Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best of the ICFW Archives ~ Interview with Elsie O. Oghenekaro

Interview with Elsie Oghenekaro by Ufuoma Daniella Ojo

It's an honour to bring an interview with Nigerian children's book author, Elsie Oghenekaro. Elsie has written numerous short stories, children's books and biographies. She is also a travel agent, a mother of 5 young children and active in her local church.

When did you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?

I have always had the desire to write. I wrote my first story when I was eleven years old, although I didn’t do anything with it. I just loved reading and writing. When I was nine years old, I had to leave my parents and go live with an older sister and her family to help out with her kids. Her husband was quite abusive to me, but he had a large library of books and these became my succor. I read everything available and signed up as a member of the local public library. I had few friends because of the restrictive environment at home, so I started “talking” to my books. I would write down my thoughts, hopes, dreams and would imagine myself living in happier times and surroundings. I would create characters in my head and whenever things got out of hand at home, I would retreat into the happier world in my head.

Read more at the following link:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Free Word Search

I’m so excited to announce my new website for Lilac Lane Publishing!

Currently, Lilac Lane is publishing a series of Jane Austen Colouring & Activity Books.

A colouring and activity book is already available for Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. You can purchase them at any of the major online retailers. Emma is coming next! It’s scheduled for release in the fall!

I also have a slew of books that I’ve written that will be published in the near future.

For instance, there’s a 3 book series featuring the grandchildren from Highland Hearts! And if you loved the cast from Highland Hearts, they’ll be in the Americas! You’ll get to see what became of them!

So please, hop on over to Lilac Lane Publishing’s website and sign up for the newsletter. Not only will you stay informed, but I’m giving away a FREE Jane Austen Colouring & Activity Books WORD SEARCH!

Just go to the Newsletter section of the website to get your FREE COPY!

See you there!

And depending on where you live,
Happy 1st day of Summer / Winter !


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

By Lisa Harris

Except I confess, I do.

I love covers. I love them so much, in fact, that there have been times that I've chosen to buy a book simply because I loved the cover. But the opposite is true as well. I've dismissed books because I didn't like the cover. And while that might not be fair to the author, covers speak to me.

In fact, I think that was the hardest part of switching to an ebook reader for me. (And I only did so because we are hundreds of miles from the nearest bookstore!) I could no longer study the front and back of a cover before diving into a novel. Covers set the tone and give the reader a glimpse into the story's world. As an author, one of the most exciting moments in the book process is that moment when I click on the file from my publisher and see my cover for the very first time. I just love covers.

I'm currently in the processes of putting up on line a number of my older books that I've been given the rights back to by previous publishers as ebooks. And while the content is mine, I don't have the rights to use the covers. Which means brand new covers. And while I could have paid someone to design the new covers, in trying to learn the entire process of Indie publishing, I decided to take on the task of making my own covers.

Here are two things (of many) I've learned.

1. People DO judge a book by it's cover. 

After doing a bunch of research, I realized that the new covers I had made--and loved--for my Mission Hope series didn't fit their genre of romantic suspense. At all. Which also meant the books weren't selling well. They showed that the setting was Africa, but there was nothing to indicate that this was a suspense novel, expect perhaps the title which hadn't changed. What surprised me the most--and proved to me how important cover really is--was how changing the cover made my sales go up.



2. Covers MUST fit the genre you're writing for.

The first time I attempted to make covers for my books was several years ago for a cozy mystery series I got the rights back on. At the time, with limited resources out there, they were okay. But definitely didn't scream COZY. And today. . .they really fall short. I just changed these and don't think they've switched yet, so I haven't seen sales change yet, but I think they will.

BEFORE (Book two)

AFTER (Books 1-3)

Over the past few months, I've jumped into another writing project. This time I'm going Indie on a book I wrote about ten years ago with another author. This has meant that except for edits, we're doing everything ourselves. Once again, it's been fascinating and a bit terrifying. The book has been totally rewritten, edited, formated, cover made, ads made, marketing planned. . .I could go on and on. It has really made me appreciate greatly my traditional publishers--that I hope to never leave--while at the same time it has forced me to learn to do a lot of technical things I never imaged doing. And I have to say, I'm so glad I did. But once again, it's always a bit scary as you wait to see what people think about the new cover.

