Meet author Aaron Zook

Aaron M. Zook, Jr. is a multiple-award-winning author and speaker. He’s thrilled thousands of readers with his expanding YA Christian mystery/adventure series about two inquisitive boys and their dogs who solve one crisis after another around the world. He’s taught classes in Europe and the U.S. about the Young Adult writing process and offers coaching to aspiring writers. Aaron is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and lives with his wife, Joyce, in Texas.

Tell us about your newest published book.

The Isle of Intrigue’s fast-paced, heart-thumping action takes the reader through an intriguing plot involving a technology power-grab by the Japanese mafia that involves the U.S. military, Okinawan government, and our heroes, Gabe and Alex Zanadu. The two boys with their dogs, Thunder and Lightning, and Okinawan friends struggle to avoid capture, and when they fail, they plunge into frantic activity to free themselves and defeat the criminals. High-speed chases, near misses, and gut-wrenching courage keep the boys and their friends racing to stay ahead of the villains.

What inspired you to write the Thunder and Lightning series?

My inspiration for the entire series, which will be twelve books when completed, is my two sons, Jeremiah and Michael. Watching the joy and excitement of two boys learning to grow and grapple with life changes while we moved according to my military job requirements made writing the books a labor of love. My wife, Joyce, and I experience cultures around the world and watching our two boys get those experiences, grow as young men, and give their lives to Christ in the process made for excellent inspiration to write the books. I used to tell stories to them in Germany while we rode in our van to various castles, swim meets, or other youth adventures. I’ve escalated the intrigue and depth of those stories which has now blossomed into a vibrant series.

What genre do you focus on and why?

I focus on Young Adult Mystery/Adventure stories because I read many mystery and adventure stories when I was a teenager. I found that the stories helped me grow when I was younger and I wanted to pass on a Christian version that still kept the fast pace and tension of a mystery/adventure story, but also tracked two young boys growing into Christian men. The action and mystery focus draws the reader into an incredible story and in the background, the boys learn lessons and grow from their experiences. What young man doesn’t? Not only do the stories provide intense suspense and action, they have their comic relief as well. I like writing about the fast-paced changes of a teenager’s life as they grow into maturity.

Why do you write? What drives you?

The driving force behind my writing comes from watching the developing world around me. To my eyes, I see that worldly values are permeating our society and the biblical worldview roots are being slowly covered or plucked away by senior people with agendas that don’t encompass Christian believers. Some of these people are from different religious backgrounds and some are political organizations. I want to find a way to help young boys and girls understand that the Christian faith is essential for a strong individual and community life. That’s why I am using the principles contained in Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ to influence the growth of the two boy-heroes in the story.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Most months, I will work on my books by taking a short, secluded writing vacation of four to five days. I travel to a time-share we own, only take care of essential email, and then focus on writing first the outline, then chapter summaries, then the rough draft, and finally an edited draft of my work. When that’s complete, I send it to my writing coach who helps me review the document for editing and theme consistency. When we are finished, I send the final draft to my publisher. The rest of the month I tinker with research and some story ideas, but mostly focus on the business side of writing which includes book sales, signings, and other related work.

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

I think the hardest part of being an author is revising chapters and scenes which I have grown fond of but which do not propel the reader into action and adventure. In my desire to provide a full picture of my heroes and the story line, often I will lapse into backstory or non-essential information. To keep the drama fresh and lively, my writing coach and I discuss scaling back certain scenes, ramping up emotional conflict, or sending the protagonist in a completely different direction. Removing a scene or chapter that I’ve loved creating takes emotional strength and fortitude; however, the end result makes the decision worthwhile.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

The best part of my author’s life is getting to know other authors, editors, agents, and publishers. I enjoy talking with them, listening to their ideas, gaining knowledge and expertise, and finding new revelations that help me and those that I teach how to be better word-wranglers or creative geniuses. I get stimulated by the energy pouring out of a newly published author and someone who finally puts their thoughts on paper for the first time. I enjoy watching others grow!

