INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Award-winning Author Linda Brooks Davis

Hello, readers! I have a treat for you today! Award-winning author Linda Brooks Davis is here to share her story and share about her books. Including a first reveal of an AMAZING redesigned cover!! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I’m not. Linda’s interview is too good for me to vamp too much before, so I’ll just get to it…

Welcome to the blog, Linda! Thanks for being here. First, can you tell us a little about your novel and perhaps some of the more historically significant events behind your story?

My novel, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, releases in mid-October. Set in 1914, it’s Novel 2 of The Women of Rock Creek series.

[Novel 1 of the series is The Calling of Ella McFarland, which won the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Award in 2014 and ACFW’s Carol Award for Debut Novel in 2016. In this 1905 story, which is re-releasing very soon with a new cover and some added material, Ella McFarland rescues 13-yr-old Lily from a life of depravation and abuse. And finds a calling in the process.]

In The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, it’s 1914, nine years later. Lily is now a grown woman setting out on life with secrets that threaten her every dream. The first flames of the Great War have ignited Europe, and the fight for women’s rights, starting with the vote, is escalating in America. But an additional battle is raging in Oklahoma: a murder trial has concluded, and the jury has reached a verdict. Having testified as an eye witness, Lily’s future rests in the hands of twelve men. Which way will the scales of Lady Justice tip?

Seeking justice, safety for her loved ones, and a voice for women in their governance–the vote–Lily is swept into Texas where she uncovers more than she ever bargained for.

Wow! As a true lover of historical fiction/romance, these sound intriguing! What was the inspiration for your novels?

My grandmother, Ella Jane–for whom the Ella Jane in The Calling of Ella McFarland is named, was reared, married, and bore two of her nine children in Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. My mother, her seventh daughter, was born in Oklahoma in 1919. Both women told tales about the “wilds” of life in Indian Territory and/or the hardships of life in Oklahoma and Texas in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Two elements always stood out in their accounts: faith and grit.

As a child, I was enthralled by these stories and imagined all kinds of life-threatening dangers, loves, loses–and victories. These tales seeded the stories I now write and anticipate continuing to write as long as the Lord blesses me with a brain that still works. (I’m 72, so I’m grateful for each day I can put thoughts to paper–and remember my medications! 🙂

So, these were ideas from childhood…when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Unlike other authors, I can’t say I always wanted to write or I was a writer as long as I can remember. I didn’t scratch out once-upon-a-times alone in my room or in the crook of two limbs of an old tree. Or even in school. I did imagine stories, but I don’t know why I never wrote them down. I think I was just plain bashful, couldn’t imagine setting my private thoughts down on paper for anyone to read. I devoured books and craved the public library in the summer, but those enthralling stories were, I thought, beyond my capacity to write. I enjoyed authorship vicariously, I guess.

While away at college from 1964-68, I enjoyed writing letters home. I imagined my parents and little brother–out on a farm–reading them Waltons-style–and enjoying my college experience vicariously. I told them every move I made (with some editorial flourish, I’m sure) and enjoyed every minute of it. (Later on, as an Army spouse, I did the same thing. But, still, I hadn’t considered writing for publication.0

Then along came a university English professor who took me aside and asked if I’d considered creative writing as a career. The suggestion bowled me over. In a word–No! In fact–Horrors! Put my inner self out there for the world to read and critique? No, no, no. So I chose speech pathology, and I devoted 40 years to working with individuals with special needs of every kind            

Then came first-time grandparenthood–in triplicate form. Yes, my daughter birthed triplets in 2005–a girl and two boys. What a momentous, life-altering event that was! The impact can’t be overemphasized. It literally changed the trajectory of our family’s lives forever. I walked alongside my daughter through her pregnancy journey, one that ranged from simple anxiety to life-threatening moments. She was hospitalized two months. By God’s grace, her body held out to 28 weeks, and the babies weighed in at 2.5 pounds. We basically lived at the NICU for three months.

During that trying time, I wore calluses on my knees. Please, Lord . . . Oh, God, please just . . . Lord, I promise if You’ll . . . My persistence ranked right up there with the desperate widow Jesus speaks of in Luke 18. I love the Amplified Version:

“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and had no respect for man. There was a[desperate] widow in that city and she kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice and legal protection from my adversary.’ For a time he would not; but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will give her justice and legal protection; otherwise [a]by continually coming she [will be an intolerable annoyance and she] will wear me out.’” Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says!And will not [our just] God defend and avenge His elect [His chosen ones] who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay [in providing justice] on their behalf? I tell you that He will defend and avenge them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [this kind of persistent] faith on the earth?”

While the triplets were still fighting for their lives, I vowed to devote the rest of my life to them. And to leave them a legacy of faith in writing. But I hadn’t a clue how or what form it would take. When my daughter named her little girl Ella Jane–for that tiny baby’s great-great-grandmother, my own grandmother Ella Jane–I knew. I’d write a novel. The heroine would be an Ella Jane. The story would be saturated in my grandmother’s history, in the faith and grit she and others in the family spoke of, in the soil where she earned a name worthy of a great-great-granddaughter–Oklahoma’s Indian Territory.

In October a second story about an extraordinary young woman will release. Ella McFarland was born in my grandmother’s life story. And Lily was born in Ella’s. The Lord overrode my inabilities and insecurities. He stands beside me, for better or for worse, a reality I will profess until my dying breath.

What an amazing (and inspiring) story! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve got nothing that can follow that. Nothing. So, I’ll let that lead right into your novels…

 The Mending of Lillian Cathleen

***Available for purchase on Amazon on October 18, 2018***

Enjoy an Excerpt

This is the opening scene to The Mending of Lillian Cathleen:

Ma resisted a drunken beast as long as she lived.

I lower my head to the barren table and run my hands along its blackened surface, as nicked and pitted as my mother’s skin. She fed her brood atop this slab. As best she could.

My fingers coax from the wood’s crannies a lifetime of embedded moments, photo cards in a parlor viewer.

Long extinguished firelight shimmers in the table’s gentle slopes, back light for a promenade of memories.

Pressing my ear to the hardened plane, I capture a fleeting accompaniment, a dirge played on a broken heart. Tin plates clatter. Bean juice sizzles. One corner of the table rocks atop a nail keg. And hands etched with grime grip spoons as if they’re brooms.

My imagined viewer clicks, and a bitter Oklahoma winter arrives. A blowing rain.

Work-roughened hands upend the table and slide it into a rectangular frame, our shanty’s one door, Ma’s feeble attempt to batten her family against storms.

The scene shifts, and a distant Christmas glows in the wood’s warp and woof. Ma sits alone, abandoned to die. I find her. Feed her. Dress her in decent nightclothes. And spread fine quilts over her skeletal frame.

But she disappears without a word, save a penciled note.

Go back to that fancy college, Lil’. Make somethin’ of yourself, somethin’ I weren’t able to do. Fly. For me.

I trace a fingertip along the board’s undulating lines. Love beyond measuring is ground into the wood grain.

Clenching my eyes shut, I glimpse my mother stumbling through a counterpane of snow. To the blacksmith’s shop. And parts unknown.

One photo slide supplants another, and I’m returning to college on rail tracks headed south. For Ma’s sake.

I blink, and the meager lights darken, stirring scraps of a lonely memoir created months ago. Ma and I enjoy a handful of hours in the deep of night, she on one bank of Rock Creek and I on the other. We whisper secrets across the water and hide from the monster she married.

The table’s wooden canvas darkens to black, save a ghastly figure, Walter Sloat. A feather pillow in his tobacco-stained hands. And Ma, spiritless in death.

I should have killed him.

Curling my fingers around the table edge, I wince. A rough-bored hole has nipped my fingernail, peeling it back. I staunch the scarlet bloom, but what’s to be done for the borehole cruelty carved in my heart?

Today’s announcement in downtown Needham will render the first stitch.

Lifting my head, I lean against the sycamore chair back. Hand-carved and rough as a cob in winter, its bumps and bulges poke at me, prod me to cast aside the haunting photo promenade and to stand.

“Ma would’ve judged this day hotter ‘n a billy goat in a pepper patch, Lil’.” Donnie, my bowlegged brother, leans against the door frame and stares at his meager world outside. Stones encircle an abandoned campfire beneath a stubborn black walnut tree, witness to decades of thunderstorms and lightning, droughts and wildfires.

And tumults of a different sort under our tin roof.

He clumps onto the slanting porch. Rickets has stolen his mobility.

I join him. “It’s a hundred and six degrees.”

“You reckon that’s as hot as Ma’s billy goat?” He runs grubby fingers through the thatch he’s chopped neck length with rusted shears.

I grin and ruffle his coffee-black mop. “I reckon so. It’s out of the ordinary for sure.”

But this is no ordinary day.

The jury has reached a verdict.

“Gotta run, brother mine.”

He peers at me, telltale curiosity rimming his black-marble eyes. “Where ya goin’, sis?”

How much do I reveal? Depravation has cast his mind in a limited mold. “I’m going into town. But I’ll be back later on. With some news.”

“What kinda news?”

I tweak the tip of his nose. “The good kind. The kind Ma would whoop over.”

He slaps a thigh and chortles. “I’ll be watchin’ for you then.”

Striding toward the meandering stream behind the shack I once called home, I halt in the tinder-dry brush. And turn for another glimpse of my brother’s gap-toothed grin.

Joy crests near my heart. Good tidings await my brother and me—and our departed ma—the other side of Rock Creek.

The Calling of Ella McFarland

***This is the new cover for The Calling of Ella McFarland, the first reveal prior to its re-release!***

Ella McFarland sits on the precipice of her life’s dream: teaching at Worthington School for Girls. But in the male dominated world of 1905, scandal clouds her family name and may limit her to grueling farm labor in Indian Territory. As hope for Oklahoma statehood rises, a new love buds in her heart, and the woman’s suffrage debate rages, Ella encounters an abused sharecropper’s daughter, forcing her to make decisions she never imagined about her faith, family, and aspirations. What toll will the turmoil demand of Ella’s dream? And what call might God lay on her heart?

