You may already be a winner: April Fool!

Welcome to the IndieBRAG April Fools Day Contest: APRIL-FOOLS-POSTER I

Happy April Fools Day, Dear Readers,

I know some of you think the real April Fool’s Day falls on April 15, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today you are being put to the test to see how well you remember what you read (or is this a test of how memorable my characters are? Oh dear, the prank may be on me!).

Oh well, to carry on, below you will find a scene from one of the books in my Bunny Elder Adventures series of thrillers and mysteries. OR IS IT? That is the test.

After reading the scene, respond with a comment of TRUE or FALSE. Correct answers will be eligible to win a copy of my book. 

I will read your comment and let you know if the scene is really from one of my books. If not, and you guessed True, or if it is an authentic scene and you guess False, my reply will be “April Fool!”   If you guess correctly, my response will be, “Happy reading, and best of luck in the drawing!” If you wish to enter to win a copy of my award-winning ebook Vain Pursuits please email me at jbhawker@jbhawker.com with your preferred format (Kindle or epub) before midnight PDT April 4). The winner will be announced on this blog on April 5.3D Vain BRAG

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for you to be included in the drawing for my book, we will need an email address to send the book file. If you would also like to be added to my newsletter email list, please indicate that in your comment. If not, I promise you will not be added, and if you chose to be added, you may opt out at any time. I don’t spam or share your email address.

You do not need to answer correctly to be entered to win the $50 Amazon gift certificate. Simply go to the indieBRAG event website to enter.

Thanks for participating.

Scene:

The severely blonde flight attendant wrestled impatiently with her serving cart while making halting progress along the narrow aisle between banks of cramped gray seats in a Lufthansa Airbus high above the Atlantic Ocean. Turning from side to side she grimly dealt out pre-packaged dinner trays to the restless passengers. Although her icy pale hair and crisp blue uniform remained unruffled, the stewardess was obviously near the end of her tether from long hours of forced congeniality with the fretful mass of economy-class passengers assigned to her care.

A creased and crumpled, though still dignified, elderly man, inching back to his seat from a thoroughly disheartening visit to the claustrophobic restroom, inadvertently blocked the attendant’s forward progress. Peremptorily rapping the old fellow’s shoulder, she hissed sharply with Prussian authority, “You must not block the aisles! Return to your seat, immediately.”

With a gasp, the man recoiled, stumbled and landed without ceremony in the soft lap of a petite middle-aged woman. Mortified, he attempted to scramble to his feet, but the serving cart bumped him back onto his startled seat mate.

The old gentleman creaked stiffly to his feet as soon after the flight attendant’s passing as possible, trembling with humiliation and repressed rage.

“Please excuse me, madam. I am so terribly sorry. Have I injured you?” the man addressed his fellow victim in very slightly accented English as he attempted to regain his composure.

“Oh, no, not at all. I’m fine. Really. Don’t worry about it. That certainly wasn’t your fault. Brünnhildes assault would have done in a lesser man, I assure you. You are lucky to have survived,” Bunny Elder replied with a wry smile, as she straightened her khaki skirt and pushed a lock of graying blonde hair back into place behind one ear.

“Yes, well, it would appear there are reasons why this particular airline was never touted as part of the ‘friendly skies’.”

Official rules:

Prize & Giveaway

Prize and book giveaway starts April 1st. The winner of the $50.00 Amazon Gift Card will be announced on April 5th on the indieBRAG  website.

Click on the indieBRAG Website starting April 1st and comment to enter for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Each author is providing a print copy or e-book in the book giveaways. Be sure to visit their websites and comment on their post to enter a chance to win a copy of their book.

Rules:

–         The chance to enter for the prize and giveaways ends April 4th. The winner of the Amazon gift certificate prize will be announced on the indieBRAG  Website on April 5th. And each author will announce the winner for their giveaways on their sites at the date they choose.

–         You must be 18 years or older to participate in the prize & giveaway.

–         Giveaway is open internationally.

