Author Jo Huddleston

Sweet Southern Romance

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Literary Contest is Born

Get Ready to Spar!

Clash of the Titles Unveils a NEW annual literary contest, 
and it’s strictly for unpublished writers! 
Also, you will no longer need to be a previous Clash Champion in order to compete for the crown. 

Submissions open September 14, 2012

As always at COTT, the outcome of the contest is in the hands of readers, not industry professionals.

You’ve written the book of your dreams, now what do readers think? Enter the arena and find out. 

Olympia 2013 Submission Rules

The OLYMPIA provides an opportunity for unpublished novelists to have the first two chapters (or 3,500 words) of their work judged and critiqued by readers that are well-versed in Christian fiction yet not a part of the CBA industry.

ELIGIBILITY: Any author whose novel-length work (30,000+ words) has not been previously published in ANY format is eligible for entry. That includes the manuscript being submitted as well as any other manuscript the submitting author has written. One entry per author. Co-authored entries accepted. The manuscript should not contain profanity, graphic sex, or other objectionable material. Clash of the Titles staff reserves the right to reject submissions not meeting this requirement.

FEE: $10 payable via Paypal
Paypal account: contactcott@...
If Paypal is not an option for you, please contact senior editor, April Gardner at contactcott@....

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: All entries must include a single-spaced one page synopsis of the manuscript immediately followed by the first two chapters of the novel. Word count limit is 3,500. Prologues are accepted, so long as the word count limit is not exceeded.

FORMAT: Manuscripts must be in Times New Roman, 12 pt font, double-spaced with pages numbered. One inch margins in Ms Doc (not Docx) or Rich Text Format (RTF). Insert a header which includes the novel’s genre and title, and nothing more. Judging is anonymous. Do NOT include your name anywhere in the document or in the title the document is saved under.
Entries not following the submission and formatting specifications will be returned. Entries may be resubmitted prior to the deadline. Entry fees for returned entries will not be refunded after the contest entry deadline has passed.

Round One begins November 02, 2012. Entries will first be judged by Clash of the Titles staff, which includes published authors and writers experienced in judging. During this round, COTT staff will be looking for those excerpts which do not meet content standards listed in “Eligibility” above. Because COTT wishes to send only the best quality of writing to its judges, in addition to content eligibility, they will be reading for a higher level of experience in the craft.

Round Two begins November 30, 2012. By this date all entrants will have received an email notifying them whether or not their manuscript has moved on to Round Two. Manuscripts making it to this round will be read by a group of judges who are comprised of your average reader of Christian fiction and that are in no way associated with the CBA industry. This includes agents, writers, avid reviewers, publicists, editors, etc. They are, in short, your audience.

Round Three begins January 21, 2013. By this date, all remaining entrants will be notified of whether or not their manuscript will be moving on. Only three manuscripts will be chosen for this round. Finalist will be announced January 18. Judges pending.
Authors will receive an anonymous digital copy of each of their judge’s scores and comments. Under no circumstance should comments given by a judge be used for publicity or promotional purposes without the express consent of the judge.

PRIZES: One first-place winner will be chosen. He/she will receive a special feature on Clash of the Titles' blog. A tour through COTT’s Blog Alliance. A dedicated page on COTT’s site for a full year. A podcast interview with author and CAG board member, Cynthia L. Simmons. A beautiful plaque. Additional prizes pending.

DEADLINES: Submissions will open Friday, September 14, 2012. All contest entries and fees must be received no later than 8:00 PM EST Friday, November 02, 2012.
All entries will receive a confirmation e-mail. If this has not occurred by 8:00 PM EST November 03, 2012, the entrant should e-mail COTT senior editor, April Gardner at contactcott@....

The winner will be announced Friday, March 01, 2013

Stay tuned for updates by 

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hope for the Best....

Monday Musings on This 'N That

"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." I try always to think and speak positively but I heard that sentence used on The Weather Channel yesterday before Isaac changed from a tropical storm to a hurricane. In the realm of dangerous weather I suppose that's pretty good advice.

No, that's not spaghetti above thrown against the fridge to see if it's cooked enough. That's all the possible tracks Issac could take early on. The Weather Channel reports that the large size of Isaac will impact a tremendous area when it hits land. The Weather Channel expects it to be a Category 2 and possibly a Category 3 when it finally hits America's shoreline.