Buy Links

The Calling of Ella McFarland: http://amzn.to/2HyxT64

A Rock Creek Christmas Collection: http://amzn.to/2C9NbP1

More About the Author

Linda Brooks Davis was born and reared on a farm in Raymondville, a small Rio Grande Valley community in the southernmost tip of Texas. Linda earned a Bachelor Degree in Speech Pathology from Abilene Christian University and a Master Degree from Houston Baptist University. She retired in 2008 after forty years as a special educator and administrator. Linda and her beloved husband Al worship and minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio and dote on six grandchildren, three of whom are triplets. Readers may contact Linda through her website, www.lindabrooksdavis.com.

Linda’s debut novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, is set in 1905 Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. It won the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Award. It subsequently won the ACFW Carol Award for Debut Novel 2016. The sequel novella, A Christmas to Remember, is set in 1908 Oklahoma and released in December 2016. A second novella, A Christmas Measure of Love, is set in 1910. It released in 2017 as a prequel to Linda’s second full-length novel, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, which is set in 1914 and releases in October 2018.

Connect with Linda and her books

Facebook:   Linda Brooks Davis, Author   https://www.facebook.com/LindaBrooksDavis/

Twitter:   @LBrooksDavis   https://twitter.com/LBrooksDavis

Pinterest:   ljbd1946   https://www.pinterest.com/ljbd1946/

Instagram: lindadavis1321   https://www.instagram.com/lindadavis1321/

Contact Links:

Website: http://lindabrooksdavis.com

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2qshCKq

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2pAcX52

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/linda-brooks-davis

GIVEAWAY!!!

Author Linda Brooks Davis is offering, to TWO winners, a paperback copy of their choosing between her two novels. The Calling of Ella McFarland or The Mending of Lillian Cathleen could be yours! Keep in mind, The Mending of Lillian Cathleen is intended to be read AFTER you have already finished The Calling of Ella McFarland. To enter for one of the these two wins, you must be located in the continental United States. Find the other directions on entering (no purchase necessary) on the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Toni Shiloh

Hey, all! I have another author for you all to meet today! This is an author I met through Pure Romance Reads, a group of clean Romance writers that help created a place where readers can find clean romance and talk about clean romance on the Facebook page: Pure Romance Reads. I am just as excited as anyone to hear more about her work and dive deeper into her process. As a writer, I feel I can (and should) never stop learning. So, here’s Toni…

Thanks for being on the blog today, Toni. Many of my readers wonder about writers and how we chose this career path…or, for many of us, how it chose us.

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

Love this question! It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had different ideas of what that would look like from being a cop, lawyer, interior designer, librarian, and bookstore owner (although that still sounds awesome).

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

The first time would probably be when I took a creative writing class while getting my bachelor’s degree. I had thoughts about it beforehand, but taking that class made it feel like an obtainable possibility.

Alas…you, too, were bitten by the bug! No regrets though, right? Except that there is inevitably something about the writing/publication process that every writer doesn’t care for so much. What part do you dread?

Editing! I love writing the first draft and sometimes even rereading it to polish it. But I dread editing and editing and editing. By the time I’m done editing, I don’t want to read the book any more, lol.

I agree. You get tired of those characters making the same bad choices. Or worse, you get to be like “who wrote this”!?!

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

Read other authors. Figure out what it is about the book that hooked you and then do it in your unique way. Figure out what you didn’t like and avoid that.

I see that. I agree that we pick up a lot intuitively from reading other authors. On that note…what are you currently reading?

While riding a stationary bike in the morning I read Vilette by Charlotte Bronte. For a book club I’m reading Tammy L. Gray’s Until I Knew Myself.

I always have to “set the mood” for my writing…especially when I’m feeling a little blocked. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I love listening to music while I write. I usually try to create a playlist that speaks to what the characters are going through. Usually a mix between contemporary Christian, country, pop, and Indie.

I ask this for sheer curiosity sake from a reader’s perspective. Just one of those “I wonder…” things. How long does it take you to write a book?

It took me three months to write the first draft of Finally Accepted. I would say that’s pretty standard for most of my books unless their a novella or short novel. If that’s the case I probably only need a month or two for the first draft.

Thanks again for being on the blog, Toni, and for sharing with us about your process and letting us “peek behind the curtain” for a moment. Readers, I’ll turn you over to the details about Toni’s Finally Accepted as well as the giveaway below. Happy Reading!

Finally Accepted

 

There’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Grandma, why is my skin different than yours?” Chloe stared at her arms. They weren’t white like the color in the crayon box, but they weren’t dark brown like her grandma’s.

“Because God made us in all different colors. It’s a way for us to remember our uniqueness and how special we are to Him.”

It sounded good, but… “I want to be the same color as you.”

“Why?”

She frowned. Her grandma always asked a lot of questions. “So I can be Black.” She wasn’t sure why people called her grandmother black. She didn’t look like the color but maybe they never heard of dark brown. The kids in her class said she wasn’t Black even though her grandma was. It really didn’t make any sense to her.

“Well, baby, I’m Black and your mama is Black…”

“So I’m Black?” It came out more a question than a statement as her mind tried to wrap around her grandma’s words. Chloe sat up straight. She didn’t know what her dad looked like and right now that didn’t matter.

My mom is Black. Grandma is Black. “I’m Black,” she whispered.

“And loved by God, no matter how light or dark your skin is. Remember that, baby, okay?”

“I will.”

Buy Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2wblC2C
B&N: https://bit.ly/2PgZKeT
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2MsahVP
iTunes: https://apple.co/2MPyHpq
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41150978-finally-accepted

More About the Author

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian contemporary romance author. Once she understood the powerful saving grace, thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.

Connect with Toni and Her Books

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tonishilohwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tonishiloh
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tonishiloh
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh
BookBub: www.bookbub.com/authors/toni-shiloh
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cmNFKD
Blogs I’m part of: http://puttingonthenew.com ; http://heartwingsblog.com ; http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com

GIVEAWAY!!

Toni is offering, to one winner, an ebook copy of Finally Accepted. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel Magee

Hello, readers, I know it’s been a little bit since you’ve heard from me. There’s be a LOT happening in my personal life and it has been hectic. How timely author Rachel Magee’s post is! She’s with us today talking about how to add reading into our back-to-school routines. And, as much as I haven’t been able to fit my normal routine in, reading has not been something I’ve been enjoying lately either. But she has excellent advice. AND she is offering a giveaway! AND telling us about her book Happily Ever Afters! So, this post today, my friends, is full of fun things for you. So, I’ll stop rambling and let you get to it…

Four Ways to Add Reading to Your Back-to-School Routine

by Rachel Magee

Four Ways to Add Reading to Your Back-to-School Routine

It’s back to school season. That time of year when every store is teeming with freshly sharpened pencils and brand-spanking-new backpacks. The air is electrified with the excitement of new beginnings. And whether you’re headed back yourself, sending your little darlings out the door each morning, or simply having to adjust your daily commute to deal with the school zone traffic, this is a great time to rethink daily routine, making healthy choices a priority. But is reading one of those priorities?

Reading has tons of benefits for every age group. Studies have proven spending more time reading or being read to can increase vocabulary, is directly linked to doing well in school, lessens stress and makes you more productive at work. Plus, it’s enjoyable. Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book? But in our busy lives, finding time to carve out for reading can be tricky. So here are four easy ways to add more book time to your daily schedule.

  1. Read to your kids before bedtime, even the big ones.

Many parents do this when their kids are little, but do you continue when they get into elementary school, junior high or even high school? Making this part of your daily routine, even if it’s only ten or fifteen minutes before lights-out can be a great thing for both of you. Besides all the benefits of reading before bed (helps you sleep, reduces anxiety, sharpens mental focus) it can also give you a chance to connect with your child. Have your kid choose books he/she likes or pick titles they have to read for school. It’s a great way to learn what your child like as well as spark discussion. You might even try throwing in a favorite book from when you were their age. Your kids, especially the big ones, might find you have more in common than they thought.

  1. Read out loud to your spouse.

I know several couples who have celebrated decades together who have always made this part of their daily routine. Sharing a book with your significant other can create intimacy and keep you connected. At first, choose a book you will both enjoy and take turns reading out loud. As you get more in the rhythm of this routine, take turns picking titles from genres each of you enjoy. This will deepen your understanding and appreciation of each other as well as expose you to books you might not have chosen on you own.

  1. Listen to audio books on your commute.

We all spend time in the car, and with audio books so widely available, this is an easy way to incorporate more reading time into your day. Even a ten minute commute is enough time to listen to several pages, if not a whole chapter of a book. Do you carpool? Perfect! You now have your very own book club. Driving kids to soccer practice and piano lessons? This is a great time to read a book together as a family. For some added discussion, stop the book from time to time and ask thought-provoking questions. You might learn something new about the people you drive with every day.

  1. Make waiting time reading time.

Whether we want to or not, we spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for an appointment, waiting in carline, waiting to see the doctor or while you get your oil changed. And let’s be honest, most of us waste that time staring at social media. Why not make this time your reading time? Keep an ebook on your phone just for these occasions. Not only will it make the wait go faster, you’ll be doing something good for yourself at the same time.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make reading part of your daily back-to-school schedule? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and let us know when you’re reading this fall and who you’re reading with

Thanks for that wonderful post, Rachel. Now, if I can nab you for a couple of questions, I’d love for you to tell us a little about your novel.

Happily Ever Afters came to me when I was on vacation with a group of my girlfriends. It is a love story, but at its core it’s a story about friendship, resilience, and learning to love after loss.

I also have a new book coming out next month based on one of the characters in Happily Ever Afters. This new book is a lot of fun and I’m really excited about it, but I’m not releasing any details until next week. If you want a sneak peek now, you have to head to my website: RachelMageeBooks.com

I love those kinds of sequels–ones that are not necessarily a cliff-hanger, but give us more of the story in that “world”.  What are you currently reading?

