Archive for the 'Saturdays in the Nook' Category

Saturdays in the Nook with Jodi Thomas!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Unlike most writers, I was not an early reader. Because of a reading problem (I refuse to think of it as a disability) I did not read until after I attended a special school at ten years old. By the time I caught up with other children my age I had missed most children’s books. I loved stories though and my favorite time each day was when the teacher would read to the class after lunch.

I will never forget the summer I turned thirteen. I was old enough to go to the library alone and I’d learned to read well enough to pick up any book and move though it slowly. Every Saturday I’d ride the bus downtown and get lost in the library for most of the day. Picking out a book was far more exciting to me than shopping for anything else I could imagine. Sometimes I’d collect a dozen and curl up in a corner to read the first chapter of each one before deciding which one I’d take home.

Once I read the book I’d checked out, I’d spend hours making up the ending to all the books I didn’t get to bring home. Daydreaming became my favorite hobby. Now, as a New York Times Bestseller, I often think that I’d like to go back to all those teachers who told me to pay attention in class and tell them that I was busy planning my career. I also wonder, if I’d read earlier, would I have developed my own imagination.

My love affair with books has never ended. I still feel that rush when I pick up a good book and step into a new world. I’m lost from reality for hours. How rich my life is thanks to all the people I’ve met and places I’ve been in stories and all the ones who live in my imagination.

Listing my favorite book….impossible…I’d have to list a library full.

A fifth generation Texan who taught family living, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. Her most recent release is Tall, Dark, and Texan.

Saturdays in the Nook with Julie Lessman!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

(I am so happy to have one of my favorite authors with us today…Julie Lessman! Julie has generously offered to give one winner their choice of A Passion Most Pure or A Passion Redeemed! Just leave a relevant comment to be entered!)

My name is Julie Lessman … and I am a romance addict.

However, I might add, Margaret Mitchell bears the blame. The moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner, my brain irrevocably branded with the burning desire for romance. God help me, I was only twelve at the time when some innocent, unsuspecting person put a copy of Gone With the Wind in my hand. I swear to this day that the binding not only burned my fingers, but it seared my life forever.

You see, when I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere, but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Today, I like to think that not only are Margaret Mitchell’s fingerprints are all over me in my religious devotion to passion, but God’s as well—merging my passion for romance with my passion for Him.

And speaking of religiously devoted, I may well be one of the few GWTW fans whose obsession became a habit—a religious habit, to be exact, of the “nun” variety. Although I had read the book at the age of twelve (and reread it a gazillion times since then), I never saw the movie until I turned sixteen. Way back then (we won’t go into how far back that was), Gone With the Wind was only re-released every seven years. So when I found out that a theatre in my city was sponsoring a free premiere to all the local religious and clergy, I actually dressed up as a nun to go. One of my friends had a sister in the convent who loaned us novice habits and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the emotional tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most thrilling times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! I must have looked pretty convincing in the novice garb, though, because one of our nuns started talking to me about a vocation. Are you kidding? A nun who writes romance? Uh, no!

Why would a book like Gone With the Wind impact me so? Romance, pure and simple. Yes, Scarlett was selfish, but what drew me was the pull she had over Rhett—a man who wanted her but couldn’t have her. To me, seeing a strong, male type like Rhett Butler “who wasn’t the marrying kind” give in and marry her because he loved her and wanted to cherish her, spoke volumes to me. Even as a little girl, I sensed that was what romance was all about—finding a man who couldn’t do without you and to whom you were the most important woman in the world. It wasn’t until I became a born-again Christian at the age of 23 that I learned it was a foreshadow of how God sees romance in Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Now I am not saying that Rhett Butler typified the kind of love Christ had in mind, but he wanted Scarlett so badly, he was willing to give of himself to get her. No other woman alive could do that to him, only her. Now to me, that’s romance in the most heart-pounding sense of the word, and I only hope and pray that God allows me to capture it in each and every book I am privileged to write!


Remember leave a relevant comment to be entered to win in this one day contest! Please also mention which book you would like to win. Here’s some information about both books:

A Passion Most Pure: She’s found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister.

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s suddenly affections shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith’s proper Boston family apart.

A Passion Redeemed: Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a man who wants nothing to do with her, and although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.

Saturdays in the Nook with Megan Crane

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

(I am beyond myself with excitement to welcome Megan Crane to Saturdays in the Nook. You must check out her books if you enjoy chick lit–please leave a comment and let her know you appreciate her sharing this fantastic story)

In our house growing up, we had a ritual. Once a week my mother would gather up all four of us, pack us into the family station wagon (easier said than done, given the chaos and squabbling that four children kicked up like a cloud of dust whenever we were in the same room), and take us to the local library. Once there, she set us free to search out any books we liked.

