INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Regina Rudd Merrick

Hello, readers! I have, yet again, another fabulous author for you to meet! This author is someone I came to be in touch with through one of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) genre pages–the ACFW Romance Facebook page. This is, again, one of the amazing pluses to being a part of something like the ACFW. Having a place where you can connect and exchange information and bounce ideas off other authors in your genre. Authors ask questions, share thoughts, celebrate successes, and encourage each other on these genre pages. Just to note…I’m also on the ACFW Historical Fiction Facebook page.

But I digress…today, I would like to introduce you to Author Regina Rudd Merrick. She is here today to talk about her Southern Breeze Series and is offering a giveaway (details to follow)! But I’ll quit vamping and get right to Regina:

Thanks for being on my blog, Regina! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Carolina Mercy is book two in the Southern Breeze Series, published by Mantle Rock Publishing, LLC. It released in July of this year. Book one, Carolina Dream, tells the story of Sarah, a girl from Kentucky who goes to South Carolina to claim an inheritance, and finds more than an inheritance – she finds love. In book two, Sarah’s friend Lucy comes to South Carolina in the aftermath of a tragedy in her life, reconnecting with a man she met the year before, but has not been in contact for months after what seemed to be a terrific date. Tom has had trials of his own, and they’re not over. There’s family issues, a hurricane, and a wedding in this novel – and some of the issues overlap!

I love sequels like this…where the author picks up a thread from the first book and carries that story to more fullness. What was the inspiration for Carolina Mercy?

After writing Carolina Dream, I knew I wanted to continue with Lucy and Tom. The characters were just too much fun to ignore!

Fun! Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

No, I didn’t always dream of being a writer! When I was a child, I went through the phases of nurse, teacher, and mommy. Then secretary. I ultimately became a librarian (and a mommy!), which introduced me to the world of Christian Fiction.

That sounds like a dream job…to be surrounded by books! And teaching others the love of the written word!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I first considered becoming a writer when I began writing fan fiction about the television show “Sue Thomas:FBEye,” based on the true story of a deaf F.B.I. Analyst. It was produced by Christians, and never shied away from religious undertones OR overtones. I found a site dedicated to people who didn’t want the show to end, so we kept it alive in fan fiction world. The feedback I received from that, as well as some now-published authors on the site that invited me to join a small group with them for writers pursuing publication were what made me think about it more seriously.

That’s wonderful! My first writing was fan fiction as well. But for science fiction…now I write Clean Historical Romance…go figure! I love about the Christian Fiction writing world that authors are so encouraging and helpful!

What part of the writing process do you dread? There’s always something…

The blank page. Once I get started, I’m fine, but it’s like a new job every single time. I’m currently working on my fourth novel, and I’ve approached all four in a different way, as far as plotting goes!

I can relate! You probably already know this, but it’s so important we keep learning. Some of that comes through critique groups, conferences, online classes, craft books…but a lot of what we learn, I believe, comes intuitively through reading others’ work. What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading A. H. Gabhart’s second “Hidden Springs” novel, Murder by Mail. It’s kind of “Mitford with a mystery!”

What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

If I listen to music, it has to be easy listening instrumental. I’m a church musician – piano and vocal – so it’s very easy for me to get sucked into singing along or thinking about the lyrics. My favorite Pandora stations are the Chris Rice channel and the Jim Brickman channel!

Jim Brickman! You are speaking my language. I do only instrumental as well. Actually…same for the same reason 🙂

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I tend to take care of business in the morning, then around lunchtime, or after, I can concentrate on writing. I have a corner of a guest bedroom where I have my desk. Funny thing – My desk has been in a different place for each novel. I’m hoping to keep it here for a while! It’s upstairs and quiet!

I know it’s different for each writer…and can be different for each work…but readers are always curious: How long does it take you to write a book?

I’m really not sure! I would say about 5-6 months. The lines get blurry when you’re in edits AND writing a new book!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’d love to! I’m currently working on two projects: a new series based on a brother-sister renovation company, set in Kentucky, and a novella collection set on beaches and islands with three other Mantle Rock authors! The first book in the new series, hopefully, will be released next summer, and the novella collection is scheduled to release in September 2019!

How exciting! I LOVE novella collections. I am really partial to that “good afternoon read” that I can pick up and finish in a couple of hours.

Thanks again, Regina, for being on the blog. And for sharing about your book series and your process. So, without further ado, I’ll let my readers check out your novel:

Carolina Mercy

She’s always gotten everything she’s wanted. He thinks he has to give up everything.

Her best friend’s wedding is foremost on Lucy Dixon’s radar. Her biggest concern is once again meeting Tom Livingston, who has ignored her since an idyllic date on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach the previous summer.

At least, it is her biggest concern until tragedy strikes. Where is her loving, merciful God, now?

When Tom Livingston meets Lucy, the attraction is instant. Soon after, his mother is diagnosed with an untreatable illness and his personal life is pushed aside. His work with the sheriff’s department, his family – they are more important. He knows about the love of God, but circumstances make him feel as if God’s mercy is for everyone else, not him.

Can a wedding and a hurricane – blessing and tragedy – bring them together?

Enjoy an Excerpt

from Chapter One

Lucy Dixon wanted it to be a bad dream, but it wasn’t.

Auto pilot. It was the only way she was getting through this. Daddy was dead. Two other workers lay in the hospital in critical condition because he’d pushed himself in front of them before the explosion. Grandmommy was burying her son, and she was burying her father.

Another group of friends reached the casket, and she braced herself for their condolences. If she had to do this much longer, she feared she would run from the room screaming.

And then he came.

Tom. She hadn’t heard from him in eight months.

“Now who in the world is that tall drink of water?”

Lucy took a deep breath and tried to slow her heartbeat. “It’s Tom Livingston, Grandmommy. The man I told you about from South Carolina. I guess he came with Sarah and Jared.”

“Is Sarah’s young man, Jared, the boy with the dark hair and eyes?”

“He is.”

“Well, no wonder she’s stayin’ in South Carolina.”

“Grandmommy, behave.”

