Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: The Silent Order

What does a quiet Amish community and the Mafia have in common? A great deal more than one would think in this great work of suspense, THE SILENT ORDER.
Two worlds are covered in this novel in a masterful way. On one hand you have a corrupt family who is making illegal liquor during Prohibition involving murder and evil in the basest of human beings. And when they encroach on the Amish lifestyle, more than one secret is unearthed.
I thought the suspense was well done, drawing my attention deeper into the plot. The tension was ratcheted at the right moments. I thought it had a good equation between romance, suspense and the secrets that were suffocating beneath it all. Towards the end the stakes were raised and the growth of the characters pushed beyond the comfort zone.
What I loved so much about this book is it took two worlds you would never think would touch and brought them together in a great story. From beginning to end I really enjoyed this book. Great characters, great suspense and while I had a good idea of where the secrets were leading, they were cloaked in a way that still kept me wondering if I was right. I love the Prohibition era in novels and enjoyed the settings. I thought it was well captured from beginning to end and brought me into the middle of it all.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy to review.

Monday, November 29, 2010

BOOK REVIEW and FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***


A Texas gal since birth, Cathy Bryant continues the Mayberry RFD--only Texas Style!--stories with Book 2 in the Miller's Creek series, A Path Less Traveled. Her debut novel Texas Roads was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Cathy lives in a century-old Texas farmhouse with her husband of almost 30 years and a phobia-ridden cat.
Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431128
ISBN-13: 978-0984431120


Chapter One ~ Tolling Bells

In spite of the thousands of winking lights surrounding Trish James, a wedding somehow lost its luster in the wake of death. She nudged her shucked shoes out of the way with her big toe and adjusted the tulle on the wedding arch, the soft netlike fabric billowing beneath her fingertips as she encased the twinkle lights. The church sanctuary, with its white pews, stained-glass windows, and smoky blue carpet, served as the perfect backdrop to her design.

“This wedding must be hard on you after Doc’s death.” Dani spoke the words as if uncertain she should speak at all.

The ache in Trish’s heart started afresh, a wound that never healed, but she pushed it aside with practiced expertise. This wedding wasn’t about her. “I’m fine. It’s not everyday my brother marries the most wonderful woman in the world.” She forced a bright smile. “I’ve never seen Steve so happy.”

Her sister-in-law-to-be didn’t return the smile. Instead the area above her clear blue eyes creased. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Yep.” Trish snipped the word and bent low to snag a sprig of silk ivy, then inserted it in the proper place and blinked away tears. In truth, it would be great to have someone to share her concerns with, but within boundaries—not right before the wedding, not with anyone who lived in Miller’s Creek, and definitely not with family members. The last thing she wanted was for them to feel like they had to come to her rescue.

She’d told Delaine some of the situation, but her best friend since high school now lived the fast-paced, Austin lifestyle, their conversations limited to when Delaine didn’t have something else on her agenda.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be both mother and father to Little Bo.” Dani lowered her head, blonde ringlets framing her face. “And then trying to start a business on top of everything else.”

Oh, no. She wasn’t going there. Trish clenched her teeth. Steve had already given her this lecture. With his best brotherly concern, he’d told her she didn’t have to be Superwoman. Yeah, right. Try telling that to her empty checkbook and refrigerator. She glanced at Dani, who sat atop the piano railing swinging her legs. “Are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

A happy glow wreathed her friend’s face. “And the day after, and the day after that. I think I’ve been getting ready to marry Steve my entire life.”

“I’m happy for you both.” Though it hurt to speak the words, she meant it. It wasn’t their fault her life was in the doldrums.

Dani sprang from her perch and trotted down the steps to view the stage. “You have such a gift, Trish. Everything looks magical.”

Trish gazed at the curly willow branches she’d ordered and spray-painted white, now wrapped with tiny sparks of light. The fairy tale forest blanketed the stage and meandered down the side aisles in an aura of enchantment. Once the ribbons and flowers were placed, and candles inserted into globes and nestled among the boughs, her vision would be complete. “I hope it’s what you wanted.”

“It’s better than I could’ve ever imagined.” Dani hurried over and draped an arm across her shoulder. “Once everyone in Miller’s Creek see this, you’re gonna get loads of business.”

A heavy sigh whooshed from her before she could contain it. “From your lips to my bank account.”

Dani’s eyes clouded. “I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it and get it over with. Are you okay? I mean…do you need to borrow money or something?”

No. Yes. Yes. She wasn’t okay. She needed money. She needed…something. “I’m fine.” The lie popped out as she stepped to the box perched on the piano bench. With care she lifted two delicate cracked-glass globes and moved to the candle stands. The words “I’m fine” were her constant mantra these days, like saying them made everything all right. Who was she kidding?

She closed her eyes and reopened them with a slow blink, weary of pretending. But what choice did she have? Her brother’s wedding wasn’t the time or place to air her personal problems. Besides, she was thirty-two years old, more than old enough to handle life on her own. A glance at her wristwatch sent her pulse on a stampede. Still so much to do to make the decorations perfect. God, please let this bring me business.

