OVERCOMING GRIEF: What I don’t want to hear….

Hello, all. I am tackling what is a monster of a subject right now for me because I am in the midst of it. Not that depression is an easy topic to work through, but I am well into the recovery stages. I am still in the throes of grieving for my mother. She passed, suddenly, this past April. Not that an “expected” death, the kind where your loved one was sick for a while and you had received a difficult prognosis makes it easier or more fair. It doesn’t. But there is the shock factor that goes into an unexpected death.

One of the things I always tell my children about life in general is the following: when you’re having a good morning/day, is God in control? When you’re having a bad day/morning, is He still in control? Of course. Well, I know the same holds true about death and loss. But, I promise you, this may not be the time to share that with someone who has just lost a loved one. There are, in fact, many, many truths from God’s Word that are everlasting and solid that your mourning friend does really know in their core that they may not necessarily want to hear during this season of grieving.

I know, for example, that “…in all things God works for the the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)”. And I know that “…we do not mourn as those who have no hope… (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)” These are, again, wonderful truths from an Almighty God, but there is pretty much no way to deliver them (in my experience) where they don’t come across as platitudes, Christianese-like blabber that taunts your hurting friend.

The passages that comforted me the most were the ones that gave me permission to mourn. That, in fact gave me hope in the mourning.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

When I mourn, I am blessed? How? Because the everlasting God, through His Holy Spirit, the Great Comforter, will comfort me…as well as through the believers beside me, who are doing life with me. When I mourn, I will find comfort. What a sweet promise! What wonderful words that let me know that my tears are okay. That they are normal, and human, and…part of the process.

Another passage that speaks directly to my hurting heart:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:1-3

I could spend all day unpacking this passage. But I won’t. What gems are here for those who are grief-stricken! He will comfort the broken-hearted. Other translations say “He will bind the broken-hearted…” I picture someone wrapping bandages around a wounded heart. And that’s exactly how I feel much of the time…that my heart is an open wound, bleeding everywhere. And I need someone who knows what they are doing to bind and heal it.

This passage goes on to say that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. This gets into the traditions and customs of the Israelites. Perhaps something for another post.

But Isaiah also tells that we, who are mourning, will receive a crown of beauty for our ashes. In these times, those in mourning would cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes…an external sign for what was happening within them. So, he is saying that God will take away all signs of their sadness and bestow upon them a tiara. And that He (God) will bless them. That we (who mourn) will have reason to praise. Now, that gives me hope. That God will take the broken pieces of my heart and exchange them for beauty, praise, and joy.

But that for now, these things that I am going through are part of the human experience. That they are part and parcel with our sinful flesh…and with the fact that sin degrades and destroys. That it will continue to degrade and destroy until God puts an end to it.

Still, though sin may have a hold on our flesh, death has lost it’s sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) because of Christ and what He has done.

What’s the bottom line here? For those of you who are in the grieving process, please give yourself permission to mourn. It is right. It is human.

If you are someone who has a loved one you think is just stuck in the grieving process, have patience. Not everyone moves through the stages at the same rate. Grieving is difficult. Mind your words and just be there to listen. That’s what the grieving person needs the most. Your ear and shoulder, not always your words. It’s okay if you don’t have anything to say. It really, really is.




INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Carol Roberts

Hello, all! I hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving (for those of you in the United States). Today, I have another author, Carol Roberts, whose background and interests have drawn her to dig a little deeper in her novels. I am super intrigued myself! Some of the questions she poses about the human condition are rather deep. And fiction is one way in which we can explore these thoughts and questions about the world around us…even if we delve into other worlds…keep reading to see what I mean…

Hey, Carol. Thanks for being on my blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

Atlantis is an interpretation of the myth, presented as a fantasy/mystery story.

When Alanthea, high-priestess of Atlantis, connects to a woman in her dreams, she becomes haunted by a warning. Compelled to trace the other woman’s life, she finds coded poems that hold clues to the predicament of her people. Now she has to venture ever farther into forbidden territory to link past and present, and understand the real danger threatening Atlantis.

Arakon always thought of himself as an orphan, a loner without any real belonging. But after a strange encounter his life changes, and he is drawn into events beyond his control.

They move parallel in their search for answers until their destinies converge, and the weave unravels. Yet what they finally uncover lies deep at the heart of collective evolution, and what has been set in motion cannot be undone.

I love all the different points of inspiration for writers…it never ceases to amaze me how the smallest things can jump start the muse. What was the inspiration for Atlantis?

I have several fields of interest. My real passion is mythology, especially stories of origin/creation. I think that mythology preserves what is important enough to have survived the ages, imbued with meaning. Leading on from there is my keen interest in psychology. What is important enough for our collective psyche to remember? And does it possibly store memory that goes back all the way to our evolution? Put together the two, and the mythical story of Atlantis started to take shape and form.

