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  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Jennifer Chastain

    Hello, Readers!

    I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to this special lady today. I have gotten to know author Jennifer Chastain through a rather interesting channel. We are in a texting group huddle! We are both members of Novel Academy (started and curated by Susan May Warren). And, as members, we had the option to sign up to be part of a “huddle.”

    We ended up in a huddle together with some other just fabulous ladies and I have so enjoyed getting to know Jennifer, being encouraged by her and the other ladies in my writing, in my personal life, and just being supported in general. I can’t tell you what a wonderful thing this has been in my life!

    In our huddle, we have had the privilege to watch part of this journey unfold for Jennifer – her debut novel becoming published. It has been amazing to watch. I have already gotten my copy of the book and started it. I. am. hooked. So, let me step out of the way and let you meet Jennifer Chastain!

    Christmas in the South

    A Guest Post by Jennifer Chastain

    What are some of your best memories of Christmas? Growing up in snowy New York State, there are a lot of memories. As I look back, it was cold, with a lot of snow! But as a kid, I looked forward to those long days of sledding out in the cold, snowflakes drifting down on our faces.

    Around noon, we would take a break. Somehow, the other neighborhood kids ended up at our house too! Mom would put everyone’s soggy mittens, scarves and hats in the dryer and then she’d feed all these kids by making a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We’d sit in the living room in front of the fireplace, talking, laughing and sipping hot chocolate. We warmed up from the inside out, and it wasn’t only from the hot chocolate.

    It was a much simpler time, and a period in my life that I remember fondly.

    But, when my dad’s job moved us to the South, my brother sister and I were devastated. That first Thanksgiving and Christmas we spent in North Carolina, the temperature was a balmy 75 degrees! We were so disappointed – no snow, no friends, no long days of sledding under the stars. 

    What a bummer.

    We grumbled that first year (a lot!) but in reality, it only made us stronger as a family. You see, we had to learn to stick together,

    As I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, all the things we cherish as part of our Christmas traditions are just that, traditions we make up.

    Christmas doesn’t need snow, or sleds or pretty packages wrapped up with ribbon.

    Christmas is being together with those you love, whether they are family or friends. As we enter the holiday season, my Christmas prayer for everyone is that we will all open our hearts and hands in the true spirit of Christmas. For me, Christmas is a time of love, forgiveness and new birth. All we have to do is open our hands and hearts to receive the greatest gift of all – salvation. Salvation is only found in Jesus  – He is the only hope for this world.

    Merry Christmas and may you have a blessed New Year!

    INTERVIEW

    Love that, Jennifer! It is true. Christmas doesn’t truly need any of those things…just togetherness and a right focus. And a good Christmas movie…or better yet…Christmas novel…doesn’t hurt, does it?

    So, let’s talk about yours! Because that’s what’s on my Kindle right now! Can you tell my readers a little about your novel?

    My novel is a modern-day marriage of convenience story set in my small, fictional town of Providence, NC. Nate Rutledge fell in love with Meredith 8 years ago when his sister, Tori, brought her home for Christmas break. The only problem is, he broke Meredith’s heart and she never recovered. Fast forward to the present: Nate’s business is in trouble and Meredith is sent to conduct a forensic audit. Due to a stipulation in his grandfather’s will, Nate needs to be married in order to inherit the family business. And when Meredith walks through the doors, he believes she’s the answer to his prayers. But can these two work together? Or will old scars and hurts drive them further apart?

    I LOVE a good marriage of convenience story! And this one does not disappoint (if I may interject). But I’m jumping in…I’d love to hear, though…what was the inspiration for The Mistletoe Contract?

    Actually, the inspiration for this novel came from several different sources. Three years ago when Hallmark started airing on their new Christmas movies, I thought, why not? I did know I wanted it to be a marriage of convenience too. One of the reality shows I watch on a fairly regular basis is Married at First Sight. The participants of the show go through a rigorous vetting process and if they are matched, they don’t meet their spouse until the day of the wedding. This can make it extremely difficult. Either the couple works harder to make the marriage work or they don’t even try. I thought, well, since both of my characters are Christians, and believe in the sanctity of marriage, they would possibly work even harder to make the marriage work. But then, if they had a history together, regardless of good intentions, there would definitely be some detours along with way to their happily ever after.

    That definitely adds tension! I want to hear a little about your writing process. I always “set the mood” for my writing. Music is definitely a part of that for me. How about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

    For this Christmas novel, I watched a lot of Christmas movies and got ideas of what did and didn’t work. Typically, I listen to country music – I know, right? But if you listen to the lyrics, my word, they truly tell a story in song. I’ll listen to a song several times on a loop and from there, my imagination takes off.

    Now…(Sara rubs hands together with a mischievous smile)… What about your current projects? Care to share?

    I am working on a couple of different manuscripts at this time. But I do have a new story I just plotted out, it’s about a wedding planner who doesn’t like weddings and the guy she left behind in their small North Carolina town.

    I’ve just sent off my second manuscript to my publisher for consideration. This story kind of reminds me of Jane Austen’s persuasion (only a longer separation). Preston Jamison and Austen-Kate Chandler were high school best friends but then one terrible decision during prom 20 years ago set a series of events in motion. They are reunited after all this time apart, and in addition to hurt feelings, there is guilt and remorse on both sides.

    I’ve also started on Megan and Kyle’s story. Kyle Larsen is Nate’s COO and I have about half of their story written. I had to put it aside while working on The Mistletoe Contract since I had a lot of edits to complete.

    I’d also like to start on Tori and Cole’s story too. But I just have a vague idea of where to start. This story needs to be fleshed out and I’m going to try to get this done over the summer.

    My goodness! You are busy!

    Thanks, Jennifer, for hanging out and answering my questions and for the Christmas thoughts. Now we’ll take a closer look at your book!

    The Mistletoe Contract

    Confirmed bachelor Nathan Rutledge shut his heart to romance when he was forced to break the heart of the only woman he ever truly loved. Now, with his father’s retirement from the family conglomerate, the torch has been passed to him. But there are two problems—first, he needs a wife in order to take over the family business. Second, someone has been embezzling company funds. With the pressure mounting, and time expiring to find both a wife he can trust and the thief, Nate needs a Christmas miracle.

    Forensic Accountant, Meredith Mitchell’s life is in a shambles. Her mother needs a lifesaving transplant, Mom’s medical bills have bankrupted Meredith’s meager savings, and she’s sold everything of value, but it’s still not enough. To make matters worse, she’s now tasked with discovering accounting errors for a new client—none other than Nathan Rutledge—the same man who gave her a broken heart for Christmas eight years ago.

    Meredith wants to run. Nate wants the chance to right his wrongs. So, naturally, when he proposes a modern-day marriage of convenience, she balks at the idea. But he desperately needs a wife, and she really needs the money he offers. Is this the answer to her prayers? Or will this mutually beneficial arrangement re-open old wounds that can’t be healed?

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    Choking back tears, Meredith swallowed her apprehension. “And for the record, it seems my affection for Nate hasn’t faded.” Her whisper-soft voice filled the cold room, her declaration infusing her with warmth.

    “Affection, huh? Is that what you kids are calling it these days?” Mom smiled and waved her out the door. “Never mind. We’ll talk later. Night, Mere.”

    “Night.” Meredith closed the door with a soft click and propped herself against the wall. Tilting her head up, she released a huge sigh. She hated lying to her mother. Weariness settled deep in her bones. Her to-do list for the wedding grew with each passing hour. She had a lot to accomplish between now and Friday morning.

    “Penny for your thoughts?”

    Meredith’s eyes popped open. “Nate! You scared me!” Facing off with her fiancé, she straightened her spine. “What’re you doing here?”

    His back against the wall, he crossed his ankles. Even after working all day, Nate still appeared fresh. When she glanced at her gray dress pants, the red sauce stain from her rushed dinner glared at her. She was wrinkly… and frumpy.

    Nate frowned, his gaze roving over her.

    Meredith moved her purse from her shoulder and held it in front of the stain. “I’m sorry. That was unkind.”

    “I didn’t mean to intrude.”

    She pulled herself up to her full height. “You didn’t. It’s… I didn’t expect to see you.” At least, not until their wedding day, giving her a couple of days to steel her emotions against his all-American boy-next-door charm. Why did he have to ruin her well-thoughtout plan? His nearness sent her pulse into overdrive.

    Nate turned toward her and rested one hand on the wall above her head. He was so close she saw the golden flecks ringing his pupils. “Can’t a guy see his fiancée before the wedding?” The low timbre of Nate’s voice raised goose bumps on her arms, and her heart rate kicked up another notch.

    Butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and she licked her dry lips before her gaze settled on his mouth. “Yeah, sure.”

    Nate’s free hand came up and traced a line down her cheek. Meredith closed her eyes. She had to stop this flood of emotion. Why was he doing this to her? His spicy cologne wafted between them. Comforted her. Shoot. Nate smelled good.

    “Nate… please… someone will see us.” Meredith swallowed hard, and her breaths came in short gasps.

    “So?”

    “This is supposed to be a business relationship. No funny business. You promised.” Meredith scooted out from under his arm and hurried down the tiled hallway, her steps echoing in the empty space. She needed air. And personal space. “Is there a reason you stopped by?”

    Nate fell in step beside Meredith. She scampered down the hall to the elevator bank.

    Nate touched her arm, and they stood facing each other in front of the elevator. “Have a cup of coffee with me?” His blue eyes held a glimmer of amusement.

