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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guest Post :: Conquer Your Fears and “Live to Give” Webcast

Thomas Nelson Author and Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, to host September 6 online event to focusing on themes his latest release, Live to Give.

On September 6 at 8:00 pm EDT, Austin Gutwein will be hosting a live Facebook web event to encourage participants to conquer their fears and use their talents to help others. The webcast will center on the themes Gutwein writes about in his latest release “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles(Thomas Nelson/August, 2012). At the conclusion of the webcast, the winners of a month-long social media fueled “Get and Give” contest will be announced, including the winner of a Kindle Fire and $250 donated to the winner’s charity of choice.

Join Austin on the evening of Thursday, September 6th as he shares about his own experiences and encourages others to conquers their fears and “live to give”. Austin will also be taking audience questions and interacting with participants. PLUS – there will be several “Live to Give” giveaways – books, gift certificates and much more! RSVP today and tell your friends.

Based on the John 6 story of Jesus feeding the 5000, in “Live to Give” Gutwein challenges his readers that regardless of age and talent, God can use them to make a difference. Even though God could take care of everything Himself and doesn’t really need our help, He desperately WANTS us to help Him care for others. Gutwein walks young people through discovering and embracing their unique God-given strengths and abilities, then figuring out how to use those talents to help others. Sometimes doing that takes a leap of faith on our part, and often becoming fearless in the process.

More about Austin: At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, he took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Gutwein raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia.

Over the past eight years, Gutwein’s efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire and have $250 donated to your favorite charity. Click for the banner for details and entry or visit

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at and

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blog Tour - Feasted On: Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love | Review & Giveaway

Today I'm turning my blog over to Dorothy Love, with a review of her latest novel "Beauty for Ashes!!"

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAYs (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from March 1 - 18, 2012 | Giveaway ends on March 20, 2012 | Dorothy's Facebook Author Chat Party is on March 20, 2012]

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Paperback - Pages: 325; Kindle Edition - File Size: 551 KB; Library Binding [Large Print] - Pages: 500 | Expected Release Date: March 2012 | Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Obtained: LitFuse Publicity Group

"Beauty for Ashes" [A Hickory Ridge Romance, Book 2] by Dorothy Love

My Book Summary : Ever since Caroline (Carrie) lost her husband during the Civil War she has been starting to think that there is no way she'll get to have what she truly wants in life, a family and a place to call her own. Nevertheless, she knows she doesn't want to just settle for anyone she can get. Even though everyone in Hickory Ridge believes Carrie and Nate (the bookstore owner) are perfect for each other, Carrie still has yet to set a wedding date. She just hopes God will help her make the right choices.

Griffin (Griff) has always been a restless type of person, never interested in wanting to settle down, that is until recently. When he arrives in Hickory Ridge he doesn't plan on staying long, that is until he helps save Carrie from getting run down by a horse and gets an offer for a job that he can't refuse, and changes his mind to stay for a little while or at least until he can head out west.

But one thing’s for sure, neither Griff nor Carrie ever expected the instant attraction that blossoms between them. Soon they have the whole town talking. Will they find that what they both have been looking for in life is within their grasp? Or does God have other plans for them both?

My Book Review : 4 out of 5 stars, this is a charming inspirational romance novel!! It’s about the struggle a good majority of people had to deal with during the depression after the Civil War, as well as, a romance between two people who are looking for something of their own. I really loved the main characters in this novel, their easy relationship/friendship to their deep respect for each other really made this novel for me. Everyone else, however, had me loving them one minute and hating them the next. With that being said, though, I really liked the growth that Carrie had with her "new family" and how for the most part they all started working well together.

I am definitely curious as to how the next book "Every Perfect Gift," which is Sophie's story, will turn out! Especially with the lead up that "Beauty for Ashes" gives about Rosaleen.

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading historical romances!!

