Myner Tuesday?

YAY!  Amazon is working again, so we have another free episode. Poor Christy is under the weather, so please keep her in your prayers.  :)  Meanwhile, I took most of last week off, trying to catch up on things like birthday cards (Novembers–YES NOVEMBER’S–are going out tomorrow.  *blush*) and house stuff.

But now I’m working hard.  I spent a long time researching a dance for the next Legacy of the Vines book–Crushed Dreams.  I think I finally got it right.  :)

HLep15sm In the meantime, it’s time for HearthLand Episode 15: A Friend in Need, free on Kindle for a limited time.

I love to give—truly, nothing makes me happier than to buy a gift, hand over something of mine that will bless or encourage someone, or meet a need.  Ashley indulges my love of giving with these serial novels.  I write like the wind, and each week, we offer one episode free for 48 hours. It makes me happy.  This week’s episode: HearthLand Episode 15: A Friend in Need.  So please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

Like our Facebook Page/Post
Tweet this giveaway
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Download Episode 15 on Amazon. (even if you already have a copy, feel free to delete and download again to get an entry into the drawing.)

Next week:  NEW EPISODE!  I’m so excited.  Right now, I’m working on Episode 18.  Ralph is on his way to meet someone at the rest stop on the way to Fairbury.  At midnight.

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December Newsletter Winners!

Ami W
Cheryl N
Joann (sal)

I have others to draw, but I wanted to get December’s newsletter names drawn before January is over!  EEK!

Check your emails, ladies!  I’ve already sent your gift cards.

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Release Party Winners!

DROTH WinnersBefore I get into who won, I really want to thank you for celebrating with me.  Deepest Roots of the Heart really means a lot to me.  It combines my love of California history and culture with one of my favorite historical eras.  And I really love my characters.  They taught me much about patience, love of family, and compassion for people who are tricked into wrong thinking.  So thanks again.  Now onto some PRIZES!!!

9:00 p.m Prize: Cathe Swanson (choice of print/kindle/or audio book) 
8:00 p.m. Prize:  Susan (dasselacademy) (10.00 Amazon Gift Certificate)
7:00 p.m. Prize:  Jennifer Miles  (Audio Book)
6:00 p.m. Prize:  Becky Frank (signed book)
5:00 p.m. Prize:  SylviaMiller6 (10.00 Amazon Gift Certificate)
4:00 p.m. Prize:  Jessica S.  (signed book)
3:00 p.m. Prize:  Jen Harris  (Kindle book)
2:00 p.m. Prize:  Lois Turley  (audio book)
1:00 p.m. Prize:  Tristan (signed book)
12:00 p.m. Prize:  Kristi S.  (signed book)
11:00 a.m. Prize:  dhbarbara (signed book)
10:00 a.m. Prize:  Deborah G. (Kindle book)
9:00 a.m. Prize:  Barbara H  (Grand Prize- 50.00 Amazon Gift Certificate)

Please contact me at if you are a winner!  I’d like to send out prizes ASAP.  Gift certificate and Kindle book winners will receive their prizes immediately, so please check your email for something from Amazon!  :D

*Prizes in blue are Twitter prizes

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A First For Everything

smalronHey!  I’m rubbing off on Ashley!  (either that, or she’s about to have her baby and is feeling especially chipper about the idea of the pain of labor and upcoming sleepless nights–it couldn’t possibly be sweet baby coos and drunk milk smiles). She’s dropped the price of Ready or Not… FOR THE TIME BEING!  That’s right!  This is not a two or three day promotion!   So, if you’ve got a friend or five out there that you’ve wanted to share this series with, but never quite caught it while it was on sale, this is your opportunity!

And, just for sharing, we’d like to offer the opportunity to win one of two $5 Amazon gift cards! We have lots of options.  We like to try to make it easy for everyone to get at least two entries.  We use PromoSimple widgets as our giveaway manager.  Just enter your email address and name into the widget and that’s one entry!  Answer the question in the comments below, and there’s another entry!  Then, for those who like social media (and more entries into the giveaways) here are more entry options!

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The book is available at .99  on

Comment Request: Many people say that this is the first book that introduced them to my writing.   Is it yours?

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Speaking Scripture into Our Hearts

183570607As a Christian fiction author, one of the most important things to me is that the entire content of what I write reflect the influence of the Word in my novels.  While I don’t want my fiction to be that dreaded word, “preachy,” I do have a goal for my fiction–to encourage fellow Christians in their walks with the Lord.

