A Chat with Dani Pettrey


dpettrey1sm1[1]It is such an honor to be able to host a visit with Dani Pettrey, author of Silenced, the fourth book in the Alaskan Courage series. Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres, and discovering Dani’s stories has been a great boon for me. I’ve loved every one of them. The romance is always authentic and engaging, and the action keeps the adrenaline pumping.

If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to grab a copy of one of her books at your local bookstore. You can find out about all the titles in her Alaskan Courage series on her Web site, and feel free to read an excerpt of Silenced here.

For now, I hope you’ll simply sit back and enjoy hearing about Dani’s own adventures and her plans for future stories.

Q.  You state on your website that you love travel and adventure. Do you have a favorite place? How about your most exciting adventure?

A.  My favorite place is the beach. Put me on a beach towel beneath the sun, my toes in the sand, the waves lapping nearby and I’m at peace. My favorite beach spot would be in Kona, Hawaii. It’s so gorgeous there. My most exciting adventure…hmm…marriage 😀

Q.   I’ve really enjoyed the Alaskan Courage series and would love to visit the state myself someday. Was there a particular reason you chose Alaska as the setting for this series?

A.  Once I knew that the McKenna family owned and ran an adventure outfitting company, I looked for a location that would provide for a wide range of adventures—everything from cave diving to heli-skiing. Alaska has it all! Not to mention the inherent risk of danger if you aren’t properly prepared. That works extremely well with romantic suspense.

Q.  What inspired you to write romantic suspense?

A.  I adore writing romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things I love–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance.

Q.  What author(s) most influence your writing?

A.  Dee Henderson has absolutely influenced me the most. She is my favorite author as well as my mentor and friend. Not only is she a wonderful writer, but a wonderful person. I’m very blessed. Other authors that have inspired me are Terri Blackstock, C.S. Lewis, Sue Grafton, and Jane Austen.

Q.  Which of your characters is most like you? Why?

A.  I’d have to say Bailey Craig. I can really relate with her struggle. Looking for wholeness outside of Christ is always going to let you down. When I came to Christ as an adult, I had a lot of past mistakes that I was very ashamed of, like Bailey. God has been so kind and faithful in helping me work past that and has blessed me with truly accepting the new creation I am in Him.

Q.  I know this may be like choosing a favorite child, but I have to ask. Which of the McKenna stories is closest to your heart? Why?

A.  It is like choosing a favorite child, but I think the story closest to my heart is Shattered. I wrote the story while my mom was dying and it will always have profound meaning to me. It was the last story of mine that she was able to read and critique, and I truly treasure that.

Q.  Can you give us a hint about your next project? Is it possible we’ll be hearing more about Reef McKenna?

A.  Yes you will. Reef’s book, Sabotaged, will be a February release. Here’s a little sneak peek: Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and trouble maker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now paired together on Yancey’s search and rescue canine unit, they begin to put aside old arguments as they come to see other in a different light. Then a call comes in from the Iditarod that will push them to their limits.

Q.  This question follows up on the previous one. Are there plans in the works for a series after this one is complete?

A.  Yes. I will be working on a new four book series after I finish my Alaskan Courage series. I’m very excited about it!

Thank you, Dani, for sharing your time with us today. We really appreciate getting to know you better and finding out what we can look forward to in the months to come.



Rugged Romance Sweepstakes




In SILENCED, Book 4 of author Dani Pettrey’s award-winning Alaskan Courage series, a relaxing day of rock climbing takes a dark turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Was the climber’s death a terrible accident or something more sinister?

When the case is handed to Yancey’s overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With the truth of Jake’s past now revealed, Jake agrees to use his investigation skills for this one case–but nothing could prepare him for where the case will take him.

As Kayden and Jake work together to uncover the truth, will they also find a refuge in each other?  Or will the deadly plans of a killer destroy their chance at love?

To celebrate the novel, Dani and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the RUGGED ROMANCE SWEEPSTAKES, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts May 1, 2014 and ends May 21, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST).
Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, May 23, 2014, and announced at DaniPettrey.com.

About the Prizes

Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Grand PrizeGRAND PRIZE:


In SILENCED, Kayden’s adventurous nature and skills as a pilot come in handy as she and Jake race to uncover the truth. If you’ve always dreamed of hopping on a plane to chase your own adventures, but don’t have a well-trained pilot and a Cessna at your disposal, we’ve got the perfect prize for you.

