Face-Off with Zachary Bartels!!

Zachary is the author of multiple critically acclaimed suspense thrillers. His newest release, The Last Con, is a finalist for the prestigious Carol Award! Can’t wait to see what happens!!!biopic

Check out his latest!! Links are in the pics.

Zachary is a pastor, blogger, author, husband and father. Sounds like a lot of work to me…Let’s see what he can bring to the table, shall we? But, before we start, this is for you, Zachary. (and I’ve gotta say that it’s probably the worst movie clip of all time…)

PicCollageWe both look like bugs.

The rules are simple. I ask Zachary some random questions. He replies and then I give my answers. Each winning answer is worth one point and I get to decide whose answer is better.

It’s my blog.

Here we go!

1. Have you ever hit an animal while driving? If so, what did you do?

Zachary – No, I have not. I love all animals (except mosquitoes, who should all suffer horribly and die a coward’s death!) and I am perhaps the world’s best precision driver (at least in my own mind), despite how often my wife works the ‘invisible brake’ while I’m at the wheel. The only time my driving dips down below mind-blowing is when I’m kind of overwhelmed with awe at how amazing it is, which causes me to lose focus for just a second in a sort of fishtail of irony…but then I steer into said metaphorical skid and begin driving amazingly again. I imagine (seriously, I imagine it frequently) that if a large animal were to run out in front of me, I would pull a Dukes of Hazzard over that sucker and land cinematically on the other side.635713579229865733-XXX-ZX37507-d-dukes-hazzard-mov- Also, my horn would magically become the General Lee’s horn.  And I would have John Schneider’s hair.


Wait… what was the question?

Charity – Oh my stars. I don’t remember the question. The Dukes of Hazzard had nothing on The A-Team and their mad van jumping skills. I mean, think about it. The could build an entire vehicle in 15 minutes. AND, in every episode there was a car explosion, AFTER WHICH, the people miraculously climbed out of the car.  I mean, come on. That’s precision combat right there.

— huh?!

Charity 1 / Zachary 1

2. Do you go Black Friday shopping?

Zachary – Oh, heck yes! I actually love crowds, unlike anyone else in my family. We usually crash at my parents’ or my in-laws’ house on Thanksgiving night (because they live a ways away) and then I drag people with me — against their will — in the morning, because I don’t like hunting for deals by myself. But I also don’t like getting up super-early, so by the time we leave the house all the good deals are over and the good merch is gone.

Charity – Nice!! We are definitely Black Friday peeps. In fact, I think it is our favorite day of the year. It’s such a joyous occasion to be trapped in small buildings with thousands more than the fire code legally allows. One year, we were just doing our thing at Target…trying to wedge past people to get to the good “merch” when, out of nowhere, some psycho (let’s just call her Annie Wilkes) starts shopping out of our cart. She totally grabbed a bunch of our goods and took off. hahaha. We were just dying laughing because, that’s really all you can do so you don’t go postal in those situations. It was funny to see her running with our stuff under her arms.

— Again, we are both too cool for school.

Charity 2 / Zachary 2

3. What was your favorite song/band from your high school years?

Zachary – If you had asked me in high school, I would have used the question as an opportunity to plug my own garage band “(couch.)” (with the parentheses and period; those are part of the name).  We were a sort of prep-punk-rock wannabe. In reality, though, my favorite band was MxPx and my favorite song was called “Want Ad.”  Or was it “Missing You” by Value Pac? Wait, forget all that. My favorite song was Jesus Freak, as it is twenty years later and it’s still my ring tone. (Also here’s a link to a video of my then-five-year-old performing it as special music in church with a little help from me and his mom). Yeah, I have to say DC Talk was ultimately my favorite, in that I still hope to somehow finagle a hang with all of them before I die. It’s not looking really good at this point…although, through my buddy Cliff Graham,  I’ve got Kevin Max following me on Twitter, so I’m like 1% there.

