Author Archives: shelia@sheliastovall.com

About shelia@sheliastovall.com

Shelia Stovall is a Southern, small-town librarian, and knows what women like to read. She is a member of ACFW and is currently the Secretary of the Middle Tennessee ACFW Chapter. Mary Keeley with Books & Such Literary Management is her literary agent. 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).

Would you like to travel to a Romantic Destination this summer?

By Rose Allen McCauley

I can’t believe my 6th book will be out June 15 in the collection Destination: Romance. Thanks, Shelia for welcoming me to your garden again, where I always find friendship, hope and all kinds of desserts! And I am happy to do a giveaway of an e-book when it releases to one of your commenters. So let’s make the deadline for Shelia to draw a name on the book release date. So get your comment in by June 15th!

Here’s the back cover blurb for the whole book: From a cave in the hills of Missouri to a sandy beach in Grand Cayman, romance blooms for five heroines when they least expect it.

Better Together Than Apart is the title of my novella in the collection.

The blurb for it is: On a K-Love cruise to Jamaica, Natalie re-connects with Ken, a boy she met six years earlier on a high school summer mission trip. Attraction stirs, but opposing goals threaten their romance. Will they listen to God’s leading for their best place of service?

And now, I would like to tell you a little about how this whole collection and my story came about. About 4 years ago, Kim Vogel Sawyer and her husband Don spent almost a week with us while she did several signings in the KY area.

While Kim and Don were here they told us they were going on a K-Love cruise the following January, and invited us to go with them sometime. Finally last year, in January 2016, it all worked out for us to go together. We had two ports of call. Chester and I chose to do a one-day mission trip to Jamaica.  We were blessed to go to an orphanage with many children, who all needed help in various ways. But, they all blessed us with their smiles, laughter and hugs and prayers.

One night outside a concert in progress on the cruiseship, Kim and I brainstormed stories that started on a K-Love cruise. My oldest granddaughter had gone on a mission trip the summer before, and both of my daughters and I have been on other mission trips, so I thought that would be a good and different way to start a story. Then as the story unfolds, I used something I wrote on the back of a picture I gave my husband while we were dating in college, so it comes full circle with parts of my granddaughter’s life combined with mine and my husband’s. I hope you will read it and the other stories in this collection and see how God can work things out for our good, even when we don’t know IF things will work out.

Since I was over my word count, I didn’t put a recipe in this book, but for Thanksgiving Natalie’s Mimi brings a German chocolate cake for her daughter’s birthday like I make for my daughter each Thanksgiving, so I will share the recipe for the icing. The first couple times I made the cake from scratch, too, but decided it was just as good from a mix as the homemade one, as long as the icing was homemade!

German Chocolate Cake Icing

1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 stick butter
1 t. vanilla
3 egg yolks
Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens, stirring often. Then remove from heat and add:

1 c. pecans
1 1/3 cup coconut

Beat it all until it cools then spread over layers and top and sides of cake. And, if there is any left, my husband loves to eat it as a topping on ice cream!

About the Author

Rose Allen McCauley started writing over a decade ago when she retired from teaching school to write the stories of some of the characters roaming around in her head. Since joining ACFW in 2002, she has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals, and now is happy to announce “Better Together than Apart” in the collection Romantic Destinations as her sixth novella. She has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades and is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and Mimi to five lively grandkids. Rose always enjoys hearing from her readers at rosemccauleywrites@gmail.com or her website/blog www.rosemccauley.com and also on Facebook as Rose Allen McCauley and her twitter page @roseamccauley.

 

Reflecting His Light

(21) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times.” (22) Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

A creek borders our property, and I often cross the road to sit on a little platform overlooking the water. It’s about a hundred yards from my front door to the porch, but something mysterious happens when I rest here. I’m able to forget my to-do list.

There’s a special time in the evening, when the sunlight makes the water shimmer, That’s when I’m filled with peace that truly surpasses all understanding.

When I considering how this reflection of light fills me with serenity, I’m reminded  I can offer the same blessing to others by sharing the love of Jesus. He is my comforter. He is my joy. He is my peace.