The titles on the stack of books next to my bed may change, but the composition pretty much stays the same. There is a devotional, a non fiction book about some topic I want to learn about (right now it’s writing) and, of course, a novel with a happy ending.

Rachel, thank you so much for being on the blog today, sharing your thoughts and giving us some practical ways to enjoy reading even as our schedules get a bit more hectic. And now, readers, we’ll turn more toward Rachel’s book, Happily Ever Afters and get a closer look.

Happily Ever Afters

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas, and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I found myself face-to-face with a long, slender fish that had to be close to three feet long. His shiny stainless steel scales looked tough, and his eyes seemed to fix on me as he glided through the water with confidence. I inched back, but he continued straight for me. His lips curled up, and he flashed a smile revealing two ominous rows of razor sharp teeth. I’ve seen pictures of the majestic barracuda before and admired their sleek beauty, but seeing one up close and personal made me want to pee my pants.

I scrambled to the side, out of his direct path, hoping he would continue on to wherever it was he seemed so intent on going. But the fish altered his trajectory, his menacing smile widening as he came right at me. The realization that I was his intended destination shivered through me.

Let the record show that in the battle of Lainey versus the fish, the fish won. I conceded. I screamed, a muffled sound that shot out my snorkel, and turned for the boat’s platform. Grabbing the ladder, I pulled myself out of the water and struggled to tuck my finned feet up to the highest rung. The fish sauntered under me, pausing to cast one last menacing glance my direction.

“Holy fish!” I breathed out, spitting the snorkel from my mouth. A chuckle came from above me.

“They might be scarier than sharks.” Carter sat casually on the end of the platform with his feet dangling in the water, his fins and mask propped next to him.

“I wasn’t expecting him.” I climbed all the way out of the ocean and onto the boat. Scanning the water to find Kara and Reece, I located them midway over the reef, seemingly unaware of my absence. I slunk down next to Carter and pulled my knees into my chest. Until my shiny friend was long gone, I wasn’t willing to dip anything into the water. I slid my mask off and wiped the salt water from my face.

“What are you doing up here and not out there?” I asked.

“Watching a hardcore chick take on an unusually large barracuda.”

“Yeah, thanks for the help.”

“I never doubted your ability to take him.” A playful half smile lit his face.

“I did. Did you see those teeth?” I shivered thinking about it. “He was not my favorite fish of the day.”

“You going back out?”

I peered over the side and searched the water below. “Still trying to make up my mind. You?”

“Same. I’m enjoying the solitude of the moment.” Carter stared serenely out at the sparkling water before us.

“Is that a hint for me to dive in?”

“No,” he said, his blue eyes meeting mine. “Stay.”

Buy Link

Amazon

Also on Kindle Unlimited

More About the Author

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water. Find out more about what Rachel has been up to at rachelmageebooks.com.

Connect with Rachel and Her works

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachelmageeauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/rachell_magee

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/u/2/100755997821645118769

GIVEAWAY!!!

Rachel is offering a $10 amazon gift card for one winner!! The winner will be chosen from among the comments on this blog post. We will close the contest September 5, 2018 at 11:59 pm. You can find the comment button most often at the top of the blog post. You can react to the post in your own words or answer this question:

How do you find time to read in the busyness of the school year?

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Sara Jane Jacobs

Welcome, everyone! I have another author to introduce to you today. I met Author Sara Jane Jacobs through Clean Reads, our common publishing company. But Sara and I are also connected through Pure Romance Reads, a small collection of authors who write clean romance. You can find more information about this group on our website: pureromancereads.com or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pureromancereads/

But I would love you to meet Sara and get a feel for her process and her work. So, without further ado, here’s Sara:

Hello, Sara! Thanks for being on the blog. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

Here’s the blurb:

“I’m deploying.”

The words slam into me with an unseen force that robs me of my next breath. Tyler has been my best friend for the last ten years, and we never keep secrets from each other. Well, except that one. The big one. The one where I’m in love with him. And now that he’s deploying as a Navy SEAL, only one thought consumes me: What if I never get the chance to tell him?

But I think Tyler keeps a similar secret of his own. Sometimes I’m sure I see it in his eyes. And then it’s gone.

With his impending deployment, we’re both warring in an inner struggle that threatens our undoing. Throw in my controlling, matching-making aunt and our secret love might never get the chance it deserves.

Or will it?

What a great blurb! I’m drawn in already!

Did you always want to be a writer?

No.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be an actress, although I was very shy! But that didn’t keep me from auditioning for plays whenever I had the opportunity.

So fun! I did, too! But, while I enjoyed being on the stage, my parents encouraged my love of science and medicine.

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

When I was working at an insurance company just out of high school. There was a guy who worked in the mail room who was a script writer (his goal was to write for a soap opera). I had this idea that maybe I could create a character for one of my favorite TV shows, so I started to experiment. After I left that job and got married, I decided to try writing a script for a movie. I sent it off to a few places but didn’t pursue it any further. A few years later, a friend suggested I turn my story into a book.

It’s very interesting what paths lead people into writing. But one thing that I find we all have in common is a love of reading and stories. And that never seems to die.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading If Not for You by Debbie Macomber. It’s my first Debbie Macomber book. I am loving it!

I have heard so many good things about her. That makes one more. I need to add this to my TBR pile.

Now, I am always curious about other writers’ processes and writing environments. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I usually don’t listen to music, especially if I’m able to open the windows and listen to the birds. But occasionally I will turn on classical. I can’t listen to music with words when I’m writing. But during short breaks I might listen to a song for inspiration. It will usually be something my current character enjoys or something that inspires me about the story.

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

Early in the morning is my favorite time to write. That way I have a better chance of reaching my word count goal (which can take anywhere from three to four hours). I usually write on my desktop but my favorite place to write is outside.

I am trying to nail down a good balance of marketing and writing and mothering and housekeeping. Though I’ve been doing this for a few years now, things are constantly changing and I am still looking for a good balance.

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

I’m currently working on the third and final book in the series (although there will be at least one spin-off!)

Thanks so much again, Sara, for being on the blog. I have enjoyed talking with you. Now, I’ll turn this over to my readers so they can learn more about Season of Hope.

Season of Hope

Video Trailer

Enjoy an Excerpt

To set this up, Tyler and Phoebe (Amanda’s controlling aunt who doesn’t like Tyler) have just had a huge argument during dinner bringing the evening to an abrupt end . . .

A heavy cloud of silence hung in the room. Amanda looked as if the roof had just caved in. Her eyes met Tyler’s, finding a hint of remorse there before he lowered his gaze and disappeared down the hall.

Ten minutes had passed before he slipped into the kitchen, trying in his own way to make amends. Amanda was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice him behind her, until he grabbed a dish towel and reached for the pan she had just washed. He stood next to her, and she could feel him glance her way.

“AJ, dinner was fabulous.”

She turned a blank face to him, then went back to washing dishes. “It was certainly an evening to remember,” she said without emotion.

“Listen,” he continued, “I am sorry. I know she’s your aunt, but—AJ, she is putting her ambitions ahead of your well-being! I couldn’t just stand by and let that happen!”

“Tyler, I know you meant well.” Her voice remained low and controlled, but her anger came through loud and clear. “But you and Phoebe are both forgetting that I can think for myself. I want your advice because I trust you. And I’ve let Phoebe have as much control as she has because I trust her. I realize that she has been taking every offer that we can possibly fit onto my calendar, but right now I need that. I need to stay busy.”

“Why, AJ? Why do you feel like you need to stay busy?” he pressed.

She avoided his gaze, sensing there would be a probing look in his eyes. Her focus stayed on the task of dishwashing as she answered his question. “Because I miss home and the life we left behind. And what might have been if you and I had both stayed on Nathan’s Mountain.”

An inner cringe ran through her over her last comment. The last thing she wanted was for Tyler to know of her feelings for him. Right now it was clear to her that the timing was all wrong for them. The country was at war, and it was just a matter of time before he was deployed. A year ago she was still living in her bubble on Nathan’s Mountain, not knowing what it would mean for Tyler to become a Navy SEAL. Now she understood all too well.

“If you miss home, why don’t you just go back?”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What? The BUD/S graduate wants me to quit? Give up and go home?”

“I want you to be happy.” There was a fierceness in his tone. He took a moment to gain control of his emotions. His voice was calm as he repeated the words. “I want you to be happy.”

Amanda could feel months of pent up frustration rising to the surface as she rinsed the last pan and yanked the stopper from the sink. “Happy, Tyler? Where is the happy in all of this?” she asked, drying her hands and tossing the dish towel on the counter. “Where is the happy in knowing the danger you will be in once you’re deployed? Home can’t fix this, Tyler. Nothing can fix this.” Amanda tried not to burst into tears as she hurried from the kitchen.

A Special Treat – another Video Trailer (for The Visitor)

More About the Author

Sara Jane Jacobs lives life Corem Deo along the Emerald Coast of Florida. She’s a mom to two, a nonni to three and a cat wrangler to four. A morning enthusiast, she loves the outdoors and open windows, even in the middle of summer.

She dabbled in writing for thirty years before deciding to send her work to a publisher in 2016. Her first book, Season of Hope was published in March of 2017. Book two, Season of Deception, followed in August of the same year. The two stories were originally written as one manuscript (Season of Deception) but she was forced to divide them in order to align with submission guidelines and that’s how Season of Hope was born!

Connect with Sara and her books

website: https://www.sarajanejacobs.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarajanejacobsauthor/

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsarajanejacobs/

GIVEAWAY!

A copy of Season of Hope. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below.

**Continental United States only.**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW, INTERVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Kelly Goshorn’s “A Love Restored”

Review

A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn is a story about the things we tell ourselves, the truth that goes beyond that, and the affect that can have on our ability to love others. It is a lovely story about a romance that is sweet at first, but gains real depth and dimension as you dive in further. The well-crafted writing skills of the author make for an enjoyable and easy read. You can see the mountains, feel your own heart beat quicken with Ruth Ann’s, and even smell the pie.

The characters are well developed and, like the romance, they all have depth to them. And there were all the feels. For sure.

