Blessed by Friendship by Shannon Brown

Shannon L. Brown

I wasn’t blessed with a sister, but I have a friend who’s as close to that as possible. Sometimes friends are meant to be. You can move across town, and you’ll find her again. You can move across the country, and she’ll still be there for you.

My friend Katie was in my first grade class in Anchorage, Alaska, and came to my sixth birthday party. My family moved across town so I spent grades two to six at another elementary school, but I found Katie again in junior high. We didn’t immediately recognize each other, but as we became friends and talked about our past, we realized we’d known each other before. And I discovered that her father had been my principal for those five other years of elementary school.

We also went to the same high school and stayed friends, not an easy task for teenagers. Then life took us in different directions: I went to college near home, and she chose a school across the country. We both married. For a few years we didn’t talk. Then we picked up our friendship again. Her husband’s job had brought her family to the South. In time I ended up moving near her (it’s warmer in this part of the country!) and we could go to lunch.

Life has had its ups and downs. Katie was the first one I called when my first husband died, and she raced to my side. She gave me advice on finding my next husband, which probably was good advice since he’s a winner. Though we now live a few hours away from each other, we talk almost every week. And we’ve met halfway between cities for lunch.

An invisible thread connects us. I’m not sure either of us could explain it, but I know Katie will always be my friend.

The Alaska Dream Romance series is centered around three sisters who are each other’s best friends. They can tell each other anything and have it not shatter the relationship. That’s one of the blessings of a best friend.

I used to have a food blog and created this recipe for it. This has fruit in it, but it can share the plate with the main course. Not that serving apple cobbler next to fried chicken is a problem in my mind!

Carrot Apple Raisin Salad

1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup apple cider
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded apples (a not-too-tart variety)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground ginger
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise

In a small pot, bring the apple cider and raisins to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let soak for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 Tablespoon of the raisin liquid.

Combine shredded carrots and apple, add raisins, reserved raisin liquid, cinnamon (a tiny bit less than ½ teaspoon is best), a pinch of ginger (a little goes a long way), and the mayo. Adjust the amount of mayo to taste. Enjoy!

(To order a copy, click on the cover.)


Jemma’s Alaska Dream: Succeed at Business

(and avoid her annoying neighbor)

When Jemma Harris inherits a house in Palmer, Alaska, she quits her tedious corporate job and catches the next plane out of Atlanta. She’s going to rehab furniture in her garage and sell her creations. Jemma needs everything to go perfectly during this short Alaskan summer, but her neighbor isn’t cooperating.

Marketing expert Nathaniel Montgomery lives on the outskirts of small-town Palmer and enjoys working at home. Then the new owner of the house across the street begins using noisy power tools and disrupting his life. His challenging childhood leaves him unable to love, until a stray puppy begins to thaw his heart.

Is there room in Nathaniel’s heart for Jemma too?

 About the Author

The Feather Chase was Shannon L. Brown’s first published book and began the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. The eight-to-twelve-year-olds in your life will enjoy this book and the sequel, The Treasure Key, in this fun, contemporary twist on a Nancy Drew–type mystery.

The sweet and clean Alaska Dream Romance series takes readers to the Alaska Shannon knows from growing up in Alaska. Falling for Alaska and Loving Alaska are the first two books in the series. Merrying in Alaska, a Christmas novella, ties back to book two.

Shannon enjoys hiking and unwinds by baking. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat.

Website – www.shannonlbrown.com – available there is a link for the free short story Legal Tender which has main characters who are first met in Falling for Alaska (for subscribing to the newsletter)

Facebook – www.facebook.com/shannonlbrownauthor/

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shannonlbr

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/shannonlbrown1

Newsletter – through the homepage – www.shannonlbrown.com

Falling for Alaska Excerpt 

(To order a copy, click on the cover.)

“Bench or bookshelf? Which do you want to be?” Jemma Harris walked around the beat-up old dresser sitting in the garage next to the house her great-aunt had recently left her in Palmer, Alaska. She removed the drawers and stepped back. Nodding once, she said, “Bench.” Jigsaw in hand, Jemma began the transformation.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Mr. Gorgeous from across the street open his front door. He wore his usual neatly pressed chinos and dress shirt, his dark, wavy hair adding the only element slightly out of control. Refocusing on the blade in her hand, Jemma cut off the dresser’s top, then started a curve on the right side.