Author's Series Extras : Welcome to Hickory Ridge | Rural Life in the 1800′s | Meet Carrie and Griff | Carrie Daly’s Sunday Dinner Rolls | A Leap of Faith: BEAUTY FOR ASHES

Book Teaser(s) :
Teaser #1
She made a tray for Mary and sent Caleb to deliver it.
In a moment he was back. "Mama says anything made with lard makes her stomach hurt worse."
"I'm sorry to hear that, but until I can churn some fresh butter, lard is all there is. This place is a disaster."
"You were supposed to stay and help us. But you ran away."
Carrie suppressed an angry retort. What good would it do to argue with an eleven-year-old? ~ within Chapter 19
The fire had won. She screamed Griff's name.
Caleb began to cry. In the flickering light he looked like an old man, hunched over and defeated. "It's my fault. We were pretendin' to smoke cheroots. Joe didn't mean to do it. He's just a dumb little kid."
Carrie grabbed his shoulders and shook him. "Didn't you learn anything from the last time? Didn't I tell you both not to play with fire? Now Joe and Griff might be dead."
Then she saw a dark shape moving through the thick smoke. ~ within Chapter 26
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Dorothy, then please check out her website.

About the Author :

Before returning to her writing roots in historical fiction, Dorothy Love published twelve novels for young adults. Her work has garnered numerous honors from the American Library Association, the Friends of American Writers, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and many others. The Hickory Ridge Novels mark her Christian fiction debut.

For more about Dorothy visit her website, or friend her on

Giveaways!! :

Dorothy Love's Beauty for Ashes Kindle Fire and a Sapphire Ring Giveaway! Enter Today & RSVP for March 20th Facebook Author Chat Party!

We're thrilled to announce the fun giveaway Dorothy is hosting! First, she'll be giving away a Kindle Fire (3/1-3/20), then on the evening of the 20th she's inviting everyone to her Facebook Author Page for a fun Author Chat party! Don't miss a minute of the fun!

One beautiful winner will receive :
  • A Brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi

  • "Beauty for Ashes" by Dorothy Love

  • "Beyond All Measure" by Dorothy Love

To Enter : Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends March 20, 2012! Winner will be announced at Dorothy's Facebook Author Chat Party on March 20th. Come for an evening of chat, trivia, and a sneak peek at the next book in Dorothy's Hickory Ridge series - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books and a stunning sapphire ring!

So grab your copy of "Beauty for Ashes" then join Dorothy and friends on the evening of March 20th for an evening of fun!

Don't miss Dorothy's delightful giveaway and party. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning! Hope to see you on the 20th!

ALSO -- Be sure to check out the other LitFuse Blog Tour Stops!!

Find Dorothy Love :

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blog Tour - Feasted On: The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd | Review & “School” Your Desk Kindle Giveaway

Today & tomorrow I'm turning my blog over to Sarah E. Ladd, with a review of "The Headmistress of Rosemere!!"

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAYs (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from January 17 - 28, 2013 | Giveaway ends on January 28, 2013 | Sarah's "The Headmistress of Rosemere" Author Chat Party on Facebook is on January 28, 2013]

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Paperback - Pages: 307; Kindle Edition - File Size: 1324 KB; Audiobook - Unabridged | Expected Release Date: December 31, 2013 | Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Obtained: Litfuse Publicity Group

"The Headmistress of Rosemere" [Whispers on the Moors Series, Book 2] by Sarah E. Ladd

Author's Book Description : Darbury, England – 1816
Patience Creighton will finally find the peace she lost years ago—if she can open her heart and forgive the man who loves her.

Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she finds contentment teaching at her father’s school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to keep her father’s dream alive.

Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin’s edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of land but possesses little money to manage the upkeep. He is desperate to find a new source of income, including the sacrifice of land connected to Rosemere.

When her brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience is heartbroken to no longer be responsible for her beloved school and is forced to reassess God’s purpose for her life. After her sister-in-law’s matchmaking brings Patience and William together, they both learn new truths about their character and find a common goal in restoring Eastmore’s legacy.

My Book Review : 4 out of 5 stars! This charming historical romance will touch your heart with it's characters while keeping you entertained with it's suspenseful plot! For a Christian romance, it has everything I was looking for (love/heartache/redemption) and more!

About the Characters:
• Patience: The Headmistress of Rosemere while her brother, Rawdon, is away. Feels that working at her family's school is what she's meant to do with her life. Still getting over her father's death. Tries to keep her mother from being depressed, but isn't really successful in doing so. Once she meets William, again she feels an instant connection to him but knows nothing between them will ever happen.