An angry person crossed my path last week. He behaved in an unreasonable manner, and later I learned his son died the previous week. Please keep this person in your prayers. I often pray for him because he’s rude and surly on a regular basis, and I’m tempted to reflect his unpleasant behavior.

It’s only by controlling my actions through the help of Jesus I have any hope of leading others to Christ. I don’t think it a coincidence our pastor reminded us Jesus instructed Peter, ” to forgive seventy-seven times.” Who can keep track of that? Right. So maybe, we should just forgive.

Anger is all around us. Our only hope is Jesus, and I pray we will remember we Christians are to act differently than the lost. After all, the fruit of His spirit is, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and self-control.’

Let’s surprise people and love them, and forgive them, no matter how badly they treat us. I pray we can offer forgiveness, as Jesus forgives us. I’m sure He’s forgiven me more then seventy-seven times. I pray I can reflect the light of Jesus on everyone…especially my enemies.

 

May Believers Multiply Like Fireflies

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

On Monday evening, I noticed the first fireflies of the season. Only two little lights were discernible across the newly planted cornfield next to my home. When I walked the corn rows on Tuesday evening, perhaps twenty or so lightning bugs flickered across the landscape. By Wednesday evening, the countryside was blanketed with tiny orbs of light.

As we’re preparing for our sixth trip to Africa, I can’t help but compare the few Christians working the fields there to the tiny fireflies. First, there were only two missionaries which had one convert. Then there were two, to be followed by a little house-church. The congregation divided and the gospel spread to the next village.

The fields in Niger are white, and the workers are few, but God will reap a harvest.

I dream and pray for the day the fields of Africa glow with the light of Jesus shining throughout the land, and Africa will no longer be known as the Dark Continent.

Our African mission team is still forming. Please pray those who are called will be obedient. Also, ask God to prepare us for the task ahead, and to soften the hearts of those we meet. And finally, ask God to help us discover affordable airline tickets with good flight connections. Nashville-Detroit-Paris-Niamey is my preferred flight route.

We’ll travel in later summer to one of the poorest countries in the world.  We can never provide enough food to feed the hungry, but I take comfort in knowing we can share the “Bread of Life” with everyone we meet.

Please let me know if you’d like to stay up-to-date with our mission activities and I can add you to our private Facebook page. Thank you for your payers. Prayers pave the way for us and give me the courage to travel to Africa.  It’s difficult to describe the peace that washes over me as people begin praying for our mission activities. It’s also something I miss when we return home.

Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers.

 

In Everything Give Thanks

Tomorrow is my daddy’s birthday in heaven. In remembrance of him and the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, I’m re-posting a story I shared a few years ago about parents.

It had been a weekend of celebrations, my niece’s graduation from nursing school and Mother’s Day.  If only I’d known it was to be the last Mother’s Day with Mom. Would I have done things differently?  On Tuesday, Mom fell and broke her leg. People don’t usually die from a broken leg, but a week later, a blood clot ended her life.

I remember little of the next few days other than standing for hours greeting those who loved Mom while smelling the scent of roses behind me. We buried her on the Saturday before Memorial Day in 2003.

For weeks, I instinctively reached for the phone to call her. The patterns of my life had shifted, and I was off balance. While reading scripture, I ran across 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I pondered this scripture and became angry. “Give thanks! Give thanks for everything. I’m supposed to give thanks to God for Mom dying.” In a rage, I threw my Bible across the room. I was a forty-two-year-old woman having a temper tantrum like a three-year-old. Later, I picked up the Bible and noticed the broken spine. Ashamed, I hid the Bible in my closet. If Mom had witnessed this, she would have sent me to the willow tree for a switch.

It was rare for me to find time to read the Bible, much less to study it, but I didn’t know where else to turn. Mom looked to scripture for comfort. Through her life, she battled illness, she nursed a father with tuberculosis, buried my infant twin, lost everything in a house fire, nursed two sisters through cancer and lost both. Through every trial, she sang praise songs and spent time studying His word. The joy, peace, and hope in the scriptures she embraced were elusive to me.

