Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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      A-ZE is for Evil Parents and Rotten KidsI present you Jimmy Kimmel's annual "I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy" video montage. It's an artful mixture of cruelty, humor, and ghastly awe. My favorite is Drawer Boy. Now there's an ax murderer in the making.Which is your favorite?
      noreply@blogger.com (April Gardner)
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    • A Warm Welcome to Claire Sanders
      Is there a story behind your book, The Last Lonely Christmas?A lot of my stories come from problems I’m trying to solve in my own life. I’ve been faced with the problem of spending holidays alone and having to decide if I wanted to suffer in silence or do something about it. I hope the reader notes that the heroine of this story solves her problem before the […]
    • Book Winners
      Once again, we want to welcome our readers to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. We've got some real page turners for you this week. Our hope is that these books will make you stop and think.But before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:Vicki Buchhold who offered her Speculative Fiction  Wake the Dead. Beth Wiseman who […]
    • Florida Author Diane Dean White
      Welcome Diane! Is there a story behind your book Winter Wonderland?I grew up in Michigan and we’d often go to Detroit for special events; the Tiger ball games, plays at the Fisher Theatre and to shop at Hudson’s Department Store. I wanted to capture some of the past, as Detroit has had a lot of hard knocks lately. I decided on the year 1951when so much was h […]
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    • 2014 Laurel Award Feature
      On October 22, 2014, A Miracle of Hope won Clash of the Titles' Laurel Award. During a six-week period, the novel's first 3,500 words were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined it to be the worthiest to receive the 2014 Laurel Award.Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt congratulations to author Ruth Reid for her com […]
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      Bestselling author Ane Mulligan is here tell us about her debut novel about best friends in small-town life. Heartwarming and humorous, Chapel Springs Revival is the perfect excuse to curl up by the fireplace and read.Let's chat with main character Claire.I’ve heard you are the one who spearheaded the reviving of Chapel Springs. Is that true?Are you fro […]
    • September New Releases Clash Champion
      And we have a champion! Congratulations to clash winner Sharyn Kopf and her book Spinstered: The Novel. A touching debut, Spinstered began as a nonfiction book idea and, through God's design, became a novel that will speak to many women. For those in the Cleveland area, Sharyn will be selling and signing her novel at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academ […]
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    • Chloe's Decision 
      As I stated last week, November is NANOWRIMO. I'm working on the next Stones Creek novel. It's the story of Chloe, Noah Preston's sister. She comes to Stones Creek with her two children. If you would like to read her pre-story simply subscribe to Sophie's Special Emails. No more than twice a month will you receive an email with special co […]
    • Remembering Fudgsicles
      It is November and thus NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to begin a novel and write 50,000 words during the month. Since this occupies most of my focus for these four weeks I will be reposting previous articles each week this month. Fudgsicles, how long has it been since I’ve had a fudgsicle? I’m not sure, but they came to mind when […]
    • Are You Teachable?
      What? You think you know everything? I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but no one knows everything. Oh, there is one, Hashem. He's omniscient. But no one else is. Even Yeshua (Jesus) isn't. He doesn't know the hour or day he will come again. Some people rejoice in learning something new. I tend to be one of those people. I read about […]
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    • Book Ideas
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      He WhoHas An EarLaura J DavisJanuary 2014ISBN: 9781492125051Print $8.99, E-book $2.99Biblical ExpositionMore than two thousand years ago the Apostle John had a vision he received from the Lord. He was told to write seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor. Out of the seven churches only two received commendation from the Lord. The rest were letters of war […]
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      Ally Cervantes’ life is in the toilet. Her husband has bailed on their marriage partially due to the fact that he can’t handle being dad to an autistic son and partly because the passion has died. Ally has to sell her home in California at a loss and simultaneously loses her job as an editor for a book publisher. Not sure how else to make it, she takes her A […]
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      32 stories people have shared about ways they have seen a divine hand in their hardships, struggles, moments of danger and more.This book will put any struggles you face or have faced in perspective and are a testament to the human spirit and faith in God.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars.Here's the amazon linkMiracles: 32 True Stories
    • Book Review: Daughter of Joy, Brides of Culdee Creek Book 1 by Kathleen Morgan
      In this historical romance Abigail Stanton is a widow who has lost a child and a husband and is still grieving. She accepts a job as housekeeper for Conor MacKay, a gruff man who has not only been through a string of housekeepers but has also lost a wife who ran off and a son who stole from him and then disappeared. He also has a child from an Indian woman a […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Posts Tagged ‘giveaways’

with Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 29, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsWelcome to Reflections, Jenness and Tracy!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

Tracy: I have always known that I wanted to write a book. Wanting and doing are two different things. When Jenness approached me and asked if I was interested in co-authoring, I knew that it was something that I was going to go for.
Jenness: There really was no epiphany. As a preteen, I told my dad I’d be in the CBD catalog someday. In my eighth grade yearbook, “author” is listed as my choice career. But it wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I really buckled down to see if I was capable of writing an entire novel. That was a little scary. It’s a great thing to know what you want to do…but if that’s the main thing you’ve ever wanted to do, that’s quite a bit of pressure to see if you can actually pull it off.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Jenness: I can’t choose. Both of my published books are so different. I loved interacting with a co-author on Bliss (Tracy is SO much fun to work with), and all of the characters in the story were quirky and fun. I think Granny may have been my favorite, depending on the day. But I also loved Double Take and the intensity of some of the scenes. It was a challenge in many ways, and I loved writing it.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Tracy: Time. My life is full with a husband, four sons, college courses, a care-giving job, and multiple writing projects. To get writing done I have to let some things go, and realize that for certain stretches of time there is just no way that I can do it all. In other words, please do not look under my couch…a dust bunny the size of Texas may attack you.
Jenness: I have to agree. Finding the time, and then making that time count.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Tracy: I loved the main character, Indie. She is just so quirky and fun.
Jenness: It was an eye-opener for me to see horoscopes through Indie’s eyes—to realize why she thought she needed them and then to show her journey toward finding all she really needed in the Maker of the Stars.