Above is a photo of Hurricane Opal which hit the Gulf Coast in 1995 then stayed a hurricane all the way from the coast of Alabama to the Alabama-Tennessee state line. I had a book signing scheduled for the day after it plowed through my state. A handful of folks came and bought books. One guy came by early and paid for two books and asked the store owner to get me to sign them and he would be back to get them when he could. He was busy cutting away downed trees in his neighborhood. Most of my town was without power so I'm thankful for those who came to the signing.

I've seen the devastation hurricanes leave behind, as above. And, yes, below are boats on the road after a hurricane.

It appears that many people face the threat of Isaac this week. I pray for the safety of all affected and for God's comfort and strength for them. The Republican National Convention scheduled in Tampa, Florida got a scare. I suppose the storm altered their attendance at least on the beginning day(s). We all plan ahead and schedule things in our life, but sometimes they get altered.

"The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney is Bobbie. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Win a Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 26, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where  prohibited. (You can read details about my book giveaways here.) 

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Lorena McCourtney is a long-time resident of 
Southern Oregon and enjoys using Oregon settings in her books. She wrote numerous short stories for children before moving on to romances and now to mysteries, often with a bit of humor. She won the American Christian Fiction Writer's 'Mystery Book of the Year" and twice won the Daphne Du Maurier Award of Excellence.

From the book's back cover
All she wanted was a paycheck. What she got was a murder.

Cate Kinkaid's life is ... well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, the jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.

All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?

From Jo
Move over, Janet Evanovich! All Cate has to do is locate someone. But, of course, after she finds the person she can’t walk away. She goes from one predicament to a more complicated predicament and on and on. Some kooky characters, a murder mystery, and a budding romance move this cozy mystery along. The dialogue is witty and the action is snappy, making this a page-turner. The laugh-out-loud moments are delightful. Cate Kinkaid will be around for a long time. Can’t wait for her next adventure.

Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 26, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Algebra?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

This is from USA Science &  Engineering Festival (I found it on Facebook):

“Dear Algebra,
Stop asking us to find your X.
She’s not coming back.
We don’t know Y either.”

Remember all those courses in school we HAD to take? We sometimes didn’t think the school should have required us to take a lot of classes we did take. But ALGEBRA?!

Why take Algebra because we’d never have a use for it. A homemaker wouldn’t need algebra to bake a cake. A secretary wouldn’t need Algebra to type and answer the phone. A mechanic would have no need to know Algebra to work on machines or put a tire on a car. A pastor wouldn’t need Algebra skills to communicate and feed his flock. Even a CEO of a multi-million dollar company has no need for Algebra.

So…..WHY did they make us take it? I don’t know.

Back when I was in high school girls had to take Home Economics. Now they call a class Social something and girls and boys can take it as an elective. But back to my Home Ec class. We took the first half of the year to sew a dress. A simple, straight shift dress with a side zipper. Half a year!

Then the second half of the year we learned about the kitchen. We mastered  one dish—a jelly roll. Yes, a jelly roll. As I remember, we made dough, flattened it into a rectangle (oops, maybe we couldn’t have done that without algebra). We baked it and let it cool. Then we spread jelly all over the baked rectangle. We rolled the concoction and ta da … we had a jelly roll.

I’ve never made a jelly roll since then and certainly have not sewn a shift dress. But if I ever try to make a jelly roll, I’ll have the algebra skills to make that rectangle.

What about you? Did you ever waste your time learning something that you never ever will need to use again? If so, share it with us, please.

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Download Today Only

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Guest blogger today is Staci Stallings. Welcome, Staci. Staci is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today only...

What Box?

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Think outside the box.” Usually this means that the person believes there is a boundary around what you believe you are allowed to think.  They are encouraging you to step outside the boundaries of that box and consider what else might be possible. 

          Well, when it comes to online marketing, I want to take that encouragement a step further.  Your question from now on is “What box?” To put it simply there are no limits to the marketing and networking opportunities offered by the Internet. The only real limits are in your technical know-how (which can be increased) and in your marketing ability to get others to join you.

          With that in mind I want you to do a very simple exercise that opened up doors for me that I didn’t even know where there.  It’s very simple.

          First, take out a sheet of paper and grab a pen. Now, list every element of websites and online marketing that you know.  You need at least ten, but twenty would be great.  Okay, ready?  Go. (Come back for more instructions only when your list is finished.)

          da-da-da-da… (Insert annoying filler music here!)

          You’re back?  So that means you have at least ten elements of marketing on the Internet and preferably twenty.  Right?  If you don’t, get back there and think of some more.