Interesting…my background is in science as well (biology). This is a very intriguing question you ask.

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 study psychology, but then decided to travel. Traveling was fascinating in terms of culture and tradition. What were those people’s stories, what did they preserve in terms of their mythology? I took a lot of notes about places and people, and my first idea of writing was to compile a non-fiction book about stories and myths from all around the world.

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

The first time I knew that I needed to put pen to paper was in a tiny village called Malana high in the Himalayan mountains. My partner had wanted to photograph this village that was said to have one of the oldest democracies in existence, preserved by its isolation and disinterest in the outside world. When we finally stumbled into the village on a wet, treacherous goat track, I wanted to put all my immediate notions into words: clouds hanging low, giving the heavily timbered buildings a haunting, medieval appearance, villagers moving away from us, as all non-Malanese were considered as lower caste and untouchable, and the overriding feeling of having stepped into some eerie, timeless bubble that had preserved an incredibly original micro-culture.

Though it varies from artist to artist, something people always want to know is how long does it take to write a book?

Atlantis took a long time, as I wrote it in stages over several years. The biggest problem was the ending. There I was, creating a whole civilization, only to have it disappear under flood waters. But from myth it rose, and to myth it returned.

Now you’ve got me hooked! Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Atlantis gave me the opportunity to speculate on concepts of the human condition, the meaning of individual and collective destiny, and the choices we have in it.

How thought-provoking! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I have now finished my second novel, Tower of Babel, where I am exploring the possible meaning of love in the context of evolution. This novel is romantic suspense/fantasy and only took one year to write.

Wow. This, too, sounds like one I will have to read. Thanks again, Carol, for joining me today and for being on my blog. I am eager for my readers to get a better glimpse of Atlantis. So, I will jump right in.




Enjoy an Excerpt

Time shifted as Arakon carefully turned and dug his heels into the horse’s side. A good horse, a strong horse, just like the old man’s had been. The shade of the trees embraced him, and the sound of the water came closer. Would he still find the track? Was there a track? Time shifted further, and he felt an eerie sensation between his shoulder blades. The forest was too quiet, the water overly loud. Gideon started to slip, and he reined the stallion in even further.

The filtered light threw strange patterns onto the ground, and when the moment came, he let go of the reins and let Gideon run. Leaves slapped him in the face, and as the noise became deafening, he could see the glistening spray which lay like a shimmering web ahead of him. Gideon shied but could not stop. They raced on until the tree-line opened up, and he could see the gorge falling away in front of him like a black, open mouth.

Buy Link


More About the Author

Carol Roberts is a free lance writer with particular interest in cultural myth. Originally from Vienna, she has spent all of her adult life in the Far North of New Zealand. Her work took her to several different countries, where she researched oral traditions of the oldest creation myths. Atlantis is her first full length novel.

Connect with Carol and her books

Newsletter: https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/jb2ug

Twitter:     @authorRobertsC


guest post

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Gina Holder

My Own Personal Time Machine

(Guest Post by Gina Holder)

I stepped across the damp cobblestone floor. The musty air filled my lungs as I drew a deep breath. I did nothing to hold back the tears. I stood in a place that still to this day the name alone brings a sense of foreboding. Auschwitz.

I love history! I have for as long as I can remember. I have a photo of myself with my hair braided like Laura Ingalls Wilder, one braid on each side of my head, wearing a plain old-fashioned floral dress, and trying to get a ball on a string into a cup. For my 14th birthday, I had an old-fashioned tea party (pictured). I wore a peach Victorian dress borrowed from a friend. Everyone had to wear a hat and we drank tea from china teacups. About that same time, I wanted to join a group who did Civil War reenactments. I remember meeting one of the ladies at the county fair. She said I would make a good Rose, the daughter of Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a confederate spy. I held my wedding reception at the Landon House, a Civil War plantation in Urbana, Maryland, best known for hosting the “Sabers and Roses Ball” in 1862.

Perhaps, I love history because I grew up smack dab in the middle of it. I was born in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital city. My hometown of Frederick, Maryland, is the burial grounds of Francis Scott Key and Betsy Ross. I grew up within a half-a-day’s drive of historic locations like Gettysburg, Antietam, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, and Harper’s Ferry. My favorite place to visit was the Rose Hill Manor Park and Children’s Museum, once the retirement home of Thomas Jefferson.

I’ve also visited the Alamo, Plymouth Plantation and the Mayflower, Carnton Plantation in Tennessee, the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Cades Cove, Tennessee, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, Ford’s Theatre, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Verona Arena in Verona, Italy… I’ve seen hieroglyphics, petroglyphs (Indian drawings), the names of the pioneers and covered wagon tracks carved into sheer rock on the Oregon Trail. I’ve walked through the ruins of castles in Europe. I’ve seen blood stains on floorboards in a plantation house-turned-hospital.