–         Winner has 48 hours to claim prize and giveaway or a new winner is chosen.

Visit all these great blogs to have more chances to win the $50:

Easter Greetings

As my readers know, I write about Christians in various stages of their faith walk. Believers who sometimes stumble when encountering temptation or confronting evil, but who get back up and keep pressing on.

All of my main characters, from Bunny Elder to Naidenne Davidson, Judy Falls and the other pastors’ wives of the First Ladies Club, and the ordained ministers, Merrill Bishop and Elizabeth Gilbert, are currently preparing to refresh their spirits and revive their faith in the upcoming celebrations of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Their church sanctuaries have been decked out with banners and lilies by their church women’s groups, the musicians have been practicing cantatas and other special music for weeks, the choir robes have been cleaned and the instruments are tuned in anticipation of the glorious event. Sermons have been prayed over, practiced and polished to present on this special day.

While the worldly may think Christmas is the highlight of the year, Christians know Christmas is just the prelude to the fulfillment of the Resurrection.

If you have the opportunity, I pray that you will take advantage of all the preparation and anticipation and share in all this joy and excitement by attending worship at a church near you this Sunday.

Happy Easter, dear readers, and a Joyous Resurrection Day to you all!

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

 

Second Saturday Author Interview with Julie Seedorf

As you can see from the photo, we are in for a real treat today as we visit with the fun and unexpected Julie Seedorf, author of cozy-comic mysteries set in Minnesota.

weird pic of me

Thank you so much for joining us today, Julie, and for answering a few questions for me and your many curious fans… I mean the fans are curious to learn about you, not that they are necessarily odd, you understand…(ahem) Maybe we’d better get right to the questions:

  • You obviously wear many hats: mother, grandmother, computer technician, author – can you give us a snapshot of your career path? I began writing in high school for fun, fell in love with speech and enrolled in college for a short time wanting to become a speech teacher. It didn’t feel right so I left college and worked as a secretary, which is what it was called in those days. Got married, had three kids and became a full time mom for a time. Part time jobs always seemed to be offered to me. I don’t think I have ever applied for a job. I worked in activities in a nursing home, as a soda jerk, waitress, bartender, advertising rep, and volunteered as SADD advisor, Sunday School Superintendent, and more. I wrote programs for church Christmas and Lenten services. Someone offered me a job as office manager of a small computer firm after my kids were gone (another fell into). They trained me as a computer technician and then when they closed their business they helped me set up my own computer business. I closed that in 2012 to become a full time columnist and author.
  • You live in Minnesota. How similar is your home town to Fuchsia and Brilliant, the towns in your books? If they are alike, at all, I definitely want to move to Minnesota, snow and all. My community is very different from Fuchsia and Brilliant as it has the rules most people have in their communities. One thing it does have in common is that it is a small community, probably a little smaller than Fuchsia, but it has many caring people.
  • How did you connect with Cozy Cat Publishers? It was a fluke. I had never intended to get published. I was too chicken to send my book into anyone. One day I was reading a book by a Cozy Cat Author and thought it sounded a lot like the book I wrote. On a quick whim I immediately queried the company. They told me to send my manuscript. I wasn’t nervous about it because I thought I would get rejected. I got an answer and they told me they might consider it if I made changes. I took two months to do it and resent it and they accepted me. I call it a God thing.
  • The pets in your stories seem to have amazing abilities. Can you share any stories about your own, real life, pets? I have two shysters of my own. I would own more but I have someone in my household that keeps a reign on my animal love. Boris and Natasha were both rescues. Boris is laid back and huge, 17 pounds. He is the lover. We also have Natasha, in fact I have a couple of video’s out with her. She can get into anything. We have hooks on our bi-fold doors, Velcro on our cupboard doors and the backs of our recliners taped shut. The best story is one night when I was sleeping and I heard my closet door opening waking me up. Then I heard the bottom drawer in my closet chest  opening and then I heard a few noises that I wasn’t sure what they were. I opened my eyes and the empty coffee maker box was sitting in the middle of my bedroom. It had been tucked away tightly underneath a shelf in the closet. I heard noises coming from the box. Natasha had opened the closet, opened the bottom drawer and then moved on and maneuvered the box out of the closet and unhooked the tab holding the cover shut and then opened the top and got in. I couldn’t figure out how she did it so the next time I heard her in the middle of the night I got my camera on my cell phone out and videotaped it. You can see it on my youtube channel.  (Click here...I watched it and it is amazing!)
  • The question every author is asked: are you like Granny? How much of these stories are autobiographical? I think there is always a part of all of us in our books. I would like to be like Granny and I am in the fact that I don’t like conformity. But Granny is actually somewhat like my mother. She was stubborn, believed she could do anything and that she wasn’t old. She kept on going and could do anything including being on top of her roof fixing it, running a chainsaw etc. until she was around 92.

