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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Guest Blogger Darlene Franklin

Welcome guest blogger, Darlene Franklin, as she shares about her new book.

Blurb: When Mahala Kent’s tea party honoring her brother’s marriage turns into a brawl over tea, she’s forced out of her wealthy neutrality. A public debate on the subject pushes her even closer to her childhood friend and hoped-for suitor, Jothan Stout. Will the arrival of a tea shipment in Greenwich push Jothan and Mahala further apart—or give them a common taste for herbal infusions?

How did I come up with the idea for Infusion of Love? A few years ago, while Barbour was publishing four-novella Christmas collections, I discovered that there were at least four tea protests in the Colonies besides the famous Boston Tea Party.  Both the first and the last tea “events” took place at Christmas time, so we proposed a collection called A Tea Party Christmas

The other authors were very interested in Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, so I took Greenwich, NJ, by default. I also have an interest in New Jersey, because I attended college there. Since it was the last of the tea events, and I called my story The Last Tea Party

Barbour changed its policies and the collection fizzled until my new publisher, Forget Me Not Romances, put together a collection called Teacup Courtships, which are all historical. A Touch of Sugar by Cynthia Hickey is also available at this time. They are paired with Mocha Marriages, which are contemporary. There will be five titles in each collection.

Of course The Last Tea Party came to mind, but I had to change the title. The editor and I brainstormed a title, and since the patriots drank herbal infusions instead of British tea, we decided on Infusion of Love. I confess I fell in love with the story as I was writing it. Writing a brawl scene with the best of Greenwich’s ladies in 1774 was a blast—as was imagining what it was like to steal tea from a warehouse in the middle of town and burn it to the ground. 

I hope you enjoy reading this journey into our beginnings as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Bio: Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happily-ever-after Review of Beyond the Silence

Lillian Porter has lived a sheltered life while being raised by her grandparents. Deep down she longs to pursue the dream her parents had of traveling to California. Despite her grandfather's forbidding, she accepts a position as nanny and heads to Angels Camp.

Woodward Colton's seven-year-old son hasn't spoken since his mother's death a year prior. Woody is praying his new nanny will make a difference in the boy's life. What he hadn't counted on was the sweeping changes she brings to his life as well.

I have really enjoyed reading Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. They brought together two unlikely characters to provide a fun, enjoyable book. I found myself rooting for both Lillian and Woody, and I was eager to see the mystery solved. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 for happily-ever-afters.

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House - 2016.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Welcome Amanda Cabot

Here we are in February already. Today I'd like to welcome author, Amanda Cabot. How did you develop a 'love of story'?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading.  My parents were avid readers, and I suspect I either inherited that or learned it from them.  They’d read me stories at nap and bedtime, and I’d see them reading grown-up books at other times of the day.  Since I wanted to be like the grown-ups, it’s hardly a surprise that I tried to reach myself to read.  And, once I learned to read, books became my almost constant companions.

So many authors I interview have developed the love of story through reading. When do you fit writing into your day?

I’m a very disciplined writer. Some (including my husband) might call me compulsive, so you won’t be surprised to learn that I have a fairly rigid writing schedule. It begins after breakfast and ends at noon. During that time I do as much “real” writing as I can, making sure that I complete two chapters each week. If I don’t get those chapters finished by noon on Friday, you’ll find me writing during the afternoon and on Saturday, but normally I use those times for social media and promotional activities.

That's something I need to work on more as a writer - consistent discipline. :) What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; do not be afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (KJV) There are times when I’m afraid and even more when I’m dismayed, so this verse gives me the comfort I need to endure those times. What a wonderful promise our Lord has given us in this verse!

Great reminder. Can you tell us a little bit about your new book?

A woman without a future. A man running from the past.
One enchanting place where broken dreams are mended.

If there’s one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it’s a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. Unsure about the next phase in her life, she heads to Rainbow’s End Resort for some R&R when a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash right in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin’s wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He has spent the past year wandering the country on his motorcycle, trying not to think about the future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God’s sense of humor.

As these broken people collide, they find that a bright future is still ahead—it just might not be the one they imagined for themselves.

LOL. I can imagine a number of sparks flying in this tale. :) Is there something about you most people wouldn’t know?

