Thursday, April 19, 2018

Takeover Thursday with Carrie Fancett Pagels ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Carrie is here to discuss her latest story, which is included in the First Love Forever novella collection. She has a giveaway going on through the month of April. You can find the Rafflecopter link at the end of this post.  Here's Carrie...

The Story Behind the Story

Brides of Mackinac was a three book novel proposal I had done a few years back. I wrote the complete first novel, which had two previous titles before becoming part of the "My Heart Belongs" series from Barbour as My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring. I’d been waiting for another publisher to take a look at the proposal, and about the time they looked at the series, I got an offer from Barbour for the single title. Sadie’s story in “His Anchor” is a condensed version of what would have been the novel. The third story isn’t under contract as of yet.

Further “story behind the story” is that Maude Welling, Sadie Duvall’s best friend, almost didn’t get to be the heroine of that first novel. Maude had to have a ton of “therapy.”  I’d struggled with Maude, who was rather quirky and on the OCD side, and I finally called in the “big guns” to help me. I’d known Rachel Hauck of My Book Therapy for years and had been one of the early MBT helpers. She came in, took a look at Maude, and suggested that she might seem a little too “crazy” for the readers. That was pretty funny.  As a former psychologist I love quirky and interesting and different kinds of people. And now I needed to make Maude more normalized. Maybe a little more like Sadie Duvall. Hmmm.

My husband and son and rooted for Sadie to take over Maude’s story from the beginning. Sadie has a much more sympathetic past than Maude does, for one thing. Her story really pulls at the heartstrings. But I refused to feel sorry for Sadie. And I kept fighting her and my hubs and son as far as taking over.  I even went so far as to write Maude’s story but from Sadie’s version. That’s when I’d realized she really had to have her own story. But I couldn’t have a whole lot of overlap. So when I revised My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (which had been Maggie Award Unpublished Inspirational Novel  finalist Grand Exposé),

I cut a lot of Sadie’s scenes and Robert’s and moved those to Sadie’s story. I’m so glad I let Sadie have her own story and Maude have hers. I hope the reader enjoys Sadie’s story as much as I enjoyed bringing her to life!

Blurb: His Anchor by Carrie Fancett Pagels

1894 – Mackinac Island, Michigan: Robert Swaine, a ship captain, returns to Mackinac Island where his first love, Sadie Duvall struggles to support her siblings. Will she anchor him to the island he has vowed to leave behind?

Excerpt (Note: This story has a Prologue. Here’s the first scene from Chapter One)

Sadie shaded her eyes and scanned the deep sapphire waters of Lake Huron, to no avail – Captain Swaine must gave taken her words to heart twelve months ago. Her gut clenched. The Straits of Mackinac hemmed her in, their zig-zagging strong currents too strong for her to escape. And now she was truly stuck, without the strength to procure her way out.
Jack Welling raced down the hillside toward her, dodging the cows who were making their way up the hill to the fields near the former fort, now being converted from a National to Michigan State park. So much had changed. Ma gone. Pa missing. Bea working.
Slowing his pace, Jack hooted and then stopped, bent over, and clutched his knees and panted. “Hiya, Sadie!”
 “How’re you doing, Jack?”
As he looked up, a knowing expression creased his eyebrows. “Prob’ly the same as you and Bea and Garnet and Opal.”
“Maybe so.” At least the boy had a father and his older sister to care for him. And someone to pay the bills.
The boy straightened. “Sorry that carrot-top fired you from Mrs. Luce’s place.”
Sadie flinched. “She didn’t fire me – Greyson’s wife said they didn’t need my services any longer.”
Jack shrugged. “Same thing.”
No more wages, regardless. “And all this activity and building on the island yet no one willing to hire me except for Mr. Foster.” At the tavern.
“Maude’s still lookin’ around for a job for you.”
“And we’re grateful for Bea working at your inn.”
“Yeah.” He rolled his eyes.
“I hope she’s behaving.” They badly needed her position.
“Sure! Hey, guess what? Mr. Hardy, the owner of the Mackinaw City sawmill, stayed with us – givin’ folks estimates for buildin’ more cottages on the bluffs – and I asked him about your dad.” He scrunched up his face. “He ain’t seen him. Good thing since somebody got killed down there recently and it weren’t him.”
“Yes, poor man. Thank God for small mercies it wasn’t Pa.”
“Huh? How can mercy be small?” Jack scrunched up his face.
“You’re right.”
“I’m right a lot!” He grinned but a shadow quickly passed over his face. “Wouldya please write my uncle Robert and tell him to get back over here – he’ll listen to you.”
“What do you. . .”  She patted at his arm but hit air as he swooshed away from her and raced the rest of the way down the hill.
She pressed a hand to her chest, sure she felt her heart beating through her worn cotton blouse. Why did Jack think Robert would listen to her? Was she truly responsible for him not returning?
“Sadie girl!” As he passed by in his dray, Mr. O’Reilly called out. “Ye’re lookin’ lovely lass!” He winked and pulled off his blue work cap, revealing a shock of thick white hair.
If his idea of lovely was being dressed in a dowdy tavern maid’s uniform, then lovely she was. “Top of the day to ye, Mr. O’Reilly!” She heard the man’s laugh carry over the sound of his draft horse’s heavy ‘clip clops’ down the street.
A gust of lake breeze ruffled her skirt and apron. Sunlight flickered over the Straits of Mackinac as a ship headed toward the port. Not Robert’s ship. Why did that realization bring so much sadness with it? Because once upon a time, she imagined her future only and ever intertwined with his.

