Author Interview with Robin Patchen

Author Interview Twisted Lies by Robin PatchenRobin Patchen has released the second book in her Hidden Truth series, Twisted Lies. Robin is a fellow 10 Minute Novelist, and a terrific writer and editor. I can’t wait to get started on the Hidden Truth series!

She thought they’d never find her.  And then her daughter vanished.

Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions of dollars from his financial firm, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.

Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade.

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?

Author Interview Finding Amanda by Robin PatchenMaybe it’s merely my perception, but it seems there’s been a surge in Christian romantic suspense, which includes your Hidden Truth series and Finding Amanda. The best-written books in that genre, in my opinion, are those able to resolve the mystery, develop the romance, and deliver a cohesive faith message, perhaps while developing a series-long arc for the main characters, without short-changing or rushing any of those aspects. It’s a lot to juggle. What appeals to you about the genre?

I love suspense. It’s probably my favorite genre to read, because I love to see how characters react under pressure and in fear. I think we can all wear lovely masks when we feel safe, but when our lives are in danger—or worse, when the lives of the people we love are in danger—the masks fall off, and we show the world, and maybe discover for ourselves, who we really are. Continue reading

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Catholic Writers Guild Writers Retreat Slated for October 2017

Catholic Writers Guild logoIf you are surrounded by sufficient silence and solicitude to nourish your creativity . . . I simply cannot relate. My dearly beloved noisemakers are always nearby, sometimes physically clinging to me. Often completing thoughts, let alone sentences strung together to complete a novel, is a struggle of epic proportions.

Even if you, however, have ideal conditions for writing, a change of environment, away from the daily distractions of home or office, could be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

Dangling the words “writers retreat” before me when I am unable to participate, tempts me to envy. But maybe your circumstances are different. If they are, I recommend a writing getaway. Continue reading

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CatholicTeen Is Resource for Readers, Parents

A group of authors writing primarily for Catholic and other Christian teens has launched the website The website provides teen readers, parents, catechists, homeschool co-ops, youth ministers, teachers and others with direct links to exciting, well-crafted books that raise the heart and mind to God and reflect the fullness and beauty of the Catholic faith. Continue reading

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Sabbath Rest Book Talk: March 2017 (Theme: Justice)

Sabbath Rest Book TalkLast night I had the opportunity to join in author Erin McCole Cupp’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk. Erin has been producing these short fiction talks built around a specific theme for several months, but this is the first group edition in which she was joined by the lovely Rebecca Willen and me!

Here are the featured books that we discussed:

SRBT March 2017

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND!

I know all the months roll by quickly, but really, February’s short. Add to that the fact that this bizarro “winter” has delivered only about four inches of sticking snow to our Pennsylvania home (here and gone), and I’m really not sure what month it is. The trusty calendar, however, says March 1, so it’s time to break open our books and see where we’re at!

The Complete Beer CourseIt’s been a few months since my husband has read a beer book, right? I can post another, can’t I? He’s currently working his way through The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua M. Bernstein. This book has sent him scurrying to bottle shops in three counties seeking the beers needed for the course. Completion of the course will, I assume, elevate him to heretofore unknown levels of beer snobbery knowledge. Because there is a list of beers to procure, one thing that my husband said would be a helpful companion to the book is a checklist of some sort available in an app or a .pdf file. Lugging an oversize hardcover book to the bar would certainly be cumbersome. (If I were the author, this is an extra I’d offer as an incentive for signing up for my newsletter.) This would make an excellent gift for the beer lover in your life.

Still Life

I zipped through the second book in the Chesapeake Valor Series, Still Life by Dani Pettrey. There’s A LOT going on in this book – multiple crimes, several romances, and series-long arcs. The author handles it well, in my opinion, making this book stronger and better than the first book in the series, Cold Shot. I also enjoy that this series takes place relatively close to my home. While the first book included scenes from one of my favorite haunts, Gettysburg National Military Park, this one centers in and around Baltimore. I’m looking forward to more in the series.