Buy Links

Amazon – paperback

Amazon – Kindle

More About the Author

Regina Rudd Merrick is a writer, church musician, wife, mother, former librarian, and grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Having lived most of her life in Western Kentucky, she dreams of the sound of crashing waves and sandy beaches. Married to her husband of 35 years, she is the mother of two grown daughters, and the keeper of a 100-year-old house where she lives in the small town of Marion, KY. She is the author of three books: Carolina Dream (Apr. 2017), Carolina Mercy (July 2018), and coming in Feb. 2019, Carolina Grace in the Southern Breeze Series.

Connect with Regina and her writing

Email: rmerrick.writing@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Regina-R-Merrick-512257938964888/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/trmerrick64

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reginamerrick/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rmerrick/

Website: https://www.reginaruddmerrick.com

Publisher Website: https://mantlerockpublishing.com/

GIVEAWAY!

Regina is offering a giveaway! One (1) ebook version of Carolina Mercy. Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Darcy Fornier

Hello, readers! I have another fantastic treat for you today. Author Darcy Fornier, whom I met through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), is on my blog today talking about her Christmas novella! And she is offering a giveaway! I won’t ramble on, but let you get right to Darcy…

Thanks for being on my blog today, Darcy. First, can you tell us a little about your novella.

My novella, Season of Forgiveness, is one of a set of inspirational Christmas romances (five novellas and five poems). Several ladies in my local writers’ group partnered together on this project (including my sister!). Here’s the blurb for my story:

Ruby Larson adopted Ivy Carlyle as her granddaughter when Ivy helped her arrange her funeral. When Ruby’s estranged grandson, Denver Reese, appears, Ivy is reluctant to share Ruby’s attention. As the two plan Ruby’s Christmas, unexpected attraction draws them closer. But Ivy’s painful past challenges their friendship.

How sweet! A collection…and including your sister too! What was the inspiration for Season of Forgiveness?

I wanted to give my hero and heroine a kind of unusual but purposeful project to draw them together, so I got the idea that they could create a “perfect Christmas” for an elderly lady who lives in a nursing home. Ruby Larson, the grandmother in my story, is loosely inspired by a sweet lady, Ada Mae, who was a third grandmother to me, although I didn’t have enough room in the novella to include much of Ada Mae’s keen wit. 🙂

Inspiration really does come from anywhere…but I love when characters are based on real people!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

No, I wanted to be a nurse. I dreamed of writing a book, but I didn’t dream of being a writer. Now I’m definitely a writer, with all a writer’s quirks, as my sisters can attest. 🙂

Funny…I myself was determinedly headed for Medical School…look at us now!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It started around my senior year of high school. Took me about two years to figure it out for sure.

I believe we, as writers, are always learning…especially from other writers. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Find a critique partner who understands and loves the heart of your story (and whose work you love, even if it’s a different genre than you write). This could take some trial and error, but it’s worth it. They’ll be able to give suggestions that enhance the story wonderfully, and they’ll also cheer you on when you need encouragement.

As much as we learn from each other through advice, I believe we also learn from reading others’ works. What are you currently reading?

I’m rereading The Christmas Bride by Grace Livingston Hill. The story starts before Thanksgiving, so it’s the perfect book to usher in the Christmas season. 🙂

I typically set the “mood” for my writing sessions…music included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Depends on the story. For my Christmas novella, I listened to some Christmas music to help get the holiday feel in the middle of the summer. 🙂 For my medieval adventure stories, I sometimes listen to classical music from the Baroque period (Bach, Vivaldi, etc.). But most often I listen to household noises. My “office” is next to the laundry room, so I listen to a lot of dryer. 🙂

LOL! I hear ya. I listen to a lot of ‘kid’ noise while writing. They certainly know how to distract a writer.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the story. I wrote Season of Forgiveness in about three months, nine if you count from when the idea took root. Took me eight years to get my first novel from first draft to final draft. LOL

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

All of the novellas in this collection center around an inspiration from a character or element of the Christmas story. My story’s element is the myrrh brought by the wisemen. I was actually unable to attend the brainstorming meeting, but the other ladies came up with the idea for Myrrh Funeral Home. Since I find the fourth verse of “We Three Kings” especially powerful, I couldn’t resist trying the idea. But if myrrh isn’t your thing, the other stories in the collection feature inspiration from the innkeeper, the angels, the wisemen, and the midwife who might have helped at Jesus’ delivery. 🙂

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

It’s funny that the first story I published is a contemporary Christian romance because I’m really a historical kind of girl. I just finished the final draft of a young adult medieval adventure novel, so I’m in the process of publishing independently. After that comes a sequel that’s still in the outlining phase.

Historical…you’re speaking my language! Can’t wait to see them!

Thanks, again, Darcy, for being on the blog and for sharing about your work. Now, I’ll let everyone check out the novella:

Season of Forgiveness

Enjoy an Excerpt

Denver blinked at the puffy-haired woman lying horizontal in a recliner. How did his grandmother know him? When he’d texted Uncle Clint to ask for her address, his uncle had promised not to tell her anything about him coming. “Uh, hi. Were you expecting me?” Drat, this was awkward.

“Been expecting you since you turned eighteen.”

Well. He laughed, half in shock, and glanced at the black-haired girl in the wingback chair. She smiled, but not at him. At his grandmother.

The elderly lady leaned forward until her recliner rose into a sitting position. “Hoping you’d come, that is. It’s good to see you.” She gestured to the bed covered in a floral quilt. “Have a seat.”

The girl shot to her feet. “Here, take the chair.” She skirted the recliner’s footrest and perched on the edge of the bed.

Feeling like an exhibit in the zoo, he sat down in the red chair and unzipped his jacket. They sure kept it warm in here. “So.” He hardly knew where to start. Lord, this is so awkward. “How did you recognize me?”

“Pictures.” His grandmother pointed to the wall across from her. To the right of the TV, frames covered the wall. Small copies of his school photos filled one twelve-slot frame. Dallas’s pictures filled another. Random photos from get-togethers with Clint’s family showed him from earliest childhood to graduation from college.

“Wow. Uncle Clint had those printed for you?”

“He said Audrey gave him permission.”

Now that was interesting. Mom had never mentioned it.

“Let me introduce my granddaughter, Ivy Carlyle.”

Granddaughter? Denver jerked his gaze from the photo wall to the girl across from him. Ivy sat up painfully straight, ankles crossed, hands folded in her lap. Pretty face, polite smile, guarded eyes. But who was she? Ruby Larson didn’t have any other children—unless Mom had kept that a secret, too. “I … don’t understand.”