Something poked her shoulder. When she reached out to brush it away, her hand met with warm skin. Jumping backward, Jemma stood with the jigsaw in front of her like a weapon.

“What are you doing?” Mr. Gorgeous shouted over the sound of the saw.

Gorgeous but none too bright. She pushed the off switch and removed her protective glasses. “I’m sawing wood.”

“No.” He sighed with obvious frustration. “What are you doing making so much noise?”

“Um, creating a bench?” She pointed at the half-altered dresser. Seeing it in her mind in a fresh yellow with white trim and a matching padded seat, she knew it would be beautiful. “A parent will happily buy it for their daughter’s room—at least I hope so.”

Her neighbor’s mouth dropped open. “This is a business? The noise I’ve put up with for weeks isn’t temporary?”

“Yes. No. Yes, I’m planning to open a store.”

“So you won’t continue making noise here and being a general nuisance?”

Now he had her hackles up. “A nuisance?”

His hand swept over the area. “Noise. Grime. Chaos.”

Focus on patience. He was her neighbor, so they needed to get along. Forcing a calm note to her voice, she said, “I’m Jemma Harris. It may appear chaotic to you, Mr. . . . ?”

“Nathaniel Montgomery.”

“But I can assure you everything is under control.”

With a little too much eagerness, he asked, “Will you be gone soon?”

As soon as I can make this pay, she thought, wondering how someone so attractive on the outside could be the opposite on the inside.

Ready to ask him to leave, Jemma saw a truck come around the bend of the road and pull into her driveway, saving her from herself. Wondering who could be visiting when she’d lived in Palmer all of three weeks and hardly knew a soul, she noticed the load in the back. Travis, the man she’d met at the community yard sale and hired to deliver goods for her, was here, and his truck was filled to the brim with what she knew were great things. When she ventured a glance at her neighbor, his expression said otherwise.

Travis stepped out of his truck. “My sister had a few things left from her yard sale. I added the ones I thought you might want.” He pointed at the back of his truck toward several items she hadn’t bought.

Jemma climbed onto the side to see better. “Thank you, Travis. The bench and stool are great.” She pushed a music stand aside. “And that lamp. What’s in the box up there?” She pointed past the dresser, headboard, and coffee table she’d bought to right behind the cab of the truck.

Love Yourself Valentine

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:31-31 NLT

I highlighted “as yourself” because I missed it for years. Many of my friends are self-critical. Perhaps we feel inadequate because of the home-improvement shows featuring beautiful people living in flawless homes. We are bombarded with advice on how to live the best life. Maybe we feel insufficient because others seem to have it all. Believe me. They don’t.  None of us do.

A friend recently said she feels defeated because she’s already days behind on her schedule to read the entire Bible in a year. Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to read the entire Bible within a year? Sometimes, all I have time to do is meditate on one verse. I can rush through reading a chapter to meet a daily goal, but if I don’t take the time for the words to filter to my heart, I’m wasting my time. This woman is a doctor, a mom, and she writes in her spare time. I pray she will LOVE herself because I know God loves her.  I think she’s comparable to Wonder Woman and doesn’t realize it.

Another friend berated herself because she didn’t work on her manuscript. She’s a mother, a teacher, and suffers from a serious medical condition. God has blessed her with two of the most important jobs on earth – being a mom and a teacher. I know God planted a story in her heart, and she will find time to put it on paper, in His time. I pray she will look in the mirror today and say, “I love you.”

Consider the most unpleasant person you know. Do you think this person loves themselves?  I believe there’s a direct correlation between how much we love ourselves and our ability to love God and others. Please take a moment and consider how wonderful, talented, and unique you are. You are precious in His sight.

Today is Valentines Day and my love message to you is to LOVE yourself.  If you feel unloved, consider God loves you so much He sent His son to die for you.  My prayer and hope for you today is you feel His love and it’s reflected in all  you do.

Hugs and love from me. Happy Valentines Day!

