Monday, November 23, 2009

BOOK REVIEW ~ An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

Today on Writers Mirror is a book review of "An Angel on Main Street," by Kathi Oram Peterson. The back cover blurb gives a good synposis and hook.
          Micah Conners promised his mother he would be good in his new town. But with Christmas being only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well.  Can the towering office be trusted not to tell what happened?  Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will side track him from spilling the day's events--or maybe his interest in Micah's widowed mother would do the trick.  The last thing Dawn Conners needs is to hear her son is in trouble.  She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill. 
          Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town's decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable--which means baby Jesus is coming, and He can make her better.  Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll.  But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds that angels are closer than he ever would have believed.  

The blurb sounded interesting. I thumbed through the 100 page book published by Covenant Communications and thought it looked like a nice clean read.  What I didn't count on was getting so involved in the story that I forgot to focus on reviewing the book.  I just enjoyed it.  I won't spoil the ending, but I did find the book page turning and my eyes moist.

Kathi has a clear writing voice. Her characters are strong and most of them quite likable.  I have always tried to out think the author as I read. I usually figure out 'who done it' by about half way through a book. This time I didn't figure it out until about three quarters of the way.  The only thing that seemed a bit out of whack was that several times Micah drew very adult conclusions and I had to double check that it was Micah saying or thinking these thoughts.  Overall the entire book is a masterpiece in creating human emotions in both the characters and the reader.

The responsibly Micah feels toward his mother and sister is touching. His character shines through and shows that Micah is a good kid deep inside.  The feeling extended beyond the book to include most youth. It is a comforting message that we have some wonderful young people in this troubled world.

The town sounds like a great place to live and has a good variety and flavor of people. Kathi allows her characters to achieve a good growth arch. She includes just enough physical and character hints that each of them come alive.  They become real people, people you care about, people you want to know. One of my favorite characters was Kora, the quirky owner of the greasy spoon. Every respectable town needs a flamboyant Kora with her crazy earings for every season.

I highly recommend this book as a heart warming Christmas story. It's the whole package. It's a wonderful journey of wondering if God loves us, then why do bad things happen to good people. In "An Angel on Main Street", Kathi shows us just how much God truly does love us. 

"An Angel on Main Street" is deserving of  FIVE GOLD STARS!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Writer ~ Connie Wolfe

Writers Mirror welcomes Connie Wolfe as our Wednesday Writer.  Connie is a member of ANWA, American Night Writers Association. She has been writing for many years.  Though yet to be putlished, she is an excellent writer and will someday soon be out there.   

CRW:  Welcome Connie, what inspires you to write?

Connie:  I sometimes notice little things that trigger a scene for me. For instance, the other day in the grocery store there was a man with his little boy (about 5). The little boy looked up at his Daddy with an expression of pure hero worship and his father returned with a look I can only describe as gentle love. In my mind I imagined them as a divorced father who missed his time with his boy and took full advantage of his visitation rights. Since I am divorced and do not see a good relationship between my sons and their father, this really struck me as sweet and noteworthy. I’d love to write something that would inspire father’s everywhere to appreciate their children and to live so that their children could always look up to them with that same worshipful expression.

CRW:  Do you set time or word goals daily for your writing?

Connie:  I don’t do very well at setting a daily word goal. I tend to write by scenes, not words. When I have a scene fixed in my mind, I like to sit down, close my eyes, and just let it pour out my fingertips onto the keyboard. It isn’t unusual to come to the end of the scene and realize that I have tears running down my cheeks.

CRW:  I beleive that if the writer cries as she writes it, then the emotions are so honest that the reader will too.  What gets in your way of writing?

Connie:  It would almost be easier to say what doesn’t get in my way of writing. Life happens. I can always find something else that needs done before I sit to write and before you know it, my day is gone. Perhaps my biggest stumbling block is emotional energy. Especially if I am working on an intense scene, it tends to drain me emotionally. If I am under a great deal of stress for the day, I find it very difficult to find the energy to write.
          Recently, I find that I resist being scheduled. As of three months ago, for the first time in my life, there is no one calling the shots for me; no parents, child, husband or boss. I have been wallowing in that luxurious feeling like a pig in the mud. My time is my own to do with as I choose and it has been a heady feeling. I got a little unrealistic with it for a while, but am getting things back into perspective now.

CRW:  Tell us a little more about how you are coming to terms with making time for writing?