What’s one unusual fact about you?

An unusual fact about me is that I love to play guitar and sing, especially if I’m leading a congregation in praise and worship. I’ve played for and led churches/chapel services as a Praise and Worship leader for over twenty years while I was serving as an officer in the military.

What is your favorite pastime?

Something I love to do in addition to spending time with my wonderful wife, is playing golf. I’ve recently moved to a home located in a golf community and enjoy learning how to play the game well in addition to meeting and making great friends and neighbors who love the outdoor enjoyment. I try to get in two games a week, but this is often not possible due to book sales, signings, and other activities with family or church. I love the great outdoors, well-kept courses, and the sunny weather.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

The first four books of the Thunder and Lightning Series are currently available. These books chronicle the adventures and mystery escapades of Gabe and Alex Zanadu as they grow up from twelve and fourteen-years-of-age by six months in each book. Each self-contained mystery provides another link in the lives of the boys as they mature into Godly men.

I’ve also published a non-fiction book called Our Dad, the Hero, which he authored as a ghost-writer for Robert (Bob) Gosney. The book is a biography of Bob’s life in the Army, his time as a helicopter pilot and commander in Vietnam, and his time as Chief of the Military Mission in Liberia. The book is titled by his daughters who look up to him whole-heartedly.

What are you working on now?

The Crashin’ Coaster Mystery is my newest book and is currently at the publisher for final launch preparation, tentatively scheduled for Fall 2019. The heroes of the story, Gabe and Alex Zanadu, plus their dogs, Thunder and Lightning, and friends literally plunge into a deep mystery about roller coasters crashing, first in Texas, then in other states. The terror of being hung upside down for hours begins an adventure catapulting the two boys into the hot seat as the felon tries to incriminate them in the crashes. The tension ramps up when the FBI gets involved and injuries mount. Can the boys stop the perpetrators? Will the FBI capture the villains? The reader will hang in suspense until the end of the book, wondering the outcome.

Website: https://zookbooks.org/

Link to book:

https://zookbooks.org/store/

or https://www.boldvisionbooks.com/shop/the-isle-of-intrigue

Social media links:

FB: Facebook.com/ZookBooks
Twitter: @ZookAaron

Instagram: ocf.fthstx

 

 

 

 

 

Susan G Mathis releases Sara’s Surprise

Hi friends,

I’m thrilled to release book two of the Thousand Islands Brides novellas. Here’s the back cover copy:

Sara ​O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.

Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

~ ~ ~

It’ll make a great Christmas read, would make a lovely Christmas gift, or  a good read anytime. I hope you will hop over to Amazon or Barnes & Nobles and pick up a copy. Most of all, I hope you’ll enjoy it. To whet your appetite, here’s a short excerpt:

Sara hurried to grab the tray of petite, white, fluted ramekins she’d already readied. Bringing them to the pastry station, she set them down, waiting for further instructions.

“I will teach you to separate eggs the proper way. I noticed you drew them from shell to shell. That is incorrect. You pour them onto your palm like this.” Chef broke an egg with one hand and let the egg white run through his fingers in one fluid motion. He plopped the yolk in a bowl. “Now you try.”

Sara cracked an egg with one hand. But before she adjusted the shell and got her hand under the egg, the white fell to the table in a gooey mess. She panicked, and the yolk broke too.

“Imbecile! Non!You don’t even know how to break an egg.” He slapped her hand and showed her again, making the process look simple. Effortless.

“I’m sorry, monsieur. I will learn.” Sara blinked back tears and tried again, this time accomplishing the feat, albeit rather awkwardly.

Chef took her through the next steps of heating the cream to “temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.” At his instruction, she gently mixed in the remaining ingredients, simmered it, and poured the custard into the dishes.

Chef LaFleur handed her a tea towel. “You must put a towel in the bottom of the pan and fill it halfway with water before baking.”