I had a brief stint as an acquisitions editor for a technical publication. What an eye-opening experience that was! It gave me great empathy for the problems editors encounter – everything from incomprehensible prose to writers who are so convinced that their work is perfect that they refuse to make revisions. I’d like to think I’m a better writer as a result of that.

I imagine it gave you a great look at the 'other side' of writing. What does your writing space look like?

When I had a day job, I used to write everywhere from a corner of the guest room in our home to airport lounges, airplanes and hotels.  Now that I’ve retired from that job, I have a dedicated office, complete with a desk for writing by hand (yes, I still scribble portions of my writing, and, believe me, “scribble” is no exaggeration) as well as a separate computer workstation.  It’s wonderful being able to close the door and immerse myself in my characters’ lives.

I love immersing myself in my characters' lives too. :) Where can readers connect with you?

One of my greatest pleasures is hearing from readers, and so I encourage them to visit my web site, where they’ll find email links, or to connect with me via Facebook, Twitter or my blog. Here are the links:

Thank you for stopping by today, Amanda. It's been a pleasure getting to know you. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win February's giveaway. It's a surprise this month :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ground Hog Day and Winners!

Happy Ground Hog Day! No, I don't believe a rodent can predict the weather. Either way we have six more weeks of winter. :) I say, bring it on, I'm ready for more snow. The three feet we received a week and a half ago is melting way to fast to suit me.

The winner of Vannetta Chapman's new book, Joshua's Mission is Pegg Thomas.
The January winner of With This Ring is Kristy Kreymer.

Congratulations! Both of you will be hearing from me.

Be watching in the next few days as I unveil the giveaway for February. I'm still working on that one.

We have a busy month coming up with lots of opportunities to leave a comment for your chance at the giveaway.

Feb 3 - Amanda Cabbot Interview
Feb 4 - Book Review of Beyond the Silence
Feb 6 - Guest Blogger Darlene Franklin
Feb 10 - Angela Strong Interview
Feb 12 - Book Review of If I Run
Feb 13 - Guest Blogger Elaine Stock
Feb 17 - Rebecca Jepson Interview
Feb 19 - Book Review of Kissed by a Cowboy
Feb 24 - Joi Copeland Interview
Feb 27 - Guest Blogger Debbie Lynne Costello

Praying you have a blessed day!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Joshua’s Mission – Finding romance and grace in the midst of disaster (Guest Blogger Vannetta Chapman)

 Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today. I’m very excited about the release of Joshua’s Mission (2-1-16), which is book 2 in my Plain & Simple Miracles series. This book is a Christian romance story, but some of you may wonder … how do you find romance in the midst of a disaster? And how is this sort of story about the grace of God? Great questions!

First a short description of the story. Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A budding romance? A call from God? A possible healing of his relationship with his brother? Joshua’s Mission is a story of love, forgiveness, and the grace of God that carries us through even the worst situations.

1. Romance? I love writing romance. I adore happily-ever-after, and I can find those stories in just about any situation. Middle of a hurricane? No problem. While your brother is intent on finding trouble with the law? Yeah. I can do that. During a recovery mission? Absolutely! I think love is, literally, all around us. And sometimes, it’s when we have trouble in our lives that we’re most open to a new relationship.
 2. Grace? Disasters are a terrible thing. If you’ve ever experienced a first hand natural disaster, or been on site soon after one, you know what I mean. It’s heartbreaking to see people’s lives ripped apart. So how can we possibly have a story about grace in such a terrible situation?

The answer is in the way that we comfort one another. Christ told us to be His hands and feet, and during disasters we find people doing that very thing. We put down our cell phones, unplug from the internet, turn off the television, and we become involved with each other’s lives.

I had the awesome chance to experience this recently after we had massive flooding in central Texas. On May 25, 2015, the towns of Wimberley and San Marcos were hit by catastrophic flooding from the Blanco River. The river crested at an estimated 41.5 feet, nearly 30 feet above flood stage. Lives were lost. Homes were destroyed. But the people in the area pulled together. Volunteers showed up in droves. Donations came in. Rebuilding began. The experience I had helping one family certainly changed my outlook. As one of the men told my husband, “We had no idea where to begin, and then you all showed up. You gave us hope.” Wow. Grace in the midst of disaster.
 3. Fiction. Joshua’s Mission is a fictional account of a hurricane that hits the Texas gulf, but I was able to use first hand testimonies of hurricane victims in other areas, my own experience working on an emergency response team, and interviews with people in the area to weave together a story. There’s a little romance and a whole lot of grace.  I hope that you’ll give it a try.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever experienced a natural disaster or helped in a recovery effort? If not, maybe you know someone who has. Tell us your story.

