envelope]

MOLLY: my great aunt’s ring that was of no particular plot significance?

GUSTAVE: the very one.  Will you take this ring? Will you marry me in this clich├ęd jewellery-shop cloister of a proposal scene?

MOLLY: Of course I will; but can't you just come up with your own ring? i mean, you're kinda giving me back my own ring....

GUSTAVE: but it has sentimental value and technically I bought it because I bought it from you

MOLLY: True that.

GUSTAVE: and do you promise to remember….

MOLLY: remember what?

GUSTAVE: Remember Sunday.

MOLLY: why Sunday? You mean that day when we went to LA and saw the space stuff and I ran into your ex-fiancee in a plot that went nowhere?

GUSTAVE: yes. Sunday

MOLLY: I still… I don’t… I mean….

GUSTAVE: Sunday, Molly. Remember Sunday

MOLLY: I will never really remember why we are remembering Sunday; but if it means I get to marry you and get that ring and have you sing the Tangled song to me at our wedding then, sure. Why not.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Christy Finalists announced!

Hello friends!


the 2013 finalists for the Christy Awards were announced today!

Congrats to some of my favourite authors who made the cut!

Also, a really wonderful shout-out to my lovely agent Bill and two authors from my agency community Rachel Coker and Christa Parrish who are finalists. So neat!

A great review.....

Hi readers!

Check out this great review of Death in the Baltic by Kat Chin

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts Upon Watching the 1993 "Heidi" Three Times While Sick with Strep Throat

That One Time I was Sick and Watched the 1993 Heidi three times

Darn you, Heidi!  Frig.

Guys, there are some  stories that just rip my little heart to shreds. Heidi is, like Eight Cousins and Pollyanna, a bit of a comfort food read for me. Especially back when I moved from my lovely little town to the big city for university.  Heidi, in her loft on her makeshift bed, would peer out the slats of the window and stare at the stars and I would breathe in and remember the stars that I could see from my bedroom window and that were, well, all but obliterated by the tall buildings and streetlights in Toronto.

I have not once made it through this book without crying. Heck, I was in Switzerland a few years back and just cried THINKING about it on the train. Don’t worry, some random Swiss dude gave me a piece of chocolate and a smile and a tissue.  Thanks, guy.  It is just one of those books that just drains my tear ducts. There’s Heidi and her winsome spirit and all the goats and her grandfather until she’s ripped from her happiness to Frankfurt to act as companion to a girl suffering from one of those vague 19th Century diseases and in a wheel chair (see Colin from Secret Garden)   And, you know, you just know every feeling she’s experiencing.  When the wealthy old mother of Herr Sesemann gives her that book about the Prodigal Son and she sees a picture of a goat but stupid Fraulein Rottemeier has told her she can’t cry and is forbidden so she sneaks to her bed and feels a heavy lump crammed into her air passage.   Or, when she steals rolls at dinner—fluffy white rolls –for the Grandmother (Peter the goatherd’s matriarch ) and they go stale and …..

lotsa screencaps: thanks, google image search


So, last week I was pretty sick with strep throat and basically just slept the week away home from work; but I wanted to watch a nice movie and I  flipped through the Netflix catalogue and landed on the 1993 Heidi Disney miniseries which I have, surprisingly, never seen before.  The only adaptation I HAVE seen was the  Shirley Temple one which---you know—it’s fine and all; but not really the experience I want as a lover of the book.

So I watched it.  And serious to Pete I was crying through the opening credits.  GUYS, I CANNOT HANDLE THIS STUFF! It’s too much. I am a wreck!
She’s a lovely little girl and her grandfather wants to love her but he’s stubborn and blames himself and there are GOATS and mountains and then Dete (that witch! ) takes her away and I JUST…. GAH! …. WTF!!!!!???!

