Author Archives: shelia@sheliastovall.com

About shelia@sheliastovall.com

Shelia Stovall is a Southern, small-town librarian, and has an understanding of what women like to read. She is a member of ACFW and is currently the Treasurer of the Middle Tennessee ACFW Chapter. Shelia is a member of the Ky. Public Library Association and the American Library Association. Her short story, The Barber’s Sanctuary, won the fiction division of Kentucky Monthly’s sixth annual Writer’s Showcase in the November 2013 issue. Shelia is a weekly columnist for the Citizen-Times, based in Scottsville, Ky. Shelia’s Southern, small-town roots have given her an understanding of community and women's friendships. Her writing deals with difficult contemporary issues, but there’s always a thread of hope amid the calamity. Shelia is passionate about African missions and has traveled to Africa annually for the past four years. Community service is also important to Shelia, and she has volunteered as a crew chief for five years at Camp Habitat, (a Christian youth service camp that partners with Habitat for Humanity).

Magnolia Storms–Friends, Novels, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi

By Janet Ferguson

Stories come together in unusual ways. My latest novel, Magnolia Storms, is no exception. The idea formed when one friend described being a ship pilot, and I knew I wanted a ship pilot for my next story hero. Then riding home from a writing conference, I brainstormed with other friends-authors and came up with having a meteorologist who’d been through Hurricane Katrina and never wanted to return to the Mississippi coast as a heroine. Of course she has to! And so I had the bones of my story.

Ocean Springs is a quaint town near the Mississippi Sound with an adorable downtown area lined with gift shops and restaurants.

Sprawling live oaks majestically spread out their massive roots and branches along the sidewalks.

Somehow some of the adorable homes weathered the inundation of the tidal surge and mass destruction of Hurricane Katrina, but not all.

-See more about that here: https://www.wunderground.com/education/Katrinas_surge_part14.asp


I’d been to Ocean Springs over the years, more recently with my husband, and navigated the streets on Google Earth, but I needed some finishing touches on my scene descriptions. Enter my sweet beach-friends. They sort of randomly asked me at just the right time to go for a girls’ trip to Ocean Springs and stay in Front Beach Cabins, one of the very places I’d been checking out online. The cottages are near enough to walk downtown and only a couple of blocks from Front Beach. We took bikes that were provided by the cabin owners down to the shore.

The beaches are small in Mississippi because the Sound is protected, to some extent, by barrier islands. From Front Beach, you can see the barrier islands.

 

I  finished the last tweaks on the Magnolia Storms manuscripts after critique partners (who are now beloved friends, too) looked it over. My next adventure was finding the perfect cover. Another friend, Nancy on my street team suggested, that she had a friend with the perfect hair for my heroine. I thought that was great, but how would I get her on a cover?

Long story, short. Her friend, Emily, drove to Ocean Springs with her sister-in-law, Ann Marie, and made pictures. They were perfect, and the cover all fell into place!

 

So friendships not only molded this story together, but also put the proverbial cherry on top!

Magnolia Storms
A Coastal Hearts Novel
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you….

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Author Janet Ferguson has a series of books published just in time for the Mississippi Book Festival.

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Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space. 

I love to hear from readers! You can connect with me on FacebookTwitter,GoodReadsPinterest, use the contact page, or subscribe to my newsletter on the Under the Southern Sun page for exclusive book news and giveaways

Southern Contemporary Inspirational Romance
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Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style

 

 



 

How to Defeat Jealousy

By Shelia Stovall

Everyone I know suffers from jealousy at some time in their life.  Since starting the writing journey, I’ve been plagued by the acrid emotion and it shames me.  When it’s time to announce finalists for different writing contests, I shut down my computer and avoid Facebook.  When writer friends post, “I’ve just signed a three-book contract,” I make the appropriate comments, but, there’s an ugly green poison that infuses my spirit.