 

Ice Cream, Jane Austen Style By Susanne Dietze

The first published English recipe for ice cream (or, as it was simply called then, ice) was published in 1718 in Mrs. Eale’s Reciepts, so it had been around for several decades by Jane Austen’s day—but it’s likely ices were enjoyed mainly by the wealthy. Out-of-season flavorings and ice for freezing could be expensive!

By the early 1800’s, however, ices were available at many a confectioner’s or pastry cook’s. One of the most famous London confectioner’s was Gunter’s on Berkeley Square (where the characters in my new release, The Reluctant Guardian, visit for ices). One of the most popular flavors of ice was lemon, a fruit that was either imported or grown in conservatories or orangeries.

Here’s a way to make lemon ice similar to how it was made two hundred years ago, without the benefit of an ice cream maker. While I can’t guarantee it’s exactly like Jane Austen might have enjoyed it, it’s as close as I could get! The consistency is different than what we’re used to, but my family and I didn’t mind the texture a bit, and we loved the fresh lemon taste.

Lemon Ice

• 2 c. whipping cream
• 1 c. sugar
• 1/8 t. salt
• 2 t. grated fresh lemon zest (I used Meyer lemons)
• ½ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Whip cream. (In Jane Austen’s day, this would have been done by hand, but I used a mixer!) When stiff peaks form, gently fold in sugar, salt, lemon zest, and juice. Pour into a bowl (I used a Tupperware container), cover, and freeze for several hours or overnight, until solid.

Enjoy as Jane Austen might, from a dainty dish, accompanied by a dear friend or a good book.

About The Author

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com, and sign up for her newsletter for an occasional cheery hello: http://eepurl.com/bieza5

Suzanne’s new book, The Reluctant Guardian releases February 7, 2017. 

When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be.

Links:
www.susannedietze.com
www.Facebook.com/SusanneDietzeBooks
Twitter @SusanneDietze

 

February 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:
redeeming-graceRedeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith — When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Biblical Romance:
building-benjaminBuilding Benjamin by Barbara M. Britton — Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe. (Biblical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:
grace-and-the-rancherGrace and the Rancher by Mary Alford — Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

capturing-beauty Capturing Beauty by Brenda S. Anderson — Photographer Haven Carlysle is a changed man. He returns to Duluth to capture the North Shore’s beauty … and to recapture the love of his son. But that means making amends with his ex-girlfriend too. Enter Callie Beaumont. All her life, Callie has longed to work outdoors soaking up God-breathed beauty, and the opportunity is finally on the horizon. But being the liaison between the handsome photographer and his son has thrown her dreams, and her heart, into chaos. Can Haven capture her heart when she won’t let him capture her image? And will his poor choices cost Callie her dream job and him the love of his son? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

the-lawman's -secret-sonThe Lawman’s Secret Son by Lorraine Beatty — Suddenly a Father Police officer Seth Montgomery knows all about order—but his world is thrown into chaos when he learns he has a five-year-old son. With little Jack suddenly in his care, Seth turns to neighbor Carrie Fletcher for help. Given her checkered past, Carrie prefers to keep to herself, but there’s no denying she cares for the boy—and her feelings for charming Seth are rapidly developing, too. When someone from Carrie’s past shows up threatening to jeopardize the life she’s worked so hard to build, Carrie will have to fight for her future with the new family she’s found…or risk losing everything. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

maybe-it's-youMaybe It’s You by Candace Calvert — Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive ER nurse, Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis? (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

a-second-chanceA Second Chance by Alexis Goring — Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with her “best friend,” Traci resigned herself to being a bachelorette for life. Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. But his widowed sister Gina Braxton appreciates his compassion and kindness, since she’s raising her two kids alone. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, Traci and Marc find hope for their broken hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

the-amish-wandererThe Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton — After her daed, the bishop, is admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community, Bethany Weiss is ready to get away from Jamesport, MO—and away from God. Silas Beiler, dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, is hitchhiking toward Pennsylvania in hopes of stability. He sleeps in barns where he can and works for food when possible. When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago, full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Can their old love overcome both this new pain and the hurt and rejection of their past? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

avalancheAvalanche by Gayla K. Hiss — Set in the North Cascades National Park of Washington State, Avalanche is the inspirational story of one man set on revenge and the woman who risks everything to help him find the fugitive who killed his partner. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