Connie:  It took a while to identify some of the problems, but I am doing my best to negate them. While there is always something that needs doing in the housework department, I have identified the things that drive me crazy if undone. Since my best writing time is early in the day, I am making it a policy not go to bed at night until those things are done so they don’t take control of the next day and my wrighting time. I also try to schedule other responsibilities and appointments for later in the day so it keeps my mornings more free to write. I limit myself in the time I spend with e-mails, blogs, etc. Reading was a distraction for me. Once I start a book, I hate to put it down. So, since I like to read as I eat, for breakfast I limit my reading to an Ensign article or a Relief Society lesson. To read for fun is becoming a reward for writing.

CRW:  Novel idea. (Pun intended.) I run crazy in the morning doing everthing.  Once I get writing, I tend to leave this world, and time means nothing.  I'm afraid I won't get even the most necessary of tasks done if I don't do them first. What makes you CRAZY about writing?

Connie:  I am awful at editing as I write. If I come up with something new in my story line, it is so compelling to go back and build it in to what has already been written. It’s almost like I can’t think straight until I have set all the clues and foreshadows before I can go on. I am trying to deal with that by setting aside some time each couple of days to do the editing rather than doing it at the moment.

CRW:  Where is the strangest place you have worked on a story?

Connie:  A few years ago I attended a writer’s conference on a cruise ship. The ship stopped off Catalina Island and they had small boats that ferried passengers to land. Since I was still using a cane as a result of breaking my foot, I decided not to risk climbing on and off those bouncing boats, so went up on the promenade deck and wrote instead of sightseeing.

CRW:  Sounds wonderful!  Do you have a timeline in mind to completing one of your projects?

Connie:  I’ve set a goal to have the rough draft completed by the end of the year and the editing and polishing done by the end of March.

CRW:  You mentioned about the scene with the father and son in the grocery store. Where else do you get your ideas?

Connie:  I love to play the ‘what if’ game. I see an unusual person, or a person doing something unusual, overhear a snatch of conversation, and I can ‘what if’ it into some really fun things. The fun thing about being a writer is that it is only limited by your own imagination.

CRW:  Where do you come up with your character names?

Connie:  Sometimes the names just come to me. Occasionally a character reminds me of someone I have known and I use that name. Of course, sometimes those names change as the character develops more fully.

CRW:  Do you have a favorite writing food?

Connie:  Chocolate and ice cream. Unfortunately, in my effort to reduce weight and get more fit and healthy, those are now off limits. In this not as perfect world of weight loss, I have resorted to almonds and lemon drops.

CRW:  Why are you a writer?

Connie:  I have had a love affair with books from the time I was big enough to hold one. In grade school, most of my recesses were spent on the front steps of the school with a book. By the time I could read well, I had a younger brother and sister that loved to have me read aloud to them. That added a whole new dimension to reading pleasure. It was a very small step from loving to read to wanting to write.

CRW:  Good point.  Who do you hope reads your work?

Connie:  I tend to write in different genres. I have too many works in process—mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. These tend to be geared to young adult or women.

CRW:  What would be the best compliment about your writing that you could receive?

Connie:  That I am the best writer they have every read. (Just kidding.) To have a reader identify with a character and to receive strength and hope for their own lives through what they learned from that character would be like reaching out and sharing a piece of my heart and soul with the reader. To have them understand and appreciate what I shared would be overwhelmingly gratifying.

CRW:  Tell us about your current work in progress.

Connie:  I am working on a story based in the early 1900’s. Young Daisy (Demaris Anne Parker) is leaving the family farm to enjoy a social season with her aunt and cousins in Detroit. She meets Henry Malcolm, a young attorney who is gaining a reputation for defending the underdog. Henry’s sense of justice and responsibility coupled with Daisy’s optimism and zest for life create some interesting growth experiences for both of them.

CRW:  Sounds like you have a great story coming.  Connie, I really appreciate you letting us have some insight on you as a writer. How fun that you did this interview with Writers Mirror before you books come out.  It's like we get a sneak peak into whats to come.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday Writer ~ Donna Hatch

Donna has had a passion for writing since the age of 8 when she wrote her first short story. In between caring for six children, (7 counting her husband) she manages to carve out time to indulge in her writing obsession, with varying degrees of success, although she writes most often late at night instead of sleeping. A native of Arizona, she now writes Regency Romance and Fantasy. And yes, all of her heroes are patterned after her husband of over 20 years.