There’s a reason God listed covetousness as one of the Big 10, Thou shall not…  It steals our joy. What I’ve finally discovered is that I needed help to overcome this virus.  All these years, I could have been celebrating with my friends and sharing in their happiness.  Instead, I’ve sipped from the cup of  envy. I’ve confessed this sin, and repented in prayer, but it wasn’t until I asked Jesus to take this burden from me, it happened. THANK YOU, JESUS! I couldn’t’ do this on my own, but the power of His holy spirit wiped it away.

My critique partner, Carrie Padgett, has a sweet spirit, and she’s one of the most talented and hard-working writers I know.  I’ve critiqued the first few chapters of Harley Taps Out.  When the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) announced her name as a finalist in the Genesis contest, my heart soared with joy. Then she asked me to accept the award for her, if by chance, she won, because she was not able to attend. My heart overflowed with happiness for her achievement. When her name was announced as the winner, I practically ran to the podium in high-heels and accepted with tears in my eyes. What a blessing to share in her success and joy.

Photo by Becky Melby.

God has gifted me with so many wonderful friends along the writing journey. As I sat in the audience Saturday evening, I cheered on and celebrated three additional writer friends who have counseled and mentored me. Cynthia Ruchti won a Carol Award for her novella, Restoring Christmas. I still have the advance copy she shared with me two years ago.

Ann H. Gabhart

Also, my friend, Anne Gabhart’s book, Murder Comes by Mail was a Carol Award finalist.

Liz Johnson and me.

And my friend, Liz Johnson’s book, The Red Door Inn was a Christy Award finalist.

I am so fortunate to have these women as mentors and friends.  What a joy to be able to celebrate my friends’ accomplishments as their successes make my cup runneth over.

What about you?  What’s causing you to be envious?  Perhaps it’s a friend who gets the job you wanted, or maybe you’ve been waiting for the right man to be your life-partner, and it seems you’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I’ve seen women suffer such angst as there are praying for a baby, and yet, it doesn’t happen, then they suffer when friends have children. Dear ones, it took the power of Jesus to take away the burden of jealousy from me.  Don’t do as I did, and try to do this on your own. I think it impossible to do so without the strength of the savior.  My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30 NIV.  Jesus can replace your jealous spirit with His spirit of love, joy, and peace, but the choice is yours to  ask for His help.

To celebrate my writer friends, I’m going to have three drawings on Saturday, September 30, 2017. For a chance to win one of the books below,  comment about jealousy.


 

Angels Among Us

By Wanda Rosseland

Oh, the joy of hearing people tell about their angel stories! I never dreamed in my life of having an opportunity to hear this, let alone write about them; true angels, close enough to touch, magnificent beyond belief in their beauty and power. And others who looked like ordinary people, you or me. It still seems a miracle that God asked me to write a book about them, and that he brought me stories out of the blue, starting with Rhonda’s angels surrounding her bed where she lay when her husband was so sick with brain cancer. A soft gray cloud of angels, floating and swirling above her, bringing peace and calmness that never left.

This was what I learned as I worked on gathering the stories, from all different people and situations. That God was giving us, filling us, with hope and faith so strong we’d never doubt it, along with an unflagging assurance that He answers our prayers, sending help swiftly. Healing sickness, protecting innocents, or just showing us the unbelievable majesty of heaven. That He is always taking care of us.

What do you envision when you think of an angel? Is it a little old lady, nicely plump who looks like your grandmother from when you were a child? Like Lois’ did when she was mourning the death of her husband and her severely broken leg. Or do you see myriads of golden lights dancing around the room like little spotlights, with a joy and effervescence you have to laugh at? As Cherie did at her Christmas “Wrapping Presents Party” after she had been diagnosed with cancer in her mouth. Or is it a well-groomed Arab man with impeccable English, telling you things about your life no one but you knows. As happened to an American soldier based overseas, when his grandmother died and he could not get back to Montana for her funeral.