What is your strangest habit?
Tracy: I am OCD about checking the doors at night to make sure that they are locked. I do it several times. Yes, I realize how weird that sounds.
Jenness: Strange? Me? :)

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Tracy: I usually like to get things that I dread out of the way first so that I can get it over with and move on to something more enjoyable.
Jenness: And I, of course, have to do things the hard way and put off those things. Then I dread them more.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Tracy: A book and the beach.
Jenness: I’d say a shopping day, but, not wanting Tracy to turn up her nose at my perfect day, I’ll stick with a comfy couch, loud music, a fantastic book, a notebook and my favorite pen which miraculously doesn’t bleed all over me or the furniture, and a Sobe Energy. That should about cover it.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Tracy: I really could read anything. I can even find things I like in a Popular Mechanics magazine.
Jenness: Just about anything but Amish/prairie-type romances or end times stuff.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Tracy: Water and cranberry juice are my drinks of choice. And I love chocolate.
Jenness: My indulgence is a Sobe Citrus Energy. Or a fountain root beer. Or a cold Mountain Dew in a can. Or sweet tea. Or… I don’t snack much while writing, but bring on the sugared drinks!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Jenness: I find myself coming back to the themes of forgiveness and redemption. Especially that grace is nothing we can ever deserve, but it’s a gift freely given.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Tracy: This entire past year has been a huge learning experience for me in so many ways. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that we never truly know what is going on underneath the surface in people’s lives. We are all so good at perfecting a façade, but God is sensitive to what lies beneath. He is teaching me to look beyond the surface. I realize that I have so far to go, but I am grateful that He is patient.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Jenness: We haven’t signed a new contract yet, but we have a few projects that are under consideration. We hope to have good news to share soon!

You can purchase Bliss from Amazon.

Jenness and Tracy are giving away a copy of Bliss. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, January 10th and check back on Tuesday, January 11th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on yesterday’s spotlight with Jenness and Tracy. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

meet Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 28, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsTracy is a transplanted Southern gal who started writing women’s fiction to counter-balance all the testosterone that surrounds her in the form of a husband and four sons.

Jenness, married to her website-designing high school sweetheart, is a suspense writer whose fictitious world has become a lot funnier since Tracy’s arrival. Her debut novel, Double Take, was a Carol Award finalist and a RT Reviews Top Pick.

You can find Tracy online at www.tandjbooks.com and Jenness at www.jennesswalker.com

Bliss

When the universe lets you down, it’s time to go over its head.

Following the stars, Indie Moore sets off to find ultimate happiness in South Florida. But in her quest for comfort and fortune, she encounters mishap and mayhem. She finds a home in a trailer park, a job scrubbing toilets, and a moody roommate—not quite the glamorous world she’d envisioned for herself. But maybe bliss looks a little different than she’d thought.

Laugh and cry with Indie, the Miss Adventure of misadventure, as she blunders on land, by sea, and in church, seeking love and a sense of belonging…seeking true Bliss.

Here’s an excerpt of Bliss:

Perhaps if I had tripped over the heels of my chunky sandals the first day I came to Rabbit Hole, Kansas, I wouldn’t hate it here so much. Flat on your back, you at least get a break from the ever-present wind, and instead of never-ending plains of nothingness you can see…hmm, yes. That cloud looks just like an ice cream cone.

“Indie, babe, are you okay?”

My vision of calories is obstructed by masses of red curls and large, colored stones. Healing stones, to be exact. My mom thinks if one necklace can provide health for the body, then four should keep you in tip-top shape until the day you die—of old age, of course. They have yet to find a stone to cure that.

“I’m fine, Mom. Just couldn’t see over Miss Matilda.”

I’d rather blame the stuffed hippo sticking out of the box I carried than confess I tripped over my own shoes. Again. This is the fourth time they’ve landed me on my back. At least this time only two people—Mom and her main squeeze, Steve Gaines—witnessed my current disgrace. As opposed to an entire movie theater audience, like last year in Chicago.

I have a long list of similar humiliating events, and a corresponding list of the places I’ve lived. A few perks come with moving every year, like you don’t have to worry about running into someone who has watched you make an idiot out of yourself. New location, new audience.

“Maybe this is a sign.” Mom tucks a strand of that crazy hair—I can say that because she passed it down to me—behind her ear, and the strand of wooden beads on her arm becomes entangled in a dozen or so curls. While her hands flail as she attempts to extricate her hair from the beads, she says, “I think you still need me.”

Who needs who? With a deft twist of a curl, I set her free. “I have a sign, Mom. Pisces. And I am following it.”

“How do you know your horoscope meant for you to move to Florida? It’s so far away!”

Everything is far away from Rabbit Hole.” But it’s a good question. It’s a shame I don’t have a good answer. I’m not going to tell her that the same day my horoscope told me to follow my sign, I learned Celine Dion had a home in South Florida.

Pisces is a water sign. Its symbol is fish. Water, fish. Together, those two practically scream South Florida. I’m not picky; if it’s good enough for Celine, it’s good enough for me.

I’m desperate to get out of Rabbit Hole, with its tornadoes, dusty roads, and, of course, my free spirit mother flitting from store to store—all three of them.

Horoscopes don’t come with specific instructions. Each reader must interpret the meaning. To give myself some credit, my reasoning has to be more sound than my mother’s—like the morning we picked up and left Dayton, Ohio to move to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina because Mom’s daily horoscope stated, “Find the right path.” Right. Wright. Wright brothers. Why not? They ended up in Kitty Hawk, and so did we for ten whole months.

You can purchase Bliss from Amazon.

Jenness and Tracy are giving away a copy of Bliss. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, January 10th and check back on Tuesday, January 11th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on tomorrow’s interview with Jenness and Tracy. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

with Vickie McDonough

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 22, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsWelcome to Reflections, Vickie!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

I never planned to become a writer, although I have long been a reader. One day, a story started running through my mind and wouldn’t go away. It was affecting my sleep, so I thought I’d try writing it down, just to get it out of my head. Well, I wrote the whole book, and as soon as I was done, another story came. I wrote it down too, and started wondering if God was trying to get my attention. I talked to my husband, and we both felt I should take some writing classes and attend a conference and see where it would lead.
I suppose my epiphany moment was when I got a call from Cathy Marie Hake, telling me that our novella collection was being bought. That was a very exciting day.