“Nice to meet you, too.” Ivy’s smile spread to her eyes.

His grandmother burst into laughter.

Denver felt like a high schooler again.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Darcy Fornier (pronounced forn-yay) believes the best stories provide clean, compelling entertainment while also provoking the reader to think about life in a new way. She’s been spinning stories ever since she learned how to play “pretend,” and she has seriously pursued writing since 2013. When she isn’t writing, editing, or dreaming up a story, you might find her washing dishes, “dissolved” in a book, playing the piano, hiking in the woods, singing at the top of her lungs, or talking up a storm with her sisters. At six years old, she gave her heart to Jesus, and she lives to know Him more. She makes her home with her parents and two younger sisters, wherever that happens to be.

Connect with Darcy and her books

Website: http://darcyfornier.com

Newsletter: http://darcyfornier.com/connect/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarcyFornierWriter

Blog: https://peculiarmissdarcy.wordpress.com

GIVEAWAY

Now for the giveaway…Darcy is offering one (1) Kindle copy of the novella collection, The Heart of Christmas. It features five novellas (one hers) and five poems.

Blurb: Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

To enter, please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter.

 

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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Hannah R. Conway’s “Christmas On a Mission”

Christmas on a Mission – My Review

This is the highly anticipated Christmas novella by contemporary women’s fiction writer Hannah R. Conway. And it certainly aims high. Conway writes women’s fiction “with a military flair”. A military wife herself, she is truly able to bring that lifestyle to the reader in a way that is interesting and real. This book is not your typical “feel good” Christmas novella, although it certainly has it’s “feel good” moments. But it has grit, too. The characters are deeper than so much of the fluff that’s out there today. And as is true to reality, they just have some rough places, some raw edges. Places where they are vulnerable…will they let themselves be open? This story will take you up and down. But leave you in a good place and in the mood for some egg nog, hot Dr. Pepper, or wassail (whichever is your holiday drink of choice).

I highly recommend it! Hot cocoa and all!

Interview

Even though I was already doing a review, Hannah graciously agreed to come on the blog today and share with us about her book. 

Welcome, Hannah, and thanks for being here. First, can you tell us a little about your novella?

Christmas on a Mission has all the holiday feels. Laughter, tears, log cabins, snow, tasty recipes, helpful hearts, and a ROMANCE! Truly, this book was a joy to write, and I’m beyond excited to share it with my readers out there!

It certainly has all that…and more! What was the inspiration for Christmas On a Mission?

Mailing care packages to children and soldiers gave me the inspiration for this novel. For years we’ve sent care package to my husband while he was overseas, and for years we packed shoeboxes for children through Operation Christmas Child. I wondered “What if I could know the impact one of these packages could have?” The idea continued to grow.

Inspiration comes from everywhere, but this time, it seems to have struck pretty close to your heart. And it reads that way. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In the 1st Grade…when I started stealing eggs from the refrigerator to save them from certain death. I carried them to our barn, made a nest, and tried to raise them like any good mother hen would do, but they never hatched. Broke my 1st grade heart. Writing about the trauma helped, but it seemed my writing made others laugh and I somehow ended up winning a 1st Grade Young Writers contest. After that, figured I should just keep on telling stories.

What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing.

Enough said. However, it’s not too bad…but it’s definitely not my fave.

Readers generally like to know…what are you currently reading?

I’ve got a few books going at once. I know it’s a bit strange, but my brain just demands multiple books. Right now I’m reading The Immortal Diamond by Richard Rhor, The Story Equation by Susan May Warren, and Trail of Fears by Sara R. Turnquist.

What a second…Sara R. Turnquist…that’s me!! And that one is such a work of my heart.

Back to you, though…can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Something about Christmas on a Mission that’s not in the blurb…hmmm. How about, this is the FIRST book I’ve ever written that certain scenes literally made me laugh out loud! And I adore the characters. I’m seriously sad they are fictional. Something else not in the blurb…this book has my heart. It has my heart for connecting with others, serving those in need, my heart for good food, and all things cozy, and my heart for wanting to follow God even when life gets difficult. I love how transparent and vulnerable my characters are. It makes them real, like me, like us, and there’s something beautiful about that.

I really did enjoy the depth and the vulnerability of your characters in this novella.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I do!! I’ve been working on this gem for a while. It’s a modern day retelling of David and Bathsheba…yeah, I know…scandalous. It’s been difficult and painful to write. Cannot wait to give more insight on that soon to come!

Thanks again, Hannah, for being on the blog today and for sharing with us about this wonderful holiday novella you’ve put out into the world. It really is well done. And so, without further ado, I want to introduce my readers to Christmas On a Mission…

Christmas On a Mission

Fitting Christmas in a shoe box has been her mission…until now.

Audria Rylatt is the school system’s liaison for homeless students. She strives to make Christmas bright for hundreds, while the season brings only heartache after her fiancé was killed in combat nearly two years ago. So when her family decides to play matchmaker, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, they’ve invited a soldier friend of her deceased fiancé to the family cabin for the holiday.

But she’s surprised to find this soldier, Quinton Nolan, standing at the door of heart. Faced with painful memories, the despair Christmas brings her, and the fear to love again, Audria is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Or at least some of the hope Christmas seems to offer so many. Can she embrace a new mission? If so, Christmas may stand to deliver a lifetime of magical memories.

“Christmas on a Mission” is a delightful story of hope, life, love, and second chances, filled with all the joy and cheer Christmas brings.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Night settled around their cabin. A glow from the fireplace added to the ambiance, its warmth flooded into the kitchen. Audria stood at the counter sorting ingredients for their baking endeavor.

What a wonderful day. A full day. An emotional day, but good.

“Dinner was amazing.” Quinton kept his distance, elbows on the counter.

“Mom makes a wonderful lasagna.”

“Your family, they’re great people.”

“They are pretty wonderful, huh?”

“There seem to be so many traditions. Traditions you like doing together.”

“Ha. Sometimes. The family picture seems to be a source of contention. Mom is bent on having it in front of the Christmas tree.”

“And your dad?”

“His latest vote is for in front of the cabin, and Maddox doesn’t really care. He’s not able to always be home this time of year.”

“Army life.”

“Yeah.” She kept the sigh to herself, pulled her hair into a quick side bun and washed her hands. Quinton washed his, too. His shoulder bumped against hers, and heat climbed her neck. The kitchen was hot enough.