And oh, how I liked that library. It was my home away from home. (This was before I was in high school and expected to produce research papers in the adult section of the library—much less fun.) I remember every detail of it. I remember the smell of it in winter—the radiators hissing out the scent of wet wool, slate, and overheated kids. I remember the little person chairs, the bright murals, and the unfailingly kind librarians who could not only recommend new books to read, but avert a coming meltdown with a single stern glance. I would run my hands along the spines of the books, sniff the pages, then settle down cross-legged on the floor wherever I happened to be standing and start reading.

Because there was nothing on earth I loved as much as reading. There still isn’t. My mother read to us faithfully every day, not because she thought she should, but because she enjoyed it. She tells me that I taught myself to read when I was three. I imagine this was because I was too impatient to wait my turn or share with my three siblings. I am far too old and large these days to cuddle up on her lap and share a book, but I can still remember what that felt like, with her animated voice in my ear and her arms surrounding me. Who wouldn’t love to read with such a great start?

In my elementary school, I read every single book in the school library’s fiction section. Amelia Bedelia, Trixie Belden, B is For Betsy. I read far above my age and supposed reading level. I remember feeling incredibly annoyed that there weren’t more books for me. I wanted to read all the books there were, anywhere. So many worlds to disappear into. So many dreams and stories and adventures. Left to my own devices, I would spend days lost in the pages of books, emerging only to eat or to construct elaborate games with my sister—all of them based on the books I’d been reading.

But my mother is the one who created this thirst in me. She never censored a thing I read, or even so much as commented on it. Even when, in seventh grade, I developed a passionate love for bodice-ripping romance novels, which she herself was not particularly into, she never said a word. Other adults would sniff at the books in my hands and ask if my mother knew what I was reading. Ever precocious, I would sniff back and tell them that while she might not know the specific title, she would never dream of censoring me. This did not exactly give me a good reputation amongst the adults I knew! My mother drove me all over northern New Jersey to find the always-moving secondhand book shops where I found all the category romance novels—Tami Hoag, Nora Roberts, Kay Hooper, Alexandra Sellers—and the sweeping historicals—Shirlee Busbee, Johanna Lindsey, Jennifer Blake—I so adored.

Even today, my mother sends me books, or recommends them. She is never without a book in the car, as she does her errands, or at appointments. She is the reason we’ve spent whole afternoons of family vacations sitting around together—all lost in our own books, together. She has managed to share her own love of books with her children, in so doing, giving us the greatest gift I can imagine—one that knows no boundaries, and no limits, save that of the imagination.

You can find out more about Megan’s fabulous books at her website, and be sure read her journal as well.

Saturdays in the Nook with Tosca Lee

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

I was 14 the first time I read The Mists of Avalon. 14, not quite a woman. But I was moved by the sentiment of the characters (the story is that of the women behind King Arthur’s throne) living their distinctly female lives as girls my age, as young women struggling with their roles as wife and mother in a patriarchal society, as older women—wise, disillusioned, worn, but still filled with hope. I had never—and still have not—read the female experience written with such truth and poetry. While I never connected with any of Zimmer Bradley’s other books, The Mists of Avalon remains the book that wish I had written.

Discussion Question: What book do you wish you had written?

Tosca Lee is the critically acclaimed author of Demon: A Memoir and her latest release Havah: The Story of Eve. She is also a former Mrs. Nebraska-America and Mrs. Nebraska-United States. You can visit her on the web at

Saturdays in the Nook with Camy Tang!

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

An important reading event in my life.

I have to say that the most momentous reading moment in my life was when I read Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

I had read lots of other books and loved them—The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and many others on my bookshelf.

But when I read Dragonsong, I suddenly discovered a desire to write my own stories down.

It was so strong that I commandeered our old Apple IIe computer (anybody remember those?) and started writing a story set in a fantasy world of my own. With pastel colored unicorns and rainbow bridges and all—I kid you not!

It ended up being 400,000 words long (or so) and it was awful. Truly horrible. But the writing bug had bit, and I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I think I would have still started writing after reading some other story, but Dragonsong has a special place in my heart because of what it sparked.

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own…), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.

Saturdays in the Nook with Booking Mama!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

(I’m so excited to have Julie of Booking Mama share about her love of reading with us today! I think you’ll really enjoy what she has to say. Be sure to check out her’s one of my must-reads!)