I will have been writing ten years this coming January and have sold 26 books. I never could have dreamed things would turn out like they have.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I would have to say The Anonymous Bride. I caused so much trouble for poor Luke and for the three mail-order brides who came to marry him, but my favorite character was probably Jack, the tomboy daughter of Rachel Hamilton, the boardinghouse owner. Jack is a tough ten-year-old girl, who gets into all kinds of trouble. She hates dresses, wishes she was a boy, and defies her frazzled single mother at every turn. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Jack is a whole lot like I was when I was young. She was a really fun character to write, and readers of the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series will be happy to know that Jack gets her own book, in Finally A Bride, the third book in the series, which releases in April, 2011.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
The actual writing part. Why? Because it’s often hard and time-consuming. Days when I should be writing are the ones I tend to do the oddest chores at home. I was on a very tight deadline last week, and just couldn’t get the story to work. So, what do I do? Take all the coats out of the coat closet, sort them according to how they could be washed or if they had to be dry-cleaned, and then proceeded to clean them. I washed all my husband’s stinky baseball caps and cleaned out the whole closets. The spiders are gone. But I didn’t get a lot of writing done that day.

The only way to overcome a writing funk is to just sit down and write. Eventually, I’ll get past that point, and will do well until I get to the next hard part. I just might clean the attic out then.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh, man. I don’t know. I bought a motorcycle when I was 14, using money I’d made babysitting. Does that count?

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Yes. Did you know that writing a book can be scary? There are so many things that can go wrong. Do I have enough romantic tension between hero & heroine? Is my humor funny to the reader—or just to me? Did I develop the plot logically and at a good pace? I tend to put off starting a book at first, but once I jump into the story, it starts to flow and I get caught up in it.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
A Sonic breakfast croissant with bacon & a Coke. Very few emails that need my attention. Then finishing my word count for the day by noon and getting to have the rest of the day free. But, I know that’s not too likely to happen.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
From 1880 to 1890. :0)
Oh, wait, that’s not what you meant, is it? I will read just about any book, but my favorite ones have a late 19th century time period with a western setting. I also enjoy Irish and Scottish historicals, contemporaries with a western setting, and they all must have a romance. I tend to shy away from a book written in first person, because I love seeing inside the hero’s head.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
No, not really. I’ve been dieting all this year and had to cut out sweets and fun foods. Hmm…maybe that’s why I’ve had so much writer’s block this year. Somebody please send me a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger. I’m sugar-deprived!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I tend to write a lot about forgiveness. Also about trusting God when your situation seems completely impossible to overcome.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
That I can do all things in Christ. I had a quickly approaching deadline, and I ended up writing a whole different story than I’d originally pitched. I didn’t see how I would get it done, but I did.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have a South Carolina historical called Mutiny of the Heart, which releases in December. It’s a Heartsong Presents book and the first in a new series. The story is set in 1788 in Charleston. It’s the story of a Canadian woman who travels to America, a country she feels is responsible for her father’s death, to bring her young ward to his father. But when she finally arrives, the man is adamant the boy couldn’t possibly be his. The last thing she wants to do is leave the boy she has come to love with his wealthy father, but she can’t provide for him. Will the letter she bears make Lucas Reed realize the truth?

You can purchase Second Chance Brides from CBD and Amazon.

Vickie is giving away a copy of Second Chance Brides. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, January 4th and check back on Tuesday, January 5th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on yesterday’s spotlight with Vickie. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

meet Vickie McDonough

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 21, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsAward-winning author Vickie McDonough has lived in Oklahoma all her life, except for a year when she and her husband lived on a kibbutz in Israel.

Vickie is the author of 20 books and novellas, including the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. Historical Christian romance is her favorite genre to read and write. Vickie is currently the ACFW treasurer and a founding member of WIN, an ACFW chapter in Tulsa, OK. She is a member of RWA, CAN, Women Writing the West, OKRWA, and OWFI.

Vickie’s books have won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, Texas Gold, and the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY contest. This year she is a triple finalist in the ACFW’s Carol Awards(formerly BOTY)

She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty four-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

To learn more about Vickie’s books, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com and www.bustlesandspurs.com where she contributes monthly.

Second Chance Brides
Rejected mail-order brides, Shannon O’Neil and Leah Bennett, are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women’s lodging at the boardinghouse, since they were the ones who brought the women to town in the first place. Now the brothers are searching for a way to marry off the women and be free of their financial burden. Getting into the matchmaking business doesn’t sound as far-fetched as it once did. Will the Corbett brothers’ idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Or will their plans backfire?

Here’s an excerpt of Second Chance Brides:

Mark shrugged, wishing he’d never allowed himself to get caught up in his brother’s scheme to marry off their cousin. If he hadn’t, he never would have written to Miss O’Neil on his cousin’s behalf, and she wouldn’t be stranded in Lookout right now, stirring up rotten memories. “I reckon the Lord wanted Luke and Rachel together. Our messing with things just made them worse. Kind of like when Sarah in the Bible gave Abraham her maidservant.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Garrett rubbed his chin with his forefinger and thumb. “We’ve got two more pretty women of marrying age in Lookout than we had before. That can’t be a bad thing.”

Mark shook his head. From the tone of his voice, Garrett was scheming again, and this time Mark wanted nothing to do with it. They’d be out plenty of money before Miss O’Neil and Miss Bennett found a way to support themselves or got husbands since the marshal had ordered them to pay Miss Bennett’s and Miss O’Neil’s room and board. Never again would he let his brother sway him into one of his schemes. Pranks were meant to be fun, but people kept getting upset at them.

The fiddler tuned up again. Men separated from their groups, seeking out their wives. Mark’s gaze sought out Miss O’Neil again, and he found her standing at the edge of the crowd. She put him in mind of a frightened bird that desperately wanted to join the flock but was afraid of being pecked by the bigger birds. She looked as if she might flit away without a soul noticing.

But he noticed—and the fact irritated him.

“You gonna ask her to dance?”

“What?” Mark frowned at his brother. Had he seen him watching the Irish girl? Garrett would misinterpret his stare.

Downing the last of his punch, Garrett seemed to be studying Miss O’Neil himself. “She’s a fetching thing and free to marry now. Reckon we’ll have to find her and that blond a husband soon or we could be paying their room and board for a long while.”

“Guess you should have thought of that before dreaming up that confounded plan to find Luke a bride. You’ll remember that I warned you this could come back to bite you.”

Garrett grinned. “Yeah, and I also remember you writing to one pretty Irish gal, pretending to be the marshal. If you were so opposed to my idea, why did you join in?”