    Shock or maybe desire rooted Meredith’s feet to the floor.

    The elevator door opened, and two nurses in scrubs emerged. Meredith entered and jabbed the first-floor button. When she looked up into the polished steel doors, she met Nate’s steady gaze. Turning to face him, she crossed her arms. “Why, Nate? What are you trying to do to me? We have an agreement.”

    Nate matched her stance, a smirk on his face. “I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

    Meredith snorted, and her lips stretched into a sneer. “Oh, come on. You cannot seriously be this clueless.”

    He stepped closer, his hands in his pockets, causing her to back up a couple of steps.

    “This attraction—you’re not immune to it, either, are you?”

    Shaking her head, Meredith braced her back against the elevator car. “No, you’re wrong. This isn’t the type of relationship you’re thinking about.” She bit her lower lip.

    Nate’s warm breath whispered against her ear, and chill bumps raced up and down her arms. “But it could be. Think of how much fun we’d have.”

    His nearness muddled her mind. But she was older now. Wiser. Fool me once and all that. She’d be doggoned if he’d fool her again with his sweet talk. Before she answered, the elevator doors opened with a whoosh. Saved by the bell.

    Meredith darted into the parking deck. “I don’t think so,” she said over her shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow at 4:00 to finalize the details.” She sprinted through the deck and unlocked her car. Safe from Nate’s attention, she released a breath and locked her doors. Gripping the steering wheel, she started her old SUV. It sputtered, then came to life. She had to mentally prepare herself for Friday’s ceremony. This business marriage was proving to be more difficult than she’d imagined. If Nate kept this up, she’d lose all her resolve. And her self-respect.

    Because Meredith had already lost her heart.

    Buy Link

    Amazon

    More About the Author

    Jennifer Chastain is a member of ACFW, ACFW-NC, and My Book Therapy/Novel Academy. Several of her other stories were finalists in the Blue Ridge Mountains Foundations contest and she was a finalist in the Touched by Love contest, sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of RWA. Her contemporary romance stories contain the themes of redemption, grace, and forgiveness.   

    A hopeful romantic, Jennifer loves dark chocolate, Diet Coke, old movies and a good romantic movie. She loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and when not cooking, she’s reading. Growing up in the snowy North, Christmas has always been her favorite holiday, with the scents of cinnamon, vanilla, and pine scenting the air.   She and her husband have been married for over 25 years and they are permitted

    Connect with Jennifer and Her Work

    Website

    Newsletter

    Facebook

    Instagram

    Twitter

    GIVEAWAY!!!

    Jennifer is offering a giveaway!!! There will be one (1) winner randomly chosen by rafflecopter (see instructions below) to win one (1) ecopy (Kindle edition) of The Mistletoe Contract!! The giveaway will run from today, Friday, December 4, 2020 through next Friday, December 11, 2020 at 11:59pm.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Jessica R. Patch

    Hello, Readers!

    I have another author for you to meet this week. A friend of mine! This is an author I absolutely adore! I met her through my writing mentor and friend who, of course, has a great amount of respect for this lovely lady. And I have sat under her teaching as well. So, with that, I would like you to meet Author Jessica R. Patch! Jessica writes clean/inspirational contemporary romance and is just one of the warmest people you will ever meet. I am so very thrilled to have her on the blog to day sharing about her Christmas novella!

    Welcome to my blog, Jessica! It is so good to have you visiting! First can you tell us a little about your novella?

    Honey for the Holidays is the 4th sweet contemporary romance in the Honeyhaven series. These books can be read as standalones, but the friendships and community are carried from each book, so I do recommend reading them in order! This is about a couple who broke up a few years ago and it’s been nothing but animosity since. It’s a story of forgiveness, of not believing every word spoken—we need to be careful who we let influence our lives and that even includes us and our insecurities that play into things we might believe. It’s full of humor and Christmas fun!

    I love that kind of trope! And what a great message! What was the inspiration for Honey for the Holidays?

    I’ve always wanted to write a story about pretending to date or be engaged and this actually worked perfectly between this two! It was so much fun.

    Sounds fantastic! It does sound like a fun story to write! Tell us, did you always want to be a writer, crafting these interesting tales of romance and suspense?

    No. I never thought about being a writer, but I did love to make up stories whether it was on paper, playing “house” or creating a complicated drama for my Barbies.

    I gotta say…I did the same thing with those Barbies…convoluted dramas! So…if not a writer, what did you want to be when you were a child?

    I wanted to be a missionary. I even went to Bible college and majored in Missions. I feel like I am just that—only instead of physically going to spread the Gospel, the books go. God rarely accomplishes His plans in the way we expect Him to!

    Isn’t that the truth! I very much believe that writers have a unique opportunity to reach places that a person may not be able to, in ways that conversations may not even be able to.

    I am intent that I have to set the mood for my writing…that includes music for certain! What kind of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

    It depends on the scene and the story. For Honey for the Holidays, I listened to Christmas music with a country flavor as well as some love songs—mostly country pop. It fit my characters.

    Love it! Definitely gives me a feel for the book!

    I get this question often, so I guess readers like to know… How long does it take you to write a book?

    I can write a novella like this in a week and have it revised in about two weeks. That doesn’t count the proofing and reading for little things. For a mass market paperback like my Love Inspired Suspense books which are 55-60K, I write a first draft in about 20 -30 days. Major revisions take about 2 weeks and then I give it the final tweaks in about 3 days and send to my editor. For a trade length novel which is 70-100K it usually takes about 60 days. If I have a full synospsis written, I can move much faster than if I’m simply pantsing my way through it, but overall I am a fast writer—so I’ve been told. 🙂

    Nice! You do seem to get the work out pretty consistently 🙂

    Do you have anything you’re currently working on? Care to share?

    I am writing the last book in my Love Inspired Suspense Cold Case Investigators series and it’s a Christmas book! I should be done with it by tomorrow and then I’ll be revising a trade length contemporary sweet romance targeted for the General Market (but it’s clean so Christian readers will approve)!

    Awesome! Jessica, thanks again for being on the blog. As always, it’s been a pleasure to chat and get a peek into your writer thoughts 🙂

    Honey for the Holidays

    Crockett Baylor is known as a businessman whose professional practices are above reproach. His personal reputation? Not so much. When the mayor dangles Crockett’s long-buried dream in front of him, he’ll have to take drastic measures to prove he’s worthy. He’s got a plan but it requires the help of his ex, who despises him for all the wrong reasons.

    Beloved Parks and Recreation Director, Scout Denman refuses to go along with Crockett’s cockamamie scheme: pretending they’ve rekindled their past romantic relationship. It’s too much of an emotional strain. But she has no choice when she gets in a bind and needs his help with a parks project.

    As they stumble their way through Christmas events, grudgingly selling themselves as a couple, they discover there might be a genuine ember left burning under the ashes of their broken hearts. And if they can swallow their pride, they might be able to spark it into a glowing future together.

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    They took their seats right in time for the opening song. Phew. After the sermon, they were separated and while the men didn’t say too much, it was obvious Scout was being interrogated. After twenty minutes, he broke into the hen huddle. “Ladies.” Crockett nodded as they pasted fake smiles across their made-up faces. “Scout, honey, we ought to head out. I told the Millers we’d have Sunday roast with them, remember?”

    “Time got away,” she said too sweetly for Scout even on a good day. She was never sweet. Kind, yes. Sweet. Not a chance. She said her goodbyes and they hauled it through the parking lot and to their vehicles.

    “Did you really tell the Millers we’d come for lunch?”

    “No, but I wanted us out of there.”

    “You lied in church? That’s a sin!”

    Crockett cocked his head with a pointed look. “I recall a twelve-year-old girl who got thirsty during choir practice and drank the communion cups, then told Etta Dean she had no idea how the Lord’s supper got eaten prior to Sunday morning. Lies. Lies. Lies.”

    Scout pouted. “I was twelve.”

    “You were at the age of accountability. Nice try, sweet pea. Which brings me to my next subject. You can’t be that nice to me.”

    Scout snorted.

    “I mean it. You’re using that same tone Raelynn used. Fake. Syrup. Saccharine. Be you. Just a shade subdued.” Sighing, she opened her car door. “Fine. I’ll be meaner at lunch.”

    Buy Link

    Amazon

    More About the Author

    Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She is the author of the Seasons of Hope series, Unleashing Love, and several Love Inspired Suspense novels including, Fatal Reunion, Protective Duty, Concealed Identity, Final Verdict, and the Security Specialists series. You can find her spending time with her family and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Jessica is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

    Connect with Jessica and Her Work

    Website: http://www.jessicarpatch.com

    Twitter: @jessicarpatch

    Instagram: @jessicarpatch

    BookBub: Jessica R. Patch

    GIVEAWAY!!!

    Jessica is offering a giveaway!! One lucky winner, drawn randomly by Rafflecopter will win one (1) digital copy of Honey for the Holidays!!

    Giveaway entries will be collected starting today (Friday, November 20, 2020) and will be allowed through Friday, November 27, 2020 at 11:59PM.

    Please follow the instructions below to enter:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Ann Brodeur

    Hello, Readers!

    And welcome to yet another edition of this Christmas Series. And, as always, I am introducing you to another Christmas themed book and another author that may be new to you! I have author Ann Brodeur on the blog sharing about her Christmas novel, Snowbound in Winterberry!