I work hard to do as much of it as possibly by example–showing how a character lives out their faith in conjunction with the plot of the book.  That allows me the opportunity to allude to Scriptural principles without turning each book into a a sermon disguised as a dramatic skit.

But in real life, people discuss things–they argue about them.  Entire denominations have been created because one faction of Christianity saw communion as requiring one cup while another saw no reason not to give everyone their own.  Friendships have been destroyed because one person’s eschatology didn’t match another’s.  But with those debates, some have grown closer from a mutual love of Scripture.  I’ve seen this happen often on a message board I run.  We all love the Word.  We love each other.  And though we may not agree with someone else’s understanding of Scripture, we can agree that their understanding is rooted in a love of the Lord.  Many of us operate from the theory that if God wants to correct their theology, He can and will do that without our interference–er help.

Like Mary, I like to store up treasures in my heart–for me it’s the Word.  Without the Word of God as the foundation of our faith, we have nothing.  I speak, write, and encourage from the heart, but there is a problem.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Without the Lord and His Word resting in my heart, I am “desperately sick” and “deceitful.”  That’s not exactly encouraging.  It’s why when the publisher originally had the back copy of Deepest Roots of the Heart written to say, “…and the importance of following your heart,” I almost had a coronary.  In fact, my very desperately sick and wicked heart freaked out a bit, and my reply was barely civil.  I made it clear that I would be very upset if they used that.  As always, Waterfall was quite gracious and made the change without hesitation.  I’m still grateful for that.

But where does my wicked, sick heart leave me then?  How can I hope to encourage others when I recognize that I am so utterly flawed?


So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:11-12

It always comes back to the Word, doesn’t it?  What about Hebrews 4:12?

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The WORD is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  It will not return void  (as I think the KJV puts it).

It’s really simple (in that amazingly complex way that the most beautifully simple things are).

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  (emphasis mine)

II Corinthians 10:5

It’s how I correct wrong thinking in my own heart.  I compare it with the Word.  In fact, I always feel a little like Marianne Dashwood in the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility.  Elinor says, “Do you compare your conduct with his,” and Marianne replies, “No, I compare it to what it ought to have been.  I compare it with yours.”

That’s what I try to do.  Compare my thoughts with the Word.  It’s how I take them captive.  I think sometimes we as Christians feel like we should never have wrong thinking–that those wrong thoughts were washed away from us when we were covered in Jesus’ blood.  Well, if that were true, then we wouldn’t be told to take those thoughts captive, would we?

If I am feeling justified in selfish or unkind thoughts–I take them to the Word.  And I find that the Word tells me :

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Philippians 2:3


Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

Let’s face it.  99% of the time, we know when our actions or thoughts are out of tune with the Word of the Lord.  We may not know why, but the Holy Spirit is gracious and loving and pricks our hearts to show us our faults.  The more we yield to those pricks, the more sensitive we are to them.  Then we take it to the Word, infuse that Word into our hearts, and allow God’s Word to transform us all over again.  Because as Romans 12: 2 says:

be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We speak Scripture into our hearts, and as a result, we drive out the deceit and the sickness that tries so hard to infect us and keep us captive like a cancer.

That’s my goal for my books.  I’ll fail.  I’m human.  I’m weak and I don’t always listen or do what is right.  But it’s the goal. It’s my prayer.

It’s my deepest longing regarding the work I do.

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Release Party: Audio Sample

The audio books arrived on December 17, 2014

For audio book lovers, Brilliance Audio hired Thom Rivera to narrate the book.  The emails he sent me asking detailed questions–I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that he took the production of my book so seriously.  The one question that astounded me (and still does) is when he asked if a (fairly minor) character was “an educated man” or not.   That attention to detail is what makes his narration so flawless.  I’m so grateful to both him and Waterfall for hiring him!

To enter to win a free audio copy of Deepest Roots of the Heart, share the LINK to the audio sample on Facebook!  Then come back here and comment below so I know you did!

This is the last prize for the night (unless I come up with some random fun ones on the side), so now is the time to head back to the Grand Prize blog post and be sure to get all your entries into the promo widget for a potential thirteen chances to win that Grand Prize!

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Release Party: Amelia’s Interview

drothcoverOne of the ways I try to get to “know” my characters is to try to type up an “organic” question/answer session.  I’ll try to let each question spark the following one–really working to get into the character’s head.  I did that with Avelino, but for this release party, I thought it might be fun to do it with Amelia. So, let’s interview the young woman who stole my heart while I wrote the book.