Dani plopped back onto the railing. “Is Little Bo doing better?”

How could he be? “Sure, if you don’t count the nightmares and barely letting me out of his sight.” She omitted the fact that he was a hairsbreadth away from flunking kindergarten unless she could help him catch up before the school year ended.

“So the psychologist is helping?”

Before Trish could respond, the double white doors at the rear of the church burst open. Incessant rain poured from the April sky and silhouetted the form of a man. Dani let out a squeal. “Andy!”

The petite blonde flew down the steps toward a man who looked vaguely familiar. He wore a lightweight suit with a loosened necktie, and had an easy-going smile that brightened the room. “Hey, how’s the bride?”

Dani looked up at him, her face radiant. “Never better.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

She tugged his arm. “Come here. I want you to meet someone.”

His loose-limbed gait gave the impression of someone always relaxed, like he’d just returned from a vacation at the beach.

“This is Andy Tyler, my friend from Dallas. Andy, this is Steve’s sister.”

Sea-green eyes sparkled. “Well, does Steve’s sister have a name?” He jogged up the steps and held out a hand, his smile still bright.

Trish laughed and took his hand. “I’m Trish James. Nice to meet you.”

Dani’s face took on a crimson hue. “Sorry. Guess my mind is elsewhere.”

Andy’s gaze rested on her bare feet. “Glad to know you have a name. What about shoes?”

She couldn’t help but smile. “I have them, but kicked them off hours ago.”

The hall door squeaked behind them, and Mama Beth, Dani’s mother and the mother figure of all of Miller’s Creek, bustled into the room. Along with her came the smell of fresh baked bread wafting from the fellowship hall. Trish could almost taste the melt-in-your mouth rolls. Maybe she could sneak a few leftovers for her and Bo to nibble on next week.

“My goodness, Trish, if this isn’t the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.” Mama Beth hugged Andy’s neck. “Hi, Andy.”

A tender gleam lit his eyes as he wrapped his arms around the older woman’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Hi, sweet lady.” He turned raised eyebrows to Trish. “You did all this?”

She ducked her head, and pushed a silky strand of hair behind one ear.

“All of it.” gushed Dani. “And wait until you see the fellowship hall.”

“Speaking of fellowship hall, I could sure use your help in the kitchen.” Mama Beth’s voice took on a commanding tone as she scuttled to the door. “We’ve got enough work to do for this rehearsal dinner to keep an entire army busy.”

Dani looked torn. “But I can’t leave Trish down here to do all this by herself.”

Trish wrestled the wieldy greenery in place, longing to comment that she didn’t need help. It would suit her just fine if they’d all go away and leave her alone.

Andy rested his hands on his hips in mock protest, his tan jacket pulled back. “What am I? Pork belly? I’ll help Trish. You go help Mama Beth.” He held up a hand. “Trust me when I say I’ll be more help here than in the kitchen.”

“Good point. I’ve had your cooking.” Dani grinned and rushed after Mama Beth. “Y’all know where to find us if you need help.”

Andy chuckled and shed his jacket, then laid it across the front pew and turned her way. “What can I do to help?”

Trish mentally checked her to-do list. “I was actually waiting for someone with more muscles than me to come around. There’s a box full of candles I need brought in from my Suburban.” She pointed toward the side door. “It’s out there and it’s unlocked.”

He gave a mock salute that bounced his sandy curls. “Yes ma’am.” Andy’s stocky frame loped down the steps and disappeared through the doorway.

Her eyebrows rose as she made her way to the pile of greenery on the front pew. Dani’s friend was more handsome than she remembered. Trish burrowed through the tangled mess, remembering the promise she’d made Dani to help Andy feel welcome. As if she needed a man to take care of along with her other responsibilities.

The door slammed, Andy’s eyes and forehead barely visible above the box he white-knuckled. She ran to him. “Let me help. I know that’s heavy. I loaded it this morning.”

“Nah, I got it.” The words wheezed out. “You loaded this by yourself?”

She ignored the question and pointed to the stage. “Can you bring it up the steps?”

He shot her a ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding’ glare then labored up the steps, his face red, his breath coming in agonized spurts. As he reached the last step, the toe of his leather loafer snagged the extension cord snaking along the edge of the stage.

Trish tried to speak, but her words congregated behind locked lips. Andy stumbled, and the box flew from his arms, the candles launching like small missiles. He hit the floor with a thud, the box crash-landing at the base of the first tree.

In slow motion, like carefully-placed dominos, the trees rippled to the floor in a sickening staccato of crashes and breaking glass. As if to punctuate the effect, the white metal archway in the center leaned forward with a creak as it teetered, then toppled forward with a bang.

Her mouth hinged open, and her hands flew to her cheeks. All her hard work…ruined. In shock, it took a moment to realize Andy still lay face down on the carpet. “Are you all right?”

He pushed himself up on all fours and surveyed the devastation.

Assured he was okay, she slung herself down to the top step. The scene replayed in her mind. A giggle gurgled out then burst forth in an almost-maniacal laugh.

Andy chuckled and crawled to sit beside her.