Click on cover to link to Amazon.

Before starting to write Angels Among Us, I would have never dreamed an angel could appear on earth in such forms, and then I started to understand that they come as they need to be, in order to accomplish the mission God sent them to do. Some in their long white robes with wings spread wide, others looking like nurses, little girls or old men.

I’ve always loved angels, ever since a child. But I felt they were regulated to heaven and only showed up on earth for very important things. I didn’t realize they came to ordinary people, and then I wondered if perhaps everyone on earth is ordinary in the sight of God, and therefore each one of such value He immediately sends angels at their call. I’m sure now that’s what it is. From the description of my cousin, Gail, there must be thousands and thousands of angels flying about us every day. Some seen, most not, with wings and without. And I no longer think I’ll never see one, for in this book they come to everyone, old, young, sick, healthy, mothers, single people, rich, poor. The angels are for us all. You. Me.

When I first started writing what truly became Angels Among Us, I had no idea God was going to take me down a road that would show not only their supreme magnificence but also how caring and protective they are.  Shielding us from harm. Standing between life and death. Taking our hand when we have something fearful to do. And at the end, carrying us back to Heaven in their arms.

“Look, Mom! The angels are here. Can’t you see them? Up there in the corner. They’ve come for me.” The bright shining angels, standing with love, waiting to take Alice home.

On a wing and a prayer.

About the Author

Wanda and her husband Milton raised their three children in Montana where they grew wheat and ran sheep and cattle.

She writes for Guideposts and Angels on Earth magazines and reads every book she can find on angels.

if you’ve seen an angel, she’d  love to hear about it.  Her email is wjross@midrivers.com or you can make comment on the blog.

 

 

Dog Friends – Real and Imagined

By Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever had a super dog friend? I have. Several of them. I started begging for my own dog when I was about eight. I needed a dog like I needed air to breathe. Some of you may understand that and some of you may not. We had barn cats. We had calves and lambs we bottle fed, but I had the dog hunger that nothing was going to appease except dog fur under my hands.

My wishes were answered when dad must have asked one of his friends to bring me a pup. Ollie was a collie and Spitz mix as best we could guess, but I didn’t really care. He was a dog. That was all that mattered. Since then I’ve had many dog buddies. None any more loved than my current dog, Oscar. Sometimes a dog just seems to become an extension of you as though he knows your thoughts before you think them.

Click on cover to link to Amazon.

I wanted my heroine in These Healing Hills to have that kind of dog. Many of the Frontier Nursing Service midwives had dogs. The Frontier Service recruitment posters promised the nurse midwives their own horse, their own dog, and plenty of adventure to entice them to the mountains to deliver babies in the homes of their patients. So, naturally my heroine had to have her own dog. But he had to be a special dog that would matter in the story. And he was and he did.

The recruitment ad wasn’t the only reason I dropped a dog down into my story. I read the memoirs of one of the Frontier nurse midwives who had a great dog friend. Her dog chased rattlers out of her paths and even managed to block her horse and stop it once when in some mysterious way the dog sensed danger. A rock slide a few minutes later covered the trail in front of them. That’s the kind of dog friend I gave my nurse midwife character in my story. I was so glad Sarge made the cover of the book.

My Oscar hasn’t done any heroics, but he is a very good friend. He’s walked miles with me. He’s slept on his bed behind my chair while I wrote thousands of words. He’s been a good model for my fictional dogs. Trouble is, back in the summer he was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer in his back leg. I’m sure some of you have had to say goodbye to a furry friend long before you were ready. That’s where I am now. Not ready but knowing the day is speedily approaching when Oscar will head over the rainbow bridge.

Shelia said I could write a story about friendship. So that’s what I’ve done. My dog friends have given me unconditional love and friendship over the years. The dogs I’ve dropped into my stories have done the same for my characters from Maybe, a dog in my first young adult book, Chance Hero, to Zeb, Jocie’s answer to her dog prayer in Scent of Lilacs to Asher in The Innocent and now Sarge in These Healing Hills.

