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.

Buy Link

Amazon

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.”

Buy Link

Amazon

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?

 

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: The Lady Bornekova Series

The Lady Bornekova Series was inspired by time I spent in the Czech Republic. I fell in love with the people, the land, the architecture, and, of course, the history. When I discovered the history behind the Jan Hus statue, I was all too eager for more! Add to that a visit to a hunting/summer chateau kept by the royal family outside of Hradec Kralove, and the wheels in my head were more than turning. This book began as a one-shot, but I fell in love with the characters and just had to finish their story…what happens to them in the course of the 15-year Hussite Wars?

For those of you who are completely lost, the Hussite Wars was a religious civil war fought in the Bohemian lands (current day Czech Republic). It was sparked by the teachings of Jan Hus (largely influenced by John Wycliff) who had some…challenges with the way the Catholic Church of the day was run. He was like Martin Luther before Martin Luther. (In fact, Martin Luther made a statement that he had been “a Hussite” all along.) Jan Hus was martyred for his stand against the Church and this led to conflict and eventually all out war.

Though the wars lasted 15 years, there will not be like…a book per year. There were 5 “Anti-Hussite Crusades” on the part of the Catholic Church. These crusades will be the benchmarks for the books…I will cover at least one crusade per book. But, my female readers out there that don’t necessarily like to read a lot of fighting…no worries! I don’t either. There is only what fighting is absolutely necessary. This series is more about the relationships between the characters and how they interact and struggle during this major conflict in their land.

Now that I have rambled on for quite some time…let me introduce you to the first two books…

The Lady Bornekova

A strong-willed lady torn between her heart and her duty.

Karin Bornekova struggles with her duty to the Bohemian Crown. Harboring thoughts that could be deemed traitorous, she is sequestered to the Royal Viscount’s hunting lodge. She becomes the target of an individual with murderous intent. Her heart soon becomes entangled though her father intends to wed her to another.

Dramatic, suspenseful, and heart-wrenching, The Lady Bornekova follows Karin as her homeland hovers on the brink of civil war.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Karin sighed as she leaned on Pavel’s shoulder in blissful sleep. It was a sweet sound. Gentle, angelic even. They had not been underway for long, but the movement of the carriage had rocked her into pleasant dreams rather quickly.

Pavel’s nerves were alert, seeming to tingle all at once with her so close. But he dare not move away, lest he wake her. So, he sat still, enjoying an even greater closeness than he had earlier that evening. The contact, while they danced, had been exciting. This was more peaceful but, because of the heat of their contact, enthralling all the same.

As she rested, he listened to the rhythmic clip-clop of the horse’s hooves and focused on the gentle thumping of her heartbeat against his arm.

A crunching sound echoed through the night.

Crack!

The carriage pitched to the side.

Pavel grabbed Karin and held her tight to his body.

Karin awoke with a start, eyes wide.

“Don’t move!” he commanded, wrapping his arms tighter around her as the carriage landed hard, jolting them both.

It continued to roll, slamming them into the side and threatening to throw them out the small window. That would put them in an even more dangerous position.

Pavel kept his body stiff and held on to Karin. He could barely breathe. It was his body that had slammed into the wall and cushioned Karin’s.

The car had not stopped moving, and it threatened to roll onto the roof, teetering precariously between roof and side. How much longer could he hold onto her? How much longer could they endure?

Buy Link

Amazon

The Lady and the Hussites

***SPOILER ALERT IN BLURB IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK***

Their story continues as the Hussite Wars rage on…

Karin and Pavel arrive safely at his parents’ home in southern Bohemia, but things are not as they seem. There are secrets between them. A wall goes up. And then Pavel is called into battle.

Radek and Zdenek are pulled into the conflict of the Hussite Wars despite their best efforts to remain neutral, while Stepan finds himself ready for bloodshed. With tensions mounting within their circle and throughout their country, what will become of Pavel and Karin? Can they find their way back to each other?

Can Karin and Pavel hold onto each other amidst the hardships of war?

Enjoy an Excerpt

***SPOILER ALERT IN EXCERPT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK***

Turning his attention to his beloved, Pavel drew Karin to the horse. He traced a finger down the side of her face as if he could memorize her features more vividly than he already had.