the-doctor's-texas-babyThe Doctor’s Texas Baby by Deb Kastner — When Carolina Mason shows up in Haven, Texas, after a three-year absence, no one is more surprised than town veterinarian Wyatt Harrow. Especially when he sees Carolina’s two-year-old son, Matty. Their son. How could she have kept his child a secret? Carolina doesn’t deny the boy is his. She thought she was doing what was best for everyone when she left, but she realizes she was wrong. Though Wyatt is eager to make up for lost time with Matty, Carolina’s not so sure that extends to her. Can these former sweethearts navigate their complicated past to make a family for their son? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

spring-raineSpring Raine by Delia Latham — A last-minute decision sends a young woman to a seaside community and lodging at Paradise Pines…where life takes a whole new path. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

finding-joyFinding Joy by Melanie D. Snitker — A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. He returns to his family’s ranch, the scars on his face a daily reminder of all he’s lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. Only deep desperation could force Chelsea Blake to work on a cattle ranch. But if she’s going to avoid her parents’ judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker’s efforts at forcing her to leave. Surprisingly alike, will the two set aside their disapproval to find immeasurable joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Fiction:
the-secret-heartThe Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu — After a whirlwind romance, beautiful Shawna Moore marries Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee. Now, she wonders if the governor ever loved her or only hoped to avoid a scandal. In this modern re-imagining of the biblical story of Bathsheba and King David, an investigative reporter is asking questions–the wedding took place only six weeks following the death of Shawna’s first husband in Iraq. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection, as well as Shawna’s reputation, will be ruined. But keeping their secret is destroying their marriage. Will Hunter’s choice mean the end of his political career or his family? (General Fiction from Write Integrity Press)

home-at-lastHome at Last by Deborah Raney — All her life, Shayla Michaels, owner of the Coffee’s On bakery, has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite–well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts? Everything changes one icy morning when Portia runs into the street and Link Whitman nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with Shayla. Can they overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

baggage-claimBaggage Claim by Cathe Swanson — When Ben Taylor, widower and single dad, gets caught up in a dangerous insurance fraud network, he has to learn to take a stand for right – and make a leap of faith: can he trust his nanny – who isn’t quite what she appears to be – and his newly-discovered biological father to hide and protect his four young children? (General Fiction, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:
the-matchmaker-brides-collectionThe Matchmaker Brides Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women’s lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say “I do”? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

the-reluctant-guardianThe Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson — Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents–or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage–alone and after dark–the ensuing gossip may force them together.Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety and he certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged. Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career–and his life. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

the-reluctant-guardianThe Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze — When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her… Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

shine-like-the-dawnShine like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky — In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. An even which…might not have been an accident. When Nathaniel Harcourt returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor, he also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah)

the-bounty-hunter's-babyThe Bounty Hunter’s Baby by Erica Vetsch — Bounty hunter Thomas Beaufort has no problem handling outlaws, but when he’s left with a criminal’s baby to care for, he’s in over his head. And the only person he can think of to ask for help is Esther Jensen, the woman whose heart he broke when he left town. But can he convince her to put aside the past until he tracks down the baby’s outlaw father? Esther is ready to run Thomas off her Texas ranch–until she spies the abandoned newborn in his arms. Soon, working together to care for the precious babe stirs old hopes of a family. With trouble heading to their door, they could overcome it together–if she’ll entrust her wary heart to this sweet, second-chance family… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Thriller/Suspense:
raging-stormRaging Storm by Vannetta Chapman — When a massive solar flare wiped out all modern technology across the globe, the small town of Abney, Texas, was thrown into chaos. Shelby Sparks and her diabetic teenage son, Carter, have found refuge, but Shelby knows Carter can’t survive without insulin–and Shelby will risk her life traveling to Austin to make sure he gets it. Shelby’s best friend and high school sweetheart, Max Berkman, won’t let her make the journey alone. Together, they reach the capital–only to discover that Austin has turned into an urban nightmare on the brink of anarchy. Now the only thing more uncertain than finding what they need is the hope of making it out of the city alive. (Thriller/Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)

Speculative:
long-time-goneTime Search by Danele J. Rotharmel — While the TEMCO staff searches for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for his targets–it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first! (Speculative/Time Travel Fiction from Prism Book Group)

Western Romance:
long-time-goneLong Time Gone by Mary Connealy — Rancher Justin Boden is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on. With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine? (Western Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Birthday Blessings

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

January is a special month for my family because we celebrate birthdays on January 4, 5, 18, and 25.  January 11 is a bittersweet day because it was my mother-in-law Judy’s birthday.  She is still loved, and I have the hope we will be reunited in heaven.