          Okay. I’ll trust that you have your list. Now, take the top element and the second element and think of a way they could be combined to make a unique element.  For example, say this was the start of your list…


          I would take newsletter and link and maybe come up with the idea to include a link in my newsletter to advertise my product. Or maybe that I could use a link on my site to advertise my newsletter.

          Now take the second and third and think of a way they could be combined. Link and your blog. How about devising a quick tagline at the end of each blog with a link inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter?  How about signing up to be an affiliate with products that your blog audience might enjoy (other Christian authors perhaps) and then using a link to their site? 

          The idea is to go down your list doing just this type of no-box thinking. When you get to the bottom, start again at the top using #1 and #3.  Then #1 and #4.  When great ideas hit, sketch them out, write them down. Explain how you could do that to market.

          When I did this exercise, two of mine came up Joint Venture and Other Authors. That’s where the idea to host Virtual Book signings came. 

          Any time you feel blocked in your online marketing attempts, sit down and do this exercise. It will have you asking, “What box?” in no time!

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2005

August 16
Staci's "Amazing!" novel:

To Protect & Serve

 "I'm taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci's characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they're smokin' hot! Especially the hero!"
--Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it's possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

Ebook available below as a free download today only!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Favorite Children

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

When you were a youngster did you think your parents had a favorite child?

Do you have a favorite among your own children?

What a question for any parent! I don’t know of a Mom or Dad who would admit to having a favorite child, even if they secretly did. Some kids feel their parents have a favorite because of the way the parents treat children differently. Kids think they can know which sibling gets the most toys, the best bike, the most attention for their achievements.

Some think a favorite child is definitely a “spoiled” child. It seems some parents may lean toward one or the other of their children at times. But being spoiled/favorite and know it sometimes causes a child to be arrogant, at times a bully, and at best a pest to the other kids in the family.

I am an only child so I have no problem with any of the above. No, as an only child I found myself in constant presence of adults, especially in the evenings. But I had dozens of cousins. Yes, dozens: my daddy came from a family of eleven children and my mother had four siblings. Having all those cousins helped me to learn how to socialize with my peers. I’ve known some “onlies” who can’t because an only never has the opportunity within their own home to learn social skills with their peers.

Back to parents having favorites: in the Bible, Romans 2:11 tells us that God doesn’t have favorites among His children. What God will do for one of His children, He will do for all of them. The differences in our experiences with God are in direct relation to our faith in Him: the closer we get to Him, the more of Him we get. God does not desert His children, but sometimes His children do stray away from Him. Thank God that He is always pleased when a straying child returns to Him.

Therefore, we can hold to the truth that God has no favorite child.

For God does not show favoritism.”

Romans 2:11, NIV

The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Catch Your Breath by Kathryn Bain is karenk. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Win a Book!

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 12, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where  prohibited. (You can read details about my book giveaways here.)

Catch Your Breath by Kathryn Bain

A Florida Certified Registered Paralegal. She is the mother of two grown daughters. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Writers Association, Southeast Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of American.

Book is available tomorrow, August 10, 2012 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

From the book's back cover:
Calley Regan wants to get through her cousin's shower without anyone discovering her pregnancy. Riley Owens is attracted to Calley but he still lives with the memory of his finance's death. When Calley is attacked, Riley vows to protect her. He has no intention of losing another woman he loves.

From Jo:
This inspirational romantic suspense lives up to its name. Calley is the "black sheep" of the family while her sister is "perfect," according to their mother. She has a romance with Peter, who fails to tell Calley he is married. After she learns she is pregnant, her life begins to spin. Riley and his aunt make Calley feel loved and protected, a first in life. When Calley's independent nature clashes with the quiet Riley, sparks begin to fly. Can they each help the other to a compromise? Kathryn Bain writes a great story with memorable characters. 

Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 12, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Catch Your Breath by Kathryn Bain. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hurricanes Anyone?

Hurricane season is nearing its most active part of the season. From now through September, with the peak in mid-September, is the time for more numbers of hurricanes. America's Southeast and Eastern coastal areas are the places where most destruction is possible.

Have you ever been in or near where a hurricane touches land? I have not but I have been required to go to a land area after devastation from a hurricane coming ashore. Along the Gulf of Mexico's shoreline folks have to follow on the weather channel carefully, keeping an eye on the projected track of a hurricane advancing into warm Gulf waters.