So what about you? Do you love covers as much as I do? Have you ever bought a book just because of it's cover? Have you passed on a book because of it's cover?

Let me know what you think!


(Find out more about my books at my website.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

On Antiques, Gifts, and Talents

By Iola Goulton

Paeroa is a small town not far from where I live. It has two claims to fame. It’s the home of L&P, our national soft drink which is World Famous in New Zealand. (I wrote a blog post explaining the history of L&P here.) It's other claim to fame is newer, yet older.

Paeroa is famous for its antique shops.

My husband and I visited some of those antique shops recently. We weren’ t looking for anything in particular—we were driving through Paeroa on one of our weekend drives, and decided to stop and look. It was an interesting afternoon, but one which left me feeling somewhat sad.

Some of the shops were small and cramped, filled with an eclectic mix of china, cutlery, glassware, clothes, books, tools, and telephones all mixed in together. Some items were definitely antique, while others looked more like second-hand—old and tired. Other shops were larger and more spacious, with different spaces for different categories of goods for sale.

There were many beautiful things for sale—some of which were familiar as items I remember seeing in my grandmother’s house when I was a child. A lot of the prices seemed more than reasonable, especially considering what items of comparable quality would cost today–and what the items themselves would have cost when new.

There were complete china dinner sets, with eight or twelve settings. Silver cutlery sets in beautiful presentation cases. Glass and crystal fine enough to grace any table. Classic brands such as Wedgewod, Royal Albert, and Crown Lynn. Everything was in perfect condition, even the “everyday” crockery.

Yet it was all sitting in a what was essentially a junk shop. Unused.

I wondered why. People had paid good money for these beautiful things, these beautiful unused things. I thought of my crockery at home—plates covered in knife marks, some newer than others because we’ve bought new pieces over the years to replace those pieces which have been chipped or broken.

I thought of my cutlery set, a wedding present which hasn’t had all eight pieces in a long time. The teaspoon monster strikes often in our house. And I wondered …

All these beautiful things. Had they ever been used?

Were they unwanted gifts, stored in the back of a cupboard for years, forgotten, then sold or given away when the owners moved house (or moved into an old folks’ home). Were they precious pieces, bought for “best”, and never used for fear of breaking the delicate china?

Either way, it seems like a waste.

People spent hours earning the money to buy these things which were rarely or never used. Then they were packaged up and sent off to an antique shop—donated, or sold for a fraction of their original price. I hope the original owners got some enjoyment out of these items, gifts or not.

Because to receive a gift and never use it is a waste.

To have a talent and never use it is a waste.

It reminded me of the gifts we’ve been given—not so much the physical gifts we receive for Christmas and birthdays, but the gifts God has given us. Too often, we waste or squander what we’ve been given.

That too is a waste.

May we remember to use and appreciate our God-given gifts and talents. May we not waste them or squander them by leaving them sitting on a shelf until it’s too late.

And the Gift of Salvation. May we never waste or squander that gift.

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Coming Up This Week 


Iola Goulton


Lisa Harris: Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover


Eva Maria Hamilton


Best of the ICFW Archives ~ Interview with Elsie O. Oghenekaro

Friday Devotion 

Lays Halawe


New Releases

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, Book 2 in her Regency Brides series, is a June 2017 release from Kregel.

Kara Isaac's contemporary romance set in Australia and New Zealand, Then There Was You, releases independently in June 2017.


Upcoming Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Memories of Mist, Book 3 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Italy, Fatal Cover-Up, will be a July 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.

Lucy Thompson's historical romance set in Australia, Waltzing Matilda, in The Captive Bride Collection: 9 Stories of Great Challenges Overcome Through Great Love, will be an October 2017 release from Barbour. 

