On January 3rd, I celebrated a birthday. And it was so hard. I broke down on January 2nd. See, my mom and I had this…well, kind of a little joke about it. I am a midnight baby. I believe my birth certificate states I was born at like 12:02 am or some such. But my mother holds that the doctor did not note the time until they had gone through the normal processes of cleaning and measuring me. She contends that I was actually born on January 2nd.

Of course, I think that means I need a two-day all-about-me celebration. She’d tell me to pick one day and it should be the 2nd. The rest of my family kind of rolls their eyes at this, but my mom got it.

Now no one really does.

See, this April marks 2 years without my mom. It’s still fresh.

Last January 3rd, the first year. My birthday was nice. Really nice. But something was off. All day.

It wasn’t until the end of the day that I connected the dots.

I was waiting for the call from her that wasn’t going to come.

I say all this to share that I’m almost two years after the fact and it’s still fresh. It still hurts.

Some might think…shouldn’t she be over this by now? Or at least more over this?

No. Not at all.

Someone else might be further along in the grieving process, but not me. Not my personality makeup. I’m still somewhere in that process. The grieving process is not cut and dry. It’s different for everyone. Both in the movement through the stages and the duration in each stage and in the process as a whole. To learn more about the stages, I wrote about it here.

The truth is, we grieve deeply because we loved deeply. And, the pain may ease into a smile of nostalgia, but for some the ache will always be there. And that’s okay. My counselor has said to me: “You’ll never get over it, but you will get through it.”

I do think of her fondly and smile at times, but other times, it brings tears. That’s where I am and I’m fine with that. Is that where my siblings are? Not necessarily. And that’s okay, too. Doesn’t mean they loved her more or less. It means they are different people. And their grief process looks different than mine.

My friend found a book of liturgies for me. I’ve never thought myself to be interested in a book of prayers. But this book has moved me to laugh, cry, and brought my heart closer to Jesus. There is one about grieving that I wanted to share:

It comes from “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. The liturgy I’m pulling from is called “Anniversary of a Loss”:

Let that which broke me upon this day in a past year, now be seen as the beginning of my remaking into a Christ-follower more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more conscious of my frailty and of my daily dependence upon you; as one more invested in the hope of the resurrection of the the body and the return of the King, than ever I had been before.

Let this loss-hollowed day arrive in years to come as the kindling of a fire in my bones, spurring me to seek in this short life that which is eternal. Let the past wound, and the memory of it, push me to be present with you in ways that I was not before.

Do not waste my greatest sorrows, O God, but use them to teach me to live in Your presence–fully alive to pain and joy and sorrow and hope–in the places where my shattering and Your shaping meet.


OVERCOMING FATIGUE: One Woman’s Journey to Find Daylight Hours

I struggle with the basic problem that many of you might have: I over-plan and plan to overachieve in my days. My “TO DO” list is a mile long and the perfectionist in me strives to cross off every single thing. You can imagine that this, in and of itself, will lead to mental, emotional, psychological, and, yes, even physical fatigue.

Enter a wiser Sara. After YEARS of counseling, I have learned to greatly reduce the number of things on my “TO DO” list and even be okay….well, mostly okay if I don’t get it all done. So I’m generally sleeping better.

But I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder…that thing where you get gloomy when the daylight hours shrink because of winter solstice? Yeah, sign me up. Less daylight hour potential and on top of that, the clouds are ever present…or so it seems.

To top it off this year, I had gotten a hormone shot to help combat another medical condition. A side effect I didn’t count on? Fatigue.

As you can see…the cards are just, as they say, stacked against me.

It’s more important than ever that I’m managing this fatigue or else I’m liable to spend November through February in bed. And I’m not exaggerating. The fatigue is that real right now.

So where did I get real with combating it? What helped when the rubber met the road?


Do not discount the effectiveness of a happy light. This is one of those things that is in a box or shaped like a picture frame (mine is) or ipad that you sit in front of up to an hour twice a day (optimum) to get some of that light you are missing in the gloomier seasons.