Without warning, her laughter turned to sobs. She covered her face with trembling hands, rage surging at yet another unexpected crying jag. Now she’d never be ready on time. No one would be impressed. No one would want her services. No business. No money.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Andy slid a hand down her arm. “I’ll fix it, Trish, I promise. I’m so sorry.”

Trish fisted her hands, then straightened her spine and swatted at the tears on her cheeks. “Will you please stop apologizing?” There was no controlling her snappish tone. “For Pete’s sake, it was an accident. I’m not gonna sue.” She clamped her lips, rose to her feet, and waded through the ruins. Fingers at rest against her lips, she knelt to retrieve shattered slivers of glass from the broken globes. These weren’t even paid for.

Andy stooped beside her, his eyes boring a hole into her skull. “Here, let me get that. You start putting things back where you want them.”

Trish could only nod at his softly-spoken words, a knot wedged in her windpipe. She lifted a tree into position, the light strands dripping from the branches like a child had thrown them in place. So far her determination to prove herself capable had been met with nothing but industrial-strength resistance.

* * *

It’s all your fault. The familiar words in Andy’s head relentlessly accused, ushering forth memories and ghosts from the past. Trish obviously spent hours on the wedding decorations, and he’d managed to undo her work with one false step. He forced the finger-pointing voice to the back of his mind and attempted to burn off the chill that now hung in the room. “You live here in Miller’s Creek?”

“Yes.” Her answer sounded pinched. “My son and I live here. At least for now.” She didn’t look at him while she maneuvered the lights back on the branches with agile fingers.

Son? Now he remembered. Dani had mentioned something about Steve’s sister losing her husband in a freak accident. A cow kick, or was it a horse? And how long ago? “You’re leaving town?”

“I don’t want to, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?”

True, but sometimes what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you needed. Andy rose, his hands cupped to contain the glass shards. “No, we don’t. You have a trash can?”

Trish’s tawny eyes looked his way. She grabbed an empty box and hurried to him. “Here.” She glanced around the stage, her face gloomy, her shoulders slumped. “Are they all broken?”

“Don’t know.” He dumped the pieces in the box, where they pinged against each other. “Is there some place I can buy replacements?”

She rubbed one arm and shook her head. “No. I had them shipped in. I’ll drive to Morganville tonight after the rehearsal to see if I can find something that’ll work.”

The sadness on her face made his breath stick in his throat. He’d been in Miller’s Creek less than an hour and had already goofed things up. “I’ll go with you and pay for them since it’s my fault.”

Trish’s shoulders rose then fell. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just something that happened.” She returned to the branches and hoisted another one back into position.

Just something that happened. A shaft of light streamed through the stained glass windows and rested on her, and she slumped over like she couldn’t bear the weight of the world any longer. Was she remembering the accident? He removed a pack of peppermint gum from his shirt pocket and popped a piece in his mouth. Her problems made the mess with Sheila seem trivial. What could he do to make things better?

“Dani told me you’re engaged. When’s the big day?” Trish strung lights along a tree branch. Perfectly.

He shifted his weight to the other leg then squatted to pluck glass from the carpet. “Uh, we’re not…I mean…well, it’s over between us.”

She raised her head, and her brown hair shimmered under the light. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Don’t be.” He stood. “It’s for the best.”

“How so?”

Andy let out a half-laugh. “Turns out she still had a thing for her ex-boyfriend.” Thank the Lord he’d found out in time. A wife would be wonderful, but not the wrong wife.

For a moment she didn’t speak, but her face took on a knowing look. “That must’ve been painful.”

He nodded, his lips pressed together. “It was hard, but God can bring good from hurt.”

Trish stared at him like she was trying to get a read on him then turned back to the lights. “So neither one of us are really in the mood to celebrate. Especially a wedding.” Her face matched her cynical tone.

Out in the hallway, muffled voices grew closer. The hall door swung open, and the smell of Mama Beth’s home-cooking watered his mouth. A little boy that looked like Trish raced toward them, then stopped, his dark eyes round. “Whoa! What happened here?”

Dani and Mama Beth followed, their mouths ajar. After them came Steve Miller, the mayor of Miller’s Creek, and Dani’s soon-to-be husband.

“It’s all right. Don’t worry.” Trish rushed to the two women and laid a hand on each of their arms. “It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, I promise. We just had a little accident.”

Andy watched through narrowed eyes. Now she comforted the two women when just a few minutes before she’d been in tears. A good way to get a severe case of whiplash.

Steve sauntered toward him, his boots scuffing against the carpet, a friendly grin on his face.

He shook Steve’s hand. “How you doing, Mayor?”

The other man’s grin expanded as he tucked his fingers in jeans that looked new. “I’ll be doing a lot better in a couple of days.” Lightning fast, Steve untucked one hand and grabbed the boy’s arm as he streaked by. “Hold on, tiger. I don’t think you have any business up there. Have you met Aunt Dani’s friend?”

The boy skewed his lips in a thoughtful pose and shook his head.

“This is my nephew, Bo.”

Andy stretched out a palm. “Give me five, buddy.”