• William: The owner of Rosemere and it's surrounding property. In debt because of some poor choices and needs to come up with the funds soon. Is trying to create a better life for himself but isn't sure how. Finds out a big secret that changes his life for the better. He's a hero in the way he protects Patience and "her girls" by any means necessary, at least when it's needed. Even though he vowed long ago never to fall in love again it's hard for him to not admire Patience ... and have it grow into something more.

• Emma: A young girl who attends Rosemere. Is an orphan. Loves the school's goat. Gets into an accident.

• Cassandra: A teacher at Rosemere. Patience's best friend. In love with Patience's brother.

• Lewis: Eastmore Hall's groom. William's best friend.

• Rawdon: Patience's brother. In charge of the school since his father died. Has plans to expand the school with the help of someone from Patience's past.

• Lydia: Rawdon's young wife. Tries to play matchmaker.

• Jonathan Riley: William's neighbor who hopes to soon be his business partner too.

I recommend this novel to anyone who likes Christian and/or historical romances!

Purchase This Book and/or The Other Books From It's Series Here :

Book Teaser(s) :
"Rawdon intends to expand the school. He wants to operate a boys' school from the west wing. He thinks it will be profitable. He has asked O'Connell to oversee the school."
"Where will you live?"
"Rawdon intends to build a cottage on the school grounds."
"Oh." Cassandra's voice fell in wistful thought. "And what of the girls' school? Surely you will remain as headmistress after you have worked so hard?"
Patience shrugged. "I do not know. Rawdon thinks I should marry and settle down."
"And whom does he think you should marry?"
Patience managed a little laugh. "I think you know the answer to that question." ~ within Chapter 23
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Sarah, then please check out her website.

About the Author :

Every word has a melody.
Every sentence has a rhythm.

This truth has intrigued me since my early years. Even before I fully understood the meaning behind many of the words, I devoured literature and consumed poetry.

Austen, Alcott, Wordsworth: I left no piece of literature untouched, left no author unexamined. I continue to see magic in how a word is transformed by the word next to it and how written thoughts can incite emotion and evoke change.

In addition to a lifetime of writing and exploring fiction, I have more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts. I live in Indiana and am blessed to share my life with my amazing husband, sweet daughter, and very lovable Golden Retriever.

Giveaways!! :

Don't miss Sarah Ladd's latest Regency novel, "The Headmistress of Rosemere." She is celebrating the release of book two in her Whispers on the Moors series with a fun "School" Your Desk Kindle Fire Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!


To Enter : Between January 17 – 28, visit Sarah Ladd's Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day and be entered to win a Kindle Fire grand prize. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on January 28th! (Don't have a Facebook account? Enter here.)

RSVP today for Sarah's "The Headmistress of Rosemere" Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your Regency trivia skills, announcing the winner of the "School" Your Desk Giveaway, and giving away books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving partygoers an exclusive look at the next book in the Whispers on the Moors series!

So grab your copy of "The Headmistress of Rosemere" and hope to see you on the evening of January 28th! (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via Facebook Enter via Email


ALSO -- Be sure to check out Litfuse's other Blog Tour Reviews for this novel!!

Find Sarah E. Ladd :

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blog Tour - Made the Grade: The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter | Review & Giveaway

Today I'm turning my blog over to Denise Hunter, with a review of her debut novel "The Trouble With Cowboys," which is the 3rd book in her Big Sky Series!!

ALSO -- Be sure to sign up for this tour's GIVEAWAYs (listed below)!! [Blog Tour will run from September 25 - October 11, 2012 | Giveaway ends on October 11, 2012 | Denise's Facebook Author Chat Party is on October 11, 2012]

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Paperback - Pages: 272; Kindle Edition - File Size: 783 KB | Expected Release Date: October 2012 | Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Obtained: LitFuse Publicity Group

"The Trouble With Cowboys" [Big Sky Series, Book 3] by Denise Hunter

My Book Summary : Annie grew up believing that cowboys never commit no matter what. Now, years later, she still believes that and she's trying everything to stick to her beliefs, even if that means staying away from Dylan, a charming and friendly flirt of a cowboy. However, when Dylan's horse, Braveheart, starts becoming blind Annie, who happens to be a talented horse trainer, is hard pressed to keep staying away from Dylan even if she feels bad for his horse, but it's hard to keep her promise to herself in the face of Braveheart's suffering. Therefore, when Annie finds out that the magazine column she writes is getting an overhaul and now she has to write a "lovelorn" column she decides to make a trade---she'll help out Braveheart if Dylan, Mr. Romance himself, will help her with her column. Yet will there time together prove to Annie her earlier beliefs about cowboys or will she be proven wrong and happen to fall for Dylan herself?