I’d never endured a tragedy, and discovered I had a shallow faith. I’ve learned that to have a deep faith, you must “Love the Lord, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5. But to do that, you have to know the Lord. And to know the Lord, you must spend time with him through prayer and studying His word. I’d counted on Mom to pray for me. I’d leaned on her faith, instead of building my own.

God would not let go of me and the scripture “In everything give thanks.” continued to haunt me. What could I possibly find in the loss of Mom for which to be thankful?

Lonesome and depressed, Daddy began to lose weight. I started calling each evening. He’d never been one to talk on the phone, and it surprised me how long we talked. One night, I smiled when I disconnected and it occurred to me, I’d always communicated with Daddy through Mom. Whenever I called their home, I  talked to her. Even if Daddy answered the phone, he would pass the receiver to Mom. Daddy, and I spent more time talking in the months following Mom’s death than the other forty-two years of my life combined. He told me stories about his boyhood and shared suggestions for dealing with my teenagers, but most important, he became my friend. I realized that had Daddy died before Mom, I  would not have truly known him. “In everything give thanks.”  I’d been taught that there is a blessing in every difficult circumstance, and here was the blessing I’d missed. Because Mom died first, I developed a deeper relationship with Daddy. And today I know, if I can discover a blessing in the death of my mom, then I can find a blessing in every trial.

During our last conversation, Daddy and I talked about death. That same weekend, a young man had been killed in a senseless car accident and I worried about my own son’s driving skills. Daddy shared his wisdom. “If you are born, you are going to die, and no one can do that for you. The only hope we have is to have things right with the Lord.” These words have stayed with me and I thought of them as I stood over his grave on the next weekend…Memorial Day weekend. Daddy died of a sudden heart attack exactly a year after Mom’s funeral.

“In everything give thanks.” I pondered these words and discovered I could give thanks. I was thankful his days of mourning were over, thankful that he no longer feared being ill and lingering attached to machines as his own father had suffered. And I was grateful l for his wisdom that I could pass on to my children as I grew older.

After Mom’s unexpected death, I never left Daddy without hugging him and telling him that I loved him. “I love you” were the last words I spoke to him. “In everything give thanks.”

It was to be another difficult year. My younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. My older sister had a strange abscess on her thyroid and almost died in an emergency surgery. My brother suffered a back injury and didn’t know if he’d be able to return to work. With each crisis I realized how much I could lose and that I was dependent upon God. “In everything give thanks.”

On the weekend before the next Memorial Day holiday, I visited with my younger sister who had completed twelve weeks of radiation treatments. I studied the sparkling water in her backyard pool on a perfect spring day and said, “If no one I love dies this week, then I’ll be happy.”

The next day at work, the CEO informed me that he’d decided to outsource my department and they no longer needed me. I remembered what I’d said  and tried to smile. “In everything give thanks.”  But I struggled to give  thanks for losing my job?

I went through the festivities of my son’s high school graduation that week. When I study the pictures of me smiling with him in his cap and gown, I look happy, but I was numb and broken. A good description might be “the walking wounded.” But no one could see my wounds. As I recall those long summer days, I see the blessings. I had always worked outside of my home and spending the summer with my children was a gift. But I was still hurt and angry about my uncertain career.

The remnants of hurricane Dennis dumped a week of rain on our farm. When the skies cleared, I went to work in the garden. I hadn’t had the time for a garden in years. My childhood summers had been filled working with my family in our abundant garden. I studied the rows filled with weeds in my own pitiful plot. I wanted to give up, but I knew that would have disappointed my Daddy, the farmer. I’d had hard rows to hoe in my childhood, and Daddy would say “Just keep your head down and before you know it, you’ll get through it.”