Sara did as he commanded her, baked them, cooled and chilled them, and grinned with pride at her accomplishment. Just before teatime, Chef pulled her away from preparing the teapots to show her the final step.

He took her hand and led her back to the pastry table, touching her arm as if he was courting her. She shivered even though it must’ve been ninety degrees in the kitchen.

“For the final presentation, we sprinkle sugar on top of the custard to create a lovely caramelized crust. We put them under the broiler for a few moments and voilà! They will be magnifique.” He put his fingers together and touched his lips to the tips, fanning out his hand as if to send some magical kiss to the heavens.

Sara wished he’d wash his hands instead.

Thankfully, the crème brûlée was picture perfect, and after he placed a sprig of mint and three blackberries on top of each one, they were a work of art. Chef LaFleur may be persnickety, but he sure was talented.

 

Buy it here: Amazon   Barnes&Nobles

Meet author Kathy Harris

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a divine detour into the Nashville entertainment business where she works as a marketing director. For several years she freelanced entertainer biographies and wrote, as well as ghost wrote, news stories and columns for various music publications. She sold her first Christian nonfiction story in 2007. Her debut novel, The Road to Mercy, released in 2012.

Tell us about your newest book.

Deadly Commitment (Book 1 in the Deadly Secrets series) releases October 14 from New Hope Publishing/Iron Stream Media.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb? Danni Kemp fears she’s being stalked—but the truth is much more deadly. Her new fiancé́, Robert Evans, has a dangerous secret, and the homeless man who is stalking her, Caleb Samuels, may prove to be her only escape. Will Danni discover in time that neither Robert nor Caleb are what they appear to be, and that the one person she fears the most may be the person she needs to trust?

What genre do you focus on and why? My first novel, The Road to Mercy (Abingdon Press, September 2012), was a stand alone women’s fiction. Then, both my agent and my editor suggested I write romantic suspense. I was comfortable with the idea because I’d read a lot of romantic suspense. And my long-time critique partner, Rebecca Deel, writes romantic suspense. Subsequently, my first romantic suspense manuscript ultimately became Deadly Commitment.

Why do you write? What drives you?

I’ve dreamed of writing books since I was a little girl. With that in mind, I went to college for a communications journalism degree. But, after graduation, my life took a turn. I was offered a job nearly two hundred miles away in the Nashville music business. That job turned into a four-decade music marketing career. About fifteen years ago, I decided it was time to get back to writing. After a few false starts trying to write general market fiction, I realized that my calling was to write Christian fiction. Once I figured that out, I finished my first manuscript relatively quickly.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I still work full time, so writing has to be shoehorned into my day. Sometimes that’s early in the morning, but most often it’s at night. There have been many nights when I have literally fallen asleep at my computer. Funny enough, that works great for me, because my internal editor tends to go to sleep early, leaving me free to write without her. Ha!

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

Having so many stories in my head but not enough time to get them all out. As Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” In the end, however, I’m grateful for all that I have been able to do so far.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

Telling stories. And “meeting” new fictional characters and getting to know them. Writing has taught me a lot about myself, as well as others. I’ve learned that, no matter how different our experiences may be, we all deal with the same problems and emotions. Fear. Loss. Loneliness. Similarly, we all rejoice when we discover love. Or second chances. Most of all, I enjoy writing about the amazing grace and mercy of our Lord.

What’s one thing your readers should know about you?

I’m an extroverted introvert. While I can be gregarious and outgoing, I’m essentially quite shy.

What is your favorite pastime?

I love spending time with my dog, my friends, and my family, not necessarily in that order. Ha! I enjoy cooking for special people in my life. I enjoy going on long walks, not only for health benefits, but because I like to explore new places, whether that’s a remote hiking trail or downtown Nashville. Nashville has grown exponentially in the past five-ten years, so quickly that even those of us who live here have a difficult time keeping up with the changes.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the second book in the Deadly Secrets series, which is expected to release Fall 2020. The third book is set to release Fall 2021. If your readers would like to know more about the series, they can sign up for my newsletter on my website!