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Fabric of Me - devotional art

Woven together

Each strand in its place

Dreams not perchance

Hopes not misplaced

DNA formed to Your grand design

Each gifting on purpose

Each love refined

An open channel

A clear written book

A riverbed waiting for Love to flow through…

… the fabric of me

Born to love

and be loved

I am made for You

Artwork ~ Hayley Wilson (age 12 at the time) | Words ~ Dianne J. Wilson

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She is working on a three book YA series, Spirit Walkers, 
for Pelican Book Group / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


A very good friend of mine went on a Christian retreat last weekend.  Her husband had attended two weeks prior.
It's a very exclusive kind of place, where you have to be 'recommended' by someone who has been, in order to go yourself.  You have to hand over your cellphone and your car keys, and you don't know what the program is.  You sing before you eat, you can't speak after bedtime and the following year, you have to volunteer your time, in payment for your stay the year before.
She said she had a wonderful time. That she laughed a lot, she cried a lot and she felt closer to GOD than ever.

I've been to a few retreats.
I once attended a year-long women's study, where we had 4 different weekend retreats. It was wonderful and it made me long to do it on my own. So, from then on, I would take 3 retreats a year.

I had a special place, in Pembroke, Ontario, at a nunnery. It was called the Marguerite Centre.  It was a nunnery, then a hospice, then a retreat centre, and then a hospice again.  I would always manage to plan my weekends away when there wasn't anyone else there, except for a few nuns in a different wing.
Imagine having your own room, with a tiny little bed, a closet, a sink with two different taps, and a desk with a chair.  Outside of your room was a long hallway in each direction, filled with doors to other rooms. There were about 50 rooms to a floor, and it was two floors.  The main floor held a few offices, a gigantic cafeteria, a library with antiquated computers, a front office and a dark living room.
At seven o'clock every evening, the office personel would lock up, and I had the entire building to myself.
On the very first night, I was slightly afraid. I locked my door and put the chair up against it. But there was no reason to be afraid. GOD was always there.
My weekends would involve eating food, sleeping about 15 hours per day, and reading my specific GOD book for the weekend. In the evenings, I would flake out in the large lounge with the tv on low for background noise, surrounded by popcorn and hot chocolate, my laptop, and the cool tile beneath  my feet. I loved it there. I rested there. I would write, talk to GOD, watch the sun set over the river, drink hot chocolate and tea. It was ideal.

The Marguerite Centre closed two years ago.  And my heart broke.

Last November I decided to try an Airbnb in Pembroke. Surely I would find the same rest, the same beautiful sunsets? The host seemed very artistic and her guests wrote rave reviews about her. The bedroom had a large bed that looked out the window and it was tucked high up in the house. I was so excited. I had emailed her many questions and she didn't really answer all of them, but I tend to ask a lot of questions, so I didn't think anything of it.
I arrived at 3:45, just fifteen minutes earlier than she told me to. The house was adorable. The gardens were stunning.  I knocked on the door, ready to apologize for being early, but there was no answer.
I waited contentedly in my van, feeling my heart rate slow down peacefully, and my body became heavy as I knew the first thing I would do when I unpacked, was nap for a few hours.
Four o'clock came and went.
I figured maybe she was was in the shower when I had arrived. After all, her car was in the driveway, and she wasn't expecting me so early. So I knocked again. I noticed shoes lined up in the hallway and a purse sitting on the chair by the door. She had to be home. Didn't she?
I knocked again. I walked around the back and peeked into the kitchen windows. The kitchen counter was covered in filthy dishes and so much...junk.  Surely she must have been expecting me?  At this point, I needed the washroom, so I called her again and left a message saying I was just headed over to the grocery store.
I drove away at five, wondering if maybe she had a heart attack. Or was very ill. Women don't leave the house without their purses, right? I found a store and used the facilities and then my phone rang at 5:30.
"Yes, I am home now. You can come over."

Oh dear.  This was not a friendly voice.

I arrived and knocked on the door, a big smile on my voice, slightly worried. She opened the door, and a very grumpy face just stared at me.
"Well, come in, then."

I stepped inside. "Hi, I'm so glad to meet you, yourhouseisbeautifulsorryI'mearlyI'mveryexcitedtobehere..."
"Aren't you bringing in your things?"