One of the things I loved about this novel was that the main female character is not your “typical” size. She’s got curves. And she struggles for the way society looks upon her (as would be expected during this period for the described amount of plumpness she possesses). This led to some insecurity issues and challenges loving herself, but in no way did the author demean or mishandle the situation historically or for anyone reading that has experiences such inner and outward struggles. To the contrary, I felt Goshorn elevated this situation and showed that this type of heroine is appropriate and belongs.

I absolutely enjoyed this story and look forward to reading what comes next from Goshorn.

5 STARS!

Interview

Hey, Kelly! It’s great to have you on the blog. I so very much enjoyed the book. But for my readers who haven’t read it, can you give us an overview of the book?

From the back cover: She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.

With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

You had mentioned something to me about your inspiration for A Love Restored that I found very interesting. Care to share it with my readers?

A Love Restored is based on my real-life love story with my husband, Mike—all of our ups and downs, including our emotionally devastating break up. When I first began writing, I tinkered with a story about Irish mail-order brides (the whole mail-order bride thing just fascinates me). Hubby read it, told me it “wasn’t bad,” then suggested I write our story. Skeptical, I questioned him. “Are you sure. I mean you don’t look so good in that story for a long time.” He grinned and responded, “Yeah, but I think it turned out all right.” I’d have to agree. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in mid-June.

I loved so many things about this. And there were definitely times in the story (knowing ahead of time that it was inspired by your own romance), that I wondered which details were based on real life and which were fictionalized.

How much of your heroine’s journey mirrors your own?

Like my full-figured heroine, Ruth Ann, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life. That struggle plays an important part in our story. I’ve had cruel things said about my appearance. Oftentimes by people who were supposed to love me. But their insensitive words failed in comparison to the ugly way I spoke to myself. I’d become so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem. I’d allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short. My own journey to self-acceptance, as well as what a loving God will do to grab a stubborn woman’s attention, are pivotal to the story line.

And, as you saw in my review, was one of my favorite things about this book! I loved seeing a heroine that wasn’t so typical, yet was handled appropriately to the period and still affirmed the value of women of all sizes.

You mentioned that your husband “doesn’t look so good” in the story for a long time. What were the highlights and challenges of telling your husband’s journey through your hero, Benjamin Coulter?

Showing readers what a jewel my husband, Mike, is was definitely the highlight. Like my husband, Benjamin makes Ruth Ann laugh, holds her accountable to herself and is very generous with his time and talents. He is extremely intelligent, and like my husband, Benjamin woos Ruth Ann with his guitar and teases her about my not-so-stellar singing voice.

Like my hero, Mike also struggled with his pride and let vows, words he’d spoken over himself, dictate his choices. Benjamin’s journey is about finding the courage to challenge society’s idea of what success and beauty look like as well as trusting God’s plan for his life. I found it challenging to write his character, who struggles to come to terms with Ruth Ann’s fuller-figure, without making him look shallow.

I hope readers will find him to be strong, good-hearted character struggling with a very human flaw who looks to God and scripture for guidance and healing.

Now, as much as the story rings true for you and your husband, there are pieces that speak to history. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Since the story is based on my life, it was a natural choice to make my heroine a teacher as well. While researching the post-Civil War history of my town and the county as a whole, I began reading about the life of the freed slaves in the area and the Freedman’s Schools to educate them. I discovered that Fannie Wood, a white woman from Middleboro, Massachusetts, came to the area to teach in one of the newly authorized Freedman’s Bureau schools in the nearby town of Warrenton.

But in Reconstruction Era Virginia, Miss Wood’s tenure would not be without opposition from those who did not want the freed slaves educated. A Warrenton newspaper, The True Index, printed the first paragraph of a threatening letter sent to Miss Wood: “We the young men of this town think you are a disgrace to decent society and therefore wish you to leave this town before the first of March and if you don’t there will be violence used to make you comply to this request.”

That threatening note became the inspiration for my secondary storyline in A Love Restored.

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

Truthfully, I never saw it coming! I had always enjoyed writing papers for my college history classes, but I NEVER considered writing fiction. I’d been a successful in-home childcare provider for nearly twenty years, but I knew in my heart it was time to move on to something new.

My husband and I began praying for God to give me a new direction, a new passion in my life I would undeniably know He’d planted in my heart. On a whim, I began tinkering with storytelling and it didn’t take long for my secret hobby to become my God-given passion!

Though our hearts long to write, there’s always that part of the process we don’t care for so much. What is it for you?

Filling up the blank page. Ugh. Sometimes it is a real slugfest to fill up that empty page and get the draft written. I much prefer the editing process. Taking those rough words and polishing them until they shine is the part I enjoy the most.

Everyone is so different. I’d much rather fill that blank page than edit any day! How fun!

We are also always learning from others – conference, books on the craft of writing, workshops, critique groups…even when we are reading. What about you? What are you currently reading?

I just finished a wonderful retelling of the book of Hosea, Hosea’s Heart, by Linda Wood Rondeau. Next up: I’m torn between The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright and More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer. I tend toward historical fiction/romance but also want to read Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan that looks laugh-out-loud funny and I just picked up Once Upon A Laugh (a collection of contemporary novellas) and am itching to read that as well. Perhaps your readers can help me decide?

I wonder if they can. I may have some willing to give it a go!

My readers all know by now that I have to set the mood for my writing–music definitely included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

When I’m writing I usually listen to classical or big band music. Nothing with words or I begin singing along and lose track of my storyline. LOL! I do have a playlist for my current series that I listen to when mowing the lawn or driving to keep me connected with the story. Those songs are a mix of country and contemporary Christian music.

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

After living most of my life as a night owl, I’ve become an early morning person! Gasp! I usually roll out of bed around 5am, make a cup of tea, have some quiet time with the Lord and get to it. I usually have my modest word count goal of 1K/day made by 7-7:30 am. As far as a favorite place to write, not one in particular. Have laptop will travel. LOL! I’m downstairs in the early morning so hubby can sleep, but later in the morning when editing or working on other writing related tasks I can be found in the leather recliner, on the back porch when the weather permits or at my local coffee shop indulging in a chai tea latte.

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

A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and Ruth Ann discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

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

I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts. Set in Civil War Virginia, the series examines what happens when God calls us to surrender those things we hold most dear. Characters are called to sacrifice their dreams and ambitions, their pride, and ultimately their hearts as God recklessly pursues each of them. Hearts and wills are challenged, and lives transformed as characters experience restoration with one another and with God. If readers are interested in learning more, the can visit the Surrendered Hearts page on my website.

Thank you, Kelly for being on the blog today. It has been wonderful to chat with you and delve into some of the things behind the book and behind your process a little bit. Now, I must give the blog over to my readers so they can explore the novel for themselves!

A Love Restored

Enjoy an Excerpt

Loudoun County, Virginia

August 1873

Benjamin Coulter cringed as the shrill tune hung in the air. That woman sure knew how to ruin a Sunday afternoon. Sounded like something was dying and needed to be put out of its misery.

He shook his head. All he wanted to do was rest a while longer. His decision to go around his headstrong superior and talk to Mr. Farrell directly about his boss’s inaccurate measurements had made for a nerve wracking week. That decision could have cost him his job. Thankfully, his discovery had been received well, saving the struggling railroad both time and money.

Benjamin leaned against the sycamore tree and tossed his line into the creek. A slight hint of remorse nicked his conscience. He now sat poised to guide the construction of the Washington & Ohio Railroad through the town of Catoctin Creek and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Winchester, but he hadn’t intended to get his boss fired. If only the man hadn’t refused to admit he’d made a mistake.

Yep, it was all coming together. Just the way he’d hoped it would when he agreed to leave Texas and take this apprenticeship in Virginia. All he had to do was pass that examination next spring and…

He shuddered. The woman’s screeching escalated to a bone-grating pitch. She’d frighten the fish away for sure. Like most folks, Sunday was his day off, and he didn’t intend to spend it listening to her sing off-key.

Wedging his pole in the mud of the creek bank, he set off to investigate. Her ear-piercing slaughter of The Merry, Merry Month of May led the way. He spied his first glimpse of the lyrical assassin through the thin limbs of a dogwood tree. Perched on a large, flat rock at the edge of the creek, she swirled her bare feet in the water. Behind the rock sat a pair of woman’s boots—fancy ones. Too bad she hadn’t spent some of her shoe allowance on singing lessons. Her voice cracked. “The skies were bright, our hearts were light, in the merry, merry month of May…”

Benjamin winced. That was the fourth time in a row she’d sung that part. For the love of Pete, didn’t Miss Fancy Boots even know the words? He needed to put a stop to this so he could continue fishing—and napping. He stepped forward then stopped. The woman reached up and removed a pin from her hair, then another. Mounds of long chestnut brown ringlets spilled over her shoulders into the middle of her back.

Curls. He groaned. Why’d she have to have curls?

“The skies were bright. Our eyes were light…”

Never mind. Curls or not, the woman’s voice could haunt the dead.

Buy Links

A Love Restored is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble

More About the Author

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

Connect with Kelly and her works

Website http://kellygoshorn.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/KellyGoshorn

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kelly.j.goshorn/

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

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

GIVEAWAY!!

Kelly will giveaway one E-copy of A Love Restored to one random commenter below. To enter, help Kelly choose what book to read next from the following choices: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright, More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer, Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan and Once Upon A Laugh (Anthology or Rom-Coms). Be persuasive and let her know the why behind your choice. Have you read it? Want to read it? Love the cover? Read other books by that author?

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Sara R. Turnquist’s “Trail of Fears”

Welcome, everyone! I know I usually have an author to introduce you to, but today, I wanted to introduce you to my newest release: Trail of Fears! I have some goodies below for you to jump into the book a little more and a giveaway following so you can possibly snag yourself a copy!

Trail of Fears

He’s a steadfast missionary. She’s a proud Cherokee. Can their love survive the brutal Trail of Tears?