Bo reared back and delivered a hearty slap.

“Ouch!” Andy pretended to shake off the sting. “Man, I’ll bet you can throw a baseball really far with that kind of muscle power.”

The boy nodded, his face creased with a grin. “Yep, but I can’t catch so good.”

“Well,” corrected Trish, as she came to stand with them. “You can’t catch well.”

Andy assumed a catcher’s position beside him. The little guy had to be missing his daddy. Maybe he could help. “I used to be a catcher, so I can give you some pointers later. Would you like that?”

Bo’s eyes lit. “Yeah.”

“Yes sir.” Trish’s tone held a warning.

“I mean, yes sir.” He looked toward his Mama. “Is it okay if we play catch, Mom?”

She sent Andy a tight-lipped smile, her expression cloaked with reserve, but when she turned toward her son her face softened, and she tousled his hair. “Of course, but it might be tomorrow since Mr. Tyler’s already promised to help me clean up this mess.” “Almost looks like a tornado touched down in here.” Steve rocked back on his heels and jangled the coins in his pocket.

“A tornado named Andy.” Trish gave a play-by-play account.

Steve laughed, but Mama Beth and Dani still fussed about like a couple of hens. “That’s one way to get out of carrying more boxes.” Steve winked. “I’ll have to remember that move.”

“Hey, look at me!” Little Bo perched on the piano railing, one foot in front of the other, his arms out to balance. Andy’s heart moved to his throat. One wrong step would hurdle him toward the carpet, still full of glass.

All of them raced for the railing, but Andy arrived first. He grabbed him by the waist and slung him over one shoulder, amused at Bo’s contagious belly laugh. “Come here, buddy, before you fall and hurt that amazing pitching arm.”

Trish joined them, eyes wide with panic, her face white and strained. She gripped Little Bo’s arms. “How many times do I have to tell you not to pull stunts like that?” Her voice shook as she bent down, her face inches from his.

The boy said nothing, his lips stuck out in a pout.

Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. “Sis.”

Volumes passed between the brother and sister before Little Bo bolted for the door. Trish raced after him, her dark eyes full of hurt.

Both men faced the door, an awkward silence between them. Steve cleared his throat and turned, his eyes fixed on the floor. “Sorry about that. Trish is…uh…going through a rough time.”

Andy nodded. An understatement if he’d ever heard one. Based on what he’d seen, he was pretty sure not even Steve knew exactly how rough.

My Review:

A story in a cozy setting reminiscent of Mayberry and filled with characters that make it a charming place…
Trish is obviously struggling financially and spiritually when the book opens and yet her ability to stand under the pressure quickly makes her likeable. I took up with the other characters from Texas Roads, but I don’t think you need the first one to appreciate the second, A PATH LESS TRAVELED. I thought there was good angst between hero and heroine and a new challenge with Trish’s father and Mama Beth (still my favorite character)- great conflict there.
I thought that some of the emotions were overstated. Outbursts of tears where I think a chance for stronger characterization might have been better. I thought Andy as the hero wooed and pursued Trish in a loving manner and I rooted for him to steal her heart. But there were times where his actions weren’t as strong as I like.
But in the end, I thought it was a god book. As Trish worked to overcome adversity, stakes kept being raised, getting worse and worse, keeping me reading, hoping it would turn around. There were good motives in all the characters, making the story believable. I enjoyed this novel, it is a sweet romance with a good faith message. I am glad I got the chance to read it.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy to review.

Giveaway and Author Interview: Mail Order Cowboy

Welcome to Writing for Christ, Laurie Kingery! Thank you for being with us today. 
How long did you write before you were published?--
I started my first book on the eve of my thirtieth birthday on a dare. Mind you, this was a loooooong time ago, before the availability of personal computers, so I wrote longhand in spare moments between childcare, then transcribed it on my typewriter, so it took a long time to finish. I was fortunate enough to sell that first book (don't worry, I had rejections later J), and it came out in 1987 from Leisure/Dorchester as DEFIANT HEARTS, a medieval romance.
When you held that first book in your hands, what was your first thought?--
That the characters looked better than I could have imagined they would. My heroine looked like Morgan Fairchild back in her prime, and the hero was definitely handsome and appealing. Little did I realize at the time how rare it was that the cover angels smiled on one so completely
What are you working on now?—
The fourth book in my "Brides of Simpson Creek" series. I won't bother telling you its working title because publishers so frequently change them. The first book in the series, MAIL ORDER COWBOY, will be out from Love Inspired Historicals on Nov.10. If you like mail order bride stories, this series is an interesting twist on that staple of western fiction. 
 Where can readers find out more about your books?
Come visit my website at www.lauriekingery.com, or on Goodreads.com  Or friend me on Facebook.
What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?—
That God loves them, and wants to have a relationship with them. That's why I switched to writing Christian (or "inspirational") fiction from the historical romances I had been writing. I think adding the faith thread to the hero +heroine threads of romance makes for more fulfilling reading.
What are two things that people wouldn't normally know about you as a writer and or person?
I'm a forty-year veteran RN in a big-city Emergency Department of a Level-One trauma center, and I'm an eHarmony bride. So maybe writing about advertising for a marital match, as my heroine does in MAIL ORDER COWBOY, comes naturally for me. ;)
Thank you for being with us today.  Any final words for readers?
If you've read my books, or the books of my Love Inspired sister-authors, thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so. I hope you enjoyed them. (And if you haven't read one, I hope this blog visit has encouraged you to try one!)  And thank you for letting me visit here!
                      Blessings, Laurie Kingery

Okay readers, here is your chance to enter to win Laurie's book, Mail Order Cowboy. I love the cover, don't you??

Please leave an email adddress! If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win.

For extra entries:

~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

And a NEW one:
"Friend" me on Facebook

Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- Random.org. I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on December 11th.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Winner, Book News and a Blog Award!

Ohhh, good to be back after a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Why is it seemingly over, you ask? No, I'm not hitting the mall. There is no such thing in our small town. :-) Next weekend is the annual Christmas bazaar here and I will be selling my jewelry for the first time there! Nerve wracking! I will be spending the rest of the weekend (in between slivers of pumpkin pie) finishing up the last of the jewelry creations. Don't know how much writing I am going to get done this week. :-)

I didn't post yesterday, so decided to roll Friday and Saturday's posts all into one. Won't happen every week I promise. :-)


The Winner of The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson is...


You will be hearing from me shortly. :-) Congrats and happy reading!!

What I read in the last two weeks.

Due to my blog party, I didn't post on what I read this last few weeks. So here we go....

And they are:
Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce
A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant
Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky by Andrea Boeshaar
Love Finds You in Maiden, North Carolina by Tamela Hancock Murray
Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller
Seek Me With All Your Heart by Beth Wiseman
What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy
The Widow's Secret by Sara Mitchell

Definately of all of them, What the Bayou Saw was my favorite!!

Blog Award!!!

Many thanks to Beth at Beth's Thoughts for passing on this blog award to me! I am honored. :-)

How this award works...

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2) Share 7 things about yourself.
3) Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

7things???? Okay, here we go....

1) I love to create knitted projects and make jewelry, but am terrible at creating something off the top of my head.

2) I didn't get my driver's license until I was almost 17 and didn't drive on a freeway until two years later.

3) My nearest friend lives 6 hours from my house.

4) I am HUGE Chuck fan on NBC Monday's and "Casey" is my favorite character. :-)

5) I have a weakness for dried apples in the Fall

6) I tend to only edit one chapter in my WIP a day, but do double duty in my reading of writing books

7) I would really like to learn how to make my blog a three column blog! :-)

I don't have 15 bloggers to pass this along to, but I do have a few and they are listed here...

Sherrinda at Sherrinda Ketch

And if any of you know how to do a three column blog, I would love to know your secrets! :-)

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!! Thanks for visiting today. :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving only comes around once a year and is more than just a chance to gorge on pie and stuffing. It is a moment to truly reflect on what God has given us. As writers we have amazing creative minds. You don't have to be published to be able to put words onto a computer screen. To have characters "talk" to us and speak the words of their story until it refuses to allow us anything but the utmost desire to put words down, to release them through our fingers.

On today, the biggest day to give thanks in America, think about who you are giving thanks to. And what all He has given you. We are special, created in His image, a one of a kind creation. Don't waste what He has blessed you with.

May I pray?

Dear Heavenly Father,

On the day when the succulent smells of the holiday fill the home accompanied by love and laughter of those dear to us, may it be a time of contemplation and thanksgiving. In each and every one of us is something special. Be it the ability to write, the desire to spread Your word or the gift of ministering for You in the workplace, whatever it is, I ask that we would be made keenly aware of it. And give thanks and praise for the gifts You have bestowed.

As the family gathers around the table, as stories are shoved to the back of the mind may we take the experience around us and turn them into inspiration for our novels. Plant that bit of dialogue, the characteristics or motivation before our eyes to be filed away as fodder for a later date.

But more than anything Lord may we be continually reminded today and always that the outpouring of words comes directly from You. We are nothing without the Fount of all love, grace and wisdom. You are the reason we write. And may that never be forgotten.

All thanks and giving unto to You today Lord. All praise on this day!

In Jesus' Name,

May this Thanksgiving be filled with love, laughter...and the bounty of God's grace.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank You

After the frenzy of the blog party, I never really got the chance to express my thanks. I wish to do so now. You all have heard me say how much God has blessed me through this blogging venture. He took a desire to "be like everyone else and get a blog" and bloomed it into something that now I can't imagine life without! :-)

I got an email from a friend the other day, one I met while blogging and who has quickly turned into a very dear lady to me and not many days goes by without an email going back and forth between us. She blessed me with a message of how God has used either the blog or me in just the right places at just the right times. I can take NO credit for this and am simply blown away that God is using me in such a way. It's amazing to think what He has been able to do through a little hobby of mine called blogging.

When you love something you don't have to work to get it done. And when others love it just as much, it makes the journey so very enjoyable. I think I would still blog even if no one read my stuff. I mean, what makes me so special that people would actually want to read what I say? But they do. And God has blessed me with that added bonus.

