Monday, November 25, 2019

BY ALL APPEARANCES - Dawn Kinzer - One Free Book

Welcome back, Dawn. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write Christian fiction because I believe in the power of story to comfort, challenge, and inspire. I know stories that include real struggles and hurts, while still offering hope, can change lives.

However, I never set out to write romance. I planned to write women’s fiction—stories that focused on female relationships and today’s issues. But what naturally poured out of me fit into the romance genre.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
One of the happiest days of my life was when my first child was born and I became a mom. I was in awe, and that day completely changed my focus and purpose. Then children were followed by grandchildren, and they blessed me even more!

How has being published changed your life?
Publication can validate your work, and I think I’m taken more seriously as a writer by not only people in the industry, but also by friends and family. It’s been rewarding to learn that readers are enjoying my novels, but it means even more to know that they’re being impacted by my stories. To get that kind of feedback makes me believe that I’ve found my calling.

What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading a series of Christmas novellas by Lynnette Bonner. She’s releasing seven—one a week!

What is your current work in progress?
I recently joined six other authors in a project. We’ll be offering a boxed set of seven contemporary novellas in 2020, and they’ll all be new Christmas romances.

What would be your dream vacation?
I love theme parks. So, one dream vacation would be a week at a Disney resort and time to play in Disneyland or Disney World while also having time to relax. 

How do you choose your settings for each book?
When I wrote my three-book historical romance series, The Daughters of Riverton, the setting was inspired by my Wisconsin hometown. The idea for the series came from renewing my interest in the town’s history, so the location for the stories was a no-brainer. Since I was third-generation to be raised there, I was already familiar with the surroundings.

After living in the Seattle area for twenty-five years, I wanted to share what I love about the Pacific Northwest. We’re also told as writers to write what we know! I still needed to research pieces, but it helped to live here while creating settings for By All Appearances, my contemporary romance.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I would spend the evening with my eighty-seven-year-old dad. My mom passed away a year ago, and although people try to drop in or call, the days and nights get long for him. He lives thousands of miles away in another state, so I only get to physically spend time with him once or twice a year.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I enjoy planting and growing flowers in the spring and summer. An abundance of colorful blooms makes me happy! I’m a fan of HGTV, and I have a need to be creative, so sometimes that results in making changes around the house. However, my husband and I have agreed that at some point, we need to stop remodeling!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I struggle with staring at a blank page and starting a new article or book. It can be paralyzing, even if I’ve outlined the project. The only way to get past it is to start typing. Once I begin, the words start to flow.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Take your time to learn the craft and don’t be in a rush to submit your book to an agent or publisher—or to self-publish. Read books on writing, attend workshops and conferences, and make friends with other writers. Genuine friendships made in the business are blessings! Not only because you can learn from those with more experience, but because in the Christian writing community, people are willing to give the support and encouragement needed to keep going in this tough industry. Those friendships may turn out to be the best part of your journey!

Tell us about the featured book.
By All Appearances is a contemporary Christian romance novel set in Seattle about an attractive special events planner from a wealthy family and a disfigured musician whose lives have not gone according to plan.

Back Cover Copy …
Liana Tate, a special events planner grew up in a high-profile family. No matter what she does, Liana feels she never measures up.

Bryan Langley, a talented musician, was close to signing a recording contract when a barn fire left part of his face severely burned. He survived, but his career did not.

When Liana’s father hires Bryan as a caretaker on the family estate outside of Seattle, Liana’s and Bryan’s lives become entangled. He risks public humiliation for Liana’s success, and she encourages him to use his musical gifts, despite his reluctance. Thrown together, will they achieve their elusive dreams? And will the two find the love and acceptance they yearn for, or will their actions only drive each other away?

Please give us the first page of the book.
If Liana Tate’s instincts proved right, fantasy could change her reality.
She dropped her purse and car keys on the oak desk covered with stuffed binders, fabric swatches, and catering menus. The antique furniture looked out of place, considering its contemporary surroundings in her home. But her grandfather had penned stories at that desk—Liana couldn’t part with it.

Six months. She blew out a stream of air and rubbed her temples. What was she thinking? Stubborn pride had taken the place of common sense. Earlier that evening, while meeting with the hospital gala committee, she’d jumped in over her head and now needed a lifeboat to save her. The commitment involved rescuing one of the most anticipated yearly events in Seattle from sinking. With her reputation as an event planner on the line, if the revised plan failed, she’d be tempted to hide out deep in the Cascades.

If successful, she’d have all the clients she could handle. Then maybe she could finally afford an office in the city and an assistant to go with it. She slumped against the desk. In her heart’s secret and deep-rooted insecurities, she knew everything—including one day having a fancy office—came down to proving she was worthy of belonging to her high-profile family.

Even more important than a personal career boost, funds raised during the event would provide care to thousands of patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Liana couldn’t fail those needing treatment at the adult and pediatric trauma center. She could only imagine the stress and heartbreak of sitting by a child’s hospital bedside, fearing your family might be turned away when all resources were drained.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can find my on any of these online sites: Author WebsiteFaithfully Write EditingFacebookPinterestInstagramAmazon Author Page, BookBub, and Goodreads.