“Your visage will be my constant companion until I return to you.”

Karin’s mouth tugged upward. “Your smile will be mine.”

He leaned in to kiss her once more. This was not the most fevered, passionate kiss they had shared. Not with his parents looking on. Rather it was sweet, tender, filled with hope and promise.

When he pulled back this time, Pavel allowed his fingers to linger on her face but a handful of seconds before he broke all contact with her and mounted his steed. But as she stepped away from the horse’s body, he sought her face. It would be for naught—merely serving to delay him further. Still, he could not stop himself.

But she would not turn. Even as she reached his mother, Karin would not face him.

And he understood. She had met the limits of her strength.

So he urged the horse onward, keeping his eyes on the horizon.

Buy Link

Amazon

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 Sara and Her 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

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Becca Hart

Welcome, Readers! I have another fantastic author for you to meet – Author Becca Hart. I came across her in this wide world of the internet through a connection on my blog. And, finding out she writes clean Romantic Suspense, I was happy to host her on the blog. She is here talking about her work, her process, and even has offered a giveaway! So, keep reading and check out the featured novel!

Hello, Becca! Welcome to my blog. Thanks for being here. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Against All Odds is a Christian romantic suspense novel about the growing love of Elizabeth Seymour and Dr. Gilbert Callahan in the face of a dangerous game of revenge from the sister of the man Elizabeth shot in self-defense two years ago.

What was the inspiration for Against All Odds?

One of the biggest inspirations for it was Lori Wick’s Sophie’s Heart. Though that novel isn’t a romantic suspense, I was intrigued by the growing romantic tension between the main characters in their unique situation. Pride and Prejudice helped inspire it as well, though Elizabeth and Gilbert get along better than Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Oooohhhh…. Pride and Prejudice… one of my favorites!

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

Before the age of 15, at one point in my life, I wanted to be a baseball player! Hey, there were once whole teams of women playing the sport during the Second World War. After that, I wanted to be a medical doctor, given my love of science and helping people. However, despite my extroverted nature, I realized I’m an artist at heart, and I love writing too much to do anything else.

Interesting…you don’t hear of many girls dreaming of being a baseball player! Right on!

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

When I was 15, we had a free day in gym class, and as was my wont to do in those days, I started wandering around and daydreaming, pictures and stories swirling around my head. I’d already been writing for a couple of years by then, with friends and on my own, but it was just something fun to do. That day in the high school gym, I came to the rather sudden realization that it was no longer just “something fun”—I wanted to keep doing and do it for the rest of my life. The writing bug had officially bitten me!

And, as I’m sure you’ve come to realize…there are things about the whole writing thing that we love and things that we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

This may sound odd, but I believe it’s writing the second draft I most dread. By then, I’m trying to get the story tied down and I often find quite a bit rewriting that needs to be done. My brain’s going a mile a minute, trying to figure out if this thing or that will really work and how. If it won’t, I wrack my brain, pull out my hair, and endure many sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do instead (this is one of the places having a writer’s group can really help).

That’s a good point. More eyes on the manuscript…more creative minds…

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

The biggest one is to persevere. Keep plugging away at it, keep practicing. Get into a writer’s group and allow them to critique your writing. Stay open to good, constructive advice, but remember that it’s your work and you can do whatever you want to.

I set a mood when I write with music and the like. I am always curious if other authors do… What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It depends on what I’m writing, and I don’t typically do so. I usually only listen to music when I write if I’m trying to get unstuck from writer’s block or just trying to make the images and words swirling around in my head coalesce into something. When I do listen to music while writing, it’s not stuff I can dance to (too distracting). Sometimes, it’s somewhat depressing and maudlin and other times it’s just slow and instrumental.

Just for curiosity’s sake for my readers… How long does it take you to write a book?

That’s a little hard to say. Against All Odds took between five and ten years, whereas the novel I just finished only took less than a year once I buckled down and started writing.

This, too, I know is so different from writer to writer. Sometimes, it takes a while, sometimes the story seems to “pour” out of you and onto the page.

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

I often break my own promise to myself here—that is, not to work on more than one thing at a time. Truthfully, while my current romantic suspense novel is on the front burner, I’m technically working on four projects at once, counting that! This newer romantic suspense novel features an invisible stalker, much like the one I just finished and sent to the editor.

