Thursday, December 29, 2022

ANYTHING BUT PLAIN - Suzanne Woods Fisher - One Free Book

About the author: Suzanne Woods Fisher’s name has become synonymous with her heartwarming Amish tales set in the fictionalized town of Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania. In Anything but Plain, Fisher returns readers to the lush countryside and introduces them to Lydie Stoltzfus, a young woman who stands out in a culture that values conformity. This touching story shows how being unique is not God’s mistake but rather His gift. 

About the Story: It’s not easy being the bishop’s daughter, especially for Lydie Stoltzfus. She’s not like other Amish girls, as much as she wishes she were. The only thing she does well is disappoint others. Leaving her family and church seems unbearable, but staying might be worse. 

Knowing Lydie is “between” jobs, the local doctor asks her to fill in at the front desk for a few months. To Lydie, this is a boon. It gives her time to figure out how she’s going to say goodbye to her neighbor, Nathan Yoder—the main reason she needs to leave Stoney Ridge. Nathan claims he’s in love with her, but she knows she’s not good enough for him. If in doubt, Nathan’s father reminds her frequently. 

As Dok spends time with Lydie, she recognizes symptoms of a disorder rare among the Amish. She offers treatment for Lydie. But will it be enough to make her stay? Or has help come too late?

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge, a small town that feels like an old friend.

Welcome to my blog, Suzanne. Your female protagonist, Lydie Stoltzfus, has a “unique” personality that causes some problems within the Amish community. Can you please tell readers a little more about Lydie and her symptoms? If you asked Nathan Yoder, he would describe Lydie as creative, warmhearted, and spontaneous. If you asked others, she’s led by her emotions, unrealistic, and impulsive. As wonderful as Nathan’s perspective is, the rest of Lydie’s world is one that values conformity. She’s a square peg in a round hole, and it doesn’t feel very good. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has sometimes been misunderstood or misdiagnosed. What do you hope readers will learn from reading Lydie’s story? ADHD is real. While not without its benefits, it does create some difficulties—both for the one with ADHD as well as those who love that individual. There’s so much help to be found today! I hope readers will feel encouraged to pursue some strategies or treatments that make life a little easier for everybody.

Nathan Yoder’s personality is completely opposite to Lydie’s. Can you please explain how the term “opposites attract” plays out in Anything but PlainNathan is everything Lydie isn’t. He’s focused and determined, with a view toward the long term. Well aware of Lydie’s proclivities, he also sees her strengths—ones he doesn’t have. In more than one instance, she comes up with solutions to problems in the story he’s stuck on. 

In Anything but Plain, you show that Lydie’s uniqueness are not God’s mistakes but rather his gift. What do you mean by this statement? Once Lydie accepts her differences as God-given, she’s able to appreciate the very qualities that make her distinctive, rather than feel shamed by them. This self-discovery, for Lydie, has nothing to do with being Plain but about trusting God.  

What other lessons do you hope readers can take away from your book? Nathan realizes that Lydie sees life in very different ways than most people, but he has the maturity to welcome her differences. He embraces Lydie’s unique qualities—her imagination and creativity, her spontaneity—as gifts to be appreciated, not smothered. Nathan’s attitude is one we should all adopt. There’s an Amish saying that captures this perspective: Everyone has a place at the table.  

Anything but Plain is set in the fictionalized town of Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania, which is where a number of your Amish novels have been placed. How did you go about creating this fictional town? Stoney Ridge is a small town with a big heart. It fulfills most everyone’s inner longing—to have a place to belong, a community that welcomes you. That was the “literary goal” in setting all my Amish novels in Stoney Ridge. Familiar faces step on and off center stage, readers could create an image of the town in their mind—the Sweet Tooth Bakery on Main Street, the Five Sisters house, the rolling hills of Amish farms that surround it. One thing I have to add—Stoney Ridge is very Lancaster-esque. True to the area, both in topography and in community. 

You have written both fiction and nonfiction books about the Amish. When did you first develop your love for the Amish? My grandfather was raised Plain, one of eleven children, on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When I was in junior high, my mother’s Plain cousins became part of our lives for a short period of time. This couple’s little boy was terminally ill, and our home was near the hospital where the child was being treated. That was my first experience, up close and personal, to observe how the Plain people handled a very real heartache. While doing all they could for their little boy, this couple also exuded a calm acceptance, a trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty. I’ve never forgotten their witness. Whenever I write about the Old Order Amish, I try to honor and respect them. While not perfect, the Amish do have much to teach the rest of us. 

How can readers connect with you? I can always be found at my website: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. I also hang out on Instagram and Facebook. I love hearing from readers! 

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing Anything But Plain with my blog readers and me. I’m enjoying reading the book.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Anything-Plain-Suzanne-Woods-Fisher/dp/0800739515/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1672338595&sr=1-1

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 2 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: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

WINNERS

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.

Some people don't read the instructions of how to enter. Unfortunately, they don't have a chance to win. so next time you come and leave a comment, be sure to read all the instructions if you want a chance to win.