Charity – Oh man! I love his little “whoop whoop”s in that! So cute! You can go wrong with a long crotch scratch during a song in front of church either. Oh man! Kids are awesome!!!

I loved MxPx. I like NoFX too. All those great, punk bands. My favorite song of high school days was…I am going to totally embarrass myself here.

— I can’t really compete with your little man singing Jesus Freak! I do wish he would have sang the “silly” version though…

Charity 2 / Zachary 3

4. So [Or you could go with “speaking of which,” as it segues nicely, no?], tobyMac is like 50 years old. No joke. Do you have the energy or talent to jump around stage and do back flips while rapping?

Zachary – Yes. Let me explain. This shrine is located in my basement:


That’s literally 25 years of Jolt Cola represented there.

Charity – Um, never heard of Jolt Cola. Looks….like something that DOES belong in your basement. And, I am insanely impressed if you can pull off some tobyMac moves.

It is my policy in life to never exert myself. So, I don’t.

— Jolt Moonshine gets that one!

Charity 2 / Zachary 4

5. Ever broken any bones?

Zachary – I’ve never had a cast, but I have freakishly wide feet, such that my second-smallest toe is where a normal person’s little toe would be, and then my little toe is hanging way out there, waiting to snag any and all furniture, walls, toys, whatever may be lurking in the dark. Both of my little toes have been broken many, many times over and are now just sad, battered little nubs of pain and regret.

Charity – Whyy!!!?????? Why did you have to bring that up?!?!

1240380_10153805051745018_1018665421_n 1625460_10153805436990018_1765619768_n

Last year I had an…incident. It was a clean break. Caught my toe on the side of my desk and it totally tore through the entire bone. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I had surgery, got a pin in it, waited a few weeks to get the pin out. THE. DAY. AFTER. I. GOT. THE. PIN. OUT. I. DID. THE. SAME. THING. TO. THE. SAME. TOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

— I win because I have pictures.

Charity 3 / Zachary 4

6. Worst pick-up line?

Zachary – When I first asked my wife out, it was 1995 and she was fifteen and I was seventeen. Actually, I didn’t ask her out. I just said, “So we’re doing something Friday.” Come to think of it, that was my best pick-up line because we got married five years later. I (wisely) haven’t used any pick-up lines since then.

Charity – Nice!!! Right to the point! My oldest son, a few years back, thought one of my friends was pretty. When she came over one day, he walked past her and dropped a sugar packet on the ground. He picked it up and handed it to her saying, “Hey! You dropped your name tag”. I was impressed. hahaha

— Your’s won you the girl!

Charity 3 / Zachary 5

7. Best crime/action show on tv?

Zachary – Best of all time? Easy: Breaking Bad. It’s not technically on TV anymore, but it’s on my TV frequently. Also, Better Call Saul is one of the most tightly-written things I’ve ever encountered. Oh, and Marvel’s Daredevil blew me away. Remember when people thought Netflix would kill TV? They were sort of right, except that it did it by raising everyone’s standards to the point that regular TV all seems just…sad.

Charity – Daredevil is really good! I agree. However, I think that Blacklist wins for me. I love that show! So awesome. My hubs and I are watching The Killing right now. It’s really good too.

— Tie

Charity 3 / Zachary 5

8. How do you strive to bring God the most glory in your life?

Zachary – I like John Piper’s twist on the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which reads “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Piper said that we might paraphrase it, “To glorify God by enjoying him forever.” When I find my satisfaction in Him and Him alone and do everything (whether I eat or drink or whatever I do, I Cor 10:31) in a way that increases my gratitude, rather than in a way that vies for my allegiance and affection, I bring Him glory. Or, as Dr. Piper puts it, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Charity – I know those phrases well! My son is studying to be a pastor, so we have learned a lot about the Westminster Cat (too hard to finish writing it out). And…Come on, that quote by John Piper has to be our family mantra. Love that man!

— God. Wins!