Well, this is surprising, Julie, look who just came in! Bunny Elder, what are you doing here? and who is that with you? 

grannyHi, J.B. This is my pal, Hermiony Vidalia Criony. When we heard that you and Julie were getting together, we decided to add our two cents. Move over, ladies, and let us take your seats, so I can interview Hermiony. Put down the pitchfork, Granny, before you poke someone’s eye out.

 

  • As a woman of a certain age, I know numbers don’t matter, but just how old are you, Granny? I am 25 but I am an undercover sleuth, you know, so I have to hide under this wrinkly body costume. Your  kids seem to think you are on the edge of decrepitude, but you look pretty spry to me.  – Do you remember Spry cooking oil? If you greased something up with that it would slip through your fingers. So as long as they think I’m, ah, that big word you used,  then I’m just like the cooking oil, slippery, and I can slip things right past their noses. Just like they did when they were teenagers. You know what they say, payback is  a *****.

  • Do you mind that Julie shares your secret passions – “naughty” books and lingerie – with the readers? I just hate it when J.B. tells everyone when I slip up or give in to temptations. A girl should have some secrets; don’t you agree? – I don’t mind, as long as my readers don’t tell my kids or Franklin or Silas. Oh wait, you probably haven’t met Silas. Anyway, if my readers tell my kids then I will put the kibosh on Julie telling tales.

  • Don’t your fancy purple leather pajamas sweat? Of course, the Oregon Coast where I live is warmer than Fuchsia, Minnesota.- Honey, I can’t answer that question for the readers because this is a G rated interview.

  • I envy your ability to eat what you want (all those chocolate truffles and doughnuts!) and not worry about cholesterol or extra pounds. Do you have an exercise regimen you can recommend? – Yup, you should try it sometime. You take your right hand, if you’re right-handed, and pick up a truffle or a donut and then you raise your right hand to your mouth, give it a twist and toss the truffle or the donut into your mouth. Then you lower your arm and hand, pick up another truffle and donut, give it a twist and toss. Great arm exercises. You forgot to add wine. I bend over my footstool, whip my arm in a big circle and open the footstool. Lift out the heavy bottle of wine, twist my wrist to pour it all while bent over, and then I lift the bottle back into the footstool, tap twice on the top of the footstool to make it secure and then I slowly unbend at the waist and lift the top of my body back up straight. Then I lift my right arm, grab my wrist with my left arm, open my mouth and gently move my wrists to tip up the glass and pour the wine into my mouth. I can give you a diagram sometime if you want to follow those exercises.

  • Julie provides you with some wonderful mysteries to solve, but your bad guys seem pretty tame compared to the nasty brutes J.B. gives me to deal with. Would you like a roommate? Ya know, I know it seems that way in the books, she tends to whitewash it, but if you knew what I really go through, but she insists this needs to be a cozy mystery so she refuses to tell the entire gruesome tale. Did you say broommate? You know a witch?