Donna Hatch writes clean romances known as "Sweet Romances."  Writer's Mirror applauds Donna for her stance on keeping high standards in writing. 

CRW:  Thanks for being with us here on Writers Mirror today as our Wednesdy Writer Donna. What inspires you to write?

Donna:  Anything might. A story I read that I wish had gone a different direction. Wondering about a secondary character in a book or movie. A song. Sometimes I just get a scene in my head, like watching a scene in a movie, and I build the rest of the story around it.

CRW:  Do you try to write daily, and if so, do you set a goal of a certain number of words?

Donna:  Word count doesn't work for me because sometimes I need time to chose just the right word or phrase. Instead, I try to write for at least two hours daily. It used to be longer, but now that I'm juggling three part time jobs, plus being a mommy, it's cut into my writing time. I write more when I'm suffering from insomnia.

CRW:  In a nutshell, what gets in your way of writing?

Donna:  Life. Kids. Self doubt.

CRW:  How do you get past it?

Donna:  Usually because I can't NOT write. Or sometimes I just make myself sit down and write something. Anything. Even if I'm sure I'll cut it later. Some of the biggest bursts of brilliance have occurred when I was sure I was writing utter trash, which most of it was, but there was often a jewel in there that I salvaged which changed the course of the story or the basic element of a character.

CRW:  Intersting.  What makes you CRAZY about writing?

Donna:  Self doubt. My interal editor. Critique partners, sometimes, when they don't "get" what I'm writing.

CRW:  How long does it take you to complete a book?

Donna:  I can usually write the first draft anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months. But I spend 4 months or more polishing it depending on how many interruptions I have. Novellas go much faster. I wrote both of my novellas in just a few days.

CRW:  Where do you get your character’s names?

Donna:  Nothing clever. Sometimes they come pre-named. Other times I rename them several times until I get just the right one. The character doesn't become 3 dimentional until I chose the right one. I stick to names that were used in Regency England or that were Norman Conquest names to help create that believable Regency feel.

CRW:  What is your favorite writing food?

Donna:  I don't eat while I write unless my stomach wakes me up out of my writing coma. And then I'm so starved that I want whatever I can get my hands on fastest.

CRW:  I love that you get into a "Writing Coma"  or zone. Okay Donna, here's the million dollar quesion.  Why are you a writer?

Donna:  I am. Therefore I write. It certainly isn't for the glory or the money, since obviously I have neither of those.

CRW:  Keep it up, you will!  Who do you hope reads your work?

Donna:  Anyone who wants an escape into a glittering world unlike their own. Anyone who wants to fall in love. Anyone who wants to know more about the magical and mysterious Regency Era. Or anyone who will buy my book and tell a hundred of their closest friends it's the best book they've ever read!

CRW:  What would be the best compliment you could receive from one of your readers?

Donna:  "I couldn't put it down so I stayed up all night reading it."  -  or  -  "I totally fell in love with your hero."

CRW:  Please tell us about your book you are now promoting. You know, kind of your elevator pitch.

Donna:  Alicia must marry a terrifying man to save her family from ruin. But little does she know, a killer is stalking her family. Is the handsome lord tempting her to leave her husband merely a harmless flirtation...or something much more dangerous?.
CRW:  I'm hooked.  Please tell us more about your books.  I understand that your book, "The Stranger She Married is a Golden Quill Finalist.  Congratulations!

Donna:  Thank you.  It is book 1of the Rogue Hearts Series.
         When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.
          Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true.
          After yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart.

The next is Book 2 in the Rogue Hearts Series; "The Guise of a Gentleman." It's about a secret agent who must impersonate a pirate in order to expose a pirate ring. But the stakes raise when the woman he loves is dragged into his dangerous world of espionage and piracy. This book will be out April of 2010. 
          "Combining Jane Austen with swashbuckling adventure, The Guise of a Gentleman is a fine specimen of pirate romance!" USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Ashley
          The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for freedom and adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.
          A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared accepts one last assignment before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit.She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.

"Troubled Hearts" is a short novella.  Desperate to escape her estranged husband and a home enshrouded with death and despair, Julia flees in the middle of the night. Little does she know, her determined husband is in pursuit. Along the journey, she discovers a telling revelation. But will it be enough to banish the ghosts of the past and quiet her troubled heart?