Liz K (VA) is the winner of The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen. 

Anonymous (TN) is the winner of Miracle at Madville by MaryAnn Diorio.

If you won a book and you like it, please consider giving the author the courtesy of writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon.com, Christianbooks.com, Barnes and Noble, or other Internet sites. Reviews are such a blessing to an author.

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

Congratulations, 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 2 weeks to claim your book. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

My 2022 Christmas Gift to You

Christmas Eve at Joe’s Diner

Muriel Stone needlessly wiped down the counter while she stared into the whirling snowflakes that curtained the inky night beyond the reach of the lights in the tiny parking lot in front of the diner. She turned toward the pass-through opening to the kitchen. “Joe, why don’t we just close up and go home before the weather gets too bad?”

The older man with a white cap on his head leaned closer to the opening. “Can’t do that, Muriel. This stretch of road is long and lonely. What if someone who doesn’t know how really far apart the towns are needs some place to light for a while?”

She tossed the wet rag on the shelf under the counter. “I guess you’re right, but we haven’t had a customer for three hours.”

He gave her an encouraging smile. “You can go home if you want. I can hold down the fort alone.”

Muriel gave her head a swift shake, and one curly lock fell from the bun at the back of her head. It tickled her neck, sending goosebumps down her spine. “I said I’d work tonight, and I will.”

After all, she really needed the extra money Joe always paid for holiday work. She still owed the hospital $5,000 on her deceased husband’s last bill. It had taken her over two years to get it down that low. On the tips she had been receiving lately, it might take another couple to finally pay them off. What a dismal forecast for her future.

The brass bell over the door jingled, and she looked up. An older couple, bundled up against the cold, made their way to the booth that was farthest from the door. Probably to keep from feeling the wintry wind in case someone else came in. Muriel filled two glasses. After sticking menus under one arm, she picked up the water and headed around the counter.

“How can I help you folks?” The smile she painted on her face felt as fake as a three dollar bill.

The woman pulled a red and green Christmas cap from her tumbled white curls and looked up at Muriel. “I need something hot and nourishing. What do you suggest?”

Her companion silently watched the exchange with a grin on his face.

“Joe has a delicious pot of stew going, and his cornbread muffins melt in your mouth.” Muriel poised her pencil over the small green pad.

A look of deep understanding passed between her customers before the man ordered. “That sounds fine to us. My wife and I would like coffee while we wait for you to bring the food.”

Muriel didn’t need to write that down. She walked to the pass-through where Joe waited expectantly. “These people want some of the stew and cornbread.”

He nodded and set to work. The steaming food appeared in the window by the time she finished pouring the coffee. After serving the bowls of stew, Muriel returned with the hot bread and butter.

With a twinkle in her eyes, the woman gently touched Muriel’s arm. “Since you’re not too busy with customers, could you sit with us while we eat?”

Muriel glanced from her to her husband, who nodded his agreement. Why not? It had been a boring afternoon and evening. She was good at her job, because she liked talking to people. “Hey Joe, I’m going to visit with these people unless someone else comes in.”

He gave a wave from the kitchen that let her know he didn’t mind.

They talked for over an hour. The man and woman fascinated Muriel, telling her about being retired, their family scattered all over the country and the far-flung places they had visited in their travels. Jesse and Martin Hamilton expressed an interest in her life, and she found herself telling them more than she had ever shared with anyone, except Paul when he was alive.

Muriel couldn’t remember exactly what led up to it, but eventually they talked about God as if He were their personal friend. She had never heard anything like it. Since she hadn’t come from a religious family, she’d never heard the things they shared with her. Somehow she soon felt her heart yearn for the kind of peace that radiated from them. If only it were possible for her to experience it.

As soon as that thought entered her mind, Jesse reached toward her and took her hand. “We didn’t just happen to drive by tonight. God told us to come here to this diner to talk to you. He loves you and wants you to know Him the same way we do.”

As coincidental as that seemed, Muriel’s heartbeat quickened at that statement. She wanted to know this God they spoke about. “So how do I get to know Him?”

Martin reached into the seat beside him and pulled out a Bible. She’d seen them before but had never felt drawn toward them as she was now. He pushed it across the table toward his wife. Jesse opened it and started reading. The words came alive in Muriel’s heart.

After the woman shared several passages from the book, Martin asked if Muriel wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior. When she nodded, they prayed over her, then helped her know the words to pray for herself. 

If anyone had ever told her something like this would change her, Muriel would’ve thought the person was crazy. She was still a waitress in a small diner in the middle of nowhere. She had debts hanging over her head and missed her husband every single day. But something inside her had come alive. For the first time in her life, she really understood what Christmas was all about.

Muriel looked at her new friends and smiled through her happy tears. “Thank you for coming here and sharing this with me.”

“We were glad to do it.” Martin took the Bible Jesse handed to him.