Mark kicked a rock that skittered across the dirt. “Guess I just got caught up in your excitement. I wanted to see Luke settled and happy, too. He’d been through so much.”

“Well, if you’re not going to ask a certain redhead to dance, I reckon I will.” Garrett set his punch glass on the church sign.

Mark grabbed for his brother’s arm as he strode off, but he clutched air instead. Why couldn’t Garrett let things be? He always had to meddle. But he had no way of knowing how Miss O’Neil set off all kinds of warning clangs in Mark’s mind. He was wrong to compare the two women, but Shannon reminded him so much of Annabelle.

He clamped down his jaw. He wouldn’t let another woman close like he had Annabelle. Not that Miss O’Neil was any threat of doing that. He just had to stay away from her. Not let his guard down around her. He’d fallen for a woman once, and it had been the worst mistake he’d ever made. If anyone found out, his reputation would be ruined.

The Irish girl shook her head at Garrett, and Mark smirked. So, she was immune to his brother’s charms. Good for her. A stiff breeze nearly stole his hat away, but he grabbed hold and pressed it down tighter. His gaze lifted to the sky, and shivers of alarm skittered down his spine. He didn’t like the looks of those yellow-green clouds. Could be just a bad thunderstorm brewing, but they had an ominous look about them.

He searched for his brother and straightened when he found him waltzing with Miss O’Neil. His hand tightened into a ball. Why should he care? But knowing Garrett was just trying to raise his hackles—and doing a decent job of it—irritated Mark. He had half a mind to march over there and cut in, but that was probably exactly what his brother expected him to do.

The song ended. Garrett leaned toward Miss O’Neil and said something. She shook her head then tilted it to the side. Mark read her lips. “Thank you.”

She drifted through the crowd, looked over her shoulder, and then headed across the churchyard. She was trying to run away, he knew that. Things must be terribly awkward for her here. He watched her stop and talk with Leah Bennett for a moment until Homer Jones asked Miss Bennett to dance. Shannon watched the two walk toward the group of waltzing townsfolk.

If not for him and his brother, neither woman would be stuck in Lookout. He felt bad about that, but when he and Garrett had offered to pay their passage back home or somewhere else, both had refused. Maybe they liked it here.

He gazed at the town, trying to see it from their viewpoint. Lookout was small as towns went. The layout resembled a capital E, with Bluebonnet Lane the spine and Apple, Main, and Oak Streets the arms. Most of the buildings were well kept, but a few of them were weathered and unpainted and had seen better days. Yeah, they had a small bank, a store, marshal’s office, livery, café, a church and even a newspaper office, but that was about all. Why would a woman with no means of support want to stay here if she had family to return to?

Suddenly screams rose from the crowd, yanking Mark’s attention toward the ruckus behind him.

“Tornado!” frantic voices lifted in a chaotic chorus, joining with frightened wails.

Men grabbed their women and children and raced to find shelter. Mark shoved away from the tree he’d been leaning on. He looked back at Miss O’Neil. She stood on Bluebonnet Lane, her wide eyes captivated. Mouth open. Didn’t she know the danger she was in?

Foolish woman. He quickened his steps. People scattered in all directions, and yet she didn’t move. He may not want to dance with her, but he sure didn’t want her to come to any harm.

A flying tree branch snatched his hat off like a thief, almost knocking him in the head. He galloped faster, dodging men. Dodging women dragging their stunned children. “Run,” he yelled.

But she couldn’t hear him.

You can purchase Second Chance Brides from CBD and Amazon.

Vickie is giving away a copy of Second Chance Brides. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, January 4th and check back on Tuesday, January 5th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on tomorrow’s interview with Vickie. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

with Margaret Daley

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 15, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsWelcome to Reflections, Margaret!
What verse is special to you right now?

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6
This illustrates the importance of prayer in our lives coupled with the need for thanksgiving. How fitting for this time of year.

What do you do in your free time?
Spend time with my family, go to lunch and a movie with my friends or read.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to lose some weight and keep it off. I’d settle for twenty pounds.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Elizabeth is a bodyguard who usually guards women or children. She had a tough past and had to overcome a lot. She’s afraid to love because of her past. She holds her emotions in and is very professional.

If this book is part of a series, tell us about the series.
Christmas Bodyguard is the first in the Guardians, Inc. Series about an agency of female bodyguards.

What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
Coming up with the plot and seeing it come together.

What sparks a story for you?
A lot of different things can spark a story for me. A setting (Heart of the Amazon), a occupation (Gold in the Fire and Hearts on the Line) or an issue (Fostered by Love series).

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Christmas Bodyguard will be out in December 2010. It is a Love Inspired Suspense.
Christmas Bodyguard Blurb:
Someone’s after wealthy Texan Slade Caulder’s daughter. Desperate to keep her safe while he determines the motive, the widowed father hires a bodyguard for Abbey. A female bodyguard, with the training to protect the girl–and an understanding of a willful teenager who keeps trying to outsmart her. Elizabeth Walker is the perfect combination of caring and toughness for her job. But as the holidays approach, the stalker’s threats escalate. And Slade finds himself willing to risk everything to keep his Christmas bodyguard by his side…forever.

Guardians, Inc.: Born to protect, bound to fall in love

You can purchase Christmas Bodyguard from Amazon.

Margaret is giving away a copy of Christmas Bodyguard. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 27th and check back on Tuesday, December 28th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on yesterday’s spotlight with Margaret. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

meet Margaret Daley

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 14, 2010

Reflections Author SpotlightsMargaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest.

She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold seventy-five books to date.

Margaret is currently the Volunteer Officer for ACFW. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She served as vice-president for two years in WIN-ACFW and is still on its board as an advisor.

She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired a few years ago, she was a teacher of students with special needs for twenty-seven years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community.

You can visit her web site at www.margaretdaley.com and read excerpts from her books and learn about the ones recently released and soon to be released.

Here’s an excerpt of Christmas Bodyguard:

“Watch out!” Slade Caulder said through clenched teeth, gripping the door handle on his SUV. Why had he allowed a sixteen-year-old with a permit to drive? Only a few more miles to the ranch-thankfully.

“Dad, I saw him coming out. I’ve got everything under control.”

When he noticed Abbey sliding a glance toward him, his heart rate shot up even further. “Keep your eyes on the road.”

“I’m gonna ask Gram to take me driving next time.”