Website: https://kathyharrisbooks.com

Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Commitment-Novel-Secrets/dp/1563093049/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=kathy+harris&qid=1565891530&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Social media links:

FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/KathyHarrisAuthor

TWITTER https://twitter.com/divinedetour

INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/kathyharris_author/

Thanks so much for having me as you guest, Susan! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

Linda J. White on “white-knuckle” fiction

Linda writes “White-knuckle fiction,” mystery/suspense novels designed to keep you up all night reading. Her books have won several awards, including the prestigious HOLT Medallion. She’s the mother of three grown children and grandmother of five. She also spent fourteen years as a journalist. For fun, she likes long walks with her dog in the woods around her Virginia home. Her late husband worked at the FBI Academy for twenty-seven years.

Tell us about your newest book.

All That I Dread is the story of Jessica Chamberlain, a young woman with trauma in her past. Jess adopts a rowdy German shepherd and starts training with a K9 search-and-rescue group. On their first big test, Luke finds the person he’s sent out to find, but then also finds the body of a young woman. Soon, Jess finds herself teaming up with the FBI in search of a murderer—a search which brings her face-to-face with the past she thought she’d left behind.

What genre do you focus on and why?

Mystery/suspense for two reasons: It’s what I like to read, and my husband made training films for the FBI for over twenty-seven years, so I have the inside scoop!

Why do you write? What drives you?

I think story is a powerful way to convey truth. Working out the threads of a novel is like completing a puzzle. It’s a lot of work, but writing intrigues me.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

Jessica Chamberlain. My niece is named Jessica, and I’ve always liked that name. I have no idea where Chamberlain came from!

What does a day in your writing world look like?

I get up early, usually by six-thirty. I feed the dog, take her for a brisk walk, and then write for at least four hours. Later, I’ll come back to what I’ve written and edit it. Copious amounts of black coffee keep me going!

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Marketing. I really dislike the selling part of my job!

What’s the best part of your author’s life?

I love meeting people who have been touched, informed, and/or entertained by my stories.

What is the craziest thing you’ve experienced as an author?

Sometimes I’ll use my friends’ little quirks in my characters. Somehow, my friends never see themselves in my books.

What are you most proud of?

When my husband died two years ago, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write again. But six months later, the muse struck, and All That I Dread is the result. Many people say it’s my best book. I don’t know about that, but I’m thankful I chose to write it.

What is your favorite pastime?

Reading. Of course. Although I must say, I read an awful lot of non-fiction.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

Dread is my seventh novel, so yes, there are six others.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Dread, which incorporates equine therapy into the story. Fascinating!

Website: www.lindajwhite.net

Link to book: http://bit.ly/DreadSAR

Social media links:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/LJWBksFB

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rytn4hm

 

 

 

 

Jesse Florea on an apologetics Bible

Jesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for more than twenty-six years. He currently serves as the editorial director for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. He co-hosts the “Official Average Boy podcast” with Christian comedian Bob Smiley and “Official Adventures in Odyssey podcast.” He has writtenor co-written more than forty books, including the apologetics-based books Defend Your Faith children’s apologetics Bible, The Case for Grace for Kids and The Case for Miracles for Kids. 

 

Tell us about your newest book.

The Defend Your Faith Bible is part of the Lifeway family of apologetics Bibles. This was the hardest and most humbling project I’ve ever worked on. After all, it’s the Bible. You have to get it right. My role as general editor was to put together hundreds of extra facts and bits of information designed to build up a kid’s belief in Jesus. These extra features included:

The Defend 100. One hundred specifically chosen Bible passages to memorize.

Digging into the Word takes readers to the Holy Lands so they can see that the people, places and events described in the Bible are real.

Science in the Bible shows God’s order and design in all of creation.

Untwisting Scripture helps readers discover the true meaning of “tricky” Scriptures and see the consistent truth of God’s Word.

