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  • Coming Soon …

    I’ve been a bit behind. A bit irresponsible. I failed to tell you all about a new book that I was honored to write a novlla for. Coming this September … A Log Cabin Christmas Collection.


    Back Cover Blurb: Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through. And treasure this exclusive collection of nine Christmas romances penned by some of Christian fiction’s best-selling authors.

    With 9 novellas in this collection, you’re bound to find a Christmas story you love–and it might even be mine. 🙂 But chances are you’ll enjoy all of them. I’m honored to join with eight extremely talented authors for this collection.

    My contribution to the book is called A Star in the Night. (Isn’t that a perfectly wonderful Christmas title?) And this week on my blog, I’d like to share with you more about this sweet historical romance. I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy the ride.

    So let’s get started. How did A Star in the Night come to be? I’m glad you asked.

    It began at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in Franklin, TN. It was the weekend before my birthday last July, and a sweet friend of mine came to visit. We’d traipsed all over Nashville, and after church on Sunday, she asked where I wanted to go for lunch. We ended up at Puckett’s in downtown Franklin. Great BBQ. Great atmosphere. And as it turned out, a map of historic Franklin. I tucked one in my pocket as we walked out the door.

    In the corner of the map, past downtown and the Carter House, was a little dot marking the Carnton Plantation. The map said it had been a field hospital during the Civil War Battle of Franklin, and my interest was piqued.

    Just days later, my agent emailed me to ask if I might want to put together a proposal for a novella that would be considered for 2011 Christmas collection. I had 5 days to write a synopsis and 2 sample chapters if I was interested. So I thought about it for a day, and over and over my mind went back to that field hospital and those soldiers and the women who nursed them.

    And that’s when I met Cora and Jed, two strangers whose lives were thrown together in the aftermath of this battle, and they just wouldn’t leave me alone. But I didn’t know much about the battle and even less about Carnton. So I started reading. I spent the weekend learning about the battle, the town, and the plantation.

    I got the proposal finished just in time … and the rest is … well, I was going to say history. But actually there’s a lot more to the story. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

    Of scathing reviews and pedicures …

    I’m not going to lie. Code of Justice has received some very nice reviews. And they’ve made me smile. Some of them have included constructive criticism … and I appreciate that. I’m under no delusion that my books are perfect or that I can’t grow as a writer. I want to grow as an author. My goal is to get better, improving with each book.

    I say all that to explain about my evening. I’d had a wonderful day with a friend watching movies. Then a lovely drive through rural Tennessee and off to Saturday evening church service. After the service, I decided it was high time for a pedicure. The weather is far too lovely not to be showing off my toes. So I sat down with this guy–whose name I can’t pronounce, let alone spell. We’ll just call him PM–Pedicure Man.


    PM quickly had me giggling over my ticklish feet and looking for something to distract myself. Soon I was zipping through my e-mails and happened to receive a google alert e-mail with a notice that there was new review of Code of Justice up at ChristianManifesto.com.

    So I hopped over to read the review, just as PM began massaging my feet. It. Felt. So. Good. And it was a good thing he was making my feet so happy, because the review is scathing. A few of my favorite lines:

    • “The bang-up beginning is muddled down by the love story between the two main characters and Heather’s clichéd bull-headed approach to life.”
    • “Calling this book a suspense is a bit misleading. Much of the story is spent deciphering the almost love story between the two main characters instead of focusing on the case…”
    • “The nuances of romance are more bumps than caresses … like reading a junior high romance instead of an adult love story.”
    • “Neither of the two presented enough legitimate conflict [and] was awkwardly executed by Johnson.”
    • “The characters were predictable, and the killer obvious. The red herrings put in place did not cause me to bat an eye, nor did the romantic exchanges.”


    I’m still not going to lie. That doesn’t feel good. And it might have reduced me to tears if PM hadn’t been performing magic on my feet.

    As PM painted my toenails green (yes, I was in the mood for something fun!), I began to ponder Mary’s review. It all green-toesboils down to one question, is what she wrote true? That’s a hard question for me to contemplate. Even harder to answer.