    I connected with Ann through one of the Facebook Author Groups we are both a part of. I just love how, as authors, we can connect and network across the miles through this wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) thing known as “technology” 🙂

    So, without further ado…here’s Ann…

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

    My novel isn’t your ordinary Christmas romance novel. There’s a bit of mystery, a hint of a political scandal, a second chance romance and a cast of characters that had a whole bunch of colour to the central romance.  The story takes place in a fictional mountain town in Vermont, where Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of all.

    The last person reporter Stephanie Clark expected to rescue her from a winter storm was the best friend who abandoned her twelve years prior. Editor-in-Chief Jason Miller regrets everything about walking away from the story that would have defined his career, but ruin Stephanie’s family. In a holiday season full of surprises, will they fight for truth and risk losing everything, or learn to have faith again and trust God’s perfect plan, despite their circumstances?

    Interesting…I love a book that has many threads…mystery, political scandal, Christmas, romance…it seems to have so much! Where did you find your inspiration for Snowbound in Winterberry Falls?

    Believe it or not, the seed for the story came from a Facebook Post. The post was about a Christmas resort somewhere in New England that is open year-round. Clicking on the link took me on a rabbit trail and I found another link to a month-long Christmas celebration in Vermont. The town is Middlebury, and they have a festival from November 30 to December 31st called Merry Middlebury. My mind started spinning and asking those “what if” questions. That’s how Snowbound in Winterberry Falls started.

    Inspiration truly can come from anywhere, doesn’t it? Especially for the creative mind!

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

    I recently found my diary I’d kept as a ten year old. There’s an entry in the month of November where I’d written that someday I wanted to be a famous Christian author so I could tell someone about the Lord. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve always wanted to be one.

    Fascinating! Do you remember when you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

    It was when I was ten. Throughout high school I participated in the school newspaper and in editing the school’s literary magazine. In college I wrote program notes for the local symphony orchestra and then when I started working in non-profit, I wrote grant proposals. So writing has always been a big part of my life.

    Wow! And you have it all commemorated in your diary from your ten-year-old self. How sweet 🙂

    Now, as much as we love what we do, there is always something we’d rather “pass” on in the realm of writing. What is it for you? What part of the writing process do you dread?

    I dread writing the opening scene. There’s pressure to get it just right, to start at the right point in the story and to pull your readers into your story world right away. Once I’ve settled in my mind that it’s the right spot to start, the pressure is off and I can write without restraint.

    I get that. It is rather intimidating!

    I never miss a chance to ask other authors…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

    Just soak in all the knowledge you can. I learnt a lot about novel writing from reading blogs (like Seekerville, Writer’s Digest), reading books about the craft of writing (Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, The Story Equation by Susan May Warren, and Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes) and from taking a ton of online webinars. What has been great is connecting with other writers. The community is small, and the inspirational fiction community is even smaller. But you know what? Everyone is there to help each other. I’ve been totally floored by the people who have helped me or encouraged me – big writers KNOW MY NAME!  But most of all, be willing to take the criticism and learn from it. If you can’t take it, it will be a very long, difficult and frustrating road.

    Such great advice! I second all of that as great avenues for learning. Some authors really struggle with criticism and, I understand that it can be difficult to take, but I think critical eyes on our work only makes it stronger. That’s the editor/agent/publisher’s goal. Not to tear us down.

    You mentioned that you read a bit about the craft of writing. I’m sure you read other authors, too. What are you currently reading?

    I am reading Debbie Macomber’s Jingle All the Way, a few Harlequin Heartwarming novels (for research – I’m targeting this line next), Davis Bunn’s Burden of Proof, and there are a few others (historical inspirational fiction) that have bookmarks and are sitting in various rooms around the house waiting for me to finish reading them.

    I’ve heard fabulous things about Davis Bunn. Maybe now is the time for me to actually pick up one of his.

    When I write, I definitely have to set the mood…that always involves music suited to the story I’m writing. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

    I cannot play music and write at the same time. I’m a classically trained musician. As such, I learned how to tune everything out except the music when I would practice. I haven’t unlearnt that, and when music is playing I listen to the different voices, the different harmonies and instrumentations…so it’s more of a distraction than a help.

    Fair enough. What about setting the scene for you? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

    I’d prefer to write first thing in the morning, but we have a young family so that’s not possible at the moment. I squeeze it in when I can – usually right after lunch for about an hour or two if I’m not on deadline or working on my social media platform (which can suck a lot of my time). I wrote most of SNOWBOUND at our local library. I’d drop off the kids at church club and then head to the branch down the street. I had a solid hour and fifteen to write and I think that made a big difference. I didn’t connect to the internet – it was just pure writing time. With COVID closing things up, I really miss my library writing sprints.

    One question I find I get a lot is about how long it takes me to complete a manuscript. So, I like to turn that question on those I interview… How long does it take you to write a book?

    This really depends on what’s going on in our family since we have a preschooler and elementary aged children at home. I think though, I’ve been able to draft a novel in 2-3 months after spending a month working on character sketches so I know my characters inside out before even starting. Writing the draft is the quick part for me. All the self-editing takes the most time. I like to do two times through – first catching the big picture stuff and then the second time to fill in spaces, beef up scenes, change words, etc. This usually takes me around three to four months.

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

    My favourite character in the whole book is Mrs. Sweeney. She’s the retired elementary school teacher who has a bit of Christmas mischief up her sleeve. She’s a product of the best of some godly women I’ve known who have since gone home to be with the Lord. I’ve spent time volunteering in retirement homes and I just love seniors. And the fact they don’t have filters sometimes. I have plans to eventually write her second chance romance. It’s all in my head right now, so we’ll see what happens with it.

    I know what you mean…there are members in my family that have definitely reached that age 🙂

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

    I have a couple of projects on the go. I’ve joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and am working on a contemporary sweet romance. It’s about a French Canadian guy falling in love with an English Canadian gal and it’s set in a fictional English town on the gorgeous Gaspesie peninsula in Quebec, Canada. If you haven’t been there, you MUST plan a trip when the borders open up (or you can view photos on the Gaspe visitor website).

    I’ve also been sketching an historical inspirational fiction (not really sure a romance will happen in this one). I have a four book series sketched out covering Canadian events from 1900-1927 which were very interesting times north of the border. Again, both projects are in planning or first draft stages and one never knows where they will go.

    I have only been to Calgary and Banff as far as my trips to Canada. I guess I will have to plan another 🙂 But I am glad to hear you are participating in NaNoWriMo! I am juggling too much right now myself to fit it in 🙁

    Thanks again, Ann, for being on the blog and sharing with us. I am looking forward to hearing more from you!

    Snowbound in Winterberry Falls

    Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last-minute vacation road trip to focus and seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget.

    Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge.

    When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper—and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance—cost her everything she’s ever wanted?

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    The man was insufferable.

    This was the last time Jason Miller would ever use her for a story. She was done with him and done with this crummy place. She had a life in Washington and all she had to do was get there. Somehow.

    “I’m sorry about your car, but I can…”

    “Save it, Jason.” Her tone trembled with fury and she glared at him. “If you had really wanted to help me, you wouldn’t have forgotten to tell me I was stuck here in Santa Land indefinitely.” She shouldered her way past him and stomped away, her boots clopping across the sidewalk, kicking up sand behind her.

    “Steph, don’t—” His voice was lost behind her as she picked up the pace.

    Her eyes burned with tears and her vision blurred. She took longer strides, no speed was fast enough to escape.

    Jason’s voice called out behind her, propelling her down the street. “Steph!”

    Stephanie heard his shout before she felt the ground slide beneath her.

    And then her world went black.

    Buy Link

    Canada (Amazon) – HERE

    United States (Amazon) – HERE

    More About the Author

    ANN BRODEUR is an award-winning novelist who writes inspirational and contemporary romances offering sweet hope and happy endings.

    When she’s not reading, writing, chasing after her kids or enjoying long chats with her husband, Ann can be found drinking coffee, that’s been reheated several times throughout the day. She aspires to someday drink a hot beverage in one sitting.

    Connect with Ann and Her Work

    Website: http://brodeurwrites.com/

    Email: [email protected]

    Facebook: AnnBrodeurAuthor

    Pinterest: @brodeurwrites

    GoodReads Author Page

    Amazon Author Page

  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Susan Bateman

    Hello, Readers!

    And welcome to another installment of my Christmas Series. I am happy to introduce you to another Christmas themed book and another author that may be new to you! I have Susan Bateman (writing as S.B. Roth) on my blog today sharing about her Christmas novel, It Happened One Christmas!

    I have connected with Susan through the ACFW Romance genre Facebook Group Page. If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and their efforts to bring writers together for networking, encouraging one another, and helping each other out. As well as just connecting! Meeting Susan to introduce her to you all is just one of the many examples of why I love what the ACFW brings to my life 🙂

    But, I won’t go on and on…as I can often do…I’ll go ahead and introduce Susan…

    Welcome to my blog, Susan! First can you tell us a little about It Happened One Christmas?

    It Happened One Christmas tells the story of Elizabeth Buckley, Liz, coming to spend Thanksgiving with her precious Aunt Mabel. When she arrives, she discovers her aunt is very ill and she is rushed to the hospital, only to pass on Thanksgiving Day. Mabel’s neighbor, Chase Clarke, has always been a pain to Elizabeth. Although she barely knows him, she resents his closeness with her aunt. Both Chase and Liz feel the pain of losing her. Then they discover that they have inherited her beautiful home, there is a catch; they must live in the house together for one year before they own it outright. Turmoil and troubles begin, before the Christmas magic starts!