I tend to do that, too. Work on more than one thing at a time…it can be stressful! Thanks for chatting with us and sharing a little about your process and your work. And, without further ado, we will dive right into Against All Odds…

Against All Odds

Two years after a violent break-in left Elizabeth Seymour widowed and with blood on her hands, she’s finally starting over in the little town of Avalon, Ohio, with her daughter, Haley. She has the house of her dreams, a good church, and friends she can rely on. Everything seems to be falling into place—until she receives a threatening note from Veronica Sadowsky, the sister of the man Elizabeth shot, the same woman who tried to ruin her life once before. This time, though, Veronica won’t stop until she gets revenge.

When Elizabeth’s home goes up in flames, she turns to family friend, Doctor Gilbert Callahan, a widowed father of three. He invites her and Haley to stay with his family. As Veronica draws Elizabeth into a game of increasing stakes, she and Gilbert only grow closer, learning to trust and rely on one another. But Elizabeth’s presence in Gilbert’s home endangers his family and creates tension with his oldest son. Preserving peace in the house is hard enough, but when Veronica comes after Haley, Elizabeth will risk everything—including her life—to get her child back.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Elizabeth grabbed the mail, calling a quick hello to Mr. Helmheckle next door.

A plain white envelope rested on top of a store ad. Her brow furrowed. What was this? She tossed the bills and ads on the end table and tore the strange envelope open. Who would send her a single folded piece of notebook paper?

There were two typed sentences: ‘You thought you could hide? No, I’m watching you.

Her feet rooted to the carpet.

God, no. She stumbled back onto the arm of the chair. She stared at the words till they blurred. Not here. Why here? It was supposed to be over. Avalon was a safe haven. Her eyes slid closed. Lord God, why’s this happening again? How had Adam Sadowsky’s sister, Veronica, found her again? Granted, Columbus was only an hour’s drive, but still. She hadn’t wanted to go too far away from Dad and Darlene, not to mention her sister, Jenna.

Her throat felt like it was clogged with peanut butter. She tried swallowing. It can’t be…

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

A wife and mother of two, I felt the calling to be a writer at the tender age of fifteen. I wrote a few things before that for school and got one of my stories published in The Cauldron, my high school newspaper. Later on in life, I got another short story, “The Drive,” published in the Diverse Voices Quarterly. I went onto to earn my Associate of Arts degree in English from Pikes Peak Community College in 2013. All that time, I’ve worked as hard as I can to learn my craft but learned even more during the editing process of my novel. Against All Odds isn’t the first novel I’ve ever attempted writing, just the first I’ve gotten published. Born and raised in a small town in northeast Ohio, I make my home in southern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains with my husband, rambunctious kids, and a crazy cat.

Connect with Becca and her work

Website – beccahartauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/beccahartauthor

Twitter – @BeccaHart16

GIVEAWAY!

Author Becca Hart is offering 3 (three) free digital copies of Against All Odds one each to the first 3 (three) people to comment on the post and ask a question not among the interview questions. So, get those fingers ready! You can find the button to comment usually at the top of the post. Best of luck!!

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Jaycee Weaver

Hello, readers! It’s that time. That time for me to introduce you to another fabulous author–Jaycee Weaver. I met Jaycee through a group that formed because of our common writing goals (clean romance), Pure Romance Reads. This is a great website if you are looking for quality contemporary or historical clean romance. Here is the website: Pure Romance Reads. And here is a link to the Facebook page: Pure Romance Reads on Facebook.

But I am getting distracted… Author Jaycee Weaver writes clean Contemporary Romance and it goes deeper than your typical fluffy book. But don’t rely on me, let’s let Jaycee speak for herself…

Welcome to the blog, Jaycee. I’m so glad you are here! First and foremost, I’d like to hear a little about your novella.

Adrift: a Grace Springs novella is the first in a spin-off from my Everyday Love series. There is a fictional church, Grace Springs Fellowship, that I’ve tied this and a few upcoming novellas to. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before, told in first person present perspective. Erin is a woman who’s been widowed for several years, but still struggles with overcoming her grief. She knows she wants to, but her life has become something very different than what she’d planned and she’s learning to let the Lord rewrite her story. While God’s doing His thing in her, she meets this really sweet man who happens to attend her church. I won’t tell more of the plot, just that it’s very journal-like and filled with tons of water imagery. While there is a little bit of romance, the real story is her journey from feeling adrift in the sea of grief.