Giveaway: An autographed copy of First Love Forever.  We also have a Rafflecopter giveaway going on all through April. Click below to enter:

About Carrie...

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of fifteen Christian historical romances, including ECPA bestsellers. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper,” in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at

Where to find Carrie online...

My Pinterest page for “Love’s Anchor” in First Love Forever:


Check at your local Christian bookstores, e.g., Lifeway, to see if they have copies, too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Julie" by Catherine Marshall (Blitz tour w/ JustRead)

Title: Julie
Author: Catherine Marshall
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
ReIssue Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance Fiction
*A New York Times bestseller*
Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to 
escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the
Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family
there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could
endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills
as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. 
Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?



Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), “The New York Times” best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel “Christy.” Based on the life of her mother, “Christy” captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in “A Man Called Peter.” A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of “Guideposts,” forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.


     Dean's eyes were studying me. "You have a way with words. What kind of writing do you want to do?"
     "Articles for Dad's paper, to start."
     "What do you want to write about?"
     I paused, suddenly uncertain about how much to share. Dean's eyes were reassuring.
"When I know more, I'd like to write about deeper things."

Tuesday Tip: Titled vs. Entitled

Titled and entitled are synonyms, and they both mean that a title is given to something. However, you may not want to use them interchangeably.

When people hear the word entitled, they often associate it with people having a sense of entitlement (due something) or having a certain right (such as an opinion) instead of referring to a book. In that case, it is generally better to use titled, even though both words are technically correct.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Hannah's Choice" by Jan Drexler (Journey To Pleasant Prairie series Blitz Tour with JustRead Tours)

Jan Drexler book blitz

Welcome to the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series blitz tour, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! Throughout the week, you will see excerpts and spotlights from each individual book, as well as information on the first book in Jan's new Civil-War era series!

About the Journey to Pleasant Prairie Series
| Amazon
hannah's choiceTitle: Hannah’s Choice
Jan Drexler


Release Date:
January 2016

Inspirational Amish Historical Fiction

Hannah Yoder loves her quiet life on the banks of the Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful–yet problems lurk beneath the placid façade. Hannah’s father worries about the spread of liberal ideas from their Mennonite and Brethren neighbors. And Hannah blames herself for a tragedy that struck their home nine years ago. She strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her mother’s ongoing depression and her sister’s rejection of their family. But her world is threatening to unravel.

When two young men seek her hand in marriage–one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God’s call west–Hannah must make a choice. Faithfully perform her duties to her family? Or defy her father and abandon her community?  