The long link to By All Appearances:

The short link:

Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your new novel with us. I’m eager to read it.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:

Sunday, November 24, 2019


IMPORTANT: Instructions for winners  - When you send me the email, make sure your subject line says this: Winner - (book title) - (author's name) If you don't do this, your email could get lost in my hundreds of emails per day. I WILL SEARCH FOR POST TITLES STARTING THAT WAY.

Gina (CO) is the winner of Dead Ringer by Susan Sleeman.

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Also, tell your friends about the book you won ... and this blog. Thank you.

, everyone. If you won a print book, send me your mailing address:
Click the Contact Me link at the top of the blog, and send me an Email.

If you won an ebook or audio book, just let me know what email address it should be sent to.
Remember, you have 4 weeks to claim your book.

Friday, November 22, 2019

DEAD SILENCE - Susan Sleeman - One Free Book

Welcome back, Susan. As an author, I know it takes a lot of people to birth each book. Who were the people involved in the birthing of this book, and what were their contributions?
I always have to give a big shout out to my cover designer. She’s SO amazing and super talented—Kelly Martin at And a big thank you to my proofreader, Judy DeVries.

If you had to completely start over in another place, where would you move, and why?
We have lived in 9 states so I’m not a stranger to moving. I need to live in a warm climate so I guess I would move back to Texas as we loved living there. I’d probably choose Austin as it is a smaller city with a quirky personality like Portland.

If you could only tell aspiring novelists one thing, what would it be?
Persevere and keep writing no matter any rejections or negative comments. Just keep going and your dreams of being a published author can come true.

You’ve been asked to be in charge of a celebrity cruise. Who would you ask to take part, and why? (AS in what program, singers, etc. [it doesn’t have to be writing related])
I would ask the cast of Downton Abbey to come dressed in their period costumes and host a ball from the era the show was featured in. I love that period and the show and would love to get to know the actors who played these parts.

That would be so much fun. I’d want to be on the cruise with y’all. Tell us about the featured book.
This is a story I loved writing as it’s filled with secrets and lies. Kelsey Moore learns after her husband dies, that his son that she’d come to call her own isn’t his son at all and he didn’t have legal custody of the boy. As she begins the process to adopt the boy and learns of her husband’s lie, she begins to question everything she knows except for the love she feels for her son. Fearing she might lose him, Kelsey must find his birth mother and convince her to give up her parental rights.

But when she starts asking questions, she runs into a brick wall named DEA Agent Devon Dunbar. Devon has been investigating an adoption/human trafficking ring with drug connections for the last six months, and he’s not about to let Kelsey interfere in his investigation. But even if Devon brings out feelings she never thought she’d experience again, and he asks her to trust him, Kelsey can’t even give him the benefit of the doubt. Not with the way her husband had lied to her and not even when her own life is on the line. If she doesn’t succeed, she could lose the one thing that means everything to her—her five-year-old son.

Please give us a peek into the book.
Kelsey didn’t like this. Didn’t like it one bit. Since her husband Todd had been fatally shot outside his hotel on a business trip, she’d been on guard and tried to avoid being outside after dark. But she’d planned poorly today, and her unease was now the price she paid.

“Let’s hurry, Jace.” She gripped her stepson’s hand tightly as she exited the grocery store with cupcake supplies for his school party tomorrow.

She took off as fast as she could in her mile-high wedge sandals, and the five-year-old had to run to keep up. Her ankles were quickly swallowed up by the soupy fog swirling around the large parking lot, and unease skittered down her spine.

Sure, the dark had nothing to do with Todd’s death. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mugged on his way to his hotel room after dinner, but she couldn’t stem her fears. They scratched at her like a cat with claws bared, ripping down her back.

Stop it. Just stop it. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

“Can I lick the frosting bowl?” Jace asked, his innocent little voice helping to settle her nerves a bit.

She shifted her grocery bag and smiled down at the dark-headed boy with chubby cheeks dotted with freckles and humor glinting his brown eyes. “I’m afraid you’ll be in bed asleep by then.”

He shook his head hard and jerked his hand free to cross his chubby little arms. He planted his feet and gone was the sparkle in his eyes. “Nu-uh. It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’m not sleeping tonight.”

She didn’t like how he was taking such a stance, but he’d been through so much losing Todd that she ignored it. “But you’ll have to try to sleep.”

His arms dropped to his sides. “Okay, but can I get up if I don’t fall asleep?”

She started to nod, but footsteps quickly approached them from behind, catching her attention. She shot a worried look over her shoulder. A hooded man rushed toward them. Head down, he was five feet behind them. He was really built and tall. His hoodie shadowed his face as he looked at the ground.

A warning raced through her brain, and she reached for Jace’s hand again.

Don’t be silly, she chastised herself. The man carried a bag of groceries. Just a guy in a hurry. She was being ridiculous. Still, she tugged Jace closer, firmed her grip, and got them moving at a fast clip toward her car.

“Ouch,” Jace complained. “You’re hurting my hand.”

“Sorry.” She relaxed her fingers but kept up her speed.

The footsteps moved closer. Faster. Almost frantic now, sharp thumps echoing into the fog.

She quickly moved Jace to the side closest to her car now only twenty feet away.