Have you ever had a special furry friend to make you smile and feel loved?

About the Author

Miracle Meeting

For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37

Every mission trip to Africa leaves me with an awareness, that God is with me. Today’s story is an example of God’s grace and faithfulness.

I met a little girl, Melalla, six years ago on my first trip to Africa. Of the fifty or so children that attended our kid’s club, she stood out with charisma, energy, and charm. At the time of our first meeting, I guess her age to be seven or eight-years-old. It’s always difficult to judge the age of an African child as many are small for their age compared to American children.

When I returned home from my first mission trip, I offered friends the opportunity to choose one picture of an African child, and I asked them to commit to pray for the child in the photo. My friend, Anna, chose Melalla’s snapshot, and a year later, when I returned to Africa, Anna sent a gift of school supplies. When we returned to Melalla’s village with the package, we discovered her family had moved. Our missionary friends kept the gift in case she returned for a visit. Melalla eventually received the school supplies, but my friends have not been able to stay in contact with her because African families often move in search of work.

I know Anna is still praying for Melalla, and I’ll never forget her, but I thought it unlikely I’d ever see her again.

Normally, when traveling in Africa, I’m riding in the bush taxi with the mission team, but on this particular day, last week, I rode in an air-conditioned Toyota with Sabrina, the missionary who opened her compound for us that first year so we could have a controlled area to teach the children. (A compound is a home and other buildings surrounded by a wall). On the journey, I asked her about Melalla, and she said she’d not seen her in a long while. I lifted a prayer for this lost relationship, and accepted that I’ll probably never see this engaging girl again. Then God did something amazing. We were delayed in a traffic snarl at a small village on the highway due to the Tabaski holiday. The markets are always chaotic, but it was especially so because everyone was preparing for the festival. Consider the shopping craze of the last weekend before Christmas. An African traffic jam is impossible to describe, but picture vans piled high with produce, donkey carts, cars, motorcycles, and every horn is blaring, then throw in a herd of sheep wandering through it, and children selling peanuts or sweets standing at car windows. As we waited in the jumble, Sabrina gasped, “It’s Melalla.” She rolled down her window and called to her. Melalla, beamed her brilliant smile and approached us.

Melalla and Sabrina spoke for a moment in Zarma, and when I asked her if she remembered me, she shook her head. This didn’t surprise me because it’s been six years since the kid’s club, and she met many Americans as she lived close to the missionaries. My heart lifted to see her smile. It’s not important she remember me, but I hope and pray she remembers the words she heard about Jesus. There’s no doubt in my mind that God’s hand is upon her. My sister snapped a picture, which I cannot share because she might persecuted for associating with Christians. We waived and said, “Calantonton-see you later,” with big smiles on our faces.

To stumble upon little Melalla, among the mass of holiday shoppers in the traffic snarl is a miracle. Even if I’d tried to find her, the task is impossible as I had no idea of the village to visit. Keep in mind, there are about 1.2 million people in the city of Niamey. God arranged for me to meet her again.

Even though Melalla has not professed a faith in Christ, I know she heard the gospel many times. Maybe, God wanted to remind Melalla of the words she heard when living next door to the missionaries. Maybe, God wanted to encourage me to keep sowing seeds. Maybe, someday, I will see Melalla again, in heaven, and we will worship God together, in the language that is understood by all, the language of love.

God is faithful to answer our prayers.  I will continue to pray for Melalla, and I will ask you to do so too. Many friends think my time in Africa is a waste of time and money. Sometimes, Satan tells me the same lie. But time after time, God reminds me that He is with me. Jesus sacrificed his life that I might have life, and I am blessed to be able to share His love and plan for salvation with others. I can do nothing without Him, and He’s made it clear to me that He can do anything.