Vannetta Chapman

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award winner for best mystery. Chapman was a teacher for 15 years and currently writes full time. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

Be sure to leave a comment today because Vannetta has graciously offered to give away a copy of Joshua's Mission. Don't forget you still have a chance for January's monthly giveaway too, but you have to leave a comment. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Terri Wangard

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a friend of mine. We met at my first ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Indianapolis, IN in 2009. We've stayed in contact throughout the years.

Welcome, Terri Wangard. What is the farthest place from home that you've traveled?

Australia. For twenty years I globetrotted. Mostly cruises and a few tours. One cruise was New Zealand and Australia. That plane flight is one long time to sit. Fortunately, I was able to use my miles and upgrade to business class. The day we visited the New Zealand fjords was rainy, so instead of seeing the beautiful vistas, we saw lots of waterfalls. And the sea was so rough while crossing the Tasmanian Sea, we had to skip our stop at Hobart, Tasmania.

Wow! That looks like fun. I've always wanted to see Australia and New Zealand. How did you develop a 'love of story'?

Before bed, my mom would read to us. That instilled the love of books in me. One of my favorite things to do while growing up was visit the North Branch of the Green Bay library. I think it may have been a Carnegie library. That building is long gone, but I can still see it. In the door, around the bookshelf to the left, and there was the children’s section. I loved the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books. I never outgrew my love of libraries. In fact, I have a Master’s of Library Science degree, although I no longer work in a library.

I think most writers have a love of libraries. :) Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?

For my debut novel, I used a batch of letters written in 1946-8 from distant cousins in Germany who were receiving care packages from my grandparents. The letters don’t share much about their experiences during the war or what they thought of the Nazis. So I created a story for them, using what I did know, such as the city they lived in, the factory they owned, two girls and a boy in the family (although I changed their ages), and the uncle who was a POW in Russia.

I hadn't realized you based it on part of your family heritage. That's really neat. What is the genre you write in?

Historical. On the cover of Friends and Enemies, a subtitle reads A World War II Romance. I’m not too comfortable with that. I wrote the original version of F&E as a historical romance, but got clobbered in contests. “That’s not a romance. They have to be together most of the time.” When I did the rewrite, I deliberately held it to just a touch of romance. After all, the main characters had recently lost their spouses. Book Three in the series could go either way.

That sounds exciting. What do you plan to work on next?

All three books in my Promise For Tomorrow series release this year, in January, May, and September. I’ll be a one-year wonder! Meanwhile, I’m writing another WWII story about a seaman, his Rosie-the-Riveter wife, her WAC sister, and a grasshopper pilot. After that I intend to switch to an earlier era.

You'll have a busy year! Where do you get ideas?

All three books in my series featured the B-17 Flying Fortress. I opted for B-17s because I needed an American in Germany before the army invaded in late ‘44. The only Americans before then were shot-down airmen.

When I wrote the next books in the series, I kept the B-17 for continuity. All the male heroes are navigators. For the women, I wanted something that hasn’t been done. For No Neutral Ground, she’s an American in neutral Sweden and in Soar Like Eagles, I have a Red Cross doughnut girl in England and France.

Sounds like a great series, Terri. :) What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

I don’t have one favorite. One of my favorites is the verse used in Friends and Enemies. Psalm 31: 14-15 “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” God is in control. Knowing that makes all the difference in the world.

Amen. Is there something about you most people wouldn’t know?

I used to be a competitive swimmer. During my junior high years, I was on a YMCA swim team. I did well in the state, and missed the nationals one year by one second. Nationals were held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a side trip to Disney World was planned. I wanted to go! And I did, but not as a competitor. My dad drove the bus to Florida, so while my sister and the rest of the competitors had to practice, the rest of my family and I spent time on the beach.

 So you were able to have fun with your family. :) Thanks for stopping by today, Terri.