The footsteps shifted. Started in a run. A grocery bag hit the ground. Jace’s hand was torn from hers. The man rushed past, Jace locked in his arms.

“Mommy,” Jace screamed.

“Stop!” Kelsey yelled, her heart racing. “Stop! My son! Stop!”

Shocked, she stood frozen for a moment then bolted after them.

The man ran. Fast. Furious. Toward the busy road. Jace’s body was clamped tightly in the man’s arms, his little legs dangling.

She screamed and tossed her bag to the ground. “Someone, help! He has my son.”

She ran full out, her heart thundering in her chest. She took a quick look around the lot. Looking for someone. Anyone who could help them.

It was dark. Empty. Only a few cars. No one in sight.

“Help! Oh, help!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.

She ran harder. Faster. Her feet struck the asphalt, the shock traveling from her sandals up her legs.

Her foot caught in a pothole. Her ankle twisted. She lost her balance. Her arms flailed out, trying to right herself. She couldn’t. She pitched forward and tumbled. Landed hard on her shoulder and her knees razored over the rough pavement.

Her breath left her body. She gulped one in and rolled. Raised her head. Saw the man hauling Jace toward a white delivery van.

“No-o-o,” she screamed and pushed to her feet. “Stop. Don’t take him. Please. Don’t. Please.”

She started running again. The fall had cost her precious time. She was too far behind them now. She would never catch them. Never. He simply had to open a door, floor the gas, and her son would be gone. Long gone.


DEA Agent Devon Dunbar’s mouth hung open as he watched Bruno Cruz barreling across the parking lot toward his dilapidated old van. The lowlife drug dealer had snatched up a child. A child, for crying out loud. Right out of his mother’s arms.

Cruz was a drug mule for a Portland gang connected to the Sotos Cartel out of Mexico and hadn’t been involved in their child trafficking exploits to this point. Now, Devon had to reassess his take on the situation.

But first…the kid.

Devon had to save the boy, despite the fact that he would likely blow his cover and put an end to his six-month undercover op. An op that could stop child trafficking and keep children with their parents.

But a boy in imminent danger came first. It had to.

Adrenaline licked along Devon’s body as he eased through the fog falling heavy on the parking lot and between the parked vehicles. He wanted to draw his weapon, but he needed both hands to catch the child. Still, he flicked off the holster strap just in case.
Keeping hidden in an SUV’s shadow, he assessed Cruz’s timing. Caught his rhythm and estimated his arrival. Started counting it down.

Ten. Nine. Eight.

Devon took another step closer, making sure to remain hidden in the misty fog so he didn’t spook Cruz into doing something stupid.

Seven. Six. Five.

He braced himself.

Four. Three. Two.

Devon came even with Cruz. He launched his body forward. Slid an arm around the child. Grabbed hold of the trembling little body. Snatched him free and held him tight.

“Hey,” Cruz complained.

“Mommy,” the terrified child screamed.

Devon had no time to offer comfort. He turned. Swept out his foot. Took Cruz down in one swift kick to the knees.

He put the boy down. “Run back to your mom. Hurry. Run!”

The child took off, his little feet pitter-pattering over the concrete.

Devon’s heart soared over the rescue. No time to celebrate. Not yet.

He planted a knee in Cruz’s back and wrenched his arms into a tight hold.

“Jace, oh, Jace,” the mother cried out.

Devon looked up in time to see her drop to her knees and sweep the boy into her arms. In Devon’s job, he didn’t often get to see happy endings, and he wished he could see the joy on her face, but the fog obscured his view.

Thank you, God for putting me here at the right time.

Keeping his knee planted, Devon searched the man and found a 9mm Glock lodged in his waistband. Devon tucked the gun in the back of his jeans.

“Get off me, man,” Cruz complained as he bucked. “You have no right to do this.”

“But I do.” Devon disguised his voice as best as he could so he didn’t risk his undercover status and pressed his knee harder in Cruz’s muscled back. “You’re the one without rights here. Attempted kidnapping is going to put you away for a long time. And I’m going to assume you don’t have a carry permit, so possessing a firearm won’t go so well for you either.”

“You some kind of cop or something?” Cruz asked.

“Or something.” Devon looked at the woman again and raised his voice so she could hear him, but kept it disguised. “Are you two all right, ma’am?”

“Yes, yes.” A long sigh filtered out of her mouth. “I think so.”

“Hang tight while I call 911.” Devon kept Cruz facedown to prevent him from getting a good look at his face and dialed 911. When the operator came on the line, he avoided mentioning his name and explained the situation. “Please tell the responding officer that I’m a law enforcement officer, and I’ve restrained the suspect.”

“Your name and agency, sir?” the operator asked.

“I’ll provide officers with ID when they arrive.” No way he was going to give out that information in front of Cruz. And honestly, he couldn’t give legit ID to the cops either as he didn’t carry his credentials while undercover. But that was something to work out with the responding officers. He disconnected before she demanded additional information and turned his attention to the woman and boy.

“Hold tight,” he yelled. “Officers are on the way.”

“Thank you.” Relief swept through the woman’s shaking voice.