    Here’s the realization I’ve come to: Despite my book’s faults, despite my imperfect writing, despite what some call unrealistic characters and poorly written plot, I trust that God has a purpose for my book and that He’ll use it, imperfections and all. And I’ve decided that’s more than enough for me.

    Oh, and there is at least one thing in that review that is factually incorrect. Steeple Hill didn’t send Mary the book for review.

    I did.

    Reviews, Interviews, and Giveaways!

    code-of-justice-cover-hi-resCode of Justice has been out nearly a week now, and many kind bloggers and reviewers have posted about it, some of them even offering giveaways! So here’s a quick list of the reviews, interviews, and giveaways thus far! Be sure to enter the giveaways. Even if you already have a copy of the book, they make for great gifts!

    HeatherCadenhead.com (GIVEAWAY)



    Guest blog:

    The reviews are coming in …

    It’s about that time. About 3 weeks before the release of a book, the reviews start to come in … and Code of Justice is no exception. But I’m sharing them with you … because, well … they’re not too shabby!

    The RomanticTimes Bookclub magazine gave Code of Justice 4.5 stars, their highest rating, and said:
    “A marvelous hero and an intelligent heroine make this action-packed mystery an exciting and entertaining read.”

    And I didn’t even pay them to say that! Can you believe that?

    I’m also doing a bunch of interviews in March, so I’ll keep you up to date on those, where you just might learn some things about me that you never wanted to know.

    Have I told you about my new book?

    Yeah, I didn’t think so. But I’m excited to tell you about it now. Please allow me to introduce Code of Justice, my third Love Inspired Suspense novel, available one month from today.


    From the back cover:
    “Follow the drugs.”
    Her sister’s last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn’t an accident. Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he’s the one who can help Heather find the person responsible. Once she convinces him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. But will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She’s willing to risk her life to find her sister’s killer—but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy’s love.

    Read the first chapter here.

    Why I LOVE this book:
    I love my sister. I love her dearly. This week she called me because we hadn’t talked since I was back in Arizona over Christmas and New Year. We chatted for 2 hours and 14 minutes. I love that I don’t have to be anything but myself with her. We have an easy bond, and a lot of fun. She teases me, and I tease her right back. And I’m just plumb thankful to have her in my life.

    But when I sat down to write Code of Justice, I imagined a heroine who had a similar bond with her sister. And then I turned it on its head. What if her sister had been taken from her? How would she react? What would she do? How far would she go?

    I loved writing this story. It felt cruel to put Heather through so much pain, but as she struggles with vengance versus justice, I love her all the more. Her faults are so often my faults–stubbornness and diving in head-first without praying about the situation first. As she totters between anguish and a the hope of new-found love, I see my own life reflected in her story. Life isn’t usually all bad or all perfect. It teeters and totters. It sways and surprises us. I love that about Heather’s story. And I love that about my own life, too.

    Just this week, I began receiving my first e-mails from readers. Apparently they’re falling in love with Heather, too, and my heart is nearly bursting. Thanks for the notes, friends. It’s always a joy to hear that one of my stories is being thoroughly enjoyed.

    I’m honored to get to write these stories that I love.

    Thanks for reading them.

    See ya next year, Christmas lights!

    I took down my Christmas lights and tree and all my decorations this weekend, and if you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know why. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a hint. I finished writing the Christmas novella that’s due on Tuesday!!

    Yuppers! The book is done, edited, and nearly ready to send off to my editor. And now I feel a little like this.


    Join me in a little dance, if you will!

    Why I still have my Christmas tree up …

    Yup. Nearly every one I know has long since taken down their Christmas lights, pulled their decorations of their tree, and replaced their red and green decorations with their year-round ones.

    But not me. My miniature Christmas tree is right where I left it when I took for for Christmas vacation. My red and green wall hanging and quilt are in their places. And I my Christmas lights are often plugged in. Nearly half way through the month of January, I haven’t touched my Christmas stuff.

    And I’m not taking it down any time too soon. (And not just because I’m lazy–which of course I have been since returning from vacation.)

    It’s all because of a little thing, I like to call a deadline. Well, actually nearly everyone I know calls it a deadline. Yup, I have a manuscript due on February 1st. Moreover, it’s a manuscript for a Christmas novella (due out in September 2011). So I have to keep my yuletide spirit intact at least through the end of the month.