Next week Amanda Cabbot will be here sharing about her writing life. Don't forget to leave a comment for your final opportunity to win this month's giveaway.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Welcome Connie Almony

I feel like I'm in a time warp lately and the weeks are flying by while I'm staying still. How does that happen? :) It's a new week to get to know an author better. Today we're chatting with Connie Almony.

Welcome Connie. Here's our standby question.... how did you develop a love of story? :)

I’d have to say my love of story actually came from old movies—musicals mostly. I always love the sensory immersion of musicals. I didn’t read a lot of fiction until I hit my twenties and felt like I’d discovered a whole new world. This one was richer than the one on the screen because it invited my mind to expand on the descriptions given, making the story, characters, and scenery even more to my liking. Better yet, I could take this story with me everywhere, and it lasted longer than movies.

Ooh. I love that description. :) How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?

It has everything to do with it. When I first began to write, I really only wanted to tell regular stories within a biblical framework, not meaning to make it overly spiritual. However, God is such a central figure in my life, I couldn’t write without making Him an integral figure in the book. How do you write a story where people overcome great challenges and not mention Him? To me, it’s like writing about Superman and not say he flies. If you don’t describe his superpowers, it’s like ignoring the elephant in the living room. After I thought about it a bit, I realized, every story is about God, so it’s unfulfilled if He’s left out. For that reason, God will always be a significant factor in all my books.

I know exactly what you mean. God is an integral part of my stories too. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

Whenever I get asked this question, I feel like I need to give two. I was not brought up to study the Bible or memorize verses. I was in my late twenties when I began. The first I’d memorized was Psalm 77:3, “I remembered you, O God, and I groaned.” I’ve always loved this because it speaks of my life at that point when I’d realized how much I’d drifted away from Him, and yet He was still there, waiting for me. The groan I felt at the time served two purposes. One, it was a groan of disappointment in myself for having gotten lost. Two, it was a groan of relief in being back in His presence once again.

My other favorite verse is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” This is a guiding verse. Whenever you don’t know what to do, at least you always know step one—seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness—and then the rest will come to you. There is peace in that!

Amen. Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?

The inspiration for my latest novel, Flee from Evil, actually came from a Mel Gibson movie almost twenty years ago—Ransom. It was about a man whose son is kidnapped and he has to find a way to get him back. I’d just begun to read Christian fiction, so every time I watched a movie I wondered how it could have been done from a Christian worldview. I also tend to love romances, so I began to weave a little romance into my wonderings. A little while later, the idea of A pastor with a past who uses his underworld connections to save the child of the woman he wronged many years ago was born. It took many twists and turns, characters added and subtracted, settings adjusted, details polished, over the decade-plus years, until it became what it is today—Nothing like the Mel Gibson movie that inspired it.

That's an interesting way to come up with a book idea. :) Do you have a favorite scene in your newest release?

The pizza analogy scene. At least that’s what I call it. It was inspired by a discussion I’d had with my daughter one night when we’d ordered a pizza. Because my son and I are gluten free, we couldn’t have any, so we got McDonald’s French fries on the way home from church. Since my daughter was going to get pizza, she didn’t get fries. She was jealous, of course, until she got home, but the smell of fries made her feel very deprived. Believe it or not, this led to a discussion on why it is important to dress modestly so as not to be waving tempting food in front of someone who isn’t going to get any. It’s just not nice. She totally got that!

In the book, the young teen is coming to grips with her burgeoning figure. Discovering that it gives her a certain power with the “hot guy,” she decides to see what that “power” can do. The pastor (with a past) sets her straight by talking about pizza.

LOL, that's quite a tangent. What do you plan to work on next?

I am currently working on a novella for a Christian Romantic Suspense multi-author anthology, called Smoke and Mirrors. The working title of my novella is The Long View. It’s about a man who’d been fired by the FBI, getting involved with a home-grown terrorist cell at the request of his neighbor. It’s been kind of creepy over the last month or so, seeing some of what I’m writing about play out in the news. Even the names I’d chosen for characters. I can’t help but wonder if God was telling me this was the right story for just the right time.

Sounds interesting. Thanks for stopping by today. Before you leave, where can readers connect with you?

I’m on most major social media sites

And readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website

Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this month's giveaway.

Next week, debut author Terri Wangard will be stopping by for a visit.