Saturday, August 29, 2015

Meet Robert Crutchfield (who plays himself as the new pastor in GUARDIANS OF THE HEART)!

I've had the pleasure of knowing Robert for several years now. We met when I was researching material for my "First Responders" series (Abingdon Press) and found The First Responders Prayer, written by the right reverend Robert Crutchfield. I wrote to ask his permission to use the prayer in book #1, From Ashes to Honor; not only did he graciously say yes, but allowed me to use the prayer again in Honor Redeemed and A Man of Honor, too.

Father in Heaven,

Please make me strong when others are weak,

brave when others are afraid,
and vigilant when others are distracted by the chaos.

Provide comfort and companionship to my family
when I must be away.
Serve beside me and protect me
as I seek to protect others.

And that isn't all! Robert also allowed me to put him into each story. So when Pastor Wilson, leader of the Denver church attended by Currency of the Heart (book #1, "Secrets on Sterling Street" historical series, Whitaker House) left town for a family emergency, I asked Robert if he minded taking the good reverend's place. Yet again, he said yes. Robert remains at the pulpit in Guardians of the Heart and he'll lead parishioners in Healing of the Heart, too.

It's my honor and privilege to introduce you to my fun, funny, and faith-filled friend, Robert Crutchfield:

Q: So Robert, how long have you lived in Katy, TX?

I have been in Katy a little over 12 years now. I spent my first 41 years in a blue collar suburb near the Houston Ship Channel. I served on the recreation board there, and as precinct chairman and senate district chairman for the local Republican Party. I was quite a big fish in my little pond.

Q: When—and why—did you decide to become a pastor? 

I first felt the call to ministry around 1998. Wrote some, served as chaplain to a couple of groups. I didn't feel called to the pastorate until about 5 years ago. Katy is very fast-growing. It needed, and still needs more churches. God really put a burden on my heart to help fill this need. I started preaching out of a nursing home just under three years ago, and we are still there. 

Q: Everyone who reads the “First Responders” series comments on the beautiful prayer (above) that you so generously shared for each story. Tell us about your affiliation with first responders and what inspired you to write that prayer.

I have always had a love for our military and first responders...even when I was little. I served as a disaster team member with the Red Cross, then I was a military policeman while in the Texas State Guard. Following that, I spent five years in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is technically non-military but gave me an opportunity to work with the fine members of our smallest military branch. Later, I spent about three and a half years as chaplain to the Fire and EMS Department here in Katy.  So the short answer is, I'm drawn to first responders because in many ways I am one of them, they are my people. 

Q: If you have any awards or certificates, list them here and tell us a little about them…

I have more certificates than wall space! I'll share a few favorites with you. One is my commission as an Admiral in the Texas Navy which was given to me by the Governor of the state of Texas in 1986 when I was 23 years old!  It's an interesting document in itself, because it bears the actual embossed seal of the state of Texas, which you don't see "in the wild" very often. I guess then-Governor White saw great things in me back then.

I also have the One Hundred Fathoms Group Award. It's given to the auxiliary members within the district who make the greatest contribution during the course of a year. It comes with its own pennant. When I was in, the personal pennant of a 100 Fathoms Group member was the only civilian flag or pennant that was authorized to fly from an operational vessel of the Eighth Coast Guard District. Another is the Texas Twister Award which was given to me by the American Red Cross for my participation in my first large disaster recovery operation back in May 1983. Back to the U.S.C.G. Auxiliary...I have my Chart Updating Program Honor Roll certificate.This is a national award given to several people each year. It recognizes those who made the greatest contributions to the aid to navigation/chart update program that year. They listed my name in the auxiliary's national magazine and everything, so that was kinda cool! The last one I think you'll really like: It's my certificate from John Hopkins University for completing their online course in Disaster Mental Health Intervention. It's definitely cool, having any piece of paper with my name on it from a school as prestigious as Johns Hopkins, but I'm proud of this certificate because it represents additional preparation that helps me help others who really need it.

Q: Regarding the Compassion Church... what is your personal hope for every parishioner?

That's easy! To help them use their God given gifts to develop an active personal ministry of their own

Q: Do you have a go-to Bible verse? What makes that one special to you?

Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." It's special to me for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's the motto of the Order of St. Isidore of Seville, a group I have twice served as Chaplain-General twice, and once as Governor-General. It also reminds me that as Christians, we are called to make a positive impact on the world around us, while resisting the negative impact the world can have on us. God gave man dominion over the world, not the other way around!

