Friday, January 06, 2012


Hi, if you're stopping by...

I'm now blogging at my new home This Is A Blog About Books.
I plan to redo my website this year, and will be linking my new blog there instead of this one. I hope you'll continue to follow me over at the new blog and partake in some cool discussions about books, writing and life in general. Every Friday I feature an author, this week we have romantic comedy writer Lindi Peterson.

So, see you over there!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Introducing Karen Baney!

Love For The Modern Military

When I sat down to write Nickels, I looked to my own life and past for inspiration. Everyone always advises authors to write what you know. So, I thought the perfect career for my main character, Niki Turner, was the career I have been working in for the past nine years—software engineer (computer programmer).

Since my career inspired a great deal of what happens in the novel, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few other things from my life. I had to tie in some aspect of the two years I spent overseas in Germany on a military base. In my case, I was married to an Airman. Though Niki moves to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany as a teenager, I still drew on my experience and first-hand knowledge of the military.

I don’t exactly know when my love affair with the US Military began. Perhaps it was as a young girl when my sister and I spent hours studying the Air Force ranks in volume “A” of the encyclopedia set my parents purchased. Maybe the detailed stories we invented planted a seed.

Regardless, at the age of 21, I found myself married to a military man and suddenly thrust into an entirely different culture and country. After two years and much heart ache, I left a bad situation, but my love for our military survived. Even my second husband served our country for eight years, though I met him long after he became a civilian again.

Somehow, the back story for Niki began weaving together in my mind. She faced tragedy and was left to her brother’s care. He was stationed at Ramstein and at the tender age of 14, she experienced the same culture shock I did. It was here that she first met Kyle Jacobs—a true military brat and typical teenage guy—while attending high school on the military base.

From my experience, I learned that many families have a legacy of military service. It seemed only natural that Kyle Jacobs would grow up to be a pilot in the Air Force, just like his dad. Only his story takes a twist. He doesn’t follow completely in his father’s footsteps and his career is cut short. Suddenly he’s thrust back into the civilian life, dreams shattered and recovering from deep grief over his time in Iraq.

In Nickels, I cover many aspects of the military life: growing up on a military base, marriage in the military, long military careers, and careers cut short by tragedy. Each main character is shaped by their experience with the military life and each must overcome some aspect of that life to move forward with their own.

These experiences are such a part of who I am that I felt compelled to include many aspects of the modern military life in this contemporary romance. I hope this story will leave readers with a greater respect for the sacrifices service men and women and their families make for us each and every day. May God continue to bless the USA through them.

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer. Spending over twenty years as an avid fan of both genres, Karen loves writing stories set in Arizona.

Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. She is active in various Bible studies throughout the year. Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Join Karen and 9 other Christian authors as they celebrate the launch of her new novel, Nickels. [INSERT AD HERE]. [Link Ad to:]

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introducing Lynda Schab!

I am SO excited to be doing this post!
Lynda was one of my first ACFW critique partners, so I got to see the first chapters of this book before any of you! Well, most of you. I have been following Lynda the past few years through her blog, Facebook etc... but it was a thrill to finally be able to meet in person at this year's ACFW conference! This is a picture of me, Jenness Walker, our other critique buddy, and Lynda. Don't we look cute?

I'm super-excited to be able to feature Lynda today, because her first book, Mind Over Madi, has released!! And I should mention that she is also a fellow OakTara author!

So, without further ado, here's a bit about Lynda...

LYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring) and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School) and in many places online (including and, but her passion has always been fiction.

Mind Over Madi, her debut novel, is near and dear to her heart. Lynda admits she has a lot in common with the character of Madi. Not only are they both addicted to ice cream, chocolate, and computer games, they struggle with the same types of insecurities and continually require a hefty dose of God’s grace.

Lynda works behind the scenes at and is a member of ACFW. She is a regular book reviewer for and is the Grand Rapids Christian Fiction Examiner and the National Writing Examiner for Mind Over Madi received Runner-up in the 2007 FaithWriters Page Turner contest, was a finalist in the 2007 RWA Get your Stiletto in the Door contest, and won second place in the 2008 ACFW Genesis contest, Chick Lit category. Lynda lives with her husband, Rob, and two teenagers in Michigan

Madi McCall admits her husband lacks a little in the romance department, but all in all, he’s been a good husband, a good father. Now, though, she suspects Rich is having an af air with Fawn Witchburn, the mother of one of his fourth-grade students. To say Fawn shows of her “assets” more than should be legally allowed in public is an understatement, and Madi’s insecurities kick into high gear. When, in a heated moment, she asks Rich to leave and he complies, Madi is forced to deal with her issues. Issues of love and trust she’s tried so hard to avoid. Issues that trail all the way back to her childhood and make her act like a total moron.