Chautona:  Hello, Amelia.  Why don’t you tell us just a little about yourself–not too much.  Let’s not give away the whole book, but just enough so we get a feel for where you’re coming from.

Amelia: It’s nice to have a chance to tell “my side” of the story.  Thank you.  Um… well, I am from Oklahoma.  My whole family is from that area.  In ’39, Granddad, Grandmom, and I left western Oklahoma for California and eventually settled in Napa after a few years in Fresno.  That’s where Granddad learned about grapes.

Chautona:  Now why do you think I made such a big deal of your hair?

Amelia:  Well there is the historical element, of course.  It was special to the Carrillo family for quickly obvious reasons. And then there is the fact that I also think you were being a little ornery about the book that inspired this story.  Instead of the constant references to beauty and innocence, you indulged in just a little of the redhead repetition as your rebellion against that novel.
As for why it would even matter that I had red hair even without that history, my story takes place in the forties when people still teased redheads.  I think children are always a little cruel to the different child–whether she has different colored skin, red hair, an accent, or perhaps a physical disability.  Since you learned that redheads only make up 1-2% of the world’s population, it makes sense that it would be considered an oddity.  And, after learning that during the time of the Spanish Inquisition all redheads in Spain and Italy were presumed to be Jews (an undesirable thing at that time), I think those stereotypes and prejudices continued.

Chautona:  True.  And, that brings me to another question.  Why do you think that Avelino encountered prejudice upon his return that he didn’t feel before he went off to war?

Amelia:  Well, I think that there are many reasons.  Life isn’t as simple as we’d like to think or as complex as we tend to make it.  But several things come to mind.  First, he was so young when he left–so inexperienced.  He grew up in a loving family, supportive community, and really had no experiences that showed him the more racist and bigoted side of life.  Add to that, his experience in the army, and when he came home, I think he saw rejection where there was none.  Pain tends to do that to us.  It festers so that it clouds our judgment.

Chautona:  There were times that I wanted you to slap him, scream at him, do something to make him stand up and take notice of what he was doing to you.  Why didn’t you?

Amelia:  I think that I made a bigger impact on him because I didn’t.  He would have found it easier to justify his attitudes if I had wounded his pride that way.  But because I dealt with my emotions myself, he had to see his own responses without justifying them as a reaction to mine.

Chautona:  Some might say you stuffed down your emotions.  How do you respond to that?

Amelia:  Because it was stuffing down my emotions when I–oh.  Right.  You told me no spoilers.  I suddenly feel like River Song.  Suffice it to say, I make my emotions very clear.  I may  not scream when I am angry or slobber over him when I share my feelings, but I do not stuff them down.

Chautona:  You go girl!  Did you read the epilogue?   What did you think of what Avelino said about your father in that?

Amelia:  I wish I would have known.  But, like Avelino with Ray and his cronies, I doubt I would have seen it at the time.  I think learning of it afterward is the only way it really hit home.  And that is okay.  Knowing at all is what matters, right?

Chautona:  That is true.  And sometimes learning after the fact makes a stronger impact.  Sometimes we are too blind to really grasp it–like when we hear how proud a parent is of you after that parent is gone.  Part of us screams, “Why didn’t you ever tell me!”  But you know, sometimes they did–or if they had, we wouldn’t have “heard” them.

Amelia: I think that was definitely how it was.

Chautona:  Do you think Avelino did the right thing regarding the vineyard and marriage?

Amelia:  Well, I don’t think I ever managed to make him see it, but as much as I didn’t like it, I was so proud of him for sticking to his convictions.  Lyman was a weasel, and in our family, we shoot weasels.  Avelino was honorable even when the law didn’t require it.  That says something about him.

Chautona:  If you could say one thing to the readers, what would it be?

Amelia:  When it seems like nothing is going how you think it should, trust Jesus.  Because either it is and you just can’t see it yet, or it shouldn’t be going that way in the first place.  If God knew all before the foundation of the world, I think we can trust Him to build the foundations of our lives as well.

There you have it.  A few minutes with Amelia and her take on themes and events in Deepest Roots of the Heart. 

To win an audio copy of Deepest Roots of the Heart.  share this blog post somehow (email, Twitter, Blog post, Facebook, however you choose), and leave a comment telling me what you did.  That’s all it takes!