I’ve been especially thankful as we celebrate each birthday this year because I am surrounded by family and friends who are enduring a season of loss. One is mourning the sudden death of her husband, another friend’s child died, and someone else had to say goodbye to his mom.  Please lift a prayer for them.  Most of us take days for granted and believe there’s plenty of time to do all the things  we want to do. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. Only God knows.

The month is close to an end, so if you made a New Year’s resolution, you’re planning to be around for a while.  I’m hoping to travel to Israel with my sister later this year. Friends have commented, “It’s not safe to go to Israel.” I agree, because it’s  not safe to go anywhere. But there is nothing for me to fear because I have Jesus as my savior, and I hope, you do too. Sometimes I am afraid, but that’s my brain talking. As I grow in faith, and make more room for Jesus in my heart, it’s filled with more love, more joy and more peace. Sometimes worry sneaks into my thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to spend daily time studying scripture and in prayer.

What are your plans for the coming year?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution? My resolution is that I’m going to try to draw closer to God and be open to whatever He wants me to do. I’d hoped to be planning a return trip to Kenya, but that’s not going to happen. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I trust him.

I’m so very thankful for Jesus and the price He paid to redeem me and you. I’m grateful for my family, my health and the ability to work and travel.  Someday, my heart and flesh will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I pray God is the strength of your heart too. If He’s not, I’d like to review a lesson I use with children to teach them the ABC’s of becoming a Christian.

 A – Admit that you are a sinner and repent. (If you know what sin is and are genuinely               heartbroken for the things you’ve done, just admit it to God.)

B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He paid our sin debt.  (This is the most difficult for most, believing is having FAITH)

C – Confess and tell others that Jesus is Lord of your life.

Scriptures to support the ABC’s of becoming a Christian:

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NIV

 For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him      shall not perish be have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 NKJV

If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart, I pray you will seek Him and ask Him to speak to you. Just close your eyes and talk to Jesus like He’s your best friend, because He is. It’s not the words that save you, it’s the condition of you heart.

You must have FAITH to receive God’s GRACE.

Someone will  win a free copy of  The Wonders of Nature this week. I’ll draw  a name from my subscribers on Saturday, January 28, 2017 and announce the winner. Thank you for stopping by today. I pray you will have a blessed week.

 

Friendship, Faith, & Sisterhood

By Jessica R. Patch

When I think of sisters, I should immediately think of me and my older sister, but actually the Haynes sisters from White Christmas come to mind along with their signature song: “Sisters”. Maybe it’s because Christmas recently passed or it could just be the song. It sticks in your head. Ever heard it? No?

You’re welcome. J

My big sis is five years older than me. We didn’t have much in common growing up. She liked to make messes and play outside. I liked to stay clean and play Barbies and baby dolls inside. But we loved to ride our Honda 50 around town, making up songs, laughing. We shared late night giggles while taking turns drawing pictures on one another’s backs until the other guessed it. When I became a teenager, we did more things together. Double-dated (all disasters for me, all blame on her). Sometimes I went to work at Radio Shack with her. I have no clue why I enjoyed that so much. She took me to see MC Hammer and Boys II Men (have I dated myself?). We took up for each other. Defended one another.

Now we live states apart, but we still talk with one another. We pray for each other—something we never did growing up. Sad isn’t it? We’re close. Bonded by blood, faith, and more common interests than we had as kids! There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for one another no matter the miles that separate us. We would be friends if we weren’t sisters. I think that’s super cool!

Click on the cover for the Amazon link.