When I’m in these places, I imagine what it was like to live there… to see life through the eyes of those who lived so long ago. And although we can visit these historical locations and get a feeling for how things were, it’s impossible to go back in time and experience their lives… or is it?

Historical fiction breathes life into history. It becomes real. It’s your own personal time machine where you can travel to any era or event you want. Of course, most of the characters are fictional, still you can experience life the way they lived it. You can answer Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call. You can sit in the theatre when Abraham Lincoln was shot. You can catch the first look of shoreline after weeks on a schooner or a merchant ship. You can feel every bump and jostle as you cross the open prairie. You can hear the clang as the gate of Auschwitz closes behind you. You can feel the warmth of a campfire and hear the lowing of the longhorns as they settle down for the night. You can feel the damp chill of a stone castle. You can taste the corn for the very first time that the Indians taught your family to plant. You can go anywhere and any “when.”

My favorite eras are the Civil War (love me some hoop skirts) and the Pioneers (who hasn’t dreamed of crossing the prairie in a covered wagon, right?)

Is it any wonder that with my love for history, my debut novel is a historical romance?


Welcome to my blog, Gina! It is so good to have you here today. And thanks for the guest post. You have a historical romance friend in me for sure 🙂 So tell me about your novel. Could you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Whither Shall I Go? takes place in the years shortly before and after World War I. I used this era because it represents a lot of change in America, paralleling the changes the main character experiences throughout the story.

I am always asked about my inspiration, and I am also intrigued by what other writers find inspiring. What was your inspiration for Whither Shall I Go?

Psalm 139. My desire was to tell a story that showed this passage of scripture in action—how God is with us anywhere that life takes us and that he has a plan even when things seem out of control.

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

Yes, though at times I also wanted to be a zookeeper or open a horse farm orphanage.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My debut novel took me two-and-a-half years consistently, however I started writing the book about fifteen years ago when I was eighteen.

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

One of the biggest struggles Ellie faces in the book is getting along with the missionary’s wife, Judith. Judith is critical of everything Ellie does and Ellie can’t figure out what she’s done to offend the woman. Can Ellie and Judith work things out? It takes a near death experience to bring them together.

Thank you again for being on the blog and answering my questions. I am eager to learn more about the book!


Whither Shall I Go?


In 1911, Ellie Williams struggles to see God’s hand in her life when she loses both parents and is sent to live with her wealthy, estranged aunt, who transforms her from awkward country bumpkin to socialite heiress. Six years later, she meets a young preacher and finds hope as they serve the Lord together.

Robert Hampton is deeply devoted to God and desires to take the gospel to the unreached natives of Brazil. He didn’t expect to fall in love. When he is drafted, Robert is torn between his duty as a soldier and his budding affections for Ellie. Will Robert survive the trenches? Will he lose the only woman he’s ever loved?

Ellie’s journey takes her from her home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, to the concrete jungle of New York City, and finally to the harsh unforgiving world of the Amazon River Basin, where she meets Paul, a doctor who’s lost his way, and Jack, a soldier with amnesia. Encountering anacondas, jaguars, and an antagonistic shaman, will Ellie give in to the fears that threaten to overwhelm her?

Or can she depend upon God’s grace to bring about His will for her life?

Enjoy an Excerpt

An hour later, they stood on the steps of her home. The Hampton’s were dining out, so Robert suggested they drop Ellie off on their way. “Thank you for sharing your passion with me, Brother Hampton. I enjoyed the time.” She cupped her hands over her eyes to block the setting sun.

“You’re welcome.” Brother Hampton shoved his hands into his pockets. “By the way, you can call me Robert. Brother Hampton makes me feel old.” He glanced towards his aunt and uncle waiting in the car, then back at Ellie. “Miss Williams, how would you like to do this more often?”

“What do you mean?” Ellie tipped her head to the side, her eyes filled with anticipation.

“I thought maybe you could assist me in getting this Sunday school off the ground. We could study the Word of God together, plan lessons, and spend time praying for the students. You teach the girls and I’ll teach the boys.”

She smiled and said, “I would love to. And please, call me Ellie.”

Buy Links

ebook- https://www.amazon.com/Whither-Shall-Go-Gina-Holder-ebook/dp/B074GZY6SQ

paperback- https://www.amazon.com/Whither-Shall-Go-Gina-Holder/dp/1521303746/

More about the Author

Gina Holder was raised in Maryland, but spent a few years in Pennsylvania. As an adult, she served for three-and-a-half years alongside her parents as missionaries in the Czech Republic. She currently resides in Kentucky with her husband and daughter. She loves music, reading Christian fiction, and watching movies. She plays the piano and sings. She’s visited 43 out of 50 states.

Connect with Gina






Comment with your favorite era for a chance to win a signed copy of my debut novel, “Whither Shall I Go?” Entries will be accepted until Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 11:59 pm CST.