Some things you should know. They have to be the correct brightness (recommended amount 10,000 lux) to do the trick. This is the one I chose: the Verilux HappyLight Touch.

Was it effective? You bet. I had to start at 15 minutes once a day and work up to 1 hour, twice a day, but I immediately felt I had more energy. And this was easy to fit into my life. I could work on my laptop or read, as long as I was diagonally facing the happy light.


I have shared before how essential oils have been a God-send in my life. And this is another instance where they really packed a punch. The oils, whether diffusing or diluting and rubbing on my skin, seemed to lift that heaviness that I felt. It then seemed more like I had a choice. I wasn’t compelled to sleep/nap/stay in bed. I could choose to get up and be productive. Does that make sense?

The oils I found most effective are (I used Young Living): Valor, Awaken, Brain Power, and En-er-Gee


I know, I know….traditional medicine does not recognize “adrenal fatigue”….they don’t truly recognize adrenal malfunction until you have Addison’s Disease (at which point, your adrenals are pretty well shot). But other practitioners who do take a more integrative approach (practice both eastern and western medicine) know this is real.

How do I know my adrenals were fatigued? I started taking a supplement and I got better. The supplement recommended to me was Licorice Root. I took Metagenics Licorice Plus. It took two days for me to feel better. Two days. I had more energy and I couldn’t believe, overall, that people could feel so good.


Finally, what goes into your body makes a difference. Feeding your body the right types of fuels will keep your metabolism revved and going. Instead of sluggish and fatigued.

You know what I’m going to say. It’s not rocket science. Vegetables, limited fruits, lean proteins, and good carbs. These are the things that will give you energy without weighing you down and tiring you out.


It all makes a difference. Our bodies are a whole system working together and we need to address the whole thing. When one part is “hurting” (like the adrenals) we need to make sure it’s gears are running smoothly again. But other times, it’s about treating the system as a whole (what you eat, using oils, etc.). Things I haven’t talked about that also make a difference are your psychological and emotional health, your spiritual wellbeing, creating white space in your calendar for rest/rejuvenation…all of these are good and right things to do for yourself.

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel J. Good

Hey, readers! I have a treat for you today! Author Rachel J. Good is on my blog today sharing about her novels and her process. And is she ever prolific! I met Rachel through the ACFW Romance genre Facebook Page. That has been a wonderful place to make great connections!

Not only is she spending time sharing with us today, she is offering a GIVEAWAY to every reader that visits my blog today. How can we thank her enough? So, I won’t keep you. Let’s dive in, but keep reading to find out more about how to enjoy that giveaway.

Thank you for joining us today, Rachel. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

The Amish Midwife’s Secret is Book 2 in the Love & Promises series. (Book 1, The Amish Teacher’s Gift, is about Ada, a teacher in an Amish special needs school.)

After Kyle Miller’s older brother joined the Amish, the two of them became estranged. Bitter and resentful, Kyle is determined to avoid the Amish at all costs. Medical school and a demanding residency fill his lonely hours. The last thing Kyle wants is to return to his hometown and relive the guilt and pain of the past.

But when the family doctor retires and invites Kyle to take over the practice, he can’t refuse. To his dismay, he discovers Dr. Hess not only has many Amish patients, he serves as emergency backup to Leah Stoltzfus, the Amish midwife. Kyle finds his resolve tested as he works with Leah; he’s attracted not only to her but also to her strong faith.

Although the handsome new doctor catches her eye, Leah pays more attention to her work than to this Englischer. As a midwife, she has much to learn and a deep desire to help others. She senses Kyle’s loneliness and welcomes him warmly, but he mistakes her friendliness for interest – an interest she does her best to discourage.

Then late one night, Kyle and Leah struggle to save a mother and baby during a blizzard. The bond between them deepens, and they realize how much they care for each other. But how can they be together when neither of them is willing to sacrifice their beliefs?

What a gripping introduction to the novel! I think I’m already hooked! What was the inspiration for The Amish Midwife’s Secret?