“No.” Although he wished he could let his mother-in-law take over teaching his daughter to drive around Dallas, he wouldn’t. It was his job.

The car gained speed. “Don’t go over sixty.”

“I’m not. I have to practice going highway speed. Quit worrying about me.”

Yeah, sure. She might as well ask him to quit breathing. It wasn’t going to happen. Abbey was all he had. At least this was an almost-deserted stretch of road.

Thud! Bam!

A blowout?

Suddenly the car swerved to the right toward the ditch along the highway. He lurched around and glimpsed the color leaching from Abbey’s face. Her knuckles whitened as she fought the shimmying steering wheel.

“Daddy!” she screamed above the thumping sound followed by a whomp. “I can’t control…”

“Take your foot off the gas. Put the brakes on. Get off the road.” He schooled his voice into the calmest level he could manage. He desperately wanted to change places with his daughter, but knew he couldn’t.

The rougher terrain along the shoulder alerted him right before the car plunged into the ditch, heading toward a tree growing in it. Slade twisted toward Abbey, but the seatbelt retracted, immobilizing him like a prisoner. The air bags exploded outward, slamming into him. His breath whooshed from his lungs.

Blackness swirled before him. He fought to stay conscious, but his eyelids slid closed as the darkness rushed at him.

Pain jolted Slade back from the void. He opened his eyes to a fine powder dancing in the air about him, choking him. He coughed but his body protested the sudden movement- a deep, throbbing ache spread out from his chest. As he raised his hand to his head, a hissing filled the air, vying with the sound of the engine running. Pushing the deflated air bag back, he tried to straighten but couldn’t. The seat belt trapped him. His heartbeat thundered in his ears.

Suddenly, a thought drove the daze from his mind. “Abbey!” he called out, but she didn’t answer.

Adrenaline pumped through him. He jerked his head toward his daughter. The action sent the world before him spinning and forced him to close his eyes for a few seconds. But the need to make sure his daughter was all right overrode everything. Alert, totally focused on Abbey, he squashed his own pain.

A tree limb, having smashed through her side window, pinned her against her seat. Her head tilted to the side, blood streaming down her face from multiple cuts. Panic battled to take over Slade. He tried to thrust the limb out the hole in the window so he could get to his daughter better. The branch refused to dislodge.

Think! He couldn’t lose his daughter, too.

His hand shaking, he reached across and felt for her pulse at the side of her neck. Strong. But she hadn’t moved. He quickly dug into his pocket for his cell and called 911. Once he knew help was on the way, he allowed a second of relief to flutter through him.

The vibration and sound of the motor grabbed his attention. He snaked his hand through the limb’s small branches and managed to turn his SUV off. Then he rummaged in the compartment between the driver’s seat and the front passenger seat for the first aid kit, tore into it and unwound some gauze. He needed to get closer to her to bandage her head. When he tried to unclasp his seatbelt, it wouldn’t budge. Panic attacked him from all sides. He clawed at the strap as though he could pry loose the metal clamp that held him captive.

He looked over at his daughter, her eyes still closed, her blood soaking her. “I won’t let anything happen to you,” he whispered. Taking in a deep breath, he composed himself. He couldn’t lose control. Another fortifying gulp of air, then he pulled on the strap and finally disconnected it. Able to move more freely, he braced himself with one foot against the door and the other under the dashboard to compensate for the way the car leaned forward in the ditch. He angled toward his daughter and wrapped the gauze around the worst of her cuts to stem the blood flow. But when he drew his fingers away they were sticky and covered in Abbey’s blood. The sight sent terror straight to his heart.

Abbey moaned and stirred. Her eyes popped open, wide with fear as they linked with his. “Daddy?” She licked her lips, her face screwing up into a panicky look as her tongue ran over some blood. “I’m bleeding.”

“Help is coming, honey.”

He wanted to go around to her side to take a closer look at her injuries. When he shoved at the door, it creaked open, water gushing inside from the ditch. An earthy stench accosted him.

“Don’t leave me, Daddy.” Hysteria coated each word.

He twisted back toward his daughter, the cold water swirling about his feet. A shudder shivered up his body. “I won’t.” In the distance, the sound of the sirens blared. “It won’t be long now,” he said as calmly as possible, while inside the same helplessness he’d experienced when his wife had died five years ago washed over him. Suddenly, a sense of foreboding dominated all senses. Sweat popped out on his forehead. His hands shook.

Why did he feel like someone was watching?

Elizabeth Walker parked her red Trans Am in a space next to the Dallas office building where Guardians, Inc. was located. She’d hoped her boss, Kyra Morgan, wouldn’t have anything for her yet. Although Elizabeth had been home almost a week since her last assignment, she could use another few days for rest and relaxation. Her last job in Phoenix had been a long one-ten weeks. But the call that morning asking her to come in to the office could only mean one thing.

She loved working as a bodyguard with the all-female agency, but some assignments required longer to bounce back from. The job demanded a lot of mental energy, and sometimes physical energy, too. The stress from always being on guard, always scanning the perimeter for trouble and never getting to enjoy the beauty of the moment heightened the importance of her downtime between missions. Kyra knew that well. So the fact that her boss called her in a little early meant this job was important-not something she would want to turn down. Entering the suite on the second floor, Elizabeth greeted Kyra’s secretary with a smile. “Is she in there?” Elizabeth tossed her head toward the closed door.

Carrie, her expression solemn, nodded. “She has a client with her, but she wanted you to go on in when you arrived.”

“Who’s the new client?”

“I gather someone Kyra knows.”

That might explain why she was here earlier than usual after a taxing assignment. Her specialty was guarding children. She couldn’t see Kyra turning down a friend, and from what her boss had said a couple of days ago, the other four employees who specialized in children were all still on assignments.

She pushed open the door to her employer’s office and stepped into the room. A large man, over six feet, was pacing before Kyra’s desk. As Elizabeth entered, he came to a stop and swiveled toward her. The most piercing gray gaze she’d ever seen homed in on her. For a second she glimpsed surprise in his expression from the slight widening of his eyes to the flare of his nostrils.

“This is Elizabeth Walker.” Kyra came around from behind her desk and gestured toward a seating arrangement consisting of a couch and two wing chairs. “Elizabeth, this is Slade Caulder.” Kyra, long legged and nearly six feet in height, moved toward the seats and took a chair.