I love to read! Books are my passion (right there after my husband and family in case you were thinking I’m a little weird.) I can’t remember when I first developed my love of reading, but my mom remembers reading to me from the very start. My parents had couldn’t afford to buy many things for me, but my mom always made sure that I got to pick out a Golden Book each time we went to the grocery store. I’m sure that bringing home a brand new book every week helped create the book lover/accumulator that I am today!

I have a feeling that there is an even more important reason that I have developed a love of reading. As a child, I moved around a lot. My dad wasn’t in the military, but he might have well been. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I lived in five different places. It wasn’t unusual for me to be in a school for just one grade. There was even one time when we lived in North Carolina where I went to a public school for a year, switched to a private school for a few months, and then had to up and move to Texas! Needless to say, moving this often was very hard for me and my family. It was especially difficult for me since I constantly had to change schools and make new friends.

There were times as a kid when I didn’t really have any friends (or at least that’s how I perceived it.) As the new girl in the school, I would often sit by myself on the bus or even eat lunch alone. It was times like this when I pulled out a book and escaped into the lives of some amazing characters. My friends became the characters in the Little House on the Prairie books, Nancy Drew books, Judy Blume books, etc. As I’m writing this, I realize that it might sound like I was a lonely and miserable child. That certainly wasn’t the case — it just took some time before I really fit in at school.

As an adult looking back on my childhood, I wouldn’t change a thing. I got to see and experience a lot by moving around that much; and I developed a very close relationship with my family. What I find incredible, and yet so ironic, is how books have impacted me both as a child and now as an adult. When I was a kid, books were my escape and the characters often times filled the void in my life of not having many friends. Now that I’m all grown up, the situation has totally turned upside-down. Books are still a wonderful escape for me, but they are now the main reason that I have developed so many wonderful friendships.

When I first moved to Central PA from the Washington DC suburbs, I once again found myself in a situation where I knew no one. I also was having some major adjustment issues since I quit my job to stay at home with a very active (and demanding) two year old daughter. I was desperate for adult conversation, so I decided to start a book club with some of the mothers at my daughter’s preschool. Six years later, The Preschool Moms Book Club is still going strong with more members than ever. Many of my very best friends are members of the book club, and I absolutely love that we can share our thoughts and feelings while discussing books!

And last January, I decided to take the jump and begin blogging about my love of books. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I thought it would be a great way to track what I was reading. Well nine months later, I can now add blogging as one of my passions in addition to reading. What I’ve been most blessed with since I began Booking Mama is the number of incredible people that I’ve “met” who either have their own blogs or just visit mine. I am just thrilled that I have found so many people who share my love of books and truly understand me!

As I rapidly approach 40 (ugh!) and reflect on my life, I have to say that books have had a tremendous impact on me. When I was a child, books often times became my friends when I was lonely. Now I’m happy to say they are reason why I have so many special friendships. I think I’ve had a wonderful journey with books so far, and I’m very anxious to see where they take me in the future.

Saturdays in the Nook with Loreen Leedy!

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

We’re thrilled to bring you a story from Loreen Leedy today! Sally loves using her books in the classroom!

When I was about 5 years old, I remember pestering my father to read books to me. In particular I liked the Pogo cartoon books… although the political content was far above my age, the animal characters were appealing. At some point I grew impatient to read by myself. My mother was born in the 1920s and still had an old primer from that era. It started with the alphabet, then simple words, then sentences, then short stories. I would sprawl on the living room floor working my way through the primer, calling out to my mom if something unintelligible came up… for example, “What does P-U-R-P-L-E spell?” She would answer from whatever room she was in (usually the kitchen) and I would keep going.

By the time first grade started, I already knew how to read, and found the “Look, look” text of the Dick and Jane books to be B-O-R-I-N-G! Fortunately my teacher got more advanced books for me to read and we visited the library often.

I still have a little paragraph written in 3rd grade:
“My Hobby
My hobby is reading. I like to read thick books.”

It’s still true today!

Loreen Leedy is the author and illustrator of over 30 innovative picture books for children with math, science, and language arts content. Her 2008 books are MISSING MATH: A NUMBER MYSTERY (Marshall Cavendish) and CRAZY LIKE A FOX: A SIMILE STORY (Holiday House). Her web site is:

Saturdays in the Nook with Literate Housewife!

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

(Today I am thrilled to bring you a post from Jennifer of Literate Housewife. Jennifer’s blog, Literate Housewife, is fantastically written and one I always read first. I hope you enjoy her story as much I did!)