Devon had the crazy urge to rush over to the pair and give them a hug. Odd. He wasn’t a hugger. Not much of a touchy-feely guy at all. Being a SEAL for six years and then an agent for the DEA for two, he’d lost that loving feeling. Or maybe it had more to do with the woman he’d once loved not being able to commit. Either way, he remained in place, pressing Cruz to the ground as sirens sounded in the distance. He shifted his attention to the road and the electric blue lights whirling into the cloudy vapors.

“C’mon, man,” Cruz said. “Nobody got hurt. Let me go.”

“Not a chance.” Devon watched as two Portland police cars screeched into the lot and slammed to a nearby stop. The officers got out and moved together in a cautious approach. The male cop whose name tag declared Zellner was tall and lanky with inky black hair. Devon put the female named Almgren at five foot eight with a muscular build and blond hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“He was armed, but I’ve searched him and removed the weapon.” Devon continued to keep his voice in a high, unrecognizable tone for Cruz. “It’s in my waistband in the back if you want to remove it.”

“And you are?” Almgren asked.

“Law enforcement just like you. Take this guy away, and I’ll get my ID.”

“I’ll just grab that gun.” Zellner moved toward Devon, Almgren stood, hand on weapon prepared to act if Devon made a move. Zellner tugged the gun free.

“I’ll secure this guy.” Almgren strode to Cruz, pulling her cuffs free as she moved.

She clamped the cuffs on Cruz, and Devon slowly got up, making sure they could see his hands the whole time to keep them from overreacting and doing something stupid.
Cruz jerked to his knees in an effort to take off, but Almgren grabbed his cuffs and hauled him toward her cruiser. Devon tipped his head for Zellner to join him out of Cruz’s earshot.

“I’m Devon Dunbar,” he said, keeping his voice low. “Undercover for the DEA. Guy’s name is Bruno Cruz. Had my eye on him when he suddenly grabbed the woman’s child and bolted for his vehicle. I don’t carry my official ID on assignment, and I hope not to blow my cover, so if you’ll wait until he’s in the car, I’ll give you a contact number to call and confirm I’m legit.”

Zellner gave Devon a quick once-over, and he knew what the officer was seeing. A rough-looking guy with a scraggly beard. Longer-than-normal hair, messed up and shaggy. Clothes that were too shoddy for even a thrift store and should’ve been washed a few days ago. A tattoo on his forearm with an S scrolling in ruby red and ending with a vivid green snake’s head, mouth open and tongue extended. The hallmark for the Sotos Cartel who exported cocaine to the U.S. The tattoo was fake, but Zellner wouldn’t have any idea about that. The semi-permanent ink lasted for two weeks or so and then Devon had to update it. When it was a problem in his private life, he simply covered it with a large bandage.

Zellner nodded, and Devon quickly looked at the woman again. She’d gotten to her feet, holding the child tightly in her arms even though he was too big for her to easily handle, and was coming toward them. He didn’t need her knowing his ID either, so he lifted a hand to tell her to stay put.

“But I…”

“Everything okay, ma’am?” Zellner asked.

“Yes. I just need to tell you what happened so I can get my stepson home.”

Zellner gave her a friendly smile, but his eyes remained fixed in the assessing cop stare Devon knew so well. “If you could just hold tight for a little longer, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

“Sure, fine.” She didn’t sound so sure, but she stayed put.

Devon checked on Cruz, glad to see the other officer was settling him in the back seat of her cruiser. The moment she slammed the door, Devon turned back to Zellner. “The number I’m going to give you is my supervisor’s cell. His name is Bud Hurst. I go by Dillan Webb when on assignment.”

Zellner snapped his phone from a holder on his body armor, and Devon shared the phone number. The cop made the call and gave his identifying information. “I have a Devon Dunbar here who is claiming to be one of your agents. I’m going to send you his picture for confirmation.”

The officer snapped Devon’s picture then lifted the phone back to his ear.

Devon had no idea what Hurst was saying, but as Zellner listened, his tight expression loosened. “Thank you, sir.”

He stowed his phone. “You’re clear.”

“Thanks for working with me on this.”

Zellner nodded. “I’m going to talk to the woman and boy. Hang tight and I’ll come back for your statement.”

Devon wanted to ask to leave before Cruz caught sight of him, but it was dark and foggy enough at this distance that Cruz couldn’t likely make out any identifying details. Still, Devon made sure he kept his back to the car.

Almgren marched across the lot and joined Zellner. Devon followed, but then hung back to listen in and gather additional details on the child and her mother.

She wore a flirty little skirt that skimmed her knees and a very feminine blouse. Her shoes were those stylish chunky sandals he thought he’d heard women refer to as wedges, likely for the hunk of cork shaped like a wedge in the heel area. He never got why women tortured themselves with these kinds of shoes, but as a guy, he had to admit it stretched out her shapely legs. Sadly, her knees were bloody from her fall.

“I’m Officer Zellner and this is Officer Almgren,” Zellner said to her. “And you are?”

“Kelsey.” She ran her free hand over curly hair that rested just above her shoulders. It was full and lush, coffee brown, and looked like it should be in a shampoo commercial. “Kelsey Moore, and this is my stepson, Jace.”

Zellner nodded. “Could I see your ID please?”

