Interview and Giveaway with Carrie Stuart Parks

Time for a change to Suspense with the amazing Carrie Stuart Parks!

Ahhh, Carrie, what can I say…I met Carrie about a year ago at the ACFW conference. She critiqued a section of my manuscript and believe it or not, she liked it. ☺We had a great conversation and as they say, the rest is history. She is so generous with her time and willingness to help. I can’t thank her enough.

Please welcome Carrie Stuart Parks!

Enter to win Fragments of Fear and an artist kit

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Carrie Stuart Parks

Where did you get your ideas for your books? Lately I’ve been brainstorming with fellow writers—Colleen Coble, Lynette Eason, Robin Caroll, Pam Hillman, Voni Harris, and my agent, Karen Solem. Several others have joined us in the past. I get a rough idea of location and problem and we all run with it. We try to get together once a year. Can I just say I’m jealous!

Tell us about your “other” career. ☺  I’m a forensic artist—I use my art to work with law enforcement and the legal community on criminal and civil cases. This includes composite drawings of unknown subjects, image modification, unknown remains, crime scene sketches, demonstrative evidence, and courtroom illustrations. My husband, Rick, and I teach these topics to law enforcement personnel.

I’m also a professional artist with watercolor as my primary medium.

I’ve heard your mentor is quite an interesting character. Do tell! Frank Peretti, the “Dean of Christian Fiction,” mentored me for eight years. What a TOTAL blessing.

How long does it take you to write a novel? The idea floats around for a few months while I finish the previous book, then the plotting, character development, and research takes about 4 months. Writing takes 8 months—so a year. I’d probably be faster, but I have a “day job.”

Who’s your all-time favorite character? Of mine? Gwen Marcey, of course.

When is your next release? Shameless plug time! July 23 is the release day for Fragments of Fear. From the back cover:

Evelyn McTavish’s world came crashing down with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she receives a call that her dog is about to be destroyed at the pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. But the shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine with her name and address makes it hers.

Evelyn recognizes the dog as one owned by archaeologist John Coyote because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner—but she arrives only to discover John’s murdered body.

As Evelyn herself becomes a target, her path crosses with undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price. But the more he gets to know her, the more personally invested he is in keeping her safe. They’re desperate to find the links between these disparate pieces. And the clock is ticking.

Tell us a little bit about your typical day. My “typical” day isn’t ever typical. I wake up between 5-6 AM (depending on dogs.) After putting them outside, then in, then out, then in until I am going nuts, I do my daily devotional with my first gallon of coffee. Then I answer emails and putter on the computer before starting on writing. I write a few hours every day if possible. I keep a spiral notebook open with the projects that need to be done—ordering art supplies for classes, bookkeeping, follow-up, art delivery, enrollment, and so on.

We travel to various locations about once a month to teach our week-long classes, so as the class approaches, the list will include packing, rosters, handouts, shipping books, airline tickets, dog care, and so many other things that I get tired just thinking about it… Rick (hubby) schedules the classes, does the newsletter, books the hotel and rental cars, and handles some correspondence.

In addition to the forensic classes, I’m a professional speaker. I talk on forensic art, signs of deception, and writing. I use Powerpoint extensively and customize it for each group, so preparing, timing, corresponding with the group, booking flights, hotels, and so on may take a chunk of the day. Whew. Now I am tired…

Then there are the dogs (I’ll answer a later question here.) I have six pooches: four Great Pyrenees and two bull terriers. I completed my Pyrenees permit judging license this year and am picking up the three provisional assignments to complete the final AKC requirements. I show several of the dogs, something I’ve been doing since I was nine. On that handy list I mentioned earlier are getting ready for the shows (showing locally, judging in Chicago, New Jersey, Washington State, and California.) Add grooming, training, kennel cleaning…I’m exhausted…

Finally, there’s the routine maintenance around here. We live on the family’s 685-acre ranch in the mountains of North Idaho. We have our home, guest house (used for classes in the summer,) the 20 x 30’ studio, and dog kennel. I’m going back to bed…

When did you start writing? Probably some time in the early 1990s. Non-fiction art books and books on signs of deception.