I went to a presentation by the Clinic for Special Children on diseases inherited only by Amish and Mennonite children, and then toured the clinic where we got to see the gene research and hear success stories of babies they’d cured. That touched my heart, and I knew I wanted to include it in one of my novels.

Then while I was in an Amish natural products store, I saw the herbal blend my Amish midwife had me drink before she delivered my sons at home. Suddenly, all the pieces came together. I’d have an Amish midwife whose family owned a natural products store and a doctor who believed only in science and medicine. He’d be angry at God, and she’d be true to her faith. That would lead to sparks between them in many different ways, including romantic ones. Once I had the two main characters and their underlying conflicts and the added complication of a baby with a deadly disease needing to be saved, I couldn’t wait to start writing the story.

Wow! I’m even more intrigued!

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

I always loved reading, but I never considered writing until I had 5 children under the age of 8. I needed to do something to keep my sanity. I began writing for children’s magazines, then went into educational writing for children before ending up writing inspirational novels.

That is quite the journey. Glad you found your way through to your passion. But we all know it’s got it’s upsides and then there are things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Deadlines. I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, so when the deadline seems far away, I keep busy with many different things. Then suddenly it’s looming, and I wonder if I can possibly write 90,000 words in such a short time. A few times I’ve had to ask for extensions this past year, but part of that was overcommitting to writing 12 novels in a year.

A woman after my own heart! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

I think writers need to work on their craft – attending conferences, lectures, and classes as well as reading books. Even after you’ve had multiple books published, I believe you should still keep learning. I now have 40+ books in print under various different pen names, but I have 4 writing books on my bedside table to read.

The most helpful thing I did besides taking classes and reading books was to join a critique group. Having a group of writers who are learning and growing gives you a support system and provides you with valuable feedback. I joined several critique groups, and my writing skills grew as I heard others’ responses and suggestions for my stories. Critiquing other people’s work also helped me improve my writing because I had to analyze why their writing wasn’t working or why it drew me in.

I also found joining professional organizations helped me a lot – SCBWI for my children’s writing, RWA for romance, and ACFW for Christian writing. There are other organizations, too, that are genre-specific. Those are great places to find critique partners, and the conferences and classes are helpful. They also give you opportunities to get your work in front of editors and agents.

One final tip: They say you need to put in 100,000 hours to become good at your craft. I think that holds true in writing too. Keep putting those words on the page and setting aside time for writing. That dedication will pay off.

All sounds like good advice. Thanks! What are you currently reading?

The craft books Verbalize: Bring Stories to Life & Life to Stories and Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

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

I prefer to write from 10 pm to 3 am. I can’t always do that because I have a 3-year-old to take care of during the day, but it’s my most creative time. I prefer to write in bed. It’s comfy, and when the house is dark and quiet, I can more easily slip into that almost dreamlike state where writing flows.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends. I’ve written 60,000-word books in 2 or 3 weeks when I’m under deadline. Usually I like to have several months for novels, but often I’ll procrastinate until I have little time left. On the other hand, I have one novel I’ve been working on for 10 years. That one’s not under deadline, so it gets pushed aside.

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

I’m always working on more than one novel at time. Right now, I’m busy editing the third book in the Love & Promises series, The Amish Widow’s Rescue. Grace Fisher’s husband dies, leaving her pregnant and with two small children. Her neighbor, Elijah Yoder, offers to do her farm chores. A loner and a bachelor, he keeps his distance from the pretty widow and especially her children. Ever since his childhood family fell apart, he’s been convinced loving leads to heartbreak. Then he saves Grace’s son from drowning, and holding the little one makes him realize how much he needs friendship, and possibly even love. But can he overcome his past hurts and open his heart to a ready-made family?

I just signed a 6-book contract with Kensington, so I’m also busy writing the first book in the Amish Blessings series. In Book 1, His Unexpected Amish Twins, Micah Miller becomes the guardian to seven-year-old twins and struggles to help them with their grief. Hope Graber, the owner of a horse therapy farm, might have the answers and the healing touch, not only for the twins, but also for Micah. But working together may be impossible because she and Micah have so many hidden secrets.

