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  • Meet Me at the Library

    Hi all,

    I’ll be speaking at the Portland Public Library in Portland, TN on Saturday, November 16th at 11:00am. I’ll offer a few tips and a bit of encouragement for those in the middle of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as well as answer your questions about writing and publishing.

    If you’re in the area (just north of Nashville), I hope you’ll join me! It’ll be fun. Plus there will be books and maybe even a giveaway or two!!! 🙂 Hope to see you there.

    The details are all on my appearances page and my Facebook page. If you haven’t liked my Facebook author page yet, I’d love it if you’d stop by and follow me there, too!

    Happy reading (and writing), friends!

    Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus

    Hi friends,
    I’ve been conspicuously absent of late mostly because I’ve been on deadline. I know, it’s no excuse, and I won’t have a new book for you to read until September, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great new books coming out this summer. I’m super-Kaye Dacusthrilled to introduce you to my good friend Kaye Dacus and her new book Follow the Heart.

    Kaye and I get together to write every week, so I’ve been hearing about this book for months, and, you know what? It’s fabulous! (And I’m not just saying that because my name appears on the dedication page.) 🙂

    Here’s a bit about the story:
    Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.

    At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.

    Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.

    While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

    Mandates . . . money . Follow the Heart. . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?


    Kaye was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book (the first in The Great Exhibition Series). So here you go:

    Where did the idea come from for Follow the Heart?
    In 2001, I watched Victoria & Albert on A&E and fell in love with the love story of these two monarchs of England. But that wasn’t the only thing I took away from it. I was also fascinated by the scenes which portrayed the planning and opening of Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition in 1851. Then, a few years later, I watched another mini-series: North & South. No, not the one about the American Civil War, the one based on the classic, but little-known, novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. It also has a scene that takes place at the Great Exhibition. Once I saw that, I was hooked—on the era and on the event.

    How did you choose your characters’ names?
    Funny story . . . Kate’s name was originally Meg and her maid’s name was Joan. [This is Liz: I read that one, too!] Until I picked up a book by a writer friend and discovered those two names (as heroine and her maid, no less!) on the first page. So I went back to my original story idea and the images of the actress who’s the template for the character.  And almost as soon as I did, I heard her voice very distinctly in my head: My name is KATE. But rich men don’t marry Kates. They marry Katharines. So I changed her name and nickname to Katharine/Kate (Katharine spelled with an A in the middle in honor of my favorite actress Katharine Hepburn.) Andrew is a name I’ve always loved and wanted to use, and it suited this landscape architect perfectly.

    Why did you choose to set the story in Oxford, instead of London where the Great Exhibition was held?
    I read at least three or four British-set historical romances each month—and without fail, the majority of them are set in London. It’s a setting that has become over-exposed. Also, with a landscape architect as my main hero, I needed the action to take place at a country house, not in the city. By the 1850s, Oxford was a large enough city to have railway service to all of the other major cities, but still quaint/small enough to give the small-town feel that I love to use in my stories. Plus, there was a lot of chaos happening in London in early 1851 due to the final preparations for the Great Exhibition, and I felt like that could overwhelm what I wanted my story and settings to be.

    What was your favorite book as a child?
    I loved the Little House on the Prairie books (still have the original yellow-cover copies from childhood). As a ’tween, I discovered the Sunfire YA romances, and I was hooked!

    Any advice for aspiring novelists?
    The best advice I got when I first started getting serious about learning the craft and pursuing publication: Above all else, FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! You can fix anything but a blank page. The most important thing is to get your entire story down on paper before you start worrying about all of the technical craft things and stressing yourself out about “making it perfect.” Just write.

    Thanks, Kaye!

    If you love a heartwarming regency tale, be sure to check out Kaye’s Follow the Heart–available on May 1st at bookstores everywhere including amazon, Barnes and Noble, LifeWay Christian Stores, and more!


    Football and The Princess Bride?

    I love football. Really! Watching the NFL is a favorite pass time every fall.

    Know what else I love? The Princess Bride. It’s one of my favorite books and the movie is such a classic! So when my friend Amy sent me this link, I just about fell out of my chair. Two of my favorite things together in one 90-second clip. Could a girl be any happier?

    This, my friends, is TWUUUUUUUUE WUUUUUVVVVVV!

    Freefall by Jodie Bailey

    I’m so excited to introduce you today to a fellow Love Inspired Suspense author, Jodie Bailey. Jodie’s first book, Freefall, comes out tomorrow, and I think it looks like an edge-of-your-seat delight.

    Before we hear from Jodie, here’s a bit more about her book.

    With one accusation, army officer Cassidy Matthews’s name, reputation—and life—are on the line. A Special Forces soldier insists that Cassy’s Fort Bragg-based unit is smuggling drugs. And the accuser? It’s Cassy’s handsome, stubborn ex-husband, Major Shane Logan. Shane knows Cassy is innocent, which is why he’s sure she’s being set up to take the fall. Proving it, though, means working together…and trying to ignore the feelings they still share. The closer they get—to the truth and each other—the more the danger grows from a ruthless criminal who’ll stop at nothing to destroy them both.