Okay, doesn't that sound great?? Trust me, you want to rush out and buy this one. Go. Now!
And Lynda, we look forward to more from you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Help Me Out?

A while ago I started a new blog. It was an experiment. I've been struggling with blogging for a while now, and truthfully I'm still trying to decide which way I want to go with this. My other blog is geared toward writing and books. There won't be much personal stuff on it. Obviously I don't want to have two blogs. I'm also wanting to ramp up my website again. So I have a lot of decisions to make. Do I keep this blog as is or scrap it and combine the two, maybe do three posts a week on the new blog and make one of them a more personal post...but is that what I want? Is that what you want? And we're coming into the holidays...I'm a little stressed.
Here's what I'd love for you to do.
FOR NOW, I'll be posting over on my other blog - This Is A Blog About Books. Please go check it out. And then let me know your thoughts.
Do you think I can do a combination of this blog and the other one - or should I keep the book blog strictly books or what?? I can't even think straight at this point!
I would really love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks so much and see you soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Thanks to everyone who stopped by the blog last week and left comments!
Here are the winners of the book drawings.
Please email me at catherine at catherine j west dot com with your mailing address!




KAREN'S GIVEAWAY - Jackie Layton (you can either choose to wait for Karen's latest which will release or she will send you another selection.


I will try to get in touch with you via your blogs if you did not leave me an email addy.
Thanks for participating in my week of honoring our Veterans!!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I hope you have enjoyed this week with me. I have learned much from my guests and I hope you have as well.
When I first set out to write Yesterday's Tomorrow, I wasn't really sure what I was getting into. I knew I would have to do my research. I didn't know much about war. Didn't really know how I felt about it. Some days I didn't want to write the book at all.
It was too terrifying.
But as I researched and read and learned, I found countless stories of men and women who possessed a courage I'd never imagined. Men and women who left their families and loved ones, left all they knew and stepped into hell, who sacrificed so much - I wanted to know why. Why would they do that? Why leave the comfort of home for a sweltering jungle? Why take up arms against foreign men in foreign lands? Why die for the sake of freedom?

Like Kristin in my book, I had many questions. Many doubts. And, like Kristin, I found there were no easy answers.
Most of the accounts I read from those who served all said the same thing. No regrets. They served because it was the right thing to do. Not because it was easy. Not because it was honorable. But because it was right.
There are always two sides to every story. There were those who were drafted. Those who protested. Those who ran.
But those who served, even when they were no longer sure what the right thing was anymore, they deserve our honor and our respect.

I'm still not sure I have a definite answer on how I really feel about war. It's ugly. It leaves scars. It kills. But it exists. It is reality. And as long as it is, there will be those who are called to fight. And really, whether we agree on the concept of war or not, we should all agree that they are out there doing what many of us could never do.
So how do we reconcile all this as Christians? What is it like for those who believe to go out and kill another human being? I asked those questions a lot during the writing of my novel. I write from a Christian worldview, so I knew this was something I needed to address. Yet once again, I found no easy answers. The best I could come up with is written here, in a discussion that Kristin has with her brother Teddy, who is serving in Vietnam.

He reached for her hands. "Have you stopped being mad at God?"
Kristin pinched her lips together. Where was God in all this madness? 
The prayers she muttered when she felt the need seemed  futile.  Since coming to Vietnam, she’d seen nothing to convince her God even existed.  
“Not really. I’m more confused than ever. You know what it’s like out there.
You’ve seen the death, the destruction. How can you  sit there,  knowing what’s going on up in those hills, and tell me God is okay with all this? 
That He loves us?”  
“Kris.” He tightened his grip on her hands, his eyes filled with a light she didn’t understand. 
“God didn’t make this war. We did.”  Clear determination and passion shone from his eyes.
“When I think about this  war, think about the guys on the frontlines, I can’t help but think of Jesus. ‘No greater love has a man who lays down his life for his friends.’  That’s what the guys out there  are doing for us, Kris. None of this makes sense,  I  know, but it makes even less sense without Him.” 
Respect for her brother and what he was doing out here overrode any  counterargument she could make. “I love you, Teddy.”  
And perhaps, in some way, he was right.  
Perhaps there really was no greater cost.