Somehow Muriel would have to save the money to buy one for herself. Not a leather one like they had. She knew there were other kinds. If she had to, she’d just get a paperback.

Jesse pulled open the large tote bag she carried. “The Lord told us to bring you a gift, but we don’t want you to open it until we are gone.”

Muriel, who really liked getting presents but didn’t get very many, only gave the gaily wrapped box a cursory glance. “Are you leaving anytime soon?”

Martin scooted out of his side of the booth. “We have to be on our way. We’re going to visit our newest grandson for the first time.”

After jumping up from beside Jesse, Muriel looked from one of her new friends to the other. “I hope I haven’t held you up too long.”

He smiled into her eyes. “This was the most important part of our journey.”

Muriel clutched the present as she walked to the front door with them. When she turned back, Joe was standing behind the counter. 

“So what happened out here?” His words sounded cheerful.

“The strangest thing.” She told him all about it. “I’ve never felt like this before.”

Joe nodded. “I’ve been praying for you a long time.”

“You’re a Christian, too?”

“Yeah, but I guess I’m not as good a one as I should be if the Lord had to send someone else to tell you about Himself.” Joe poured both of them cups of coffee. “So open your present.”

Muriel took the stool beside him and tore off the paper. The box contained a leather Bible with her name on the front in gold. How could that be?

“Did you have anything to do with this?”

Joe shook his head and took another drink from his cup.

When Muriel picked up the book and caressed the smooth blue cover, she noticed five envelopes lined up in the box. She opened each one and found ten $100 bills. In the last one she opened there was also a note. 

God told us to bring this to you. He even told us your name. This money must seem like a treasure to you, but just remember your greatest treasure is the one we showed you before we gave you this present.

Copyright  2004, 2022 - Lena Nelson Dooley 

Thank you for being loyal readers of my blog. Leave a comment on the blog for a chance to win a free copy of my latest book, A Heart's Rescue.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

THE ROSE AND THE THISTLE - Laura Franz - One Free Book


Welcome to my blog, Laura.
Christy Award–winning author Laura Frantz delves deep into her Scottish heritage to create a story that is rich in historical detail and accuracy. In The Rose and the Thistle, Frantz takes readers to her ancestral home, Wedderburn Castle in Berwickshire, Scotland, to bring a breathtaking tale of intrigue, shifting allegiances, and temptations of the heart.

Amid the Jacobite uprising in 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley’s father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies. Forced to flee her home, Blythe is secreted away to Wedderburn Castle in the Scottish Lowlands to stay with longtime allies of her powerful Northumbrian family. While she awaits the crowning of the new king, she becomes acquainted with the Humes, the “Spears of Wedderburn,” who call the castle their home. 

Of the seven sons, it is Everard, Lord Fast, who intrigues Blythe the most. But their faith and their politics divide them. Everard is also grappling with his own problems—a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing their father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

In this whirlwind of intrigue, ambitions, and shifting alliances, Blythe yearns for someone she can trust. But the same forces that draw her and Everard together also threaten to tear them apart.

Please provide a brief summary of your new novel, The Rose and the Thistle. Amid the Jacobite uprising of 1715, an English heiress flees to the Scottish Lowlands to stay with allies of her powerful family. But while castle walls may protect her from the enemy outside, a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting allegiances, and temptations of the heart lie within.

The Rose and the Thistle is set in Wedderburn Castle in Berwickshire, Scotland. Why did you choose this location, and why is this place so meaningful to you? Aside from being a stunning Scottish estate, Wedderburn Castle was once home to my sixth great-grandfather, George Hume. He fought for the Jacobite cause in 1715 and lost not only the battle but Wedderburn too. He and other Jacobites were exiled to Virginia Colony as punishment, never to see Scotland again. My ancestry makes the novel’s setting an especially poignant, unforgettable one in The Rose and the Thistle

Your novel is written during the Jacobite uprising in 1715. Can you please tell readers more about this time and explain what led to the uprising? The English Parliament wanted a Protestant king so George I From Hanover, or Germany, became the monarch instead. The Catholic Stuarts were banished to France where they continued to lead rebellions, or risings, to return the next Stuart heir to the throne.

You have traveled to Scotland in the past. What did you learn from your travels, and were you able to use any of the information you garnered in The Rose and the ThistleBeing on-site is invaluable for novel research and writing. I’d spent time in the Scottish Hebrides and Highlands, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, but not the Lowlands, where The Rose and the Thistle is set. Once I was there, the Lowlands became my favorite part of Scotland, and I was able to flesh out the novel in fresher, more factual ways. My ancestry also came to life as I walked the very ground my ancestors walked and heard their history from the Scots themselves. 

One of the underlying themes in your novel is learning to trust. Can you explain how this comes into play with your protagonists? Each character in The Rose and the Thistle is put in a position where their trust is threatened and they must decide whether to stand on their faith or their fears. The year 1715 was a very turbulent time in British history, which provides a compelling backdrop for the novel. 