Fiction Inspired By Life: Grieving

As we approach the holiday season, it is a joyous time for many, but it is also a time of sorrow for others. For some are spending their first holidays without a key member of their family. It will not be easy. Everything about the routines, the traditions, the get-togethers…nothing will be the same. And it’s not fair. Nothing about it is fair.

And so, I find myself sharing about grief again. Only this time, I want to talk about how my own experience with grief has bled into my writing.

A Convenient Risk

One of my latest novels, A Convenient Risk, has a thread of grief and the grieving process running through it. I wrote this novel about a year and a half ago. At that time, I was only somewhat acquainted with grief. I had experienced the loss of four grandparents (all of whom I was very, very close to). And I had said an eternal farewell to a close friend who drowned at the age of 19.

I’ll be honest, as a empathetic personality, grief has always been a struggle for me. I have never done well with the process and moving on from it. Until I started going to a counselor. But this is all another post for another time. Which, I promise, I will get into. But this is where I was.


The lead female character in A Convenient Risk, Amanda, loses her husband in the first scene of the novel. And, in this time period, the late 1800’s, there are not many options open to a woman, especially one who must support a child (which she does). So, she has to find stability for she and her son. When a decent offer of marriage comes along, she is hard pressed to take it.

In this book, Amanda struggles through her grief in finding new normal, in the fact she has a new marriage. She is also challenged in the area of belief in a heavenly Father who could love her. This makes her journey even harder.

Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Cold. The air whipping her hair chilled her face, but it couldn’t touch her heart. That was already lost. Was this all she would ever feel? Perhaps that’s what she deserved.

A small hand pulled at her skirt. Samuel. She couldn’t forget him. He deserved better. More than what life had dealt him. Leaning down, she swept him into her arms and held him to her chest. If only there were some semblance of warmth there for him. It couldn’t be helped.

“Don’t cry, Mama.” His tiny voice broke through the silence. Small hands framed her face. “Pa’s in heaven, right?”

Nodding at her son with his simple faith, she set her forehead on his, closing her eyes so he couldn’t see her tears.

Movement to her left gave her pause. But she dare not look. Probably another well-meaning friend come to comfort her. A face among many.

“They need to start.” It was Reverend Mason.

Men with their shovels clanging fell into step behind him. Why now? Could she just have a few more minutes before time continued? Before the inevitable swept her along?

“Ma’am?” The preacher’s voice was kind, but insistent.

Didn’t he know her world was falling apart? That nothing would ever be the same? That she had lost the only one who ever knew…who ever understood…

A hand fell upon her arm, and she did not try to resist as the reverend tugged at her, pulling her away from the graveside.

She snuggled Samuel closer to her chest, placing a hand behind his head and pressing his little face into the crook of her neck. He didn’t need to see. No, she couldn’t let him see as the two men scooped dirt onto his father’s casket.

“Mama, you’re hurting me,” came the muffled little voice.

She loosened her grip. And guilt slammed into her—she had caused enough pain, enough grief. No more. And certainly not for Samuel. He was everything.

“The next few days will be hard, Mrs. Haynes. Don’t expect anything different. You will have to find a new normal. Life as you knew it is gone.”

Amanda nodded numbly as she pressed a kiss to the side of Samuel’s head. New normal. What did that mean? What was normal? Her husband had been ill for near three months. She had watched him waste away. And her child watched his father suffer until death released him.

Shouldn’t they welcome a new normal? But Amanda would give anything to have Jed back. Not to hear his voice, or feel his arms one more time, but to know that everything was going to be all right. Was that selfish? Because right now, the future looked grim. How was she to care for Samuel? For herself? For the ranch?

~ Turnquist, Sara R. (2017)

Some things that come to light for me from this passage are how many emotions come through in grief: sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, bitterness, regret… We also remember good times, which brings us something akin to bittersweetness. And happiness that is laced with pain. (Not that Amanda in this scene has any semblance of that.)

It is true…

But it is true also that life does go on. She has to care for Samuel. She has to find a way to live. That is one of the harder things about grieving. Especially for those of us in a position of responsibility – we have to return to work, we have to wake up and take care of the kids, classes and homework wait for us. Bills and taxes still have to be paid. As much as we wish the world would stop for us to just pause and let ourselves go, it won’t. So we have to find the moments, make the time.

And, in those times, lean into the grief and not turn from it. Let it wash over us.

So we can then begin to heal.

guest post

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Emerald Barnes

Hello, all! I have an author on today who I met through the Clean Reads Publishing family. It really does feel a bit like a family, all of us authors who have published with Clean Reads. We help each other with marketing tips, answer each other’s questions, give each other recommendations and tips on where to get stuff printed, what blog tour service was worth the money, and so on and so forth. I have enjoyed being a part of this group.