My Book Review : 3 out of 5 stars, this is a heartwarming novel about two people working through their pasts and hoping for better futures. Not what I originally expected when I picked this novel to read however, I loved the plot and the way everything flowed from beginning to end. Plus, Dylan seems like a cutie and kept me entertained.

Nevertheless, I wish I could have liked Annie more but she was so reserved in the beginning of the novel and seemed to push her views onto everyone. If she changed her views a bit sooner within the novel I think it might have turned out a bit better for me.

With that being said, I would still recommend this novel to fans of Denise Hunter and her Big Sky Series. Also to anyone who enjoys Christian romance novels.

Author's Novel Extras : Sneak Peek: "The Trouble with Cowboys"

Author's Series Extras : I can live without it, heaven knows I can write without it, but man, it's much more fun when inspiration comes to perch on my shoulder.

Book Teaser(s) :
"You're despicable."
"Am I?"
Her face grew warm. Just the image of him doing all those things to her...
She swallowed hard. "I was about to tell you I'd put in extra hours with Braveheart this week, but you're making me seriously reconsider that benevolent gesture."
"Except you'd never turn your back on a wounded creature just to spite his incorrigible owner."
"I'm sorely tempted." ~ within Chapter 12
He looked up from the letter, smiling. "Cute."
"So..." Annie's hands trembled in her lap, and she pressed them together. "What do you think she should do?"
"Remorseful in Moose Creek?"
She nodded.
He wanted to say all was forgiven, especially when she bit her lower lip. Her full lower lip, just the right shade of pink, and as ripe as a huckleberry in late August.
"They should probably kiss and make up," he said.
Annie snorted. But a smile lifted her lips. ~ within Chapter 20
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Denise, then please check out her website.

About the Author :

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Giveaways!! :

To celebrate the release of "The Trouble With Cowboys" Denise is hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. She'll connect with readers and give away some amazing prizes - including a Kindle Fire!

One fortunate winner will receive :

  • A Kindle Fire
  • And more ....

Grab your copy of Denise Hunter’s latest book and join her for an Author Chat Party on October 11th at 8:00 pm EST (that’s 7:00 pm Central, 6:00 pm MST, & 5:00 pm PST)! Haven’t read "The Trouble With Cowboys" yet? That’s okay, don’t let that stop you from coming to the party! (You may win a copy!)

During the evening she’ll be sharing the story behind the book, posting discussion questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways – books, gift certificates and – a Kindle Fire! She’ll also be giving you a sneak peek of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on October 11th ... and bring your friends!

ALSO -- Be sure to check out LitFuse's other Blog Tour Stops for this novel!!

Find Denise Hunter :

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Idolizing In: There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Format: Paperback | Pages: 303 | Release Date: October 2011 | Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Obtained:

"There You’ll Find Me" by Jenny B. Jones

My Book Summary : Two years ago, Finley's world completely fell apart when her older brother Will was killed. Everything that she believed seemed to end and she got into things that she really shouldn't have been doing.

Now, after finishing her therapy sessions, she has decided to spend her last semester of her senior year in high school abroad in Ireland. While there she hopes just being there will bring her peace over loosing Will by following the steps he took on his previous visit (by following his journal). In addition, she's hoping that this trip will help her complete the song she's trying to compose that is dedicated to Will.

While on her flight to Ireland, she meets Beckett, a teen heartthrob who is flying out to shoot his latest vampire film. They find that Finley might be the only girl who could be immune to Beckett's charm. Therefore, not long after meeting they come to an agreement that during their stay Beckett will play tour guide to Finley in exchange Finley will be Beckett's assistant while on the set.

Yet not everything is what it seems. Finley comes to a point in her life where she has to decide if she should stick to the things she's doing or if she should open up her heart for new experiences to happen. However, will she be able to let go and let God choose her path or will old hurts get in the way??

