Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review & Tour: Katy's Debate by Kim Vogel Sawyer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Zondervan (May 7, 2010)
***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***

Katy Lambight is back again in Katy's Debate and whether this is the first Katy Lambight book you have read, or the second, the story is sure to appeal.  Looking at the teen years through a Mennonite girl's eyes is very interesting and different and Katy is a wonderful character to see life through her eyes.  

It does help some to have read the first book but I don't think it is a necessity.  Most of the backstory is alluded to so the reader would not feel lost if this was the first book about Katy they picked upI really enjoyed this second look into Katy's life.  It focused more on inner struggles this time than her school life because most of the book takes place over winter break.  Katy is still trying to find her place in the local high school but still holding fast to her religious beliefs as well.  Now she is dealing with the possibility of having a step-mother and she's not sure how she feels about that.  And as she spends time in the world, the more worldly beliefs begin to come in and she must decide what she believes and how to act on those feelings. 

A wonderfully written story of Katy.  I enjoyed this one as much as the first.  These tiny glimpses into Mennonite life are intriguing and I love seeing how Katy will work out her beliefs. Great for ages 12 and up, there are some wonderful lessons for teen girls in these books.  The author does a great job of entertaining as well as making a point in this book and it's a story that will stay with me for awhile.

My Rating:  4.0/5.0


Bestselling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer has many titles besides “writer.” As a wife, mother of three, grandmother of six, Sunday school teacher, and speaker, her life is full and happily busy. In her spare time she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband make their home in Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310719232
ISBN-13: 978-0310719236


Author Interview and Giveaway: Jackie Lee Miles (Roseflower Creek)

Please join me today in welcoming Jackie Lee Miles, whose book, Roseflower Creek has been re-published by Sourcebooks. Also after reading the interview, please enter the giveaway and chat with Jackie.

How did you celebrate when you found out Roseflower Creek would be published?
With a big bottle of champagne! I considered it a miracle the way it got published. I attended a writing conference and met Ron Pitkin, the President of Cumberland House Publishing. When he heard the opening line (The morning I died it rained.) he asked me to send the entire manuscript. Once I did, he phoned me a week later to tell me he was bringing it out in hardcover and it would be the lead book in their fall catalogue. I was in the right place at the right time and met the person in charge. It was amazing.

Is it just as exciting to have it re-released recently?
It’s thrilling, as this is rarely done. What happened is Sourcebooks bought Cumberland House. Dominique Raccah, the President of Sourcebooks called to tell me she enjoyed both Roseflower Creek and Cold Rock River so much she was re-releasing them with new covers and a new launch. I feel very blessed!

I love that you confess to be a “northern girl with a southern heart”.  I take it you have completely embraced the south after living here many years - what’s one of your favorite things about living in the south?
I moved to Atlanta in September of 1975 and fell in love with the south. I think what intrigues me most is the vast array of southern accents. Depending on the specific area of the city, people’s southern drawl takes on a different sound. I find them very lyrical.

Crystal:  Funny you mention this, my husband and I have often discussed this fact. His accent is very different from mine, in fact he barely has an accent and has lived here on the coast of NC most of his life (he's from here).  I have lived here most of mine as well but I have the accent of my parents which is from the mountains of NC, definitely more southern, but not as southern as places more in the deep south.

Roseflower Creek, 2E

Without giving anything away - what is Roseflower Creek about?
Roseflower Creek follows the short life and death of ten-year-old Lori Jean, a sensitive dreamer of a child who longs for a normal family life. When she discovers a secret her alcoholic step-father is harboring, she pays the ultimate price. Regardless of the harsh subject material, it is a very uplifting narrative. It positively celebrates the power of forgiveness.

Where did the idea for Roseflower Creek come from?
The story was inspired by a United Press article that appeared in a Georgia newspaper. The article told of a ten-year-old boy who lost his life at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend when he stole five dollars in the lunchroom. I remember thinking, “You poor little boy. It must have hurt so much.” A little voice in my head said, “Yeah it did, and the morning I died it rained.” I started from there and quickly wrote the first fifty pages of what was to become Roseflower Creek.

How much does the setting in the south play a role in Roseflower Creek, do you think it’s a book that could take place anywhere, or does it lend itself to the rural south better?
Absolutely, it could take place anywhere. I chose a southern setting as I’d been in Georgia for so many years that the locale and the chemistry of the people were most familiar to me. My publisher assumed I’d been born and bred in the south, which was quite a compliment, so I guess I got it right.

Do you plan yor books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I’m sort of an organic writer in that I first hear my protagonist’s voice in my head and it’s always very loud so I listen closely to what they are saying and try to determine where they’re at in their life. From there I hit the keyboard and keep going until I come to a complete stop and then I usually start an outline of what events will lead to the climax. I think of events that would naturally occur in this particular protagonist’s life and then try to think of ways to expound upon them that will have relevance to the story arc. For me it works.

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
I try to read as much as I can. As a young teenager I read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It triggered a lifelong passion for reading. Considering my favorite authors, I love anything by Elizabeth Berg. Ditto for Connie May Fowler. I enjoy Robert Morgan, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Judson Mitcham, Kay Gibbons, Earnest Gains, and Ann-Marie McDonald. Most of the books I read would be considered southern fiction, which is what I write.