In Concealed Identity, my heroine Blair has a younger sister Gigi who lives with her.   They have a unique bond. And many of the choices Blair makes throughout the book is because of the love she has for her sister. Not only love because they’re sisters, but because they’re friends. It was a lot of fun writing about sisterhood. About being the big sister (since I’m not) and creating a character who would sacrifice so much, even herself for her sister. Her friend. I’d like to think I’d do the same. Although, I don’t see drug cartels coming after me with a vengeance. But I guess you never know!

Do you have a sister? Do you live close? Who’s oldest?

One of Shelia’s subscribers will have the chance to win a free copy of Concealed Identity.  Scroll to the top and click on  the blue “Subscribe” button. She’ll announce the winner on Saturday, January 21. Good Luck!

About Jessica R. Patch

Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her watching way too much Netflix with her family and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Sign up for her newsletter at www.jessicarpatch.com.

Love Your Enemies

By Krista Phillips

A long time ago, there was this girl.

We’ll call her—Minnie Mouse.

That’s not really her name of course. I’m disguising it to protect the innocent—er—guilty—er—whatever. I’m keeping her identity hidden because she would probably hate everything about this post, okay? AND because calling her Minnie Mouse is gonna make me giggle every time I type it in place of the REAL person’s name, and this story (which will be kept vague in places so no one will recognize it) needs to make me giggle. It really does.

So, Minnie Mouse is—well—my enemy.

She doesn’t really KNOW she’s my enemy. At least I don’t think so.

But Minnie gets on my ever-loving last nerve and if I never had to talk to her again a day in my life, I’d honestly would be super duper happy. That is the honest, sad truth of the matter.

Mean, right?

Don’t tell me that a picture of that person in your own life didn’t just filter through your brain. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this.

Minnie Mouse didn’t start off as my enemy. She actually seemed kinda nice in a quirky, a little over-opinionated kind of way.

But the more I got to know Minnie, the harder it was to be her friend, even in a casual way.

We’re supposed to love our neighbor, right?

Right. But have you ever thought about that? Loving your “neighbor” isn’t that hard most of the time. Bake some cookies, give money to the poor, volunteer, etc. It’s a sacrifice of time and resources and money, but totally doable. Honestly, the “world” as we in the Christian-realm like to call it, can do a pretty decent job of loving their neighbor as well. Christians need to do a better job, in fact.

But Jesus—he kicked that bar up a mile or so when he added enemy to the mix.

We’re supposed to—love our enemies?

I’m not gonna lie. That’s a toughie.

Back to Minnie Mouse. She quickly jumped from the “neighbor” train to the “enemy” train after a few rounds of backstabbing, lying, manipulating, and one fun encounter of yelling at me, all while doing so in the name of God.

In my heart, I knew her actions came from some deep part in her that was hurt. She apologized a few different times—but her apologies always came with a “but this is why I did what I did and why it wasn’t REALLY that bad…”

Through it all, I felt God calling me to love her. Pray for her. Intercede on her behalf.

At some point, he also called me to put up some very healthy boundaries, which I did, but the experience taught me something that, before then, hadn’t really hit me.

Loving your enemies doesn’t make them no longer your enemy.

For a long time, I was overwhelmed with the idea of loving my enemy because I looked at some of the people in the world who would easily fall into that category and couldn’t understand it. The abusive husband? The drunk driver who killed someone? The cheating spouse? The racist? The bully?

How could God ask anyone to be friends with these people?

The answer is:

He doesn’t. At least not every time. (Personally, I’ve had a few bullies who turned into friends, but that is another story.)

He knows they’re your enemies. He isn’t asking you to change that, because it isn’t in your power to do so. He’s asking us to love them, pray for them, where they are at. Period. And he isn’t asking us to do anything he hasn’t already done himself. He loved those people enough to send his son to die for them, too.

I’m here to tell you, the exercise of loving Minnie Mouse did much more for MY heart than it ever did for hers. To my knowledge, she hasn’t changed much, although I still pray for her when God puts it on my heart, hoping she will change. But it made me start to look at my enemies differently, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.

About Krista Phillips

Krista Phillips writes contemporary romance sprinkled with two of her favorite things, laughter and Jesus. And sometimes chocolate for kicks and giggles. She lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband and their four beautiful daughters, and is an advocate for congenital heart defect and organ donation awareness. Visit her online at www.kristaphillips.com.