Tell us about your first book contract.  My first was for a non-fiction, illustrated Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces. My first fiction contract came after eight years of being mentored by Frank, around ten writing conferences, numerous online classes, two critique groups, and over 80 books on the subject. The “learning” book didn’t sell originally, so I wrote a second. A partial of the second book (which became A Cry From the Dust) was sent to seven publishing houses. One didn’t answer, one said they weren’t doing fiction anymore, and five wanted the manuscript. It went to auction between two of the big five, with Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian signing me for a three book deal. That book won a Carol and finaled in the Christy’s. All of the books in that 4-book series won major awards. God is good.

What is the hardest part about being an author? Is there an easy part? Just sitting down with discipline and writing.

Who is your favorite author? Frank Peretti, of course. Dick Frances, Jonathan and Fay Kellerman, J.A. Jance, early Patricia Cornwell. Colleen Coble, Robin Caroll, Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, Cara Putman…oh my! So many books, so little time.

What is your favorite book? In terms of reading it the most times, the Bible.

I recall you have a big fluffy bear…oops, I mean dog. Do tell! I did mention the dogs earlier. I served as the president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America—something my mother did. I inherited the kennel and love of dogs from both my folks. They have since passed on, and I feel like I honor their memory by continuing to have them.

Anything you want to brag about? I think I’ve done enough damage….

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   Coke

Candy, cookies, or cake?    Have you seen me? Yes!

Favorite food?  More like what won’t I eat…

Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the am, iced tea in the afternoon.

Favorite vacation? All of them.

Favorite TV show?  Hmmmm. I binge watch different shows based on my mood.

Favorite Movie? Do I have to choose one?

Any hobbies? I guess the dogs count as a hobby—the writing, art, and teaching are wonderful jobs.

Carrie, thank you so much for joining us and for the fun giveaway.

Please join me next month for a giveaway and interview with Lynette Eason.

Giveaway and Interview with Laurel Blount

Several months back, when I complained—yes, I admit it (Lol!)—about the book I’d been reading, a friend suggested I try Laurel Blount’s debut novel.

I’m more of a suspense girl, but sure, why not try a new romance author. I am so glad I did. Laurel has an amazing talent of keeping things fresh and flowing. I’m hooked! I just read her latest release, Hometown Hope!

Please welcome Laurel Blount!

Giveaway: Hometown Hope

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Hometown Hope Giveaway!!


Where did you get your ideas for your books? Everywhere! Usually, my stories start with an interesting character or a “what if” situation and develop from there.

How long does it take you to write a Love Inspired novel? It varies depending on how much revision I have to do, but usually about four to five months.

Who’s your all-time favorite character? Oooh–so hard to choose! If you mean a character in someone else’s book, I’d say Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. His quiet, relentless integrity really resonates with me. If you mean a character I created, I’d say Abel Whitlock, the country-guy hero in my debut novel A Family for the Farmer has a special place in my heart. But so does building contractor Hoyt Bradley–the hero in my latest release Hometown Hope. And then there’s Jacob Stone–the kind-hearted minister in A Baby for the Minister—nope, can’t choose. I love them all! Sami: I have to say, I really loved Jacob Stone.

Tell us a bit about your new release? Hometown Hope is officially a July release for Love Inspired, but the paperback actually releases on June 18–my birthday! How sweet is that? This book started with a character–unapologetically blue-collar widower Hoyt Bradley whose little daughter Jess hasn’t spoken a word in the three years since her mom’s death. When Jess finally does speak, she asks her father to help save a beloved bookstore, owned by Hoyt’s former classmate Anna “Brainy” Delaney. Anna and Hoyt share a prickly history, but Hoyt’s willing to do anything to keep Jess talking–and Anna’s warm heart goes out to his book-loving little girl. And as they cooperate to help Jess heal, these two opposites stumble headlong into an unexpected romance! Sami: I loved little Jess!! And Happy Birthday!! 