Are there other themes or lessons you hope readers will gain from reading The Rose and the Thistle? Our past doesn’t define us. We are all made in the Lord’s image and can become new creatures in Christ. Or we can choose not to. 

Do you have a favorite character? I always love the children in my novels, in this case wee Orin Hume. At age eight, he has that beguiling innocence and honesty and imagination that is refreshing and brings a touch of delightful humor to the novel’s dark places. 

What do you love most about writing historical romance novels? Creating heroes and heroines of integrity who overcome hard things. Placing them in impossible situations where their faith and future are challenged but hope prevails. 

What are you working on next? An Acadian novel based on the Great Upheaval, or Le Grand DΓ©rangement, of 1755. River of Grace is the working title, and it is scheduled to release January 2024. 

How can readers connect with you? I’m active on social media and enjoy answering emails and messages through my website:

www.laurafrantz.net

https://www.facebook.com/LauraFrantzAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/laurafrantzauthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/laurafrantz/

Thank you for sharing this new book with my blog readers and me.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Rose-Thistle-Laura-Frantz/dp/080074067X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1671660273&sr=1-3 

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 2 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: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Monday, December 19, 2022

WINNERS

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.

Some people don't read the instructions of how to enter. Unfortunately, they don't have a chance to win. so next time you come and leave a comment, be sure to read all the instructions if you want a chance to win.

Jamie (TX) is the winner of Honor's Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman. 

Suzanne (LA) is the winner of Holding the Line by Jennifer Delamore.

If you won a book and you like it, please consider giving the author the courtesy of writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon.com, Christianbooks.com, Barnes and Noble, or other Internet sites. Reviews are such a blessing to an author.

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

Congratulations, 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 2 weeks to claim your book.  

Sunday, December 18, 2022

7th Giveaway of 12 for Christmas



A note from Gail:

In Our Prime.

Most uses of the word prime have positive connotations—the best time of our lives for this phrase. Some years ago, I remember sensing that my next decade would be especially productive. What I didn’t know? These years would also be quite painful.

I did everything possible to avoid having my hip replaced, because this invasive operation goes against the grain. Have a part of your body replaced?

After all kinds of remedies, including stem cell injections, I succumbed to surgery. The “miracle stories” did not prove true for me. Successful surgery led to a long recovery period. Then last winter, in two different falls as I walked to stay healthy, I broke my humerus and my femur. Needless to say, more surgery and more long recoveries. But now I’m in PT and getting stronger by the day.

So much has happened in my writing life during this period—two whirlwind book launches and several new author friends. Being able to write when I couldn’t do much else made a huge difference, and I’m so very grateful. Now I’m looking forward to the release of my very first cozy mystery—set in World War II, of course, and scheduled for a February release.

In my prime? Yes, even though it’s a mixed bag!

Click below for today's story.

Day Two: https://paulapeckham.com/wp-co... (The full book A Father's Gift can be purchased on Amazon.)

If you'd like to give these stories as a Christmas gift, you can purchase the anthology Christmas Love Through the Ages. Available on Amazon. Enjoy! 

Friday, December 16, 2022

JOY - (An invitation to share in Mary's gift)

 When I received Ward Tanneberg's newsletter this month, I asked if I could share it with all of you. He agreed.

JOY

“… Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”[1]


THE EIGHTY MILES

from Ein Karem to Nazareth is not any shorter than it had been on her going, but it feels shorter this time. At least to Mary. Hugging Elizabeth tightly, holding little baby John one more time before saying goodbye, hearing Zechariah speak after months of silence. Highlights of an amazing three months. She has so much to tell Ima and Papa and her sister and her forever friends since childhood. Each step on the dusty trail helps close the circle back. Of course, neighbors must be talking … whispering … not to her sister or her parents, but word gets around …. even faster, it seems, when not true. She knows this. There is uneasiness, but there is contentment, too, an inner joyfulness. She is going home.

MEANWHILE JOSEPH IS DEEPLY TROUBLED

learning of Mary’s pregnancy and decides to release her from their betrothal vows. Then in a dream an Angel tells him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”[2]

But while Joseph is getting his head around this amazing turn of events, her parents send Mary away for three months. Granted the Angel assured Joseph he has nothing to worry about. Everything will be okay. Mary is pregnant with the Son of God. Your job is to give him the name Jesus. That’s it. When he is grown, Jesus will do the rest.

God always has the big picture. Joseph is a righteous man so he believes this. Adonai  knows what he is doing. But sometimes, let’s face it, Adonai can be short on the details. Either he forgets to pass them along to us, or he thinks we can figure them out on our own. For Joseph, this is one of those times. Where to begin? Her father, Joachim, of course. Man to man. A woman they both love is carrying Israel’s long awaited Messiah. She must be protected and provided for. These are difficult, even dangerous times. But this is only part of it.