What is your favorite room in your house?
The “Florida” room. It’s done in pastel shades of pink, green, cream and taupe and very relaxing. It’s the first place I head to in the morning. I read the newspaper first and then review whatever pages I have written the day before and use a red pen to make notes of the changes I feel are necessary.

What is your favorite spot to read in?
Definitely in bed! It’s my favorite time of day. My writing work is done, the household chores are done. Nothing better than curling up with a good book and being swept away.

What is your favorite snack food?
Cashew nuts. I’m wild for them. You can buy a huge can of them the size of a three pound coffee can for ten dollars at Sam’s. I once considered dropping my membership so I’d no longer be able to go get them. I was eating too many of them and it was showing up on my waist line. I couldn’t button my pants. Eventually the cashews won out.

What is your favorite season?
Fall. The air is so crisp and clean. The leaves are falling from the trees and peppering the ground with a myriad of colors. And I love the smell of burning leaves. The one thing I don’t enjoy is raking them up. So I leave that chore to my husband. We have a lot of trees in Georgia, so he spends a great deal of time out there when the leaves begin to fall.

Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I write in the morning each day for three to four hours, six days a week and take Sunday off. I’m convinced the way to avoid writer’s block is to keep my hands on the keyboard. Writing is like any other job in that you have to show up each day to get any work done.

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
I have a small office with a large desk that ends up completely covered with my notes and research and finished manuscript pages when I’m working on a book. The one thing is, when I begin a new book, my desk must be completely in order with my pens and note pads and research books lined up in a row. Nothing can be out of place. It sort of sets the mood for me. It’s like an invitation. I can almost hear the room speak to me: Come on in, sit down, start a new novel, write an opening line that sizzles.

Did you find writing Roseflower Creek to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?
Writing Roseflower Creek has been the easiest of all my projects. The words just flew on the page. I wrote the first fifty pages in one day and a month later spent two weeks writing the second fifty pages. By then I knew where the book was going and wrote the final chapter and the epilogue. A few months later I wrote the middle one hundred pages of the manuscript over a ten day period. I call it my whirlwind book. It’s never happened again.

Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
I have various book signings I will be attending along with writers conferences in Georgia. I have six topics to choose from in attending workshops, which have gotten a lot of attention: 5 Things That Make a Good Story Great, Bring Your Characters to Life, Opening Lines That Get Published, Crafting Queries That Count: Getting An Agent When Others Don’t, Revision: What to Cut, What to Keep and Why, and Finish What You Start: 5 Easy Steps.

Do you have a new book in the works?
I’m glad you asked. I do! It’s titled SUMMER RIDGE and follows twelve-year-old Mary Alice Munford who struggles with the knowledge that her mother plans to marry her father, a man who abandoned them before she was born. Here’s the opening:

When I was very little my mother told me stories about why my father wasn’t with us. First she said he was away in the war going on in Asia, Vietnam. Then she said he was healing from the wounds in his head that made him forget us. Later she said he was on assignment for the secret service.”

“Hogwash,” Granny Ruth said. “She’s filled your head with garbage.”

Ours is not a happy household. There’s me, my mother, Granny Ruth and Aunt Josie, whose husband, my Uncle Earnest, fell under a combine when I was five so I never got to know him good. The day he died, I climbed on Aunt Josie’s lap and wouldn’t leave even when it was time to go to bed. Mama tried to pick me up.

“You been sitting there all day, sweet thing.”

“Leave me lone, Mama,” I said. “I’m helping Aunt Josie cry.”

Anything else you would like to say?
I hope you’ll check out my latest ALL THAT’S TRUE, which debuts in January 2011. It follows Andrea St. James (Andi for short), during the first Desert Storm war, who discovers her father is having an affair with her best friend’s step-mother. Sourcebooks calls it “an authentic coming-of-age tale with a terrific takeaway.” Here’s the opening:

My life was close to being perfect until my brother Alex got killed. Then my mother started drinking and my father starting having sex with Donna, my best friend’s stepmother. She’s not even thirty years old. Me and Bridget—that’s my best friend—we saw them through the window of the pool house and nearly stopped breathing. You would not believe the moaning. For a life that was moving along really well, right now everything sucks.

We haven’t told anyone, yet. We still can’t believe it ourselves. Besides, we’re not sure who to
tell: her father, or my mother, or maybe a priest. It’s complicated. For now, we’re just watching
them boff each other. It’s disgusting, but we can’t seem to help ourselves. It’s like we have a
disease or something. Now that we know what they’re doing, we camp out in the bushes behind
the cabana that’s behind Bridget’s house and just wait for them to show up. Mostly they do the
same things to each other, over and over, but we watch like it’s the very first time.

Thank you so much for joining us today Jackie!

About the Author
Jackie Lee Miles lives in Georgia with her husband, where she is a featured speaker at book clubs, schools, and writer’s workshops. The author of three novels, Roseflower Creek was her first, published to critical acclaim. When not writing, Ms. Miles tours with the Dixie Darlin’s, four nationally published book-writing belles. Her next novel, All That’s True, will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark in early 2011. For more information, please visit


Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks is allowing me to give away two copies of Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles.  To enter, simply comment.  For additional entries (5), ask Jackie a question.  You can also follow and tweet for other additional entries.  You can put all your entries in one comment or use separate comments.  It's up to you.  Giveaway open to US/Canada only and will run through August 9, 2010.