Our Grand Prize winner will receive: a $250 gift certificate to Alaskan Airlines, good toward travel to multiple destinations across the Continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii


Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Second PrizeSECOND PRIZE:


As Jake and Kayden crisscross the Alaskan wilderness looking for answers, they also see some of the most glorious scenery on earth:  soaring mountains, crystal clear lakes, and incomparable wildlife.  Could there be any better setting for a glowing romance? Now you can share in the romantic scenery, even if you don’t live in Alaska.

Our Second Prize winner will receive: The Kiss at Wonder Lake 31″ x 23″ Framed Art Print


Rugged Romance Sweepstakes Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:


Kayden has always been practical, no-nonsense, and slow to trust. She’s definitely not a romantic-at-heart who longs for a handsome man to whisk her away for a picnic in the mountains.  Right? ; )

If you, like Kayden, have secretly dreamed of a romantic mountain-top picnic, this is the prize for you.

Our Third Prize winner will receive: The ultimate picnic pack for a romantic afternoon. This insulated backpack includes silverware, plates, napkins, plastic long-stemmed glasses and a wide selection of gourmet picnic snacks


How to Enter:

Go to http://www.danipettrey.com/rugged-romance-sweepstakes/ and complete the entry box, anytime between May 1 and May 21.


The Turning by Davis Bunn

1 Comment

The_Turning_By_Davis_Bunn“Take the turning, and walk the unlikely road.” These eight words transform seven ordinary people into conduits of hope for an entire nation. Imagine a group of strangers being drawn together by an unshakeable conviction that they must change—not the world—but themselves. Each has a weakness to face or an obstacle to overcome, and none of them is comfortable with the task. Yet, they persevere and find that this new path leads them straight into the heart of the storm.

Entertainment and advertising conglomerate Global Communications has decided to challenge the status quo of advertising. Instead of capitalizing on an established trend, an ambitious young executive convinces them they should create their own and focus every division on selling one message: Hope is dead.

They broadcast this message in an unprecedented flash mob demonstration in Times Square where thousands of people and every electronic sign reiterate those same three words. Within days, the company follows up with a major marketing campaign that connects a television series, a major motion picture, and a video game release with the same theme, all choreographed for the purpose of influencing the outlook of a generation.

Meanwhile, those seven strangers, all in New York at the same time, find each other. As they spend time talking and praying together, they realize they were brought together for a reason. None of them came looking for controversy, nor did they anticipate how their lives would change once they met. They only knew they had to make a stand.

Carrying them beyond their expectations and individual abilities, this turning forges the disparate group into a mouthpiece for the message of the ages: Hope is alive. The Turning is ultimately a book about possibilities—a portrait of the unlimited reach of ordinary people who willingly put aside their own agenda to pursue God’s purpose.

One of the most unique elements of this story is the fact that there is no single protagonist. Though each of the characters has a back story, the strength of the narrative is in the collaboration of personalities. Varying in age, ethnicity, and social standing, each individual makes up a vital part of the whole. This ensemble cast serves the author’s purpose well, emphasizing their reliance on each other and their dependence on God.

Their response to the adversity they face is a refreshing change from what we would normally see in the headlines today. They do not attack, slander, or demean their adversaries. Instead, they face their opponents with honesty and humility while consistently offering reconciliation and peace. They do not return evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.

This story has a different rhythm than most of Bunn’s other works. Having the plot revolve around seven strangers requires the reader to sift through separate back stories before the reaching the main event. While the absence of a central hero and the inclusion of fewer action sequences give the story a more sedate pace than what I’m used to seeing in a Davis Bunn novel, this, too, only emphasizes the overall theme of the book.

With this novel, Davis Bunn focuses on giving color and texture to the words of Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson: “The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people.”

Reading The Turning, not only creates a yearning to see that kind of change in society, but it also offers hope that that kind of change is actually possible.




Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Defined by readers and reviewers as a “wise teacher,” “gentleman adventurer,” “consummate writer,” and “Renaissance man,” his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.