Well, thanks so much for dropping by, girls, so sorry you have to leave, right now. Bye, Bunny, bye, Granny! So long, see ya!  –  Whew! Please excuse that interruption, Julie. I know you understand how it is. We create these characters and before you know it, they have a mind of their own. Now, where were we? Oh yes:

  • Please tell us about your current work in progress – I’m working on Granny Pins A Pilferer, another Fuchsia Minnesota Mystery and The Joy Killer, which is a serious book about a woman examining her life and choices when she turns 65. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to read that before I hit the big six-five (again).
  • Any other plans for the future? I guess God has led me this far, so I don’t plan too much in the future. There will be another book in the Brilliant Minnesota Series after my new book The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. It’s a hoot and has ties to Fuchsia but with an entire new cast of characters. puzzle bookJust released in February. And I am also a columnist for area newspapers. My column is called Something About Nothing on the premise we talk about nothings every day when we meet but underneath those nothings there is something wanting to be said if we take the time to listen.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Julie. It’s been great fun.

To learn more about Julie and her writing follow any of the links below:

http://julieseedorf.com
http://sprinklednotes.com
http://www.facebook.com/julie.seedorf.author
http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Seedorf/e/B009WAAANQ
http://www.twitter.com/julieseedorf
http://www.instagram.com/julie_seedorf

 

 

The Character Sketch

When I begin a new work, or whenever a new character pops up in the narrative, I like to complete a brief synopsis of the character’s background and personality.  This adds depth to the people populating my books, as well as providing me with a place to go to compare what I plan for a character to do or say, so it doesn’t appear “out of character” in the finished work.  The writing software I use, Scrivener, has helpful templates providing prompts about the character being created.

Even though only brief glimpses of a complete character may appear in the story, these sketches provide continuity and a firm foundation for the person’s motivations and actions.

I thought it would be fun to share a bit more of the background of some of the people you meet in my stories, so from time to time, beginning with this post, I will be revealing information from the background sketches of my favorite characters.

Do you want to learn more about one of my characters? Leave a comment and I will be happy to schedule that person for my next Character Sketch post.

It seems appropriate to begin with the character who ties all my work together, the indomitable, Bunny Davis Elder Banks:

Character Name:  Born Leveline Davis – preferred nickname “Bunny”

Role in Story: Protagonist in the Bunny Elder Adventures series, she also pops ups for cameo appearances in the First Ladies Club books.

Occupation: Former pastor’s wife and secretary/reporter on a small town newspaper (Hollow), turned free-lance writer (Seadrift), and  currently an aspiring novelist (First Ladies Club)

Physical Description: Bunny is a petite woman in her mid-fifties with a sweet smile, mischievous blue eyes, and soft honey-blond hair sprinkled with silver and gray. She struggles to combat a tendency to chubbiness by eating less than she’d like, doing yoga and taking long walks.

Personality: Bunny is a devout Christian, constantly humbled by her own disobedience and failings. Nevertheless, she is determinedly optimistic, with a penchant for plain speaking.

Habits/Mannerisms: Constantly looking for the best in people and circumstances often gets Bunny into trouble. Without looking for it, she stumbles into some pretty scary situations involving a varied collection of bad guys who want to do her harm.

Background: Bunny is the youngest of three sisters raised in a small mountain town in Northern California. She married her high school sweetheart, Max. Although this early marriage was short-lived, Bunny and Max were never completely out of each other’s heart.  On the rebound, she married Rev. Eustace Elder. The marriage, though lacking joy, lasted until his untimely death (Hollow), when Bunny had to start over as a middle-aged widow. For a short while she lived in southern Idaho with her sister, Linda (Vain Pursuits) before relocating to the Oregon Coast (Seadrift).

Internal Conflicts: Bunny has all the same needs and desires as any woman. Most of her internal conflicts involve reconciling these temptations with her determination to be faithful to God. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Max is just one her issues.

External Conflicts: Bunny must deal with a deranged serial killer (Hollow), smugglers and the Italian mob (Vain Pursuits), human traffickers and a new love interest (Seadrift), Somali pirates (…and Something Blue), and a kidnapped friend (The First Ladies Club). You might say she has an overabundance of external conflicts.