We may never have the answers to all the questions we ask. Maybe we're not supposed to.
However you feel about war, I urge you to remember those who serve. Pray for them. Remember their loved ones. Pray for them. Remember to say thank you.
They are laying their lives down for us. For me. For you.
For our freedom.
And for that, thank you is not enough.
But it's all we have.
So to all our Veterans, those lost to us and those present, those who still serve, and their families today, on this Remembrance Day, THANK YOU and MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE.

I'll send the winner a copy of Yesterday's Tomorrow, here's all you have to do:
LEAVE A COMMENT telling us how you are celebrating Veteran's Day
FOLLOW THIS BLOG (if you aren't already!)
And make sure you leave your email!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discarded Heroes

As you may know, my book, Yesterday's Tomorrow, touches on the realities of battle and how one copes with the things they have seen and done in that war zone once they're home. Coming home was often a torturous experience and men and women didn't understand what they were experiencing.
Today we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I'm thrilled to have author Ronie Kendig as a guest on the blog today! Ronie's popular Discarded Heroes series touch on the issue of PTSD and more, and as we'll discover, Ronie is passionate about supporting the military. Ronie has graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of her latest release, Wolfsbane, so leave a comment for Ronie to be counted in the draw.

My military hunk walked into the bookstore I worked at, wearing BDUs, a Hawaiian tan like nobody’s business, and blue eyes that turned knees to putty. To say I was smitten is a heinous understatement. When he explained he was there looking for my coworker (who—thank goodness—was on lunch break), I stifled my disappointed. Offered to let him leave a message for her, so he did. He left a message and his phone number.
And I memorized it.
Then married the hunk a year later.

My love for our military heroes started at a very young age. I was three when my father trooped off to Vietnam, leaving my mother and brother to fend for ourselves. Years later, I would witness close friends kissing their soldiers goodbye as they head off to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I watched them return home, very different men. They left their wives, families, irrevocably changed by war.
One way I dealt with life even from childhood was to create stories, whether with Barbies (ahem) or with a word processor. And I wrote what I knew—military life. Soldiers. Heroes.
Until one day at church, a young woman got up to ask for prayer during Sunday School. She wanted prayer for her husband—a Navy SEAL. Riddled with anger and a warrior mentality (which, I believe is a gift). His anger and unwillingness to get help destroyed their marriage. Two small children, their hero father gone, would have to forge a new life without him.
My heart broke. And with it that pedestal I’d so dutifully placed military heroes on. In that hour, I realized I could never again pen a story about our military heroes without showing the toll that life takes on them, their families, and—as a military brat, I can relate—their children.

A statistic recently reported that 92.5% of soldiers today experience some traumatic, combat situation—an attack, getting shot , etc. The statistics for those with post-traumatic stress disorder varies, and is invariably inaccurate. The inaccuracy comes from the fact that most of troops will not seek help because, in some situations, the PTSD diagnosis can be career-ending. Or they fear being perceived as weak—which is completely false. They are human. They are heroes.

The purpose of the Discarded Heroes remains the same as when the first book launched in July 2010—to open dialogue. Our heroes are returning home and will need to reintegrate, find a new normal. They needs us. But they probably won’t ask for help, and/or they may not even realize what they need. So, we can step up to the plate, do a little research about PTSD, and be prepared to listen—and pray. Pray for the troops. Pray for their healing, mentally and physically (for some).

From the National Center for PTSD:
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger -- a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
o Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat Veteran.
o Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
o Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event:
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
o A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes.
o A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
o Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
3. Feeling numb:
You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
o You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
o You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
o You may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal):
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
o Suddenly become angry or irritable
o Have a hard time sleeping.
o Have trouble concentrating.
o Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
o Be very startled when something surprises you.

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children, a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace. She has a degree in psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (January 2012). Ronie can be found at, on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.