Thomas Greyson believes God had called him to spread the gospel. He leaves his sheltered world behind to live among the native peoples and teach in their school. But as the government tightens its grip, not everyone is ready to listen to the gospel’s message of love… least of all the stubborn beauty who stole his heart.

Adsila resists bending her knee to the white man’s God when Thomas seemingly tries to steal away the last remaining shreds of her heritage. Is she prepared to fight him tooth and nail? But when he stands with her people in the face of hardship, her soul begins to long for the curious stranger and his unshakeable faith.

Against impossible odds and staggering loss, can Thomas and Adsila find the strength to follow their hearts’ true path?

Trail of Fears is a stirring historical romance that captures the heartbreaking reality of the Trail of Tears. If you like spirited characters, personal journeys of faith, and enduring love stories, then you’ll adore Sara R. Turnquist’s gripping tale of survival and salvation.

Buy Trail of Fears to embark on a harrowing journey of faith and love today!

Teaser Video

Video Trailer (**you’ll want your volume on)

Enjoy an Excerpt

Thomas let out a deep sigh. Having finished his lessons for the day and dismissed his students, he took a moment to gaze over his humble classroom. Was he reaching them? His students performed well in their subjects, but had he made any lasting impact? He sighed again as he rubbed chalk dust from his hands. Perhaps only time would tell.

He gathered his things and made short work of closing the small schoolhouse. As he stepped out of the makeshift building, a breeze flowed over him. His eyes slid shut. If only it could take his worries and cares with it. The burst of air washed over him and refreshed his senses. And he allowed it. For several blissful moments.

His shoulders tightened, and his brow furrowed. What interrupted his peace? The children. Their eyes stared into him even now. Wanting, hurting, asking for something deeper than grammar and equations. It was important they get good instruction in these basic subjects; but it was vital they learn about God, about Jesus, about the Gospel.

Opening his eyes, Thomas gazed across the landscape. There were a few cabins visible from this vantage point. The Cherokee, his mission field, had proved more resistant than he had anticipated. His studies had taught him how much they’d given up to become ‘civilized.’ Much of who they were now lay in the past. Curious.

He began the walk toward his own cabin.

Did the Cherokee believe he now asked them to give up the last bit of their culture? Their religion? Was that the reason for the difficulty he had acquainting himself with his neighbors?

He had been invited to sup with Atohi and his family once a week, and he had the school. Beyond that, no one would open their doors, or their hearts. Or listen to the message he brought. No matter what the chief said, he was an outsider.

He spotted his cabin on the horizon. The structure’s modest proportions were nothing compared to his parents’ large home in Charlotte. But it belonged to him.

What would his mother think of him living in such a tight space? Unthinkable! Inhumane! And all other such craziness. But the little house had been more than adequate.

Ducking, he stepped through the door and set his school supplies down. He crossed his arms as his gaze wandered about the small space. It needed a good cleaning. There were dirty plates and a pile of clothes in the corner—it made him long for one day of the housekeeper’s time.

But as much as this humble abode belonged to him, the chores did as well.

Not today.

He needed respite for his soul. Having no one to talk to or share his concerns with, he often found himself in need of time alone with God. Grabbing for his knapsack, he walked back into the sunlight.

Today he needed space. From this village. From these worries.

Working his way up the creek, he left any semblance of the known behind as he sought a quiet spot in which to commune with God. He lengthened his stride, and the worries of the past days faded as the cabins diminished in his view.

He pulled at the strap of his knapsack, reassured by its weight. It was but a slight burden, bearing only his Bible, a block of wood, and his whittling knife.

From his youth, his father worked with him to whittle, using first soap and a dull blade. Soon after, he graduated to wood and a real blade.

His mother encouraged him to pursue art and sculpting as he grew, but his true passions lay with God’s direction—the mission field. Still, there was nothing like using his hands to create statuettes of birds, squirrels, and many other things in God’s natural world. But it could never be more than a hobby.

Glancing back, the village had long since disappeared. Perhaps now he should look for a place to nest down. Then he might read and study to his heart’s content.

And pray.

Perhaps even work the knife over the block and bring something new into being.

A tree nearby stood tall and proud. The grass around it appeared a lush seat. Nature’s chair, already prepared for him.

He stepped toward the aged oak, placing a hand on the trunk and shrugging the knapsack from his shoulder. Gazing up the height of the tree, he wondered at the storms it had weathered. Would he, too, prove sturdy enough to stand such tests?

Water splashed. Where did that come from? It seemed close. Should he concern himself with it? Maybe it was nothing more than a wild animal further upstream.

Or was it?

He wouldn’t have to go but a few feet.

But would it be dangerous to sneak up on an animal with no rifle?

The splashing continued.

Didn’t sound too large, he wagered.

He pulled the bag over his head, the strap resting across his chest, and stepped in the direction of the sound. The creek made a sharp turn a few yards upstream.

Following the bend, he kept his footfalls as soundless as possible and slowed his steps as he drew ever nearer.

The sounds were so clear now. For certain, he was only a few yards from the animal. He came to a stop and, holding his breath, lifted a shaking hand. This was nonsense. There was nothing to fear. Steeling himself, he pushed the tree limb to the side.

A young Cherokee woman stood in the creek, water to her knees. More striking—she wore a traditional deerskin dress.

He had never seen such, except in pictures.

Belted at the waist with fringe on the hem and on the sleeves, it was rather… becoming. And because of the depth of the water, she had hiked the skirt until the hem only covered her to mid-thigh. Long, black hair hung loose, flowing about her shoulders.

His face warmed. He wanted to turn away, to back up, to slip from this scene. In truth, he should. But he couldn’t.

She was captivating. The young woman hummed a tune that could have been as old as her people. And she moved back and forth in the water to a rhythm all her own. Was she from a nearby village? Perhaps she sought the same thing he did—solace.

Yes, he should go. Should have gone before now.

Moving one foot back, he put his weight on it.

Still, he could not tear his eyes away.

As he pressed back on that foot, the ground moved underneath him.

And he slipped.

When he stopped sliding down the small embankment, he was in the creek.

Jarred. And well deservedly so. But as he moved, nothing seemed broken, thank the Lord.

He opened his eyes and shifted forward, squatting on his toes. And the blunt end of a rather large branch greeted him. Mere inches from his chest.

Two angry deep brown eyes glared at him from the other side of the scary-looking limb.

His hands shot in the air.

“What are you doing here? Spying on me? White man!” Her voice was strong, harsh. Not at all like the gentle cadence he’d just heard.

“No.” He backed up as he rose, almost tripping on the smooth stones in the creek.

She kept step with him, not allowing for one inch of distance to come between him and the branch.

“I was… I was walking along and came upon you… by accident” He tried to find his words.

“By accident? You expect me to believe that?” Her eyes flashed. One side of her dress kept slipping down, exposing a perfectly browned shoulder.

He lowered his eyes. “I promise you. I am the village missionary. My village is three miles… that way.” Raising a hand a hair higher, he pointed behind himself.

“Missionary? So, you are the one teaching our children lies.” Her voice gave no hint of softening. She raised the branch higher so it was in his face.

“Yes. I mean, no! I mean…” He touched the branch with one finger to ease it back down.

Clearing his throat, he attempted to speak more firmly. “I am the missionary sent to teach. But I speak only the truth.”

Her lips curled into a snarl. “I suppose that is what you believe.” She lowered the branch… slowly.

“Please.” He stuck his hand over the lowering branch. “My name is Thomas.”

She stared at his hand, eyes dark and hard. “You should make your way back to the village before it gets dark, Missionary.” Taking a step back, she left no room for argument.

He let his hand fall to his side. Still, he could not just let it be.

“And you are?” he called after her.

“Someone who doesn’t trust you,” she said as she backed away from him, her gaze continuing to follow his every movement.

Pursing his lips, he lowered his eyes. What more was there to say? He swallowed against the tightness in his throat.

One more person who didn’t trust him.

His hands balled into fists. Was there nothing he could do to change his plight? Moving toward the embankment, he stepped out of the creek.

But before he began his climb, he paused. Nothing would excuse him not being a gentleman. He ground his teeth. “Shall I escort you back to the village?”

No answer. Not even a sharp rebuke.

He turned.

But she had vanished.

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, I’m living 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 – http://saraturnquist.com

Twitter – @sarat1701

Facebook – AuthorSaraRTurnquist

Pinterest – SaraVTurnquist

Instagram – @sarat0103

YouTube Channel – Sara Turnquist

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away TWO (2) ebook copies of my release, Trail of Fears. To enter, follow the directions on the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Hello, readers! I have an author for you to meet today that you will adore! A clean Historical Romance author!! I am always excited to introduce you to new authors, but I can’t help but be a little bit partial to my favorite genre. Author Catherine Ulrich Brakefield is here to talk about her Destiny Series. And I can’t wait for you to meet her. So, without further ado, let’s move on…

Welcome, Catherine! And thanks for joining us today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Destiny’s Whirlwind is the second book of the four-book faith-based Destiny series: Collina McConnell is thrust from adolescence to adulthood as she promises her father she will manage their estate, but her father dies before disclosing the mystery behind his legacy for Shushan. Dashing Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help, and suddenly Collina’s heart has a will of its own. Does he feel the same for her? War is declared, and he leaves for the Cuban shoreline. He holds the key to her heart, but will he return?

I like the premise! Of course, Historical Romance is my favorite genre. So you have definitely piqued my interest. If you can, tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Because Destiny’s Whirlwind is part of a series, Swept into Destiny is the first book of the series. I shall supply a special Bonus Chapter to anyone who asks for this to go along with Destiny’s Whirlwind. http://www.crossrivermedia.com/Destiny-2-Chapter-Bonus.pdf

Swept into Destiny is about an Irish Immigrant named Ben McConnell and a southern belle named Maggie Gatlan.

Collina McConnell is Ben and Maggie’s daughter and the story begins just before the Spanish-American war in 1898. In Destiny’s Whirlwind, the McConnells have just come through battling smallpox.