And, we’re talking three hours of pretty decent adaptation here, kittens.  I mean it is fairly close to the story.  When Heidi is taken to Frankfurt under the promise (LIAR!) that she will be back in a week if she doesn’t like it there and then she’s stuck there with stupid Clara and stupid Fraulein Rottemeier and stupid Sebastian (okay, Sebastian’s not that bad), I just wanna….. gah!

And they don’t go into the Herr Doctor’s history as much as in the book; but he’s there too ( WHEN SHE IS SLEEP WALKING! REMEMBER??? THE SLEEP WALKING BECAUSE SHE IS SO SAD! Of course she is SAD! Her goats are far away! )

And she finally gets back to the mountain and the sigh of relief deflated me like a popped balloon….but…. nooooo! …then stupid Clara and entourage have to hike up through Dorfli to Grandfather’s mountain and …my insides are torn out.

This is terrible. By terrible, I mean wonderful. But, really….. stop wringing my emotions like a dishcloth, Heidi.

The girl who plays Heidi is the friggin’ cutest thing you will ever see. Gosh, the freckles, the braids, the friggin’ way she cradles a baby goat and picks flowers for her grandfather and just loves him unconditionally because she just needs and wants love  (DARN YOU, STORY! Orphan stories…. My kryptonite)

And the Grandfather?--- Jason Robards---that’s right--- because why wouldn’t it be Jason BLOODY Robards. Love him! Seriously attracted to him in anything from the 60s ; but then want him to kinda be my grandpa ‘cause I don’t have one.  Remember him in Huck Finn? With Robbie Coltrane? I went there. I WENT THERE (speaking of Disney movies from the 90s that make me cry, FYI... like that scene with Jim and Huck in the rain and they tried to HANG Jim but failed and Huck is shot... I can't...even.... EMOTIONS! SO MANY!).

And you’re thinking: whoa! This is sounding pretty great.  Let me add a cherry to this sundae---- PATRICIA NEAL ---she of the great voice and resume that includes THE FOUNTAINHEAD, BREAKFAST AT TIFF’S and, you know, a stint as John Boy’s mom ---is Grandmother.  Gosh.

The whole thing… I just…. And then I ordered it on amazon and I will neither confirm nor deny that I have watched it two more times since.

*Rachel pauses to compose herself*

I mean, read the book first if you haven’t.  The scene where Grandfather comes down the mountain to re-establish his relationship with God and the community is amazing and not, of course, included in the film. But, this is a pretty decent adaptation as far as literary adaptations go

And ripped my darn heart out.

What the heck!

I just wanna go and snuggle in a hayloft and toast goat’s cheese over a fire and drink a lot of milk now when I’m not frolicking in the Alps.

I really have nothing more to say except that the ICING ON THE MINISERIES’ CAKE is that it’s filmed in Austria (the TYROL! ) and Salzburg so---yeah---there’s that.

This is …really….

*message truncated because I am crying uncontrollably*

CFBA spotlight: Josiah's Treasure by Nancy Herriman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Josiah's Treasure

Worthy Publishing (April 16, 2013)


Nancy Herriman


Nancy Herriman abandoned a career in Engineering to chase around two small children and take up the pen. She has been writing for longer than she would like to admit. Her work has been a finalist in several Romance Writers of America contests and she won the 2006 RWA Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/Romantic Suspense. In 2009, she was an ACFW Genesis finalist. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

When she is not writing, or gabbing over lattes about writing, she is either watching history shows on cable TV or singing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and sons, and wishes there were more hours in the day.


In 1882, Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her studio. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by an angry man claiming to be Josiah's son and legal heir? Rumor of gold nuggets hidden in the house, place Sarah's life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man's heart-and they both learn that love is finer than any gold.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Josiah's Treasure, go HERE.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

"At Drake's Command" FINALLY on kindle FREE April 16-17

Hello all,

I absolutely LOVED At Drake's Command and you will too!

Right now, you can find it on kindle  at a super reasonable price.