I’m also working on Book 4 in the Sisters & Friends series, Big-City Amish. Rebecca is courting Abner, but when he’s blackmailed into working on a TV series during Rumschpringa (the Amish running-around time), their relationship becomes rocky. Rebecca’s ready to join the church, but Abner is angry at God after his father’s death and mother’s cancer diagnosis. Although Rebecca promises his mom she’ll take care of all her boys –Abner’s four younger brothers and Abner too — Rebecca’s not sure how she can do that when Abner seems enamored of the big city and possible stardom.

Wow! You are busy! Well, I’ll let you get back to it and let my readers dive into The Amish Midwife’s Secret…

The Amish Midwife’s Secret

An Amish midwife and an Englisch doctor must embrace their differences to rescue a baby in need in this uplifting romance that will “capture your heart and leave you smiling” (Amy Lillard).
Kyle Miller never planned on becoming a country doctor. But when he’s offered a medical practice in his sleepy hometown, Kyle knows he must return… and face the painful past he left behind. Except the Amish community isn’t quite ready for Kyle. Especially the pretty midwife who refuses to compromise her traditions with his modern medicine…
The more Leah Stoltzfus works with the handsome Englisch doctor, the more she finds herself caught between the expectations of her family and her own hopes for the future. It will take one surprising revelation and one helpless baby in need of love to show Leah and Kyle that their bond may be greater than their differences… if Leah can find the courage to follow her heart.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Kyle sought Dr. Hess’s eyes before he announced, “Pneumonia.”

Dr. Hess nodded.

“I know.” Leah, who’d been stirring the stinky onion-and-lavender mixture in the pot, motioned for the mother to hold out the nylon bag so she could spoon the mush into it. “That’s why we’re making this poultice.” With a quick motion, she wrapped the nylon in a towel and hurried to the table.

She practically elbowed Kyle out of the way as she reached for the baby. With deft movements, she placed the stinking mixture on the baby’s chest, quickly redressed him, and swaddled him in warm blankets. “This should help.”

“Help?” Kyle’s eyes burned from the sharp stench rising from the infant’s body, and he choked. “That child belongs in a hospital.”

“Hospital?” Leah shot him an incredulous glance. “How could his mamm be with him? She shouldn’t be jolting all that way to the hospital so close to delivery, and who’d care for the children?”

Kyle couldn’t believe his ears. “Children under age two are at the greatest risk—” He broke off when Dr. Hess jiggled his arm. Snapping his mouth shut, Kyle waited for the doctor to speak. This was still Dr. Hess’s case, after all. Just because he’d allowed Kyle to offer a diagnosis, it didn’t mean Kyle should take over.

“I’ll put the baby in the cradle.” Leah looked at the mother, who nodded.

Dr. Hess held out a hand to stop her, and Kyle released a pent-up sigh. The doctor would explain the need for hospitalization. Instead he gestured toward Kyle. “Before you go, Leah, I’d like you to meet my assistant. I’m hoping to convince him to take over my practice.”

Leah ducked her head and mumbled a brief greeting. She refused to meet his eyes, which might be just as well, because his face likely would reveal how upset he was about the home remedy. Pneumonia wasn’t something to fool around with, especially not in infants.

“Kyle, you’ll be working closely with Leah. She’s in training to be a midwife, and she makes many effective herbal remedies.”

Kyle managed to say, “Pleased to meet you,” but he wasn’t sure how true that was.

Dr. Hess might trust Leah’s homemade brews, but when Kyle graduated from medical school, he’d taken an oath promising his patients’ health would always be his foremost consideration. So how could he stand here and let her smear a stinky concoction on a baby’s chest when that child should be taken to the hospital?

He could never allow anyone to harm a baby. Never.

Buy Link


More About the Author

Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging stories of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.

Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House & Harlequin), Love & Promises (Hachette/Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and the forthcoming Surprised by Love and Unexpected Amish Blessings (Kensington). She also has several anthologies in print as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Book. To learn more about Rachel, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

Connect with Rachel and her books

Website: http://www.racheljgood.com

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

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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-J-Good/e/B019DWF4FG

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Author Rachel J. Good is offering for every reader, an e-copy of Gift from Above. Here’s a link to get a copy: https://bit.ly/2zmV40u

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Gail Sattler

Hello, readers! I have another author to introduce you to today that I met through the ACFW Romance genre Facebook page. It continues to be a wonderful way to meet other authors in my genre and network. And find some good reads. But, I won’t bore you with my rambling. I’ll get right to my interview with author Gail Sattler. And keep reading for an excerpt and details of a giveaway!

Thanks for being on the blog, Gail. Tell us, what was the inspiration for The Other Neighbor?

This book is based on a true story. One day my husband, who at the time ran a web design business, got a strange phone call asking some odd questions, which we later realized was the FBI. We didn’t find out until quite some time later what his customer was planning, but it certainly did explain why they disappeared and then his business shut down, unfortunately owing my husband’s company a lot of money. I still have a link to the story concerning the arrest and conviction. This just proves, you never really know about these things until it’s too late.

That’s incredible! Inspiration comes from anywhere they say, but this one was certainly something you knew well.

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

When I was in middle school I wrote a novel, coincidentally similar to a Nancy Drew novel, and the four primary characters, also coincidentally, were myself and my 3 best friends. Fortunately it never saw the light of day. I didn’t do any writing after that, until I was in my late 30’s, and I was laid off from my job. Suddenly I had lots of time (or so I thought). A friend gave me a box of books, one of which was pretty bad, and in my arrogance, I thought I could do better, so I started writing. I didn’t do better, but the writing bug bit me, and I couldn’t stop. I did most of my writing on the dining room table with my kids playing in the living room, or during nap time, join a few writers groups, and worked to improve my craft. My first book sold on my 40th birthday, and the rest is history.

What a story! I love that you kept at it.

I think we can always learn from each other. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Join a critique group. There is more to learn by DOING a critique than what you will receive, because if you do it right, your task is to find out what is wrong, and make suggestions on what will work to fix it.

I usually listen to music when I write to set the mood. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I am a musician and am in 3 bands – a jazz band, a community jazz band, and an Elton John tribute band. I can’t listen to music when I write, it’s too distracting.

Interesting! What a talented lady!

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies. In panic mode, I have written a book in 10 weeks. But that was all I did, besides my full time day job, at the time. My kids were older and didn’t need babysitting, and my husband, bless his heart, did all the housework. Gotta love the guy.

These husbands of writers are pretty awesome.

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

I’ m working on a 6 book series called The Kozlowskis. It starts when Zac Kozlowski’s distressed sister (and her dog), two wayward cousins, and his eccentric aunt (and her cat), all move in with him, and his neighbor, Cara, tries to help, but then gets buried in her own issues. I have no dates, but as I progress, I’ll keep everyone posted on my website on the release dates.

Sounds intriguing. Thank you so much for being on the blog today and for sharing about your process. I look forward to hearing more from you!

The Other Neighbor

Cheryl Richardson doesn’t know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb—but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Cheryl winced as the wire she was using to bind the flowers together pinched her fingers. As if it weren’t bad enough that she’d waited in line at the wholesaler for today’s new flowers, Nora had called in sick. Since Ellen couldn’t work on Wednesdays, this left Cheryl to handle everything alone and still meet the deadlines for all the orders. Technically she could do it, if no walk-in customers needed a special request. Hopefully Jason would show up on time, because she certainly didn’t want to deliver the two special orders as well, but if he didn’t, she wouldn’t have a choice.

She’d never before wished for a slow day, but today she almost considered putting the closed sign on the door, except people would see her inside.