Visit Davis at davisbunn.com or theturningbook.com/











































Impact: Worldview

1 Comment

17384524[1]A former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations once noted that “Patriotism… is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

This mind-set is the framework from which Marc Royce operates. A U.S. intelligence operative, Royce specializes in being the man on the ground in tenuous situations with little prep time and no backup—the man whose instincts and judgment can be trusted when Intel is sketchy and allies are hard to find. Royce is the man you count on when you can count on nothing else, and that makes him the perfect hero for the imminent threat facing the Middle East in Davis Bunn’s latest release, Strait of Hormuz.

The third installment in Bunn’s Marc Royce series, this story opens with Royce being sent to Switzerland to follow up on a lead, but when he arrives, his lead is dead, a bomb is about to go off, and the woman he cares about walks into the building right before detonation. Readers are dropped straight into the action and hit the ground running as they follow Marc Royce into the fray.

The sense of urgency established in the first chapter builds by degrees as the reader joins Royce in his pursuit for answers in the midst of political posturing between competing intelligence agencies and rival governments. On this mission, Marc is searching for a missing freighter carrying what is believed to be guidance systems for long-range missiles. U.S. officials fear that the components, shipped from North Korea, are headed for Iran, and recent Intel indicates that the Atlantic Coast of the United States may be the target.

The United States wants to intercept the cargo before it reaches the Strait of Hormuz, the channel of water linking the Persian Gulf with the open ocean, but the ship has gone off the grid. Marc’s job is to discover the ship’s destination and find the people responsible for its movements before military intervention is necessary.

Royce’s trip to Switzerland was supposed to connect him with the man facilitating the financial transactions for the movement of arms. Instead, it leads him to an ally inside Israel’s intelligence agency and an informant with connections to Iran. These unlikely allies work together to prevent a serious international incident and, in the process, find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Their love for country is surpassed only by their commitment to Christ. Trapped inside a world that would divide them by geography, politics, and culture, these patriots transcend those arbitrary barriers to form a cohesive team.

This unique collaboration allows them to find answers to the questions their governments aren’t asking and puts them all on the front lines of a deadly assault aimed at America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. Tension mounts as the team is forced to work against time and outside official governmental parameters to prevent a biochemical attack on Israel and to apprehend the man responsible for its implementation.

Davis Bunn’s skill at weaving faith and integrity into the fictional world of covert ops without sacrificing the adventure and intrigue inherent to the genre is unparalleled. Fans of Bourne and Bond could easily identify with Marc Royce’s world and would, no doubt, come to respect a man who values progress over politics and pursues justice rather than glory. Royce’s keen intellect, combat skills, and decisive command make him an admirable warrior while his sincerity and compassion make him an attractive hero. This combination accounts for the character’s overall appeal to both male and female readers.

Also appealing is the view of the world we see through Marc Royce’s eyes. This series depicts more than the age-old conflict of nation rising against nation. It casts a vision for a world where leadership is defined by sacrifice, unity is prized over power, and peace is found in obeying the call of God. In Strait of Hormuz, Davis Bunn offers readers a model of hope for a world in turmoil and a picture of faith that perseveres in spite of the obstacles.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, in large part, because Bunn portrays a world where peacemakers are recognized as the sons of God and the meek really do inherit the earth. I find the more I read Bunn’s work, the more I want to live in that world. How about you?

















Impact: The True Power of Story

Leave a comment

My college literature courses first opened my eyes to the wonders of reading. Though I’d been required to read in high school, the task was more chore than discovery. Learning the elements of fiction and the versatility of the language is what turned my head, and once I acquired the taste, I couldn’t stay away. Each semester I filled my mind with the nuts and bolts of story and genre, and during the breaks, I’d veg out on the romantic and fantastical. The best of both worlds.

Not until years after graduation did I come across the book that changed my view of fiction forever.  Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers breathed new life into my love for reading. As an English major, I learned early to appreciate the educational value of a good book. I also readily accepted the entertainment value of a nice, happily-ever-after romance.  But Redeeming Love offered something more.redeeming-love-250[1]

Set in the 1800s and based loosely on the biblical story of Hosea, Francine Rivers’ 1997 historical romance chronicles the story of a young woman’s journey from the degradation and abuses of prostitution to the hope and healing of a life-changing, soul-deep love.  Though the story revolves around the tangible expressions of that love shown by Michael Hosea, the hero of the novel, the heart of the story lies in the revelation of “God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.”

Never before had a work of fiction challenged the way I viewed life or made me reevaluate my definition of love. This novel did more than educate or entertain. It transformed my ideals, my outlook, and my worldview. Redeeming Love showed me of the true power of story and taught me never to take it for granted.