Q: What’s the biggest misconception people have about ‘men of the cloth’?

That we think we're perfect. Most of the time we are running around hoping we don't mess up too badly! That's why we pray and study so hard!

Q: I know you, too, are a writer. Can you tell us a little something about what you’re working on?

My blog, FaithInspires.Org, mostly. My bi-vocational minister's schedule, which includes a full time job outside my ministry, doesn't allow me to do as much original content as I would like. I've long had a dream of writing a book, and God willing, that dream will come true when He sees fit...and when I have the resources to ensure I'll do a first class job.

Q: How long have you been married?

When I met my "Karebear," she was a single mother working at the newspaper here in Katy. She had zero intention of remarrying. We dated, and almost immediately, something snapped inside both of us...and we've been married almost 11 years now. My favorite thing about her is her sacrificial generosity. She would literally take food out of her own mouth so that others could eat. I also like that she is a strong independent woman, but still has the ability to turn to me and say, "Whatever you say, Honey; you're the man of the house."

Q: Do you have kids and grandkids? What’s your favorite thing about being a dad/grandfather?

The hero worship! All my grandkids worship the ground I walk on. It's hard to describe in some ways. There's a special satisfaction in being able to mold a whole new person over time. As a grandparent I am close enough, often enough, to have a profound impact on their development. Still since I do not have the day to day responsibility for the nuts and bolts of their lives, I have a certain distance that can be helpful. The nicest thing my wife ever said about me was when she told our oldest grandson that "Papa loves everybody." 

Q: How can people reach you?

The easiest way to reach me or Compassion Church of Katy is to email me at My blog is at I am on Facebook at, and on Twitter at In addition Faith That Inspires Action (my blog) and Compassion Church of Katy have their own pages on Facebook.

Thanks, Robert! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you a little better, and I'm tickled pink that others now have a chance to get to know you, too. I'm sure everyone reading this appreciates that you took time from your busy schedule to share a little of yourself with us!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Meet Janet Marie Dowell!

Allow me to introduce you to Janet Dowell, my dear friend and the founder of Loree Lough & Friends: A Nice Place to Hide! I had the pleasure of meeting Janet in person a year or so ago, when she arranged a book signing for me in her home town. Those of you who already know her agree, I'm sure, that she's one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people in your world.

Janet appears as the town librarian in my latest release, Guardians of the Heart. When the story opens, she's a young widow, but... Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out how things turn out for Janet! And now, without further ado, he-e-e-ere's Janet!

First of all, thanks so much, Janet, for agreeing to this interview! old were you when you discovered a love for reading?

I was around 10 years old when I fell in love with books.

What was the first book you remember reading? 

My first chapter book was one in the Boxcar Children series. I was drawn into these books partly because they were about children and because the characters were lively and sometime mischievous; they also dealt with some real and serious issues. This series is a classic now! Many children today do not know the joy of reading classics like The Boxcar Children, To Kill A Mockingbird, Great Expectations and Across Five Aprils! I believe these classics are a very important part of childhood. Books are a way of escape and also a very inexpensive way to travel. You can go anywhere in a book....You can go out west one day and to the desert the next day. You can even go to the moon without leaving your house! I learned this early and that is why I enjoy reading so much.

Think of the last movie you saw that was based on a novel you read. Do you think the filmmakers did a decent job of telling the story, or are things left out—or put in—that diminished your enjoyment of the story? 

The last movie I watched that was based on book was pretty much on target with the storyline of the book, with a few changes here and there! I enjoyed the movie but of course the book was better! The story was about the adoption of a little boy. His biological dad was in prison and when he got out, he and his wife fought the adoptive parents for custody. His real dad was still bad news, but his adoptive parents were good people. It's a real tear jerker. Sometimes when you watch a movie based on a book and the movie is off-base with the storyline, it takes away from the book -- or at least it does for me!

Do you have a favorite genre (romance, historical, contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, action-adventure, thriller)? 

My favorite genres is Contemporary and Historical Romance, especially stories about cute cowboys. I recently read my first fantasy book and I really enjoyed it. I always thought fantasy books as weird, but, to my surprise, I found a new category of books that I really like! I also enjoy reading autobiographies so I can get to know my favorite authors, singers, actors, etc. better.

How do you make time to read, with so many other demands on your time?

I hear people say "I don't have time" all the time. God gives us all the same amount of time. What counts is HOW we spend our time. Reading passes a lot of time for me so I try to use it wisely.