Notes: Bunny steps out of the books and drops in to host my blog from time to time, as well.

[These Character Sketch categories are taken from the Scrivener software Character Sketch template.]

New Year + New Friends = New Opportunities

This month I have the honor of being the Spotlight Author on the fun website “FolksTalesThings”,  a joyous, eclectic site run by my author friend, Barbara Martin. A visit to the site is like wandering among the merchandise in a great old country store and bumping into friends, old and new. I’m excited to have a featured spot in such a charming atmosphere and to have the opportunity to make new friends for Bunny and the quirky bunch of pastors’ wives in the First Ladies Club.
     As you might suspect from the characters in my books, I’ve spent much of my life in small town churches, many of those years as the pastor’s wife. My characters tend to be compilations of people I’ve actually known. Like those real people, they have struggles with their faith in good times and bad. The bad may not have been as bad as the troubles I give my fictional characters, but the strength of faith they use to surmount them is as real as real can be.
     I hope you will explore the worlds I’ve created and enjoy the thrills and chills along with the humor and warm fuzzies I provide to help balance the scary bits…and as you read, please don’t be too hard on my characters when they stumble. Many of us in the real world have scars and bruises from similar slip-ups, as well.
     To learn more about me and my books, please drop by my website http://jbhawker.com/, anytime.  And have a joyous, blessed New Year!

Christmas in Bannoch

creche

Christmas is next week, so today we are checking in on our friends in Bannoch, Oregon to see how they are planning to spend this Christmas. It should be interesting because for Bunny and her friends in the First Ladies Club Christmas is a highlight of the year.

Bunny (Bunny Elder Adventures series) is packing today for her trip to Boise, Idaho, where she will spend a white Christmas with her sister, Linda and family.  She smiles as she tucks a small nativity set made of seashells and driftwood into  her bag to add to Linda’s collection. It is sure to bring back memories, fond, not-so-fond and hilarious, from the sisters’ trip to Italy to acquire a special Neapolitan crèche.  (You can read about their adventures in Vain Pursuits.)

Across town, in the Bannoch Community Fellowship parsonage, Bunny’s good friend Naidenne Davidson (The First Ladies Club) is happily baking gingerbread men with her small daughter, Talitha Joy, while husband and father,  Scott, with the help of his brother-in-law, Len Spurgeon, wrestles the family Christmas tree into place in the high-ceilinged, old-fashioned dining room .

“We’ll miss you and Rosie this Christmas, Len,” Scott says, standing back to check the tree. “I think it could be just a hair straighter, but it’s a real beauty!”

“It should be, after lugging it half a mile down the hillside,” Len replies. “but you’re right. When it’s decorated, it will be a stunner. Rosie says you absolutely must take dozens of photos of the tree, the Christmas Eve service, Christmas morning and all…and she wants you to post them on Facebook, so we can see them right away.”

“Are you sure you two want to travel all the way to Southern California for Christmas?” Scott asks. “My sister has never had a Christmas away from home, you know.”

“Oh, I know, but this is Rosie’s idea. Ever since she was a youngster she’s dreamed of Christmas at Disneyland. My brother’s family live in the area, too, so we will get to fulfill her dream and catch up with my family at the same time.”

“Oh, Mommy! Come look at the tree! It’s so big…it didn’t look so big when we picked it out,” Talitha cries, running into the room and flinging her flour-covered arms around her father’s legs.

Scott sweeps his daughter into his arms with a laugh.

“As soon as we are through with the baking…and get washed up…we can decorate the tree,” Naidenne says, walking into the room wiping her hands on her apron. “Will you need help bringing the decorations down from the attic, Scott?”

“Can I help, Daddy?” Talitha asks, patting him on the cheek.

“I thought you wanted to finish the cookies, first,” Scott says.

“It takes too long. Mommy can do it. Right, Mommy?”