“Ready for macaron lessons,” he said.

“First thing to know—” Audria scooted the glass bowls apart. She reached for the whisk attachments for the mixer. “A perfect macaron is chewy on the inside and crunchy on the out, with a smooth top.”

“Got it. Chewy on the inside. Crunchy on the out. Smooth top.”

“We’ve had the egg whites sitting out, and that’s important.” She swung the whisk like a wand and attached it to the mixer. “They need to sit at room temperature for around thirty minutes or so.”

“Why?”

“It makes a fluffier meringue. Here.” Audria tossed Quinton an apron and grabbed one for herself. She tucked her head through the ribbon, but the straps to tie around her waist were knotted. Pulling made it worse.

“Let me help,” Quinton said.

Before she could object, his hands were close, chest near her back. His breaths were slow, hands gentle. He pulled and tied. Audria worked to keep her thoughts on anything but him.

“All done.”

“Thank you.” If she turned now, they’d be too close. Their lips would be mere inches apart. She hadn’t kissed anyone since Clay. Part of her wondered what it might be like to kiss another, to kiss Quinton, yet the other part fought to remain true and loyal to Clay.

Be open. The thought echoed in her mind. I’m trying.

Quinton must have sensed her unease because he moved to the side. For that, she was thankful, at least for now.

She cleared her throat. “We’re going to add all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and then we’ll sift it when done.”

“It already looks chopped up to me.”

His expression made her laugh. “Yes, but we want it to be even more fine.”

“We do?”

“We do.”

She blended and watched Quinton. He looked like he would take notes if he could.

“I am way in over my head here.”

She pulsed the processor a few more times, and then began sifting. “It took me a while to get the hang of it. And I still bomb some batches.”

“Have you always cooked?”

“Baked. Believe me, there’s a difference. And my gran-mere taught me. She was from France, and her parents owned a bakery for decades before her.”

“That’s incredible.”

“It is.” Audria slid the dry ingredients aside and reached for another glass bowl and the sticks of butter. “I’d like to go to France one day and see if the building is still there.”

“So, you’re French. That’s cool.”

“And Irish, hence the hair. And I’m sure a host of other European ethnicities.”

“I’m African American and bunch of those European ethnicities, too.”

“I’ve always liked how diverse God made people. Different versions, kinds, and colors. He’s pretty creative.” Audria nodded. “Kind of like macarons. Same cookie, but all different kinds of flavors and colors.”

“And what flavor of macaron are we making tonight?

“A traditional French Vanilla Bean.” She attempted a French accent but failed. Quinton laughed, deep dimples forming in those cheeks, and the warmth in the kitchen returned. Goodness.

“Now, for the wet ingredients.” She pointed to the bowl. “We’ll used gel food coloring when it’s time. It gives a more vibrant color.”

“I didn’t know there were different kinds of food coloring.”

“So much to learn. Tsk. Tsk.” She helped him separate the egg whites, added a pinch of salt, and began to whisk them until frothy. A little sugar added at a time until peaks formed. A bit of vanilla. Now a drop or two of red gel coloring and more whisking until the meringue was perfect.

“You’re doing great,” she said and soaked up Quinton’s smile. “Now, let’s macronage.”

“What?”

“It’s when we fold in the dry and wet ingredients.”

“Oh, okay. Marconage away then.”

In no time, they were piping the batter on to parchment paper.

Audria swiped her hands together and opened the oven door. “Three hundred degrees for seventeen minutes. We’ll make vanilla buttercream for the filling. Nothing too fancy to start with.”

“All of this is fancy.”

Audria blended the butter, sifted in powdered sugar and the remaining ingredients. She filled a piping bag and placed it on the counter. “Now, we wait.”

“Then?”

“We wait some more.” She laughed and shrugged. “The cookie tops will need to sit for an hour before we fill them, and then we need to let them rest for twenty-four hours before we eat them.”

“I don’t know if that’s gonna be possible.”

“Tastes so much better, though. Totally worth the wait.”

“I guess all good things are worth waiting for.” His smile said so much.

Be open. Her face warmed, and she had to look away.

“I don’t know if this is the right time, but I need to tell you something.” Quinton untied his apron and placed it over a stool.

His expression caused her to worry. What could he possibly need to tell her?

Was he seeing someone else? Maybe he didn’t feel for her what she was feeling for him. How stupid had she been to fall for someone she barely knew?

“Is there somewhere we could chat alone?” Quinton folded an unfolded his arms.

“The porch?” Fresh night air would probably help her thoughts and ease the pain of whatever Quinton was going to tell her.

Quinton held the door for her. Why did he have to be such a gentleman?

She kept her arms tight around her body, locking one hand onto an elbow. The door shut behind her, and then it was the two of them. Alone. The cool air swirled around them. Mom, Dad, and Maddox peeked out the side window, and Audria shooed them away. Was there no end to their meddling ways?

“We’re not going to be eaten out here by a bear or anything, are we?” Quinton asked.

Audria giggled, thankful for the comic relief, and buried her chin in her sweater. “We might see a raccoon or two, but no bear. Not this time of year.”

“That’s a good thing. Don’t really want to go down that way, you know?”

She laughed again, and the night settled between them once more. The glow from the fireplace offered a subtle source of lighting through the cabin windows.

“Audria, I…I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you.”

Here it came. She held tighter, one palm now clinging to her shoulder.

“Quinton.” Her voice gave her a surprise. “I…I…I know we’re still getting to know each other, but I know there’s something between us.”

“You do?” He seemed shocked and took a step forward.

“I guess it’s obvious now that you must not feel the same way I feel about you, but I hope we can remain friends.”

“Audria,” he said and closed the remaining space between them. His face lowered and hovered over hers. She breathed him in, legs weakening. “I have feelings for you, too.”

“Then…what…what are you going to tell me?”

“Audria, I need you to know that I care deeply for you. More than anyone before.” He took her hands in his. She searched his eyes, wanting to know what could possibly bring him so much frustration at this moment. “But before we can move on, I need you to know that I knew Clay.”

Clay. Her legs buckled for an instant. “You knew him?”

And he was just now telling her?

“We were friends.”

The air left her lungs. All thoughts fled.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Hannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, best-selling author, and popular speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns. Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. She and her family live in Tennessee.