You’re not making me want this series less 🙂 I am super intrigued now! Would you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

During the late 1800s up to around 1906 this time in America was much like the Victorian Era in Europe. This was America’s “coming out” era for women, so to speak, as portrayed by Charles Dana Gibson’s interpretation of this time in his Gibson Girl.

Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were volunteers and didn’t have a regimented uniform when the Spanish American War began. Because of the Rough Rider’s heroic exploits, they became the forerunner of the Great War’s cavalry unit in 1917.

Love those historical tidbits! What was the inspiration for your novel?

My grandmother inspired Destiny’s Whirlwind and the Destiny series. I never knew that the Irish immigrant often did the work that the slaves were too valuable to do. I had heard little about the Spanish-American War in school. It was my grandmother who drew my attention to that era. I never heard about the Gibson Era until Gran told me about the large sleeves and taffeta skirts that rustled when you walked.

Gran told me stories about her family, their determination to keep Shushan (a fictitious name) and about her eldest sister who drove a team of six white horses and managed the farm after their father had died unexpectedly.

So neat! I, too, have a novel with pieces inspired by my grandparents. It’s very sweet.

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

I became serious about writing after I won a contest to go to the Billy Graham School for Christian Writers. That was back in the summer of 1976. I remember the year, because I was pregnant with my daughter then. That autumn my grandmother came to live with us after her son had died. My daughter was two months old at the time.

That sounds like a lot going on at one time!

I love what we as writers can glean from other writers intuitively through reading… What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a contemporary fiction by Cindy Ervin Huff, New Duet.

I really love this book. It’s about Isabella Wilson who’s a guilt-ridden widow and Dan Sweeney, a disabled veteran.

She was on my blog just a few weeks ago. That storyline touched me too. I live in a military town and come from a military family (my grandfather was career military). The wounded warrior character is a personal read here.

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

I like to get my outside ranch chores done. Haha, maybe not full fledge ranch, but close. We have four Arabian horses, two dogs, four cats and eight chickens. After they are taken care of I’m ready to sit down and do some serious writing on my computer. I like to write in my study where it is quiet.

You sure do have your hands full…full of good things, though!

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

I’m so glad you asked! I have just completed book three of the Destiny series, A Destiny of Heart. This should be released sometime in October of this year.

A Destiny of Heart is a handshake away from Destiny’s Whirlwind. My characters and their life choices are vividly real, and I feel that is why many of my readers totally relate to this Destiny series.

Thank you so much for being on the blog and sharing about your books and your inspiration! I look forward to my readers learning a little more about the series in the following information. And, readers, there will be details of a giveaway at the end of the post. Don’t miss it!!

Swept into Destiny

One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. But the manor’s serenity is soon threatened by abolitionist John Brown. A new republic looms on the horizon and with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, her countrymen’s anger escalates as secession spreads across the southern states. With the fires of civil war glowing on the horizon, Maggie is swept into its embers realizing she is in love with the manor’s hardworking, handsome Irishman Ben McConnell. Ben joins the Union Army and Maggie is forced to call him her enemy. An unexpected chain of events leads her into choosing where her loyalties lie. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? As the battle between North and South rages, Maggie is torn. Was Ben right? Had this Irish immigrant perceived the truth of what God had predestined for America?

Destiny’s Whirlwind

Collina McConnell is thrust from adolescence to adulthood as she promises her dying father she will manage their estate, but her father dies before disclosing the mystery behind his legacy for Shushan. Dashing Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help, and suddenly Collina’s heart has a will of its own. Does he feel the same for her? War is declared, and he leaves for the Cuban shoreline. He holds the key to her heart, but will he return? A disgruntled in-law and a vindictive lawyer place the McConnell clan in the clutches of life’s tangled web of deception and greed. As Collina fights to keep her promise to her father, the words of Esther 8:6 ring in her thoughts. “How can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people?”

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Come, child.” Maggie rose tiredly from the large Bentwood. “Death never waits on convenience.”

“Pa?” Collina bent low toward the still form.

Her father’s eyes opened, fluttering for a moment. His lips worked their way into a crooked grin. “You got that hay and grain from the McWilliams okay?”

“With the usual measure of trouble thrown in.”

His lips creased into a smile. “It’s the pepper sprinkled on our table meat that gives it flavor. What’s the date? Are we still in February or—”

“No, Father, it’s March and would you believe, I just rode our whites through what felt like a blizzard.”

“It’ll not last. Hard times never do…Hardened people…nursed on God’s Word…endure. Collina, above all, ye must take up the armor…the shield of faith…to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one…”

Buy Links

Amazon – Swept into Destiny

Amazon – Destiny’s Whirlwind

More About the Author

Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing!”

Catherine is an award-winning author of faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her new Destiny series begins with Swept into Destiny. The second of her four-book Destiny series Destiny’s Whirlwind released this past spring. A Destiny of Heart will release this autumn.

She has written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books; Baker Books, Revell; CrossRiver Publishers; Bethany House.

She enjoys swimming and horseback riding. She lives in Addison Township, Michigan, with her husband and their Arabian horses. Her children, grown and married, she and Edward are the blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Connect with Catherine and her books

https://www.catherineulrichbrakefield.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield/

Blog: Hopes, Hearts,& Hoofbeats https://catherineulrichbrakefield.wordpress.com/

Twitter : https://twitter.com/CUBrakefield

https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-brakefield-4710b315/detail/recent-activity/shares/

 

GIVEAWAY!!

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield is offering a copy of Destiny’s Whirlwind, the first book in the series, to one (1) winner, chosen by Rafflecopter (Continental United States only.) Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to enter, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GUEST POST & SPOTLIGHT: Author Emerald Barnes

Hello, readers! I have a treat for you today. Instead of me blogging, I have an author for you to revisit. Author Emerald Barnes is back on my blog today with a fabulous guest post for us. And we will spotlight her book series, The Knight’s Academy. I can’t wait for you to dive in, so I’ll quit babbling and let you have at it!

Guest Post

by Emerald Barnes

Myka, my main character, struggles with her identity throughout The Marked. She’s adopted, and when she found out that she was, she completely lost who she was. She never felt like she belonged anywhere, so that’s why she chose to leave her family and what was familiar behind and move to a new place. There, she thought she could discover who she really was. It was a way of starting over for her. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that wasn’t easy for her, until the end, until she knew her back story and what lay ahead for her.

We’ve all felt a lot like her. I personally have. For years, I struggled with who I was, what I was supposed to do with my life, and what my purpose on this planet was. Why had God given me the gift of writing if no one bought my books? Why had God given me a passion to teach teens about Him and His love for them if I wasn’t being used as a youth leader?

Like Myka, I was searching for my identity and my purpose. And I searched for years. Until I quit searching. I didn’t give up, but I said, “Okay, God. You know what has been prophesied over me. You know what gifts You have given me. Whatever You want me to do. Whatever You need me to do, just let me know.” And I let it go. I stopped searching and waited.

Waiting isn’t easy, but it paid off. God gave me a youth leader position almost two years ago, and He’s even using my non-Christian books in ways that I couldn’t have expected.

When you feel like you don’t have an identity, just let life happen. Wait on God to show you what you need to do, and God won’t tell you everything at once. You’d get so overwhelmed! (I think Andrew Wommack is the one who said that.) He’s going to reveal it to you as you go along. Life is about living one day at a time. Whether you’re facing a horde of vampires or if you’re just facing a torrent of thoughts that like to bring you down, you’re going to be okay. You’re identity doesn’t come from you. It comes from God. It comes from knowing who you are in God.

That’s why I like to focus on that in my books. If you’ve read Entertaining Angels, you’ll know that in my series, that’s what I focus on. I focus on teaching young women that their identities don’t come from the mirror or the scars on their wrists. Your identity comes when you truly learn who you are to God and who you are in God.

You’re loved. You’ve always been loved. You’re created in the image of God, and He is the One who saw fit that the world needed you. Don’t let the world bring you down. Don’t let the enemy make you feel like you’re worthless and don’t belong. You’re where you are for a reason. There’s even a reason for your waiting period. Just give it to God.

The Knight’s Academy Series

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 Hunted

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOK 1***

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?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Olivia and her family brought in storage containers, decorations, and more, while Myka sat uncomfortably. When they finished unpacking, Myka wanted to give them some privacy, so she grabbed her messenger bag filled with her sketchbook, markers, pencils, and other art supplies and slipped out of the room. She wandered through the hallways, looking for a quiet place.

She passed a couple of girls chatting, mumbled hello, and when they didn’t respond, she continued to the stairs. She hurried out into the foyer where a few girls sat around talking to one another or were on their cell phones. A hushed silence fell over them as they stared at her. Myka tucked a curl behind her ear, ducked her head, and walked outside.

Now that Myka was without Barry and Jilly, the campus seemed far more formidable. For as long as she could remember, she wanted to get away from home and the questions of who she was and why her parents had given her away. She stared at the campus and knew she wouldn’t find any answers here either. What had she been thinking?

The campus was abuzz with students, teachers, and parents. Myka continued her search for a quiet place to sit and think, much like she used to do when she was at home and needed a moment to clear her mind. She maneuvered around students and parents carrying suitcases, bathroom caddies, and bedding in search of a sanctuary.

She walked between the cafeteria and academic building, ending up on a plush lawn dotted with Bradford pear trees that would be beautiful come fall when their leaves changed to vibrant oranges and reds or in the spring when they blossomed white. Stone benches and tables offered places to sit, study, or relax. The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, covered in pines and oaks, rose in the distance. The concrete wall surrounding the school marked the end of the lawn, and behind the wall was a thickly wooded area.

Myka took a seat on the grass and began to draw. She stared at her surroundings, taking them all in, when she noticed something strange above the trees. It was almost like a tower, but she couldn’t be too sure. Maybe it was a silo. She knew it wasn’t a tree because it glistened in the sunlight. The tower wasn’t too far from the campus, but far enough she couldn’t tell if belonged to Knight’s Academy or not.