CRW:  Where can our readers go to buy your book(s)?

Donna:  At Barnes & Noble (they'll order it for you if they don't currently have it in stock.)  Also,, or my publisher, The Wild Rose Press

CRW:  Donna you have this tag on your email, "Believe in happy endings…"  Your books fit this so well. Thanks for sharing with us today on Writers Wednesday at Writers Mirror.

To read more about Donna Hatch click onto her sites.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Writer ~ Rachel Rager

Rachel Rager

CRW:  Welcome Rachel Rager, to Writers Mirror, Writers Wednesday.  Please introduce yourself to us.

Rachel:  I’m the mother of three beautiful young girls. My husband and I have been married for eight and half years. I love to sing and have a degree in vocal performance for opera. I published By Love or By Sea in April 2009 but have seven stories that are complete and five works in progress! I love to read any good, clean romance book, ride my bike, go on picnics with my family, write, sing and bake! (Not usually at the same time, of course!)

CRW:  What inspires you to write?

Rachel:  I get inspiration all over the place. One day I wrote a character based on a young man I saw driving a truck through an intersection! I have notebooks everywhere so I can write down things whenever the thought strikes me. I also often find inspiration while on road trips.

CRW:  Do you try to write daily, and if so, do you set a goal of a certain number of words?

Rachel:  No. That takes the fun out of it. I try to write every day, but I don’t set myself a time limit. I prefer to take the journey and enjoy it. If I try to fulfill something, I get stressed and I find I don’t write as well and the ideas aren’t as good. I do set some goals occasionally, such as when I’d like to finish a chapter, but I don’t do that often. I prefer to just have fun.

CRW:  What gets in your way of writing?

Racgel:  Everything. As a mother of three young girls, finding time to write is challenging, especially as they get older and take fewer naps. However, my biggest speed bump is checking emails when I get a chance to sit down to the computer. I easily get distracted.

CRW:  How do you get past it?

Rachel:  Persistence. It’s something I continually have to work at. But I restrict myself from checking my email once in the morning and once in the evening. That seems to help. Then when I’m on the computer, I can concentrate on writing!

CRW:  Please tell us about your book, "By Love or By Sea."

Rachel:  Here is the blub on the back of the book.  ALICE LIND FRANK never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.

WHEN A RAGGED SAILOR appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.

 BUT CLANRENCE REFUSES to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb’s past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice’s heart.

CAN ALICE OVERCOME HER FEARS and surrender her heart to Caleb once more? And what will she do about Clarence?

ACTION, ADVENTURE, and most of all, ROMANCE, make By love or By Sea a thrilling and emotional love story you won’t soon forget.

To read an espert of By Love or By Sea, go to

CRW:  Sounds great Rachel.  I am sorry to say I have yet to read it, but I certainly will now.  Now back to more about Rachel. What makes you CRAZY about writing?

Rachel:  Crazy good or crazy bad?

CRW:  Either one.

Rachel:  I hate it when people think they know so much about writing and say you can or can’t do something because of a certain rule. It takes all the fun out of writing. I love it when I’m writing and all of a sudden, I just can’t type fast enough. The characters and events are happening so vividly in my mind that all I can do is type out the story, not think about what comes next or how to fix certain problems. I love being ‘in the zone!’ However, inevitably, I am interrupted and have to decide if I should continue on writing or attend to whatever “emergency” has come up!

CRW:  How long does it take you to complete a book?

Rachel:  It depends on the story. It depends on how well I know the characters. I wrote a short story that took me just a little more than a week to write. However, By Love or By Sea took closer to a year before I felt like it was submission worthy. Even then, it took me five years from start until it was published. But usually I can write a story in a couple months.

CRW:  Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Rachel: Everywhere! I once based a character off of a young man I saw in a pick-up truck at a stoplight. I had to pull over and write down some notes to tie me over until I could get home and write him onto paper! I also find that when my family and I are traveling, just looking at the scenery is extremely inspiring. Needless to say, I have little notebooks EVERYWHERE!

CRW:  Where do you get your character’s names?

Rachel:  I don’t know. I’m terrible at names. In fact, I had to change many of the names for the characters in By Love or By Sea because they weren’t ‘time’ appropriate. I just pick whatever comes to mind. I’m not very good at it, I’m afraid.