Slade tipped his head toward Elizabeth and fit his tall frame into the other wing chair, leaving Elizabeth to take the couch. The intensity pouring off the man charged the air. The hair on her arms stood up.

Poised and professional, Kyra set a pad on her lap and wrote something down on it. “Slade has a problem that needs your expertise. His sixteen-year-old daughter has been threatened, and he needs the services of a bodyguard to protect her. I’ll let him tell you what he’s looking for.”

His body held rigidly, he gripped the arms of the chair and turned his assessing gaze on her. Silence ruled for a long moment as Elizabeth felt catalogued and evaluated. A flicker in his eyes gave her the impression that she fell short. She lifted her chin a notch and focused her attention totally on him. Some people took her petite stature to mean she wasn’t capable of defending someone. They were mistaken.

That sharp gaze switched to her employer. “Kyra, she can’t be more than a few years or so out of high school herself. How can she guard my daughter effectively?”

Elizabeth stiffened and, before Kyra could answer said, “I’m flattered you think I look so young, but I’m nearly thirty.” She bit back the words. “And I can show you my birth certificate if you need proof.”

This time he didn’t try to disguise his surprise as his look locked on hers.

“I assure you, Slade, Elizabeth is highly qualified and has been working for me for three years. She usually handles cases where a child is involved and has been successful in all her assignments. You wanted someone who could blend in with your daughter and her friends, especially at school. As you can see, she’ll be able to.”

“What kind of skills do you have?”

Elizabeth relaxed back on the couch, smoothing her straight black skirt as she crossed her legs. Slade’s glance flicked to her four-inch heels, and she could imagine what he was thinking. She only indulged in wearing heels when she wasn’t working and when she met prospective clients. It added to her height, giving the illusion she was taller than five feet three inches.

You can purchase Christmas Bodyguard from Amazon.

Margaret is giving away a copy of Christmas Bodyguard. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 27th and check back on Tuesday, December 28th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on tomorrow’s interview with Margaret. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

with Tammy Barley

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 8, 2010

Reflections Author Spotlights
Welcome to Reflections, Tammy!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

Epiphany—what an apt description for what happened. I was praying one night shortly after I graduated high school. I asked God, “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Then I heard His voice in the dark beside me, “You’re supposed to be a writer.”

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
In truth, I’ve loved each one of them. They’re passionate, suspenseful, and adventurous. I love the writing style that I’ve worked so hard to deliver—My novels carry you back in time to the far reaches of the American West, place you into the saddle of a running horse, and slip you into the cool water of a purling river on a sweltering summer night. I write that you may experience it all firsthand, the stories unfolding around you, woven throughout with bold, unforgettable men and plenty of romance.

My favorite character—Taggart. Definitely. He’s a burly Irish ranch hand with a great sense of humor. I’d originally intended him to be a minor character, but he had other intentions.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I danced down Hollywood Boulevard with a mime who was wearing a tux. Quirky to me; the norm in Hollywood. =)

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?
Coffee. Coffee is my Eureka, my very own Eldorado. Add a little to a hot cocoa, or add a little cocoa to it. Coffee is proof God loves us.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Due date unknown as of today. Recently, I returned from an unforgettable trip out West, where I dove into research for my next trilogy, set in the gorgeous Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. I actually stayed at a bunkhouse on a llama ranch that had the world’s cutest baby llama (the ranch will appear in the next trilogy, but not the llamas), and I stood beside several of the most stunning waterfalls I’ve ever seen, which are also part of the setting. I’m so excited to see how the new series is unfolding.

Here’s an excerpt of Faith’s Reward:

Honey Lake Valley, northern California
January 1865

“Jake?”

Jessica Bennett jolted upright in bed, her hand trembling as it searched the cold sheets in the darkness beside her. Her fingers brushed Jake’s equally cold pillow, then the soft fur of the cat that huddled on it, the only trace of warmth in the place where her husband had gone to sleep beside her. “Jake?”

Wind rattled the windowpane with nearly enough force to crack it. The terrible cold seeped through the glass and turned the bedroom to ice. Jess hugged her flannel nightgown firmly to her and sat still and alert, straining to hear over the storm for any indication of movement in the house, either upstairs or downstairs. She heard no thud of boot heels on the plank floor, no jingle of spurs to suggest any presence inside the house but hers.

Judging by the thick darkness, dawn was still hours away. Though she and Jake had worked until they were exhausted—sometime after midnight—he must have rested in bed until she fell asleep, but no longer than that. Once he was certain she and the baby within her were at rest, he’d gone back to work and joined the next shift of cattlemen who fought to keep their horses and cattle alive, digging them out of the snow and providing hay to stimulate their bodies’ heat.

The misty darkness abruptly grew darker, closing in around her.

Then, blackness.

An image flashed through her mind—She stood in boot-deep snow under a gray sky, a Henry rifle gripped in her hands. At her sides stood two of the cattlemen. More than a dozen Paiute Indian men stepped forward to stand alongside them. She recognized one Paiute who worked at the ranch. The others were strangers. Their faces revealed fear, and resolve. In front of her, perhaps five paces away, stood thirty or more renegade white men who, as one, reached their hands to their holsters, drew their guns, then took aim at Jess and the Indians. Jess cocked the Henry rifle, pressed the butt to her shoulder, and sighted down the barrel at the cold, glittering blue eyes of the man who aimed the bore of his revolver at her. Though fear burned like liquid fire beneath her skin, she firmed her grip, shifted her index finger from the rifle’s trigger guard to the curve of the metal trigger. And pulled….

You can purchase Faith’s Reward from CBD and Amazon.

Tammy is giving away a copy of Faith’s Reward. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 20th and check back on Tuesday, December 21st to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on yesterday’s spotlight with Tammy. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

meet Tammy Barley

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 7, 2010

Reflections Author Spotlights
Tammy has lived in twenty-seven places in eight states (so far) and has visited nearly all. When she is not writing she judges a number of top writing contests and loves her work as a manuscript editor and biographer. She is also Mom to two sons, one daughter, a rescued American Eskimo dog, thirteen parakeets, and an aquarium full of fish. The children she homeschools; the dog she taught to sit. The dog also barks at parked cars.

In her spare time, you’re likely to find her baking, gardening, behind a camera, or hugging a horse.