I knew the hoe was going to be useless. In my fight with those thick weeds, I had to get on my hands and knees. As I smelled the loamy soil, I was taken back to my childhood. I had to smile as I thought of the elegant boardrooms I’d had the privilege to sit in. If they could see me now on my hands and knees in the dirt! In the back of my mind, I could hear Mom saying “Looks like someone got too big for her britches.” With each weed I pulled through my ‘long road to hoe,’ I thought of my parents and my love for them. A cardinal’s song reminded me of Mama singing as she worked. As squirrels ran above me in the trees, I reminisced of my brother and sisters playing in the woods as children. A robin pulled a worm and fed her babies and I remembered to thank God for being able to provide for my family. With each weed I pulled, I thanked God and started singing. When I got to the end of the last row, I sat back and looked at the wilted weeds strewn to the side, and I could see the beautiful garden. “In everything give thanks.”

I keep the Bible with the broken spine to remind me of the valleys I’ve crossed. It reminds me of Jesus and his broken body. There have been more trials in my life, and I wish I could say that “in everything I give thanks,” but I’m stubborn. I’ve learned to try to look for the blessing in each hardship because I know that if I can find blessings in the deaths my parents, then I have the hope of finding a blessing in most any circumstance. The other lesson I learned is that when I want to give up, the place to be is on my knees thanking God. It could be that He needs to pull the weeds that are choking me. It may be painful, but it is His will that must be done, not mine. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

 

Where True Hope Lies

By  Cynthia Roemer

When the special weather report interrupted the president’s State of the Union Address, my husband and I knew something big was happening. A huge tornado had formed in eastern Missouri and had demolished one small town with more in its path. A hundred miles to our south, the tornado didn’t pose us any threat, but I whispered a prayer for those in danger.

As the tornado trekked to the northeast, my thoughts turned to my son down at college. Some of the town names being scrolled across the bottom of the screen sounded a bit too familiar. So, I pulled out a map and started tracking the path of the storm. My heart began to race as I realized, if the tornado continued in the direction it was headed, it would hit the very town where my son was staying. His upstairs apartment would offer little protection if the half-mile wide tornado plowed through.

Three hours away, there was absolutely nothing my husband and I could do but pray and trust God to protect him. I called our church prayer chain and a few other trusted prayer warriors to join us. Our only hope for our son’s safety rested with the Lord.

Soon after we started praying, the tornado took a distinct shift in direction, veering away from the town where our son was staying. The Lord had answered our prayers and shown grace and mercy for which I will forever be grateful.

In my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, my main character, Becky Hollister, faces the devastating effects of a tornado that leaves her feeling hopeless and lost. Much of the storyline involves how God intricately weaves the events of Becky’s life to restore her hope and woo her back to Him. It’s a story of friendship, and of renewed faith, hope, and love. One I pray will touch the hearts of readers.

About Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer

      ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Click on Cover to link to Amazon

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis. Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. A free-lance writer since 1988, she has over 100 short-stories and articles printed in various Christian publications. Her love of history and writing culminate in this, her debut novel. Under This Same Sky is Book One in her upcoming Prairie Sky Series. Cynthia writes from her family farm where she resides with her husband, Marvin, and their two college-aged sons.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Purchase information:
Under This Same Sky can be purchased at:  Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Under-This-Same-Cynthia-Roemer/dp/194509415X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493637471&sr=8-1&keywords=under+this+same+sky+by+cynthia+roemer

Unexpected Friendships

By Regina Merrick

In my book, “Carolina Dream,” Sarah’s best friend is Lucy, who she met in high school. They were inseparable. They even teach in the same high school – the one from which they graduated. Here’s a snippet from a deep conversation between the two:

“Girl, what’s with you? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were back in tenth grade mooning over Jimmy Henderson in biology class.” Sarah had to laugh at Lucy’s reminder of those awkward days of crushes and acne. Sarah had the crush. Jimmy Henderson had the acne.

“Sorry. I guess I wandered off for a bit, didn’t I?” She reached for her bottle of water. She wanted to find something, anything, to do to keep her busy.