    What an interesting premise! Where did you find your inspiration for It Happened One Christmas?

    My inspiration came from my own very precious aunt who passed on Christmas Eve several years ago. Her love for me inspired me to write about the love that I felt, through Liz and Chase.

    Awww…that is so sweet. I’m glad you had such a wonderful relationship with your aunt. And that it spurred you on to write this story for all of us!

    So, you have obviously been bitten by the “writing bug”…but when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

    Wanting to be a writer has always been a part of my life. Reading at the age of four, I would tell stories to my parents. When I began writing, I wrote poetry, short stories, and once in the fifth grade, I wrote the entire script of Blue Denim, a movie I wasn’t allowed to see!

    Neat! I find over and over that for most writers, it’s always been a part of their life in some regard. That’s amazing that you started telling stories so young!

    And, as much as we love what we do, there is always something we’d rather “pass” on. What is it for you? What part of the writing process do you dread?

    I love developing the story and making everything come together. Sometimes my mind works so fast that my fingers can’t keep up and I skip huge pieces of information. Then I have to go back and edit. I dislike the edit. I realize without it my work would not make sense but it’s just not my favorite part of writing.

    I hear ya! The editing is more the analytical side of the process…we’d much rather just create, create, create I think… 🙂

    When I write, I definitely have to set the mood…that always involves music suited to the story I’m writing. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

    When I write I want absolute silence. Well, I sometimes talk as I write so music would interfere. I like to write early in the morning and late at night. I tend to get noodle headed about eleven in the morning and have to get up and move around. I’ll come back around six or seven in the evening.

    Talking out loud while writing definitely weirds the non-writers out sometimes. I’ve gotten far too many strange looks at the coffee shop 🙂

    One question I find I get a lot is about how long it takes me to complete a manuscript. So, I like to turn that question on those I interview… How long does it take you to write a book?

    Most of my books take about four to six weeks to write. Although, the book I am working on now has taken me over a year. It will be released, I hope, in January. It is a historical romance about a family in Ireland who was part of the potato famine exodus.

    Wow! You’ve definitely snagged my attention! Historical Romance…you are speaking my language for certain.

    Now, my sneaky question…as I’m always looking for more recommendations…what are you currently reading?

    Currently, I have been reading Josephine Blake’s, Brides of Adoration Series.

    I’ll have to check it out. Thanks again, Susan, for being on the blog and for sharing about your new release!

    It Happened One Christmas

    Elizabeth and Chase find themselves inheriting an old Victorian house together. 


    Problem #1 They are strangers
    Problem #2 They have to live in it for one year for it to be theirs.
    Problem #3 They don’t like each other too much.


    ​Can they make it work, or will one of them bow out before Christmas ever happens?

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    Excerpt from It Happened One Christmas by S.B.Roth:

    Liz was as cross as two sticks when she headed to bed. It bothered her that he could get under her skin so quickly. She thought this could be an attraction she was trying to deny. Staying in the downstairs bedroom for the night, she was greeted with Chase’s belongings scattered about the room. Cleaning the bed off so she could get in it was a chore. After brushing her teeth and washing her face, she climbed into the bed. Maggy jumped up and snuggled up to her as they both tried to get comfortable.

    The bed had an aroma of clean body mingled with shampoo, a sweet smell that enticed you to grab it and hold on. It smelled like Chase. The soap he used smelled like summer on a cloudy day. The wind blowing through the grass of a green field permeated the sheets, making it difficult for her to relax.

    Counting sheep didn’t help, but Liz had just about gotten her eyes closed when Ranger came bounding into the room and jumped on the bed. Now, where had he been? He must have been downstairs, but she didn’t see him at all. Now she had one at her back and one at her feet. She was dog bound instead of housebound! Laughing, she fell asleep thinking about that girl Chase was kissing outside the kitchen. Was she someone special? Was she one of his one-time hook-ups? Did he even do that? She planned to ask in the morning, well maybe.

    Buy Link

    Find out up-to-date information on the availability of It Happened One Christmas on Susan’s website!

    More About the Author

    I live in North Texas, a small community, with my husband, my dog, and am surrounded by three children, six grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. I always wanted a large family and God provided. Being an only child, I spent many hours creating my own world, which led me to love reading and writing my own stories. My greatest desire was to be a well-known writer/actress, so I became a high school biology teacher! Talk about creating and writing, WOW.  I still loved writing and would start and stop so many books I can’t even count them. After I retired from thirty years of teaching, I picked up my first love writing. I love the worlds I go to in my books.

    Connect with Susan and Her Work

    Website: susanbatemanauthor.com

    Facebook: Susie’s Scratchpad

    Instagram: @susanbatemanauthor

    Free ebook giveaway: https://BookHip.com/RSBWCF

  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Toni Shiloh

    Hello, Readers!!

    I have a treat for you all today! One of my favorite fellow authors – Toni Shiloh is on the blog today. Toni has always been on my radar as an author of interest. But in the last couple of years, I have come to admire and respect her all the more as a gifted, creative, and capable author both in her work and as an instructor in the business and craft of writing. I have enjoyed sitting under her instruction and gleaning from her knowledge. It is such a privilege to have her join us today!

    Hey, Toni! It is so good to have you on my blog again! I really enjoy hearing more about your writing every time you visit 🙂

    So, can you tell us a little about this Christmas novella?

    All the Moore  is the second book in the Something Borrowed: Christmas Weddings Collection. The great thing about this collection is that all the stories relate around a group of six friends. One of the friends is already married and offers up her tiara as the something borrowed. My story tells the tale of Leilah and Reggie who met gaming online. Leilah loves the autonomy of it, but Reggie wants more from their friendship.

    I love that idea! What a fantastic premise! And I love that you have this group of authors that have come together (again) to put out a collection.

    Tell us, if you don’t mind… Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

    I changed my mind A LOT all the way up into my twenties. I’ve gone from wanting to be a architect, interior designer, lawyer, teacher, forensic pathologist, librarian, etc. But through it all, I have always been an avid reader, which probably is why I wanted to be so many different things. I got to experience all those jobs in books.

    I can totally relate to the jumping around. I think the only one I had in common with you though was the forensic pathologist. My background is in science and all of that stuff just fascinates me. But here we are, writing and making that happen!

    We all know that, as much as we enjoy the creative process, there are parts of putting a book together that we are less fond of. What part of the writing process do you dread?

    Revisions! I whine a lot before I buckle down and do them. And chocolate, I needs lots of chocolate to cope, lol.

    LOL! I need tons of chocolate in my coffee at that point 🙂

    I also need the right kind of environment – music being a big part of that. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

    It depends on the book I’m writing. I create a new playlist on Spotify for each book that I think fits the mood of the story and the interests of the characters.

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

    I don’t. I used to write when the kids were in school, and I kind of still do, there’s just at home now. You can usually find me sitting in my chair, feet propped up on an ottoman with a laptop lapdesk.

    Aren’t those laptop desks the best? Desk-on-the-go!

    One of the questions readers always seem to ask is: How long does it take you to write a book?

    It depends but for the longest book I’ve ever written, it took me three months to finish the first draft. Then I go through all the critiques I’ve received from my crit partners and polish it up before sending it to the editor.

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

    I may have teared up a few places writing this story.

    Aww! That is sweet! I love it!

    Thanks so much again, Toni, for chatting with me and being on the blog today. And for offering a giveaway (details below). You’re definitely one of the authors in the industry that I admire 🙂

    And I know my readers are eager to get to the details about the book, so we’ll get to that!

    Something Borrowed: Christmas Weddings Collection

    All the Moore

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    July

    Leilah Anderson stared at the text from her newly-engaged best friend, Hanady Ellsworth. She wanted Leilah and the rest of their friends from college to meet up in Denver to go wedding dress shopping. Leilah didn’t want to say no, but leaving her home wasn’t an easy feat.

    Traveling had been difficult ever since she’d landed in a wheelchair after having a spinal tumor removed. When she’d opted for the surgery, the doctor had warned her about the slim possibility of paralysis. The possibility had become reality. Although, she wasn’t actually a paraplegic.

    After the removal of the tumor, further testing showed Leilah had partial paralysis, which meant she could feel every painful sensation in her legs but didn’t have the strength to move or walk on them.

    Hence the wheelchair that had become like an appendage.

    She sat back in her chair. What should she do? She didn’t want to disappoint Hanady, but traveling was such a pain. Knowing Hanady, she would take all of Leilah’s needs into account. Rent a wheelchair accessible van and ensure their accommodations complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    “Ugh,” Leilah groaned, leaning back to look up at the ceiling. Denver in July, one of the hottest times of the year. But she would show up with a smile especially for Hanady. For her best friend.

    She texted Hanady that she’d be there and blew out a breath. A chime sounded on her cell phone. Not a text or Facebook message, but one from the gamer app she used to communicate with the friends she’d met online playing video games.

    AllTheMoore: Hey, Professor. How goes it?

    ProfHotWheels: Not bad. Just found out I’ll be traveling soon to visit my girlfriends. I haven’t seen them in a while so I’m excited about that.

    AllTheMoore: Nice! Where you going? Some ol’ ladies convention?

    ProfHotWheels: HaHa! I’m a year younger than you. We’re getting together to go wedding dress shopping. My bff just got engaged.