Like any red-blooded male about to marry the woman of his dreams, Joseph has enough angst over bringing a wife into his home and raising a family. But God’s Son? Really? How do I bring up God’s Son? Will he ever disobey me? And if he does, what am I supposed to do? Punish him? Make God’s Son sit in the corner? Send him to bed without his supper?

After Jesus is born, wouldn’t it be better if we just dropped him off at the Temple and let the priests and teachers take care of him? After all, that is his real Father’s house, right? Teach him a trade? Won’t he know everything before I explain it to him? What will he be like? Will he fit into the family if we decide to have more kids?

Joseph may have gotten the message straight from God’s Angel, but he and Mary have a lot to talk about when she gets back.

WITH THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN

in her eyes, Mary makes her way up the familiar path. There is her sister by the well. There is her ima standing in the doorway. Mary’s tired feet grow lighter when she sees her ima’s face light up with recognition. Her sister screams with delight and dropping her water vessel runs to greet her, their ima hurrying after. The three of them laugh and cry and embrace. There is great joy. Mary is home at last.

That evening, a family dinner features all of Mary’s favorites. And many questions. How is Elizabeth? Did she have her baby yet? What was it like living with them? Excited responses. Joachim and Anne and Mary’s sister, the other Mary. The family around the table. With Joseph there, sitting next to their beloved Mary, her face aglow in the candle light, her hand in his hand. And God is in the room.

Like it used to be. Like it will never be again.

“Joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

WHAT IS JOY?

An idea? A feeling? Some words are difficult to describe with other words. A limitless potential. A repository of transformative power, waiting to be tapped into. More than happiness. A feeling we experience in spite of circumstances, in difficult times of sadness, anger or grief. It has been said that joy can share space with other emotions and doesn’t need a smile in order to exist. Happiness exists because of. Joy exists in spite of.

For Mary on this first night home, joy feels like family, like the man sitting beside her, like the approach of motherhood, like her new home and new life only days away. Being with Elizabeth and Zechariah has been a coming of age experience for Mary. Leaving home a teenager, returning home a young woman. Three months during which there has emerged a greater realization of her place in the world, a further understanding of how personal actions and reactions and meaning and purpose and calling are linked to God’s design in us once we open ourselves to him. 

“I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.”[3]

It’s all so exciting. Mary now knows what we can know, too. The source of true joy is the pleasurable presence of the Holy Spirit within us, our hope in his unchanging Word.

Joy is a choice ready to be made. May Jesus keep us close.

 

 

[1] Luke 1:56

[2] Matthew 1:20,21

[3] Luke 1:38


 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

MIRACLE AT MADVILLE - MaryAnn Diorio - One Free Book

Welcome back, MaryAnn. What made you decide to write for children? Many years ago, while browsing in the children’s section of my local bookstore,  I noticed a book about Jesus. I got so excited to find such a book in a secular bookstore. But when I flipped through its pages, my excitement crashed. The book presented Jesus as merely a prophet and teacher, just like Mohammed and Buddha. In fact, after presenting these two false prophets along with Jesus, the author invited the children to choose which one they wanted to follow!

I literally began to weep in that bookstore. Right then and there, I said, “Lord, I’m going home right now to start writing a children’s book that portrays the truth about You. The devil is not going to capture children’s minds and hearts on my watch!

So I went home and started writing Who Is Jesus?, a picture book that portrays the truth about Jesus Christ in a way that children can comprehend and relate to.

After that book, the Lord began giving me other ideas for children’s books. I have always dearly loved children and am able vividly to recall my own childhood. This helps me a great deal when I write for little ones.

It’s been said that it’s easier to write for children than it is to write for adults. You write for both, so what is your opinion? I think it’s definitely more difficult to write for children. When we write for children, we write for little people who are just like us grown-ups but less nuanced, yet, I believe, more spiritual in their life experiences. I like to say that children are “fresh from the heart of God,” with all the innocence that position implies. So when we write for children, we write on a different, and I think, more noble, level of the human heart.

One of my favorite quotes is that by Madeleine L’Engle: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Do you get input from children for your children’s books? Most certainly, especially from my grandchildren. One of my granddaughters is especially literary. She and I brainstorm, and she offers excellent ideas for plots and plot twists. Unlike adult family members, children will tell you exactly what they think of your story. So, you can always count on having an unbiased critic in a child.

The most wonderful moment of my writing life came shortly after I had published my first middle-grade novel, Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach. On a visit to my home, my nine-year-old granddaughter pulled me aside and said, “Nonna, I really liked your book!” Her words so touched my heart and brought me to tears.

Why do you think writing for children is so important? We live in a culture today where absolute truth has been driven out. Our children are being exposed to unmentionable evil unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. We are planting seeds of sin into their fragile, impressionable hearts instead of seeds of righteousness. This is nothing short of child abuse. I am often reminded of our Lord’s comment in Luke 17: 2: “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”

There are several genres of children’s books: picture books, storybooks (like picture books, but longer), chapter books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult, aka YA. Do you have a favorite? I have written in all genres except  YA. I don’t know that I have a favorite. As long as I can tell an engaging story, I’m happy. Picture books, I think, are more difficult to write in that the story should not exceed 800 words. Recently, that number has even been reduced to 500 words by some publishers. So a picture book writer must tell a good story with a beginning, a middle, and an end in only a few words. This forces the writer to get down to the heart of the story—the bare bones, as it were—while still considering all the elements of good story-telling.