She fished in a handbag, the strap slung crossbody, and pulled out a wallet. Zellner examined the ID and handed it back, but Devon couldn’t seem to take his focus from her for very long. She had this wispy vulnerable vibe going on that always brought out the protector in him. He searched her finger for a wedding ring, but didn’t find one.
Divorced? Widowed? Never married? Or maybe just a woman who didn’t believe in wearing a ring.

She shoved her license into the purse and grabbed the child’s hand again, drawing him tight against her leg. She was still afraid, and Devon didn’t blame her. It was going to take quite some time before she got over her shock and fully processed the near abduction.

Almgren squatted in front of the child. “Would you like to see the inside of the police car, young man?”

He cast an excited look up at Kelsey. “Can I, Mom?”

She bit her lip and shifted her feet. “I don’t—”

“It’ll be the empty vehicle, and I’ll stay with him.” Almgren smiled, her eyes lighting with it and offering a friendly vibe. “It’s better for him not to relive things.”

“Oh, right. Thanks. Yes. Please.” Kelsey bent down to the boy. “Listen to the officer and don’t touch anything without asking first.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” Almgren held out her hand, and the boy quickly slipped his free hand into hers.

“My mom works with police,” he announced. “And I want to be a cop when I grow up.”
Devon saw the woman cringe. He doubted any parent wanted their child to go into a dangerous field of work. He knew for sure his own mother still worried about him on a daily basis. Maybe hourly. He couldn’t check in with her very often, and she didn’t know how he was doing. He hated putting her through that and planned to get out of the undercover work after completing this assignment. If his cover was blown, tonight’s incident might speed that change along.

“How exactly do you work with the police?” Zellner asked.

“I’m a forensic anthropologist,” she replied, not taking her eyes off of the boy. “I’m a partner at the Veritas Center.”

Wow. The Veritas Center—a private forensic lab with a stellar reputation. They started out running DNA to connect adopted and missing loved ones to their families. Since then, they’d branched out to become a full-service lab for law enforcement, too, and most everyone in the local law enforcement field had heard of them and respected their work.
Zellner looked impressed, too. “Do you think tonight’s incident has something to do with the center?”

Kelsey tilted her head, her soft-looking hair framing her face. “I can’t imagine it’s related. I think that jerk just seized the moment. I was coming out of the store, and he grabbed my stepson and ran away with him.” Her voice broke on a sob. “I ran after them, but fell. I called for help, and that man over there saved Jace.”

She pointed at Devon, her expression relieved and thankful, sending a warm feeling through Devon that he rarely felt these days, thanks to the Sotos Cartel.

“Saved him how, exactly?” Zellner glanced at Devon.

“He jerked Jace out of the creep’s arms, and then took his feet out from under him with a swift kick.” She shuddered, but respect gleamed from her heart-shaped face. “It was amazing. Like he’s trained in martial arts or something.”

Or something. Hand-to-hand combat via his years as a SEAL, but no one needed to know that.

“And then he let Jace come back to me while he held the creep down until you got here. That’s it.” She ran her hand over her face, her tortured expression remaining.

“Do you have any idea why that man might want to abduct your stepson?”

She shook her head hard. “I can’t imagine anyone I know would do that.”

“And do you? Know this man, I mean?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t get a look at his face.”

“Have you called the boy’s father?”

Her eyes scrunched up, and her chin wobbled. “Todd died a little over a year ago.”

Ah, the reason for a lack of ring.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Zellner said.

“Thank you.” She lifted her shoulders. “We were only married for two years. It was so sudden.”

“You call Jace your stepson. Does this mean you haven’t adopted him?”

“Not yet. I wanted to.” She frowned. “We just never got around to it when Todd was alive. I’m Jace’s legal guardian, and now that Todd’s estate is settled, the adoption paperwork is underway.”

“When the detective is assigned to this case, he’ll need a copy of your guardianship papers for the files.”

She nodded. “I don’t carry them with me, but have them in my safe at home.”

“I’m sure after Jace confirms your story, our detective can wait on the official papers.”
Kelsey fired a look at the patrol car. “Officer Almgren shouldn’t be questioning him without me.”

“Sorry.” Zellner held up his hand. “She’s not. She really just took him to the car to spare him from hearing my questions. I just meant after the detective talks to him with you present.”

“Oh, okay.”

Devon’s law enforcement training had him on full alert at the woman’s protest. Could she be hiding something or was this just motherly concern? Listen to him suspecting her. He’d been undercover for too long and didn’t trust anyone. She was likely acting as any concerned mother might behave.

“Do you think the attempted abduction has to do with the adoption?” Zellner asked.
“Maybe someone doesn’t want you to adopt the boy?”

She tilted her head in a cute puppy dog questioning look. “I don’t see how. Jace’s mother is deceased, as are her parents, and she was an only child. And Todd’s parents are all for me adopting Jace as long as I keep them in his life. Which, of course, I would do. He has every right to know his grandparents.”

Zellner nodded. “Does the name Bruno Cruz mean anything to you?”

“No. Why? Should it?”

“Not necessarily.”

She shot a look at Almgren’s patrol car. “Is that the name of the man who tried to take Jace?”

Zellner didn’t answer. “Okay, is there anything else you think I need to know?”