Defenders of the Faith. From Bible times to modern days, these true stories of men and women, boys and girls will inspire readers to stand up for their faith.

Know Questions give answers about the world, the Bible and faith.Why is prayer important? Do miracles still happen today? How can Jesus be both God and man? Answers to these and about 70 more.

Good Words defines the meanings of specific words that can help God’s Word be more understandable.

That’s a Fact has lots of fun facts and statistics about the Bible.

Living for God is an exciting journey. And it’s important for kids—and adults—to understand what they believe and why they believe it. That’s the message that I wanted kids to get from the Defend Your Faith Bible.

What genre do you focus on and why?

I tend to write children’s nonfiction. I’ve done numerous devotional books and sports profiles. About seven years ago, I was asked to write a children’s 90-Day devotional around Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. This led to writing children’s versions of The Case for Grace for Kids and The Case for Miracles for Kids. It was that connection that caused Lifeway to contact me about the Defend Your Faith Bible. I had to go through a couple interviews and a face-to-face meeting in Nashville. But we connected as a team and, after two years of work, ended up with a fantastic resource. Plus, it was really nice to have a theologian read through and approve everything. I was a Bible minor during my undergraduate and graduate years at Wheaton College. So it took a lot of pressure off knowing that an expert was chiming in with improvements, corrections and suggestions.

Why do you write? What drives you?

I want kids to have a thriving faith. I want to help them know, follow and love Jesus. And I find it amazing that God can use very flawed people, like myself, to share His truth. If I wasn’t writing for children, I’d be teaching them. That was my plan growing up. But then I took a journalism course in high school and fell in love with writing. God’s plan was way better then mine. Now through Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines, it’s like being a teacher or youth pastor for 150,000 kids every month. And with the books, it’s reaching even more and more kids.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

Jesus. Ha! I mean, it’s the Bible. His is the name above all names. King of kings and Lord of lords. The whole Bible points to Him. I hope through some of the extra features that children realize this fact and see the Bible as a love letter to them written more than 2,000 years ago.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Pretty crazy. Because I work full-time at Focus on the Family as editor of the children’s magazines, co-host two podcasts and manage a team of six, it’s a 40-plus hour a week job. Taking time off is difficult, because we produce two, 32-page magazines a month. Those trains never stop. Finding time for freelance projects isn’t easy. I have a very understanding wife, who loves the Bible. She was very supportive of this project. She even chose nearly all of the words that were defined in the “Good Words” section. Basically, it’s late nights and weekends where I can find extra time to write.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

Meeting the kids who read your work. We get numerous letters at Focus on the Family from kids about the impact that Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. have had on their lives. And through book reviews and other online sources, it’s cool to see how kids have grown closer to God through various book projects. Plus, sometimes when I’m speaking at writers conferences or home-school conventions, I’ll get to meet these kids face to face.

What is your favorite pastime?

I have several. Hanging out with my wife, kids and two grandchildren tops the list. I also enjoy playing basketball and disc golf. Getting into the mountains is also a must. When you’re in God’s creation, there’s no doubt that there’s a loving, caring, creative God.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

A bunch. Many are ghost written projects that I’ve done with athletes. One of these projects, A Walk in Our Cleatscame out in February. This book features the testimonies of 25 football players, most of which aren’t the bigger names. But their testimonies and faith in God blew me away. Lots of tears with this project, and I know it’ll have a big impact. When I first came to faith as a teenager, it was a book like this (Christian football players) that God used to really impact me. I pray this book will encourage and impact people the same way.

What are you working on now?

I’ll be starting work on a middle school version of The Case for Christ this fall.I love working with Lee Strobel. And it’s cool to be doing this book, because my wife and I attended Willow Creek when he was preaching the sermons that ultimately became The Case for Christ.

Website: https://christianauthorsnetwork.com/jesse-florea/

Link to book: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/csb-defend-your-faith-bible-hardcover-P005790626

Other media links: https://www.apologeticsbible.com/