    AllTheMoore: Yeah that sounds like something girls would do. Where you headed?

    ProfHotWheels: Denver

    AllTheMoore: No joke? I live in Denver.

    Buy Link

    Amazon

    More About the Author

    Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. Visit her at www.tonishiloh.com

    Connect with Toni and her books

    Website: http://tonishiloh.com/

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh

    Instagram: @tonishiloh

    Twitter: @tonishilohwrite

    GIVEAWAY

    Toni is offering an ebook copy of Something Borrowed: Christmas Weddings Collection to one (1) winner chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. No purchase is necessary to enter, just follow the instructions below to enter.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • CHRISTMAS SERIES: Author Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer (Guest Post and Offer)

    Hey, Readers! It has been a while since I have been on the blog, but I am reviving it due to active requests (thank you for your kind words!).

    And I am re-launching it with a CHRISTMAS SERIES – featuring posts about Christmas novels, novellas, and short stories! (‘Tis the season, indeed.)

    Now, I know you may be saying, “It’s too early for Christmas stories.” And perhaps you are right. But Christmas themed works start making their debut this time of year. And I, for one, plan to celebrate my fellow authors and their work!

    First up, is another Sara(h)! Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer. I had the privilege to meet this author at my first ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference many years back. We were both newbies at that particular conference and both Historical Fiction/Romance writers.

    I particularly admire her connection to the past through her ancestors and their lives. And how that has led to her writing about the Choctaw. I am only too eager to learn more about this connection and her works!

    So without further ado, I will turn you over to Sarah!

    Guest Post

    by Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

    I once made a humorous video declaring myself a writer for a contest. I used clips from classic TV shows and movies, and was tickled by one comment it got:

    “I love this video, Sarah!! I thought an “older man” came up with this.”

    To which I thought, “No, I was just raised by one.”

    My daddy grew up in the days of listening to Gunsmoke as a radio show before it hit the black and white and later, color screen. Roy Rogers was his hero, and for all my life, we watched reruns of the classic TV Westerns:

    Have Gun – Will Travel, Daniel Boone, The High Chaparral, Hopalong Cassidy, The Adventures of Jim Bowie, Annie Oakley, The Big Valley, Rawhide, The Rifleman, The Virginian, Zorro, and more.

    L-R: Adam, Little Joe, Hoss, and Pa (Ben)

    And, of course, the ever classic Bonanza. Do you know the Cartwright boys? If not, allow me to introduce you: Adam, Little Joe, Hoss, and Pa (Ben).

    Don’t ask which is my favorite because I love them all—Adam, the level headed, book reading, dedicated leader; Hoss (my mama’s favorite), the loving, forgiving gentle giant; and Little Joe, the quick tempered, fun loving but-don’t-mess-with-my-family protector. Then there was the patriarch, Ben, whose steadfast integrity and faith held those boys in line.

    Right always prevailed, no matter what dangers threatened the family or their ranch, the Ponderosa. They laid it all on the line and never compromised.

    In part, that long-running series from the ’50s-’70s helped shaped who I am as a person and as a writer. It also shaped one of the main characters in my Choctaw Tribune series without me even knowing it—Matthew Teller, Choctaw owner of a controversial newspaper in Indian Territory, 1890s.

    I didn’t realize this until a friend (who has a “mom crush” on Matthew and threatened me to never kill him off in the series) asked how he came to be. Though I hadn’t contemplated it before, I knew right away: He’s a mash up of the four Cartwrights. He has elements from Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.

    Once that came forefront to my mind, I started seeing it through each of the three books in the series: The Executions (book 1), Traitors (book 2), and Shaft of Truth (book 3).

    I’m seeing it in the final three books that I’m working on in this series (books 4, 5, 6), and it makes me love Matthew Teller even more. He’s a brother like I saw the Cartwright boys being. (I always thought they should have had a sister, and Matthew does in the series!)

    I wrote Shaft of Truth listening to the soundtracks of classic TV Westerns. I knew the theme songs as soon as they came up, especially Bonanza, which put me into that world as I wrote Matthew’s story.

    In a way, these books came about because of my daddy and his love for old TV westerns.

    My mama with William’s portrait held in
    care at the Choctaw Nation Museum
    in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma

    But there’s someone else who had a great deal of influence on Matthew Teller — my great-great-great-great grandfather, William Robuck.

    Young William crossed the Choctaw Trail of Tears as a boy with his family in 1831. Among the tragedies they experienced was burying his father on the trail.

    With courage and faith, William went on to attend the Choctaw Academy in Kentucky and became a statesman for our tribe and served in several official capacities, including president of the Choctaw Senate. He and his wife, Annie, owned a ranch near present day Grant, Oklahoma. If you’ve ever been to Roebuck Lake near the Choctaw Travel Plaza and the Casino in Grant…yes, that 2,000 acre ranch at Roebuck Lake was in my family once upon a time. Uncle Preston’s ranch in the Choctaw Tribune series is loosely based on it. Danger on the Red River  (A Choctaw Tribune Christmas Short Story) is set on the ranch.

    At my grandfather William’s
    headstone in 2009

    I learned William’s story many years ago, and it prompted me to write my first Choctaw tale — Contrast, which mirrored my experience on one of our annual Choctaw Trail of Tears Commemorative Walks, and the hardships my family endured in the 1800s.

    I see my grandfather William in Matthew Teller — passionate about serving his people, no quit no matter what, intelligent. I imagine my grandfather faced his own racial issues as a mixed blood Choctaw. It was said he could pass for a white man. To my knowledge, he didn’t try. He was involved in Choctaw tribal government until he passed in 1885.

    That’s right about when Matthew’s story picks up. Maybe subconsciously, I was continuing my grandfather’s story, and the legacy he left me.

    I like to think that as you get to know the Teller family…you’re getting to know my family, too.

    Danger on the Red River

    Christmas at Uncle Preston’s ranch sounds delightful to Ruth Ann Teller, who is ready for a break from the Choctaw Tribune newspaper and the hard times they’ve endured. Namely, nearly losing her brother to a gunman.

    But drama follows them to the ranch with a flooded Red River, quicksand, and a surprise Christmas present that ties the whole family together.

    Spend an 1893 Christmas with the Tellers in this free ebook!

    Download Link

    Download a free copy of Danger on the Red River (A Choctaw Tribune Christmas Short Story) here!

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    Indian Territory

    Christmas Eve, 1893

    “Come on, Matt! It’s past time to leave, and there’s a storm coming.”

    Ruth Ann Teller skipped out of the telegraph office, a lean-to attached to the print shop, and went straight to the coat rack next to her brother’s desk. She halted and frowned.

    Hair mussed like he’d been running his fingers through it, Matthew was leaned back in his chair, inky hands folded over his midsection. He stared at the empty wall on the other side of the vacant shop. He was that way these days, lapsing into nothingness whether there was work to do or not.

    Well, they had no work left this morning. The siblings had arrived at the newspaper office long before dawn on Christmas Eve, a day they were closed but there was one last print job Matthew needed to run and Ruth Ann took care of telegraphs before wishing the other operators a jolly and joyful Christmas.

    That and the print job finished and delivered, still Matthew sat rather than cajoling her to get moving so they could get on out to Uncle Preston’s ranch. Their cousin Peter Frazier had stayed home, finishing chores and helping their mother load the buggy. They were waiting on Matthew and Ruth Ann…

    She rehung her coat and touched Matthew’s shoulder. He flinched and looked up, blinked, then smiled. He was back.

    “Ready?” he asked.

    “And waiting. We don’t want to miss Melinda’s noon meal. She made us promise to arrive in plenty of time to set the table.”

    “Right. I’m almost finished here.” He shuffled papers scattered over his desk into neat piles, something he normally didn’t bother with. Busy-work, he called it, not something to waste time and energy on. But this morning, he was stalling.

    Ruth Ann laid a hand on his arm, stilling him.

    “It’ll all be here after Christmas,” she said quietly.

    He didn’t move. “You’re right. This is Christmas. Time to put all this aside and just…be. And I’ve already taken care of your surprise.”

    Ruth Ann scoffed and stepped back as he stood and lifted their coats from the rack.

    “You aren’t fooling me this year, Matthew Teller, I’m going to guess your present by tonight.” She pulled her coat on. “You just worry about guessing your own present.”

    His eyes twinkled in a way that told her he already had it figured out. She swatted him. He dodged and slipped into his coat.

    The bell over the door jingled despite the sign that read “closed.” Ruth Ann was dismayed to see a customer step in, then he turned. It was Mr. Bates from the General Store for whom they’d run a sales sheet for him to pass out first thing after Christmas. Was something wrong with the flyer?

    But Mr. Bates had a deeper look of concern on his aging face. “’Scuse me, but I just got a letter in the morning mail from my brother in St. Louis. I wasn’t going to make the trip up there this Christmas, but he says our mother is feeling poorly. That was two days ago, and he said not to worry, but I wondered…would you mind sending a telegram off to him before you leave? He should reply quick. Just want to make sure everything’s all right, you know?”

    “Of course.”

    Ruth Ann didn’t bother removing her coat. She’d already banked the stove in the telegraph office, and coolness was setting in. Mr. Bates gave her the written message and she settled at the sounder, knowing she could get through to the St. Louis office. It was large enough to keep operators going through Christmas Eve.