    Available at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and more!

    And now, 5 quick questions with Jodie.

    1. How did you get started writing?

    I honestly don’t remember. I’ve written since I knew how to hold a pencil. I got serious about it when I was watching Beth Moore’s Daniel series and I thought, “Man! She has the world’s coolest job, writing about God.” And God Gibbs-slapped me in the back of the head and said, “Duh.” Not really, but it felt like it. And after a few false starts when I tried to write a Bible study, I finally figured out he meant to do what I’d been doing for fun all along… write fiction. How cool is He?!?

    2. Freefall is your first book. What was it like getting the call that your book had found a publisher?

    I was eating pork chops and the phone happened to be on the table beside me. When I saw my agent’s name popped up–after I’d just talked to her the week before–I just knew. And I couldn’t move to answer it. When I did, I walked halfway up the hall, literally dropped to my knees, and said repeatedly, “You’re kidding. You’re kidding.” I’m surprised she didn’t hang up on me. It was total shock, and my brain just got stuck thinking, “This can’t possibly be happening for real.” I knew she would never tease like that, but my mind couldn’t accept reality. It was funny.

    3. Give us a quick synopsis of your book.

    A soldier teams up with a retired commando, an undercover agent, and her ex-husband to uncover a drug smuggler, and while one man wins her love, another tries to destroy her.

    4. What made you want to write about military men and women?

    It was a case of “write what you know.” My agent casually mentioned military suspense to me one day, and I sort of brushed it off, but the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me as a military spouse. It was kind of fun to dig into in some ways, and very hard in others, because I was aware of the responsibility to be as accurate as possible.

    5. And just for fun, if you had a day off with no responsibilities, what would you do?

    I’d love a good book, a comfy sweatshirt, and the chaise lounge on our porch… or on a deck at the beach. That sounds appealing most days. Then again, so does hopping on the Harley with my husband and cruising the back roads to the beach. Either of those would work.

    Any last words … 

    Thanks for inviting me! That was kind of fun, although now I wish I could go home and put on my sweatpants and read the afternoon away…

    Kaye Dacus’s – Follow the Heart Cover Reveal

    Hi, friends! My sweet writing buddy, Kaye Dacus has a new book coming out next Spring, and you can win a signed copy! Below is all the info you need about entering. But first, here’s a first look at the gorgeous cover!


    Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus
    Book 1 in The Great Exhibition Series
    Coming from B&H Publishing in May 2013

    Kate Dearing’s life is turned upside down when her father loses everything in a railroad land speculation and she and her brother are shipped off to their mother’s brother, Sir Anthony, in England with one edict: marry money.

    Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate finds matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, her attentions stray to the one of the least eligible people at her uncle’s home—the garden designer.

    Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy—man aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a friend of Sir Anthony’s, a wealthy viscount, shows favorable interest in her. But will marrying for the financial security of her family be the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

    Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?


    Author Bio:

    Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.


    And here’s your chance to enter to win one of five signed copies of Follow the Heart! Join the Victorian scavenger hunt, answer my question at the end of this blog, and enter to win!

    Directions: Each participating blog has both an answer and a question—but the answers and questions aren’t on the same blog. DON’T POST YOUR ANSWERS HERE! Collect the questions and answers in an e-mail—along with the address of the site where you found each—to be sent to Kaye Dacus once you’re confident you have all of them and be entered to win one of FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart when it releases in May 2013. Visit http://kayedacus.com for the list of participating sites in the scavenger hunt and rules for entering the contest.


    Question: What was the inspiration behind the design of the Crystal Palace?


    Answer: Most of the items were sold or returned to their place of origin. But many were donated and made up the first of the collection that would eventually become the Victoria and Albert Museum—built on land in South Kensington which Prince Albert purchased with the profits from the Great Exhibition. “Whatever human industry has created, you find there! Railway engines and boilers, mill machinery, splendid carriages of all kinds, glass-covered stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of gold and silver smiths, carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth thousands of pounds” (Charlotte Brontë)


    And don’t forget to leave a comment here in answer to this question: Follow the Heart is set during Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition. Who’s your favorite British Royal, past or present, and why?

    Are you watching the Olympics?

    I love the Olympics and confess to letting them distract me from writing and working in the evenings after work. For shame on me! But they’re just so fun! There are adorable gold-medal winning swimmers. (Hello, Nathan Adrian!) The fab five female gymnasts. Adorable British accents around every turn. And so much more! This is some fun, this London Olympics.

    Nathan Adrian and his gold medal.

    And it looks likes the viewers aren’t the only ones have fun. Check out this video of the US Swim Team doing “Call Me Maybe.”

    Lest you think it’s all fun and games on the road to the Olympics, here’s another video of aspiring athletes showing … well … why they didn’t quite make the team.

    Are you watching the games? What are your favorite sports to watch? Who are you rooting for?