“Sure. You have been a big help with the baking, but now it’s Daddy’s turn to have a helper,” Naidenne grins at her husband as she speaks.

The happy family continues with their holiday preparations just as many of their Bannoch neighbors are doing.

Few of the town’s ministers and their families will be traveling during this special Holy season. Their lives will center around their church, congregation and the special services of celebration. There is no need to remind any of them of the true reason for the season.

Rev. Merrill Bishop (A Body in the Belfry) and her nephew, Ryan, are in the grand First Baptist Church sanctuary where Merrill is helping the ladies decorate the pews and altar rail, while Ryan and his friend and church musician, Peri, practice the special music for the Christmas Eve communion service.

In the midst of this happy work, a woman staggers in from the foyer, backwards. She’s pulling something. Dressed like a gypsy with a many-layered full skirt and flowing shawls, she tugs a large wicker basket up the aisle.

“Judy! What have you got there?” Merrill cries to her friend, Judy Falls, wife of the Presbyterian church pastor (read Judy’s story in A Corpse in the Chapel coming in 2016).

“Do you need help?” Merrill asks.

Giving a last mighty tug and losing her grip, Judy plops down on her backside with a laugh before responding.

“I’ve been trimming the wild holly bushes for the hanging of the greens and seem to have gotten carried away. We have all we can use at my church, so I’m toting the bounty around to see who else can use it. It would be criminal to snatch these beautiful branches from their home in the woods and then just throw them away.”

“You’ve come at just the right time. Look ladies! More greenery, just what we needed,” Merrill calls to the other women.

Joyful scenes like these are taking place in all the churches and parsonages in town as these friends from the First Ladies Club share the special happiness each experiences in her own way while celebrating the birth of their common Savior.

May I join them in wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a spirit-filled New Year!

If you want to keep up-to-date on all the happenings in the lives of these women and their friends, please sign-up for my periodic email newsletter.

indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

Hello, wonderful readers! Bunny Elder Banks here to welcome you to J.B.Hawker’s B.R.A.G. blog party. J.B. is too shy to brag about herself, so, since I was in town, I offered to be your hostess.

I actually don’t mind, since J.B. never would have won her two B.R.A.G. medallions without my help.

If you think it is easy being the heroine of one of J.B.’s books, well…you can just think again. The things she puts me through!

You know, she looks like such a sweet little church lady, but some of the things swirling around in her imagination…my dear, I mean, really! It’s all right for you who only read about these things, but I have to live them.

Dealing with the serial killer in Hollow, her first Medallion winner, was an eye-opener, believe me. She took an innocent story about a small town Halloween decorating contest and almost got me killed.

When she took me off to Italy in Vain Pursuits, her second award-winner, I thought it was going to be my reward for what she did to me in Hollow…no such luck. She got me kidnapped by the Mafia in that one. Well, she did give me a few romantic scenes with my Max, so I guess I will forgive her. Still…you should just read what she gets me up to in Seadrift and in …and Something Blue.

I thought when she concluded that series with such a nice, happy ending, Max and I could retire in peace. But then what does she do? She kills him off! And brings me back to Bannoch in The First Ladies Club to help rescue her latest victim (what does she have against pastors’ wives, anyway?).

Oh, I know, she hints in A Body in the Belfry that maybe Max isn’t quite as dead as we were led to believe (led to believe by you-know-who), but with her fascination with dead bodies, what am I to think?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’m here today to welcome you to J.B. Hawker’s BRAG Christmas Blog Hop… and to brag about her, I suppose. Hmmph! I don’t think so.

Oh, well…it is the Season of Peace and Joy, so I guess I can cut her some slack. The poor dear probably doesn’t have much excitement in her own life and needs to live vicariously through mine.

Best wishes to you all for a Blessed Christmas and happy reading.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 8 with Vinnie Hansen  who is probably much kinder to her characters than you-know-who.

Until next time…bye from your pal, Bunny.