I like this idea. It’s fresh and new (at least to me)…basing this series off a church. What was the inspiration for Adrift: a Grace Springs novella?

Last winter, my husband was facing a five-week, out-of-state work trip. I had a lot of feelings about this and not all of them were happy ones. One night I woke up with a strange rocking sensation like you get when you’re trying to sleep after having been on a boat all day. I had the introductory words in my head so clearly that I rolled over and typed them into my phone as fast as I could. By the time I woke up in the morning, I knew I wanted to write a story about a woman who had been living in grief for too long and was finally ready to take back her life. The story just took its own twists and turns from there as I wrote.

Wow…when inspiration strikes, it strikes, doesn’t it?

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

As a kid, my top three career dreams were to be a professional singer, a writer, or a teacher. From elementary school I made plans to become a teacher in case I was never discovered as the next Debbie Gibson. Ha ha! Everything I did was with that in mind. I babysat, taught Sunday school, worked in daycare and eventually taught Pre-K. About halfway through my degree, I realized I’d lost a lot of my passion for teaching and I allowed my worries over being able to balance the demands our society places on teachers and the frequently unpleasant ways parents choose to deal with them to win out over the dreams and ideals I had about the actual teaching parts.

Praise the Lord, He never closes a door without opening a window. I had a new dream to become a writer. At the time, I thought I’d write Christian non-fiction aimed at new believers. Books that would help them navigate this crazy Christian world filled with wonderful people and also modern-day Pharisees, understanding God’s heart for His people to bring about real, positive change.

To be honest, I let go of both dreams for far too long. I lived out my ultimate dream of becoming a stay-home mom, and for a while I was even a professional crafter. I still mostly stay home, I do still craft, I sing with the worship band, but now I’m also a substitute teacher and a writer. So, really, God has allowed me to weave all of my dreams together into one huge, beautiful new one that is made up of all He’s ever placed in my heart!

Isn’t He just awesome like that? But, in all that transition, especially that period of being a stay-at-home mom, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I honestly don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t want to write at least on some level. I never really pursued it as a profession, though, until my first full-length book came to me and began really taking shape. And now I wonder why it took me so long!

And we all know that, while there are parts of the whole process we love…there are definitely things about it we don’t care for as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

The most dreadful part of writing is always a tie between the edit/revision stage and the waiting for feedback from its first readers. Editing and revising take such a long time and require an author to really step back, look through the eyes of a reader, and admit when something you might like isn’t working. It’s emotionally draining but liberating, too. But waiting for feedback is always tense and rife with insecurity and wondering if anyone else feels the way you do about the story!

I hear ya’! It truly is art…and art is so subjective!

I find I learn a lot about the craft of writing from conferences and reading writing craft books, but also from just reading. We pick up so much intuitively.

What are you currently reading?

That answer literally changes almost daily. I read a LOT, and fast. I’m pretty much always reading one contemporary Christian romance or romantic suspense or another. I just finished Jenn Faulk’s latest, Worth It, and it might take me a few days to move forward after that one. It was absolutely wonderful and everything my heart wants Christian fiction to be—honest, raw, emotionally engaging, with real struggles and real people coming into relationship with a very real Jesus, and of course, a happy ending with plenty of humor, too.

That’s great to hear! I am more often reading clean Historical Romance, but starting to dip my toes back in the waters of Contemporary Christian Romance. I’ll have to add that one to my TBR (to be read) pile.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a general mood I like to set when I write. And that includes music. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I listen to music constantly. My favorite genre is singer/songwriter, especially stuff with a fun beat. Rend Collective, Needtobreathe, All Sons & Daughters, I Am They, and City Harbor are some of my favorites. When writing my upcoming Christmas novellas, though, I had to listen to holiday music while writing because writing about winter in the middle of 100-degree heat? Yeah, not happening without some help! Luckily most of my favorite CCM artists have holiday albums I could shuffle through!