“Wandered? That’s an understatement, Sarah. This is me, Lucy, remember? We’ve told each other everything since ninth grade chorus. You are the one who got up the nerve to tell me I couldn’t sing, and guess what? I’m still here! If that didn’t run me off from being your best friend, nothing could.” A comical expression graced Lucy’s face, but there was a hint of seriousness in her words. “You know, I have noticed that it doesn’t matter what is the topic of discussion, the subject always comes around to Jared Benton.”

Lucy is that friend who will tell Sarah the truth, and will support her no matter what. I like to think that everyone has a friend like that. You know, the one that it doesn’t matter if you’ve hit a dry spell and don’t seem to be nurturing the relationship, they will come to you and give you a big hug and say, “we need to get together – soon.”

Those are the keepers. I’ve had a few of those in my life. I patterned Lucy after one particular friend, although she is one of the sister-friends that I have now, that I never knew existed when I was in high school. And you know, we might not have been friends, then, though I like to think we would have. We became friends through church and motherhood, and we have mothered all four of our girls until they are like cousins instead of friends.

She’s the friend that inspires me to TRY. To KEEP GOING. To go out of my comfort zone. She asks the deep, unexpected questions and makes me laugh at the same time. If you wonder who she is, check the “Acknowledgements” page of Carolina Dream.
Find a friend who is a keeper – and KEEP HER.

About Carolina Dream by Regina Merrick

Sarah Crawford wants more from life than to attend the wedding of her ex-fiancée. An unexpected inheritance in South Carolina comes at the perfect time, just as Sarah is willing to use any excuse to get out of town.

When she meets potential business partner Jared Benton and discovers that a house is part of the inheritance, she is sure that God has been preparing her for this time through a recurring dream. But will a dream about an antebellum mansion, many rooms to be explored, and a man with dark brown eyes give her the confidence to take a leap of faith, leaving friends, family, and her job behind?

About Regina Merrick

Regina Merrick began reading romance and thinking of book ideas as early as her teenage years when she attempted a happily-ever-after sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” That love of fiction parlayed into a career as a librarian, and she is currently the director of a small public library in Marion, KY. She began attending local writing workshops and continued to hone her craft by writing several short and novel-length fan-fiction pieces published online, where she met other authors with a similar love for story, a Christian worldview, and happily-ever-after. Married for 30+ years and active in their church, Regina and her husband have two grown daughters who share her love of music, writing, and the arts. Visit Regina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on her website at https://reginamerrick.wordpress.com/

Signatures By Donna Hix Bewley

And His Mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50 NKJV

“Signatures”

By Donna Hix Bewley

There’s a large closet in my house with many shelves. In the top is a square box that I found one day while cleaning. I opened it eagerly, not remembering what was inside. However, I knew whatever it was; years had passed since the box was placed up high.

It was such a surprise to find wedding shower cards and gift cards. Each had a different signature from our wedding shower. It would have been held the summer of 1978, 39 years ago this year.

The signatures belonged to so many people that had already passed. Great aunts and grandmothers that are missed so much. Dear friends that I don’t see except maybe every 10 years.  

I could smell the scents of the old cards and see the unique designs. Picturing the person along with the cards was such a special treat. I treasure the cards and the memories they bring back. When you get older you find yourself trying to grasp anything to make those memories come alive.

About the Author:

Donna Hix Bewley is a retired Registered Nurse. In 2010, the Lord inspired her to begin writing poetry. Two years later, she stepped out in faith and retired from her nursing career, and responded to the call to write. Today, a collection of her poems are compiled in a book, How He Touched My Soul:  A Collection of the Lord’s Poems.

Note to Readers:

Donna Hix Bewley will be at the Allen County Public Library, 106 W. Public Square on Saturday, April 22, 2017, during the Jacksonian festival.  I hope you’ll stop by and visit her and consider purchasing her book of poetry.  All proceeds from her book sales go to Living Hope Baptist Church’s missions’ fund. “Signatures” is included in her book showing how old cards and notes hold a message from the past.