In 2004 the eye of Hurricane Ivan hit Gulf Shores, Alabama. The circulation of a hurricane is counter clockwise, which means that land areas east of the eye receive the most damage. On September 16, 2004 Hurricane Ivan spread its damage eastward toward Pensacola, Florida. Our family had a small, one bedroom beach-side condominium located in the line of Ivan's destruction.

After Ivan had spent itself, the manager of our condominium complex telephoned me to say, "Your unit is gutted." Hesitation. A loss of words. She continued to tell me devastation was spread from one end of our island to the other. She said we should come there when we could to try to possibly salvage anything. She said to wear rugged boots because there was glass and lumber with nails strewn everywhere.
Ivan's destruction, but not ours.

I hadn't thought about what we would find upon arrival at our tiny condo. I just usually don't anticipate/worry about things I have no control over. The destruction was so awful we could not go onto the island from the east but had to drive through Alabama and onto the island from the west. Even at that we had to show law enforcers proof that we owned property on the island before we were permitted to cross the Alabama/Florida line.

As we drove the mile into Florida to our complex what I saw reminded me of the aftermath of a war zone. People's destroyed belongings stood in rows and stacks on either side of the road, which was now just a narrow sandy roadway. All power lines and most power poles were down. Sewer pipe lines were buckled above the sand. When we arrived at our place we parked away from the buildings and walked around to the beach-side entrance to our ground level unit. I was not prepared for what we found.

Yes, as the manager had told me, our little unit was gutted. No longer did it have its sliding glass doors onto the patio, all of the furniture in the living room and dinning area had been swept ahead of the water and all pushed to the far side of the unit, all pieces of furniture piled up against the front door. In the kitchen the refrigerator had floated to an abnormal position and in the bedroom the bed had floated and when the water receded it landed at a forty-five degree position from where it was before the waters had rushed in. I saw no evidence of our TV and found one of our dining chairs down the way lodged in shrubbery. Where the pool had been was now only level sand and the perimeter pool fence was nowhere to be seen.

Every ground floor condominium was a total loss and a part of one building nearest to the ocean was destroyed. Our building was moved one-plus inches off its foundation. Some disagreements occurred between insurance companies whether the damage to our unit had been caused by wind or flood. The flood would not have occurred without the hurricane's wind pushing it, they argued.

The end of the story is that we now have the insides of a new condominium from the wall studs out (because of mold), new furniture, appliances, drapes, etc. Yes, we had insurance to cover our contents. It was about eighteen months after Ivan before we could use our condo again.

So each hurricane season since then I watch the weather channel looking for news of impending disturbances in the tropics. We now have Ernesto and Florence headed to the Gulf of Mexico area and another disturbance just coming off the African coast. It appears Ernesto will travel toward Mexico and Texas and Florence is not near enough to guess where it will hit land.

Evacuation routes exist for folks at the beach if a hurricane gets too close. If I'm there I plan not to wait until evacuation is ordered but return home as soon as the storm enters the Gulf.

Have you had experience with hurricanes? What were they? Would you like to share?

The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Living in Harmony by Mary Ellis is Cherri. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Win a Book

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 5, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. (You can read details about my book giveaways here.)

Living in Harmony by Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis is the bestselling author of many books, including A Widow’s Hope, Sarah’s Christmas Miracle, and An Amish Family Reunion. She and her husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.

From the book’s back cover: 
Amy King—young, engaged, and Amish—faces life-altering challenges when she loses both parents in unexpected tragedy. Amy’s finance, John Detweiler, persuades her to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who will help them.

John’s brother Thomas and sister-in-law, Sally, readily open their home to the newcomers. Wise beyond his years, Thomas a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival, suggesting instead a period of adjustment. While trying to assimilate into the ultraconservative district, Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. Amy wants to reconnect with her, but John worries that the woman’s tarnished reputation will reflect badly on his beloved bride-to-be.

Can John and Amy find a way to overcome problems in their relationship and live happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to each other?

From Jo: 
Moving with John, her fiancĂ©, to a more conservative Amish district, Amy faces unexpected challenges. Because her parents are dead, Amy is pleased to locate an aunt who was shunned by the Amish. Amy travels to visit her aunt against John’s wishes. Her trip and finding that she cannot trust John causes Amy to doubt the wisdom of marrying John. An accomplished writer, Mary Ellis gives the reader strong, distinct characters. Her descriptions of the ways of the Amish bring the reader into the community, the household, and mindset of the characters.

Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, August 5, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Living in Harmony by Mary Ellis. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.

Till next time … keep on smiling.