She bit her lower lip and shifted her stance. “No. No. I don’t think so. I just want to get Jace, go home, and forget all about this.”

“And testify against the suspect when he comes to trial.”

“Yes…oh…yes. Absolutely. He may not have gotten away with kidnapping, but I want to see him pay for trying to abduct Jace.”

Zellner gave a clipped nod. “I’ll get a detective out here. He’ll question both of you and then you’ll be free to go home.”

“Good. Good. My bag.” She spun on those high heels and looked around. “Cupcakes.”

“I have to bake cupcakes for school tomorrow. It’s Jace’s sixth birthday.”

“Oh, right. Okay,” Zellner said, lifting his cell phone to his ear.

Devon wanted to step over to this distraught woman. Offer her additional comfort, but she’d take one look at his attire and sorry state and likely run the other way. He usually didn’t care what people thought of him, but with her, it seemed to matter. Mattered more than he could have imagined and that surprised him almost as much as the near abduction.

Where can we find you on the Internet?
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Thank you, Susan, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read it.

Readers, here are links to the book.
Dead Silence: (Truth Seekers Book 2) - Paperback
Dead Silence: (Truth Seekers Book 2) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A CROSS TO KILL - Andrew Huff - One Free Book on This Blog, and More

Welcome, Andrew. A Cross to Kill is your first book release. Tell us about your journey to become an author.
Storytelling is something that’s been a part of my life since an early age, though I wasn’t convinced I could actually be an author until much later in life. I would write stories every day using toys, sometimes turning those stories into drawings, and on occasion, writing ideas down. I spent my high school years telling stories through video, even helping develop narrative projects with my home church. Yet I still wasn’t motivated to sit down and attempt to write something longer than a five-minute screenplay. That changed right around the time I finished college.

I was an avid reader growing up, and after finishing my undergraduate degree, I started consuming full length mystery/suspense novels. The problem I ran into was that many of the authors I enjoyed did not hold to the same worldview or values that I did. And whenever I found a thriller that did, I was often left wanting. So, I decided if I couldn’t find the type of book I wanted to read, then I should try to write it. It took many years of learning the craft and discovering the right story before I was able to sit down and not only start, but successfully finish, a full length, action-packed, suspense story that I was ready to share with readers.

Introduce us to your new series, and specifically A Cross to Kill. What inspired the story?
I love letting real-life events inspire fiction, and my new series is no exception. When I first started developing the storyline, there were a handful of high-profile executions of journalists at the hands of terrorists overseas. What made these executions unique to this era was the fact that videos of the killings were spread across the internet. As these tragic events were taking place, I found myself wishing someone had intervened. Thus, the rescue attempt at the beginning of A Cross to Kill was born.

The other aspect of real-life that inspired the story was my own experience in ministry and the reality of how unique that calling is in the life of a person. I not only spent time in local church ministry myself, but my father was also a small country church pastor during my early elementary years. I loved the idea of capturing the fish-out-of- water experience of someone who did a very different job finding themselves learning what it means to spiritually care for a group of people. I also have to admit, I’m greatly inspired by the thrills of such action franchises as Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, and James Bond. I want my series to take the Bible and the Church seriously while offering the same kind of jaw-dropping action those novels and films excel at.

The main character, John Cross, is a small-town pastor with a top secret past the members of his church would find hard to believe. What are some of things John left behind in his former life?
John didn’t just leave behind a past filled with poor choices and immoral behavior. Almost immediately, we get a sense that he performed actions in his role with the CIA and on behalf of his country that he is unable to forgive himself for. At a key moment in the story, we discover that John’s marksmanship was put to use by his superiors in unpleasant ways. You’ll have to read the book for all the details, but what I can say is John can’t help but evaluate his actions through a rigid view of Scripture, and as a result he’s struggling to believe God could truly forgive him.

What I find interesting is the theological question surrounding his previous life that he’s finding himself at odds with. Is the taking of a human life ever justifiable? There’s much to unpack with that question, but when we first meet John, he’s not yet taken the deep plunge into his theological training, and therefore, has very black and white opinions on complicated issues. This creates a conflict within him as he struggles to cope with the memories of his time with CIA and strive to live under the forgiveness of God in Christ.

What events led up to John finding and following Christ?
John’s conversion has already happened when A Cross to Kill begins, but later in the book we get to hear his version of it. It’s a rather unconventional story, but that’s what I like about it. The fact that his conversion happens while he’s on assignment is such a great picture of the two competing forces in his life, that of his ingrained training and his newfound commitment to Christianity.

The short version is that after performing operations of a lethal nature with the CIA for so long, John lost his sense of humanity. While tracking a target in Spain, he ends up in a cathedral during a Catholic service. Unable to understand the liturgy, he still found himself drawn to the religious symbols. Compelled to know more about the man hanging from the cross, he forgot about his target, found an English Bible at a local shop, and devoted himself to knowing more. While everyone’s story is different, John’s story is one of God reaching down with an irresistible draw to set aside an undeserving man for His great purpose.

