Friday, August 31, 2018

"The Hidden Side" by Heidi Chiavaroli ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Heidi is here to share a bit about her latest release, The Hidden Side.  She's offered to give away a hard copy of the book (US ONLY).  You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends September 7, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)  Here's Heidi...

The inspiration behind The Hidden Side...

As is often the case, my ideas usually begin with research. I was searching for a true-to-life historical figure from the American Revolution that could inspire a new story when I stumbled upon Agent 355, a woman who played an important part in General George Washington's most successful spy ring, a woman whose identity we still don't know for certain. That was enough to get my imagination going! Before long, I had a solid historical story down--a story about a woman seeking to redeem the wrong done for her fiance, infamous spy Nathan Hale. A story about a woman hiding behind a facade that could not only ruin every relationship she has, but could put her life in peril, as well. A story about a woman who finds herself caring for a man she must deceive.

The contemporary story didn’t come so easily. I was brainstorming with my friend and fellow author, Melissa Jagears, when we remembered a recent news story about a man who had committed a terrible crime and an interview with a relative who raised him, who was just as shocked as the rest of the country over what her kin had done. Before long (and with additional help from my extraordinary editor, agent, and critique partner) we had the story of a mother, a radio host of a popular Christian morning show—whose son had committed an unspeakable crime. This woman would go through grief, but she would also struggle moving on with her life, struggle with the impulse to hide behind her radio personality, and struggle with finding her identity not in her son’s deeds, but in Christ. Through her attempt to find healing, she turns to the journal her son gave her on the eve of his crime, a journal that tells the story of another woman, centuries earlier, who also felt the need to hide behind a false persona.

Then…the writing. Yikes, this book was a tough one to bring to life. Putting myself in my characters’ shoes took all of the emotional, physical, and spiritual fortitude I could muster (and that God granted me), and yet for how difficult it was, it seemed to flow from my typing fingers with ease. I wrote it in less than three months! Now, it’s in the hands of my fabulous readers. J What a journey!

Q & A with Heidi...

Q:  Let's start with a few serious questions. What message do you hope readers take away from your story?
A:   I am hopeful readers will come away with a freshened sense of empathy for those in difficult trials. Before I wrote this book, I didn't realize how often I judged someone by their circumstances. I would see a young person on the news who'd committed a horrible crime and immediately judge their family or their parents. This novel helped me to see beyond what I think I know. It definitely grew my humanity, my faith, and my empathy. I hope it does for my readers, as well.

Q:   I think it will cause many people to look at things a bit differently. Can you tell us about the historical research that went into writing this novel? Did you learn anything new that surprised you? 
A:  Research is always one of my favorite parts of writing a novel. After I read everything I could on the Culper Spy Ring, we visited the village of Setauket on Long Island. This was the hometown of real historical people who were part of the ring—Abraham Woodhull, Major Benjamin Tallmadge, Caleb Brewster, and Anna Smith Strong. These were ordinary people who dealt with suppression and, through the prompting of George Washington, used the trust they already held for one another to conduct a covert group that would smuggle information out of British-occupied Manhattan. As Mercy came alive in my mind, it was wonderful to visit the very places she would have grown up, the places she walked and lived and worshipped and worked. Love that stuff! I think the most fascinating fact I learned was how adamant the members of the spy ring were about keeping their secret—most of them until death. With the exception of the brazen Caleb Brewster, the members of the Culper Spy Ring were extremely hesitant to talk of the role they played in their country’s freedom, even years after it happened. In fact, it wasn’t until the twentieth century that Robert Townsend’s role in the ring came to light. That’s how scared they were. That’s how ashamed many of them felt living beneath false motives. And yet they persevered for what they considered to be the greater good.