    Turns out it’s harder to feel Christmasy in January than I thought it would be. So if you come for a visit, please don’t judge me for keeping my lights up.

    How long do you keep your decorations up?

    Code of Justice Line Edits

    This week, I got a very special gift in the mail. The line edits for my next book! It’s called Code of Justice, and if you’ve read The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn or Vanishing Act, you’ll recognize our heroine, Heather Sloan, Portland FBI Agent.

    And now a little confession about the way I work. 🙂 When line edits arrive from my editor in New York, I always read the last chapter. I figure that’s the best way to know if she really liked it. And this time, I had some special treats–like how much she’s looking forward to reading the proposal for my next series. (That makes two of us. I guess I better get to writing that.) And there were lots and lots of smiley faces. (My favorite!) But these two, were my favorite notes from the last chapter. I hope you get a kick out of them, too! (Read the typed words at your own risk of spoiling the plot.) 🙂

    <3 Hurray!! <3
    <3 Hurray!! <3
    Good! Nice and evil. :)
    Good! Nice and evil. 🙂

    Love these notes. They make me smile. 🙂 Hope I’m still smiling at the end of the edits. 🙂 Wish me luck! I’m diving in this weekend!

    Friday Favorite – Beating the Deadline Dance

    It feels so good to get a new book in the mail. As I’m sure you noted in my previous post about the arrival of final copies of Vanishing Act. It really is an excellent feeling.

    But do you know what else is an amazing feeling?

    Finishing your book a month ahead of schedule. 🙂 Yup. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I finished my manuscript this week, 30 days ahead of my deadline.

    Of course, finishing the story doesn’t exactly mean, I’m done. It’s certainly not ready for me to ship it off to my editor, but there’s something ridiculously wonderful about knowing that everything left to do on the new book–tentatively titled Code of Justice–is tweaking what’s already there. Sure, maybe there’s a scene or two to add. Maybe there’s a whole chapter to rewrite.

    And I have 30 days to get it done!

    I’m taking a week off to clear my mind before I dig back in, so I’m going to enjoy this week without any other writing I have to do. I’m going to celebrate–pedicures with the girls and a night out to see Letters to Juliet again. And then I’ll dive back in, knowing that when I do finish, I’ll have to wait another 8 months before it arrives on my doorstep.

    Deadlines are a dance that seem to never end, but when you meet one, it gives you enough encouragement to just keep going. To keep waiting for the final book. Then seeing it on the store shelves.

    But right now, there’s not much sweeter in this life than watching that deadling approaching closer and closer. And knowing that somehow God gave me enough strength to meet it, and even beat it–even in one of the most chaotic times of my life.

    So just to be clear–I’m elated. I certainly could not have done this on my own, so God gets the glory. And finishing doesn’t mean I’m really done. 🙂

    When characters shift shapes …

    Right this very minute I’m supposed to be writing a book. Specifically my third book, which is tentatively titled Code of Justice.

    Now I think it’s only fair to point out that I’m actually not writing it. Because, clearly I’m writing this blog. Funny how that works.

    So my new hero is named Jeremy, and from the moment he popped into my mind he looked far too much like James Franco for his own good. I’ve always thought James is quite an attractive guy.


    But the more I’ve been writing, the more I’ve been thinking that Jeremy just doesn’t look much like James. Jeremy smiles far too often and is just a bit too goofy. He jokes and teases and is generally unlike nearly every charcter I’ve ever seen James play. I just couldn’t get them to line up in my mind, even though I still like James and think he’s an amazing actor.  

    But how could I possibly replace James? Who could step in in my mind as a Jeremy look-a-like?

    Last night it hit my like lightning. Meet Michael Trucco.


    He’s had lots of roles on shows like One Tree Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and more. I first saw him in an endearing role in the Lifetime made for TV movie, Perfect Romance. This guy sets my heart to buzzing, and I know he’ll make a better Jeremy in my mind.

    There’s a little sneak peek into my next project, due on shelves in Spring 2011. Due to my editor much sooner than that! So I’m back to work.