What advice would you give to an aspiring children’s writer? First of all, I would say that if you are not consistently around or with children, find a way to spend as much time as you can with them. Get involved in their lives. Listen to them. Mostly, listen. Ask them questions. They will share their hearts with you. Those nuggets they share will be seeds for your stories. 

Observe children interacting with other children. Observe them when they are alone. Observe them when interacting with adults. You will learn a great deal about them from their body language and their facial expressions. Most of all, love them with all your heart and they will love you back. You will grow in awe of them. You will come to understand what Jesus meant when He said we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

Finally, read as many children’s books as you can, particularly in the genre you wish to write.

How much say does a children’s author have in the illustrations for his book? It depends on who publishes the book. If your story is published by a traditional publisher, you will likely have very little say in the illustrator chosen or in the illustrations. Some publishers may ask your opinion on a cover, but most do not.

If you indie-publish, then you have all the say on the illustrator you choose. Since my children’s books are indie-published, I chose all my illustrators. But once I choose the illustrator, I allow the illustrator freedom of artistic expression in the illustration process. This is my way of honoring the artistic gift God has given the illustrator. I feel comfortable giving the artist full reign on the artwork, however, because I have first chosen the illustrator and have seen his or her artistic style and am happy with it.

How does publishing a children’s book differ from publishing a book for adults? Again, it depends on whether you go with a traditional publisher or you indie-publish. Since I have indie-published my children’s books, I can tell you there is a lot of work involved. I have to hire my own professional illustrators and editors. Also, I have to have the files formatted properly, although an experienced illustrator will know how to do that. Books with illustrations require a different kind of formatting compared to simple print books. When I publish my books for adults, however, I don’t need to consider hiring illustrators, only editors. So, publishing for adults is much easier when it comes to logistics.

Do you have any more children’s books in the works? Yes, I am currently working on a children’s storybook titled Nonna Cioccolata (Italian for Grandma Chocolate.) Because I bring my grandchildren Hershey chocolate kisses when I visit them, they have taken to calling me Nonna Cioccolata. So, I decided to write a story about a character by that name.

Do you have any final words to encourage our readers?  Yes. If God has called you to write for children, then consider it a great responsibility and a high honor. Children believe everything they are taught, so our responsibility as children’s authors is, I believe, more onerous than it is when writing for adults. Not that we have less responsibility when writing for adults. We don’t. But when we write for children, we are holding impressionable hearts and minds in our hands. Hearts and minds that are not yet experienced enough to be able to nuance and to discern between truth and error. So, write for children with great care, knowing that you are writing for the very heart of God. 

Thank you, MaryAnn for sharing Miracle at Madville with us. I'm eager to share it with my great-grandchildren.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-at-Madville-Maryann-Diorio/dp/0930037731/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1671127810&sr=1-1

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 2 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: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - 12 Free Stories - Sign up today!

I want to set you up with 12 FREE stories from our 2021 Christmas anthologies. My friends and I have joined up to send you one new story each day.

Click to join... https://www.subscribepage.com/h6i9b7 

THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW - Julie Klassen - One Free Book

Bio: Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s Best Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. She and her husband live in St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit JulieKlassen.com.

About the story: When their father’s death leaves the Summers sisters impoverished, Sarah Summers hatches a plan to open their seaside home to guests to provide for their ailing mother. Younger sisters Emily and Georgiana are on board, but Viola, physically and emotionally scarred, is distressed at the idea. 

Left with no other choice, the four sisters begin their new venture with the help of family and friends. But instead of hosting elderly invalids in need of fresh sea air, the sisters find themselves in the company of eligible gentlemen and a mysterious Scottish widower. Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own. . . .

As Sarah is torn between a growing attraction to the mysterious stranger staying at Sea View and duty to her family, their new situation also threatens to expose Viola’s scars—both the visible and those hidden deep within. 

The Sisters of Sea View is a story full of faith, intrigue, and the unbreakable bonds between sisters. Readers will be eager to escape into this new series set on the charming Devonshire coastline.

Welcome, Julie. Your new novel, The Sisters of Sea View, is the first book in your new ON DEVONSHIRE SHORES series. Please provide a brief summary of your new release, The Sisters of Sea View. The novel is about four genteel sisters who open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet. They expect elderly invalids, who frequent Devon’s south coast to improve their health, and are surprised instead to host eligible gentlemen and a mysterious Sottish widower. As they begin their new venture, they soon encounter mystery, romance, heartache, and healing.

This book, as well as the whole series, is set on the scenic Devonshire seaside. Can you share what led you to choose this as the setting for your new series and why readers may recognize it? I chose the south coast of Devon because Jane Austen visited the region more than once and enjoyed the seaside there. I chose Sidmouth in particular because many people believe she based her unfinished novel Sanditon (the inspiration for the PBS television drama of the same name) on the town. Devonshire is also a setting in Austen’s novels Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion.

What research was required to write this book? Did you learn anything interesting along the way? I read many books about English seaside resorts and customs of the early 1800s. I enjoyed learning about bathing machines and beliefs about the medicinal value of sea bathing—and even the drinking of sea water! And, since I am using a real town versus a fictional setting, I learned all I could about Sidmouth. Volunteers from the museum there have been extremely helpful in my research.

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind this book and what ties each novel in the series together? The inspiration for this novel came from several sources: past visits to the beautiful Devonshire coast, old advertisements I read from women who were letting out rooms in their seaside homes, and even an elderly man from church who told me his mother Viola’s story, which ended up inspiring one of the characters in the book. The series will be tied together by its seaside setting and by the sisters. 

Each of the four Summers sisters, Sarah, Emily, Viola, and Georgiana, is unique. What is most important to know about each sister? Sarah, the eldest at home, feels duty-bound to try to keep her family together. Viola and Emily are twins but look nothing alike. Emily is pretty and confident, while Viola was born with a defect that left her with a small scar—and big emotional wounds. The youngest, Georgiana, loves the outdoors and tends to adopt strays.

Readers may not know this about you, but you were an editor for many years before writing fiction books of your own. How do you think that experience has made you a better author? Yes, I am very thankful for that experience and learned a lot from the authors and fellow editors I worked with over the years. During that time, I learned a lot about the essence of story, the importance of maintaining an author’s voice, and the fact that every writer needs skilled editors to produce the best possible novel. I am very grateful for my editors and would never want to try to do this without them!

For those that know you, it’s no secret that you love all things Jane—Jane Austen and Jane Eyre, that is. How have those interests influenced this book and your writing over the years? I credit the novels Jane Eyre (and The Secret Garden) with inspiring my early love of British literature. By reading Jane Austen’s novels (and attending workshops and talks through the Jane Austen Society of North America) I continue to learn more about the customs of the time period.

What themes or lessons do you hope readers pick up on while reading The Sisters of Sea View? Some of the themes include family loyalty, acceptance of old wounds, and finding joy even amid difficult life circumstances. 

How can readers connect with you? Readers can find me on Facebook (my author page and the group: Inspirational Regency Readers), as well as on Instagram, or by email.

Thank you, Julie, for sharing this book with us.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Sea-View-Devonshire-Shores/dp/0764234269/ref=monarch_sidesheet 

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 2 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: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com  

Monday, December 12, 2022

WINNERS

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.

Some people don't read the instructions of how to enter. Unfortunately, they don't have a chance to win. so next time you come and leave a comment, be sure to read all the instructions if you want a chance to win.

Anne (NM) is the winner of The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green. 

Sarah (OH) is the winner of The Seasoning of Elizabella by Tamera Lynn Kraft.

Sylvia (NC) is the winner of The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano.

If you won a book and you like it, please consider giving the author the courtesy of writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon.com, Christianbooks.com, Barnes and Noble, or other Internet sites. Reviews are such a blessing to an author.

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

Congratulations, 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 2 weeks to claim your book.    

Thursday, December 08, 2022

BOOKMAS 12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS - DAY 8 - Lena Nelson Dooley - A Free Book for all!


Hello, dear reader,  

🎡🎡 On the first day of Christmas… πŸ•Š️πŸ•Š️ 

The holiday season is upon us and I’m so thankful for you. I’ve teamed up with some author friends to bring you 12 Days of Bookmas. 12 days with a gift for you from each one of us (including a special gift from me). All you have to do is save this email and on each day click over to Amazon to download your free book. Don’t delay—the books will only be free for twenty-four hours on their assigned day. There are 4 more free books.

A Heart’s Gift is an award-winning novel with a marriage of convenience with an unusual mystery.

🎁 Dec 1 - Lacy Williams, Christmas Homecoming

🎁 Dec 2 - Shanna Hatfield, The Christmas Bargain 

🎁 Dec 3 - Julia Ridgmont, The Christmas Switch

🎁 Dec 4 - Vickie McDonough, Beloved Enemy

🎁 Dec 5 - Misty Beller, Freedom in the Mountain Wind

🎁 Dec 6 - Lorri Dudley, The Duke's Refuge

🎁 Dec 7 - Kathleen Denly, Waltz in the Wilderness

🎁 Dec 8 - Lena Nelson Dooley, A Heart's Gift (This is mine.)

🎁 Dec 9 - Keely Brooke Keith, The Land Uncharted 

🎁 Dec 10 - Linda Ford, Austin

🎁 Dec 11 - Kit Morgan, The Christmas Mail-Order Bride

🎁 Dec 12 - Kari Trumbo, A Sugar Plum Christmas

 


Wednesday, December 07, 2022

HOLDING THE LINE - Jennifer Delamere - One Free Book

Bio: Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She's been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.