Special Friendships Usually Mean Something Special to Eat

By Mary Ellis

Ever notice that when women get together food is almost always involved? From a cup of coffee with a few cookies to a full-blown extravaganza of culinary delights, Americans love to eat. And why not? We live in a land of plenty so we should be grateful and willing to share! Today I’m willing to share my favorite pie recipe—Key Lime Pie, a true Southern favorite.  In my latest book from Harvest House, Sunset in Old Savannah, a special friendship develops between a twenty-something private investigator, Beth Kirby, and her 70ish client, Evelyn Doyle. As first Beth cannot understand why Evelyn doesn’t divorce her husband when he breaks his vows and strays from their marriage. Evelyn is willing to take him back, providing he’s sorry and agrees to counselling sessions with their minister. Throughout the story, Beth learns much from Evelyn about Christian forgiveness. She also learns that women share many of the same challenges, no matter what their age. In my favorite scene in Sunset in Old Savannah, Evelyn serves her young friend Key Lime Pie. Now you can enjoy some too!

Ingredients for Key Lime Pie

1 ½ cups finely crushed graham crackers (20 squares)
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup Key lime juice
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press in bottom and up side of 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown; cool.
  2.  In large bowl, beat milk and lime juice with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and thickened. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into cooled pie crust
  3.  Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until set. Store in refrigerator.

About Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis has written twelve novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Sunset in Old Savannah, is part of a series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

What Happened on Beale Street 
Magnolia Moonlight, available now
Sunset in Old Savannah, available now
http://www.maryellis.net/
http://www.facebook.com/Mary-Ellis. Author/

That’s What Friends Are For

By Cynthia Ruchti

I had an “aha” moment this morning as I contemplated the characters in the novels I’ve written to date. They’ve all had one key friend, and usually a small circle of others—the healthy characters, that is. And in none of the stories did the main character set out to find a friend or manufacture friendships for his or her journey. Nor did I sit down to intentionally create a friend for the character.

As the story unfolded, they entered the scene organically. As friends do in real life.

When I was in high school, friendship was most closely connected to fun, laughter, and common interests. Band friends, forensics friends, National Honor Society friends, drama friends, chorus friends, lunchroom friends, after school friends…

Notice I didn’t mention any friendships centered around my sports prowess. I had none. Prowess, that is.

I had friends within the youth group at church, one who eventually became my husband. Bible quizzing friends. Summer camp friends. Pen pal friends.

Common interests and fun.

The tight circle of girlfriends from high school morphed with moods. This week Sheri isn’t talking to Michelle, so there are five rather than six of us for the sleepover. The next week Dynae is on the outs with Sophie, but Michelle and Sheri are speaking to each other again. And some rare weeks, everyone was speaking with everyone else.

But as an adult, the value of friendship is less about laughter—although I count on my friends for that—and less about common interests—which have matured into common passions—and more about hope.

Friends help each other hang onto hope. We carry hope tenderly for each other when it seems fragile or tentative.

A friend who’d been through an unbearable series of hardships—relationally, financially, medically—told me she was losing her grip on hope. I told her the words that had poured salve over my own heart years ago. “I’ll hold onto hope for you until you’re stronger. That’s what friends are for.”

About Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope through award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through frequent speaking events for women or writers. Her latest novel—A Fragile Hope—underscores the importance of friends who help us tighten our grip on hope when it seems too fragile to endure. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com, hemmedinhope.com, or facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage and twitter.com/cynthiaruchti.

April 2017 New Releases

Are you looking for something good to read?  Check out these new releases.

Contemporary Romance:

sandpiper-cove

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

oh-baby

Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General:

a-fragile-hope

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti — Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)

waiting-for-butterflies

Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent — When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother’s love never ends–not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])

Mystery:

sunset-in-old-savannahSunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical:
above-rubies

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently )Published

Historical Romance:

 a-rose-so-fairA Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
under-the-same-sky

Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
the-pony-express-collection

The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

plain-targetPlain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
dangerous-testimony

Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

deep-extractionDeep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

final-verdict

Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
guardian

Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
witch

Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:

the-fairetellings-series

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)