Monthly Archives: July 2017

Build a Better World & Shine

Summer is always a busy season as I juggle summer reading activities at the library, vacations, the garden, time to enjoy the creek and my family. This week is unusually busy because we’re winding up the summer reading program at work and it’s VBS week at my church.

The national summer reading theme for libraries is “Build a Better World. When I shared the idea of inviting the architect who designed and managed the construction of the library, the children’s librarian bit her lip. “Okay, she said, if you think the kids will enjoy it.” Her voice sounded skeptical.

I said, “I think he’ll be great.”

Last week, the library’s architect presented the program to 135 kids and I missed it due a speaking engagement. When I returned to the library I asked, “How did the program go?

The children’s librarian beamed a smile. “Jeff did a great job. His slides showed every stage of the building project, he engaged the children and they asked tons of thoughtful questions.”

I couldn’t suppress a smile.

“When you suggested this program, I had my doubts, but he surprised me with his enthusiasm.”

Our architect is soft spoken, and if you passed him on the street, might assume he’s a scholarly professor, but I know something our children’s librarian didn’t.—the architect is passionate about his work. His buildings are like his children and they are his baby’s forever. When he talks about his work, his face lights up, and he doesn’t tire of questions.

This week,  I’m working with second and third graders in VBS each evening and our theme is SHINE. I hope the children can see the same passion and excitement on my face as I speak about Jesus and His love for us. This may be our only chance to reach some of these children. I pray it will be a wonderful experience and they beg their parents to return to church.

As church attendance across the nation is declining, perhaps we, as church members need to find out passion for Christ, again. Is He our first love? When you speak about the church, is it with joy? Is passion for Christ the missing ingredient?

Please pray for me this week and pray that I can live up to the themes of both programs.  Pray that as I work with children at the library and at church that I can exude a joy and passion for my work and “Build a Better World by shining His light.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake By Celeste Fletcher McHale

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is based on a true story. It’s about an 18 month period in the life of me and my two best friends. Before I wrote this book, I had no idea the friendship that I shared with these two women was a rarity. I seriously thought everyone had best friends exactly like mine. What I found out was…it is truly uncommon. And the scary thing is, getting more uncommon by the day.

I worry about what young girls see on “reality” television. And before you roll your eyes, I’m not one of those crusaders…I don’t care what you or your kids watch, that’s your business. But I do worry that they will equate what they see on these shows with “friendship.” Most of the women that star in these shows have no idea what it means to be a friend. They certainly don’t keep each others secrets. They certainly don’t encourage and support. And most of them take “catty” to a whole new level. Listen, I’m redheaded and don’t lose my mind like these chicks do. It bothers me to think these reality “stars” which I translate into “attention seekers” (that’s the clean version) have any influence on this generations girls and their friendships.

I couldn’t make it without my sister from another mister. She’s there when I need her, if it’s 2am or 4 pm. She tells me when I’m wrong, she holds me accountable, she calls me on my BS. She’s also my biggest cheerleader, my sounding board and my psychiatrist. Her friendship is one of my most precious gifts and I treat it as such. I hope the phrase “Best friend forever” won’t be lost on an entire generation of girls that society and the media have an unprecedented amount of influence upon.

If you see your best friend today, hug her. Tell her you love her. Ask her if she needs anything. And if you see a young girl today, tell her how much richer your life is because of your friends.

About the Author

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a Southern Lit author from Central Louisiana. Her debut novel, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake, was released by HarperCollins Christian Publishing in February 2016.

Celeste earned a history degree and currently lives on her century-old family farm. She enjoys family, writing, football, baseball, and raising a variety of animals

Her new book,  The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories released on May 23, 2017 and doesn’t disappoint.

Jacey and Colin shared the three most intense days of their lives together, waiting for help as Mississippi floodwaters surrounded them. Jacey knew Colin was the love of her life—until her rescue boat went under water, along with Colin’s last name and pieces of Jacey’s memory.

 

 

The Fear of Success By Liz Johnson

There’s something that no one ever tells aspiring authors. Before we put our seats in chairs and fingers to keyboards (or pen to paper for those who like to roll old-school), the prospect of writing a book is exciting and filled with endless possibilities.

And then we begin to shape words into stories and pages into books. That’s when the fear sets in.

I’d be remiss to suggest that all authors face the same struggles. But through the years, I’ve discovered that many of us battle the same doubts. It doesn’t matter if we’re writing thrillers or historical romances. It doesn’t matter if we write a dozen books a year or barely eke out enough words for one a decade.

Maybe it doesn’t matter if we’re writing at all. Writers don’t have a monopoly on fear. Anyone who has ever worked on a big project, painted a picture, or performed in a show has probably faced the same. As I’ve talked to hundreds of writers and creatives across the country, and I almost always encounter the same two common.

Fear of failure. I’m guessing that anyone who has ever done something creative has hoped it would be well-received. The fear is in being rejected by an important audience and told that you’re no longer welcome to add your creativity to the world. Maybe that’s a publisher, who turned down your proposal or a big-time reviewer who panned your performance in the community theater. At its heart, this fear breeds the idea that you are not enough.

Fear of success. Maybe you’re wondering who fears success. I do. Because while I’m focused on the book I’ve just released, I’m already looking ahead to the next one. And I wonder, if readers like this book, maybe they’ll think the next one isn’t quite up to snuff. Maybe I’m a one-hit wonder. Maybe I’ve managed to fool publishers and agents and readers into thinking that I can write, but the next book is going to reveal me for the fraud that I am. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard multi-published authors admit that they feel like a fraud and are certain that someone is going to reveal them for it.)

I’m in the throes of releasing my 13th book. In fact, my first released eight years ago this month. And I’ve written literally millions of words since then. But I’m still plagued by these fears. And I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel good. You know why? Because we’re not supposed to live in fear.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV).

Fear feels awful because we were never intended to have it. We’re to be strong and courageous and loving. We don’t have to worry when the doubts creep in.

You know why?

No failure is final. I borrowed that phrase from bestselling author Max Lucado, who is one of my favorite authors and who also knows a thing or two about rejection and failure. Just ask the 14 publishers who turned down his first book. That’s right. It took 15 tries to find a publisher willing to take a chance on an unknown missionary in Brazil. And then he became the Michael Jordan of inspirational writing. Speaking of Jordan, he didn’t make the high school varsity basketball team his first try. But these guys have at least one thing in common. They kept trying.

One failure doesn’t define us. One closed door isn’t the end of opportunity. God is faithful to complete the work He’s doing in your life. Don’t give up just because of a failure. Trust that God has given you this creative passion for a reason.

You know what else?

Success does not define you. Your identity is not in accolades or awards. It’s in the roles that you live out each day. Mother. Son. Friend. Caregiver. Servant. Encourager. Writer. Child of the King.

If I never win an award or make a bestseller list, I’ll still be a writer because more days than not I sit in front of my computer and let my fingers tell stories of the far off places I love to visit and the grand love stories that sweep across my mind. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be an actor, act. Your creativity isn’t contingent on who or how many recognize it.

If you’re afraid, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to let fear hold you back. When you hear those what ifs asking if you’re enough, remind them who you are and try again.

About the Author

Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of several novels including The Red Door Inn and Where Two Hearts Meet, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.

 

On Love’s Gentle Shores

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

 

 

July 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction

Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)


Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)