Q:   This novel explores some devastating events and topics—a school shooting, the loss of loved ones, and division within and among families. Why did you choose to tackle these difficult issues? A:   After I brainstormed with a couple of my author friends and my agent and editor, I saw the story before me, but absolutely balked at the idea of writing it. This was difficult stuff. Didn’t my readers see enough of the difficult when they turned on the news? Wasn’t it my job to give them an escape from the harsh realities of life? Honestly, I didn’t wrestle with this for long. Since I first began pursuing publication, I knew my stories would not be the sweet, easy ones. There is darkness in this world, and as a writer who longs to bring truth into it, I can’t in good conscience ignore the darkness. I can, however, bring hope into it. The funny thing about hope and good news is that it shines more brightly in the darkness. So when I write about a bombing or a historical war, when I write about the unspeakable actions of a family member or a heart torn apart by addiction and suffering, in part, it is what I relate to. It’s where despair tends to trip me up in this messy, broken world. BUT there is hope. And that is where I choose to cling, and it is this message that burns in my heart to bring forth to my readers.

Q:  What are some future projects you’re working on? 
A:   Right now, I’m finishing up some research for my third book with Tyndale, scheduled to release in 2020. We’ll be back in revolutionary and contemporary Boston for that, so I’m excited! I’m also busy preparing some speaking engagements, as well as revising another timeslip story set to release next year. A lot to work on, but I’m loving every minute of it! 

Q:   What's your favorite writing-related book?
A:   That's probably a toss-up between Stein on Writing by Sol Stein and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. Both of these books help things "click" in the early stages of my writing. I often still refer to them.

Q: . What advice do you have for new authors?
A:   Remember to make time to live, not just time to write about living :) My debut novel released less than a year ago, and I was completely caught up in it. I feel like I missed the entire summer with my pre-teen boys as I immersed myself in his new career. Looking back, this saddens me. Yes, there are certainly seasons to work hard, but after I became a published author, I realized that if I didn't want constant seasons of craziness in my life, I would have to get organized and guard family time. Publishing a book was my dream, and I'm so incredibly grateful for. But no matter how it sometimes feels, it is not the most important thing. Children grow fast. Family dynamics change. I really want to savor that journey, as well.

Q:  That's great advice. Thanks for sharing. Now, a few fun questions. What famous person would you like to me and why? 
A:   Hmmm ... I Thank Princes Kate. Because ... well, she's a princess! We're also the same age. I'd like to pick her brain over royal expectations versus the need for independence.

Q:  Wonderful choice! I'd love to meet her, and other family members, too! What's one thing about you that would surprise your readers?
A:   I'm a little OCD about my cleaning. Okay, that's not a full truth — I'm A LOT OCD about my cleaning! I don't think most writers are this way, and I really do wish I could loosen up a bit. But unless our family is away or there's a dire emergency, I clean every Thursday morning, even when I'm on deadline. I can't think about a somewhat organized house. Strange, I know :)

Q:   Ha! I love that! One last question. Do you have any writing rituals (such as a particular pen, outfit, or music) you must have or do when writing?
A:   Besides the clean house?  Comfy sweatpants are a must, and when it's cold out, I have a special afghan I wrap myself in. Oh, and lots and lots of natural light, otherwise all fall asleep!

Q:   That definitely sounds cozy! 
A:   Thank you so much for having me here, Leslie!

You're very welcome. I'm sure my readers enjoyed getting to know a bit more about your and your wonderful book.

I reviewed this book for RT Bookreviews Magazine. You can read my review here.
(I rated it 4.5/5 stars - TOP PICK!)
About Heidi...

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus had grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys' nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn't stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Both her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, and her sophomore novel, The Hidden Side, are 4 1/2-star Romantic Times Top Picks! Freedom's Ring was also a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.

Where you can find her online...

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Wednesday, August 29, 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:

Choose a book from your shelf at random. Read the first line on the left-hand page, and write a story or poem based on it.

Happy writing!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Monday Motivation

"Writing is a struggle against silence."
— Carlos Fuentes

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

"Book Girl" by Sarah Clarkson

Book Girl A Journey through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life 

When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast? Then you might be well on your way to being a book girl.

Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, or the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage.

She’s convinced that books can do the same for you. Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman.

In Book Girl, you’ll discover:

  • How reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith
  • Why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin)
  • How stories form your sense of identity 
  • How Sarah’s parents raised her to be a reader—and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you
  • 20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries. 

Whether you’ve long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the lifegiving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.

My review...

I’ve been a reader and book lover for as long as I can remember, so I was excited to check out this book. And if you are (or want to be) a bookworm, this is something you should read, too.

The book is a nice guide in how to grow your love of reading by reading books that will change your life, or at least your heart. There are numerous book lists and recommendations, as well as the author’s personal memories associated with the books, including how they shaped her life. The books are quite diverse, so there is likely something of interest to everyone. I have read MANY books in my lifetime, and there were numerous books on these lists that I’ve never read, and some I’ve never even heard of. My TBR list has grown since finishing this book 😊  

Some of the lists include:

·        The Beloved Dozen: The Novels that Taught Me How to Live (which includes books such as Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
·        Girlhood Classics: The Books that Began it All for Me (which includes books such as Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter and Heidi by Johanna Spyri)
·        Girl Power: My Favorite Novels about Brave and Faithful Women (which includes books such as The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
·        “Courage, Dear Heart”: The Spiritual Classics that Made My Heart Strong (which includes books such as Against Heresies by Irenaeus and The Genesis Trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle)
·        The Books We Shared: My Family’s Favorite Read-Alouds (which includes books such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and The Giver by Lois Lowry)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

Amazon purchase link

About Sarah...

Sarah Clarkson is an author, a blogger, and a student of theology. She graduated from Wycliffe Hall, in Oxford, with a bachelor's degree in theology, where she also spent a proud year as president of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society. She's the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children's literature), Caught Up in a Story (on the formative power of story), and Journeys of Faithfulness (a creative, contemplative devotional for young women), as well as the upcoming Book Girl (a woman's guide to the reading life). Through blogs, books, and her current research, she explores the theological significance of story, the intersection of theology and imagination, and the formative power of beauty. She writes regularly about her adventures at and is at slow work on a novel. She can often be found with a cup of good coffee in one of the many quaint corners amid Oxford's "dreaming spires," where she lives in a red-doored cottage with her husband, Thomas. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Coloring Book

My review...

Fall is my favorite season, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review a fall-themed coloring book (something else I love!). The book is filled with autumn images (such as leaves, pumpkins, apples, pies, and owls), as well as numerous inspirational quotes and Bible verses. I used Prismacolor colored pencils, and I had no problem coloring in the fine details in the ninety illustrations. It’s a soft cover book with heavy stock pages. I didn’t try using markers, so I’m not sure if those would bleed through. I didn’t want to take a chance, as there are pictures on each side of the page. The pages are perforated, so you could frame them, if desired. There is a faith element to the book, but it’s not overwhelming. This book could easily be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as part of the HC BookLook Blogger program (through the publisher), but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

"Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words" (Edited by Lorilee Craker)

Story makes the world go ‘round
The stories of Amish and Mennonite women in their own words

Harrisonburg, VABehind Amish romance novels, tourist spots and “reality” TV shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. Every Amish and Mennonite woman has a story. What would it be like to be welcomed into their homes and share those stories over a cup of coffee?

In the pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words (Herald Press/ August 7, 2018/ISBN: 978-1-5138-0316-6/$15.99), Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while the reader sits in. The book’s editor, Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings and authentic perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God from Anabaptist women’s periodicals. Among the stories shared are essays penned by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.

Craker, who describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies, grew up in Manitoba where the Mennonite community was large. Her mother’s family came from Ukraine in the 1870’s and were pioneers who homesteaded on the prairies. Her father’s family arrived in Canada after World War II when they fled Stalin and his holocaust. She knew from early on there were lots of different kinds of Mennonite stories, but she never realized there was anything “different” about the way she grew up until she arrived in Chicago for college. “Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being my kind of Mennonite were one and the same. This assumption led to lots of explanations on my part about the difference between my modern Mennonite upbringing (‘like Baptist, with a German accent and special foods’) and those other related subcultures.”

Explaining the differences would eventually lead to Craker to writing her first book on the Amish where she learned for all the differences, there were many more similarities than she expected there to be. While visiting the Amish, she found a peace and gentleness that reminded her of home. As she compiled the stories for Homespun, those same feelings and many more came to the surface. “These narratives stirred different emotions in me. My heart ached for Ervina Yoder as she described what it was like for her to be the mother of a longed-for but stillborn baby. I was inspired and encouraged by Danielle Beiler’s trust in God as her provider, and I giggled at Mary Yoder’s secondhand testimony of an Amish man whose pants were just too stretchy. Other essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church. My cup had been filled.”

As Craker searched for stories to include, several themes revealed themselves. She organized the book into sections delving into the themes and introduces each section with some of the lessons she took away from the women who wrote the stories.
·        Welcome. A deep sense of hospitality is fundamental to these women. Yet it’s not hospitality in the HGTV, your-house-needs-to-be-perfect kind of way.
·        Abide. They want to abide in an abode, if you will, that nurtures them and feeds their spirit. The writers here expound beautifully on what home means to them.
·        Testimony. Story makes the world go ’round. When we hear the stories—the testimonies—of others, we are better able to understand our own story and our place in the world.
·        Wonder. The blazing faith of early Anabaptists is evident in the openness of these writers to all things wondrous. These are true stories of miracles, phenomenal happenings that don’t make sense from a human perspective.
·        Kindred. A core value of both Mennonites and Amish is the preeminence of family—kinfolk, whether they be kindred or not. Our kin shape us in ways both known and unknown, good and bad.
·        Beloved. There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even in doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters “beloved.”

Craker hopes that readers will enjoy the stories as much as she did. “You don’t have to be a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies to do so. All you need to do is open your heart and let the homespun words of these women enlarge your worldview, extend your heart, and increase your friendship with the Creator of all good and gut things.” 

My review...

I enjoy reading Amish novels, so I was happy to have the chance to review this book, which gives the reader an inside look, and insight into, the Plain lifestyle.

Craker’s book is a nice collection of uplifting essays written by Mennonite and Amish women. Their culture is one filled with compassion and community, and those characteristics are evident in this book. There are thirty-six essays, and they’re divided into six sections (Welcome, Abide, Testimony, Wonder, Kindred, and Beloved). Topics include things such as the value of real conversation and walking with God. The authors are authentic, vulnerable, and even funny. The stories demonstrate how alike we all are, no matter our religion. Overall, this is a quick read. The short stories make it easy to fit a few stories in here and there throughout a busy day.

A few of my favorite quotes are:

·        “It isn’t your home that creates the atmosphere to draw guests to return ... It is the presence of Christ and his love within you that draw the strangers and cause them to return.” – Sara Nolt
·        “True hospitality is about blessing others with belonging, value, and importance.” – Gertrude Slabach
·        “We carry our burdens to him and allow our broken, humble lives to showcase to the world how good and faithful and trustworthy our God is.” – Ervina Yoder

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the Read with Audra blogger program. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Lorilee...

Lorilee Craker is the editor of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words. She describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies and didn’t know there was anything “peculiar” about being Mennonite until she moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Chicago, Illinois for college. It was then that she realized most people outside of Mennonite communities assumed she had come from buggy-driving, bonnet-wearing, butter-churning folk. Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being her kind of Mennonite were one and the same. The experience of explaining the differences led her to writing the book, Money Secrets of the Amish (an Audie Awards finalist which she also narrated).

A freelance journalist, blogger and speaker, Craker was an entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for seventeen years.  She has been featured in many media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Time and People. She is the author of fifteen books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me, My Journey to Heaven with Marv Besteman, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Story with Lynne Spears.

The proud founder of a writing day camp for middle schoolers, Craker lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and their three children.

Learn more about Lorilee Craker online at You can also find her on Facebook (@LorileeCraker), Twitter (@lorileecraker) and Instagram (@thebooksellersdaughter).

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Takeover Thursday with Catherine Brakefield ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Catherine is here to share a bit about her series, as well as her latest release. She's offered to give away a hard copy of the Destiny's Whirlwind (US - winner's choice of hard copy or ebook; International - ebook) . You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends August 30, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)  Here's Catherine...
Looking back, I can see the hand of God orchestrating the events leading up my writing career. My grandmother came to visit us often. She eventually moved in with my husband, children, and me and lived with us for twelve years. Then Gran left our home to live with Jesus.
My children and I would listen to Gran’s southern down-home dialect and my imagination would form the pictures she drew with her words. I visualized the gypsies perched upon their tall wagon seats, driving their horses down the dusty road in front of Gran’s home. Heard the taffeta gowns rustle in the night breezes, the gigot sleeves adorning the slender shoulders of the ladies that depicted the Gibson Era.
Gran inspired the Destiny series and encouraged my dream. My purpose in writing is to spread the truth about our Christian-American heritage.
The word of God is the sword of the spirit. As our former Christian-Judeo Americans learned, I want my readers armed and equipped to persevere throughout this cyber age. I sprinkle Bible verses through my stories sort of like what you do when you salt your food. I find it adds just the right flavor! “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
My four-book series can each be read as a standalone. The series begins in 1857, during the Antebellum Era. I do extensive research. My readers attain historical knowledge not acquired within with the walls of higher learning! This series transports readers through the Civil War, Gibson Era, Spanish-American War, World War I, Great Depression, the Big Band Era, and climaxes through World War II.
This epic did not arrive without conflict. I often prayed, arguing with God! I wanted my characters to be the perfect individuals I wanted in myself, my husband, and my children. God let me know—that was not His plan.

For instance Ben McConnell in Swept into Destiny is a proud Irish immigrant who is determined not to give up in spite of hunger and deprivation that haunts his steps. He has a distaste for the English and rich landowners of Ireland and America. However, because of his unshakeable faith in Jesus, his feet are firmly planted on the narrow road. Because of the three mustard seeds his father brought from Ireland, he claims Matthew 17:20  “…if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible.” Maggie Gatlan is both English and a rich Southern belle. She’s a rebel disguised in frilly clothes and prefers riding astride rather than side saddle. She refuses to allow her countrymen to dictate to her conscience. Ben’s and Maggie’s journeys delve deeply into the truth about faith and devotion.

In Destiny’s Whirlwind, Collina McConnell doesn’t understand her father’s passion toward their estate.  Ben McConnell wasn’t materialistic. Just what was the mystery behind his legacy for Shushan?  The parable of the sower in Luke 8:5 takes on new meaning when Collina’s life choices become as interchangeable as the rocky and thorny soil beneath her shoes. All she has to hold onto is her father’s mustard seed of faith. She realizes that Rough Rider Franklin Long was placed in her life at such a time as this. War is declared and he leaves. Will he return from the wave-tossed shores of Cuba to resolve his battles? Or remain in the dark reaches of his past?

In Destiny of Heart, Ruby McConnell leaves her kindred for the prairies of Colorado with her devoted husband and her seven-month-old child. She is nicknamed by friends and foes alike as “a holy roller.” She clings to the Word of God for strength and hope.  Confusion and uncertainty hover around her like the dust storms, rattlesnakes, and droughts, consuming her energy and weakening her resolve. The Great War and the Great Depression change not only the nation’s borders, but hers… Was her husband right about Buck Briggs; is he God’s choice and their last hope?
Yes, my characters are flawed, some more than others. I obeyed God and by writing of my characters’ failures, I witnessed—the love of an unfailing God!
Book blurbs...
Swept into Destiny Book 1: “One Brave Decision Leads to Serious Consequences.” The story begins in Tennessee, during the Antebellum Era. Despite the repercussions of a hangman’s noose, Maggie Gatlan secretly educates the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. She meets Ben McConnell, an Irish immigrant who was hired to dredge out their snake-infested swampland. Civil War erupts, Maggie must choose. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South?
Amazon – Swept into Destiny

Destiny’s Whirlwind, Book 2; “If Ye Have Faith… Empowers a Young Woman’s Heart.” Bound by her word, Collina McConnell must uphold the Shushan legacy of their Kentucky estate. Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help. War is declared and he leaves for Cuba. A disgruntled in-law and a vindictive lawyer place the family into life’s tangled web of deception and greed. Collina fights to keep her promise to her father. Esther 8:6 holds new insight for her; “How can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people?”
Here is a link to a special bonus chapter which ties Swept into Destiny and Destiny’s Whirlwind together!

Amazon – Destiny’s Whirlwind

Destiny of Heart Book 3: (releases October 30) In 1917, America enters the Great War with spirits high. Then unforeseeable circumstances plunge the country and the McConnell’s into a battle for survival: Collina is desperate to save her marriage and fulfill her promise to her father. Ruby prays for courage and wisdom in deciding the course of her life in a heart-wrenching decision of love… Will the McConnell’s persevere through the tattered fields of their life choices and remain true to Shushan’s legacy?

I will give away one hard copy of Destiny’s Whirlwind or e-book in US/e-book only for international.
Excerpt from Destiny’s Whirlwind...
As Collina rode to the cornfield, the sunset radiated the western sky with pale pinks, golden yellows, and gentle pearls through a sheer veil of white, like a bride before her groom. The cornfield, stripped of its green foliage and fruit, stretched out as dejected as she felt. The only thing live here was the occasional squirrel hustling acorns. She turned to leave. A neigh from her horse told her she was not alone. Where was he? From out of the shadowed trees rode Franklin.

            Snatching a deep breath, she hoped to steady the rapid beating of her heart. “It was you, wasn’t it, who bought Proud Lady?”

            “Yes, it was I.”

            The saucy smell of horseflesh and wet bark assaulted her nose. She squinted for a better look at him. The mists rose from the damp earth and mingled with their sultry breaths. He laid his arm across his saddle horn and watched her like a wary warrior might.


Catherine is an award-winning author of faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her new Destiny series begins with Swept into Destiny. The second of her four-book Destiny series Destiny’s Whirlwind released this past spring. Destiny of Heart will release October 30.

She has written two pictorial history books: Images of AmericaThe Lapeer Area, and Images of AmericaEastern Lapeer County
Her short stories have been published in Guidepost BooksBaker BooksRevell; CrossRiver Publishers; Bethany House.

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

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday Tip: Articles

A, an, and the are demonstrative adjectives, but they are also called articles. They are used to point things out vs. describe things, which makes them a bit different from most adjectives.

There are two types of articles: definite and indefinite.

Definite Article: The is a definite article because it points to a particular object or class, such as:

  • This is the song I was telling you about.
  • The red-eared slider is my favorite turtle.

Indefinite Article: A and an are called indefinite articles because they point out an object in general vs. a particular one. A is used with words beginning with a consonant sound or an aspirated h. An is used with words beginning with a vowel sound. For example:

  • A dog ran down the street.
  • We need to book a hotel room for our trip.
  • In a trial, it is best to have an honorable judge.
  • An apple a day is supposed to be healthy for you.

Monday, August 20, 2018

"At First Glance" by Susan L. Tuttle (Cover Reveal Blitz Tour with JustRead Tours)


Title: At First Glance
Author: Susan L. Tuttle
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing (Blink)
Release Date: November, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

When it comes to love and matters of the heart, she's got a lot to learn.

Estate planner Penny Thornton loves dusting off items others gloss over, especially since she relates to feeling tossed aside for the “bright and shiny”. When her younger sister’s approaching wedding launches Penny back into the throes of her dysfunctional family, she decides to use the festivities to close the gap in their relationships—even if it means appeasing them and finally losing the few pounds they’ve hounded her about for years. But she doesn’t expect to meet two very different men in the process. East Fisher, the personal trainer who personifies everything she believes she could never attain, and Jonah Black, a man who reminds her so much of herself. Both men are more than they appear at first glance, and both seem interested in her romantically. As Penny uncovers their hidden layers, she discovers when it comes to love and matters of the heart, she’s got a lot to learn about estimating value.


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Susan L. Tuttle lives in the Mitten State where she’s a homeschooling mom of three and happily married to her best friend. Between raising her teens and leading the women’s ministry at church, she finds time to write. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire and encourage. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. Connect with Susan at

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(1) Winner will win a $15 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally), courtesy of the author.

Giveaway will begin at midnight August 20, 2018 and last through 11:59 PM EST on August 27, 2018. Winner will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.  Open to US mailing addresses only.  For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

Be sure to stop at a stop each day for extra entries!


For the full tour schedule, click on either of the launch pages below.
(All stops expected to post by 12:00 NOON EST)

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Friday, August 17, 2018

"To Claim Her Heart" by Jodie Wolfe ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Jodie has offered to give away a copy of the book (hard copy - US ONLY; ebook - International) . You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends August 24, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass along your information.) 

Back cover blurb...

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to the "Promised Land." Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancee. He hasn't counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith's only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land's not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She's willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie's determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land … or her heart.

The story behind the story...

September 16th will mark the 125th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. It was our Nation's last great race for land. 115,000 people showed up to raise for 42,000 thoughts. I can clearly picture that day. It was hot and dry. Folks gathered on nine different starting places located along the Kansas border and south of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma Territory.

All manner of conveyances could be seen — people on foot, horseback, buggies, wagons, bicycles, trains, etc. I could easily imagine the clamor and chaos as all those assembled awaited the gunshot that would signify the start of the race at noon. People were desperate. The country had undergone an economic catastrophe with the plummet of the New York Stock Exchange due to the over-investing in the railroads. Many businesses that depended upon the railroad were forced to close their doors. Quite a number of banks either closed or called in their loans. It was a difficult time.

Such is the backdrop for my new novel, To Claim Her Heart. This book is especially significant to me since it was my dear mother-in-law who introduced me to the history of the land run. It mattered to her because she had several relatives who competed in the land race and found claims. I vividly remember the summer of 1997 when she stopped off in Oklahoma to see one of those original properties. My sons and I tromped over the land and saw the homestead that was built in 1894. The first home had been a soddy that didn't last longer than a year.

The rock home I saw was partially built into the side of a hill and in a state of disrepair. A stream gurgled nearby, and within a couple of miles, the Gloss (Glass) Mountains cropped out of the landscape. It didn't take much for me to start imagining characters tromping through the area and choosing to settle there.

While Mom never lived to see this book finally published, she knew that I was working on it her last days. I'm so thankful that she shared her rich family history with me. Quite a few of the family stories she told me were included in my book.

My review...

Elsie Smith sets off in a race for land. She wants to carry out her pa’s wishes and stake out the plot he had planned to claim. However, she never intended to share the land … especially not with a preacher. Now, it will be up for the courts to decide whether the land rightfully belongs to Elsie or to Benjamin David, and that could take some time. They must find a way to coexist until the rightful owner is determined. Elsie has no desire for a relationship with Benjamin, or anyone else, but God may have a different plan.

Wolfe’s latest is based on the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. It’s a sweet romantic historical tale with a steady pace and well-developed characters and dialogue. The characters are crafted in a way that they hold the readers’ attention. Benjamin is persistent, but not pushy, and Elsie is independent and determined, making them easy to connect with and root for. The snippets from Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Etiquette Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society at the beginning of each chapter add to the enjoyment. Wolfe has a flair with words that accurately portray the challenges faced for the period, and her characters demonstrate the importance of trusting God, especially during trials and hardships. If you’re a fan of historical novels, this is one to add to your TBR pile.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Jodie...

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and working meets. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and she has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contest. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She's a contributor for Putting on the New and Stitches Thru Time blogs. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a grammie. Learn more at

Where you can find Jodie online...

a Rafflecopter giveaway