GIVEAWAY!!

Hannah is giving away an e-copy of her debut novel, The Wounded Warrior’s Wife, & a $5 Starbucks Gift Card to one winner to be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel V. Bull

Hey, Readers!

I haven’t had a fresh author for you to meet in a few weeks, but I have a very special author for you today – author Rachel V. Bull. She just also happens to be my very talented sister. Yes, she has been bitten by the writing bug and has put out her first in a series of children’s books. And I, of course, couldn’t be prouder.

So, please help me welcome this very special author today! Her work is geared toward a 2nd-4th grade level, but children as young a 4 years old (tested on my own 4 year old) will enjoy this story!

Welcome to my blog, Rachel! First, can you tell us a little about your book?

My story is about a young girl who is going to an overnight camp for the first time. We see her excitement as she prepares for her adventure and then we follow her through her first day there. The story shows her interactions with the other girls at camp and how she sees opportunities to be kind to others.

I like it. What was the inspiration for Jojo Goes to Camp?

My inspiration began with memories of church camp, but I also wanted it to have more of a moral to it than just a girl at camp. I also always tell my kids to be kind and took this as an opportunity to show how being kind helps both the person receiving the act of kindness as well as the person being kind. I really think if we could instill that one trait in people the world would be a different place. There are so many small opportunities in life where you can choose to ignore a situation, to be mean, or take a minute and be kind.

Interesting thought. I think I can get behind that. Acts of kindness really do make a difference for people. And a general attitude of being kind instilled in people would make for a different world.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

It never crossed my mind once to be a writer. I am analytical, big time. I see things in black and white and have never had much of an imagination. I have always been creative to a degree for things like problem solving difficult or complicated situations, but I’ve never applied myself to creative activities.

I never had a dream job and definitely never thought I’d work in a bank, but I somehow landed in the perfect job for me and I love it! I work for an amazing company that values my skill set and everyone works as a team, from the top down. Having such a great work environment relieves stress and allows my time away from work to be enjoyable. I have taken up photography as a hobby and now writing, both of which I enjoy very much.

They always say “find something you love, then find someone who will pay you to do that”.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

After the conversation with my sister. She really planted the seed in my head and one day after work I started typing out a story and didn’t stop until it was complete. I quickly began thinking of more adventures my main character could go on, which turned into personal stories from my childhood.

Even as new as you are to the process, I’m sure you have discovered that there are things writers love about it and things they don’t like so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

It is hard to have someone criticize what you have done, but I always try to keep in mind that the editing process is to make my book better, not to point out my shortcomings as a writer.

I think it’s important to remember that we can always learn from each other. On that note, do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

In my limited experience, the only thing I think I would say is write about something you either know really well or are passionate about. Also, don’t get discouraged by edits, they really do make your book better.

Great advice! For most authors, we are big readers… What about you? What are you currently reading?

I hate to admit this when I am talking about writing, but I’m not a big reader. Having four kids, I have read a lot of kid’s books. I recently read a book by a Christian radio deejay called Spiritual Misfits. The author, Brant Hansen, has Asperger’s and a neurological condition. Like myself, he is analytical and I can relate to the way he sees and interprets things.

I usually have to get in the “mood” to write. (Not always…I can sit down as well as the next writer and make it happen when I have to.) But music is a big part of that for me. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to anything. I get distracted really easily, so I prefer for everything to be quiet, if possible, when I’m trying to concentrate. If it isn’t quiet, I’ll put on a podcast to drown out the noise. I normally listen to the Bobby Bones Show podcast which is a replay of the radio show without the music. I also enjoy listing to Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It, which is similar to the old radio program The Rest of the Story with Paul Harvey.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Since I like it quiet, I usually do my writing in the evening and wherever I can set up my laptop and have a few minutes to myself.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My books have all been short stories for children, so they really don’t take too much time to write. I’d say between an hour to an hour and half. I think it over in my mind for days before I sit down and put it on paper.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My newest and first release is Jojo Goes to Camp. A fun fact that makes this story different than my others is that it is not a story from my childhood. It is loosely based on my camp, but all the interactions are fictional. The two I’ve written since are actual experiences I’ve had.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I have a list of titles for books to follow the three I’ve written. I want to go ahead and get my second two through the illustration process and final edits before I actually write anymore though.

Thanks again, Rachel, for being on the blog and sharing about your book and your process. So, we’ll take a few minutes here and check out Jojo’s debut!

Jojo Goes to Camp

Join Jojo as she sets off to enjoy her first ever summer camp! What will she see? Who will she meet? What adventures await her? Share in her experiences and see how Jojo puts into action the lessons she has learned.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The girls rush to the door, practically running over each other.

Jojo does not run to the door. Mama always told her to use good manners, and part of that was not running over our friends.

In the rush, Rachel gets knocked off her feet and her glasses fall under one of the beds. She is searching for her glasses, but having a lot of trouble.

The other girls don’t seem to notice.

But Jojo does. She stops and squats down. She spots the glasses right away. She looks at Rachel. She sees a sadness in her face. It almost seems as if this is normal but it still makes her sad.

Jojo quickly grabs the glasses and says, “Here, Rachel, I found them.”

Rachel seems relieved her glasses are found and a smile returns to her face. Through Jojo’s small act of kindness, she knows she’s made her first friend.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

I am a banker by day and supermom by night. I have been blessed with four wonderful boys who fill my heart with joy. Faith and family are the most important things in my life. In the past couple of years, I have become active in the children’s ministry at my church and this helped me realize how much of child I still am at heart.

My sister, a published author who has written several novels, one day suggested I try my hand at a kid’s book, which I did. I was surprised at how quickly the ideas flowed and how much I enjoyed putting to paper my stories. I have written three short stories and published one, so far. I am in the process of putting together illustrations for the second which I hope to have complete before Christmas.

GIVEAWAY

Rachel is offering a $10 Amazon gift card to one winner as her thanks for stopping by and checking out her new release! To enter, check out the instructions on the Rafflecopter below:

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SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: A Convenient Risk Series

A Convenient Risk was inspired by…believe it or not…an unplanned trip to a cemetery. I have a writer friend that is my conference buddy. We go to writers’ conference together. Well, we were on such a conference trip when I discovered that she likes to visit cemeteries (she is a history fan, like I am…well, maybe not just the same as me). I conceded a trip during the daytime. We found many interesting things. And our writer-brains went into overdrive.