Fortunately only a few customers had come in so far. They’d simply wanted to purchase bouquets made of loose flowers with a few additions of baby’s breath and ribbons with some nice wrapping. Those were easy and, most of all, fast.

She’d almost finished the order for the Red Hat Ladies’ monthly meeting when the bell over the door tinkled again. Without looking, she smiled. Jason was exactly on time. Something could go right today. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she muttered without looking up as she added a final sprig to the last arrangement for the tea party. “Traffic must have been good. I have that rush delivery almost ready.”

“Oh . . .okay . . .” responded a voice much too deep for Jason.

Instead of the gangly adolescent, a tall man in dark clothing stood in the doorway. His dark brown hair was exactly the same color as the frames of his glasses, with his eyes only slightly lighter, presenting a striking image. The scholarly styled glasses contrasted vividly with his strong jaw and a nose that had a bump on it like it had once been broken, which hinted of a cleaned-up bad boy, a good image for a popular action-packed movie.

On someone else, the slightly mismatched clothing would have looked nerdy, but the way he stood showed wide shoulders and hinted of lean muscles that would make any movie heroine and all female viewers swoon. Strange, she’d never seen him like this before. But then again, she’d never really looked.

Cheryl cleared her throat. “Steve? What are you doing here?” With her words echoing in her head, she felt her cheeks turn warm. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I meant to say, what a surprise to see you here. Is there something you would like?”

Buy Link


More About the Author

Gail Sattler’s first book sold on her 40th birthday, and she hasn’t looked back. Gail now has over 40 novels and novellas, and a few works of non fiction, most still available on Amazon. Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC (Canada, eh!) where you don’t have to shovel rain. A recent empty nester, Gail lives with her husband, 2 dogs, and a guinea pig who isn’t shy about asking for snacks.

Visit Gail’s website at www.gailsattler.com

Connect with Gail and her writing


Facebook author page


Gail is offering one of her older books from her archives to one (1) winner in Canada or the continental U.S. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter to enter.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Regina Rudd Merrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carolina Mercy

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy an Excerpt

from Chapter One

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

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

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

And then he came.

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

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

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

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

“He is.”

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

“Grandmommy, behave.”

Buy Links

Amazon – paperback

Amazon – Kindle

More About the Author

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

Connect with Regina and her writing

Email: rmerrick.writing@gmail.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/trmerrick64

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

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

Website: https://www.reginaruddmerrick.com

Publisher Website: https://mantlerockpublishing.com/


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

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Darcy Fornier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long does it take you to write a book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season of Forgiveness

Enjoy an Excerpt

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

“Been expecting you since you turned eighteen.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He said Audrey gave him permission.”

Now that was interesting. Mom had never mentioned it.

“Let me introduce my granddaughter, Ivy Carlyle.”

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

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

His grandmother burst into laughter.

Denver felt like a high schooler again.

Buy Link


More About the Author

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

Connect with Darcy and her books

Website: http://darcyfornier.com

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

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

Blog: https://peculiarmissdarcy.wordpress.com


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

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

To enter, please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter.


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

Christmas on a Mission – My Review

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

I highly recommend it! Hot cocoa and all!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What part of the writing process do you dread?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas On a Mission

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

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

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

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

Enjoy an Excerpt

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

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

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

“Mom makes a wonderful lasagna.”

“Your family, they’re great people.”

“They are pretty wonderful, huh?”

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

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

“And your dad?”

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

“Army life.”

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

“Ready for macaron lessons,” he said.

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

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

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


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

“Let me help,” Quinton said.

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

“All done.”

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

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

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

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

“It already looks chopped up to me.”

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

“We do?”

“We do.”

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

“I am way in over my head here.”

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

“Have you always cooked?”

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

“That’s incredible.”

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

“So, you’re French. That’s cool.”

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

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

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

“And what flavor of macaron are we making tonight?

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Oh, okay. Marconage away then.”

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

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

“All of this is fancy.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he was just now telling her?

“We were friends.”

The air left her lungs. All thoughts fled.

Buy Link


More About the Author

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


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

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