My Book Review : 5 out of 5 stars, this is a touching novel about trying to deal with the heartbreak of loosing someone close to you and how you can over come that heartbreak into getting back to a "normal" life again. I loved the way this novel goes about trying to help the main character, Finley, from the gorgeous views that were described of Ireland (making me wish I could take a trip there) to Finley's adopted grandmother and her cranky ways to the new friends Finley meets. There seemed to be nothing I did not like about this novel!! Especially the relationship between Finley and Beckett, it was sweet, funny (with all of their bickering and unusual ways of talking to each other), and because of the way they go about helping each other it really made me enjoy this novel so much more!!!

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA romance novels! As well as, to anyone who enjoys novels with a Christian feel to it too.

FYI -- I bawled like a baby by the end of this novel so you might too.

Book Teaser(s) :
"I called you Sunday," he said.
I pointed to his shirt. "Seriously? Is this 1975?"
He looked down. "It drives the chicks wild."
"Yeah, the ones who work at Hooters and have a thing for backseats." ~ within Chapter 15
"Leave me now. I'm old and sick. And you're just nosy."
"How did he die?"
"The town said I killed him."
"Did you?"
"If wishes were bullets . . ." ~ within Chapter 21
For more information on this book and/or any other books by Jenny, then please check out her website.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feasted On: First Date by Krista McGee

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Paperback - Pages: 320; Kindle Edition - File Size: 423 KB | Expected Release Date: January 10, 2012 | Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Obtained: NetGalley

"First Date" by Krista McGee

My Book Summary : Even though Addy is very dedicated to her school, her friends, and her Uncle Mike that doesn't mean that she wants to go onto national television and make a fool of herself by vying for the attention of the President's son, Jonathon Jackson, so she can be his prom date. At least that's how she feels, yet her best friend, her Uncle, and the Principal of her high school convince her to go even though her plan is to get voted off as quickly as possible from the show.

Too bad things don't end up going according to her original plan. However, Jonathon is very cute and nicer then she first thought, so with her new friend (a fellow contestant), and renewed determination Addy is willing to see where this adventure will take her. Now if she can only be sure what God's will for her is, so she'll know how to make it through this adventure without turning her back on him.

My Book Review : 4.5 out of 5 stars! It is a fun, smart, entertaining, and humbling novel about a teenage girl learning about whom she wants to be and how she can stay true to herself and God. This has to be the best Christian based novel that I've read in a very long time!! Since even though this novel talks about Addy's beliefs and her struggles, it also doesn't get all "preachy" about those beliefs either.

I liked the title of this novel with its play on words. Since this story is also about Addy's first date, as well as about the "first son" (aka the President's son).

About the Characters:
• Addy: Sweet. Shy. Quiet. Happy with who she is.

• Jonathon: Attractive. Friendly. Creative.

• Hank: Someone who has big plans for his life and will go to any means to get them.

• Kara: Talkative. Friendly. Protective.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading Christian YA novels. Or to those who just like reading YA novels themselves, since even though there is the Christian aspect in this novel it is also just a great story in and of itself!

PS -- the "reality show" aspect in this book kinda reminds me of "Only Mine" [Fools Gold Series, Book 4] by Susan Mallery, mostly because of the way the "reality show" wasn't really based in reality the same way the "reality show" in Susan's novel wasn't.

Book Teaser(s) :
“No, it’s just . . . I’m not used to attention. I don’t really want it. But my principal wanted me to come. I told him to pick someone else. I knew I would make a fool of myself here.”
He touched her arm and she felt an electric shock. “I think he made a great choice. You’re real. I like that. And you’re not making a fool out of yourself.”
Addy’s face felt like it was on fire. “Let’s see if you still think that after tonight.” ~ within Chapter 12
Images of Addy asking which fork to use, waving the waiter over, almost spilling her drink, being told to sip the soup from the other side of the spoon played on the screen with pipe organ music pumping in the background and cymbals crashing for effect every time she made a mistake.
The whole thing made Addy look like a complete buffoon. ~ within Chapter 24
For more information on this book and/or any other books by Krista, then please check out her website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog Tour - Pie Girls by Lauren Clark | Interview, Spreading the Word, & Gift Card Giveaway

Today I'm turning my blog over to Lauren Clark, who I interviewed about her novel "Pie Girls!!"

ALSO -- Be sure to check out Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to be able to sign up for this blog stop's GIVEAWAY(s)!! [Blog Tour will run from September 16, 2014 - January 6, 2015]

My Q&A with Lauren Clark :

Jess : What books did you enjoy reading while growing up?