CRW:  What is your favorite writing food?

Rachel:  Hmmm. That’s tough. I can’t dismiss chocolate, because that’s wonderful! I usually have a cherry Pepsi. Anything that I can just munch on is good. Seldom is it healthy, though. I’ve found gum a good alternative because then my hands can be busy without getting my keyboard sticky or greasy! I also get more writing done and less pounds on my waist!

CRW:  Why are you a writer?

Rachel:  I’m not always sure. I had other ambitions in life. I wanted to be a mom or a business woman but I never thought I’d be a writer. When I was young, I couldn’t spell well and didn’t like to read and I didn’t read well. I’d sometimes get great ideas but was too impatient to sit and write more than a page.
          Shortly after my first daughter was born, my mother-in-law gave me A Heavenly Surrender by Marcia Lynn McClure to read. I loved it and eagerly searched out more of Marcia’s books. At the time, she only had three in print, but I devoured them!
          Then one night I had a dream and when I woke up, I decided to try and write it down. Did I imagine anything might come of it? Of course not. I didn’t even know if I’d have the patience to sit and write all those words! Still, I eagerly wrote down an outline and then timidly told my husband. I will always remember the doubtful look on his face as he said, “Well…I guess if you really want to.”
          I told no one else! Instead I wrote. After a month of typing during my daughter’s naps and while my husband was in classes, I finished. And it was terrible! But I had done what I set out to do. So I edited and submitted it. (Only then did I tell my mother, who was floored by my revelation.)
          Needless to say, my first attempt was rejected, but I persisted. I kept rewriting, editing, and even began writing another book. I also broadened my horizons and read tons of books. With each rewrite or book I read, I learned more and more. Finally, after five years, I had written five stories. I submitted my third story and finally got a contract with Cedar Fort, Inc. Six years (almost to the month) after I started writing, I accomplished another goal and held a copy of my book in my hands.

CRW:  Your writing journey is a great story, Rachel.  Who do you hope reads your work?

Rachel:  I hope that everyone who enjoys a simple, clean romance will read my work. I want people to be aware that clean romance can be just as, if not more enjoyable than romance with smut. Kissing is wonderful and there is plenty of it in my stories but there is never anything inappropriate. I hope my readers will appreciate that!

CRW:  Yah, score one for my own personal motto of the "World needs more wholesome stories."   What would be the best complement you could receive from a fan?

Rachel:  My sister gave me a great one. She is very critical and reads a lot. I always ask her to read everything I write first. I gave her my WIP (work in progress) one day and she wrote me the next day. She said that her house was a mess and her family neglected simply because she couldn’t put down my story. She just had to know what would happen next. That was a great complement!
          From fans, I just love to hear from them! I love to know that there are people who really enjoy my work! And I always respond!

CRW:  What is the topic of the project you are currently working on? Please tell us more about it.

Rachel:  I’m polishing up one with a working title of A Dress to the Heart. Ivy Lewis is both provider and nurturer for her seven younger siblings. Plain and poor, she works as an apprentice to a seamstress, yearning for scholastic knowledge and finding her true love. Her social standing places her as an outcast among many, namely the arrogant Eleanora Key, who can’t seem to torture Ivy enough. And like Miss Key, Ivy has her eye set on Lord Sterling Bennett; the contrast lying in that she can never hope to capture his attention, let alone aspire to gain his admiration.
          When Ivy meets a mysterious man on the road, Mr. Alan, her entire world shifts. She is no longer invisible to the world. Amid trying to care for her ill mother and her siblings, she finds herself kidnapped, courted by two wealthy men, and demoralized by Eleanora Key. Through it all, she learns her worth as a woman and the importance of maintaining the values she’s always believed in. But she must discover the secrets of Mr. Alan before it is too late.
          I’m also doing some rewrites on The Tiger, Unleashed, and A Cold Heart which is a historical romance based at Platte Bridge Station just outside of Casper, Wyoming. I’m also considering writing a book about Betsy Winter’s journey. I have heard so many things about her. Everyone just loves her! So, I’m thinking about that. I have probably a dozen stories in my head and no time to put them on paper. So I hope that you will see many more books from me in the future!

CRW:  I hope so too. Thank you so much for sharing with us today. The world needs more voices like yours!

For more information on Rachel see her web and blog.

Her book is available at local book stores and:

Cedar Fort, Inc.