Do you have a 'Favorites’ shelf? How many shelves are filled with books? 

I have two rooms full of books, and I'm adding more books all the time!

How do you choose a book: Cover? Title? Author’s name?
I choose books partly by the cover. I know they say "Don't judge a book by its cover," but you can tell a lot about a book by the way the cover looks. 

Do you read the back jacket of a book before buying it?

I always read the back jacket of a book before I buy any book.

Do you prefer print books to e-books? Why? 

I prefer print books because I love to hold a real book in my hand. E-readers are more convenient because you have all your books in one place, but they are heavy and you have to deal with glare on the screen.

Do you enjoy interacting with your favorite authors online? Which social networking site is your favorite (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Other)?

I love to interact with authors online. I also love how most of them consider their fans...friends. When you read a friend's book, it means so much more to you. My favorite sites are Facebook & Instagram. I have an account on Twitter and Pinterest but I am not big fans of those sites.

How many book signings have you attended? 

I have attended two book signings. Both signings allowed me to meet some very special people. The second book signing was for Loree Lough! She and her husband Larry came to my hometown and did a book signing for some of my friends. We had an awesome time! 
Do you eat and/or drink while you read? If so, what’s your go-to snack?

I usually have a glass of iced tea beside me when I read.

Speaking of you have a favorite recipe you're willing to share with us? Is it an old family recipe? One you ‘invented’? Something your loved ones ask you to prepare often?

This is a family recipe that my mom cooks often, and I love it because the cookies are delicious!

Linda's Chocolate Chip Cookies


2/3 C. Shortening
3/4 C. Regular Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 C. Chopped Nuts (Pecans)
2/3 C. butter (Softened)2 Eggs
3 and 1/2 C. Sifted Self-rising flour (Sift Twice-- Makes a softer cookie)
1 pkg 12oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Wash your hands and mix all ingredients together with your hands. Place on ungreased cookie sheet with a teaspoon and cook at 330 degrees (You may have to adjust the temperature because all stoves are different) for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
Just so you know, readers, I had the pleasure of tasting these cookies while I was visiting Janet, and she's right: They're delicious! So Janet, when you're not reading, do you have a favorite hobby?
I love to do bead work, reverse glass painting, and fuzz art projects.
Tell us a little something about where you live, your work and family. 

I live in a very small town in Georgia where everybody knows everybody! Most of the time it is a good thing. I love small town life. It's very relaxed, cozy, & laid back.

Thanks so much for participating, Janet! You’re the best! 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Meet Linda Hanna!

I’ve known Linda for quite a few years, thanks to the miracles of technology like Facebook and Twitter. She’s a dear lady and I always enjoy her posts, and comments on my posts, so I thought you'd enjoy getting to know her a little better, too!

So Linda, how old were you when you first realized you loved books and reading?  

I was about 4 years old – but it was just picture reading at that point since I couldn’t read real words. 

Do you recall the titles of some of your earliest favorites?

It was a Flash Gordon book about people running through a jungle trying to get away from flying spears and dangling tree snakes. Dad bought it to keep me quiet in the library while he studied. It traumatized this 4 year-old little girl who loved tea parties and baby dolls! The Poky Little Puppy would’ve been a much better choice. However, it didn’t ruin my love of books. Later on I devoured Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and many other mysteries. 

Some of my favorites, too! (Except for the spears and dangling tree snakes! Ewww!) Do you have a favorite genre?  

I enjoy clean inspirational romance and cozy mysteries.  

Something else we have in common! How do you make time to read, with so many other demands on your time?

Sometimes it’s difficult. It takes me a long time to read a book due to injuries from an accident. 

We’re sorry to hear about that, dear Linda, and we’ll pray your injuries will heal 100%! So, do you have a 'Favorites’ bookshelf? How many shelves are filled with books?

Yes, I do have a favorites shelf. Actually, about 16 shelves are filled with my favorite books.
How do you choose a book: Cover? Title?Author’s name?

Author’s name and the first few paragraphs.

And do you read the back jacket of a book before buying it?

Yes, but I still read the first few paragraphs of the story before deciding. 

Do you prefer print books to e-books? Why?

Print books because I really like to hold an honest-to-goodness book.

Yet another thing we have in common! So Linda, do you enjoy interacting with your favorite authors online? Which social networking site is your favorite (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Other)? 

I do enjoy interacting with my favorite authors. Facebook is the only social networking site I’m on now. Twitter made me nervous for some reason. It just wasn’t my ‘thing.’ 