Charity 3 / Zachary 5

9. Have you ever taken a ride in a cop car?

Zachary – No, but I just wrote a scene for a Parker Saint sequel, in which a detective takes a ride on top of of one!

Charity – Boo! Doesn’t count!

A friend of mine is a cop and I went on a “Ride Along”. They make it sound like you are a child when you go. Ride Along. Anyway, it was amazing. He’s a K-9 cop and so he  took me out into the woods and had me try to run and hide from his dog. AH!! Scariest thing ever!!!!! I thought I was going to die from a dog or a crooked cop that I thought was my friend and had me run into the woods in the pitch black of night while he sent his dog after me.

— I totally get that one.

Charity 4 / Zachary 5

10. Do you have any trophies? If so, what from? 

Zachary – Ummmm…


Charity – hmm. Fail. Unless, of course, I was right about what Jolt really is. Then that would count.

I have a trillion piano and drum trophies. You know. Because I was that good and took home 20 gold medals in our local piano olympics. Believe me, it’s not as cool as it sounds.

— Woot! I get it!


Charity 5 / Zachary 5

20130805_its_a_tie_ta WOO HOO!!!! Nice!!!!

ThCustom-Balloon-design-toolank you so much, Zachary! This has been a blast!

GUESS WHAT, GUYS?? This is incredible because he has offered to give away 3 BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two copies of The Last Con and a copy of  Playing Saint! (Pics and links above). Just head on over to a Rafflecopter giveaway and start entering!!!

*US Rez only (We do love the rest of you too!)
** Entries will be checked, so don’t get yourself disqualified with false entries…

Face-Off with Lori Benton!!

I love, love, love Revolutionary War fiction and this author BRINGS IT! lori-benton Lori exploded onto the writing scene with her first book, Burning Sky. She won THREE of the prestigious Christy Awards right off the bat! BOOM!!

If you check out her blog, you’ll find some fun and interesting facts about her. Did you know that she is a cancer survivor? So awesome!! She also made me crave pound cake because she says she makes a mean huckleberry lemon pound cake. uh, yum.

Links are in the pics. Hurry up and check because The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is on sale until the end of the month for $1.99!!!!

Let’s play!!

zFgZKgk-oCZurC0MOD55O4cOxhDG3RJ8MW0397YqoRT4BF_gZJfOXcNaQNQl_HfprAT7fbje1asR6WTNJljWfxIXTt8fDvHgSMD4iesbUUoVON7axAgKVaJWILaAo76mNYMcj_mKWwgi-Wly2-zAOO1-zr7DmUahT9ahd1z576-iB_j-tTIfDWXy-4DFFF-vPpf_wPwLq_7XTelgtbAAOv_Mmfjb7K313The rules are simple. I ask Lori some random questions. She replies and then I give my answers. Each winning answer is worth one point and I get to decide whose answer is better.

It’s my blog.

Here we go!

1. Have you ever returned used make-up because you didn’t like the shade?

Lori – No, I’ve never done that. Who does that? 😉

Charity – I haven’t either! Stores made a new policy a few years back saying that you can return it if you don’t like it! I thought that was crazy, but cool. How many times have you bought a shade of something that looked good on the shelf, but awful on yourself! (that totally rhymed!)

— Tie

Charity 0 / Lori 0

2. Favorite reality show? Why?

Lori – I had my fill of reality TV in the 80s when Funniest Home Videos started showing people getting hurt. Give me scripted drama, please. Story Rules!

Charity – BOOOO!!!! I love, LOVE reality tv!! Survivor is my first love ❤

— Me!!!

Charity 1 / Lori 0

3. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made to a movie, who would you choose and for which character?

Lori – How to choose just one?!Jason+O+Mara+63rd+Annual+Primetime+Emmy+Awards+C7FaZqcZphGl Okay, I envision actor Jason O’Mara in the role of Major Reginald Aubrey in The Wood’s Edge.