We did find one set of stones that indicated a younger woman who married a man much older than she, he died, then she married a man closer to her own age (who then died some time later…not really relevant information). But it got me thinking of second marriages. This situation in the cemetery might have been an arranged first marriage (it was the early 1900s), then when her husband died, perhaps she married her sweetheart.

At any rate, I thought about how people tend to memorialize our loved ones who have passed on. Not that it’s bad…but we do tend to gloss over their flaws and only remember the good things. How does a second marriage partner compete with “perfect memories” from a first spouse. Especially if you’re not truly remembering the whole picture. Some more considering on these lines, throw in the complications of a marriage of convenience…and this story was born.

Some of you who follow my work, may or may not realize that I “marry” my fictional stories to something solid in history. So, what to connect this story to? What if I complicated the story further with a legendary American outlaw? So, Billy the Kid (during the time of this story, known as Kid Antrim) plays a role in this story. These elements went into the blender of my mind and this is what was spit out…

A Convenient Risk

A widow with a young son is in trouble.

Amanda Haynes must put aside her grief and do something to take care of her son. Marrying a struggling rancher who wants her dead husband’s herd appears to be her only choice.

Only…she’s never going to love again. No one can replace the only man that ever loved her.

Butting heads over managing the ranch, her frustrations seem insurmountable. What has she gotten herself into? Is there any way out?

You’ll never put down this marriage of convenience romance, because everyone has hope.

Video Teaser

Enjoy an Excerpt

The bull continued to eye Amanda. She rose to her feet with slow movements. Was it her imagination or did the bull tilt its head?

Should she run? Glancing the fence line out of the corner of her eye, she noted the distance that fell between her and her destination. She would never make it.

The large animal nodded its head, up and down, up and down, its horns rather prominently displayed. And the warmth drained from Amanda’s body.

Then the bull looked past her. Somewhere into the distance. Why?

Straining her ears, she heard it—hoof beats—slowing as they approached. Dare she turn to see who was brave enough to come to her rescue?

“Do not move,” a calm voice said.

Brandon! Relief poured through her. He would know what to do, wouldn’t he?

The calf continued to screech. And though it tugged at her heart, she could do nothing to help the injured animal.

Brandon was near. She could sense it. And he continued to inch his horse forward. The thumping of the horse’s hooves on the grass allowed her to track the mare’s location.

The bull flicked his tail back and forth, but kept watching her.

Warmth now emanated from the horse’s body as Brandon pulled up next to her.

Brandon spoke, his words coming as if chosen with care. “I’m going to take off my shirt…”

What? What was he doing? Why would he take off his shirt? Her heart raced. Still, she had no choice but to trust him.

In her periphery, she saw movement as Brandon unbuttoned his shirt and slid it off.

“Raise your right arm to me. I’m going to lift you onto the horse and then I need you to hold on to me. Tight.”

Licking her lips, she nodded. Would she be able to do this? Then she closed her eyes. She had to.

“Are you ready?” His voice was calm. Too calm.

Amanda opened her eyes. “Yes.” Would she survive this? With a shaky hand, she raised her arm closest to him.

The bull snorted.

A strong arm grasped her, catching her upper arm and dragging her onto the horse. As soon as she was solidly on the animal, she grabbed ahold of Brandon as tightly as she could.

They took off. The bull pawed at the ground, making all manner of grunting noises, but as if by some miracle, he ran off to the left. All of this happened as if time had slowed.

The horse continued to push forward. And as they neared the edge of the fence, Brandon urged the horse to go even faster. Were they going to break through? What would happen to the cattle with the fence destroyed?

But as they approached the fence, the horse leapt. Amanda gripped Brandon impossibly tighter. Jolted when the horse landed, her teeth chattered.

Only then did Brandon slow the horse. He then placed a hand on her upper arm and pushed.

She released him.

He sucked in a deep breath and expelled it.

Had she been holding him too tightly? Her face warmed.

He took hold of her shoulders. “Are you all right?”

She nodded, and though their faces were but a breath apart, she was not quite able to meet his eyes, fighting tears in her own. Only then she found herself staring at his bare chest. Jerking her head away, she averted her gaze.

“Do you realize what could have happened?” His voice rose.

She nodded, still not able to meet his eyes. The force of his emotion hit her. Was he so concerned after her?

“I would have had to shoot that bull.”

What? Eyes wide, she tilted her face up to look at him.

“That bull is worth half my herd.”

So he was only worried about the cattle. Not her. His precious cattle.

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Now, An Inconvenient Christmas is, as I call it, a “companion” novella. Kind of a sequel, but not in the traditional sense. Yes, it occurs after the first book, but not like I left a cliff-hanger. I picked up a thread in the book that could have been developed further and went with it for this Christmas novella…

An Inconvenient Christmas

***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES***

A companion novella to “A Convenient Risk”

Brandon and Amanda are ready for their “Happily Ever After”. This Christmas will be a time to share with their little family and maybe experience some much needed peace on earth.

That’s when the letter comes. And everything is turned upside-down. Nothing is as it should be and tensions mount. Will they make it through this holiday season unscathed? Or will they be torn apart by the time Christmas Day comes?

Video Teaser

***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES***

Enjoy an Excerpt

***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES***

Amanda Miller tied another red ribbon into a bow on the fireplace mantle. Hopefully she was nearing the end. As much as she loved decorating, it could become tedious.

Hands slid around her waist, and she was pulled against a strong chest. Her husband’s masculine scent filled her nostrils, and she leaned into him. How had she become so blessed?

He planted a kiss to the side of her face. “Any chance we can slip away?”

She turned her head to peer at him. Was he serious?

A playful gleam in his eye answered her unspoken question.

Her lips tugged upward. How she loved this man! Laying hands atop his on her stomach, she relished the feel of him. His strong arms and secure hands were well known to her. Worked by ranch life, they were capable and calloused. Yet gentle as well.

“Momma,” a little voice called from across the room.

Pulled from her reverie, Amanda’s attention fixed on the small girl toddling toward them.

Reluctantly, she pulled free of Brandon’s embrace and, squatting, put arms out to receive the girl. “That’s it, come to Momma.”

“Momma.”

It didn’t matter that Louise said the word a million times a day; it was glorious.