 

September 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction


Contemporary Romance:

Planting Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Jess Beaumont is trying to get her separated parents together again by restoring the family cabin gardens that helped them fall in love. Luke Harrison inherited his Gran’s candy store, but would rather have a Vice President position in his family’s land development business—a sure sign of his father’s approval. To get the promotion, he must acquire the land on both sides of his store within five months, including the Beaumont cabin. As Luke gets to know Jess, he realizes buying the Beaumont cabin and land will nip their blossoming romance in the bud. Even worse, it could end her parents’ marriage. But if he doesn’t succeed, he could be trading his corner office for the candy store counter…for good. Is their romance doomed? Or could the classic combination of chocolate and flowers solve everything? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Ruth Reid, and Beth Wiseman — Fall in love this Christmas to the gentle pace of Amish courtship. In Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman, six lonely hearts find healing in the Stoltzfus homestead basement while waiting out a Christmas Eve storm. In The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston, a group of young people and a forbidden house cat bring reminders of love and hope to a grieving widow at Christmas. In Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin, A young woman’s prayer for a Christmas proposal is delayed by the appearance of her potential groom’s first love, whom me met on his rumspringa. In Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid, an Englisch woman thinks she’s breaking into the house her aenti left to her, only to discover she’s trespassing upon an Amish widower and his young daughter, whose quiet way of life tempts her to stay. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Magnolia Storms by Janet W. Ferguson –Maggie Marovich lost her father to Hurricane Katrina, so she’s dedicated her life to meteorology and plans never to return to the Mississippi Coast or the ship pilot she once loved—until a family crisis sends her running headlong into a storm. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton — Susanna’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington by Annette Irby — Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancé. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue Mikaela if she ever returned to the island single. But what will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Returning Home by Toni Shiloh — Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings. Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker. Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from? (Contemporary, Independently Published)

All This Time by Melissa Tagg — Ten years ago, Bear McKinley gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him. Raegan Walker is happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Home All Along by Beth Wiseman — Charlotte has made a home for herself in Amish Country with Daniel. But unforeseen events rock their fragile world and may move them even further away from the life they long for. Charlotte, an Englisher, is living in Amish Country, and fallen in love with an Amish man. But just when she is considering a permanent conversion to the Amish way of life, her world crashes around her. An unexpected death and a mysterious visitor unsettle Charlotte, and she begins to question her faith and her choices. Will Charlotte and Daniel’s relationship succumb to the many pressures around them, or will their faith and community help them become strong enough to build a life together? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


General Contemporary:


Mercy Triumphs by Jana Kelley — Mia, an American Christian, has lived in Sudan so long that persecution, harassment, and danger have become commonplace for her. Her tough outer shell threatens to harden her heart while her newly Christian friends, Halimah and Rania, former Muslims, are forced to live in exile outside Sudan. All three quickly discover that escaping danger in one place only means facing even greater challenges elsewhere. As God’s mercy becomes evident in their lives, they must choose whether or not to offer mercy to those who don’t deserve it. Based on real-life events, Mercy Triumphs reveals some of the struggles Christians face when living under Islamic law. (General from New Hope Publishers)

Life in Chapel Springs by Ane Mulligan — Is it a midlife pregnancy or … cancer? Claire will keep her secret until she’s sure but it isn’t easy. Neither is trying to buy a home pregnancy test without anyone finding out. Between her twins double wedding, the caterer cancelling, a looming nationwide art tour and her health, Claire s life is upside down. Meanwhile, shy Lacey Dawson faces the emotional effects of traumatic injuries requiring facial reconstruction, and rumors of gold in Chapel Springs have greedy investors clamoring to buy all the homes in town and mine the gold. Will life in Chapel Springs ever be the same? (General from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Historical:

A Conspiracy of Breath by Latayne C. Scott — What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible? (Historical from TSU Press [Trinity Southwest University])