I had the privilege of growing up in a small, suburban community where the neighborhood library was only a mile away. It was a pleasant route to walk or ride my bike. Some of my best and most peaceful memories of middle childhood revolved around my trips to the Gaines Township Library. I could lose days sitting in the faux leather seats reading book after book after book.

The most memorable trip to the library happened during the summer of 1987. I was 15 years old, eagerly awaiting the driver’s license that was heading my way in October. It was a hot, lazy summer day. Despite the heavy air and that fact that it would be closing soon after I got there, in my restlessness I decided to ride my bike to the air conditioned library. I put the overdue copy of Pet Sematary in my backpack with enough change to pay off the fine and took off on my pale blue Huffy 10 speed.

As it turns out, this was the luckiest trip of my life. As I dropped my book in the return cart, I noticed a nearly pristine copy of Misery sitting on the cart waiting to be re-shelved. I saved the library page the effort. I grabbed it, took it to the counter, and checked it out. I found an empty chair in the back behind the non-fiction and started reading. However much time passed between the first page and when Betty Anne, the head librarian, gently told me that the library was closing, I noticed nothing of my surroundings. I was engrossed in Paul Sheldon’s car accident and the growing awareness of Annie Wilkes’ obsession.

I don’t recall the bike ride home or even eating dinner. In my memory I went from propping my bike up in the garage to plopping on my bed in my basement bedroom and cracked the book back open. Unlike when I read Pet Sematary, Christine, Carrie and Firestarter before it, this felt like more than a silly or gross thrill or scare to me. My heart pounded out of my chest as I maneuvered around Annie Wilkes’ house with Paul in his wheelchair. I can still feel the tingles in my fingers and arms and the chill in my chest as he was hobbled. I had never been so terrified, but it was as if the book was glued in my hands. I could not, would not put it down.

The sun had risen on Sunday morning when I finished that book. I looked at the clock and knew that my mother would start pestering me to get ready for Mass any time. I sat the book on my lap and lingered with it for a few moments. I would regret not sleeping the moment I slipped into the pew, but right then I didn’t care. I thought about how wonderful it must be to have the talent to make people feel so alive with your words. That morning I was thankful to be a reader. Today, I still am. I know that you are, too.

Saturday in the Nook with Rachel Hauck

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

The Friendly Book Nook welcomes Rachel Hauck to Saturdays in the Nook! We love Rachel’s books Sweet Caroline and Love Starts with Elle.

Falling In Love with Reading

I have to confess my elementary school years were in an era when there were only three television stations, AM was the radio rage and reading was an encouraged, viable pass time.

My parents’ rule was bed at nine with reading privileges until nine-thirty. My older brother and I are readers to this day.

I always enjoyed biographies. I liked reading about real people. This love has impacted my fiction writing world. Many letters and reviews from readers comment, “the characters are so real.” I suppose to me, they are, the same as Betsy Ross, or Abigail Adams.

In fifth grade, our teacher read The Little House books to the entire class. Every day after lunch, we propped our chin in our hands and leaned against the desk’s top, anxious to hear what challenges faced Pa, Ma, Mary and Laura. We were all in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Even the boys. As soon as we could, we checked the already-read books from the school library.

For Christmas one year, my parents bought me the entire set of eight. I consumed them again. I’d sit in my room, reading, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. By forty-something, I believe I’ve read the series and all the complimentary books at least a dozen times. I even collected them in hardback.

The Little House books brought me in touch with history, lives that had gone before, real people making their way in life. It’s the ultimate story. Family, love, adventure, overcoming and humor. These are things I strive to include in my writing today.

Over the years I’ve been impacted by various authors. Some famous and extolled like Tolstoy, some more obscure like Maggie O’Farrell or Belva Plain. But more than anything, reading feeds my passion to write. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a great book, but set it aside because I’m so inspired to write.

Good books should do that to all of us. Inspire us to live better, choose better, go for our dreams and passion, perhaps forget the past and press forward to the hidden treasures of the future. It’s never too late.

If Laura Ingalls Wilder and family can survive famine, floods, the long winter, Indian war rituals, living in a one room shanty, teaching school at fifteen, then I figure I can handle face-on anything life sends my way. But for the grace of God go I.

Happy reading!

Rachel Hauck is a the best selling author of ten novels. She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband, a pastor. They have three ornery pets.

She is a graduate of Ohio State University, earning a degree in Journalism, and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel served the writing community as the Past President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and now sits on the organization’s Advisor Board.

Visit her blog and website (where you can view a cool trailer for Love Starts with Elle! at