 

 

To order her new book, A (sorta) Southern Serenade, click on the cover. 

A romantic comedy novella! She’s a Yankee transplant. He’s a good ol’ Southern boy. She’s a rich heiress of a multi-million dollar family fortune. He’s gotten everything he has through old fashioned hard work. She thinks he’s arrogant. He thinks she’s uppity. She’s trying to find her place in this world. He’s trying to run from his. It’s (sorta) a match made in Heaven.

Shelia will draw a name from her subscribers on Saturday, January 14, 2017, and some lucky person will win a free copy.  Scroll to the top of the page to subscribe.

 

 

Be Still and Wait

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, fret no yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices. Psalm 37:7 ESV

For the first time in five years, I don’t have a mission trip scheduled on the calendar. I’m waiting and praying for guidance, which is the first step to planning any mission trip. There are so many in Africa who have never heard the name of Jesus, and this burdens me. But plans have not worked out (yet) for me to return to the dark continent this year.

Cedar Street, Franklin, KY. Used with permission of Barry Freas.

Maybe I’m supposed to stay home for a change. On any given Sunday, there are about 14,000 in my community, who stay home on Sunday mornings. There are empty pews in my home church every week. But my goal isn’t to fill a pew. It’s to point people to Jesus, so lives and hearts will be changed.

It’s not necessary to go to Africa to discover the lost. Every day people who don’t know Jesus cross my path. But it’s so much more difficult to share the gospel in America (a Christian nation) than in Niger (a Muslim nation). In Niger and Kenya, I’m treated as an honored guest because the people know I’ve traveled far so I must have something significant to tell them.  In America, I’m afraid to knock on a stranger’s door.

Perhaps I’m to spend my spare time working on my writing instead of planning a mission trip. While attending a conference last year, one of the guest speakers said that she feels the Christian novel is the most effective evangelical tool to reach the lost.

In the meantime. I’m going to attempt to do something that’s difficult for me. I’m going to wait on the Lord to direct me and try to be as bold a witness in my hometown as I am in Africa.

It seems to me the world is spiraling out of control and I feel helpless. But I’m not, because I have Jesus, who is always with me. He is the one with the power to change lives, and He blesses me by allowing me to be a part of His plan.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts. You’ll never know how much your encouragement lifts me and keep me rising early each morning to write. Please let me know if you have a special prayer request for 2017. Happy New Year!

 

Beaches, Friendship, & Fiction

By Janet Ferguson

Aren’t beaches great? And even more fun with friends?

Not long ago, Shelia featured my friend Jackie Layton’s book, Christmastide at Bald Head Island. http://sheliastovall.com/2016/11/21/when-dreams-come-true-by-jackie-layton/

Jackie and I critique for each other, and we both share a great love for Christian fiction and the beach. I was excited to read about Bald Head Island, a coastal are that I’ve never had the opportunity to visit. It just so happened while she was writing that story, I had set the fourth novel of my Southern Hearts Series at a beach, as well! Go figure, ha!

Blown Together is set in Mobile and Fort Morgan, Alabama. Both areas are coastal areas, but Mobile is a lovely port city in Alabama. It boasts the battleship tour of the USS Alabama, beautiful botanical gardens, and historic homes. Did you know that American Mardi Gras began in Mobile? They celebrate with parades and balls and even have the Carnival Museum which highlights the history of Mardi Gras. It’s a fun city I’ve had the privilege of visiting many times.

But where the idea for Blown Together all started was at my happy place on my annual friend trip to Fort Morgan, Alabama, aka the beach. Fort Morgan is named for the historic fort on the end of the Peninsula where the Gulf of Mexico and the mouth of the Mobile River Bay meet.

Away from the touristy areas, my girlfriends and I typically leave our families make our “mental health trip” in October for “beach therapy.” The area is much less crowded in the fall and typically still warm enough to sit in the sand and just stare at the waves or read Christian fiction. This year we were blessed to witness the migration of the butterflies, too!