Queen of Sheba by Jill Eileen Smith — King Solomon meets his equal in the Queen of Sheba and does his best to give her everything she seeks to find, but will he be able to give her the deepest longing of her heart? (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Historical Romance:

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart — When life takes an unexpected turn, Francine Howard finds work in the mountains as a midwife where healing and love await her. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep — Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation and is promised a sum of five hundred pounds if she will remain a guest at Bleakly Manor for the duration of a twelve-day Christmas celebration. Then she learns Benjamin Lane, who left her at the altar, is also in attendance. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whomever stole his honor. Torn between money, revenge, and love, will Clara and Ben last the full twelve days at Bleakly Manor and learn what matters most at Christmas? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:

When the Bishop Needs and Alibi by Vannetta Chapman — Amish bishop Henry Lapp eagerly awaits the annual arrival of 20,000 sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. But his visit to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge reveals more than just a miracle of God’s creation. Hidden among the bulrushes and cattails is the deceased body of a young woman. As the local authorities attempt to unravel the mystery, Henry feels God’s calling to use his extraordinary talent to aid in the investigation. His ability to draw from memory in photographic detail could help solve this puzzling case. Henry’s closest friend, Emma Fisher, has always urged him to embrace his gift. As their relationship deepens, Henry realizes his involvement could put him and those he loves in the direct path of a killer, one who is willing to do anything to cover up a brutal crime, including framing the bishop. (Mystery from Harvest House)

The House Next Door by Susan Page Davis — As Jennifer’s due date approaches, Harvey decides to invest in real estate, unaware of the terror this will cause his family. A hidden cupboard isn’t so bad—in fact, it’s almost fun to try to solve the little mystery inside it. But will any of their loved ones want to live next door after they learn what’s in the basement? (Mystery, Independently Published)

Solve by Christmas by Amber Schamel — Detective Jasper Hollock thought he wanted nothing more than a real case. But when the man who raised him stands on the brink of suicide and mysterious incidents sabotage the factory, Jasper has 24 days to unravel the malicious plot and convince his employer that life is worth living. (Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley — A security specialist is accused of murder and must clear her name or her career is over, but her investigation draws her into the path of a killer, and she finds herself fighting for her life. When a man from her past is called in to investigate, she may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty — An innocent bike ride leads to a hostage situation, jeopardizing an undercover mission and two stubborn hearts. (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan — A female attorney hires a former Army Ranger turned private investigator to help research an alleged pharmaceutical cover-up. As the case deepens, both hearts and lives become endangered. It appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Uncharted Hope by Keely Brooke Keith
Sophia Ashton must prove herself in her new job while researching the gray leaf medicine and dealing with her toxic family. (Romantic Suspense from Edenbrooke Press)


Thriller/Suspense:

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig — Perhaps the only person as skilled as Cole “Tox” Russell is Alec King, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago. Now he’s back, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier. Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Witness Protection by Carol Kinsey — After four years in witness protection, Ty Westgate’s identity has been exposed – with the help of a struggling nurse, the ex-lawyer with a new faith must work to unravel the truth behind his adversaries before he’s silenced permanently. (Thriller/Suspense, Independently Published)

 

 

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Just Breathe

It’s been crazy, preparing for our next mission trip to Africa, while summer is the busiest season for the library. On top of that, my wonderful agent decided to leave the field, so I feel orphaned, in the ultra-competitive writing world. In September, I plan to attend the annual ACFW conference in Dallas with the hopes of securing a new agent.  My manuscript must stand out, and be close to perfection, if I’m to convince another top agent to represent me.  Every spare minute I have is dedicated to polishing my work.

For weeks, I’ve had boxes of supplies stored in my dining room. With everything packed for the journey, I began removing empty boxes. A sure sign I’m stressed is when I start cleaning, organizing, and filing. In the jumble, I discovered an unopened box. Curious as to what I’d missed, I ripped open the cardboard lid and discovered several copies of Just Breathe: 365- Day Devotional Journal published by Worthy Inspired. Even though I only have five devotions included in this collection, I still let out a squeal of joy.  The journal was released in early July so the package has probably been sitting in the debris field I call a dining room for about six weeks.  Oh, how I needed to read the words, Just Breathe.