EVEN BETTER on April 16th and 17th it'll be available for FREE download

Check out my review here

Visit the website

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

In Which I am over at Novel Crossing and Breakpoint

Hi all,

I recently watched ( and loved) The Bible miniseries and wrote a feature article for our friends at Breakpoint.

Check it out here 


Also, check out my first of Christian Classics: Revisited at Novel Crossing.  I write about one of my personal favourites Christy

Thursday, April 04, 2013

'Unrivaled': A confession

I am having the hardest time getting into this book. And I love Siri Mitchell (LOVE is not a strong enough word ) so I don’t think it is the  book, I think it is me.

I think, fair readers, as I have often thunk, that you have to be in the right mood for a book. Right now, I am not quite in the mood for Unrivaled and its parallel storylines and candy confection.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be in the mood later on. Nope. Nope. Nope. It just means that I am shelving this for a bit without guilt.

I did want to let you know it is out there; because the kind Bethany House folks were kind enough to provide me with a netgalley copy and it is only right that I give it some page time on the blog near the beginning of its release.

I love you, Siri Mitchell. I love your books.   Unrivaled and I will cross paths again.

(Also, I always spelled "unrivalled" with two 'l's; but the cover has one ---am I showing my Canadianness again?)

Rachel and Leah Go to Turtle Jacks: VOL I Richmond Hill Jefferson Square location

Turtle Jacks: 11740 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill

Turtle Jacks: A retrospective
Last summer, my sister and I (looking for food and good food ) stopped at a Turtle Jacks restaurant on the way to a cottage.  

Neither of us had ever been; but we were SUPER impressed. With the service, first and foremost, but also with the options available for my sister Leah who is gluten free ( not by choice; but due to allergy)
leah and the best restaurant gluten-free menu she had ever seen
A couple weeks ago while on our way to London, Ont and looking for a place for lunch, a friend recommended a nearby Guelph Turtle Jacks location and, once again, we loved the ambience and the food ( best fish tacos ) as well as the gluten free options available for Leah.  While our waitress on that particular occasion left a lot to be desired, we were still very much anxious for our next Turtle Jacks experience.

That’s when we had an idea:  to visit every Turtle Jacks location (it’s easy since we live in Toronto and have family and friends scattered over Southwestern Ontario) working up to the mecca of Turtle Jacks: the Parry Sound location ( which we would like to do on a beautiful Muskoka day on the patio).

Turtle Jacks and Us: THE FUTURE

So, Leah and I have started a little adventure---a Turtle Jacks visiting adventure---which we are excited to share with you.

On the way up home to our parents’ house for Easter we stopped at a Turtle Jacks near Vaughan and immediately loved the warmth and atmosphere inside.

The fire was roaring, the hockey game was on (it was loud enough to follow; but not overbearing) and our hostess and waitress were friendly and honest. They immediately informed us that the kitchen was somewhat unexpectedly backed up and our food might take awhile; but we were happy to sit and chat and have a drink.

Our waitress was also very kind when we requested to move from our table (catching the draft of the door ) to a nearby booth.   The drink service was prompt.
me and the regular menu :)
Leah found a lot to like in the  Gluten Free Menu (her restaurant experiences vary widely due to her allergy) and mentioned that the options, selection and even the array of sides were the best she had seen. Ever.  Turtle Jacks, it would seem, has the best Gluten Free menu ever!

I ordered a Rickard's White (yum! So glad they have it on tap ) and the chicken tacos and the service was prompt and friendly and the food was DELICIOUS!
We both finished everything on our plates.

A manager came out to talk to us during one point in the meal and he was so friendly and polite. Leah told him that the bacon cheeseburger she was enjoying was the best Gluten Free burger she had ever had and he went out of his way to tell her where she could find the buns that he uses for his gluten free customers.

Leah and I have a friend visiting from U.A.E next week and we look forward to taking him to Turtle Jacks and letting him in on  our secret: that Turtle Jacks is the best restaurant chain in Ontario !