We don’t leave to go shopping or even go out to eat. One stop at the store on the way onto the peninsula and we’re in for the duration. I think the beach is meant for friends, reading books, and soaking in God’s amazing artistry. Did I mention I have a sunset obsession?

I’m thankful for the beauty that God has created and our ability to share it with friends. Not everyone’s happy place is the beach, though. Where is your happy place?

KOBOAmazonBarnes & Noble, Nook  IBooks

Blown Together
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 4

When love storms in…
Wealth manager Sam Conrad is accustomed to his domineering father ordering him around, especially at the bank where they both work. But when his father demands that Sam manage the inheritance of his bossy ex-fiancée, Sam has finally had enough. He leaves in search of a new life, and attorney Big Roy Bosarge from Mobile, Alabama agrees to mentor Sam on his quest for direction. Sam didn’t expect to be thrown together with Big Roy’s eccentric and opinionated daughter.

Storm damage forces lonely romance writer Elinor Bosarge and her hairless cat, Mr. Darcy, out of her Fort Morgan Beach cottage. She plans to take refuge in the boathouse on her parents’ estate, but finds the place already occupied by one of her father’s “projects.” She’s shocked her father would allow another young man onto the property after his last mentee robbed her family and broke her heart. And from the moment she meets Sam Conrad, they disagree about everything from her cat to how to best renovate a local nursing home.

Between her mother’s health issues and the hurricane brewing in the Gulf, Elinor feels like her life is being ripped apart. It doesn’t help that she’s falling for the man she’s determined not to trust. Sam finds himself drawn to Elinor, wanting to help her and this new family he’s grown to love. But can he overcome the barrier she’s built to keep him out? When the storm rages and the two of them are blown together, can Elinor find the faith to open her heart again?

KOBOAmazonBarnes & Noble, Nook  IBooks

Gooey Brownies by Rose McCauley

Want to win a free copy of Christmastide at Bald Head Island? Just subscribe to Shelia’s blog and she’ll have a drawing on Sunday, December 17.  Four of the three authors in this book are friends with Shelia. We try to get together to brainstorm every few months, although Jackie is moving when her house sells and we are sad about that, but wish her well! We came up with this idea a few years ago while brainstorming other books at Smashing Tomato at Fayette Mall! And the brownie recipe is one that we all love to eat, especially when we get together! Merry Christmas!

Rose’s GOOEY BROWNIES

1 Devil’s Food cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter (softened)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients and mix well. Pat into lightly greased 13×9 baking dish.

Prepare filling.

FILLING

1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter (melted)
1 16 oz. box powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Add butter; beat. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake mixture. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don’t over bake.

About the Author

Rose McCauley is a Christian author and speaker. Her experiences as a public school teacher, Sunday school teacher, Girl Scout leader, MOPS mentor and Moppet worker, scrapbooker, wife, Mom and Grandmother give her a wide field of ministry to women. She supports missions and has been privileged to spend time on three mission trips.

Rose has been happily married for over 40 years to her college sweetheart. They lived and raised their family of two daughters and a son on a farm of rolling hills in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky , but recently moved to Paris, KY. Their family is growing with the addition of a two sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren who are definitely GRAND!

Her latest release is a novella in Christmastide at Bald Head Island.

Literature weaves it way through the hearts of the Jordan family women. Matriarch, Grace Jordan has a particular affinity for William Shakespeare, Just as his play, A Midsummer Night’s dream, spins a tale of the planning of one wedding but ends with three ceremonies, Grace and her two daughters, Rosalind and Miranda, discover rekindled love while planning, Rosalind’s daughter, Jane Anne’s Christmas wedding. In a twist of fate, ceremony plans change. However, just like Elizabeth Bennett and Anne Shirley from Jane Austen and Lucy Mongtomery’s  respective classic tales, all four Jordan women discover — what and who — will make them truly happy.

Rose Allen McCauley

Connect with Rose

Website: www.rosemccauley.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1IummD3

Twitter: @RoseAMcCauley

Fiction available in print and kindle by Rose McCauley:

Christmas Belles of Georgia (Barbour)

Christmas Grace

The Courageous Brides Collection by Barbour

Surrender to Peace

Fiction available in eBook only:

Home for Christmas