Back to my guest. Emerald Barnes is the author of the Knight’s Academy Series and is here to share with us about the newest book in that series, The Hunted. So, without any further rambling from me, I’ll jump right in.

Hello, Emerald. Thanks for being on my blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

My novel, The Hunted, is the second book in the Knight’s Academy series, and it follows Myka after she’s found out the meaning of her birthmark and the truth of the Knight’s Academy. She’s on the run from the vicious vampires who want her, and she finally discovers the truth of who she is.

Such an interesting and unique story! What was the inspiration for The Hunted?

My novel, the entire series actually, was inspired by a dream I had where a vampire saved a human from being a captive, which was probably inspired by Twilight and The Vampire Academy series.

Hmmm…I do dream about my genre and I know I think in the dream “this would be a good story”, but I don’t often remember enough of the dream to capture it 🙁

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

Actually, I started out wanting to be an archaeologist. I had read books about kid archaeologists, and it was something that struck a chord with me. But then, I realized that writing and entertaining others like those books did for me was what I really wanted to do. That was probably in high school, though.

What made you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In high school, I started writing stories, and when I injured my foot, I ended up with this paranormal story I wrote because I couldn’t do anything else. That was when I knew writing was for me.

I know there are things we all love about writing…and things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing. It’s totally essential and probably the most important step, but it’s so tedious.

I hear ya’. I’d rather write three novels than edit one.

As much as I think writers learn from doing and from craft books, I think we learn intuitively from reading other writers. What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Kitishi Island by Jordan Elizabeth.

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

It depends. I have a mix for my Knight’s Academy series, which you can listen to on YouTube. But lately, it’s been Brett Young and Christian Kane that have dominated any playlist I have!

Can you share with us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My main character, Myka, finds out who her real parents are in this novel.

And, lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently working on book three, The Chosen, in the Knight’s Academy series and a Christmas novella called Christmas Beginnings.

Busy lady! I love it! Thank you so much for visiting with me today and I look forward to sharing more about your books!

The Hunted

Myka Williams has been forced out of Knight’s Academy and is on the run, constantly moving to keep the vampires off her trail until Preston’s venom is no longer coursing through her veins. But she isn’t alone.

Brent Jacobson is her protector, training her and teaching her how to be the werewolf she’s destined to be. He’s annoying, stubborn—and hot. But there’s something he isn’t telling her.

Myka has to come face-to-face with the truth of who she really is. Will she find safety, or will she always be hunted?

Buy Links


Amazon UK




Clean Reads


Enjoy an Excerpt

Preston jerked Myka’s arms behind her back roughly. He wrapped her wrists in duct tape, and the memories of that day, where he was about to rape her, flashed in her mind. She wasn’t going to let Preston hurt her again.

After he’d secured her, he moved her hair off of her neck and whispered in her ear, “Oh, I’ve been waiting too long for this, dog. You’ve been hard to find. Too hard. Guess all that venom I pumped you full of has worn off. Lucky for me, I knew you couldn’t resist seeing your dear ole parents again. No matter what you are.” His hot, excited breath made her shudder. He shoved her into a chair and turned her around to face her parents.

He nipped her neck, and she jumped. He laughed, and Barry said, “Get your hands off my daughter.”

Myka closed her eyes. Preston wasn’t going to like being told what to do. A harsh smack of skin on skin sounded, and she screamed, “Preston, no!”

Hot tears burned her eyes, but he paused. He stared at her, anger rolling off his body in waves, but at least he stopped hitting her dad. Barry’s face was red from the punch.

“Please don’t hurt them,” she begged.

Preston rubbed his hand through Jilly’s hair, and a sob escaped her lips. Myka’s heart sank in her chest. She had to do something. These monsters weren’t going to keep their word. They would kill her parents, and she would die before she let that happen.

“Okay. But you have to come back to Knight’s Academy with me, pop out little hybrid babies, and never leave my side,” Preston said, running his finger over her cheek.

“You know I won’t agree to that,” she said, staring at her parents.

“Then you will watch them die.” He leaned over Jilly and stared at Myka with black eyes, and his fangs were protruded, ready for the bite.

“Preston, please. Please don’t do this!” she begged.

“Leave her alone, monster! I’ll kill you if you touch her,” Barry said.

Preston laughed harshly. He lowered himself closer and closer to Jilly’s neck. Myka screamed; her body tingled, ready for the change. A loud howl rumbled through the kitchen, just as wood and glass shattered around them.

In case you missed The Marked:

Myka Williams has never fit in with her peers, and although her adoptive parents are loving and supportive, she feels most at home alone in the woods.

When she’s offered a full scholarship to Knight’s Academy in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, she takes the opportunity for a fresh start. She soon learns that Knight’s Academy is more than just a school. Within the stone walls of the institution, humans and vampires are mixing, and their offspring are going unnoticed.