A grin broke out across the child’s face, creating dimples in her chubby cheeks.

The wriggling bundle, teetering with every step, somehow made it to Amanda’s outstretched hands before falling.

She lifted her daughter, swinging her into the air and kissing the baby-fine skin. When she stopped, she caught Brandon’s eye.

“I see you’ve forgiven her for saying ‘Daddy’ first.” He reached forth a hand for Louise to capture it.

She did, pulling at his fingers.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Amanda spoke to Brandon, but she looked at Louise and spoke in a sing-song voice. “Do we, Louise Ann? We don’t know what Daddy is saying.”

“Oh, Louise knows good and well.”

The child grinned and pulled two of Brandon’s fingers into her mouth.

He jerked them back with a catch in his breath.

“Oh, no!” Amanda became instantly concerned. “Did she bite you?”

Brandon looked at his hand and nodded. “It’s not so bad.”

“I’m sorry. I think she has teeth coming in. She’s been biting everything.”

His brows furrowed, and he let out a concerned grunt.

“Yesterday, Samuel brought Daisy closer so Louise could pet her. And what we thought was going to be a kiss from Louise turned out to be an attempt to bite the poor dog’s ear.”

A chuckle escaped Brandon. Was it something to laugh about?

“It wasn’t funny.” She widened her eyes. “The dog could have been hurt.”

He cleared his throat and tightened his mouth. “No, of course.”

Amanda shifted Louise to her other hip. “I don’t want her to become a biter.”

Brandon furrowed his brows and let out a long breath.

Amanda fingered the curls in the child’s soft hair.

“Let’s not jump to that while she is still teething. But we can watch out and make sure she doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Was that truly all they could do? What more would she suggest? Perhaps Brandon was right.

“After all, she comes by that feistiness pretty honest. It’s one of her mother’s more…intriguing qualities.” His voice was husky as he put an arm around her, drawing her near.

Amanda’s head cleared of all but him. She was helpless when he spoke to her like this.

He pressed a kiss to her forehead, his breath lingering on her skin.

The door opened, and Louise wriggled for freedom, but Amanda didn’t let her escape.

“Aw, Ma, do ya have to?”

Amanda spun toward Samuel. Where had he been? Shouldn’t he have been helping her with the decorations? She opened her mouth.

“Did you finish with the horses?” Brandon’s chest vibrated as he spoke.

The horses? What did Brandon have Samuel doing with the horses?

“Sure did.” Samuel grinned.

Amanda clamped her mouth shut. She would not disrespect Brandon in front of her son, but this was not over.

“Good. I think Cutie and Slim are going fishing.”

Samuel’s eyes lit up. His gaze shifted toward Amanda.

“Go on.” She pulled away from Brandon and set Louise on the floor with her blocks. “You don’t want to miss them.”

A clapping of the door on its hinges was his only response.

Standing, she eyed Brandon, brow raised.

He tilted his head. “What?”

“You have him working with the horses?”

“It’s good for him.”

“That’s what you said about mucking stalls.”

“Was I wrong?”

Amanda crossed her arms. Dare she concede? Could she not? Why did she want to keep her boy close to her skirts? Why must Brandon constantly be pushing him further away?

Reaching out, he pulled her toward his chest. “You know I’m right.”

She looked away and bit at her lip. “Maybe.”

He hooked her chin with a finger. “Probably.”

Her lips twinged at the edges. She fought the smile. “Don’t push it.”

His mouth curved upward, but his brown eyes rested on her lips. “I might just take the risk.” Leaning forward, he pressed his lips to hers.

Would she ever become numb to this feeling? This excitement, this heat coursing through her? Or would his kisses thrill her for as long as they both should live?

She hoped so.

His arms wrapped around her back, and he tilted his head to deepen the contact.

But after a few moments of bliss, she pulled back.

Brandon traced a finger down the side of her face. “Is it time for Louise’s nap?”

If only…

No, she couldn’t get distracted.

“I’m afraid not. And I need to talk to you.” She drew farther back.

“Oh?” He watched her every movement.

She glanced at Louise. Had she caught hold of something dangerous? There was no end to the child’s mischief.

The small girl sat where Amanda had set her. For once.

Amanda reached for the box of ornaments, picking it up and, moving toward the dining space, placing it on the table.

“Everything all right?” Brandon called from where he had remained.

She pushed her hair back and sighed. How to broach the subject? Why was she so nervous? Couldn’t she tell Brandon anything?

She turned toward him and leaned against the table.

“I know that look.” His brows furrowed.

What look? How did she look? Did her features display her worry? Her trepidation? It would be best to just be out with it.

Drawing in a deep breath, she closed her eyes briefly and then met his gaze. “Cook and Uncle Owen won’t be coming for Christmas.”

“Oh.” He set his hands on his hips. “That’s not at all what I expected. But it is their first Christmas as man and wife.”

Amanda nodded.

“But that can’t be what has you so worried.” He crossed the room, closing the distance between them.

She chewed on her lip.

“What is it?” His eyes were caring. Concerned.

Guilt filled her. She had to tell him.

“Are you nervous about making the big meal alone?”

Her eyes widened. That had not occurred to her.

“Oh, no.” He gently clasped her arms. “Forget I said that. I’ll help. Anyway I can.”

She waved a hand between them. It wouldn’t be easy, but she would manage. “It’s not that.”

“Then what is it?” He rubbed his larger hands along her upper arms.

“A letter came.”

“A letter?”

She reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out the lightly crinkled envelope. “From your parents.”

Brandon’s jaw clamped shut. She watched as the muscles twitched.

How long had it been since he had heard from his parents? Years? Decades? And all of a sudden a letter comes? Why now?

“When?”

“About two hours ago. While you were…”

He nodded. “Out with the cattle.”

She searched his face, holding the envelope between them, ready for him to take it.

But he just stared at it.

“Did you read it?” His eyes met hers, and there was a darkness to their depths she had not seen in a long time.

“No.” She pushed the word out.

His hands on her arms had grown limp.

Should she insist he take the letter? Or offer to read it for him? Was this something he needed to do?

Louise let out a cry.

Amanda looked in her direction. There was a block in her hand that was well wet.

Louise broke out in fierce tears.

Had she been chewing on the block and hurt her gums? Or bitten her finger by accident?

Amanda glanced at Brandon, pushing the letter toward him. She could no longer give him time to think.