You can find Tammy online at www.tammybarley.com, www.facebook.com and shoutlife.com

Faith’s Reward

The year 1865 starts out as a nightmare come true for Jessica Bennett. The cattle she and her husband, Jake, fought to save from drought the summer before now face the threat of freezing to death. Her fears worsen when Jake contracts pneumonia.

Springtime brings trials of a different kind—the snowmelt causes the ranch to thrive so much that Jake must sell off the last of their cattle to make room for their horses and the young foals to be born. In the meantime, Jess endeavors to recover her rightful inheritance, which mysteriously disappeared from the bank. When she discovers a link between the banker and a group of murderous Unionists, who continue to target Southerners even though the war is over, Jake launches an undercover investigation.

The conspiracy runs deeper and wider than either of them could have imagined. Jess must put her life—and the life of her unborn child—at risk to stop the ringleader and save the lives of many others. Yet, Jess refuses to give up hope in the God she serves—a God of love who often provides above and beyond our greatest dreams.

Here’s an excerpt of Faith’s Reward:

Honey Lake Valley, northern California
January 1865

“Jake?”

Jessica Bennett jolted upright in bed, her hand trembling as it searched the cold sheets in the darkness beside her. Her fingers brushed Jake’s equally cold pillow, then the soft fur of the cat that huddled on it, the only trace of warmth in the place where her husband had gone to sleep beside her. “Jake?”

Wind rattled the windowpane with nearly enough force to crack it. The terrible cold seeped through the glass and turned the bedroom to ice. Jess hugged her flannel nightgown firmly to her and sat still and alert, straining to hear over the storm for any indication of movement in the house, either upstairs or downstairs. She heard no thud of boot heels on the plank floor, no jingle of spurs to suggest any presence inside the house but hers.

Judging by the thick darkness, dawn was still hours away. Though she and Jake had worked until they were exhausted—sometime after midnight—he must have rested in bed until she fell asleep, but no longer than that. Once he was certain she and the baby within her were at rest, he’d gone back to work and joined the next shift of cattlemen who fought to keep their horses and cattle alive, digging them out of the snow and providing hay to stimulate their bodies’ heat.

The misty darkness abruptly grew darker, closing in around her.

Then, blackness.

An image flashed through her mind—She stood in boot-deep snow under a gray sky, a Henry rifle gripped in her hands. At her sides stood two of the cattlemen. More than a dozen Paiute Indian men stepped forward to stand alongside them. She recognized one Paiute who worked at the ranch. The others were strangers. Their faces revealed fear, and resolve. In front of her, perhaps five paces away, stood thirty or more renegade white men who, as one, reached their hands to their holsters, drew their guns, then took aim at Jess and the Indians. Jess cocked the Henry rifle, pressed the butt to her shoulder, and sighted down the barrel at the cold, glittering blue eyes of the man who aimed the bore of his revolver at her. Though fear burned like liquid fire beneath her skin, she firmed her grip, shifted her index finger from the rifle’s trigger guard to the curve of the metal trigger. And pulled….

You can purchase Faith’s Reward from CBD and Amazon.

Tammy is giving away a copy of Faith’s Reward. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 20th and check back on Tuesday, December 21st to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on tomorrow’s interview with Tammy. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

with Mary Ellis

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on December 1, 2010

 

Reflections Author Spotlights

 

Welcome to Reflections, Mary!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

My epiphany moment came when I finished writing longhand (in three binder notebooks) my first historical romance. 105,000 words…longhand. I was so proud of myself that I’d actually finished it. Then I took a word-processing class and bought a computer. That masterpiece is still unpublished, but hey, some day its time will come.

 

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Honestly, my latest release, Sarah’s Christmas Miracle, has been the most fun to write. For one thing, it’s shorter than my average length, and it contains scenes in downtown Cleveland, Ohio where my husband and I met at college. It was so much fun being a tourist in your own hometown on my research days. Of course, I love my heroine most of all. She is smart, funny, pretty, tender hearted—how could you not love her?

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Time management—once you open email or start reading the loops, your “writing time” is gone in a hurry! I don’t believe I have overcome it yet!

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Sarah’s brother, Caleb, is the most interesting. He’s a character study in how our guilt over past mistakes keeps us trapped in our current, unhappy circumstances.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I once was a volunteer snake handler at the Cleveland Zoo for school group reptile programs.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Housecleaning. I hate washing the kitchen floor and I’m not fond of scrubbing the shower enclosure either since we have well water.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
What a fun question! On my (fantasy) perfect day, I would step onto the balcony of my condo-on-the-beach (any beach!) with a mug of coffee; breathe in the salty air, and settle with my laptop in a chaise to create my stories while gazing out at the big blue sea. AHHHHH. (no, I’ve never done this…)

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading inspirational fiction, romantic suspense, literary fiction like Tracey Chevalier or Charles Frazier, or women’s fiction set near the sea like Dorthea Benton Frank.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Candy—any and all chocolate, Jolly Rancher fruit chews, Atomic Fireballs, Toostie Roll Pops, Hershey’s Bliss, Good-n-Plenty’s. All that’s just off the top of my head. It’s a miracle I don’t weigh 500 lbs. (yet..)

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I love to write about judgmental characters that must come to terms with themselves being (unfairly) judged. Don’t we all find ourselves in that category at some point in our lives?

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
To not sweat the details. He is in charge of my life. Things will happen according to His timetable, and I simply need to pursue my work and leave the details up to Him.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book, Abigail’s New Hope, will be released in March of 2011. It has a dual plot with two sisters: the elder sister is an Amish midwife who runs afoul of the law when a birth goes horribly wrong. The younger sister falls in love with a deaf recluse living in the backwoods while teaching him how to better communicate with his fellow man.

You can purchase Sarah’s Christmas Miracle from CBD and Amazon.

Mary is giving away a copy of Sarah’s Christmas Miracle. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 13th and check back on Tuesday, December 14th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on yesterday’s spotlight with Mary. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

meet Mary Ellis

Posted by Esther Faith Wysong on November 30, 2010

Reflections Author Spotlights
Mary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, their respect for the land, and their strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation.

She, her husband, dog and cat now live in Medina County, close to the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research for her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life.

Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits.

Sarah’s Christmas Miracle

“Joy to the World!” Sarah Beachy has much to be happy about as autumn gives way to winter. She loves her job at the English bed-and-breakfast where she cooks and refreshes rooms between guests. She has a serious beau, and everyone expects an engagement soon. Why, then, just before Christmas, would she jeopardize everything by deciding to take a trip to Cleveland to track down her brother, who left the Order years ago?