As Myka falls prey to the evil plan of the school, she makes a chilling discovery about her own heritage and realizes that she’s at the Academy for more than just an education. Myka must yield to her birthright at the risk of losing everyone she loves or succumb to the fate that Knight’s Academy has in store for her—a fate worse than death.

The Marked Buy Links:


Amazon UK





Clean Reads


Paperback links:


Barnes and Noble

More About the Author

Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie, a youth leader, a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor. She’s addicted to tv and binge-watching shows, and she has a thing for superheroes.

Connect with Emerald and her books

Website: www.emeraldbarnes.us

Blog: ebarnes23.wordpress.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/emeraldbarnes

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fanpageforemeraldbarnes

Twitter: www.twitter.com/emeraldbarnes

Street Team: www.facebook.com/groups/emeraldbarnesstreetteam

Fan Team: www.facebook.com/groups/emeraldbarnesfans

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/emeraldbarnes

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/emerald_barnes

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/emeraldbarnes

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Barnes/e/B004PL38QS

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/emerald-barnes

reflections, writing


Hello, again. I hope you have gleaned something from my thoughts and experience with depression. It is time, I feel, to turn to another biggie that is difficult (if not impossible) to overcome. I would, in fact, argue that you never overcome grief…you walk through it.

The thing about grief is that we all go through it. At some point in your life, someone you care about has died, or someone close to you is going to die. It is inevitable. That is why they say “death is just a part of life”. It is.

One of the hardest things when that loved one passes(in my opinion) is that the world goes right on turning. Everyone else will go to work the next day, the kids will go to school, and everyone else carries on as if your world has not come to screeching halt. Because life moves on. And, eventually, yours will too. BUT…it will never be the same. You will have to find NEW NORMAL. A new state of being without that person.

Don’t bog yourself down with trying to find whatever balance you had before. You will NEVER get there. When you are ready to pick yourself up, it is time to focus on new normal and what that looks like for you. It will be different for everyone. Even for everyone who lost that person. Hopefully, as you grieve together, you can find your unique new normals together.

When people think about grieving, their first thought is the stages of grief. And these are well laid out, typical stages that people go through. But there are some misconceptions. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the stages of grief and my experience at that point with those stages. You can find that post HERE. Glean whatever you can from my findings and let it facilitate your journey.

But know that it (your journey) will not look like mine.

Or like anyone else’s.

And that’s okay.


INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

Welcome back! I have the privilege of hosting author Carrie Fancett Pagels today. If you are anything like me and have enjoyed the Barbour Collections, you may recognize her name from some of those wonderful books. I “met” Carrie through the ACFW Historical Fiction Facebook page.

If you are writing and would like to be involved in a group that has monthly online classes, has a place where you can be held accountable for daily word counts or editing, join online critique groups, or connect with other writers/authors in your genre, ACFW is a great organization to check out. Their annual conference as well, is just phenomenal! But let me turn the spotlight back on Carrie and dive right in.

Welcome to my blog, Carrie. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring is set in 1895 on beautiful Mackinac Island, in the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan.

My genre is historical romance/fiction both to read and write. So, I’m thrilled to hear more about your novel. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

The story is not really set against “big events” but part of the backdrop is the nature of Yellow Journalism and Gilded Age lies in romance—where both men and women are pursuing wealthy spouses. In my story, Mark Twain makes an appearance, and he really did come to the Grand Hotel, where my story is set, that summer. Also, the Round Island Lighthouse really was constructed that year in the Straits of Mackinac by Mackinac Island. By the way, I am now under contract for a story set at the Round Island Lighthouse!

One of the questions I get asked most often is “where do you get your inspiration?”. It just fascinates people. And I’m no exception. I love hearing from other authors and where their inspiration comes from. What was the inspiration for My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring?

Oh my! I grew up not far from there and worked on the island when I was sixteen. I’ve returned many times since. I was a psychologist for twenty-five years and one summer, my friend Rosemary, whose family was from the island, gave me her own personal tour. One of the places we stopped was at the Windermere Hotel, the inspiration for Maude’s Winds of Mackinac. I’d had a story in my head for years.

Wow! What a neat, personal touch! So, did you always want to be a writer?

I did want to be a writer when I was a kid. I was a book devourer.

I’m also intrigued by what other authors consume. Never a bad idea to get a good recommendation 🙂 What are you currently reading?

I am listening to Jan Karon’s latest novel! I used to get her audiobooks from the library, over a decade ago, and listen to them over and over again.

When I write, I just have to set the mood. Music is a big part of that for me. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I usually go to YouTube to find era-appropriate music. I sometimes buy historical music CDs or downloads, like musician Timothy Seaman’s duldimer CDs.

I always ask my guests this next question…always trying to get the inside scoop, you understand. Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

This book was a “Problem Child” book and Maude’s characterization got an overhaul. I originally had her as a more anxious young woman and was advised against portraying her in that manor. So she had to go to “rehab”!

And, lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes, I have another brand new release, Love’s Escape, in The Captive Brides collection. This novella is from Barbour Publishing as are the four novellas I have releasing in 2018. I am completing edits from the editor on Shenandoah Hearts, part of the Backwoods Brides collection which I spearheaded and had on my heart for years to do. Authors are all from the Colonial American Authors group which I founded seven years ago. I’m writing The Sugarplum Ladies part of the Victorian Christmas Brides collection right now and I’m loving this story! I have galleys coming soon for His Anchor part of the First Love Forever collection which includes Sadie’s story—Maude’s best friend from My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. Next I’ll be writing a story set at Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac!

I cannot tell you how much I love the Barbour Collections! I am eager to dive into this one.

Thank you, Carrie, for joining us today and for sharing about your book. And now, we’ll take a peek at The Captive Bride Collection and Carrie’s contribution, Love’s Escape.

The Captive Bride Collection

Enjoy an Excerpt

An Except from Chapter 2 of Love’s Escape in The Captive Bride Collection (Barbour, October, 2017)

The stench of slavebroker Hiram Cheney’s tobacco, sweat, and alcohol was only intensified by his heavy use of bergamot oil. Lettie held her breath as she backed away from the open entryway, through which the paunchy man was shoving Beneida, the Dolleys’ servant. Lettie released a gasp. She’d met the beautiful young slave several times – the first time when Lettie accompanied old Mrs. Burwell to see her dressmaker, in Richmond.

Today Beneida wore a pink and yellow checked day dress that was as fine as any Virginia society belle’s. Lettie pressed a hand to her throat. She couldn’t voice her question – what was Beneida doing in their kitchen?

“Where’s Burwell?” The irksome man pulled a heavy watch from his purple and sky-blue plaid vest.

Lettie backed up to the kitchen window and startled when her apron strings tapped against the glass.

Nestor dipped a little curtsey and ducked her head. “He where he usually be, Mr. Cheney – up in the Big House.”

The man grinned, his pock-marked ruddy face one Lettie had encountered in her nightmares. The other slaves told stories of the man as though speaking of the devil himself. No one wanted to be taken from Burwell Plantation by this man and sold elsewhere. Who knew what all he would do before they ever reached their destination?

“Why lookie here.” He chucked Nestor under her chin. “Things has worked out fine for ya here, ain’t they?”

“Yes sir.”

Lettie must have been staring, for Cheney growled as he looked at her. She quickly glanced away and moved away from the window to the stove.

“I’d say I was sorry about your mama, Lettie, but I ain’t a man to lie.” He patted the pockets of his burgundy coat.

She chewed her lip, willing the tears to stay put.

“Fact is, I was surprised it ain’t happened earlier.”

“Mr. Cheney, you want to try my new sugar biscuits?” Nestor’s voice was tight.

Lettie heard the man’s boots ground into the brick floor. “Why, if I had more time, I’d gladly savor some of your sugar biscuits, Nestor.”

Lettie cringed at the insinuation in the insufferable man’s voice. She heard Beneida sniffling in the corner.

“But I got to hand off this handsome gal and git on back to Richmond afore the boat departs. Got me a hundred—” he used a derogatory term that set Lettie’s teeth on edge “—to take down to Charleston.”

Lettie turned to cast a sideways glance at the man, who was touching Beneida in an all-too-familiar manner. “Just remember your place and don’t be puttin’ on no fancy airs here, girl, and Miz Burwell might keep you.”

As beautiful as the young woman was, who knew what shame Beneida would know at this plantation? Or had already suffered at Cheney’s hands. Mama had somehow been able to keep the young Burwell men from her, and up to now had prevented Durham from getting near her, but now. . . Tears flowed down her cheek and she bent to stir the stew simmering on the hearth.

“Goin’ up to the fields. Burwell wasn’t at the house when I stopped.” Cheney spit a glob of tobacco onto their clean kitchen floor. “Wipe that up girl.”

He pushed Beneida toward the filth. When she hesitated, he kicked her. “Use that fancy gown of yours. Ya won’t be wearin’ it here.”

Beneida grabbed a handful of the taffeta fabric, but found what Lettie knew – the stiff fabric wouldn’t pick it up – it merely smeared the foul substance around.

Spinning on his heel, Cheney cackled as he heavy-footed it out of the kitchen.

Lettie whooshed out a breath. She grabbed a wet rag and brought it over to wipe up the tobacco clump.

Nestor offered their newcomer a hand up. “You be Beneida?”


Lettie bent and wiped up the dark stain. If only life’s messes were that easy to clean up. If only God could blot out the sins of men and restore them to right reasoning. Would they realize enslaving people was wrong?