    Dots and dashes, dashes and dots, just like sleigh bells might sound dashing through the snow. They had little need for sleighs in Indian Territory, but the image made Ruth Ann smile despite the delay.

    St. Louis responded that they received the message. She hesitated. How long would the reply take? Mama and Peter were waiting for them.

    Matthew nudged her from behind. “Y’all go on out to the ranch. I’ll wait for the reply and catch up on Little Chief.”

    Ruth Ann stood and met his gaze. He gave her a look that said she needed to stop being a mother hen.

    Since the shooting, and the terror at the Warren home, she walked with him every morning to the newspaper office and stayed—no matter how late—every night to walk home with him. She didn’t want to let him out of her sight.

    He’d tolerated it, but today he was firm. “I’ll catch up,” he repeated.

    Mr. Bates apologized for the trouble, but Ruth Ann gave him a hug and wished him a merry Christmas and promised prayers for his mother.

    Ruth Ann walked toward her family’s box house by the railroad tracks, moving slow despite a rumble of thunder, waiting to see if the telegram would come through and Matthew might catch up. But he wouldn’t, and it was time to stop walking in fear and start walking in the faith that there would be peace on earth, at least in their souls, as was promised so long ago.

    More About the Author

    SARAH ELISABETH SAWYER is a story archaeologist. She digs up shards of past lives, hopes, and truths, and pieces them together for readers today. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian honored her as a literary artist through their Artist Leadership Program for her work in preserving Choctaw Trail of Tears stories. A tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, she writes historical fiction from her hometown in Texas, partnering with her mother, Lynda Kay Sawyer, in continued research for future works. Learn more at SarahElisabethWrites.com and Facebook.com/SarahElisabethSawyer

    Connect with Sarah and her works

    Website: https://www.sarahelisabethwrites.com

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

    Instagram: @sarahelisabethsawyer

  • INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Chris Ann Yim

    This week, I have another author for you to meet. This is actually an author I have worked with in my local critique group. She is just the sweetest lady ever and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to her debut novel!

    Welcome to the blog, Chris! I’m so glad to have you here. First, I’d love to know about your inspiration for your debut novel, Liaison in Lyudinovo?

    My family’s military duty stations inspire my novels. My Dad was in the Army, stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. My love for Carson provided the setting for this novel. They many unique soldiers that I’ve gotten to know in my life inspired the characters.

    Dad also travelled to Russia when I was a kid. His stories from his trip, along with the mysterious lore of Russia, made me want to write about it.

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

    I wanted to be a psychiatrist starting around age eight. I partially credit the TV show ‘House’ to my obsession with medicine.

    I loved reading, especially about all things military, and I wrote adventure stories ‘for fun’ in middle school. However, being a writer was not in my line of sight until much later in life. I’d prepared myself for Medical School and thought of no other career until the Lord changed my path in the middle of organic chemistry lab, junior year of college.

    Goggles on, Bunson burners blazing, test tubes bubbling, he spoke. Call it divine intervention or an epiphany, but I felt a complete shift in my universe and knew with absolute certainty that I had to change course. It was difficult for me because I’d spent my whole education focusing on science, statistical analysis, and all things Med School. However, when the Lord moves you it is for a greater purpose.

    So, I became a history teacher and rekindled a love of writing. There’s a whole novel in that story. One day, I’ll have to write it!

    What a story! You should write it into a novel…I’d love to read it.

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

    My next novel is about a psychiatrist who finds a diary that changes American history to its core! I’m currently working on the sequel to her story, where she links up with the heroin in Liaison. Fun stuff for sure!

    Sounds fascinating! Thank you so much, Chris, for being on the blog and for sharing about your novel. I know my readers are likely eager to get a better peek at the book for themselves, so I won’t keep them…

    Liaison in Lyudinovo

    Liaison in Lyudinovo is about a single mom who’s spent the last ten years working overseas for the CIA. She’s romantically jaded, ready to go home, and on the last mission of her career. The last mission just happens to pair her with an attractive soldier who needs her help more than she knows. It’s a military novel about friends, faith, and finding love in the most unexpected places. I also threw in some espionage, guns, and intrigue!

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    About a mile from the cabin, Jackson pulled off onto a side road.

    “What are you doing?” Sam asked, pushing the cuticles back on her fingernails.

    He smiled. “Samantha Browning, have you ever driven a stick shift?”

    Sam hesitated and looked away from him at the sky like a spaceship could land at any second. “Why?”

    “Because the only reason you didn’t drive today is the car is a manual.”

    She continued her fake search of the skies for anything to keep her eyes off him. “How do you know—”

    “Come on now, Officer Browning,” he said to her as if he were trying to get a kid to fess up to a lie. “Your V8 Mustang is an automatic. You obviously like power, but you don’t know how to handle it.”

    Well, that got her fired up. “Listen, Jackson Lee, I can handle power just fine. My Daddy tried to teach me once, but I just… I just…” She clenched her fists.

    “You want to know a secret?”

    “O…kay?” She shrugged.

    “You know that you can try again, right? Some humans do that when they fail at something. Don’t let the secret out, though.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Now? You want me to try now?”

    “Now,” he repeated as he glared at her. “Do you and the guys have some sort of quilting contest going on back at the cabin, or do you want to learn?”

    “Jackson Lee, we are not in a country where we can be distracted from the mission, shooting off on back roads for the enemy to find us. This is not the place to—”

    “Do you trust me?” Jackson interrupted her.

    She eyed him and shrugged. “This has nothing to do with—”

    “Do you trust me?” he asked again, more firmly this time.

    She hesitated but nodded. She didn’t like not knowing how to drive a stick shift, but she got frustrated easily with this particular skill. 

    “Did the Agency not require that you know how?” Jackson asked her.

    Sam hem hawed around at the question. “Well, yes-ish. I took the test.”

    Jackson stared into her eyes, waiting on the rest of the story.

    “I didn’t really pass the test, but to be fair, I tried. And, I’ve never had trouble since. And, I’m very thankful for that. And, I know it could have gone pretty bad in some situations, but…”

    Jackson’s eyes were narrowing in question. “Do I even want to know how any of that went down, the not passing and yet surviving in foreign lands with foreign vehicles?”

    Sam rubbed her forehead. “Eh?”

    “Fine. Another day,” Jackson said, “but today, you’re learning.”

    Buy Link

    More About the Author

    Chris Ann Yim is a historian and author of the new novel Liaison in Lyudinovo. As the wife of an Army veteran, she holds an appreciation for the relationships between military service members and their families. With a background in the social sciences, she has spent the majority of her life researching military leadership, the psychology of war, and the development of culture in societal groups.

    Chris is a cat mom who enjoys Blues Rock and Big Band music, drag racing, and photography. She lives and works out of her home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, and spends her vacations eating good food and travelling the globe with her husband.

    Her claim to fame was once being chosen as a contestant on the Price is Right, and in the future she aspires to go an entire week without tripping over her own feet or spilling a glass of sweet tea down her shirt.

    Connect with Chris and her creativity

    Author Website: www.chrisannyim.weebly.com

    Facebook: Chris Ann Yim- Author

    Instagram: @chrisannyim_author

  • INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Toni Shiloh

    Good day, readers! I have an author for you today that I have come to “know” through a couple of venues. One is the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Romance genre Facebook Group and we also are part of another group, Pure Romance Reads and Readers of Pure Romance. I have been watching her books and am eager to learn more!

    Welcome to the blog, Toni! It’s so good to have you here. Let’s jump right into the lightning round…

    Not every part of the writing process is sunshine and puppy dogs…there’s always something that every author likes less. What part of the writing process do you dread?

    I dread the editing process! Once I’m done writing the first draft I’m ready to move on to the next story and the editing process keeps me stuck in the same story.

    I can totally relate to this…it gets to where I’m so tired of examining every little word.

    I find that authors glean a lot from each other…even just in reading their work. What about you? What are you currently reading?

    I have a few books in my immediate TBR pile. Forgiving Tess by Kimberly M. Miller, Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh (a reread for me), The Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge, and The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey.

    You have named a couple of my own favorites – all my readers know I’m a huge Tamara Leigh fan. And I adore Joy K. Massenburge!

    What about your process? Is there some particular kind of music you listen to when you write?

    It depends on the book. I create a Spotify playlist for each book I write. Usually a mix of country, R&B, and Christian/Gospel music.

    It is interesting how many authors do this kind of thing…it has made me rethink my listening. I used to have an instrumental playlist for “writing.” Now, like you, I create one for each book.

    One last question before you go – do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

    Right now, I’m writing a Christmas novella. My heroine is returning home after being laid off. As the youngest of 5, she wrestles with feelings of inadequacies. It doesn’t help that her sister is marrying her ex-boyfriend.

    Interesting premise. I do enjoy Christmas novellas…I’ll have to keep my eyes open for this one 🙂

    Thanks so much, Toni, for being on the blog and sharing. I’ll let you go and let my readers jump into Risking Love.

    Risking Love

    Nikki lives with a perfect trifecta of noes. No guys. No dates. No way. After years of keeping men at bay, Nikki Gordon has it down to a science. No one, not even the sweet, hunky Shorty Smalls can change her mind. Period. So if she’s got it all figured out, why does her heart sink to her toes when she sees Shorty with another woman? Read Risking Love today and see what happens when you risk your heart to the care of a good man.

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    “Welcome to The Maple…Pit.” Nikki Gordon forgot the rest of her speech because Gregory “Shorty” Smalls had just walked into The Pit with another woman.