Taking a deep breath, she removed her sketchpad and pencils from her bag. As she drew, she saw nothing but the scene ahead of her: all of the colors, how the wind made the leaves shimmer, and the way the sun outlined the mountains. She was only vaguely aware of the sounds around her. The wind tossed her hair about, but she moved it aside mechanically.

It was afternoon when Myka finished the drawing and looked at her phone to see if she’d missed a call or text. She set both aside and rolled her neck and shoulders, stretching her tense muscles. She stood, then continued to stretch. Finally, Myka looked at her drawing, wishing it would’ve been in color. It could use some more work, but at least she had the basic image.

She packed her bag and walked back toward the dorm, hoping Olivia was alone now. A shadow moved along the wall, surprising her. She turned to see Milo, who she hadn’t seen since April. He moved his dirty blond hair out of his eyes and stared back at her. He put his finger to his lips, jumped, and pulled himself up on top of the wall with his well-defined arms. With one last glance toward her, he disappeared from her sight.

Part of her wanted to follow him, to see what was on the other side, but she stopped herself. She didn’t want to get in trouble her first day of being at Knight’s Academy, but something inside of her told her to follow him. With one long, fleeting look at the woods behind the wall, Myka walked back toward her dorm room.

Buy Links

The Marked: Knight’s Academy Book 1 – http://amzn.to/2jG7GKB

The Hunted: Knight’s Academy Book 2 – http://amzn.to/2sEKaxh

Book three is coming soon!

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 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

 

GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Jenn Faulk

Welcome to my blog! I have a fabulous author for you to meet! Jenn Faulk is not only an author of clean chick lit, she is quite prolific! I know Jenn through a group we are a part of called Pure Romance Reads. It is a collection of authors who all write clean romance. You can check us out online at: https://www.pureromancereads.com/ and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pureromancereads/

We are hosting a “Christmas in July” party next Thursday evening (July 26th), starting at 5PM EDT. You will be able to meet the authors, there will be giveaways…it will be great!!

But you are here to meet Jenn. And I am so eager for you to do so. You will no doubt find her every bit as interesting as I have…

Welcome, Jenn! And thanks for being on my blog! You have quite the list of works to your name! Please, tell us a little about one of your novels.

My first novel, Resolutions, is about three friends who decide to celebrate the new year by creating a list of resolutions that will ultimately change their lives. Emily, Melissa, and Sara are lifelong Christian friends who are quickly approaching thirty, and as they juggle careers, extended families, and their different church responsibilities while also completing those resolutions, life (as it always does!) ends up throwing a few surprises their way. Resolutions is a story about friendship and faith, about growing in Christ and trusting Him more. And, of course, there’s a love story as well!

Sounds just delightful! The kind of read you could just sit and really get into. What was your inspiration for Resolutions?

I LOVE chick lit, and I love great Gospel-centered fiction that draws readers in, entertains them, and calls them to deeper faith. As a reader, I wanted more Christian chick lit books and was disappointed that it was such a small subgenre. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I started brainstorming the ideas behind Resolutions back when my children were tiny, writing out some notes in between feedings, diaper changes, and the general chaos that comes with having babies. Once my youngest started kindergarten, I sat down, read what little I had been able to scrap together over the years, and committed to finally finishing it. That part – actually writing it – took three months. The lead up, though, was a spectacular five years, lol!

That is no joke! My story is similar. A lot of lead up, but once my kids were a little more independent, I found I could work a lot faster. So, the writing and dreaming is fun, but what part of the process do you dread?

Those last few tedious weeks of pounding out the end of the first draft! I’ve written forty-five books, and it never changes. I always tell my husband, “I hate this book, and I want to punch these characters in the face” when I get to this point in the process. Ha! I usually set it aside when I’m done, give myself some breathing room, and come back to it with fresher eyes, realizing that I don’t hate it after all and that no one will be getting punched in the face. Whew!

I am so the same 🙂 I’m like, “you’re not going to make this same mistake again are you!?” And my husband’s all, “Didn’t you write it that way?” “No. The story wrote that way.”

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There, which is phenomenal. It’s one of those books that exposits Scripture with an eye towards the totality of the Bible, showing how God is consistent in His character from the Old Testament to the New Testament, intentionally leading up to the incarnation of Christ and the fulfillment of His ultimate glory that’s still to come. These are things that we know as Christians already, of course, but I find myself praising God over and over again when theologians who are so much smarter than I am ever going to be keep going back to the Scripture and pointing out the miracle of grace and redemption so that we can know Jesus in a deeper, richer way. Always learning!

I’m also reading through the last three books in Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy Miller Series. This is an embarrassing confession, but I’m going to go ahead and give it – I read all of the Christy books (her high school and college years and those newlywed years) in, like, three weeks a few years ago, when I was in my late thirties and clearly past the age of the intended audience. I couldn’t stop, though! My husband was all, “What are you reading?” and I’d tell him, all irritated that he’d interrupted me, “I have to find out if Christy ends up with TODD!” like they were real people. (Real in my heart.) Anyway, I didn’t even know that there were books about the baby years (!!!) until last week, so I’m bingeing again! My oldest daughter has just started the first Christy book, and she was peeking over my shoulder trying to find out if (you guessed it) Christy ends up with Todd. Sigh. Apparently I’m like an overgrown twelve year old, but whatever.

I totally get it! I am going through Priscilla Shirer’s study “Discerning the Voice of God”. Talk about deep! But I might need to add this D.A. Carson book to my pile…

I always ask this next question. Mostly because music has become part of my writing atmosphere…instrumental music mostly. But, what kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It really depends on the book and what part that I’m writing. If it’s a scene of spiritual clarity for a character, then I have praise and worship going, usually something by the Gettys. The rest of the time, I’m really partial to seventies music (don’t judge!), especially the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, and, yes, even the BeeGees. While writing my last book, Picture Perfect, I was on a Coldplay kick for a while, and after listening to Trouble and Yellow a few too many times, my hero was just about the most depressing guy ever. Hymn for the Weekend and Paradise got us out of that slump, though, thankfully!

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

After I drop my kids off at school and get my run in, I sit down at the kitchen table and spend the rest of the morning writing. I try to prioritize and keep from writing and being buried in my work when my kids and my husband are at home, so I protect those few hours of solitude as much as I can. (And I run my miles faster with the reward of writing dangling in front of me, lol!)

So admirable. I’m one of those people that are like…”if I’m running, you should be too…’cause something’s chasing me!” 😉

How long does it take you to write a book?

During the school year, it takes me a couple of months per book. During the summer…. well, I’m lucky to get one out all summer. When my kids were little, I thought that they would require less of my time the older that they got, but as it turns out, they just require my time differently now that they’re in junior high. This summer in particular has been slow on the book front because I’ve had to be intentional about being all in with them, something that looks different than it did when they were younger. I’m taking my oldest daughter on a girls’ trip next weekend, and I’d had plans to get some writing done at night while we’re away, only to find out that she’s making plans to squeeze every last second of togetherness out of each day. (And the old lady in me is screeching that I need sleep, lol!) My readers are going to start thinking that I’ve given up writing, but it’s all good. The books will start coming more quickly once school is back in session!

I understand that the majority of writers take the summer off. At least that’s what I’ve been told is industry standard. I’m still feeling my way out though. Me? I’m putting a book out this week. It’s been difficult to push through this summer though…with trips and conferences, and my kids being home. It’s tough.

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

Can I tell you about my first book instead? The fun tidbit about that is that part of the story is in Okinawa, Japan where Emily’s brother, Matt, is stationed with the Marine Corps. When I first came up with the idea of Resolutions, we were living in Okinawa! The church that Matt goes to is the church that my husband was pastoring, and I loved incorporating details (and some characters!) from our time there into the book. I also have a few books – Different Stars, Ready or Not, A New Tune, Something Better, From Here on Out and my favorite book of them all, Happily Ever After – that are set in Namibia, a country in the southwest corner of Africa where I served for two years as a missionary right after college. The characters in Happily Ever After actually live where I lived, doing the same type of ministry that I did while I was there. It was so much fun to write!

That is fascinating! My first book was inspired by my time in the Czech Republic where I spent time four consecutive summers doing mission work. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the history there!

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

My current project is tentatively titled Worth It, and it’s a friends-to-more story. Nate and Athena meet initially because her sister marries his cousin, but they stay in touch because their acquaintance with one another is mutually beneficial to their careers as up and coming PhD students with their eyes on a future in university administration and academia. The real story picks up four years down the road from that first meeting, and it’s clear that though they’re total opposites, they’ve somehow managed to become the best of friends, so much a part of one another’s lives that there isn’t much that’s left unsaid between them, until… well, you’ll see. 😊

I’ll be honest, while I like Chick Lit, it’s not my first choice of genre, but I am definitely going to get one of your books and check them out! It has been so much fun getting to know you and a bit about your inspiration and process. Thank you for coming on the blog!

Thanks so much for letting me visit your blog, Sara! I’d love to let your readers know that one of my books, Happily Ever After, is always free on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. The rest of my books, starting with Resolutions, are over at Amazon and are free to read through Kindle Unlimited. You can find a complete list of all forty-five of my books, along with descriptions and links, at www.jennfaulk.com

Happy reading!

Hey! That’s usually my line 😉 Well, readers, there is a fabulous excerpt waiting below for you and a giveaway rafflecopter as well. Don’t miss any of it:

Resolutions

Three friends, ten resolutions, and a year full of big life changes.

For Emily Fisher and her friends, New Year’s Eve has never been about more than eating cake and watching the minutes until midnight disappear. This year, though, Emily, Sara, and Melissa decide that as they approach the age of thirty, they’re going to make some bold resolutions together and see them through in the year ahead, never guessing how dramatically life will change for them in the process.

As the daughter of a megachurch pastor and the assistant to a sensational and exhausting wedding coordinator, Emily already has her hands full. Using the resolutions as a challenge to make life about more than being a mindless drone at work, she ventures out of her comfort zone – trying new hobbies, picking up new exercise habits, traveling abroad, helping out in new ways at church, DATING – and discovers in the process that there’s more to life than weddings and work. When her family experiences unexpected hardships, Emily is forced to re-evaluate all of her priorities, and the lessons she learns lead her to stronger faith, a new dream for her career, and a romance greater than any that she could have imagined for herself.

