Category Archives: Guest Post

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.

 

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/

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.

Building One Another Up

By Sara Sundin

Introverts and extroverts—we need each other.

As a shy child who was rejected and bullied, I benefited greatly from extroverted friends. Those kind souls reached out to me, nudged me out of my shell, and included me in their fun. I loved their energy, their generosity, and their encouragement. But honestly, I never quite knew what they saw in me.

A few years ago, I cornered one of my bubbly friends. “Why do you want me for a friend?”

She laughed as if it were the silliest question ever. “You’re thoughtful and you think deeply, and you force me to slow down and be serious.”

Huh. So I did bring something to the table.

In my Waves of Freedom series, I’ve enjoyed exploring the friendship between quiet Mary Stirling, driven Lillian Avery, and effervescent Tess Beaumont. When Tides Turn is Tess’s story, and I loved getting inside the head of this fun-loving extrovert.

I also enjoyed challenging her. I showed her where her motives weren’t entirely selfless. I introduced her to women who resisted or rejected her friendship. I made her realize she’d misjudged someone, despite her strong intuition. And—horrors!—when she needed to confide in someone, I stripped away her ability to do so.

But then I confirmed her strengths and showed her what a very good friend she was indeed. She grew into a better version of herself.

I was being Tess’s friend.

The best friendships both challenge us and affirm us. They give us chances to give and to receive, to comfort and to be comforted, to build and to be built up.

Our friends don’t need to be our polar opposites to accomplish this. I have many dear introvert friends as well and cherish the role we play in each other’s lives.

In what ways do your friends build you up? How do you return the favor?


About Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including When Tides Turn. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups. Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.


About Sarah’s New Release    When Tides Turn

When fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont learns the Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, determined to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. No-nonsense and hoping to make admiral, Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills to fight German U-boats. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. For her part, Tess works hard to prove her worth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston—both to her commanding officers and to the man with whom she is smitten. When Dan is assigned to a new escort carrier at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he’s torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help Tess root out a possible spy on shore. The Germans put up quite a fight, but he wages a deeper battle within his heart. Could Tess be the one for him?

 

How to Write and Sell Your Romantic Suspense

By Angela Ruth Strong

I have three friends here in Idaho who all sold books to Love Inspired Suspense. We’d get together to write every week, and they’d be talking about their editor or sharing covers, and I’d feel a little left out. So I decided to try to write for their publisher. I wrote two manuscripts. The first one was rejected, the second they bought. Presumed Dead came out last month.

So, just in case you’ve ever read a romantic suspense novel and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” but you don’t have friends like mine to show you how, I’ll give you some pointers.

  • Find a great setting. The first book I ever sold was to the Love Finds You line of books, which were all set in real towns, so now I’m a sucker for picking a real place and researching the heck out of it. Sometimes authors make up towns of their own, and that can be fun too (I’ve heard), but when you pick an actual place like Lake Tahoe, you discover there’s a secret tunnel built by an eccentric millionaire for his baby elephant, and there’s an island with a cliff for jumping off, and then there’s my grandest discovery—the Tahoe Keys, a neighborhood of inland waterways. PERFECT for a suspense novel. Another benefit of picking a real location is that when the characters are running for their lives, you can MapQuest the location and know exactly which direction they need to go and what might get in their way.
  • Pick a plot. Again, I like to find inspiration from real life. The plot for Presumed Dead came from a real failed operation and conspiracy theory. Remember the Iran Hostage Crisis? Their first rescue attempt failed and helicopters crashed because the pilots were not trained to fly under such circumstances. Thus, the military created SOAR—Special Operations Aviation Regiment. I made Preston a pilot for SOAR. He was presumed dead in a helicopter crash much like the real one. I can’t tell you more about the conspiracy theory because that would give away too much, but I’ll just say that in my story, it was much more than a theory—it was going to get him killed for real.
  • Create characters with chemistry. My biggest pet peeve in romance is when the characters don’t have chemistry. Their energy has to feed off each other. They are so obviously better when they are together. However, a romance novel isn’t about getting two characters together—it’s about keeping them apart until the very end. Though they are working as one, they have different goals. And here’s the part I love: They, and they alone, possess the perfect strengths and weaknesses required for them to overcome their challenges. Absolutely nobody else could survive what they survive. Not because they are better than anybody else, but because they are unwittingly prepared. For example, if Preston needs to escape, there’s going to be a tourist helicopter on a platform above the dock, and he alone has what it takes to fly that chopper.
  • Know the rules. Some publishing houses have more rules than others. To write for LIS, I had to have the characters meet in the first chapter, they couldn’t already be in love, and they both had to have reasons not to be together. Also, I couldn’t have used the word “heck” like I did above. As a writer, you may not agree with all the rules (I’ve said worse things than heck before…shh), but the publishing company is a business with buyers/readers, and it’s their job to know exactly what those buyers/readers want.
  • Be flexible. For my novel Presumed Dead, I had to change the whole ending. Twice. I didn’t want to at first, but now I’m glad I did. Editors make our stories better.
  • Be diligent. What was really cool about selling my book to LIS was that I sold it through a contest that required diligence. It was kind of like the television show The Voice. Hundreds of writers entered the first page of the manuscript. If the judges/editors liked it, you moved onto the next round where you had a deadline for submitting a synopsis. On and on until finished manuscripts were turned in. This might be the best way EVER in the history of writing to finish a novel. But if you don’t want to take part in a contest, then set deadlines for yourself. Or participate in National Novel Writing Month in November. Which brings me to my last point…
  • Have fun. Some parts of writing are not fun. You may even contemplate tossing your laptop out the window. Here’s a better idea: Find a way to make it fun again. Sometimes I will skip to the parts I’m inspired to write and go back to fill in the gaps later. Or you can take yourself on a field trip to get back into the story. Once I called a friend to ask if I could visit her farm because I was writing about a ranch, and I wanted to be around horses. Also try brainstorming with friends. It was my stepdaughter Ashley who gave me the brilliant idea for the end of Presumed Dead. She saved my laptop’s life.

Now that you’re ready to write a romantic suspense, find some other people who want to write books. You can encourage each other to go farther and do more. Just like my writing friends did for me.

About Angela Ruth Strong

Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she’s re-released it as part of a new series titled Resort to Love, and she’s excited to be writing for Love Inspired Suspense, as well. This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and three teenagers where she teaches yoga and works as a ticket agent for an airline when not writing.

For a chance to win a free copy of Angela’s new book, Presumed Dead, subscribe to this blog in the top right hand corner.  The winner will be announced March 18th.

Framed for a sabotaged military operation, Preston Tyler has allowed everyone to believe he’s dead—until he witnesses someone planting a bomb in his childhood sweetheart’s cabin. To save Holly Fontaine’s life, he must blow his cover. Holly is shaken…both by the explosion and the sudden appearance of a man she thought she’d lost forever. But their reunion is short-lived when the bomb planter returns, forcing their escape into Lake Tahoe’s wilderness. As they struggle to survive, memories of their shared past reignite old feelings. Holly refuses to lose Preston again, but with their pursuer closing in, will the ultimate betrayal tear them apart for good?

Following the Story Trail by Ann H. Gabhart

Author Ann H. Gabhart

In one of my books, I included this dedication. “To my readers who have followed my story trail from Hollyhill to Harmony Hill to Rosey Corner and now…Louisville.”

I have the best readers in the world. They are willing to try all kinds of genres, and that’s good because I’ve let my imagination run down many different story paths. I’ve written historical novels about the Shakers and that Louisville novel, Words Spoken True, with the dedication. I’ve written stories that follow families through good times and bad. I’ve tried my hand at cozy mysteries so now I could add Hidden Springs to that dedication. I’ve even written several novels for young readers.

I just published a middle reader book, Freak of the Week, about a boy who feels like a lopsided giraffe because he has a limp. When the most popular girl in sixth grade starts making fun of him with silly rhymes, things go from bad to worse for Clay in a hurry. But then he meets an old man who isn’t afraid to try the impossible even though he has several physical handicaps. With Old Dan’s help, Clay learns that heart and attitude make for winners no matter the game or the score.

Much of Freak of the Week happens on a baseball diamond where Clay shines as a pitcher but not so much as a base runner. I like baseball so that made writing the story fun. I also knew a man something like Old Dan who was always hunting adventure in spite of having several physical disabilities. That brought Dan to life for me and I hope, for readers too.

However, I know nothing about murder. Thank goodness. But I still had fun writing my cozy Hidden Springs Mysteries. With the third book in the series coming out in March, I’m excited about readers coming back to Hidden Springs. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane has a new murder to solve in Murder Is No Accident, while also trying to figure out whether he has any chance with the woman he loves. Right now the first Hidden Springs mystery, Murder at the Courthouse is a free download for e-readers and the second book, Murder Comes by Mail, is at a reduced e-book price for a limited time. So this is a great chance for you visit my little town where murder has a way of happening.

I based Hidden Springs on the Kentucky town where I grew up although I’m pretty sure no one has ever found a body on the courthouse steps. A few of the quirky characters every small town seems to have made their way into the story too since a cozy mystery needs a few smiles along with those murders.

Are you a reader who likes all sorts of stories? If so, I’m smiling and that dedication up top could be for you. Happy reading along the story trail!

About Ann H. Gabhart

ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. She keeps her keyboard warm on a farm in Kentucky. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann’s books or to read her blogs, visit www.annhgabhart.com. You can also join the conversation on Facebook. www.facebook.com/anngabhart

 

Blessed by Friendship by Shannon Brown

Shannon L. Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carrot Apple Raisin Salad

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

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

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

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


Jemma’s Alaska Dream: Succeed at Business

(and avoid her annoying neighbor)

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

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

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

 About the Author

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

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

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

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

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Falling for Alaska Excerpt 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nathaniel Montgomery.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ice Cream, Jane Austen Style By Susanne Dietze

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

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

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

Lemon Ice

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

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

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

About The Author

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

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

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

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

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