About Holding the Line: A widow at just 30 years of age, Rose Finlay is determined to put all ideas of marriage and family behind her and pursue an independent life. But when she notices a young woman about to be led astray by a roguish aristocrat, bitter memories from her past arise, and she feels compelled to intervene. The unintended consequences of her efforts will ultimately force Rose to reexamine her life in a new light.

As the overseer of his two widowed sisters' financial and domestic affairs, John Milburn carries heavy responsibilities for a single man. But he's faced with his biggest challenge when his headstrong niece falls prey to the attentions of a powerful man who could ruin both her and her family.

When Rose and John join forces to protect his niece, they put everything they hold dear—including their growing attraction—in jeopardy.

Welcome, Jennifer. Please provide a brief summary of your new novel, Holding the Line. Rose Finlay is a young widow who teams up with wealthy businessman John Milburn to shepherd his niece through her launch into society. It’s an unusual move for Rose, who revels in her own independence and has built a successful career through years of hard work. She is spurred on by memories of her own unhappy past and a desire to keep the girl safe from unscrupulous men. When she thwarts the questionable intentions of a powerful aristocrat, the results are disastrous. John and Rose must fight to save the things they hold dear—including their growing attraction to each other.

Can you tell us a little more about what and who were the inspirations behind this book? The series is largely tied together by three women who all work in the field of telegraphy. For Holding the Line, I tried to envision a situation where a telegraph operator might struggle over whether to keep important information confidential if it had a direct negative effect on someone they cared about. Another perhaps unusual inspiration was a tidbit I came across in a history book, that Richard Henry Lee, one of America’s Founding Fathers, was heavily involved in helping the widows of his two deceased brothers oversee their estates and their children. That gave me the idea for John’s family situation.

What did you enjoy most about creating a resilient and independent protagonist like Rose Finlay? I love that even though she is happy living alone, she also cares deeply for her friends and family. She doesn’t hesitate to help others when she sees a need. She’s fearless about stepping into new situations, and she doesn’t shirk from unpleasant tasks if she feels they are important and necessary. The fact that Rose is a widow gives her character depth, and her successful career as a business manager gives the story a more modern twist.

In your opinion, what about the character of Rose do you think your readers will most resonate with? We see Rose’s emotional growth from an overconfident young woman who made some disastrous early choices, to one who is more circumspect. Her efforts to save another young girl from the same fate makes her an admirable and endearing heroine. However, even the most self-assured people can have times of doubt. When Rose begins to care for John, she finds herself tested in the one area where she is not so confident, where she doubts her ability to know what is right. Can she really trust where her heart seems to be leading her? Her uncertainty is understandable, and yet it makes us root for a happy ending for her. Who doesn’t love a second chance at love?

Without giving away any spoilers, what makes Rose Finlay and John Milburn such a captivating duo? They are hesitant in their relationship with each other, and yet the chemistry is undeniable. I love that they are both avid readers, and this is one of many things that draws them together. Both have been through difficult trials, but John has retained a touch of humor and whimsy that often helps lift Rose out of her more serious approach to life. Rose and John are fiercely loyal to their families and friends. They share a concern for the welfare of others, and are willing to go out of their way to protect them. This sensitivity bodes well for a happy union, as they will be able to show that same kindness and empathy to each other—a requirement for a true, intimate connection.

Did you explore anything new as a writer while working on Holding the Line? What continues to motivate your writing? This is the first book I’ve written where there were so many extended family members directly influencing the story, and where the heroine is a widow. She will be approaching the idea of love and marriage with a very different viewpoint than someone who has never been married before. In my books, I love exploring the many ways the women of this era were navigating the expectations of society while forging their own new paths in the workplace. It was a challenging balancing act at times.

What sets Holding the Line apart from your previous novels? One interesting difference is that Rose’s character arc actually spans all three books in this series. Although Holding the Line can be easily read as a standalone, we do see a lot of Rose in the previous books and can see how she changes. I haven’t ever given a character that much buildup before the book where they are the main protagonist.

What lessons do you hope readers will gain from reading Holding the Line? The lessons are subtle, I think, and yet powerful, too. We plan our lives based on our past experiences and our hopes for the future, but often our plans are upended in unexpected ways. Throughout the upheavals, God is there and is able to direct us to new paths that are better than those we’d imagined. Rose had been embittered by the tragedies of her past, but we see how God can gently mend a broken heart with the master’s touch.

How can readers connect with you?

At my website, www.jenniferdelamere.com, readers can contact me and sign up for my newsletter. I’m also on lots of social media:

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jenniferdelamere

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/jenniferdelamere

Twitter - @JenDelamere

Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/jendelamere

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this novel with us.

Readers, here’s a link to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Holding-Line-Love-along-Wires/dp/0764234943/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1670435136&sr=1-1

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 2 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: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com