    Her breath faltered as she looked into Shorty’s dark brown eyes. He flashed his engaging grin as if nothing momentous had just occurred. She catalogued his features, taking in his warm russet brown skin and the close-cropped haircut that always had her hands itching for a feel. Everything looked the same except for the woman standing next to him.

    “Um, Nikki, can we get a table?” Shorty eyed her, his head tilted in confusion.

    “Right.” She grabbed two menus as her heart stuttered back to life in her chest.

    For the past six years she’d been The Pit’s hostess, and not once had Shorty come in with a woman who wasn’t a relative. Not once had she imagined him walking in with a very attractive, petite blonde woman with a cute button nose.

    He’s not your boyfriend.

    And didn’t that burn! “Right this way.” She spun on her heel, marching toward an empty table. No way would she put them in a booth where they could get all cozy. Placing the menus down, she forced her lips upward. If her smile looked as painful as it felt, the mystery lady would think Nikki the most insincere hostess ever.

    Not that I care. “Your server will be right out.” The words strained past the lump in her throat.

    “Wait up, Nikki.” Shorty held up his hand.

    Yes? His words rooted her to the floor.

    “Nikki, meet Trina. Trina, this is Nikki.”

    He was introducing them to one another? Ugh.

    More About the Author

    Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. 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.

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

    Buy Links

    Amazon – https://amzn.to/2uGTV1q

    Goodreads link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44771917-risking-love

    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

  • INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Angela Ruth Strong

    Welcome, Readers! How are you? I hope you are well. I have this special Wednesday Edition of my blog for you all to enjoy! Author Angela Ruth Strong is with me today sharing about her newest release, A Cuppa Trouble. I am so excited to share this interview and book details with you. As well, Angela is offering a giveaway! Now that I’ve gotten you eager, I’ll get started…

    Welcome to my blog, Angela! I’m glad you’re here. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

    A Cuppa Trouble is book two in my CafFUNated Mysteries. It’s about a tea lover and a coffee lover who start a shop together and their differences make them the perfect team for solving mysteries. This book is set at Valentine’s so there’s a romance thread (or two) as well as a spiritual thread about communication. I’ve tried to emulate the feel of the television show Psych, so it gets a bit silly at times, but I’m pretty proud of the suspense at the end. Not your typical cuppa tea.

    Love it! A series with “caffeinated” attached to it? This coffee-lover is tuned in for sure! What was the inspiration for A Cuppa Trouble?

    I love heist stories, so I really enjoyed researching the real life car jacking and smuggling rings. A lot of the crazy stories in my book are based on true events. A ten-year-old really did steal a car. A car jacker really did get stuffed in the trunk of a car by the car’s owner. Ohio really does have a law that it’s illegal to leave the keys in your car to let your car warm up in winter if the doors are unlocked. Some stuff is just too weird for me to have made up.

    As a Historical Fiction/Romance writer, I can attest to that! Fact is often stranger than fiction.

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

    My mom was a writer, so I grew up with stories about myself in Women’s World. When I was sixteen, I wrote about something that had happened to me, and my mom helped me submit it to a magazine—because that’s what you do, right? They paid me $100, and it was the easiest money I’d ever made. It hasn’t ever been that easy since, but it inspired me to go to college for journalism and attend writing conferences.

    Neat. I can’t say, in all the authors I’ve interviewed, that anyone has had a parent writing about them in a magazine 🙂

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

    4th grade when we wrote tall tales as a school assignment. I wrote about a dog who stopped a bank robbery. (I told you I’ve always loved heists.) In the carpool on the way home, the other kids wanted to hear my story. They laughed so hard that I pretended I’d lost the assignment and had to write another tall tale to read to them on the ride home the next day. Making people laugh has become one of my favorite parts of writing.

    That’s cool. My work doesn’t tend to be humorous (except a phrase or line here and there), but in real life I’m your favorite jokester. Same reason–I like to make people laugh.

    Now, as much as we love writing, there’s got to be something you don’t love as much…what part of the writing process do you dread?

    Writer’s block. I hate spending a whole day (or days) just thinking things over when I should be getting words on the page. But I do believe that my writing is better for it.

    Ugh! That is the worst!

    On that note…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

    This may sound contradictory, but you have to be both confident in your abilities and open to feedback at the same time. It’s the insecurity that makes people feel like they have to prove themselves and so they shut down or argue against feedback when it’s not what they’d hoped to hear. But if you’re pursuing excellence rather than recognition, you should welcome the suggestions that can help you make your story better.

    Great advice! I agree that extra eyes and thoughts make your story stronger.

    What are you currently reading?

    I just downloaded Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan. The last books I read were On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter and Vigilant by Sara Davison, which was spectacular.

    A couple more for my TBR (to be read) pile! I tend to read mostly in my genre, but it’s good to read a variety of things, I think. There are so many gifted writers I can glean from.

    I typically “set the stage” for my writing sessions…music is a big part of that. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

    I like quiet while I write, but whenever I’m not writing, I’m listening to the radio for songs that I would play as a soundtrack if my book were a movie. Then I listen to them over and over and whenever I hear them down the road I think back to the book scene and what it meant to me. Most recently, I’ve been listening to Beloved by Tenth Avenue North. Sooo good.

    I like that…a soundtrack for your book. My playlists that I make for my writing sessions usually reflect the music that would be in the soundtrack I suppose.

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

    We just bought a sofa with a recliner that has an armrest next to it that works perfectly for my computer mouse. So though I have an office I could write off if I used it, this is my spot. And I like to get started as soon as everyone leaves the house in the morning, though that doesn’t always happen.

    I get that. I don’t use my office nearly as much as I’d like 🙂

    I get this question a lot myself, so I thought I’d ask it for the sake of my readers–how long does it take you to write a book?

    Three months at a comfortable pace, though I did write a middle grade novel in a week once. I have to warn my family when I’m on book deadline like that because I won’t make sense when I talk. They find it very entertaining when I tell them to let the horses in (though I mean the dogs) or when I randomly mention that I was adopted (even though I wasn’t.) When they point out what I just said, we laugh until we cry. It’s pretty entertaining.

    LOL! Ah, the life of a writer…

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

    As research, I had my writing group stuff me in a trunk. I was able to escape, though afterwards, I realized my hand was bleeding. Not sure how that happened.

    Oh no! That’s fun though–an interesting way to get in a character’s headspace.

    Before I let you go, I have to ask–do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

    I’m finishing up book three, A Latte Difficulty. This one has Marissa witnessing a crime and hiding out in a safehouse. If you know Marissa’s clumsiness as well as her controlling ways, you know this is just another recipe for crazy.

    Love this! Thanks again, Angela, for being on my blog today and sharing about your book and your process. My readers love to glimpse into the “heads” of different writers and get a peek at how they operate. So, thank you.

    But now, it’s time to get to the book…

    A Cuppa Trouble

    Can a couple of baristas chase down a car thief without spilling a drop of their favorite drink?

    Plans for a Valentine’s Day grand opening of a small town coffee shop go awry when the first customer is killed. Evidence points toward the victim being mixed up in a car theft ring, but shop owners Tandy and Marissa have reason to believe he was framed. An assortment of suspects–from a pink-haired heir to Tandy’s charming ex–all seem to know a little too much about grand theft auto.

    Without approval from either their boyfriends or the gum-chewing FBI agent in charge, the shop owners go on stakeouts, plan stings, and pursue justice in a high-speed car chase. If they don’t find the killer soon, it might be more than their love lives in trouble.

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    “You kidnapped my business partner.”

    Vic crossed his arms. “You do business with car thieves?”

    “What? No. She sells tea. As bad as that may be, it’s hardly criminal.”

    Metal smashed, glass cracked, and a taillight burst from the corner of Vic’s vehicle. An ugly brown boot took its place.

    “Tandy?” The muffled voice sounded like Marissa’s, but that couldn’t be her foot in the ugly brown boot.

    “Oh fantastic.” Vic pointed the direction of the mess. “I caught her trying to steal a Jeep, and I made a citizen’s arrest to help the police. I didn’t realize she’d damage my car.”

    What had Vic expected? He certainly couldn’t expect Tandy to believe his excuse. “She owns a Jeep. Maybe she got locked out and had to break in.” Tandy raised her voice so Marissa could hear. “Marissa, did you lock your keys in the Jeep again?”

    The boot disappeared, and part of Marissa’s face filled the hole. “No!” Her response came with enough force that Tandy was a little scared of releasing her from the trunk.

    Tandy shook her head at Vic. “There has to be a logical explanation for why she was breaking into a Jeep. You should have at least asked her what was going on rather than resort to kidnapping. That’s not how you make a citizen’s arrest.”

    “Police lock criminals in the back of their cars. I was doing the same.” Vic lifted a shoulder, as if no responsibility rested there. “As soon as I let her out, you’ll see that she wasn’t using a coat hanger to get into her own vehicle. She has what’s known as a Relay Attack Unit designed to unlock cars without a key. Only a car thief would own such a thing.”

    Now he was overtly lying. And Tandy would be able to prove it. Good thing he’d broken up with her last year. Otherwise she’d be dating a liar.

    Sheriff Griffin sauntered from the police department. “What’s going on here, Tandy?”

    Marissa banged against the inside of the trunk in response. “Griffin, get me out of here!”

    Griffin’s hand rose to his holster.