What is your typical day like?  I get up around five a.m. and stagger to the coffee maker. Caffeine in hand, I have some quiet time, reading the Bible and praying. Then I write until about nine-thirty. I stop and jump into homeschooling my two younger kids. Once homeschooling is done, I may sneak in a second writing session in the afternoon. Then it’s housework, farm chores and cooking! I enjoy supper with my husband and kids, and I often read at night. Then I go to bed with the chickens so I can get up and do it all over again the next day.

When did you start writing? I think I was born holding a notebook! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write stories and keep a journal. I dabbled in writing a novel when I was in my twenties, and started getting serious about my writing in 2015 when I entered Love Inspired’s Blurb 2 Book Contest.

When did you receive your first book contract? I got “the call” in  August of 2015 after finaling in Blurb 2 Book! I can show you the exact spot in my kitchen where I took that call, too! I hung up on my sister when I saw New York on my call waiting screen–but she forgave me.

What did you do with your first Advance? Attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference! And it was so worth it! Sami: I LOVE the ACFW conference.

What is the hardest part about being an author? I love writing! But–some parts are tough. Writing professionally means writing even when you’re not in the mood or when you’re dealing with life’s junk so that you can honor your deadlines. It also means accepting constructive criticism with humility and a commitment to improve your writing.

On a lighter note–writing means I’m chronically distracted because I’m always hashing out scenes and plots in my mind. I can be very absent-minded–and this can impact other areas of my life. Just the other day I was working out a storyline in my mind as I was tidying up. I later came across a roll of toilet paper I’d intended to put in the bathroom perched on a pile of folded clothes in my closet. This sort of thing happens a lot!

Who is your favorite author? I love so many authors–usually, it’s whoever I happen to be reading at the moment!

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   Pepsi (Even though I’m a Georgia girl through and through)

Candy, cookies, or cake?  Pie, darling. Pie. Buttermilk pie is a particular favorite!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee for the caffeine, tea for the company.

Favorite vacation?   Love the beach–but basically any place with people I love and lots of free time makes me happy.

Favorite TV show?  Call the Midwife and the Great British Baking Show

Favorite Movie? Probably While You Were Sleeping. Love that one!

Any hobbies? Pets? Activities? Tons! I read, go antiquing, garden and can. My sis and I recently took up pickleball, too! We have four spoiled rotten cats, three of which are rescues, dairy goats, cows, ducks and a very bossy goose.    Sami: Can I come visit?

Be sure to visit Laurel’s website at

Thank you, Laurel, for joining us this month!

Be sure to join me on July 18th for a Giveaway and Interview with Carrie Stuart Parks!


Interview with Tina Radcliffe

It’s time to changes things up a bit from Romantic Suspense to Romance authors.

Please welcome, romance author, Tina Radcliffe.  Tina Radcliffe April 2019_300dpi Smaller

I met Tina at the ACFW conference then connected on Facebook with her soon after. Tina has jumped in and helped me with a manuscript and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. I can’t thank her enough for all she’s done. I hope you enjoy her books as much as I have.

Thank you for joining us, Tina.

Giveaways: One Grand prize plus five additional winners.

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Tina R Twitter

Where did you get your ideas for your books?  The best ideas come from observing life. An overheard conversation in the airport. People watching. Once I picked up a piece of notepaper that had someone’s entire wedding planned on it in detail. It was written in childish scrawl. That is a book waiting to be told.

I keep all swatches of ideas, clippings, sticky notes and overheard conversations in an idea box. I date the paper and occasionally, when I need inspiration, I pull them out and look them all over. Unfortunately, at this point in my life, there are more ideas than there is time to write all the stories.

Who’s your all-time favorite character?  There are no favorite characters. Each one is loved for a special reason. For example:

Will Sullivan in The Rancher’s Reunion is based on a real person from my past who dealt with the possible diagnosis of Huntington’s disease

Fireman Jake MacLaughlin in Safe in the Fireman’s Arms who at the time, was the oldest hero I’d ever written. Jake gets a second chance at love.  Oooohhhh, I loved him!! Sorry, please continue. 

Rancher Joe Gallagher in Rocky Mountain Cowboy who is based on a real cowboy who has a myoelectric prosthetic arm.

Tripp Walker in Her Last Chance Cowboy is an enigmatic loner cowboy. This man of few words finally gets his own happily ever after in book four of the Big Heart Ranch series.

Right now, I’m writing about Mitch Rainbolt, a small-town sheriff with a tragic past who doesn’t believe that he deserves the love of a lifetime.

When is your next release? Do tell!  Rebel Ranch kicks off in the spring of 2020! Here’s the blurb about this exciting new series.

Four siblings who inherit their grandfather’s ranch, work to overcome the tragedy of their past and in the process, find the forever healing power of love.

Tell us a little bit about your typical day.  I wish I had a typical day. Right now, I am letting my circadian clock do its thing and that means after years of working the graveyard shift; I am back at it again. I write during the night. Fewer interruptions.

When did you start writing?  Writing evolved from a voracious reading habit and reading from a desire to escape into another world. I wrote my first complete novel at fourteen.

When did you receive your first book contract?  January 2010

What is the hardest part about being an author?  The most difficult part of being an author is trying to pretend I am normal and that my writing job can be turned off on Friday at five until I go into the office again on Monday. I am always an author. It consumes me. This explains the sticky notes with ideas that are everywhere (see the idea box above) or the dozens of stories that are in various stages on my computer.

Who is your favorite author or favorite book?  I have 1,368 books on my Kindle and at least six dozen physical books in my office. Can there be one favorite author or one favorite book? Should there be? There is a book for every mood and every stage of life. This explains why I am a big fan of keepers.

However, in the nonfiction realm, my favorite memoir is by Mary Higgins Clark’s. It’s called Kitchen Privileges. Ms. Clark is 91 years old, and she is still publishing. I want to be her when I grow up.

Anything you want to brag about?  Oh, yes. I am a collector of useless trivia. I also have somewhat of a photographic memory in small bites. This makes me a good person to bring along to a party for meaningless chit-chat.

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   Sorry, neither. I drink sparkling water. I am, in fact, a sparkling water addict.

Candy, cookies, or cake?    Is this really a fair question? All of the above. I didn’t get this round figure by limiting my intake choices.

Coffee or Tea?  Interesting question. I used to bring my own carafe of coffee to work for years to ensure I received enough of the good stuff. I never drank tea. Now, I am an equal opportunity caffeinated beverage imbiber. I love coffee, especially Arbuckle brand with a splash of half-and-half. However, I also love dirty chai and a good matcha.

Favorite vacation?   I don’t vacation. I go to conferences and visit my kids. The ideal decadence, which I have only experienced a few times in my life, is a hotel room with lots of books and room service.

 Favorite TV show?  Too many to count. But I don’t like to be held hostage by a weekly show. I prefer binging a season as a writing reward. Currently, I am binging In Plain Sight, which is free for Amazon Prime. It’s about a sarcastic female WITSEC Inspector with a dysfunctional family. I love this show.

Any hobbies? Pets? Hobbies?  I collect cookbooks and don’t cook. I am fascinated with chefs. Current obsessions include Flynn McGarry who is a culinary prodigy and Christina Tosi, the owner of Milk Bar.

Ask me about my cat. Or better yet, follow me on Instagram and I will tell you. @tinaradcliffe

Tina Radcliffe:  A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe is an RWA and ACFW Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and a three-time ACFW Carol Award nominee.  She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year recipient and a 2014 Carol Award winner. Her 11th book for Harlequin Love Inspired, Her Last Chance Cowboy, released in February 2019.  In addition to novel-length fiction, Tina has sold over three dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. A former library cataloger, Tina is a frequent presenter on writing topics and an online instructor. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance. Visit her on the web at






Check out Tina’s latest: A Cowboy’s Second Chance

The last person cowboy Joe Gallagher thought he’d see on his ranch was high school sweetheart Rebecca Anshaw Simpson. Twelve years after she married another man, she’s back as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. There’s much the single mom would rather forget, but Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. She has only a few weeks to make peace with her past. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love.


Tina, thank you so much for joining us and for all the fun giveaways.

Join me next month for a giveaway and interview with Laurel Blount.