Lauren : I was a huge Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fan. I would imagine myself on all of those adventures! And a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. I still love those books.

Jess : Please describe your heroine, from "Pie Girls," in one to two sentences.

Lauren : Searcy Roberts is a Southern belle who finds out that struggle and challenge make her a much better person. During the course of "Pie Girls," Searcy transforms from spoiled rotten to sweet and sensible!

Jess : Which of your characters would you most & least like to invite to dinner, from which book and why?

Lauren : I would love to have Julia and Shug from "Dancing Naked in Dixie." They are my favorite characters, and I am outlining a sequel right now. I need to get some updates about just exactly where their romance is going!!!! Oh, and Roger, the Dixie B & B owner in Eufaula, Alabama. He’s fabulous.

Least like to have? That would have to be Mary Katherine, Shug’s ex girlfriend, who everyone loves to despise. I have a feeling she’ll be showing up in "Dancing Naked in Dixie’s" sequel!

Jess : If "Pie Girls" were to be made into a film, who do you see playing the main characters and why?

Lauren : A blond Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada). She’s smart and sassy, and I think could pull off the spoiled Southern belle act by injecting some empathy into her character. (Searcy is very lonely and wants to be loves, after all). Alice Eve from Star Trek: Into Darkness also comes to mind.


Oh, and I think Luke has to be played by Chris Pine. I have a major crush on the guy. He’d be adorable.

Jess : Are there any differences and/or similarities between Melissa from your "Stay Tuned" novel and Searcy from your "Pie Girls" novel?

Lauren : Melissa is a total career girl with a college-aged daughter. Searcy doesn’t have children yet. They both have mothers who are stricken with a serious illness, which changes their lives and helps them grow into better people. Both women are flawed characters who definitely become the BEST versions of themselves after some serious trials and tribulations.

Jess : What sparked the idea for "Pie Girls?"

Lauren : The answer is really two-fold. First, I grew up enjoying the wonderful pies that my grandmother baked for us from the time I was a baby. No holiday or special occasion would be complete without a pie that my grandmother baked. They were always delicious and the perfect way to end a great meal.

Sharing her recipes in "Pie Girls" is a small way to pay tribute to my grandmother. Several years after she passed away, I asked my mother to write down all of her recipes so that I could have them and share them with my family and friends.

Second, I visited a place in Greensboro, Alabama called the Pie Lab, a restaurant written up many times in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, and many newspapers around the Southeast. I kind of fell in love with the idea of such a place in Fairhope, Alabama, a lovely waterfront community near where I live. I decided to create a shop named "Pie Girls" there, and thus, Searcy’s story was born.

Jess : What is the most dramatic thing one of your characters, from "Pie Girls," said or did?

Lauren : Searcy had to douse herself in liquor at her husband’s high-rise office in Atlanta! (I can’t tell you more or it would spoil it!)

Jess : What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in "Pie Girls" and why?

Lauren : I absolutely loved crafting the parts with C.C., who is Searcy’s mother-in-law. She was deliciously evil, and her dog was just as bad!

Jess : In regards to "Pie Girls," if you could write it all over again, would you change anything about it?

Lauren : I might have developed some of the community relationships a little more. A bit more about Luke’s background, and perhaps his sister. I wanted to show that "PIE GIRLS is really the “place in Fairhope, Ala. where everyone knows your name.”

Jess : Out of all of the secondary characters within "Pie Girls," do you have one or two favorites so far? If so, who are they and can you tell us why?

Lauren : Tobi, Searcy’s best friend, was the total voice of reason throughout the novel. She is Searcy’s rock and the friend we ALL want to have. Phillipa and Mimi were so fluffy and clueless, it was hilarious. But they were well meaning, so it was hard not to enjoy them!

Jess : How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?

Lauren : I’ve written 6. Four are women’s humorous fiction set in the Deep South. Two are women’s suspense books, which will be released beginning July 2015. Because the genre is so different, they will be written under Laura McNeill (which is my real name!). They will be a Harper Collins imprint, under the Thomas Nelson division. Pretty exciting stuff! I’ll be releasing details on Facebook and my website and blog later this year.

Jess : Do you have any other projects in the works? If so, can you share a little of your current work with us?