Brandon stood, holding out his hand with the envelope.

She rushed to Louise and picked her up. The child immediately snuggled into Amanda’s chest, her cries now muffled by Amanda’s shoulder.

Amanda rubbed her back. “It’s all right, sweet girl.”

As the crying let up, she shifted the child to her hip and examined her fingers.

“What happened? Did you bite your finger?”

Sure enough, there was a reddened place on the forefinger of her right hand.

“Oh, my baby!” Amanda put a light kiss on the tiny finger. “There. All better.”

Louise looked at her finger and then at Amanda. Her cries waned as if she wasn’t sure what to do. But they soon vanished as the small girl stuck her finger toward Amanda’s mouth again.

“Momma kiss.”

Amanda grabbed her little hand and pressed several kisses to the finger. “Yes, Momma kiss it. Make it all better.”

Louise giggled.

Then Louise stuck her hand in the direction of the dining room. “Daddy kiss!”

Amanda spun toward Brandon.

He stood just as she had left him, staring at the unopened letter.

She moved toward him. Drawing close, she put a hand on his shoulder. “Do you need some time alone?”

Shaking his head, he met her gaze. “No, I need you.”

What could she do? What could she offer him? She stopped herself. That was the old Amanda. He needed her support. Her love.

“And I am right here with you.”

He nodded.

She reached for a dining chair and pulled it out.

Brandon all but fell into it.

Grabbing for the chair next to him, she sat with Louise on her lap.

His eyes met hers, and she nodded.

He slid a finger under the flap and tore through the seal.

Freeing a hand, she squeezed his arm in reassurance.

Pulling the papers free, he unfolded them. His eyes drifted over the writing.

He let out a long breath.

“It’s not possible.”

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More About the Author

I’m a coffee lovin’, word slinging, Historical Romance author who’s super power is converting caffeine into novels. I love those odd little tidbits of history that are stranger than fiction. That’s what inspires me. Well, that and a good love story.

But of all the love stories I know, mine is my favorite. I live happily with my own Prince Charming and our gaggle of minions. Three to be exact. They sure know how to distract a writer! But, alas, the stories must be written, even if it must happen in the wee hours of the morning.

Happy Reading!

Connect with me and my books

Website: saraturnquist.com

Twitter: @sarat1701

Facebook: AuthorSaraRTurnquist

Pinterest: SaraVTurnquist

Instagram: @sarat0103

YouTube: Sara Turnquist

GIVEAWAY!!

I will select, by Rafflecopter, a winner who will receive e-copies of both books in the series. I will also select a second winner who will get a $10 Amazon gift card. They will be selected from the same Rafflecopter entry board. Please follow the directions indicated below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OVERCOMING MYSELF: The over-planner in me

Ever feel like you’ve got too many plates spinning? Then you think…I just need to get organized! And, down the road, you get a little more organized, and a little more… No? Just me?

Anyone ever feel like your organization is causing you to be overwhelmed?

It was for me. I am uber-organized. And I mean it! It’s not a bad thing…until you take it to extremes.

I had/have the perfect planner, the right binders (yes, you heard me right binderS) to organize all the major areas of my life – social media and blogging, home life, writing and research…you name it!

The planner…oh my word…my planner! I got onto the downloadable planner concept…where I could take what I liked from here, or there, add my own created sheets when I couldn’t find quite the one I was looking for, then take the thing to an Office place and have them spiral bind it. Mind you, I could only manage a three month stack at a time. And it was a nice thick planner. Goal setting, bucket list, party planning, writing and plotting sheets, week and month layouts…I’m getting goose-bumps just typing this.

But it was too much.

I was hyper-organized.

I planned every day, every minute.

There was no room for truly relaxing (though I planned in time for it). Who can make relaxing happen at 2:30-2:45 on Monday when there’s 10 more things on your “to do” list? Scheduling relaxing? Not that you shouldn’t plan a block of time for relaxing…but 15 minutes…come on! What was I thinking?

I needed rest. Soul rest. The kind that is deep and meaningful. The kind of rest where you sit with the Lord and just be.

So, I surrendered my carefully charted, carefully laid out system to the Lord.

And it hurt.

It still hurts.

Every.

Day.

Maybe that’s what “dying to myself” looks like right now.

Will I go back to my system?

I don’t know. But right now, I am focusing on being sensitive to the Lord and what He is asking of me.

And He wants me to be still.

Rest in Him.

And let go.

OVERCOMING GRIEF: A year later

 

As many of you know, I lost my mother in the Spring of 2017. So, I have gotten past the one year mark. And I have learned some very interesting things about grief. Some of which I have blogged about in the months following her death. Some that I have only come to learn in the last couple of months.

As time passes, I have a better taste, I believe, of what life will look like without her…what it will look like to carry on and grieve her in the years to come. And I would like to share some of those insights.

Something shifts right around that one year mark. And things do change. There comes some kind of acceptance. Not that it’s okay that your loved one, or my mother, is gone. But that it’s okay to move on in the grieving process, to move on with life.

You realize that, while you will never get over losing your loved one, you can get through it. You might wonder ‘what is the difference?’. I think that when you lose someone so close to you, they will always be a part of you. There will always be those moments when you catch yourself in a memory…but that won’t always mean that the memory brings pain and tears. Eventually, you will be able to remember them and smile more often than not…think of them fondly.

The sting of the loss becomes more of a dull ache. When I reflect on my mother’s passing, it is no longer the sharp stab of pain. It doesn’t bring deep sorrow. There is an ache there, but I am able to, again, remember her well and share those memories with my husband or my kids and reminisce. This gives those moments purpose.

You probably will still have crying spells. It’s not all sunshine and roses. I pass the cemetery where my mother has been laid to rest every day. I press my hand to the window as if to reach out to her. A quiet sadness touches my heart and I miss her. As well, when my sister laughs, I hear my mother. She shares so many commonalities with my mother it surprises me. Her smile and laughter are just a couple. But it stirs my heart when my sister laughs. It pulls me from the moment and takes me back to moments shared with my mom. And there is the ache. But I choose to let my lips lift and share the joy of the moment both in the memory and in the present. And celebrate my mom living on.

These are just a few of the things I’ve come to find as the days blend into weeks and time marches onward. But they have been true for me. How about you? Are there insights you have gleaned from a loss that you would like to share?