    What will you do this year?

    Wow! Wow! I can’t believe my last blog post was in April. I was still reeling from seeing my favorite movie and reading my favorite book of the year (so far). (That would be The Artist and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, respectively.) I had just finished writing a book that will come out in December (more to come on that at a later date). And I had just learned that I was going to have to find a new place to live. A lot has happened since then. But let’s not dwell in the past. Nope, today, let’s look to the future.

    But to do that, I have to tell you a little story about the past. (Yes, I so get the irony.)

    This time last year, I was barreling down on my 30th birthday, desperately trying to check off items on my 30 by 30 list (as you may recall). Boy there were a lot of things to get done, and I missed my mark by about a dozen. And to be quite honest, while I’m glad I did the things I did on my list, I was quite relieved to see my 30th birthday gone and the slate wiped clean. I was so relieved that I let myself off the hook for setting any real goals for my 30th year.

    *from freedigitalphotos.net

    Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t exactly done nothing this past year. But I didn’t have a clear focus.

    Then, a few weeks ago, I was celebrating a coworker’s birthday. Sitting around the conference room table, eating cake and the birthday girl sat down next to me. Without thinking about it, I asked, “So what will you do this year that you’ve never done before?”

    The room got really quiet, and I held my breath. I hadn’t meant to get too personal, but it just seemed like a logical question. Moving forward means trying and experiencing new things, right? You can’t turn the clock back or get back your years, so how will you use them to move forward?

    The birthday girl didn’t have an answer for me. But that’s okay, because I think the person I really needed to ask that question of was myself. What will I do this year–at 31–that I’ve never done before? What new experiences will I try? What will I open myself up to that I haven’t ever before?

    I can’t fully answer that yet. I won’t be able to until next year, I guess. But I am undertaking something that I’ve always wanted to do but always found an excuse not to. I’m going to volunteer at the Nashville Public Library. Just a couple times a month, but enough time, I hope, to share my love of reading with a few someone elses. Books have always been an important part of my  life, and if I can share one favorite book, one inspiring author, one life-altering story, then maybe I’ll be able to change a life.

    At the very least I’ll be doing something new. Moving forward. Investing in lives.

    What will you do this year that you’ve never done before?

    The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

    I spent all of January, February, and most of March writing my next book. Whew! It was a lot of writing in not a lot of time, and to get it turned in by my deadline, I had to give up one of my favorite things–READING.

    Every minute that I wanted to be reading, I knew I needed to be writing, so I cleared the pile of books off my nightstand and got to work. Two and half months and a complete manuscript later, I looked at my to be read pile–that had somehow managed to grow–and dove right in. I hope to tell you about several of the books I’ve read since then, but I wanted to start with The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen. Set in the English countryside and dealing with the upstairs and belowstairs and the lives of masters and servants, I hoped it would appease by craving for something–anything–Downton Abbey-esque. Turns out, I was right.

    I picked up all 410 pages of this book on a Thursday morning plane ride and finished it by the next evening. I couldn’t stop reading the fascinating tale of the belowstairs, as seen by a lady of leisure.

    The pace is nice and easy, with just enough intrigue to keep me turning pages, but never more than seemed to fit. I was transported to 1815 and the life of spoiled soon-to-be heiress Margaret Macy. I didn’t love her at first. I didn’t even like her very well–that is until she risked her own life to help a well-to-do coach driver and his unseen passenger. And of course, the hero Nate was everything a good romantic hero should be. Flawed and imperfect, yet absolutely redeemable.

    One of my few complaints is that I thought it ended a bit abruptly. I’d have liked to read more about Nate and Margaret. But maybe that’s just a sign of a good book. You never want it to end.

    If you’re looking for a trip to 19th Century England, open the pages of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and dive in. I think you’ll be glad you did.


    Are you on Facebook?

    Hey friends, are you on Facebook? I am!

    I’ve officially set up my author page on Facebook, and I’d love for you to join me there, as well. Last week I was chatting with readers about who I should cast as the hero of the book proposal that I’m currently writing. Next week, who knows. 🙂 (Time for shameless self-promotion.) Swing by www.facebook.com/lizjohnsonbooks and “Like” my page to join in the chat about what’s going on with my books.

    And if anyone has any good ideas for a header for my FB page, I’d greatly appreciate them. 🙂


    Happy Easter!

    Just want to wish you all a very happy Easter! I hope you’ll take some time today to ponder just how much God did to win your heart. I was reading in Max Lucado’s He Chose the Nails this week and was struck by this statement. “God was never more sovereign than in the details of his Son’s death.” I don’t know about you, but that brings me to my knees. How amazing that God would send his only Son to die on the cross–and He picked the tool of torture. He chose the time and place of Jesus’ death. All of that was part of God’s plan for the salvation of man.

    I’ve been hearing the song “Hero” by Abandon on the radio a lot lately, and I think it’s really suited for Easter, on this day we remember Christ’s resurrection and defeat of the grave. Hope you enjoy.