What book opened your eyes to the power of story?




Good Company


reading-on-couch[1] “If books are not good company, where shall I find it?” ~ Mark Twain

I’d have to agree with the classic author on this point. I can think of few things more enjoyable than sitting down with a good book. Many of you might suggest that if reading is the most enjoyable thing I do all day, I should hurry out and get myself a life. But I would respectfully disagree. Truth is, I have a good life. I have a family who loves me, a job that supports me, and a network of friends I cherish. My love of books diminishes none of these wonderful aspects of life. Books don’t detract, they add. Insight. Information. Humor. Adventure. Romance. Imagination. Inspiration. The list could go on, but you get the point.

Plus, books never complain when you put them down for something else. Their feelings aren’t hurt when you don’t get back to them for weeks at a time. They never hide their secrets, at least not for very long. Books invite you into their world instead of shutting you out. Books can add excitement to a boring week or add a touch of solace to a hard day. And what I’ve found most appealing about books is that they keep me company when I feel all alone. When I’m really into a good book, I connect with the characters like friends, some of whom I enjoy connecting with over and over again.

It’s not that I believe books can replace real life, they just add texture to it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the books that have added the most texture to my life, and I’d love for us to compare lists. Think about the books that have most impacted you and why, then post them each week in the comments section. I’m eager to see your choices.

Until then, happy reading!

Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes


Topbanner[1]It’s such a treat for me to be able to share the news about Dani Pettrey’s newest release and give you the opportunity to enter her Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes. As a fan of romantic suspense, I’m always excited to find an author who delivers a fast-paced read with strong characters and intricate story lines. Dani Pettrey receives high marks on all three. I’ve read books 1 and 2 from this series and can’t wait to buy this one.

Take a few moments to get the low down on Book 3 and enter to win some great prizes. If you’d like to know more about Dani and her books, visit her website. You can also read my review of Book 2, Shattered, on literary website LitStack.com.


In Stranded, Book 3 in author Dani Pettrey’s acclaimed Alaskan Courage series, reporter Darcy St. James knows something is wrong when her friend vanishes from her job on a cruise ship. Everyone else believes Abby simply left of her own accord, but something isn’t lining up, and Darcy knows the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position.

Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock in Alaska for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy onboard one of the ships, working undercover as a reporter.

Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they dig, the more they realize they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

To celebrate the story, author Dani Pettrey and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the ALASKAN ADVENTURES Sweepstakes, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts September 2, 2013 and ends September 19, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Winners will be selected Friday, September 20, 2013, and announced at DaniPettrey.com.


Book Info & Sample Chapter:

Can be found at http://www.danipettrey.com/books/




GRAND PRIZE:                    grandprize[1]       

BUILD-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE PACKAGE                               

In Stranded, Darcy, Gage, and the McKenna family launch into all kinds of adventures: from high-octane ocean kayaking, to rugged island camping beneath the vast Alaskan skies.

Our grand prize winner will have the chance to build their own adventure, with a $300 adventure gear gift card of their choice from either Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean.

And what would our hero and heroine do if they won the prize? Gage use it towards one of L.L. Bean’s gorgeous ocean kayaks, while Darcy would go for “Glamping” gear:)




Everyone knows Gage McKenna’s campfire cooking is second to none. But in Stranded, Darcy discovers that before Gage was a search and rescue hero, he secretly dreamed of attending culinary school.

Our second prize winner will have the chance to fulfill Gage’s dream with a $200 value, 1-year membership to Top Chef University.

Membership includes over 200 video lessons taught by Top Chef contestants, covering everything from soups to desserts.




Darcy once gave her missing friend, Abby, a beautiful shell necklace, engraved with a special message that made it one-of-a-kind.

Our third prize winner will receive their very own, one-of-a-kind “Earth & Sea” necklace valued at $100.

Handmade of New Zealand Paua shells, hammered copper, and Tahitian pearls, this necklace is the perfect compliment for a soft sweater and jeans, or a unique finishing touch for a little black dress on a special date night.


How to Enter:

Go to http://www.danipettrey.com/alaskan-adventures-sweepstakes/ and complete the entry box, anytime between September 2 and September 19.




