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).

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.

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)

Wading Through by Shelia Stovall

Does he not see my ways And number all my steps? Job 31:4

Photo by Barry Freas (www.barryfreas.com) Used with permission.

I love the long days of summer. When the June Solstice passed last week, my heart dipped a little with the knowledge the days will begin to shorten. We spent the last hour of sunlight floating the creek on kayaks and were entertained by the sight of a doe with twin fawns, a beaver slapping his tail at us, while a rookery of blue herons screeched like teenagers partying. It was a glorious evening, and we lingered on the water through the long twilight. Big mistake.

We put our kayaks into the water at a small branch of the creek that divides our farm. It’s the only place for us to exit safely. Usually, we have to wade out the last twenty yards which is not a big deal, but at one place, you’ll sink to thigh-deep water if you’re not careful. When it’s daylight, it’s easy to avoid the deeper water, but we’d let time slip away, and with leafy sycamore branches hanging over us, we waded through blackness.

There’s nothing in the water to harm me, but my imagination became my enemy. With each step, I imagined a snapping turtle, a water snake, or stepping into the deep hole. The limestone bank glowed in the dim light, and it looked appealing. I stepped out of the water onto the slick rock. Within two seconds, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed with a thud. Then, I said a word a good Baptist would never utter. Go ahead, laugh. My husband did and I joined him. There was nothing to do but wade through the water with my kayak, and yes, I stepped into the big hole, but by this time, I was muddy, wet and hardly noticed.

Life is like that. Sometimes darkness comes upon us, and we allow fear to hinder us, but we can’t avoid the difficult terrain, and we must wade through it. Maybe you’ve received a worrisome diagnosis from the doctor, lost a job, or a loved one is suffering. I’ve learned, it helps to have a guide. We have a little Schnauzer, Lucy, and she’s almost blind. When we take our daily walks, she’s right on my heels. On our daily rambles, our Labrador, Bamboo, is in the lead, Bertie, out little mutt, is on her trail, but Lucy stays close to me. More than once, I’ve stopped and called her, only to discover she’s sitting right behind me in my shadow. My little companion trusts me to lead her home. And that’s what we need to do, stay close to the Master, and trust Him to lead us through the darkness while we wade through the holes that almost drown us. If we follow Jesus, someday, we’ll reach our forever home.

 

 

Forever Friends

I love living in my small hometown where I run into friends who’ve known me all my life. There is no fooling anyone when trying to be something I’m not, so why bother? The people in my close-knit community see me every day and thank goodness I don’t have to dress up to impress anyone. I might be in the garden shop wearing jeans with mud on my plastic clogs, and I’ll still receive a hug. My normal summer uniform at the library is khaki Capri pants with a summer reading T-shirt, and no one lifts a brow. I am blessed with friends, both black and white, rich and poor. What a blessing to live in such a place where it’s been rare for me to notice the racial tension that’s portrayed on the nightly news.

A couple of weeks ago, our mission team hosted a fish-fry fundraiser (try saying that three time times in a row.)  On the morning of the event, I discovered we’d scheduled it on the same day of the local dance recital and my heart dropped. My daughter used to take dance lessons, and believe me, almost everyone in town attends the recital. I’d already purchased a truckload of supplies for our event and it was too late to cancel. “We’ll be lucky to break even,” I mumbled. Then I posted a distress call to my Facebook friends that I was experiencing my normal pre-fish fry jitters and feared no one would come. Guess what?  They came.

The fish fry was a success, but I discovered a blessing far more significant to me than the money we raised. Many friends and neighbors who I rarely see came to support me because of the notice I posted. One person I must mention is Estella, whose path I have not crossed in over thirty years. Her career and life are in Bowling Green, while I keep the road between Scottsville and Franklin hot. When she saw my call for help on Facebook, she told me she said to herself, “I need to go and support Shelia.”

Estella grew up about a mile down the road from me, and we’ve been friends since first grade. She was as sweet then as she is today. When I saw her smiling face at the fish fry, I abandoned my duties in the kitchen to sit down and catch up.  We never missed a beat as we shared about our families, reminisced about growing up on Elliott Road, and attending our rural elementary school, Prospect Hill. What a blessing to have the opportunity to spend time with her.

When I consider the friends I have, near and far, people who will drop everything and come if I need help, it humbles me. I pray I can be the kind of friend Estella is. Kind and generous, one who does what she can to aid a friend, even if she has to drive a distance to do so. Thank you, Estella, for being my friend, and to all the others, too many to mention, who came and supported our cause. Most of all, we appreciate your love, support, and prayers. My bank account may never grow large, but I am rich in friendship and love, and I am thankful.

June 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction


Contemporary Romance:

Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)


Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


Cozy Mystery:

The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)


General Contemporary:

Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

 


A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)


Romantic Suspense:

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)


Speculative:

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)


Women’s Contemporary:

Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Young Adult:

All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)