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Release Party: Pinterest

drothcoverFor the Pinterest lovers, I’ve got an easy one for you!  Just PIN THE COVER over at Pinterest,  come back here, and leave a comment letting me know you did!  It’s that simple!

Post another comment and tell me the difference between this cover and the previous ones I’ve shared and I’ll give you an extra entry!

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Release Party: Juana Briones, a California Heroine

DROTHcoversmAnother research gem that I unearthed while writing Deepest Roots of the Heart was an amazing Californio woman, Juana Briones.  I do not remember Briones from my study of California history.  I don’t know if she simply wasn’t included or if somehow I missed her (I suspect the former), but this is one seriously amazing woman.

Juana was married to a Mexican cavalryman–a drunk abuser, no less. After receiving a church sanctioned separation from him (practically unheard of from what I can find), she moved onto her own property (modern day Palo Alto) with her children (she had eleven, including an adopted Indian child, but I don’t know if all of them were alive at that point), and ran her own ranch.  She was an herbalist–a healer.  In fact, she traveled to Marin county in order help with the smallpox epidemic there.

But the thing about Briones that astounds me is her legal acumen.  She managed to do what almost no other Californios did–keep her lands.  While her fellow ranch owners lost their ranchos to squatters after the annexation of California to the US, Juana held onto hers.  Then, when she finished with that, she fought for her husband’s property after his death–all the way to the US Supreme Court!  This amazing woman inspired me in so many ways.  I used her in this novel in a completely fictionalized way. I found no evidence that she helped with a smallpox outbreak in Napa or Sonoma counties, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that she could have.

Juana will make more appearances in book three of the Legacy of the Vines series.  I can’t wait to get to know her better.

To enter to win a signed copy of Deepest Roots of the Heart, share this post on Facebook and then leave a comment below to share that you did.

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Release Party: Historical Surprises!

Historical fiction requires a completely different writing process from contemporary fiction that takes place in completely fictional locales.  My research for the Rockland Chronicles is usually limited to ensuring that I have the write style of phone for the era, seeing how to make candles from tallow, or learning how to best use poison to kill someone.  Yeah, as Nicole Deese and I said during our interview, if the US government ever decides to check out my Google history, I’m toast.

But historical fiction doesn’t give a lot of leeway.  Yes, there are always people who buck the system–who are mavericks in their eras.  But most people follow the culture and customs of their times.  Add to that misconceptions of the era (Regency novels so often have Victorian social customs applied to them–so annoying) and you can write a piece of historical heresy!  (hyperbole there, but you get my point).

But historical research is also fascinating  While it does get annoying to have to lose a funny quip in your novel because “Amy get your gun” doesn’t work in 1945–the play Annie Get Your Gun wasn’t performed until 1946 and the movie (where someone from Napa, California would likely see/hear of it) didn’t come out until 1950–learning those tidbits is also exciting.  For example, I assumed that the price of a bottle of soda would have risen after WWII.  The Depression is over, soldiers are home, the economy is booming–why isn’t the price of soda rising?  It turns out that that it was crazy expensive to change the machines over to require a higher price.  The price of soda bottles didn’t change until around 1959!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

But by far the most interesting tidbit I learned for Deepest Roots of the Heart came as I wrote about the Battle of San Jacinto.  I remember this battle from my history books.  After Santa Anna’s crushing blow at the Alamo, American textbooks are eager to share Houston’s defeat of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto.  However, there are two little facts–tiny little tidbits–that I do not remember from my textbooks.

  1. The battle lasted 20 minutes.  That’s right  20 minutes.  Now think about this.  This happened back when the Kentucky long rifle was a popular gun for snipers.  And it takes the better part of a minute for the average Joe to load this gun.  So that means that if an amazing sniper could use this gun to fire at the enemy, the best he could hope for was a whopping 40 shots.  Whoa… That’s just not very many in the grand scheme of things.
  2. Santa Anna’s army (or at least his higher ranking officers) was/were asleep at around 4:30 in the afternoon. ASLEEP.

No wonder only 9 Texians died compared to 630 Mexicans  (and the 730 who were captured).  I’m still astounded.  20 minute battle.  That so was not in my history textbook–and it should have been.  Wow.

DROTHcoversmWe’re giving away a Kindle copy of Deepest Roots of the Heart with this post.  Just share it anyway you want to–Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, Google+.  You go for it.  Then drop a comment telling me how you did and one lucky person will win!  WOOT!

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