"Um, I thought I'd look at the room first?"

She showed me the living room, where I could sit and write if I liked. She showed me my bedroom, which was absolutely adorable. She showed me the beautiful bathroom.  We walked back downstairs and she began cleaning her kitchen counter.

"I brought some of my own food. May I put some in the fridge?"

She glared at me and then looked at her gigantic stainless steel box. "I don't have a lot of room in my fridge for your food."

"Ok. I can keep it in the cooler, I guess. Can I put some fruit on the kitchen counter?"

She sighed and threw her dirty dishes into the sink. "I don't really have a lot of room."

I grabbed my large cooler from the van and carried it in. "Where should I put this, then?"

She pointed at the living room. "Tuck it in there, out of the way."

I tucked it into the corner. What on earth was her problem?  I opened the cooler to give her the gift I had brought her. In her bio, it said that she loved to cook, was a good cook, and all of her guests loved the food she made them. "I have brought you some heirloom tomatoes from my garden. And some eggs from our chickens. I only have eleven though."

I put them on the counter and went upstairs to unpack.  Should I be staying? Maybe she's having a bad day. Maybe something happened and it's none of my business.  I went downstairs to leave for a walk. She was sitting at her counter, one of the tomatoes sliced on a plate and she was eating it with a knife and fork.
"What kind of tomatoes are these?"

So we had a conversation. We talked about tomato plants and processing them, and then we looked up tomato pureeing machines on the internet. She had finally stopped glaring at me.  I decided to go for my supper.

I came back at 7, to find her sitting in her chair, drinking wine.  "Ok, I'm going to bed now," I said. "I'm pretty tired." We discussed what I did and why I was on retreat.

I slept well, considering.

In the morning, I went downstairs at 8, wondering what I should do for breakfast. Her bio stated that she made breakfast for her guests. She was in the kitchen, dirty dishes on the counter, and dressed to go out.
"I have yoga. I like yoga."

I looked around the kitchen, wondering where I would make myself some food. She motioned to her backyard. "I have put the toaster outisde if you want to use it to make yourself breakfast." There was a little toaster on a side patio table, plugged into the outlet outside. No cutting board, no plate, no knife, no glass.

And then she left.

Well, you can imagine how I felt at this point.

I suppose I could have called her out on it. I could have asked her what her problem was. I had paid for two nights and three days, but I had to get out of there.
I quickly packed up all of my belongings and threw them into the van. She wasn't back yet. She told me to just go out the front door if I were to head out. She wasn't worried about locking it.
I scribbled a note and thanked her (why?) and taped it to the door. I had said I had to get home, some personal matters were pressing.

She sent me an email later, and rather condescendingly said that she knew I wouldn't stay as she knew I felt guilty about watching her clean her kitchen.

Well, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wrote her back, explaining my discomfort and whatnot.

Now, during this insane time, I was commenting on facebook everything that was going on. It was too amusing not to.  My dear friends were sweet enough to tell me to call her out on her ridiculous behaviour. That I should write a very horrible review of what happened when I visited.
Oh, how I wanted to.

I had scrimped and saved for a year to pay for a 4-day holiday, to be with GOD and just rest as I normally do. I hadn't had a retreat in two years!

But I could not get angry.

I had two weeks to write my review of my time on the Airbnb website.
She had written up her review about me as a guest. I would not be able to see what she wrote until I wrote something.

 So I did.

I wrote that it was a very nice house, the bedroom had a lovely view and you could even eat outside if you wanted to.

No vindication. No meanness. I didn't write what I wanted to.

Well, you can imagine what she wrote about me.

I have no idea how I got onto that story. I wanted to write a post about how important retreats are, how important it is to get away and spend time with GOD.  And then this story came out. I guess my point is that life is not what you expect.  That sometimes people are really crazy, even though they get good reviews.
That mean people shouldn't change who you are.
That we all need a good laugh.

Jenn Kelly is a writer still looking for a good retreat centre. Maybe she should open her own. But make breakfast for those people who attend.