Every time we depart for Africa, I experience a roller coaster of emotions. With over five-hundred people praying for our team, I feel the outpouring of love, and know I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.  At the same time, I feel inadequate, because I may be the only chance for someone to hear about Jesus and God’s plan for salvation.

Who am I to be chosen to go anywhere to share the gospel? I’m not really the missionary type. I’m a librarian, not a trained Bible scholar. Worry taunts me, and I am far from being a mature Christian. Sometimes I act plum ugly, especially around those I love the most—my family. Even though this is my sixth trip to Africa, I’m amazed God allows me to be a part of his plan. Seriously folks, if I can do this, I know many of you can too.  I suppose it’s my weakness that allow the true power of the Holy Spirit to shine. If anything good happens, it’s obvious to anyone who knows me it’s God’s who produces fruit.

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us on our closed Facebook group.  If you would like to join, please send me a message in the comments. I covet your prayers. Please pray for the health and the well-being of our team members and our families. Pray for team unity, especially, when we are hot, tired, and dirty. Pray for God to prepare the hearts and minds of those He’s arranged for us to meet. And please ask that the seeds we plant will land on fertile soil, and that God will reap a harvest.

In the meantime, I’m going to focus on feeling blessed and “Just Breath.” When I return, I’ll have a drawing from those who comments and someone will win a free journal.  Thank you for your prayers.  Each of you is a blessing to me.

So God Made a Dog

The devotional, So God Made a Dog, released yesterday. It includes 10 of my stories.  I’m honored to have my name listed with these talented writers. 

I wrote an extra devotional, in case the editor wasn’t pleased with my efforts. See below, the story I didn’t submit. I hope you like it. I’ll draw a name from my subscribers, and someone will win a free copy on Saturday, August, 12.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Bertie (Prince Albert)

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 NIV.

Bertie showed up in our yard one winter evening. Half-starved, with mud-colored, matted hair, he gazed at me with mournful eyes. While bathing him, I discovered his fur to be the color of snow. After I fed him,  he curled up on a rug and sighed as if to say, “I’m home.”

We distributed “Lost Dog” flyers, and I chewed my nails every time the phone rang, but no one claimed the little guy. I’ve loved many pets, but Bertie is special because he chose me and makes it clear, I’m his favorite person. It may appear he’s asleep, but if I stand, he’s on my heels. When my husband calls to take him on a walk, Bertie looks to me for approval. His joyous barking and prancing greet me every time I return home. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been away an hour or all day.

Last summer, while my husband worked in the garden, our three dogs played in the yard, and Bertie disappeared. We searched the ditches, visited our neighbors, distributed notices, but no one responded. When the local shelter released a photo of a small white dog on Facebook, my phone buzzed as text messages arrived, and my heart soared. But when I entered the pound, I met a little girl holding a dog that could have been Bertie’s brother, and my heart ached.

A week later, sleep eluded me and my arms yearned to hold Bertie as I lay on the sofa, where he used to spend the night. My thoughts rambled. Maybe there’s someone who needs him more than I. And so I prayed for Bertie to be loved and protected, wherever he might be. I let go of my worry, trusted God to protect my little friend, and spoke aloud the prayer that is the most difficult for me, May Thy will be done.

Four weeks later, while working at my church, my phone dinged, and when I lifted it from my pocket, I read, “Your prodigal pup returned.” A picture of Bertie with every tooth showing was attached to the text message. I wiped tears from my eyes. Thank you, Jesus.

When I parked my car in our driveway, Bertie greeted me with his tail whirling. Unlike the prodigal son, my pup was clean, fat, and smelled of perfume. His reappearance is as mysterious as his disappearance, but God knows where he was and why, and he answered my prayers for protection.