Keeping Pace


running-cross-country-running-15859409-1024-768[1]I love to run. I’m not a great runner—I am neither graceful nor fast—but I do enjoy it. In my mind, running exemplifies strength, determination, and freedom—a pretty heady mix. No wonder it kicks up the endorphins.

Another advantage of my running has been the number of lessons I’ve learned about patience, perseverance, and pressing on toward a goal. The most recent lesson came several weeks ago when a cross-country team caught up with me on the trail.

I was on the last leg of my route when this group of young people began to pass me up. I watched them as they jogged by, envious of their energy and stamina and natural grace. I was enjoying my run up to that point, but in that moment, I felt the weight of all I would never be pressing in on me.  I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I’d never be able to keep up with them.

I finished my run that day, but I didn’t feel the satisfaction of reaching the goal. I just felt tired.

I often feel the same way about my writing. I love to write and dream of seeing my stories in print, but it’s easy to lose ground when I look at the many writers already out there.

I’m not just talking about the big names with the lucrative movie deals. I’m talking about the writers whose work, though not making headlines, has consistently entertained readers for years. I think about the writers who win contests or publish articles. I’m reminded of those who attend numerous writers’ conferences every year and are courting or being courted by literary agents. I consider the ones who consistently submit their work in spite of the rejections piling up in their desk drawer, and the thought of that whole process tires me out.

My confidence lags, my progress slows, and I just want to quit.

But that day, as I slogged through the last half mile of my run, I learned a new lesson. The secret of success isn’t found in keeping pace with someone else. True success is finishing the race regardless of where I place. The reward is in facing the challenge.

2004 Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi explains it this way: “I … realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.”

That’s my goal in running, in writing, in living. How about you? What challenges bring out the best of you?




That First Spark


strike-a-match[1]That first spark of excitement for any new adventure is always the sweetest. Don’t you agree? Remember the elation of your first solo drive? How about the tingle of anticipation for your first college class? Ah, and the unrivaled thrill of that first kiss…unforgettable.  The events of the past several weeks have me thinking of the first moment I realized I was a writer.

My journey into the writing world did not follow the usual path. My love for the written word didn’t begin with a favorite childhood storybook, nor did it ignite through the daily chronicling of the passions and travails of adolescence. There was no teacher along the way who inspired me to pursue this particular path.

No. The first moment my desire to write flared to life was at a regional writers’ conference in western Pennsylvania.  It was there that the leader of the fiction critique group told me my writing was good, a confirmation that fanned the flame. It was there I met two of my favorite authors, one of whom read my work and encouraged me to continue, an endorsement that fed the fire. It was there that I received three first place awards for my various contest entries, producing a warm glow inside that made me believe in the impossible.

That regional writers’ conference introduced me to the writing life, instructed me in how to hone my craft, and embraced me with a respect not often found in so competitive a business.  I will forever be grateful to those many professionals for taking the time to teach, to shepherd, and to encourage.

Ever wish you could find a place like that? Have you been thinking about taking the next step in your writing journey, but you’re just not sure where to start? Why not start where I did?

St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference.

This year’s conference will be held at beautiful Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, from June 18-22.  It’s not too late to register. Simply follow the above link to find out more information, and come find your spark.


St. Davids Video

Write from the Heart

Leave a comment

Writing from the Heart - LOGO - R2A few weeks ago, I wrote about my struggle with writer’s block, and though I didn’t mention it at the time, this poem came to mind. Anne Bradstreet, the first female poet to be published in Puritan America, penned these thoughts about her work.

The Author to Her Book

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did’st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array, ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

No doubt every writer understands the sentiment expressed here. Embarrassed at having her work published without her knowledge, Ms. Bradstreet wishes she’d had time to polish it more before exposing it to public scrutiny. The irony is that the words over which she worried so much turned out to be the very words that resonate with us today.

I believe that’s the way the creative process often works. The words we write reflect who we are, and our fear lies not so much in the possibility that the world will misunderstand their meaning but that the world will reject the value of the person who wrote them.

I believe the challenge for every writer, the challenge for me, is to revel in the joy of expression and cast off the fear of rejection. Though rejection may, to a certain extent, determine how we write, it should never dictate the reasons why we write. We need to move beyond the pressure of creating a perfect piece and free ourselves to write from the heart and believe that our words, like Anne Bradstreet’s, will one day resonate with kindred spirits.

Now is your chance to write, to inspire,  to resonate. Where will you begin?


Older Entries