Lauren : I’m almost done with outlining the sequel to "Dancing Naked in Dixie." Working title: "Skinny Dipping in Dixie."

Just when Julia Sullivan's life gets settled—with a great job, an adoring boyfriend, and a bright future—things start falling apart.

  • Julia's tapped to head up a new travel magazine—in Europe.
  • Her 70 year-old father, David, gets caught in a very compromising position—and then decides to get married.
  • And there's big trouble in Eufaula, Alabama—putting the city's beloved historic district and Julia’s relationship with Shug Jordan in jeopardy once more.
In a matter of days, Julia's up to her neck in hot water. Will she take the plunge and escape to the glamour and intrigue of Paris? Or follow her heart and head for Eufaula—home of sweet tea, magnificent mansions, and the annual Pilgrimage?

Jess : Do you have a favorite aspect of fall or tradition in your family during fall/Halloween season that you’d like to share with us?

Lauren : Generally, on October 1st, I pile my boys into the car and we take a trip to Dollar General or somewhere that carries tacky Halloween decorations. I give the boys $10 each and let them pick out whatever they like (yep, it’s pretty tacky stuff). We go home and decorate, adding all of the severed feet and gravestones from years past. Such fun!

Jess : What cartoon character best represents your personal philosophy?

Lauren : If we can pick anyone, I chose Merida from Brave! Here’s her description from a September 19th posting on Merida was Pixar's first female lead character in the 2012 film Brave, and she appeared in a blaze of self-possession, fiery red hair and perfectly-aimed arrows. While on paper she was a princess, she had absolutely no intention of settling quietly into married life: Merida knew her own mind, and set out to make sure she could keep her independence. Though Merida's journey starts out as a stereotypical princess-in-a-castle fairy story, it escalates into a dark folk tale about dangerous magic, fate, and the changing relationship that every growing teenage daughter has with her mother.

Jess : If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

Lauren : "Has anyone found my keys?" OR "Stop! Pass the coffee, please!"

Jess : List 3 books you just recently read and would recommend?

Lauren : "Me Before You," Jo Jo Moyes
"Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands," Chris Bohjalian
"If I Stay," Gayle Forman

"Pie Girls" by Lauren Clark

Author's Book Description :
    Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

    But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

    Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s is thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

    Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

This book is available to order on : | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | iBooks

** Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! **

About the Author :

Lauren Clark writes contemporary Southern novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

She is the author of four award-winning novels, "Dancing Naked in Dixie," "Stay Tuned," "Stardust Summer," and "Pie Girls," as well as a short story, "A Very Dixie Christmas," published in the Merry & Bright holiday collection. Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mobile Writers Guild. Check out her website at

Book Excerpt :

Chapter 7

"C.C.," I exclaim, standing on tiptoes for an air kiss. "What a lovely surprise."

She clears her throat, and I step back. "You haven't greeted my Precious," C.C. warns in a lilting voice, tilting her head toward the pink sequined bag hanging over her left forearm.

Precious? Like as in the Lord of the Rings? Surely she doesn't mean...

A tiny black nose and beady eyes poke out of the bag.

"Eek!" I jump back and squeal, clapping a hand to my chest and dropping the keys.

The dog—if you can call it that—begins yipping and complaining like I've just whipped it with a cat o' nine tails.

I freeze in place, flush a lovely shade of violet, and want to self-destruct; certain that I've committed what equates to a mortal sin in the world according to C.C. Anderson. She's carrying her new puppy, a tiny Min-Pin; complete with pink collar and matching pink toenails.

"I'm so sorry—"

C.C. waves her own pink manicured fingernails an inch from my face.

"Mama's poor little baby," she coos in a high-pitched falsetto. "Are you okay, my sweetie-weetie, lovey girl?"

My jaw drops open slightly. I've never heard the woman utter a word of endearment toward any human being or living creature.

When I first dated Alton, I was almost certain that C.C., in fact, was among the un-dead. Five years ago, when she and Alton’s father decided to move to Atlanta—under the auspices of closer to their only son—I almost had him talked into buying some dove's blood from Marie Laveau's shop in New Orleans just to see if she'd drink it.

"Mama's Precious will be all right, won't she?" C.C. continues. "Searcy's just a bad girl. She'll do better, I promise, darling."

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