What are some of the faith struggles that John faces along the way that readers can identify with?
I know there are faith struggles John faces that readers can identify with because they are ones I struggle with even to this day! For one, John can’t seem to shake loose from past habits and hang-ups. Sometimes those habits can be used for good, but more often than not, John finds himself fighting to walk in faith and love and not let his flesh take control when things go awry. Much of the Christian life is about this same battle. I am at constant odds with the desires of my flesh, and at times, I have sympathized with the ancient monks who punished themselves to try and defeat their own impulses (a practice called flagellation, and one which John has adapted in his own way).

Another faith struggle that I know many readers can identify with is the difficulty of accepting God’s forgiveness for not only the sins we’ve committed in the past, but the sins we will commit in the future. John struggles to believe God could forgive him for what he did while in the employ of the CIA, and that affects his ability to pass forgiveness on to others. This is something I, myself, have also found difficult. It’s not hard to believe God might forgive a single mistake here and there, but after failing again and again and again, it’s easy to expect a limit to God’s forgiveness. That’s when we can become trapped in the erroneous belief that faith is not enough, and we must work to retain God’s favor.

Writers usually write what they know. Is there any of you in John Cross?
If there was, I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you. Just kidding! The more exciting aspects of John’s story are nothing like mine, and I only wish I had half of his intuition and skill. It is true, however, that writers usually write what they know, and I’m no exception. The part of me in John Cross is less the man and more the day-to-day experience in local church ministry.

When I wrote A Cross to Kill, I was on staff with a Southern Baptist church in Central Virginia, though a much larger church than Rural Grove. So much of what John experiences with the church and its members is based on real experiences that I drew from during my time on a church staff as well as from growing up as a preacher’s kid in rural Tennessee churches. The congregants we get to know are not based on individuals as much as an amalgamation of wonderful people I had the opportunity to get to know through the years.

The book description states that A Cross to Kill is not only a riveting story of suspense, it’s also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world. Can we talk more about the moral quandaries?
A big moral quandary John faces, and I believe many of us wrestle with, is whether there is any legitimate justification for the taking of the life of another person. Is it ever right to kill another person? The Scripture could not be clearer that we are not to murder, and Jesus goes further by condemning any hateful thought toward a fellow human. There is much more Scripture to consider on the issue, but the answer to the question is not cut and dried.

The debate always seems to yield the same “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes,” answers. I didn’t want to try and provide a rigid response one way or the other in the novel, but I did wanted the characters to wrestle with the question and answers. Naturally, they probably wouldn’t ultimately agree. But for John in particular, what the characters decide, would drive the decisions they make when faced with danger. This is what we have to understand about the issue ourselves: If we believe Scripture gives a clear answer, whatever answer that might be, we must be prepared to let that answer influence how we respond to particular situations and issues regardless of how unconventional and perhaps even countercultural that may be.

Is it possible to truly put our pasts behind us? How should we respond when our previous mistakes and decisions don’t stay in the past?
I don’t believe it’s possible to truly put our pasts behind us, and I don’t think that’s ever been God’s intention. We see many times in the Scriptures how God seeks to remind His people not only of the good they’ve experienced, but also the bad. The past is not meant to be forgotten, but to shape our response today. And that can be both the pleasant memories as well as the painful regrets we carry from before.

When we remember God’s goodness in our past, it is cause for celebration and worship. In much the same way, when our previous mistakes and decisions come back into our present, it is a moment for us to acknowledge how God continues to be good in the midst of a broken world. We see His goodness in the fact that those mistakes are still covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and there’s nothing we did then or could even do now to change that. When our past mistakes return and remind others of pain we may have caused, it’s important to not only acknowledge God’s grace and mercy but also seek reconciliation and restoration to the best of our ability. Ultimately, when we humble ourselves before the Lord, He is faithful to do a work in us and in others so that even in our shortcomings, He can be glorified.

Without giving away too much, what can readers expect as the Shepherd Suspense series continues?
I’m so excited to continue the story with these characters, and I can’t wait for readers to pick up the next books in the series. One thing that is true about the Christian life is that it is a life-long pursuit of Christlikeness includes many ups and downs. We won’t find our sanctification complete this side of heaven, and so neither will my characters!

For John, he may have crossed a hurdle with accepting God’s forgiveness for his past, but that doesn’t mean he’s dealt with every decision he’s made leading up to becoming the pastor of Rural Grove Baptist Church. And John’s not the only one with a complicated past. The thing I’m most excited about sharing is the action-packed twists and turns that promise to keep the characters on their heels and the readers up past their bedtimes.

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your debut book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read it.

Readers, here are links to the book.
A Cross to Kill -
A Cross to Kill (A Shepherd Suspense Novel) - Amazon Paperback
A Cross to Kill (A Shepherd Suspense Novel Book 1) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:

Monday, November 18, 2019

THE TEA CHEST - Heidi Chiavaroli - One Free book

Welcome, Heidi. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I never purposefully write any of myself into my characters, but I inevitably show up in them! My goal is to write authentically of whatever character I’m creating—whether that’s a contemporary character with a painful childhood and a goal of becoming America’s first female Navy SEAL or a historical character in love with a man on the “wrong” side of her family’s political views, I try to keep myself out of their way. To me, having an agenda or purposely trying to insert my views into a character taints the story. Instead, I try to actually put myself in their shoes and leave mine behind. I definitely don’t do this perfectly, but that’s my goal.