Her family’s faith in God is put to the test as the holiest night of the year approaches and Sarah remains far away. Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, has been missing her son for such a long time…will she lose her daughter to the English world as well? Or will the Beachy family receive an unexpected Christmas miracle? A Plain and loving story of hope and redemption, one that will be a welcome addition to the joy of the Christmas season.

You can find Mary at her blog www.maryeellis.wordpress.com and you can watch the book trailer for Sarah’s Christmas Miracle here: www.youtube.com

Here’s an excerpt of Sarah’s Christmas Miracle:

SARAH’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE By Mary Ellis

One Day before Thanksgiving

Why couldn’t things remain the same forever?

As the sun rose over the eastern hills, the rolling, deep purple meadows glistened from a thousand sparkling prisms as sunlight refracted in the morning dew. Dawn was a magical time of day. Sarah shuffled her feet through the shredded cornstalks as though she had all the time in the world. Fiery red and gold leaves swirled along the lane that separated their land from the neighbor’s property. On her left stood the tidy, white house and outbuildings of home—farmland that had been in her family for seven generations. The fenced pastures and rolling croplands stretched for as far as the eye could see. On her right, white pickets enclosed the landscaped four acres of her employer, Country Pleasures—a charming bed-and-breakfast on the county road. Two different worlds, but both dear to her heart.

Englischers came from all over Ohio to sleep on goose down pillows, under handmade Amish quilts, in antique four-poster walnut beds. They ate hearty gourmet breakfasts in the luxurious dining room before setting out to visit Amish country. The community of Plain folk had drawn tourists for decades to the quilt shops, farmers’ markets and furniture galleries of Holmes, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties. Except for the danger from increased traffic, the Amish had adjusted to their newfound popularity while holding steadfast to their Christian faith and simple lifestyle.

Sarah Beachy enjoyed the best of both worlds. The farm where she lived with her parents and five siblings stood within walking distance of the inn where she prepared breakfast six days a week, washed linens, and tidied rooms in between guests. Englischers weren’t the only ones curious. Sarah loved hearing their strange accents, seeing their colorful combinations of clothes, and listening to breakfast chitchat about the “bargains” they’d found at the flea market. And since she usually finished work by eleven, the rest of her day stretched before her like a box of wrapped chocolate—each hour to be opened and savored at leisure.

“Sarah Beachy!” A voice broke through her trance. “Stop dawdling! I need you today!” Mrs. Pratt stood with both hands planted on her hips, yelling from the upstairs porch.

Although still too far away to judge facial expressions, Sarah knew the innkeeper wasn’t really angry. A kinder, gentler soul would be impossible to find. But she picked up her skirt regardless and ran the rest of the way—an occurrence since she’d reached the dignified age of nineteen.

“You’re not strolling woodland paths hand-in-hand with Adam. I need you to start the omelet while I fix fruit and oatmeal for my vegetarians and country fried steak for the men. I think the youngsters would enjoy Mickey Mouse cut-out pancakes.” Mrs. Pratt’s voice trailed off as she reentered the hallway, allowing the screen door to slam behind her.

Sarah smirked as she climbed the steps to the back door. Strolling with Adam…she might do a little of that tomorrow after the big turkey dinner. The entire Troyer family had been invited to share the meal with the Beachys. There were so many Troyers, they would need tables set up in the living room and enclosed porch, besides the ten-footer in the kitchen. But since her mamm planned to roast one turkey today and another tomorrow, there would be no shortage of food. Sarah hurried to wash up and put on her apron. When she entered the high-ceilinged kitchen, Mrs. Pratt held an upraised wooden spoon. “Are you going to smack me with that?” Sarah asked, trying not to grin.

“What?” Mrs. Pratt looked confused. “No, no. I’m trying to get down another saucepot from the hook. Why Roy thought I needed this silly ceiling rack for pots and pans is a mystery to me. And I have no idea where my step stool is.” At five-foot-nothing, Lee Ann Pratt needed her stool on a regular basis.

At five-foot-ten, Sarah almost never did. “Let me help.” She arched up on tiptoes and easily caught the handle of the sought-after pot.

“Thank you, dear girl. I’m so glad I hired someone tall.” Mrs. Pratt bustled to the counter where cinnamon rolls were cooling on a wire rack. “Ready for the glaze,” she announced, poking at one roll. “Please start an omelet for eight and get out some orange juice. We’ll have to make do with frozen, no time to squeeze. But I’ve already sliced fresh pears and a pineapple and for fruit cups.” Back and forth the woman buzzed around the room, like a hummingbird under the influence of fermented nectar. Sarah performed her duties with far less stress but no less efficiency. After all, keeping the inn filled to capacity with paying guests wasn’t her personal worry.

“Everybody’s in an all-fired-up hurry today,” Lee Ann said, dropping her voice to a whisper. The first of the overnight guests had appeared and were headed toward the coffee service on the credenza. “Folks want to pick up pumpkin pies and specialty gifts in town, or view the last of the autumn leaves before the holiday rush starts.”

“Rush to where?” Sarah asked, dicing peppers and tomato for the omelet.

Lee Ann looked at her strangely. “Everywhere…people are in a big hurry until Christmas, trying to finish their shopping, baking and house decorating. It never seems like there’ll be enough time, but somehow there always is.” Like a dervish, Mrs. Pratt grabbed her tray of fruit cups and marched into the dining room, as though the bed-n-breakfast guests teetered on the edge of collapse from hunger.

Sarah smiled as the door swung shut. She loved working in the warm comfortable inn especially since the frenetic innkeeper treated her like a daughter. From early spring through late fall when the B&B operated at full capacity, her younger sister worked here too. But as the holidays drew near and throughout winter, the two of them ran the place like a well-oiled clock.
Hopefully, the Englischers won’t be rushing around so much they miss the point of the season, she thought.

You can purchase Sarah’s Christmas Miracle from CBD and Amazon.

Mary is giving away a copy of Sarah’s Christmas Miracle. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, December 13th and check back on Tuesday, December 14th to see if you’ve won. You can enter twice–once on this post and once on tomorrow’s interview with Mary. If you want to guarantee that you’re notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses.

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