Excerpt

This is from Resolutions. If it’s too long, feel free to cut, cut, cut (lol!) or ask me to hunt up a better excerpt. 😊

It was ten minutes until midnight on New Year’s Eve night, and my mouth was full of wedding cake.

Not my wedding cake, obviously, since I was in my favorite pair of pj pants, a comfy old sweatshirt from high school, and a fabulously tacky pair of leopard print slippers. This cake was our New Year cake, from a vendor who catered most of the weddings I worked and who always had a “sample” available for me once a year. “Because I just love you like that, Emily,” he would wink at me as he passed the box across the counter and refused my money. His wife would pat me on the arm and tell me, “You tell all of your brides how wonderful this is!”

And it always was. Tonight’s specialty was my favorite – white chocolate with strawberry cream filling, covered with cascading chocolate-dipped strawberries, some of which were decorated to look like little men in tuxedos.

“Exquisite,” Sara had said when I lifted it out of the box.

“Kinda creepy,” Melissa had noted, pointing to a tuxedo strawberry that looked more headless than his brothers.

“Just wait,” I told her. “This will be better than last year’s. As if that’s even possible.”

The three of us were having a party – a party just for us. We had been having these every New Year’s Eve since we were ten. Our friendship had started long before then, back when we were the only three babies in attendance at Grace Community Church twenty-eight years ago when my father began his pastorate there. The church had been very small then, but we were blissfully unaware in our crèche department, chewing on the same plastic toys, being diapered by the same volunteers, and babbling incoherent ramblings to one another each and every Sunday morning. As the church grew, we transitioned from the crèche to the preschool, from the preschool to the elementary age wing, from the elementary age wing to the Junior High youth, and from the Junior High youth to the High School group. Along the way there were other friends who came in and out of our lives, but for the most part, it remained the three of us, running to class to meet up and tell one another some silly story during our younger days, coolly meeting up after the service when we were angst-ridden teens who were mortified by our parents, and now, post-college and nearing our thirtieth birthdays, finding time in our busy schedules and lives to continue our friendship.

This New Year’s Eve tradition had served us well, even during college. We were fortunate that even though we chose three different universities in different parts of the state, we were all home for the same holidays and could still do our annual countdown of the year.

“This,” Sara said, pointing her fork at the layers of strawberry goo wedged so delicately in the cake, “is what I’m getting for my wedding. Think he’ll cut me a deal?”

Sara had been planning a wedding for quite a while. Years, in fact. She had met Jon during her last year of college, and although he seemed as committed and focused as she was back then, the six years since had gone on with no move towards marriage. Sara had started working as a kindergarten teacher in Fort Worth after graduation, and Jon had started work on his MBA. Two years later, he took a position with an investment firm in San Antonio, although he had offers nearer to home. If you know your Texas geography, you know that Fort Worth and San Antonio aren’t exactly in the same neighborhood, and since Jon, two years into the relationship was still no closer to a ring and a date, we all thought it was the beginning of the end. Sara didn’t, though. She loved him beyond any valid reason we could see and continued to plan her life with him even though he made no move towards any kind of commitment.

That was Sara, though. Kind and sweet, optimistic and hopeful, perhaps to a fault at times.

Melissa eyed me questioningly for a moment. I gave a slight shake of my head, imperceptible to Sara, or so I thought.

“No, Melissa,” she said in a sing-song voice. “He hasn’t proposed yet. But there’s always Valentine’s Day, you know.”

“Ugh, Valentine’s Day,” Melissa groaned. “Hate it, hate it, hate it…” She speared a bite of cake and popped it in her mouth. “This is good,” she told me. “And you know I’d tell you if it wasn’t.”

I knew that she would. Melissa’s best trait was her brutal honesty… although at times, it was also her worst trait. I had, on more than one occasion during high school, seen some poor unfortunate and unsuspecting guy shyly ask her out, only to have her look at him dubiously and say, “Me? But you’re way too dumb for me.” When I would express some amazement about this after the wounded boys would retreat, she’d say, “What?! It’s true!” And it was. Melissa was smarter than all of them. She would eventually show some remorse for her harsh treatment of the male gender, saying that perhaps some kindness and tact would have been more honoring to the Lord. But she never apologized for being smart. After racing through a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree with high marks, she was now the only female engineer on staff at a secure government location that we couldn’t know too much about, even as her closest and oldest friends. “It has to do with missiles,” she told us once, very simply, and never spoke another word about it. (I remember Sara’s response to this had been to treat her with increased care and gentleness, as she was quite sure Melissa had become a domestic terrorist of some sort.) Melissa’s life was her job, and she spent even most of her free time working towards higher achievements there.

As for me, I was also working my dream job, a position that I ironically referred to as “Dream Destroyer.” That wasn’t the official nomenclature on the door of my office, though, as the truth would have likely scared any and all clients away. The friendlier title assigned to me was Assistant to the Bridal Events Coordinator.

I had applied fresh from college with little hope of getting the position, stepping into the regal downtown hotel for my interview and feeling as though I had shrunk three feet by being in the very presence of such elegance. Surely, I thought to myself, only THE most talented and experienced coordinator could get a job here! I hadn’t counted on being the last of twelve girls hired that year alone, thanks to the gruesome nature of the job. Unbeknownst to me that day, they were fully booked for the season, were in desperate need of some naïve help, and were ready to take just about anyone. My boss, THE Bridal Events Coordinator, greeted me that day in a full pink suit, fresh corsage on her lapel, spike heels on her feet, and hands full of bling. Big, huge, gigantic bling. Her hair was exquisite, her makeup flawless, and her smile so warm and tender.

She had me fooled.

“Dear Miss Fisher,” she said, holding out a hand to me delicately. “I’m Evelyn Primrose.”

I must confess, I didn’t know whether to shake her hand, kiss her 3-carat emerald cut engagement ring, or curtsy. I managed to firmly shake her hand in my own, then on her invitation, followed her to her office, a feminine space dominated by floral furniture and her own amazing bridal portraits. Evelyn had been stunning even then as a debutante set to wed the mysterious Mr. Primrose, whom I had never met. (And whom I suspected was actually a Mr. Butts or Mr. Snarflehock, names that Evelyn would have traded in during office hours for the impossibly feminine and genteel Primrose.) On that fateful day that I interviewed, stars in my eyes, she laid the job out for me with a genuine smile – assist brides in planning their dream weddings, walk alongside the wedding couple as they made decisions for the reception, act as the middle man between vendors and brides, and (she said this with a flourish) exude elegance that befits such a fine venue.

It was perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I would have told Evelyn anything she wanted to hear. Do I know every kind of flower type ever seen under the sun? Absolutely, Mrs. Primrose. Can I sew up twenty layers of silk and tulle in ten minutes? Most certainly, Mrs. Primrose. Was I willing to be a team player in this bridal machine we were running? Without a doubt, Mrs. Primrose!

And so I began, quickly discovering that it was Evelyn’s job to dream big with the brides, to suggest the vendors, to show them how extravagant their big day could be, and to fill their heads with impossible fantasies…. before sending them to the face of hard-cash reality, yours truly. I had only wanted to have the fun of planning a wedding without the work of a marriage. What I got was akin to couples’ therapy as I broke the news to dazed brides and grooms that while, yes, those peonies that grow naturally in Bali (and nowhere else in known civilization) were exquisite, they did nevertheless cost a fortune. And while, yes, the dance floor we could offer looked like something your Uncle Bubba could set up for you with no problem at all, we would require that our people do it and that it would cost you $300 for set up, $300 for tear down, and, my sincerest apologies, $300 for repair work later at the very least. (Even if you didn’t do anything to it!) Oh, and our most efficient meal (Evelyn frowned on my more honest word “cheap”) would still cost $50 a head, even though it likely only cost us $2 a plate to make. I was the number cruncher, the business end of the deal, and many times, the great consoler of all manner of hysterical brides.

My dream job was a big nightmare most days. It paid the bills, though, and paid them well enough that I had paid off all of my student loans in record time. With that monkey off my back, I was saving up for a real home… if my little clunker car would just live a little bit longer. I anticipated being the Dream Destroyer for many, many more years, as it was a good job with the opportunity for advancement, for one day being THE Bridal Events Coordinator. And hiring some other poor schmuck to do my job.

It didn’t take me long at my job to realize that no one expected me to last very long. All of the other assistants had quit within a month of taking the position, but six years later, I was still there. Evelyn liked my tenacity, and God bless her, I liked Evelyn for just having the guts to be Evelyn. It couldn’t have been easy to send the wolves to me every day, but she did it without reservation, noting that even the unpleasant parts of wedding planning were crucial to a truly successful event. When things got really rough for me, she was a shrewd businesswoman who could come to my defense when it looked like I was going to literally be in the middle of a knockdown drag-out between brides and grooms. “Savages!” she told me once, after a particularly belligerent bride had attempted negotiating with me by screaming in my face. “As if they could ever have their hootenanny of a wedding here!” If for no other reason, I loved her for being able to wear a Chanel suit and Jimmy Choos while saying the word “hootenanny.”

The memory made me smile as the seconds ticked by to midnight.

Happily Ever After

Cammie Evans was a girl with a plan from the moment God called her to be a foreign missionary. After several years spent all over the world, though, she finds herself with a new assignment that leaves her questioning all that she once thought to be true about life, love, and calling.

David Connor was always the weird kid in the youth group, never destined to live up to his father’s expectations. After several years of working to find his own significance in Christ and his calling as a foreign missionary, he finds himself asking hard questions about who he is and what God wants from him.

As their lives change and the past becomes part of the present, can Cammie and David help one another find their own happily ever after?

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More About the Author

Jenn Faulk is a native Texan who enjoys reading and writing chick lit. She’s a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom, and a marathon enthusiast who loves talking about Jesus and what a difference He’s made in her life. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and a MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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