That’s what I try to do, too. And I welcome God to insert into the story what He wants there. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
That has to do with writing or just in general? J I’m not sure if this qualifies as quirky, but on a recent research trip, my mom and I stopped for lunch at a café. We were trying to brainstorm story ideas. Before we received our meals, my mom went to the restroom. When she came back, she leaned over and whispered in a conspiratorial manner, “I think you should go to the bathroom.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, thinking I must have heard wrong. But then she explained that there was a sign on the back of the single restroom door that might give me a story idea.

So I brought my phone in the bathroom (this is the quirky part for me, because I’m a big germ freak!) and snapped a picture of the sign. Turns out my mom was right. That sign did give me a story idea (though readers will have to wait until 2021 to find out what it is!).

Quirkier still was contacting the owner of the café and asking for permission to use the wording on the sign!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Probably right around third grade when I started my debut masterpiece titled I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. Unfortunately, as I grew older, I cast off the idea of writing as impractical. It wasn’t until I became a stay-at-home mom that I revisited the idea.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading what I write—women’s fiction, split time, and historical novels. I also love general fiction, both general market and Christian. I always want to venture into psychological thrillers because I’m fascinated by the human brain and psychology and even the weird sometimes, but I end up chickening out before I open the book! Maybe someday . . .

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Great question, and one I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer! I do know that if I don’t have some quiet time in the morning, I become a useless ball of stress. I also schedule a run or a short hike in the middle of my writing day to help me stretch out and recuperate, both mentally and physically.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Depending on the time period, I look up the top 100 names that were popular during the period my character was born. By then, I already have a basic idea of who my character is and I wait for a name to jump out at me—one that just seems to “fit” with my character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
The first one that comes to mind is getting a contract with my dream publisher, but really, that was all God and looking back, a total miracle. I suppose I’m proud of all the hard work and persevering (through many rejections and bad contest scores) I did through it all, though.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Definitely a bird so I could fly! (I’ve been a bit obsessed with the idea of flying since I was a kid.)

What is your favorite food?
Lasagna and homemade chocolate cake with what my family calls “love” frosting. Unfortunately, I’m on a pretty strict food plan right now to combat some autoimmune issues, so I’ve been enjoying other comfort foods—like rice noodles and kale with “breaded” paleo chicken, and once in a while, when I want to splurge, maple-glazed walnuts (super easy to make and super yummy!).

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Definitely finding my writing voice. That was hard! At the beginning, I tried to learn and obey all the rules while also telling my unique story. It took a long time to find that place of honesty and authenticity, that place where I could simply tell a story without worrying how it sounded or what other people would think of it. But once I did, it felt like flying. Like this was what I was meant to do. Total freedom.

I understand. Early on, when someone published told me that I should do it “this” way. I would try and feel in bondage. Now I know what works for me and I teach others to find what works for them.Tell us about the featured book.

The Tea Chest
Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a Patriot. Her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, forcing her to give up Noah and the friends who are like family to her—as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence condemning each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and marrying Samuel.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom . . .
and discover a heritage of courage and faith.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Naval Special Warfare Training Center
Coronado, California
The bell was beautiful.

Brass, harboring a thousand hidden stories, it reminded me of the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall—of the one time, pre–military life, that I’d left my Massachusetts hometown, the only man who’d ever earned my respect beside me.

Somehow, my uncle Joe knew. He knew I’d needed to get away from it all. From the silvery peels of losing scratch tickets and broken rum bottles on the scratched wood of our coffee table, hope transferred to dirty needles, caps off, lying beside them.

My mother, Lena, passed out on the couch, the logo of her Happy Helpers Housekeeping uniform just visible beneath the shiny drool along her chin.

I’d needed to get away from the screaming late at night.

The knife I kept beside my bed in case one of her boyfriends came in . . . again.

The wondering if I’d ever have enough guts to use the knife if it meant protecting myself.

After that trip to Philadelphia, after seeing that cracked, ancient, glorious bell, after listening to the classified stories disguised in fictional form that my uncle Joe used to instill hope, after exploring the exciting beginnings of our country, after knowing he believed in me . . . well, I didn’t wonder anymore.

The first time I pulled the knife on Lena’s boyfriend, he’d slipped into my room, his cheap cologne filling the thick summer air. His steps came heavy as I pretended to sleep, my hand curled around the knife, waiting for the heat of his hand to graze my bare thigh and inch upward. From experience, I knew what would come next. But instead of succumbing to it, instead of praying that it would all just end quickly, this time, Uncle Joe’s stories came to mind. His words.

“Your worth is not in where you come from, Hayley. Your worth is what you already have inside of you—what God put there from the very beginning—the will to live, the will to fight. No one can take that away from you. You have a say in how your life goes.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is probably the best place (  ). Stop by and get a free short story! I’m also on Facebook (, Instagram (, Goodreads, and BookBub. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for having me, Lena!

Thank you, Heidi, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read the book. It’s at the top of my to-be-read pile. I always want to read books with characters named Lena in them, but more than that, this story has already drawn me in.

Readers, here are links to the book.
The Tea Chest -
The Tea Chest - Amazon paperback
The Tea Chest - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: