Glad you're here. You'll find reviews of various products....books, dvd's, music, and who knows what else you might find with a review! There will be an occasional interview and maybe even a few giveaways! Enjoy your time here and find yourself a treasure or two!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review of "High Stakes Inheritance" by Susan Sleeman

Susan is handling the giveaway for her book. If you wish to enter her contest, please click here: http://www.thesuspensezone.com/

And now for the review:
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Mia Blackburn is being sent some pretty threatening warnings to leave Logan Lake. She isn’t going to let anyone scare her away from her newly inherited property.

When Mia’s Uncle Wally died he left his lodge and resort to her. His will states that she must spend a year there in order to inherit the property. As she arrives to begin her stay, a fire breaks out in the barn. Mia becomes trapped in the barn, fearing she won’t get out alive. Her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Morgan who is a volunteer firefighter, comes to her rescue. Ryan broke Mia’s heart years ago, but she still has feelings for him. She doesn’t want him to know this though. He keeps a watchful eye on her and she does feel safe.

Several things happen, including murder, that try to scare Mia away from Pinetree lodge and resort. She is determined to find out who is doing this and why they want her gone. Ryan insists on helping her so that he can stay close and try to keep her safe.

Ryan is a professional counselor who runs Wilderness Ways, a Christian camp for young people in trouble. He asks Mia to help thinking it might get her mind off of the things that are happening at the resort. She befriends a couple of the kids there that end up becoming involved in another attempt to get Pinetree away from Mia.

I loved this book! The characters were very believable and the writing grabbed you and pulled you into the story. If you enjoy suspense, a little romance, and a “who-dunit”, you will love this book.

Read more about the author, Susan Sleeman, here: http://www.susansleeman.com.

If you would like to enter a contest to win a copy of this book, visit here:


Review of "First Impressions" by Michelle Sutton

What about first impressions? Do you tend to jump to conclusions when you meet someone for the first time? What kind of first impression do you leave?


Sammie is a female officer in the Army, stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona awaiting deployment to the Middle East. During her down time she decided to join a local acting troop in Tombstone to learn how to flirt with a man. Sammie had not had much practice in the art of attracting boys due to a strict upbringing by her mother. Sammie goes into a local shop, Shady Lady’s Closet, to find a costume to wear. After she picks out something, she tries it on and although she likes what she sees, she’s a bit embarrassed by how much of her is showing.

Jimmy is a counselor who likes to people watch. He says it helps in his job. He also enjoys acting with the Tombstone actors and is playing the part of the lonely stud. And with him it is an act. He has decided not to get too attached to any young woman until God directs him to “the one”. When he sees Sammie, he almost can’t believe his eyes. She’s almost too pretty to be real. Is there something familiar about her?

I liked how Jimmy stood by his convictions. Even when it got hard, he stayed true to his faith. Not that it was always easy! When Sammie and Jimmy get together there is definitely sparks. I got a kick out of how Sammie was trying to be something she definitely was not. She had no idea what she was doing in the flirting department.

Michelle did a wonderful job of creating the characters and developing Jimmy and Sammie’s relationship. It does get a little steamy but not too much. I’m looking forward to the next one in this series.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School Days!

My daughter started back to school yesterday.  She's in 8th grade this year.  The "top dog" in Intermediate school.  I told her to just wait 'til next year...she'll be at the bottom of the ladder next year!  It seems these days that there is a lot of pressure put on the "fish" or freshmen in high school.  In the school my daughter will be going to, freshmen are not allowed to talk to seniors; if they are asked to carry a seniors books, they have to, etc.  I was thinking back and I don't remember having any "rules" we had to follow as freshmen.  One of my girlfriends told me that the freshmen in her school had to wear little "beanies" for a couple of weeks!  I can't imagine having to wear one!  Too funny! 
What are some of your memories from your early school days?  I have a great niece who just started school and I was reminded of my first few years in elementary school.  Our school had hard wood floors and they were waxed to a gleaming shine right before school started.  Back in those days kids dressed up for school, especially the first day.  I found out real quickly that pretty, hard soled shoes and freshly waxed floors don't mix!  I spent a lot of time on the floor the first few days of school!
Please leave a comment, telling us about one of your fondest memories of starting school!  I would love to hear other stories.  God bless!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Winner of Lisa Lickel's e-book, "Meander Scar" is........

Patsy!!  I will be sending you an email shortly.  Congratulations to Patsy and a big thank you to everyone who stopped by and read Lisa's interview and my book review.  This is really an awesome book!!
Blessings!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We Have A Winner of Shawna K. William's e-book, No Other.....

And the winner is.....Miss Kallie!  I'm going to send you an email shortly.
Congratulations and blessings!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Awesome interview with Lisa Lickel, author of "Meander Scar", and an e-book giveaway!

Lisa, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with Janet's Treasures and for generously giving an e-book copy of "Meander Scar" to one lucky winner!

Here's a little personal info on Lisa:

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain’s house. She collects dragons and loves antiques. She and her husband have two grown sons and daughters in law. She features Wisconsin facts, books and writers on the growing blog, Wisconsin Author Review, and is stepping in as editor of WRWA’s Creative Wisconsin magazine this winter. A basket of her books and other Wisconsin goodies will be up for auction at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis in September. She’ll teach the Nuts and Bolts of Submission next year on line for ACFW.

How did you come to be a writer?


Thank you for having me here, Janet. Becoming a writer is an on-going process for me. I’m not one of those authors who’s been writing since I first could hold a crayon. It’s been a deliberate study, first with the Christian Writer’s Guild apprentice program, then with a lot of help and encouragement from my reading and writing friends.


How long have you been writing and when was your first book published?

My first articles sold before I finished the apprentice program. I did newspaper features and magazine articles and I wrote my first book for the Operation: First Novel Contest, I think in 2003 (which made the top ten), and was hooked. I did the usual submission process for a couple of years, then signed with an agent and got my first contract all at the same time at the end of 2005. There were some hiccups along the way, and my first book, a cozy mystery with Barbour, didn’t actually release until February 2009.


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I read a lot, and we travel for recreation and to visit family. I’ve been in all 49 continental states. I putz a little with flowers, but I’m not really good at it, and wrestle my husband for the opportunity to hang out clothes and can vegetables in the summer. I’ve semi-graciously let him win the past couple of years. I’m involved with historical societies locally and state-wide and enjoy projects in research and preservation. I’m going to be recording my fourth radio play on Tuesday with the local group – the second in a silly soap opera series that I’m writing with the group’s founder. I do some activities with church. Sports: Packer season. Brewers.

Tell us how you come up with characters.

As I delve deeper into series, I find that I have become more deliberate. When I first began telling stories, completely developed characters introduced themselves. I had to interview them to unravel their backgrounds. Now, I have to expend more energy setting them up. I’m looking at an article I cut from the newspaper the other day, an obituary for a historian who has the basic characteristics I’m looking for in Maeve’s (from Meander Scar) father. I’ll dig deeper into his professional body of work and intend at this point to use that as the basis for his personality, but that could change as we go along.


What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?

If everyone could just go over to check out Cathy Bryant at http://wordvessel.blogspot.com you’ll see a whole career-building process as it’s going on. Cathy doesn’t just offer tips and share her story about her publishing journey, she’s the example of laying a proper foundation. Look at how many readers she attracted before her first book come out. Check out the networking structure she put in place. In this business, the scaffold is more important than the sign painter. You have to build a sturdy one that will hold up in any weather. Then, work on your story (the sign), so that it looks nice and attracts a lot of business from a wide audience (your readers). Get lots of opinions, but still listen to your instinct. A great example of listening to your instinct and doing what works best for you is Ellen C. Maze. She’s an author who went with her gut and did all the right things to make the book and fan base happen. You can find her on Goodreads. I encourage all of you to check out Goodreads.com.


What is a typical writing day like for you?

Wow, I wish I could have a typical day. I just don’t. A lot of what I’ve done this past year has been based on what comes up in the morning e-mail. I mentor writers, work with a couple of critique groups, and I’ve been working on craft instead of trying very hard to get more contracts. The economy tanking made fewer opportunities for everyone. I’ve made connections, networked, edited some of my older manuscripts as I learn more about writing and marketing. All that takes time.


Where do you write?

Everywhere. Putting new words on clean paper is only a small part of the writing process. When I sit down to do that, I tend to jot plot notes on whatever fairly clean paper is handy. When I’m gelled enough to start with scenes and character development, I type at my desk in the living room, or in a chair with the laptop. Or in the kitchen. Or a quiet upstairs bedroom. Or out on the farm where we have electricity but no indoor plumbing.


Tell us about your latest book.

Thanks for asking. I’ll start with the title, which I’m learning in the perfect clarity of hindsight probably wasn’t as cool as I thought. Too science geeky, although many of the serious readers catch my drift. Meander Scar is the story of a woman whose husband went missing. She decides to finally move on when a younger man from her past shows up. He’s a lawyer who offers to help put her husband’s estate to rest, while also quietly winning her heart. When she learns what happened to her husband, she has to decide whether or not to tell the truth.


What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?

I want to be cremated, but if anyone cared about an epitaph, perhaps it could read something like: Gone to play in the kingdom, free readings daily.


Where do you get ideas for stories?

My story ideas come mostly from the newspaper. However, being a local historian has its advantages and I hear a great many tales from the neighborhood. I used two of them in my first mystery.


How long does it normally take you to write a book?

Other writers might know normal, but that’s not me. When I’m ready to commit the story to hard drive, I prefer not to take more than six weeks, otherwise I get too mixed up with who did what. My schedule has been a little screwy the past year, so all bets are off. I’m still working on the third installment of the cozy mystery series that I began last fall. I’m not particularly happy about that.


Favorite scripture and/or quote:

Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”


Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts do you normally do for each novel? Do you have a certain editing procedure that you follow?

The editing part is a little different for each manuscript. My general process is to edit as I go, have my writing critique partners offer advice, then have readers – sort of like pre-screening movies for audience reaction. Sometimes there’s another draft or two. Then if there’s a sale, the people who pay me money tell me how they want the story to go and their own quirks for hyphens and commas. That might mean another draft. I do my best to get it right before submission, but also not to get too excited or anal about it. If there’s no sale for a couple of years, I’ll put the manuscript away and maybe get back to it, and keep going on something else.


What would you like readers to take away from your book?

When I first started learning about the industry, I didn’t even realize there was a separate market for inspirational fiction and mainstream fiction. I had to choose a style of writing and my audience. And there lies the issue: do I want to preach to the choir or the street people? I want to entertain, but do it “clean.” I hope readers will have some real discussions, some intense thoughts about their own situations, but also not to feel like they’ve wasted their time reading my books.


What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Well, not to be indelicate, but my best worst month was when the book club I was writing for folded, my second agent dumped me, and I lost my web content writing job all at once. A few months later I sold Meander Scar.


How can readers get in contact with you? (email; website; blog; etc.)

I answer mail at lisalickel@gmail.com or from my website, which is http://lisalickel.com. I’m on Facebook.com/lisalickel with both personal and “like” pages, and Goodreads.com/lisalickel and Shoutlife.com/lisalickel. I’m part of a couple of great blog groups, which you can find from my website, and am slowly at work on all things Wisconsin at http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com/. Thank you so much for hosting me, Janet. It’s been fun!

I thank you for being here and letting us learn a bit more about you, Lisa!  You are one busy lady!
 
If you would like a chance to win an electronic copy of "Meander Scar" just leave a comment with email address after the review (which follows) in the comment section.
 
My review of "Meander Scar":
 
Meander Scar is a story of abandonment, love, forgiveness, and God’s grace. I enjoyed this book very much. I think Lisa did an excellent job of developing the characters and luring readers into their lives.


Ann has been trying to get her missing husband declared dead for several years. Her mother-in-law, with her money and power, keep Ann from filing the necessary papers. Her son seems to blame her for his father’s disappearance. So their relationship is a bit on the unstable side. One night there is a knock on her front door and she finds Mark standing there. Mark and his family are former neighbors of hers. Mark’s younger brother, who died in an accident, was friends with Ann’s son, Richie. He has come “home” to practice law and to be close to Ann. It seems he has had feelings for her for many years. Ann likes the attention she gets from Mark but she is still legally married and worried about what other people will think. There is also the fact that she is almost old enough to be his mother.

The romance between Ann and Mark is the main story but there is also a secondary suspense story about what happened to Ann’s husband. I highly recommend this book! I’ll admit the age difference between the two main characters made me a little uncomfortable at first, but when I got into the story I couldn’t put it down. There is so much going on and Lisa has written this so beautifully. This is not your typical romance, and for that I was glad!

I was provided a PDF copy of “Meander Scar” in exchange for my honest review.

I honestly loved this book!!

If you would like an electronic copy of Lisa's book, "Meander Scar", please leave a comment and an email address (so I can contact you if you win!) in the comment section.  I think you will be pleased if you are the winner of this awesome book!  The winner will be announced on Sunday, August 22, 2010.  Good luck and God bless!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome Shawna K. Williams, author of "No Other"; giveaway included!


Shawna has graciously agreed to give away a pdf copy of her book, along with one of her unique, handmade bracelets.

Here's a short bio on our guest, Shawna K. Williams:

Shawna K. Williams is an inspirational novelist who loves telling a story through flawed characters - the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century. However, being a fan of other genres, including Science Fiction and Suspense, she has a few surprises planned for future works.


When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger and jewelry designer.

How did you come to be a writer?


I hadn’t intended to pursue a career as a writer. I was actually quite content being a stay at home-schooling mom. About eight years ago I had a really interesting dream. Initially I began to write out a story based on the dream just to satisfy my own need to fit it all together. However, I eventually decided that if I was going to put that much effort into it, I might as well run with the story and see what I could do. This made me explore every aspect of the characters and their story deeper, and somewhere along the way writing became a passion.

How long have you been writing and when was your first book published?

I’ve toyed with writing off and on for eight years, but my serious efforts didn’t start until about three years ago. I had my first short story published two years ago. It was followed by two more. No Other was accepted for publication just over a year ago, and it released in May 2010. It was my first book. My second book, In All Things, which is a sequel to No Other, and also based on that dream, will release in November 2010. Orphaned Hearts releases in December, so it’s been a busy year.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Well, this past year I haven’t had much. The kids and I were talking just last night actually, and I’d like to take more time to go hiking, or rock hounding, and just enjoy the beautiful area in which we live.
And, of course, I love to read.

Tell us how you come up with characters.


The main characters in No Other were given to me. They were part of that dream, and I even knew their names from it. Other characters just seemed to evolve naturally into the story.

With Orphaned Hearts, I had a story concept, and the characters were just there. As the story unfolded they took on depth. I did, and do, a lot of writing outside of my stories to get a better understanding of character backgrounds. I really feel like this is essential to creating consistent, believable characters.

What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?

Find a great critique partner, who understands your writing style and will be lovingly honest with you. I may take a little while, but the support and growth you’ll receive, and give in return, are invaluable (I’m talkin’ about you, Kat!)

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Oh boy! Well, currently I’m working on last minute tweaks with one book about to release, and completing another, and promoting still another. So I often don’t get to bed until 4-5am, sometimes later. I don’t intend for this to be a permanent lifestyle. We homeschool, and my children are older, and also a good portion of their schooling is done through computer classrooms. So they start their day before me. I try to get about five hours of sleep so I can function. Then the daytime is devoted to school and family. If we’re at home all day I will take care of promotion stuff since it’s something I can work on, leave, and come back to without having to shift to the creative side of my brain. Evenings, if we’re all at home we often watch something on tv as a family. We used to play more games, but not recently. We need to get back in the habit. Two of my kids are teens, so between their youth group and friends from our homeschool group they stay busy. Once everyone is in bed I shift into writing gear.


Where do you write?

Well, I used to write in this little Victorian looking room we dubbed, “The reading room.” But then I got a new computer, and for some reason my wireless connection doesn’t hold up from the other end of the house. Since my current project is a historical, I do a lot of impromptu research, so I need internet access. I’ve tried boosters with little luck. So, lately I’ve been writing from the sofa in my bedroom. I prefer the reading room though.

Tell us about your latest book.

No Other is a 20th Century Historical, Inspirational Romance. It’s set in a coastal Texas town during 1947, a couple of years after WWII. I really enjoyed writing a story set in this time period because, instead of focusing on how the nation recovered in broad terms, I was able to focus on how individuals set about recovering emotionally from such an event.

Jakob is trying to resume life and deal with his anger over the events of the past five years. His parents are German immigrants who were interned at a camp known as Crystal City during the war. As an American born child he feels betrayed and angry, not just at his community, but at himself because of an incident that he was involved in which he feels may have contributed to their arrest.

Jakob was forced to quit school in order to care for his younger sibling during the war. With the war ended and life beginning to settle, he decides to go back to school and get his diploma so he can move on to bigger and better dreams. It’s immediately awkward though because one of his teachers is a girl he previously went to high school with.

Meri comes from an affluent and socially elite family. She’s a dutiful daughter but also conflicted. On the one hand she desperately wants her parents approval — that’s the only time they offer her their love — on the other hand, she wants to be free of the control they exert over her life.

As friendship blooms and feelings develop Meri begins to understand what real love is supposed to be, and Jakob, seeing the pain her family has caused her, wants to shelter her from more. Of course, the first big obstacle is that because of the nature of their situation (her being his teacher) any type of romantic relationship is unethical, and then there’s also the social issues to consider. Meri and Jakob decide to pursue a secret romance, in which lies lead them to trouble in more ways than one. And I’ll leave the rest as a mystery.


What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?

I’m thrilled to have No Other and In All Things out of me and into words! I intend to keep writing, but those two stories and the characters have been with me for so long, and I’m really happy to finally be able to share them.

My kiddos are my greatest source of pride though. In a few months my baby will turn thirteen, and then I’ll have three teenagers. It’s hard to believe. They’re fantastic kids and I’m so fortunate to be their mom.


Where do you get ideas for stories?

A mixture of things. I’ve talked a lot about the dream that No Other and In All Things were based on. I recently wrote an outline for another story based on a dream. Orphaned Hearts started with me thinking about my granddad. I somehowwondered into the idea about a man, who had been an orphan, and not been adopted because of a physical handicap, trying to find a home for an orphan who also had a physical handicap.

I have a great idea that is just a title at the moment, “Memoirs of a GhostTown” that I’d like to make it into a collections of stories that chronicle the events in the lifespan of a town. That idea came to me while driving through a near deserted town.

It’s hard to say what exactly will spring forth an idea. I guess it mostly stems from an active imagination.


How long does it normally take you to write a book?

Six months seems to be a good number for me. I have periods where I can’t seem to focus, and other times where things flow fast and furious. In All Things was a very difficult write, and I had more than a few freak out moments, wondering if I could pull it together. The book is long, right at 100,000 words, and the last 30,000 all came out within a month -- quite easily too because everything finally came into focus.

Favorite scripture and/or quote:

Several, but at the moment Romans 8:28 is in the forefront of my mind.


Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts do you normally do for each novel? Do you have a certain editing procedure that you follow?

Four drafts seems to be a good number for me. I don’t complete them though. About the time I get two thirds done I feel like I’ve completely lost direction, and I’ll go back and find where I started to lose my direction. Also, the first drafts are also very much about getting to know my characters. By the time I’m two-thirds done the third go around, I seem to understand them and their journey. I can actually write quite fast at that point.

I kind of have a feeling though that each story will be different. The one I’m currently working on was originally a short story. Granted, long for a short story, 15,000 words. I’m finding that the writing is going quite smooth, and I think it’s because the story is cemented in my mind, and I know the characters‘ internal struggles. I’m enjoying that I get to expand on them in this book.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I wrote "No Other" because I wanted to tell an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other. I hope readers come away with a better understanding of Grace. And after reading In All Things, I hope readers reflect on God’s purpose in their lives, even during dark times.

In All Things is a fictional story, but I have a true one I’ll share at a later date about my grandparents,. It’s totally different in events, but similar in theme. I’m saving it for my interviews for In All Things and Orphaned Hearts because, though these two fictional stories are not related, my grandparents’ story relates to them both.


How can readers get in contact with you? (email; website; blog; etc.)

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245?ref=ts

http://twitter.com/shawnakwilliams

http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/

http://shawnakwilliams.com/

Thanks so much for letting us get to know you better, Shawna!    May God continue to bless you!

Now, here is my review of "No Other".  If you would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment WITH your email address.  Thanks!

Shawna has written a remarkable story with “No Other”! I had a bit of a hard time getting into the book at first. Not sure why, just did. Once I got into it, I didn’t want to stop! The characters were so real. I could feel their emotions.



Jakob is trying to come to terms with his parents being held by the Germans during WWII. While they were being held he had to stay home and take care of his siblings. His older brother Joe was away fighting in the war. When the war is over, and his family is back together Jakob decides it’s time to go back to school and finish up high school. Jakob is a Christian young man trying to live a godly life.


Meri Parker is a 22 year old teacher in the same Texas town Jakob lives in. In fact they both grew up there and were friends “way back when”. When Jakob starts back to school he is floored to see Meri Parker as his teacher. I think they see a “spark” when they meet and it later grows. Due to the teacher/student relationship and also because they are so totally opposites in the material world, a relationship is impossible. They decide to sneak around to see each other after discovering they have feelings for one another.


This book has romance and a theme of forgiveness running all through it. Jakob has to learn to forgive the events of the past; Meri needs to forgive her parents for being so overbearing; and due to something that happens, Meri and Jakob must learn to forgive themselves.

Like I said at the beginning, once I got past the first few pages, I was hooked! I believe Shawna has written a wonderful book about forgiveness and love. I would encourage you to get a copy and read for yourself! I believe you will be blessed!

Remember, leave a comment with your email address to have a chance at winning a pdf copy of "No Other", along with a beautiful, handmade bracelet from Shawna!  Good luck and God bless!

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Review Of "Friendship For Grown-ups" by Lisa Whelchel; book giveaway



This book was provided free to me by BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review of the book.  To win this copy, please leave a comment and your email address following this review in the comments section.


I had a very hard time getting interested in this book. This is the only writing of Lisa’s I’ve ever read and I guess I just don’t care for her type of writing. I did watch her show, “Facts Of Life”, many years ago and really enjoyed that. Over the years I’ve heard Lisa speak out regarding her Christian faith and I admire her for this.

The book, as far as I could tell, is Lisa’s journey through her growing up and making and keeping friends. I had a hard time relating because I had “normal” growing up years. I guess being an actress, in the public eye, would definitely make a difference in how you handle relationships. Lisa relates that she pretended to be 100% when asked how she was, just to hide her real feelings. I did like how she tells of relying on God to get her through her friendship break ups.

Even though I’m giving the book 2 stars, I would ask you not to go by my review alone. Please read other reviews of this book at Amazon.com.  This just wasn’t my type of book. It may appeal to others in a more positive way.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment and an email address.  A winner will be drawn from blog entries on Saturday, August 13, 2010.

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