Purchase Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository


     “How do you know a handsome Amish man wouldn’t come along some day and ask me to marry him?”
     He snorted. “That’s the kind of stuff that only happens in stories.”
     “Well, an Amish man did come by.”
     Adam took off his hat, running his fingers through his hair. “He didn’t ask you to marry him, did he?” His voice sounded strained.
     “Ne, not yet.”
     Adam stared at her. The sky was turning pink and orange behind his head, but his face was shadowed. He turned away from her and stood, replacing his hat.
     “You have to do what you think is right, Hannah. You know how I feel about you….”
     “Do I?”
     “You must. How many times have I talked about marrying you? We could have a good life together, Hannah. You know I love you.”
     Hannah couldn’t answer. How could she believe he loved her when she knew she would never be first in his life? If she needed him, really needed him, would he be able to choose between her and the escaped slaves he helped?

About the Author

jan drexler

Jan grew up surrounded by books and storytellers. With Pastors and Teachers populating both sides of her extended family, we aren’t surprised that she wanted to be a first-class storyteller herself.

Born and raised in Michigan, Jan is the descendant of Amish, Mennonite and Brethren immigrants who settled in Berks, Somerset and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700’s. The descendants of these immigrants pioneered in Maryland, Ohio, and finally Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in Northern Indiana in the 1850’s.

During the years when Jan was raising and homeschooling their children, she and her husband moved nine times in thirty years, finally landing in South Dakota where they enjoy incredibly Michigan-like weather. A northerner is always a northerner!

The ideas for Jan’s books come from the stories told by her parents and grandparents, seasoned with a lot of research and imagination.  

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter

jan drexler blitz giveaway

Jan Drexler is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one winner! Open internationally, as long as winner can accept egift card from US Amazon. Void where prohibited by law. Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

tour schedule


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Write about someone you admire.

Happy writing!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Monday Motivation

"Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough."
— Og Mandino

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Takeover Thursday with Emily Conrad

Emily's debut release (due out September 1, 2018) largely takes place in a coffee shop, and she has graciously offered to give away a bag of coffee (see below). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends April 12, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)

Here's Emily with the "story behind the story"...

I started the very first draft of Justice over fifteen years ago. Fresh out of high school, I’m not sure I ever envisioned publishing the story. At the time, I couldn’t even come up with a satisfying ending for poor Jake and Brooklyn.

I gave up and wrote other manuscripts, including a YA novel that interested my first literary agent. When the novel didn’t sell, the agent and I parted ways—but amicably, and not before she supplied the idea of writing A) for adults, and B) based on a classic storyline.

As I gravitated toward picking up Justice again, a group of women from my church invited me to hear Liz Curtis Higgs speak. That was when I learned Higgs has a way of taking Biblical storylines and using them as inspiration for stories set in different time periods.

Justice deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault, but also with an unwed couple facing with the scandal of an unplanned pregnancy. Though their circumstances were different, couldn’t I borrow inspiration from Mary and Joseph’s account to rewrite Justice?

The short answer is, Yes. The more honest answer involves multiple drafts, cuts, rewrites, and edits to fashion Justice into my debut novel.

So, in one sense, Mary and Joseph are the story behind the story, but I didn’t start studying their account for ideas until over ten years after starting that first draft.

The true story behind the story is this: the journey from A to B is longer for some of us than for others, but through it all, God is faithful. He patiently, lovingly, plays the long game, and He’s more interested in our relationship with Him than in one dream come true or another. As His children, we can always rest assured that wherever this sometimes very long road leads, it’ll be for good.


Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?