Charity – Nice! He’s fierce!! I have never heard of him 😮

— Lori!!

Charity 1 / Lori 1

4. What’s the worst store to be stuck in on Black Friday?

Lori – Ugh. ANY store. I’m so not a shopper and I never ever shop on that day. But I’ll go with Walmart where I wouldn’t want to be stuck any day.

Charity – Oh, no. ToysRus is EVIL!!!! It’s so small and the entry and exit are on opposite sides of the store. You have to go through the entire store and break through all the people in line just to get out. HORRIBLE!!

We are AVID Black Friday shoppers. AVID, I tell you!!!


Charity 2 / Lori 1

5. Have you ever been on a safari?

Lori – Does driving through the Bison Range in Moise, Montana count? We saw buffalo, big-horn sheep, pronghorn antelope, deer and elk and a spectacular rainbow over the rugged Mission Mountains. We were actually in among the buffalo herd at one point (they were spread out across the winding dirt road we followed). It was the nursery section. Buffalo calves everywhere. We opened the van door, set up the camera tripod, and got some great shots.

Charity – Oh man! Yes, that totally counts!!!! I haven’t had anything cool like that.

I did go on the safari at Animal Kingdom! haha

— Thats crazy! You definitely get that one!!

Charity 2 / Lori 2

6. How did your parents choose your name?

Lori – I don’t know that I’ve ever asked. I guess they just liked the name. They were going to call me Lori Jean and changed it to Lori Lynn at the last minute though. Maybe I didn’t look like a Jean.

Charity – ha 🙂 Nice! My parents scare me when they tell the story. They were going to split up but decided to give their marriage another chance. Fell back in love and…. “made me”. ugh. Named me Charity (means love).

Glad their marriage worked out…but, please! Nobody should have to hear their parents talking about “making a baby”. hahaha. Well, I do like to torture our kids and kiss my hubby in front of them and talk about needing “alone time”. They hate it. It’s awesome. HAHA! Secretly, they love knowing we are happy 🙂

— I totally get that one!

Charity 3 / Lori 2

7. Worst spider story?

Lori – We have a bank of ivy in my yard that I trim back every year. It’s chock full of black widow spiders. I always wear gloves, long sleeves, and rake through a section of ivy to give fair warning before I start trimming. Even so, one year I had a black widow jump off a vine and scuttle up my arm. Rake and clippers flew as I dealt with this assault and entertained the neighbors with a mad little dance on the sidewalk.

Charity – ahhh!! AHHHH! Black Widow? Mother!!!!

I don’t have any that come close. *shudder* I would like to keep it that way!!

— Black Widow attack!

Charity 3 / Lori 3

8. How do you strive to bring God the most glory in your life?

Lori – For me, bringing God glory is a matter of getting out of his way and letting him shine.

Charity – Simple! Not over thinking it. I like!

— God!!

Charity 3 / Lori 3

9. Have you ever taken any form of martial arts?

Lori – No, but I wish I had. I think it would be fun.

Charity – oooh!! I have! I have!!

Kali!! A Filipino knife and stick fighting martial art. Sooooo fun!!


— ME!!! I am doing pretty well today!!!

Charity 4 / Lori 3

10. What candle/lotion scent do you absolutely hate?

Lori – No real hating here, but I don’t usually care for flowery scents. Although lavender is nice (the real lavender, right off the plant).

Charity – I am the same. My favorite scents are foooood. Like Pumpkin! Yum!!!

— tie


Charity 4 / Lori 3

Oh. My. Gosh.


Thank you, Lori! Girl, you made my day!! I never win these things!!!! Favim.com-20355

I am changing up our image. GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Lori is AMAZING and she has offered to give away READER’S CHOICE! Yes, that means you can pick which of her books you haven’t read yet! Oh man. So awesome!!!

Just head on over to a Rafflecopter giveaway and start entering!!

*U.S. Rez only (We do love the rest of you too…)

**Entries checked. Falsified ones get the boot!!