    Vic sidestepped farther behind his car as if he might need to duck from bullets.

    Griffin pointed with his free hand at Marissa’s face in the hole. “Is someone in your trunk, sir?”

    “It’s me. Marissa.”

    Griffin’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Let her out right now.”

    Buy Links

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cuppa-Trouble-CafFUNated-Mysteries/dp/1943959595/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1561391185&sr=8-16

    B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-cuppa-trouble-angela-ruth-strong/1131936918?ean=9781943959594

    Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Cuppa-Trouble/Angela-Ruth-Strong/9781943959594?id=7613914066793

    More About the Author

    Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there’s nothing else she’d rather write about. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been optioned for film, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. She also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK.

    Connect with Angela and Her Books

    Find out more or join her newsletter at www.angelaruthstrong.com

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557213161269220/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaRStrong

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

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45487958-a-cuppa-trouble?from_search=true

    Giveaway

    Angela is offering to one (1) winner, chosen by Rafflecopter, an ebook copy of A Cuppa Trouble.

    Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Tara Johnson

    BLURB (Back Cover Copy)

    Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

    Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

    Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

    My Review

    Well, first of all, this was a fantastic read. It became one of my summer reads because of where it fell in my TBR (to be read) pile. This was not a gentle, slow read, though.

    The story whisks you away, starting with the first line! And you are in this world with Keziah, Micah, and the challenges of the historical time. I truly couldn’t put it down.

    Johnson’s ability to put words together and express the character’s point of view, while remaining easy to read was spot on.

    The main characters are well-developed and come across so. They are definitely the “three-dimensional” characters we all long for. The secondary and minor characters are less filled out, but that is not atypical. Johnson’s focus on the hero and heroine’s development was well-spent. And she did not commit the egregious sin of “weighing the reader down with info dumps” as can be the case when the author spends so much effort on backstory. She continued to move the story along as we see different parts of these characters.

    In the end, I really enjoyed the romance, the historical accuracy, and this story of overcoming. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Clean Historical Romance, or just a well-tailored story in general.

    Interview

    Welcome to the blog, Tara! Thanks for visiting. We have become a little more familiar with your novel, Engraved on the Heart. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for Engraved on the Heart?

    The spark of the idea for Engraved on the Heart began when our family visited Savannah, Georgia. I was entranced with the history and charm of the town. Secrets seemed to ooze out of every corner.

    The first spark was ignited by a still unknown soul. During a historic riding tour of the city, I was intrigued by a fact rattled off by our tour guide. “Many of the older homes and buildings in and around Savannah were built by slaves. In fact, if you look closely, you can find some of their fingerprints in the bricks.”

    I walked down the cobblestone streets, admiring the weeping willows and moss hanging from the towering trees. As I passed a home, a darkened impression molded into the crumbling brick snagged my attention. I sucked in a surprised breath over the precious detail. There it was, staring back at me. The fingerprint of a slave.

    I ran my finger over the scarred impression, marveling that such a small mark could tell such an exquisite story. Whose hands had formed the old brick? What was his name? What were his dreams? Running my fingers over that precious print linked me inextricably to the past, binding an invisible cord between the nameless slave and me.

    The next day, we visited the Georgia State Railroad Museum where I found several books in the gift shop about famous women of the Civil War. Courageous heroes like Elizabeth Van Lew who fought against the norms of her culture to give freedom and hope to those trapped in darkness.

    God slowly unfurled a story in my heart…the tale of a girl who battled epilepsy as a child, just as I did, but grew to understand her worth in the eyes of a loving God.

    Absolutely fascinating. I love how history is telling, but holds so many secrets.

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

    No, first I wanted to be a singer, which is funny because for ten years I was signed with a Christian ministry and record label. I would imitate everyone from Julie Andrews and Sandi Patty to Ethel Merman and Mariah Carey. Later, I wanted to be a teacher, then a marine biologist and later a physical therapist. Writing was never on my radar, although I was a voracious reader.

    What a story! I guess most writers start with being an avid reader. And remain so.

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

    After traveling for ten years and singing concerts in churches, prisons and for ladies’ conferences, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, which quickly began to limit my ability to sing more than a few songs at a time. I began blogging about my frustration and the lessons I was learning. I discovered a beautiful outlet in writing.

    A friend suggested I attend the American Christian Fiction Writers National meeting. I balked, still confused as to why God would let my voice disappear when it seemed He’d told me He would use it to bring others to know Him. In my very first ACFW class, the speaker taught us about every author’s voice, their unique way of spinning words and phrases together. That’s when God showed me I could have a voice and still not have a voice. I’ve been writing ever since.

    That is beautiful! A voice though you don’t have a voice… Love it!

    I’m always learning from others…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

    I received two great pieces of advice early on in my writing career. The first one came from Tamera Alexander. She said, “Your books are not your babies. They are a product. Never confuse the two.” It was such a terrific observation. Keeping this distinction in mind takes the sting out of criticism, and helps me remember my worth has nothing to do with how well or poorly my latest story is received.

    The second piece of advice was, “Villains are always the hero in their own story.” I’ve never forgotten it. This simple thought prevents me from writing cardboard characters. We are all deeply flawed, yearning for significance and desperate for love.

    Love both of those nuggets!

    Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

    My favorite time to write is in the morning or early afternoon, and my favorite place is outside. Always outside, whether the sun is shining or I’m on my porch watching the rain fall. There is something so soothing and creatively stimulating about nature.

    The outdoors is inspiring for certain!

    The question I most often get from people about being an author is “How long does it take you to write a book?” So, let me turn that question on you.

    On average it takes me eight to nine months to write a book. That includes research time. I usually spend a month or two just doing research and developing character wounds before I ever begin to write a word.

    I, too, have found as I grow as a writer that taking the time to develop the character thoroughly is so valuable.

    Thank you, Tara, for being on the blog today and for giving us a peek at your process. Now, I believe it is that time to let the readers delve into your books!

    Engraved on the Heart

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    April 12, 1861

    Savannah, Georgia

    Don’t fail. Tonight of all nights, don’t fail.

    Keziah Montgomery placed her gloved fingers into the waiting hand of the man smiling at her with confident expectation.

    Taking a shallow breath against the corset threatening to crush her ribs in its unyielding grip, she willed her fluttering stomach to calm and allowed Mr. Watson to lead her into the middle of the crowded dance floor. A colorful array of bright silks and lace flurried around her in spinning circles. The thick, sticky air carried the weight of bay rum and a nauseating mixture of expensive perfumes and rice powder. The din of chatter and polite laughter choked her dizzying thoughts.

    From across the room, she caught Mother’s penetrating stare. Elsie Montgomery had been adamant Keziah be at her best. No one must know her shameful secret. The sooner she marry, the better . . . before her future husband realized what her parents were so desperate to keep hidden.

    Looking up, she smiled into the youthful face of Tate Watson as he cupped his warm hand against her waist, keeping the proper distance between them as the musicians struck up the opening strains of ”The Scenes of Our Childhood”.  She noted the golden stubble lining his jaw, his brown eyes bright. A flush of heat crept up her neck.

    She blinked away the grit filming her vision. It was late into the festivities and the night seemed to drag. Still, she maintained her pasted-on smile and allowed him to sweep her through the swirl of spinning couples and blurring faces.

    “Are you enjoying the dance?”

    Mr. Watson’s lips moved, but it took her several moments to focus on what he was saying. If only it wasn’t so warm.

    “Yes. The Ballingers throw an exquisite party.”

    “Indeed, although I fear all the talk of impending war may have dampened the festivities to a degree.”

    She nodded demurely, though she’d never admit conversing about the possibility of war was far more interesting than being forced to make polite niceties to the elite of Savannah’s upper echelon. Her mother would faint if she allowed her tongue to spill the unladylike sentiment.

    “If war is declared, will you go?”

    His eyes glinted, his bearing starched as he circled her past potted palms, pulling her into the thick of the dancers. “Without hesitation. It’s my sacred calling and duty to defend the freedoms Mr. Lincoln is attempting to rip from our way of life. No man worth his salt would dare flee his duty.”

    Keziah pressed her lips tight, unwilling to say anything further, knowing if she did, she would be unable to stop. The issues did not seem so starkly cut to her. Instead, she smiled and nodded again, praying her mother could understand the depths of her desire to please. She would not mortify her. Not again.

    The room suddenly dipped and twisted. Her breath thinned. Stay upright. Focus.Blinking hard, she realized Mr. Watson was asking her something, though she didn’t understand what. Alarm flooded her, followed by a frisson of something indefinable tingling up her spine.

    No, God. Please, no. Not here. What will Mother think?

    The prayer had hardly crossed her thoughts before she plunged into the abyss, the spinning colors collapsing into merciful blackness.

    Where Dandelions Bloom

    Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

    Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

    Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

    Buy Links

    Engraved on the HeartAmazon

    Where Dandelions BloomAmazon

    More About the Author

    Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves.

    Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, as well as numerous other accolades. In addition to be published in a variety of digital and print magazines, she has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. She is a history nerd, especially the Civil War, and adores making people laugh. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.

    Connect with Tara and Her Books

    Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com

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

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

    Twitter: @TaraMinistry

    GIVEAWAY

    Tara is offering, for one (1) winner, chosen by Rafflecopter:

    Winner’s choice! A paperback copy of Engraved on the Heart, or a paperback or ebook copy of her new release Where Dandelions Bloom.

    Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter to enter. This giveaway is only for those in continental United States.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway