Friday, February 28, 2014

Flawed and Imperfect ~ A Month of Love and Marriage with Final Guest Dineen Miller!

With the month of February around us those who are single look toward loving and marriage and those you who are already married just look at us singles and smile, while shaking your heads. ;-) I didn't want to just focus on love, but also on marriage the joys and trials and the wisdom that can be shared from those before us. I know I think a lot about falling in love, but not a lot about what happens afterwards. What wisdom can be shared with those like me? I've asked Dineen Miller, Carol Award winner, author of both fiction and non fiction and happily married wife and mother, to be my fourth and final guest this month in a month long series. Dineen has one of those hearts that blesses everyone it comes in touch with--including mine and I'm excited to share her post with you today. Leave a comment below to enter to win your choice of any of the (released and yet to be released) in the A Year of Weddings Novellas collection.

Last year my oldest daughter married the man of her dreams and whom I believe God handpicked for her. Even as they dated and became engaged, I could already see God in the middle of their relationship. As someone who is spiritually mismatched (my husband doesn’t share my faith) and as a mom who prayed for years for her daughters’ future spouses, this was a true testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Yet even what we call ideal circumstances, I so wanted my daughter to understand a few things that I didn’t as a young bride. As the wedding plans progressed, I found some opportunities to share my heart with her. This is what I told her:

1.      Don’t worry about everything being perfect. So often those details we let tie us up in
One of Dineen's non fiction titles
for the spiritually mis-matched marriage
knots wind up holding no value at all. We can get so caught up in the “doing” that we miss “being” in the moments. And those moments can be so precious and full of love. They are what we hold close to our hearts and remember years down the road.

2.      Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes the best results come from either learning how to do something wrong first, like ruining a meal. (Next time you know not to leave the temperature set on high for an hour or a doubling the amount of salt the recipe calls for does not make it tastier!) And sometimes “happy mistakes,” as I call them, wind up giving you a better outcome than you originally hoped. It’s all about giving grace and lots of it. The Bible is all about God’s relationship with His people and His love for them. Guess what? Marriage is all about relationship and love for each other. Give lots of grace.

3.      Don’t be a control freak. I realized years down the road that my desire to be perfect
Click to learn more about
Dineen's second non fiction title
(see number one) and not make mistakes (see number 2) had cheated my husband out of some great hands-on experiences, like cleaning a bathroom, doing laundry, and changing diapers. Feel free to laugh, but the thing is, when we are shooting for perfection, we set the bar so high that our spouse may not want to even try to reach for such unrealistic expectations, which only opens the door for misunderstandings. Maybe he really does want to help out but is too afraid he won’t do it the way you want it. And in the long run, who remembers how well you folded the laundry or kept the house dust free? 

Maybe these aren’t areas that would tie you in knots on the proverbial clothesline. The most important “skill” in marriage is open and honest communication without hidden agendas and reading between the lines. Learn from each other and most importantly, enjoy each other. Nothing is ever perfect and thank goodness it doesn't have to be. Our greatest example of love is Jesus—how He loved people right where they were, flaws and all. Love each other that way, and you’ll have a marriage that will turn into a life long journey full of love and surprises.

Love getting to know this beautiful lady,
inside and out!

Dineen Miller is passionate about God’s Word and truth. She’s been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk and FamilyLife Today. Dineen lives in the Bay Area with her family and is the coauthor of the award winning book, Winning Him Without Words and Not Alone: Trusting God to Raise Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home. She is also the author of the ACFW Carol Award winning book, The Soul Saver. Visit Dineen online at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Delightful Romance ~ The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson ~ Review

Every little girl dreams of what her wedding dress is going to look like on that special day and “The Dream Dress” has taken every little girl’s dream and made it come true in the course of this fun-loving novel, a spin-off of the “Weddings by Bella” series.

            I’m a personal lover of wedding days and all things wedding paraphernalia. What girl isn’t, right? Throw in a sweet hero with a heart for our heroine and you’ve got a recipe for a great story. Gabi is not without her share of problems, however and I thought her struggles with losing her father, trusting God and starting a brand new business from the ground up were realistic, with a stitch of humor and fun thrown in as well.
  Of course, our favorite wedding planner, Bella makes a guest appearance or two along with cameos from some of the beloved characters from earlier in the series. The scenes from the wedding dress shop were amongst my favorites, though they caused Gabi the most angst. But I do admit, the moment she stands up for herself, I wanted to cheer!
  A sweeter or more heart pulsing romance couldn’t be found for Jordan is one heart-stopping hero. One any girl would want to win the heart of. A true delight from beginning to end, I’d have Gabi design my wedding dress in a heartbeat!

   This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review. 

More about the novel....

A seamstress at a swanky bridal boutique, Gabi Delgado dreams of doing more than ripping out seams
and fitting dresses to doe-eyed brides. She wants to see her own dress designs gracing the young women of Texas. When Jordan Spencer, the editor of Texas Bride magazine visits the shop to do a feature, Gabi is devastated to lose her job in his very influential presence. Convinced she'll never get her dreams off the ground now, Gabi needs lots of encouragement--especially from her friend Bella Neeley--to take a chance and start her business. And as she gets to know Jordan, she discovers that she may have to take a chance on love as well. Could it be that she'll have to design her own wedding dress soon?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan ~ Review

This novel picks up years down the road from one of my favorite collections: When Calls the Heart. I read these little mass market paperback books enough times to wear out my parent’s copies until I finally got my own where they hold a coveted place on my book shelves.
  But I’m afraid I didn’t love “Where Courage Calls” as much as I felt I should and as much as I wanted to. There wasn’t any surprise to the characters, nothing was really left to my imagination to wonder and explore as everything was simply laid out in front of me. Much of the story simply moved forward without a great deal of action and instead much internal processing.

            I wouldn’t say I completely disliked the book or didn’t have anything about it that made me want to stop reading it. I liked how Elizabeth took on the town and brought a sense of grace and upstanding to their schools, while also being changed from the person she was when she got there. And there is certainly room for further stories in the series. But I’m afraid that this title didn’t garner enough interest in the characters to read further.

            I don’t write this review to discourage other readers, because the story is sweet and means well. It just hasn’t been my favorite of tales so far this year.

            This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers through Litfuse for my copy to review.

More about the novel....

After years of schooling, Beth Thatcher has graduated and is determined to become a teacher. But when
she's assigned the position no one else wants--in the tiny mining town of Coal Valley, located in the rugged foothills of western Canada--she worries she doesn't have the courage to accept.

Inspired by the diary of her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years earlier, as well as her father's encouragement, Beth eventually decides to put her trust in God and leave behind all she's ever known.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak

English. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men--both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the unexpected challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?


Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.
One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Giveaway! Love Gone Wild by Amy Matayo!

Welcome to Writing for Christ Amy Matayo, it is great to have you here! So you’re a writer? What made you decide to start creating characters and story world?

I started writing as a little girl—songs, poems, sayings I carved into my bedroom door (my parents were super-happy about that). All of it was bad, but I kept at it. In seventh grade, I wrote a short story in my English class that my teacher loved. She submitted it to a writing contest for kids. It didn’t win, but her encouragement and enthusiasm gave me a strong desire to keep writing.

I worked for DaySpring Cards as a writer/editor for seven years, then freelanced for catalogs and magazines. After thinking about it for years, I finally decided to try my life-long dream of becoming an author. I wrote my first full-length novel in 2009. I’m currently working on my seventh manuscript.

What is the one title that has significantly impacted your life?

Two books:  One, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and two, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

If you could get a do-over when it came to learning this whole thing called writing, what would you go back and tell yourself?

To start earlier like I wanted to. Kids, family, mortgages, and jobs were my excuses for years—valid excuses, but excuses still. There’s never a convenient time to go for your dreams. You just have to figure out a way to reach for them while living life—even if life is busy and even if you only have a few minutes each day to work on them. In my case, that was writing. It still is.

5 preference questions:

Homemade or take-out?
Homemade...if someone else makes it.
Email or snailmail?
Online shopping or Black Friday deals?
Black Friday. I like to watch people fight over cheap stuff.
Books or movies?
Note-taker or memorization?
Total note taker, and then I lose the notes and can’t remember anything I wrote down. Without fail.

Yes, I’m asking you to play favorites…which of your books is your favorite, published or unpublished? And if this is your debut novel, has your favorite been published yet?

My favorite is a New Adult book called Sway. It’s unpublished but will be released on Oct 1.

Places for readers to learn more about you?

@amymatayo (twitter)

Thank you for being with us today! 

Readers, enter to win Amy's book here!

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

For extra entries:
~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

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- I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on March 7th
Attn Readers! If you're struggling to leave a comment on my blog, please email your comment entries (in ONE email) and I will submit it for you. But PLEASE only do this after you've failed to leave a comment. My email is: caseym.writer(@) 

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Than Butterflies ~ A Month of Love and Marriage with Guest Courtney Walsh

Photo Credit
With the month of February around us those who are single look toward loving and marriage and those you who are already married just look at us singles and smile, while shaking your heads. ;-) I didn't want to just focus on love, but also on marriage the joys and trials and the wisdom that can be shared from those before us. I know I think a lot about falling in love, but not a lot about what happens afterwards. What wisdom can be shared with those like me? I've asked Courtney Walsh, accomplished author, wife and mother, to be my third guest this month in a month long series. When I read her post for the first time yesterday I knew there was an exact reason why I asked her to post--this post will surely bless you as well, married or single! Leave a comment below to enter to win your choice of any of the (released and yet to be released) in the A Year of Weddings Novellas collection.

Butterflies. That’s what you think you want. You want to be swept off your feet, the way the girls are in romance novels or chick flicks. Swept so far off their feet, they can’t stand up straight. Gushing. Googly-eyed. That’s what you’re holding out for, right?
Aren't Courtney and her husband cute??

And you actually think you’ve found it. You drive to work imagining the ring on your finger. You try on his last name with yours. It sounds a little strange, but who cares, you’ll get used to it. You just can’t wait to be his wife.

So you plan the whirlwind, fairytale wedding. You invite 300 of your closest friends.
Days then months then years pass. You have babies—three of them—and see a new side of that man you married. The Daddy. And you’re in awe once again.

Then a storm comes. And another. And you ask God if this was really what he had for you and he answers you a strong and solid, “yes.” And you know that while it feels like your world is going to fall apart, you have the choice to cling to each other and whether this storm and every storm after it. Because that’s what you’ve vowed to do.

And at some point, he takes your hand and your stomach doesn’t flutter. He brushes a stray hair away from your face and you exhale a flustered breath, hardly noticing. You catch him watching you from across the room, and you cross your eyes to make him smile. There’s no tumbling of emotions, no tingling of extremities. You’re comfortable. Cozy. Easy. Home.

Suddenly, you realize that romance has taken on a different meaning. You still swoon when Mr. Darcy professes his love to Elizabeth Bennett, don’t get me wrong, but romance, the kind that matters, has less to do with cartwheels in your belly and more to do with little things you often take for granted.

Don't Courtney's kids look like bundles of fun?!
He takes the garbage out. He brings you Dr. Pepper just because you had a rough day. He reads Calvin & Hobbes with your middle son, the one who doesn’t love reading. They giggle…a lot. He sends you text messages that say “I think you’re pretty.” He unclogs the toilet. He changes all the light bulbs. He sits on the phone with insurance companies for two hours, banging his head into the receiver because he knows it will frustrate you. He moves all the furniture in your living room. Then moves it back when you realize you liked it better the other way. He loves you in all the little ways that matter.

And he doesn’t bring you flowers because you don’t particularly like them, but he shovels the snow and makes you wait for his arm before you step out into icy streets. He provides and protects and he redefines what you thought love was in the first place.

In all your naïve wanderings, in all your youthful ignorance, you assumed you knew what marriage would look like. And yet, here you are, fourteen years later, still figuring it out. It’s not flashy or windswept, though there are moments when he can still stop your heart with a single look. Because in that look you know he’s actually seeing you. The you you thought you could keep hidden, the one that has an ugly side. A messy side. A self-doubting side.

And somehow, he makes it clear that he loves them all. 
The lovely and talented
author, Courtney Walsh!

So, maybe on paper it doesn’t look like a grand romance, but marriage is so much more than butterflies.

It’s truly for better or for worse. Till death do us part.

And yes, it’s all so worth it. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Giveaway! A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner!

Welcome to Writing for Christ, Susan Meissner! So glad to have you here to chat about your next release and share it with my readers!

1. Susan, tell us where the idea for A Fall of Marigolds came from.
I’ve long been a history junkie, especially with regard to historical events that involve ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. A couple years ago I viewed a documentary by author and filmmaker Lorie Conway called Forgotten Ellis Island; a hauntingly poignant exposé on the section of Ellis Island that no one really has heard much about; its hospital. The two man-made islands that make up the hospital buildings haven’t been used in decades and are falling into ruins, a sad predicament the documentary aptly addresses. The images of the rooms where the sick of a hundred nations waited to be made well stayed with me. I knew there were a thousand stories pressed into those walls, stories of immigrants who were just a stone’s throw from a new life. But unless they could be cured of whatever disease they’d arrived with, they would never set foot on America’s shores. Ellis Island hospital was the ultimate in-between place – it lay between what was and what could be. A great place to set a story

2. What is the story about, in a nutshell?

The book is about two women who never meet as they are separated by a century. One woman, Taryn, is a 9/11 widow and single mother who is about to mark the tenth anniversary of her husband’s passing. The other is a nurse, Clara, who witnessed the death of the man she loved in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan in 1911.In her sorrow, Clara imposes on herself an exile of sorts; she takes a post at the hospital on Ellis Island so that she can hover in an in-between place while she wrestles with her grief. She meets an immigrant who wears the scarf of the wife he lost crossing the Atlantic, a scarf patterned in marigolds. The scarf becomes emblematic of the beauty and risk inherent in loving people, and it eventually finds it way to Taryn one hundred years later on the morning a plane crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The story is about the resiliency of love, and the notion that the weight of the world is made more bearable because of it, even though it exposes us to the risk of loss.

3. Why a scarf of marigolds? What is their significance?

Marigolds aren’t like most other flowers. They aren’t beautiful and fragrant. You don’t see them in bridal bouquets or prom corsages or funeral sprays. They don’t come in gentle colors like pink and lavender and baby blue. Marigolds are hearty, pungent and brassy. They are able to bloom in the autumn months, well past the point when many other flowers can’t. In that respect, I see marigolds as being symbolic of the strength of the human spirit to risk loving again after loss. Because, face it. We live in a messy world. Yet it’s the only one we’ve got. We either love here or we don’t. The title of the book has a sort of double-meaning. Both the historical and contemporary story take place primarily in the autumn. Secondarily, when Clara sees the scarf for the first time, dangling from an immigrant’s shoulders as he enters the hospital building, she sees the floral pattern in the threads, notes how similar they are to the flames she saw in the fire that changed everything for her, and she describes the cascading blooms woven into the scarf as “a fall of marigolds.”

4. What led you to dovetail the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 with 9/11?

When I first began pulling at story threads, my first instinct was to tell a story about an immigrant struggling to remain hopeful as an unwilling patient at Ellis Island hospital. But the more I toyed with whose story this was, the more I saw instead a young nurse, posting herself to a place where every disease known and unknown showed up. It was a place like no other; a waiting place – a place where the dozens of languages spoken added to the unnatural homelessness of it. Why was she here? Why did she choose this post? Why did she refuse to get on the ferry on Saturday nights to reconnect with the real world? What kind of person would send herself to Ellis not just to work, but to live? Someone who needed a place to hover suspended. I knew something catastrophic had to happen to her to make her run to Ellis for cover. As I began researching possible scenarios, I came across the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which up until 9/11 was arguably the worst urban disaster to befall Manhattan. There were similarities between that fire and 9/11, including the tragic fact that many trapped workers jumped to their deaths rather than perish in the flames.  For every person lost in disasters such as these, there is always his or her individual story, and the stories of those who loved them. I wanted to imagine two of those stories.

5. Are you working on anything new at the moment?

My next book is set entirely in England, mostly during The London Blitz. My main character starts out as a young, aspiring bridal gown designer evacuated to the countryside with her seven-year-old sister in the summer of 1940. Though only fifteen, Emmy is on the eve of being made an apprentice to a renowned costumer and she resents her single mother’s decision to send her away. She sneaks back to London – with her sister in tow – several months later but the two become separated when the Luftwaffe begins its terrible and deadly attack on the East End on the first night of the Blitz. War has a way of separating from us what we most value, and often shows how little we realized that value. I have always found the evacuation of London’s children to the countryside – some for the entire duration of the war – utterly compelling. How hard it must have been for those parents and their children. I went on a research trip to the U.K. in the fall of 2013 and I spoke with many individuals who were children during the war; some were separated from their parents, some were bombed out of their homes, some slept night after night in underground Tube stations, some watched in fascination as children from the city came to their towns and villages to live with them. This book explores issues of loss and longing, but also the bonds of sisters, and always, the power of love.

6. Where can readers connect with you?

You can find me at and on Facebook at my Author page, Susan .Meissner, and on Twitter at SusanMeissner. I blog at I also send out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on my website. I love connecting with readers! You are the reason I write.

Readers, enter to win Susan's book here!

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

For extra entries:
~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

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- I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on February 28th
Attn Readers! If you're struggling to leave a comment on my blog, please email your comment entries (in ONE email) and I will submit it for you. But PLEASE only do this after you've failed to leave a comment. My email is: caseym.writer(@) 

As part of the release of A Fall of Marigolds and this blog tour, Susan is giving to one lucky winner a gift basket that includes a $100 Visa gift card, a copy of the book, the DVD Forgotten Ellis Island, and a beautiful re-purposed infinity scarf patterned in marigolds and made from a vintage Indian sari. To be eligible, just leave a comment here between today and midnight Eastern on Friday, February 21. If you would like to see a list of the other participating blogs on this tour, just click here. Feel free to visit those blogs and increase your chances of winning by posting one comment on those blogs as well. One comment per blog will be eligible.
Additionally, there will be one winner of a signed copy of A Fall of Marigolds from among those who comment on this blog. Just leave a comment by midnight Eastern on Friday, Feb. 28 and you’re in the running for the grand prize as well as a signed copy of the book. Good luck!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Month of Love and Marriage with Guest Lindsay Harrel

With the month of February around us those who are single look toward loving and marriage and those you who are already married just look at us singles and smile, while shaking your heads. ;-) I didn't want to just focus on love, but also on marriage the joys and trials and the wisdom that can be shared from those before us. I know I think a lot about falling in love, but not a lot about what happens afterwards. What wisdom can be shared with those like me? I've asked Lindsay Harrel, accomplished writer, wife for over 7 years, friend and encourager to all who run into her, to be my second guest this month in a month long series. Leave a comment below to enter to win your choice of any of the (released and yet to be released) in the A Year of Weddings Novellas collection.

The lovely and talented Lindsay Harrel!
When you were younger, did you ever write notes to the future you? I remember as a junior high-er, I wrote goals for myself in a letter I wasn’t to open for ten years. I loved looking at it later on and seeing, first, how I’d achieved some of those goals – and second, how some of those goals seemed silly in light of the life I’d lived and the person I’d become.

But it’s not silly to sometimes wish I could open letters from a different version of myself – the future me.

I don’t necessarily want to know everything that happens in my life. That’d be like reading the ending of a novel before you get there (I know, I know, some of you do that!) – there’s joy in the journey too. But I would like to hear advice from my future self, on a variety of topics, marriage being one of them.

As someone who has been married for over seven years, there are things I wish I’d known before I said “I do.” But because I can’t go back in time, I thought I’d share them here, in hopes that they might encourage you, especially if you’re a woman who is still waiting for her prince to arrive.

  • Don’t wait to live your life. I married fairly young and I don’t regret that, but one reality of married life is that there are things that are harder to do once you’re tied to someone else. I’m so grateful I studied abroad in Europe and got to finish my college degree before getting married. These were things I’d always hoped to do. It’s not like those things would have been impossible for me once I got married; but once you’re married, finances typically get tighter and your husband’s priorities may not be the same as yours. So take advantage of this time and pursue your passions! There’s no time like the present.
    Aren't they cute??
  • Focus on becoming more like Jesus. I think it’s really easy to get focused on meeting the right guy – but instead, focus on becoming the right woman. Figure out what you believe, draw near to God, and everything else will fall into place. Does that mean that ladies who are single still have work they need to do before their guy comes along? Absolutely not – but we’re all works in progress, aren’t we? Keep your eyes on the One who can transform you into the woman you should be and focus on that instead of pining away for someone who isn’t in your life yet.
  • Don’t waste time! I’m embarrassed to think about how many hours of my life I wasted by dreaming about so-and-so and how we were going to live happily ever after. Yes, it’s normal when you like someone (or are dating someone) to dream – dreaming is good, but in moderation. I hate to think that I spent so much time obsessing about guys who did not end up being my husband, and how I could have been wiser with my time.

Your Turn: If you’re not married, what’s something you’re pursuing right now – or that you’d like to start pursuing – that you’re passionate about? If you are married, what’s something you wish you’d known beforehand?

Lindsay Harrel writes contemporary fiction with romantic elements, and her work was a 2013 ACFW Genesis Finalist (Contemporary Category). She lives in Arizona with her husband of seven years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Lindsay is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Giveaway! Amazon Gift Card and Info about Jill Eileen Smith's Rachel Giveaway!

Have you see the information yet to enter Jill Eileen Smith's giveaway? 

I wanted to share with you this beautiful new book (isn't the cover gorgeous??) and the contest that Jill and her publisher are putting together to promote Rachel.

About the novel...

Beautiful Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Maybe then she would not feel so scrutinized, so managed, so judged. Plain Leah wishes her father Laban would find a good man for her, someone who would love her alone and make her his only bride. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery and the victim of a cruel bait and switch. The man who wanted only one woman will end up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Combining meticulous research with her own imaginings, Jill Eileen Smith not only tells one of the most famous love stories of all time but will manage to surprise even those who think they know the story inside and out.

I love the story of Rachel. Her's is one of the more romantic stories in the Bible (I think anyway). What woman doesn't want to know her man spent years working to win her
hand? That he loved her enough to spend those years to spend the rest of his life with her? 

Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic (we already know I'm more than hopeless. ;-), but I love that about Jacob and Rachel. Though I've always felt sorry for Leah too. 

So leave a comment below, I'm giving away one $10 Amazon gift card to someone who comments today on this one question: do you like to read Biblical fiction?

It's a hard line for me to cross. Yes it's fiction, but I like to keep my Bible and fiction separate. However, I read Jill's debut Biblical historical, Michael this summer and thought she did a great job of writing it! I know many other readers are also loving her novels and it seems more and more Biblical fiction is hitting the market. 

What say you? :-))

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Month of Love and Marriage with Guest Deborah Raney

With the month of February upon us those who are single look toward loving and marriage and those you who are already married just look at us singles and smile, while shaking your heads. ;-) I didn't want to just focus on love, but also on marriage the joys and trials and the wisdom that can be shared from those before us. I know I think a lot about falling in love, but not a lot about what happens afterwards. What wisdom can be shared with those like me? I've asked Deb Raney, accomplished author, wife for 40 years and loving mom and grandmother to be my first guest this month in a month long series. Leave a comment below to enter to win your choice of any of the (released and yet to be released) in the A Year of Weddings Novellas collection.

My husband and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this year, so this question––What would you say to your younger self to better prepare for marriage?––is a timely one. 

I think there are three main things I would say to my younger self:

Deb and Ken...the newlyweds!
1. When you get married, it will be because you were attracted to that man exactly the way he was. So once you are married quit trying to change him into something he’s not! I don’t believe in love at first sight, but it was definitely intense like at first sight when I met Ken Raney. And yet, for some crazy reason, I spent the first decade of our marriage trying to make my shy, quiet, laid-back, non-social husband into someone more like…well, me! Bad idea. One me is quite enough, thank you very much! And besides, all those qualities my husband has are (as God well knew) perfect complements to my personality. We’ve always had a happy marriage, but once I figured out this important lesson, there was a lot more peace in our home!

Forty years later!

And you know what? It’s almost comical how Ken has become much more outgoing, social, and fun-loving, over the years, while I seem to become more non-social the older I get! God definitely has a sense of humor!

2. Don’t think that life will always be a picnic! Don’t be surprised when you go through trials and challenges. Don’t panic when “that lovin‘ feeling” fades a little. It will return, and your love for each other will grow deeper and more mature than you ever dreamed possible when you were in that giddy falling-in-love stage. It is always––always––worth it to slog through the hard times until you see the sun again. Until you find the Son again.

Over the years, I’ve talked to so many people––so many!––who wish they could go back and undo their divorce. Because you see, they bailed too soon. They couldn’t imagine ever getting through the hard times and finding joy again. But if they’d only waited a while, not made such a big deal out of little things, and forgiven the big things more quickly, they would have found that there’s a deep, deep love that waits just down the road from trouble.

3. Instead of looking at marriage as a safety net and a comfort zone, view it as an adventure! I think I sort of gave a sigh of relief when I said “I do.” I’d “caught” my guy, fulfilled my ultimate dream, and I was perfectly content to settle into a happily ever after. Little did I know the adventure was only beginning!

Deb and Ken's boisterous and fun-filled family!
But it didn’t always feel like an adventure. Sometimes it felt like a roller coaster (I don’t like roller coasters!) Sometimes (not often, but sometimes) it felt like drudgery. (I don’t like drudgery!) But if I’d learned to see every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, to discover all the treasures God had in store for me––for my love and me––when He sealed us in this marriage, oh, how much better that would have been. 

Thankfully, I figured it out sooner rather than later, and we’ve been on our wonderful adventure for many years now. I know it won’t be sunshine and roses every day, but I’m pretty fond of thunderstorms, and I don’t even mind pulling a few weeds now and then.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. She is currently writing a new five-book series, the The Chicory Inn Novels. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, recently traded small-town life––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, Kansas. They love traveling to visit four children and five grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at

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