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

I wish I could get into the groove earlier in the day, but I am so not a morning person. My peak writing hours seem to end up being noon to five, which is a totally inconvenient pain because my youngest gets out of school at 2pm, and the older ones get out across town at 3:30, so I have to quit right as I hit my groove! My usual place is at home, but I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad mini, so now I can write pretty much anywhere, anytime, and sync it to my laptop for formatting later!

Something that I find people are always curious about is: How long does it take you to write a book?

That answer is about as consistent as my routine (clue: what’s a routine?). I’m about the least structured person I know. I’m organized and ambitious, usually efficient, but to be all of that I have to roll with life’s demands, which means no two days look the same, ever. My writing time is the same way. My first book took almost a year to write and edit, the second only about six months. Adrift is a 90-page novella and that still took the better part of four and a half months.

However, the Christmas novella that’s going to be part of an upcoming collection (details coming soon!) was a gift from God that only took TWO AND A HALF WEEKS to write. Seriously, I am still in awe of how that happened, and I’m pretty sure it’s the best story I’ve written yet (which is how I know it’s a gift from God and not anything I did!).

It’s amazing how some work just fairly pours out of you and onto the page, isn’t it?

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

Adrift will release on October 1st, but it’s now in preorder. I have kind of an obsession with kitchen concoctions, especially sweet ones. The novella contains a camping scene where they are making some of the most outlandish s’mores you can imagine. If you like s’mores…or don’t, but like other sweet treats, you’ll have to read that scene!

Last question…I promise! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently working on two Christmas novellas that should be out in early November. One is the second in the Grace Springs novella spin-off series called Faith Like Snow, and the other is part of a latino Christian holiday collection (official titles and other announcements coming soon!). That’s the two-week gift story that I can’t wait to share, but since the group is still working out the details, I guess you’ll have to check back in with me soon to find out!

Thank you again, Jaycee, for joining us today on the blog. And for giving us a peek into your novella and your process. I am so eager for my readers to get an even closer look at Adrift, so I’ll not delay, but turn them loose for the rest of the blog…

Adrift: a Grace Springs novella

I’m overwhelmed.Truth be told, I’ve been overwhelmed for years. Adrift in a sea of stress and grief and clinging to the life raft of responsibility.

It’s time I start swimming again. And someday? Maybe surf the waves instead of being pulled under and dragged out to sea.

God offers so much more for Erin than a life of treading water, focusing all her time and attention on running a small business while raising her kids after the death of her husband.
Through strangely poignant dreams and a series of run-ins with an unexpectedly attractive guy from church, Erin finds the hope she’ll not only feel alive again, but maybe even ride life’s waves victoriously.

Enjoy an Excerpt

That ring was my anchor for so long. It about killed me to take it off, but I couldn’t stand all the pitying looks people gave me when they noticed I still wore it. Like there’s some timeline engraved on a stone tablet out there for when a person should suck it up and move on after losing the love of their life.

Who decided a year was long enough, anyway? Like it’s some expiration date that passes and suddenly you’re supposed to be able to live like before?

It’s been almost four years and I’m still not completely sure what I’m supposed to do here without him.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Buy Link

Adrift: a Grace Springs novella https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H14N8G6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

Check Out Some of Jaycee’s Other Works

What Could Be (Everyday Love 1) https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C8QGBG4/ref=series_rw_dp_sw 

 

Whatever Comes Our Way (Everyday Love 2) https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CGHF1MQ/ref=series_rw_dp_sw 

More About the Author

Jaycee Weaver lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her amazing husband, three daughters, a crazy shih-tzu, and a dwarf rabbit. When she’s not writing, she’s probably in hot pursuit of her 90 million other hobbies or shuttling the kids around. Jaycee loves to read books in multiple genres, drink too much coffee (honestly, when are they going to make the coffee IV a real thing?!), sing, take landscape and floral photos, sew, cook, bake, and craft just about anything (can we say Pinterest?). She considers herself a recovering perfectionist and sometimes hot mess. She does her best to live her faith in action, being open, honest, and real and letting God be Lord over the good, the bad, and the ugly even when it’s hard.

Connect with Jaycee and Her Books 

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twitter @weaverjaycee

Instagram @jayceeweaver

www.pinterest.com/weaversgrrrl

www.amazon.com/author/jayceeweaver

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17239020.Jaycee_Weaver