An Unexpected RoleAn Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl is a much simpler story than Still Life, but like her first novel, The Perfect Blindside, an ideal book for teens. It only took me several pages to adapt to the first person, present tense point of view, which works well for the main character, Josie. Sixteen-year-old Josie makes a summer escape to the beach, fleeing the petty meanness of the high school scene. Hoping to rediscover herself and enjoy a summer romance in the process, she’s disappointed to find Ryan, a boy from her school, on the same South Carolina island. Not everything or everyone is as they seem, however, and with a little mystery culminating in peril for both Ryan and Josie, she realizes what’s important, who she really is, and the value of authentic relationships. Recommended especially for musical theater buffs.

Game OnMy eighth grader just finished up last month’s read (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) and is ready to pick out something new. In the meantime, he’s been reading Game On!: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets. (What’s with the two colon titles this month?) Not exactly a literary classic, but he enjoys these types of books. He appreciates the gaming tips and the ease of picking the book up when he has a few minutes to read here and there.

Key to the TreasureMy daughter checked out Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish from her school library. Apparently, the school’s collection is from another era, with cringe-worthy covers that even my nine-year-old is embarrassed to be seen with. (I may have ruined her – or given her a discerning eye –  by sharing some truly awful book covers with her.) Thankfully, the content between the covers is good. I hadn’t realized that the Amelia Bedelia author wrote chapter books as well.

We let our kids pick out one book each at the Scholastic Book Fair during Catholic Schools Week. There is, however, a price limit on their purchases, so I helped my little girl find The Great Shelby HolmesThe Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg, which seemed to suit both her interests and our price cap. The title character is a play on Sherlock Holmes. She started it right away, declared it good, then promptly misplaced it for weeks. Sort of. She re-discovered it right where she left it, so, I don’t know. Kids.

No David Both books I’ve been reading to my little kids are short on words and big on illustrations. When I had my first child, I’ll admit that I didn’t really get these types of books. It’s not that I didn’t see the appeal of the illustrations. It’s just that books, in my mind, required words. Lots of words. Rhyming words are especially nice in kids’ books. It took a while for me to warm up to the idea of playing with the inflections in the few words I was given as a narrator and lingering over illustrations, studying them, finding interesting aspects, and asking questions. (I also discovered these are great books to “read” when you can barely hold your head up or your eyes open, for whatever reason. It’s a lot easier to get through one of these at two o’clock in the morning with a child who is sick or cannot sleep than a chapter book. Trust me on this one.) George ShrinksWe are currently savoring No, David! by David Shannon, a Caldecott Honor book. I’d heard of this book many times, so when my son snatched it from the take-home table after story time at the library, I was pleased. The other book we’ve been re-reading is George Shrinks by William Joyce, first published in 1985. (Apparently it became a Canadian/Chinese animated series in the early 2000s. Missed that.) To my mind, 1985 isn’t long ago, yet I enjoy noticing the out-of-date details in the illustrations, such as corded phones and two-prong electrical outlets. Ah, the good old days.

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Slowly Learning to Accept Little Blessings

For the past several weeks, despite soaring, unseasonable temperatures, it seems that everybody is sick. Stomach bugs, flu, bacterial infections, etc. Each time I hear or read someone bemoan the sickness in their home or complain of this winter as the worst ever for illness, I internally cringe. Because our family has enjoyed what is probably our healthiest winter ever. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s been migraines and sinus headaches, sniffles and coughs, an injured knee, recovery from oral surgery, and an epic and ongoing battle with warts. But all in all, super healthy.)

Now, I don’t consider myself a superstitious person, but I’m summoning all sorts of courage to type this. It feels like an invitation for a variety of degenerating, lingering, maleficent ailments to descend upon our home and ravage our bodies.

Why can’t I simply enjoy this unexpected winter free from the minor suffering sickness brings? Why do I sit and wait with worry for the proverbial shoe to drop?

Trusting God Continue reading

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