“I heard about you.” Nestor lucked at her shabby gray cotton skirt, beneath her stained apron.

“How so?” Beneida nibbled her lower lip.

“Lettie say you gonna be free. That you go to England.”

Her oval face paled. “I did. But we returned. Mr. Dolley died. And his wife sold me to the Burwells.” Tears streamed down her face and little Nestor patted her arm.

Beneida stared out through the windows. “I’ve never lived anywhere but in town.”

Lettie followed her gaze. Outside, well-muscled field slaves pushed carts of produce to the back of the kitchen house. A number of men sat on the ground, by the well, drinking their fill of water before they headed back. Across the yard, female slaves carried baskets of laundry atop their heads and into the laundry building. Smoke curled up where huge pots of water boiled for the task.

Chauncey Burwell rode up the center lawn astride his white gelding, waving his hat high. He circled the square and the kitchen workers all quickly turned their attention to chopping vegetables on the counter. Even Beneida picked up a knife, in pretense.

“You look ridiculous in that outfit, in here.” Lettie pointed to the hall.

“Everything I brought in my bundle is this fancy or more so.” Beneida gingerly fingered the glossy bow on her right shoulder.

“I’ve got extra clothing upstairs you can use.”

“She got more problems than clothing if she stay here.” Nestor pointed toward the overseer, who was ducking into the laundry building. Where he had no business to be.

More about the Author

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of fifteen Christian historical romances, including ECPA bestsellers. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper,” in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! Her latest novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring is a Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick. You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.

Connect with Carrie and her books

Website: www.carriefancettpagels.com

Blogs: Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills

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Carrie will be giving away one of her books (winner’s choice!) to a randomly chosen entrant. And I have been trying to figure out a better way to do these giveaways. Finally, I have decided to run rafflecopters. You probably know how they work…entries will be accepted until Thursday evening November 9, 2017 at 11:59pm (CST).


a Rafflecopter giveaway



I want to start this post off by saying that there is no “prescription” for “how to overcome depression”. The recovery from depression is different for everyone. But there are some things that seem common between most people and things that were a huge help to me. So, I have decided to “talk” through a few of those things in hopes that someone out there may find similar help from some of these things.

First, let me tell you that there is nothing, nothing, nothing you did to cause clinical depression. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain. There may be contributing factors, but the cause is something biological. Nor, do I believe that depression is a sign that you are “not a good Christian” or that “God is punishing you”. The Bible just does not teach that.

A few things that can help ward off the recurrence of depression and help in the recovery process are:

  • ensure good social support – a strong support system can work for you in a couple of ways
    • they can help identify when your mood is dropping before it “bottoms out”
    • they can assist with your care and help be a sounding board for you
    • they help you know you are loved and cared for when intrusive thoughts tell you otherwise (help you combat the lies with truth)
  • get sufficient rest/sleep – this one is self-explanatory, but one thing to note is that sometimes depressed individuals aren’t actually getting quality sleep though they may be getting plenty of it
  • cut down on less important responsibilities, but do NOT give up things that feed your soul
    • delegate what you can, when you can
    • maintain quality time with friends, hobbies, etc…the things that make you feel alive
  • get timely mental health care
    • this means counseling and medical care
    • the sooner you reach out, the better and more likely you will stave off a deeper depression

Now, let’s get practical…

When I was in the recovery process, some things that really helped me were:

  • taking my thoughts captive
    • you know that those intrusive thoughts only make things worse
    • 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
    • pray about the thought
    • tell someone about it – the thought only has power over you as long as it is secret
    • think on something pleasant (Philippians 4:8)
  • make a playlist of music that spoke to me in this season and edified me
  • spend time in the Bible
    • the only way to combat lies is with truth
  • monitor my expectations
    • “expectations are pre-meditated miseries” ~ unknown
    • your expectations, or holding on hard to your expectations of yourself, your life, etc, sets you up for failure; expectations are not bad, as long as you are realistic and flexible with them
  • know the truth that you are not alone
    • 1 in every 5 Americans has first hand experience with depression, bipolar disorder, or another mood disorder
  • setting up something for myself to do each day and doing it
    • no matter that I didn’t FEEL like it, or didn’t really want to, I made myself do things I used to enjoy, get out, see friends, etc.
  • set a routine up and followed it
    • having a basic routine is key and when I mean basic, I mean BASIC
    • get out of bed, shower, brush teeth, put on clean clothes, etc.

These are just a few of the things that helped me. The more practical ones. Out of my season of depression, I have written over 130 individual devotionals. I do hope one day to get them compiled and published. My heart hurts for those who are in this darkness and struggling for a glimpse of light. I have been there. And I would be lying to say that every day is a good day since. But the days are much better, brighter. And I can embrace the hope that I could, at that time, only name.