Even wrapped in privacy, she stared toward the wall and picked at her fingernails. “I planned what to say to you.” Her voice quieted. “But I don’t think I can do it.”
His relief morphed into dread. What could be this bad? Father, don’t let me mess this up. “Just tell me the script. What’d you plan to say?”
“I need a ride to a doctor’s appointment.” She spoke in a flat tone.
He wanted to play along and say his lines, too, but all this over an illness? If she’d been sick since her mood froze over in January and couldn’t drive herself, it was serious. His dad’s problems had started this way—an appointment followed by a cancer diagnosis, months of treatment and supposed remission, and, finally, a funeral.
Brooklyn searched his eyes, tense sadness weighing down her features.
He kept his gaze trained on her beautiful, worried face. Maybe this appointment was something simple. He had to believe it, or he couldn’t ask. “What kind of appointment?”
Brooklyn swallowed, neck ridged. “I’m three weeks late.”
“To the appointment?”
“My body. My body is three weeks late.”
“Your body…” Then it hit him. She thinks she’s pregnant. How had he not understood sooner?
“I took a test, but maybe it was wrong.”
She’d changed on that business trip. An image thundered to mind, and he willed it away. But the question remained. “You and Caleb?”
“It’s not like you think, Jake.”
“No kidding.”
She taught Sunday school. She had worn a promise ring for years, but her finger was bare now. Caleb went on the New Wilshire trip knowing how Jake felt about Brooklyn, knowing he’d ended his last relationship to pursue her. Would Caleb have slept with her anyway?
“I can explain. There’s not enough time right now, but I will explain.”
He clenched his fist under the table. “I’m sure you could summarize.” After all those years of pushing him away with the claim she’d never marry, never fall in love, she’d let someone else in. If it was just Jake she hadn’t wanted all this time, she could’ve saved him years of trouble by being honest. “It’s none of my business.” He started away.
“Jake, please.”
He turned back.
“I can’t face this alone anymore.” Her grip on the table turned her fingertips white.
The day Dad had died, when Jake reached home from the hospital, he’d found her waiting in the driveway. He and his mom had been together the whole time, but as soon as he held Brooklyn in his arms, he felt a million times less alone. Later, when losing Dad prompted him to question God, it had been Brooklyn who stood by him, her unshakable faith drawing him back to faith of his own. She may have brought this on herself, but he owed her company in her darkest hour. “Fine. When’s the appointment?”
“I sat in the parking lot for half an hour before I worked up the nerve to come in.”
He crossed his arms.
He checked his watch. “Fifteen minutes?”
She nodded, sighed, and stood. “I was going to talk to you sooner.”
He trusted his managers, and he could leave with little to no warning. As he led the way to the door, he braced for snowflakes. Since he lived in the apartment above the shop and had no plans to go out, he’d worn short sleeves, and there wasn’t time to run up for something warmer.
As they walked to the car, his peripheral vision caught the line of Brooklyn’s dipped chin and the slant of her downcast eyes. He was failing her. He put an arm around her shoulders but felt no warmth when she leaned into him.

Purchase links...

About Emily...

Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence her debut novel is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.

Barnes and Noble

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"High Cotton" by Debby Mayne

My review...

It’s time for the Bucklin family reunion … again. They have more in a year than many people have in five years. Shay Henke likes to see her family, but she could do without all the associated drama. In fact, the drama has already begun, from trying to keep her sister-in-law’s secret, to trying to help out her twin cousins with their business and real estate ventures, and, finally, being the only one without a significant other to take to the reunion. However, the latter changes when her high school crush returns to town and agrees to go with her. His attendance will certainly raise eyebrows at the reunion. But, that’s par for the course in the Bucklin family. Shay sums it all up quite nicely: “When someone mentions family, I think of unconditional love, hearth, home, and all things safe and wonderful. That is, until the word ‘reunion’ is added to it.”

Let me start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this book, starting with the cover. Mayne’s latest is Southern women’s fiction at its finest! There is great characterization, with a little bit of something for everyone in the cast; single, married, newlyweds, parents, and all-around loveable. Rich dialogue combines with realistic family drama and dynamics and small-town (even a bit of redneck) charm to create a story that will stay with you after the final page (which comes way too soon!). The only thing that could have made this book any better would have been a section for the recipes mentioned throughout 😊 Thankfully, this is the first book in the “Bucklin Family Reunion” series, and I can’t wait for the next installment!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the LitFuse blog tour. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Debby...

Debby Mayne is the author or more than 40 novels and novellas that have received the "Top Pick" award from Romantic Times Magazine and been among the "Top 10 Favorites" in the Heartsong Presents book club. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative marketing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which mean moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms.

To learn more about Debby:

Twitter:         @debbymayne