Yeah, a lot of people feel that way…me, included. Took a while, but once I got the hang of it, I liked it quite a lot! But I digress…. (Surprise! LOL) How many book signings have you attended? 

Maybe a dozen – not that many authors visit our little town. I’ve gone out of town, and would do it again, but only for one of my all-time favorite writers. 

What did you like best about it? 

Meeting and chatting with the author during a slow time was pretty cool. 

What did you like least?

One time I checked out the book of a little known author and realized it wasn’t something I wanted to read after all, but we were the only visitors to her signing. Since she was practically drooling and watching our every move, I felt obligated to purchase it. That was a wasted $20.

Ugh. A horrible situation to be in, I’m sure! Something more palatable (literally! LOL): Do you eat and/or drink while you read? If so, what’s your go-to snack?
I usually drink iced tea while reading. 

Same here! And do you have a favorite hobby?

I enjoy crocheting. I also like to cook and bake, which is the hobby my family enjoys most.

Oh, I’ve always envied people with the talent and patience to crochet and knit! My mom, aunt, and grandmother made so many beautiful things that way! Speaking of family, can you share a little something about where you live, your work and family? (We’ll press you for a recipe in just a minute… <wink> )

We moved around a lot when I was little, so I’ve called several states “home.” Our last move was to Indiana in 1966.

Bill and I have been married since 1973. We settled our family of three daughters in this little town back in 1989. I’m perfectly happy being rooted right here. We’ve been blessed with six grandchildren – 3 girls and 3 boys, ranging in age from 18 to almost 2.

I was a secretary for several years until we moved to our current location. At that time, a friend (Debbie) and I became the district directors of a senior adult ministry for the northern third of Indiana. We enjoyed every creative minute of it. An accident in 2001 caused my unscheduled retirement, so Debbie (Deborah Dulworth) and I decided to write a cozy mystery we had simmering on the back burner for many years.

Can you tell us a little something about it?
Sure, I’m happy to! This is the back jacket copy:
Cora and her husband, PGA golf pro Steady Eddie Timms, live in a safe gated community, so when Cora witnesses a murder, she’s shocked and frightened. But without a body, murder weapon, or evidence of a crime, Cora’s sanity is called into question—especially when it comes to light that Cora’s not been dealing well with the stress and grief of losing a daughter, and her memory of late hasn’t been all it should be.

Determined to prove her sanity, Cora bursts into a flurry of danger and unanswered questions as she sets out to find evidence of foul play. With the help of a bumbling security guard, a loyal best friend, and a neighbor's yappy dog, pieces finally fall into place. By all appearance, the mystery is solved...until Cora is kidnapped and implicated in a case of hidden identity and an old embezzlement scheme.

It will take more than the national attention garnered from Steady Eddie’s status to clear Cora’s name, rescue her from the kidnappers, and help find her way back to the peace and sanity found only in God’s loving arms.

Sounds so exciting, Linda, and I can’t wait to order my copy!
So about that recipe… Is there something in one of your cookbooks that has become a family favorite? 

This is a recipe my grandma made back in the 1930s when my mom was a girl. When I was growing up, we had a lot of company, and this was ALWAYS on Mom’s menu: 

Pineapple Cream Salad
1 large box orange flavored Jell-O

2- 20 oz. cans crushed pineapple with juice, not syrup

1 c. sugar

1– 8 oz. block cream cheese

1 pint whipping cream

Whip cream and set in refrigerator.

Add undrained pineapple, sugar, and Jell-O to sauce pan. Boil about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool – but not gel

Add cream cheese, breaking it into small pieces, then set in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Carefully fold in whipped cream and put into a 9” x 13” dish.

Refrigerate to set up for at least 3 hours before serving.

*Lime or Lemon Jell-O can be substituted for the orange
**recipe may be cut in half
Omigarsh! That sounds divine! I’m definitely testing this one out on my bunch! 

Thanks so much, Linda, for taking time from your schedule to visit with us for a while! It’s been a genuine pleasure, learning a little bit more about The Lovely Lady Online, and it’s no surprise to me that you’re even nicer than you seem on Facebook! Don’t you agree, friends! <grin> 

Stay tuned, my friends, because I’ll share another interview with another LL&F member, real soon! <GRIN> AND REMEMBER...EVERYONE WHO COMMENTS ON LINDA'S INTERVIEW IS AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED IN A RANDOM DRAWING FOR A SWELL PRIZE!