So I wanted to thank you, my followers, my visitors and those that have this page bookmarked and saved under favorites. You don't know what you mean to me. Each of you have been used by God at some point during this year. Whether to keep me writing during the hard times or laughing during struggles or enjoying the beauty of sunshine in the morning, you all have been used by God.

Thank you for making this journey not just fun, but a pure joy. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that I am thanking God for you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: In All Things by Shawna K. Williams

Things aren’t always as they appear. I think is a core message in this story. Along with, in any circumstance if we give our hearts to God, He can use us for great things.
Meri and Jakob’s story take up several years after the end of the first book, No Other, and right away I could tell there is strife in their household. I believe this book shows an excellent example of what life must be like for a married couple with one or two feet in Hollywood. But this book isn’t a sermonette about such situations. It also delves into the intimate beings of Meri and Jakob who struggle with poor past decisions and how they have affected their current life.
I would definitely call this edgy fiction, which I believe is what it was intended to be. I thought it was tastefully done, but also to show that sex isn’t the answer to every problem. And while Meri and Jakob like to think it is, there is a growth and maturity that must take place in their hearts.
There were moments in the story I would have liked expanded upon. More emotive fiction, but in the end I thought overall character development was well done and I enjoyed my time in this story. A great follow up to its predecessor, No Other. Be sure and check out IN ALL THINGS.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my ARC to review.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giveaway and Author Interview: The Preacher's Bride

Welcome to Writing for Christ, Jody Hedlund! Thank you for being with us today. 
How long did you write before you were published?
Forever. J No, really. I began seriously pursuing a writing career over 16 years ago. I wrote at least five books during those early years of growing and learning. Then I had a toddler and twin baby girls. Enough said! 
God took me off the writing path for quite a few years so that I could focus on my young family.  During those years I had two more children, bringing my total to five. Eventually, I felt God’s nudge to pick back up my pen. After my long hiatus, I wrote and pursued publication for over two years before I got a book contract from Bethany House.
When you held that first book in your hands, what was your first thought?
Gratefulness. Gratefulness to God for giving me such an awesome privilege to publish and be used by him through my writing. And gratefulness to all the people along the way who helped me, encouraged me, and believed in me.
What are you working on now?
I’m blessed to have a contract from Bethany House for three historical romances.  I recently finished editing the second book of my contract, The Doctor’s Lady. Currently, I’m researching, planning, and in the beginning stages of writing the third book.
Where can readers find out more about your books?
Head over to my website: http://www.jodyhedlund.com/.  There you’ll find links for everything—for readers as well as writers. I’d love the chance to connect with you. And the best place to do that is through Twitter or my Author Facebook Page. Stop by and say hi to me!
What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?
Sometimes God will lead us down a difficult path or ask us to do hard things and he doesn’t want us to avoid them for the easy way. Ultimately he uses those difficulties to shape our character and deepen our love for Him.
The messages of this story are the lessons God has been teaching me over the past years. Through my own personal struggles, God has emphasized that he’s more concerned about my holiness than my happiness, and that I need to continue to live a life of obedience to him and walk the difficult path.

What are two things that people wouldn't normally know about you?
1.  My daughters and I are nuts about squirrels (pun intended!). Last spring we rescued four newborn red squirrels that dropped out of tree in our back yard. The momma squirrel had apparently abandoned them or been hurt. Since we saved those babies, we’ve been helping out with other baby squirrels now. Our back yard looks like a mini squirrel city!
2. My dad was a pastor. That means I grew up a PK (pastor’s kid).  And yes, I did have a period of typical PK rebellion, but ultimately, my parents transferred to me a wonderful spiritual heritage for which I’m deeply grateful.
Thank you for being with us today.  Any final words for readers?
It’s my desire you’ll be inspired by the lives of the incredible women of the past that I’ve portrayed in my books. May their enduring faith encourage you to persevere in whatever circumstances you may find yourself.
Here are a few ways you can connect with me further:

Jody Hedlund is a debut historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.
She’s represented by agent Rachelle Gardner and her debut book, The Preacher’s Bride, is currently available for order on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and other internet sites. It’s also for sale in most bookstores.

Okay readers, here is your chance to win Jody's FABULOUS debut novel, The Preacher's Bride.

Please leave an email adddress! If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win.

For extra entries:

~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

And a NEW one:
"Like" my Bug's Beads Jewelry Page on Facebook (contest details there to!)

Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- Random.org. I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on December 4th.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blogoversary Winners!!!!

Are you ready?? Before I start, I want to thank each and everyone of you who have made this week such a fun experience, and not just this week, but the whole YEAR! I can't express enough gratitude from the bottom of my heart for making this such an amazing journey. God is good!! Amen??

Winner of Janice Thompsons's Love Me Tender is...

Linda Kish!

Winner of Lyn Cote's Shelter of Hope is...

Ashley (Ibreath2read)!

Winner of Lorna Seilstad's Making Waves is....


Winner of a critique with Tiffany Colter is...


Winner of Bethany Pierce's Amy Inspired is...


Winner of Amanda Cabot's Scattered Petals is...


Winner of Margaret Brownley's A Lady Like Sarah is...

Pam K!

Winner of Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor Made Bride is...


Winner of Karen Witemeyer's Head in the Clouds is...


Winner of Sandra D. Bricker's Love Finds You in Carmel-By-The-Sea is...


Winner of Sandra D. Bricker's Always the Baker, Never the Bride is...


Winner of their choice of one of Deborah Raney's books is...

Apple Blossom!

Winner of their choice of one of Myra Johnson's books is...


Winners of Lynnette Eason's Don't Look Back is...

Sara and Cynthia!


The follower appreciate winners are:

Dawn and Teacher2MyKids! (if you see this before I email you, please feel flee free to shoot me an email @ caseymh18@gmail.com ) Dawn wins Julie's book and Teacher wins Mary's!!

Winner one of Julie Lessman's books and a CBA book is...

Project Journal! (Hannah!)

Winner of Mary Connealy's Wrangler in Petticoats is...


Winner of Susan May Warren's Nightingale is...

Missy Tippens!

Winner of the bracelet featured in the post today is...

Michelle! (scraphappy...)

Winner of Carla Stewart's Chasing Lilacs is...


Winner of a chapter critique, up to 15 pages from me is...

Cindy W!!

Oh, I think I got it all! I do apologize that I didn't get this up an hour again like I said, it took a lot longer than I orginally planned! Now, I do not have time to email winners tonight. If you see your name up here, please be patient with me, and I will have an email for you first thing in the morning. I appreciate your understanding. I will be picking up party decorations for a very long time I know! :-) Tomorrow sees the return of my normal schedule with yet another giveaway, but this time in my normal time frame. THANK YOU for making this week so very fun!!! 


*deep breath*


Yes, one year ago today I sat down at the computer and registered my url: enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com. I agonized over what I should title the blog, (you all know I'm terrible
 at naming things), figured out fonts and colors and started adding my favorite blogs that I was already visiting. Chose the right picture for my profile, took a deep breath and wrote my FIRST POST

Since then I have blogged 350 times! I would say I am just a tad obsessed. :-) And as I scanned through the list of posts I came across one of my older posts that I think might be one of my favorites. I have held giveaways, book reviews and introduced authors to you, my blogging public. But I think some of my favorite posts are the devotionals, they have proven a great tonic for many a spiritual ailment for me. :-)

I have met 252 WONDERFUL people that have supported and encouraged me to no end. This is ALL for you! I never did celebrate hitting 200 followers, but don't think for a MINUTE that I forgot. I was actually waiting for this to combine it into one event. So today one of the prizes (details soon) will be taken strictly from the follower count. As a huge THANK YOU to you for how much I appreciate your support and enjoyment of this blog. God is SO good! He took a desire of mine and increased it a hundred times more than I could EVER expect!

Now let's get on with the party right?? Sorry the post is so long, hopefully you won't mind who you see what I have for today's BLOWOUT!! :-)

Are you ready?!?!?!?!?!? I AM! I was BORN ready! Hehe. :-)

What is your favorite party memory?

Julie Lessman: Well, as much as I HATE surprise parties (with a “passion,” I might add!), one of my millionaire sisters (I have three and I’m not real sure what I’m doing wrong … J) threw me a surprise party when I turned 47 because she figured it would throw me off since it was an odd number. And I have to tell you, walking into her huge great room and seeing about a 100 of my closest friends and family SO blew me away, that I think I started crying on the spot (yeah, imagine that!).

My sister had it catered (to-die for appetizers and desserts) and I still remember being overwhelmed with love while opening a mountain of presents in a massive hearth room with a crackling fire (it was a chilly November, of course), where people circled the perimeter of the room. I will never forget the shock and the thrill of so many people I loved being in the same room at the same time—AMAZING!! So much so that it almost cured me of my dislike of surprise parties … almost! :)

Mary Connealy: The one that comes to mind first is a birthday party when I was about. . .ten maybe. We didn’t do the birthday parties back then like they do now. Big events. I’m from a family with eight children and we always just did our birthdays with family. One grandma lived about a mile away from us and she’d come. Cake, candles, that’s it. Everyone got a slice of cake and it was GONE.

But we each got ONE real birthday party. That was my mom’s rule. And my birthday, which is in March, was always just so DREARY. Either blowing rain or dirty melting snow or a blizzard. The weather was my birthday ENEMY. But my year to have my party, it was just a perfect spring day. I invited every kid from my school. We went to a one-room country school house so that was about. . .ten kids, plus my brothers and sisters. So huge and NOT huge. . .subtracting my brothers and sisters who would have gotten to come over to my house anyway. The kids just all came home with me and we played. Nothing organized. Cake for everyone. That’s the extent of it. But we had FUN. Ran around outside for a couple of hours, which since it was SPRING AT LAST, we all enjoyed.
I think we’ve lost the knack for having simple fun.

If you could invite one person to a party of your own making, who would it be?

Julie: Well, if we’re talking one person who ever lived, then hands-down, it would be Jesus Christ. If one author who ever lived, it would be either Margaret Mitchell or Harper Lee. If one friend that I have today, then I’m afraid it would have to be more than one and I can’t narrow that down. But … if you asked me what “group” I’d like to invite to a party, then I would say The Seekers (who will be coming to my house for said party next year at ACFW in St. Louis) AND … are you ready???  I would KILL to be able to have a party for my favorite blogger/reader friends (like you, Case!) because I cannot imagine anything more fun than meeting good friends I have made on the Net and talking books!!

I can’t decide. So, I guess I’ll invite my one and only grandchild. I would like some one on one time with her.

Sniff, sniff. Fine Mary. I'll go now...... At least JULIE likes me. ;-)

Describe your perfect party attire.

Julie: Grin. Keep in mind that I am an immature teenager trapped in a 60-year-old body, so I would go with tight jeans, high heels (which would come off immediately on the dance floor!!) a flashy top (satin or rhinestones, maybe??) and long, dangly earrings. Can’t help it —I’m a sucker for glitz.

Mary: I’m the world’s most casual person. Leave me in my jeans.

Where would you hold your party? And who would you like to attend?

Julie: I would LOVE to hold my party on my downstairs deck, which runs the length of the house and overlooks gorgeous woods (with lots of dear and hawks and squirrels, etc.). We have a fire pit down there, too, so when it gets dark, we light it and the tiki-style torches for PRIMO ambiance, which I love!! And as mentioned above, I think a party with the Seekers and all my favorite bloggers/reader friends would be to die for!! We actually had my son’s out-of-town wedding reception down there with 150 people and it was a blast! But … don’t expect twice-baked potatoes with your initials piped in because I am SO over the Martha Stewart Syndrome disease!! J

Mary: Well, gee. I guess, since this is a fantasy, I’ll go to Maui. . .only magically to avoid the long flight. . .and all my kids can come to and their spouses and the one precious granddaughter. Oh, my husband, too. And what the heck, Casey, you’re invited.

Ahh, thanks! Maybe you do like me after all. Phew. :-)

What would a party look like with you and your characters all in one place at the same time?

Julie: Oh, man, I just got warm, wonderful chills!!! It would be like old-home week for sure, because I have lived with these people for years now and they are … ahem … just as passionate and crazy as I am, so I’m pretty sure it would be a blast. Except, I would like to have it at the O’Connor’s house on Donovan Street where I could sit in the kitchen with the girls and talk while the hunks hang out in the parlor playing chess. J

Mary: It’d probably be a cattle round-up. They’d all be working and I’d be lucky if they’d take a break to drink coffee. I write tough, no-nonsense characters with hearts of gold, though sometimes it takes some digging to find the gold.

LOVE you ladies! Thank you SO much for making my celebration such a spectacular event! You guys are what have made this past year so very memorable. Wow, I still can't believe I have been doing this for a whole year. I honestly thought this might be a fad that would wear off in time, but I don't think so! I certainly don't want it to be so. :-)

Here we go! Hang onto your hats and READ CAREFULLY, okay? :-)

For Followers only! As an appreciation thank you! I will draw winners from the count on the sidebar, so join the blog if you want to be entered! :-)

Here is how it works: One follower will receive their choice of one of Julie Lessman's FABULOUS books (plus a top CBA book)
And another follower will receive Mary Connealy's very latest hit, Wrangler in Petticoats

Feel free to enter all giveaways, that is what makes today a BLOWOUT!

One winner will receive: their choice of one of Julie Lessman's books (plus a top CBA book-yes this IS correct! :-)
One winner will receive Mary Connealy's latest hit, Wrangler in Petticoats (yes this IS correct! :-)
One winner will receive Susan May Warren's very latest novel (never before read! Thanks Susie!) Nightingale
One winner will receive THIS bracelet!

One winner will receive a chapter critique (from me), up to 15 pages!
One winner will receive a gently read copy of Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart

Whew! I think I got it all! I hope so! Here is how this will work: you have all day long to enter. Winners from ALL THE POSTS will be announced by 7:00pm Pacific Time. If you commented first on any posts and then today you will get an EXTRA shot at the prize you want to win. Neat huh? :-)

So if you didn't get the chance to visit the previous posts, I hope you will now, it was great fun and it hasn't ended yet! Thanks for making this such a fun year!

Food is being brought in. Appetizers and deserts, bring something if you wish and enjoy the dancing! What is a party without dancing? Grab a partner and start swinging, I've turned it up loud! :-)

There is plenty for everyone!



FTC Rules

According to new FTC rules I must let you, the reader know, that all views shared on this blog are strictly my own. Books to review are either provided for me by the author, publisher or ones I have purchased and I am under no obligation whatsoever to present anything, but my true opinion on any product. I receive no monetary compensation for anything written on this blog. Any giveaways on this blog are provided by the author/ publisher and I am not responsible for any views they express in their work or on this site. Giveaways are void were prohibited and chances of winnng are based on the number of applicants. A random winner is draw when a book is given away.

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