Just like Bertie, I’m prone to wander, especially when things are going well. But eventually, suffering comes, and I return to the loving arms of my Father, and He always welcomes me home. Thank you, Jesus.

Prayer: Father, help me to keep my eyes on you, especially when it seems hopeless. Help me to remember to relinquish control and to trust you with everything. May Thy will be done.

 

August 2017 New Christian Fiction Releases

 


Action/Adventure:

Imperfect Lies by Elizabeth Noyes — When another woman emerges from the past to claim Mallory Cameron’s happily ever after, she cuts her losses and sets out to find a headline-worthy story to launch her journalism career. She embarks on a whirlwind journey that takes her across the United States, to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, on to sunny Mexico, and deep into the dangerous parts of Africa where terror reigns. James Evers turned his back on a life of power and privilege to carve a place in the world for himself. Now that he’s finally discovered his niche as a small-town sheriff and found the woman he wants in his future, a past indiscretion struts in on high heels and sends his newfound love fleeing headlong into peril. His mission: neutralize old enemies, defuse new threats, resolve past mistakes, settle family disputes, and—most importantly—find and rescue his woman from terrorists before the unthinkable happens. (Action/Adventure from Write Integrity Press)


Contemporary Romance:

The Bachelor’s Unexpected Family by Lisa Carter — Young widow Kristina Montgomery moves to Kiptohanock, Virginia, hoping it will give her and her teenage son, Gray, a fresh start. She longs for the peace and quiet only a small town can provide. But her plans are thwarted by her new neighbor, Canyon Collier, a former Coast Guard pilot and a crop duster. Gray is instantly drawn to the pilot and his teenage niece, Jade—and Kristina’s not far behind. She and Canyon are soon bonding over parenting their charges and their spark becomes undeniable. Could it be that the spirited pilot is just what Kristina needs to teach her heart to soar again? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy — Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia, has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller –It’s been ten years since Leah Fisher’s mother died in a buggy accident. But when Leah’s father shows interest in Naomi Yoder, Leah isn’t ready for a new mother. Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder’s happiness at the same time? (Contemporary from S & G Publishing)


General Contemporary:

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli — An antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year- old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre, a woman torn between the love of two men – one a patriot, one a Redcoat. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Fresh Faith by Elise Phillips — Joy Abbott had been trying to start her life over for years — and failing. Then a letter summoned her to Texas and everything changed. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)


Historical:

Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson — In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to a quaint village in England’s magical Lake District. With a new camera and an eye for capturing the beauty others miss, she can’t wait to explore the heathery fells and mystical waters. Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, makes the sightseeing even more beguiling. When Adrian shows Jenny his late father’s abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder. As long-held secrets come to light, it’s left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Titus: The Aristocrat by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — Titus intends to become a famous lawyer in the Roman Empire. Instead, he is sent by Paul to arbitrate between arch enemies in wild Corinth, wilder Crete, and wildest Dalmatia. In each place he suffers. But, long before that, he suffers from guilt over the death of his mother when he was eleven years old. How does Titus survive it all? (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

Historical Romance:

 

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander — With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (Historical Romance from Zondervan)


The Second Chance Brides Collection by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman — Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage. Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)


Romantic Suspense:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason — When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan’s life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn — Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she’s nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles’s sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he’s falling for. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cold Blooded by Anne Patrick — Detective Gwen Jamison has the highest closure rate in her division, but a string of armed robberies is about to take over her life. Not only will her job be on the line, but the troubling case also wreaks havoc on her personal life. Lieutenant Ian McKean knew he would have his hands full when he took over leadership of the detectives unit. He wasn’t prepared for the headstrong Detective Jamison, though, who quickly becomes a thorn in his side. If they can stop butting heads long enough they might realize they are more alike than either imagined. (Romantic Suspense from Anne Patrick)

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.