Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Christmas Surprise

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest!

A guest post with the 'story behind the story' by Kimberly Rose Johnson


Way back in 2012, I received news that my entry in the ACFW Genesis contest was a semi-finalist. That book went on to be my first contracted novel. I sold it to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line. Jump forward to 2017, the imprint is closed, I received my rights back on the series and I have re-pushed that book under a new title along with all the other books in the series. Whew! It’s crazy for me to think about how hard I worked for that first contract and then how hard I fought against self-publishing, due to fear, only to self-publish my first traditionally published books. LOL I suppose my writing has come full circle.

I look back at how much I resisted self-publishing and laugh at my fear. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes it’s not cheap, but it’s not too much to handle like I imagined.

A Christmas Surprise is the first book in my Love in the Cascades series. These stories take place in Leavenworth, WA—a quaint Bavarian village nestled in the Washington Cascades. When I decided I wanted to set the series there, I planned a research trip. My mom and I took Amtrak from Oregon to Leavenworth. My husband has extended family there and they were such a help to me. They drove us around and told us all sorts of stories. I got a real sense of the spirit of the people there through them.

When I began this journey, I had no idea what the story would be about, only that it would be a Christmas story and it would be set in Leavenworth. As I wandered the village and began to get a feel for the town, ideas began to percolate. I decided I wanted my heroine to own a candy store. Then the puppy idea came to me, and I decided my heroine should be a veterinarian.

As they say the rest is history. Here’s a quick blurb about A Christmas Surprise.

Veterinarian Pete Harding doesn’t date single moms.

After showing up to a blind date to find he left before she arrived, Keira is reminded why she doesn’t date. She had true love once but a tragic accident ripped him from her and their son, who’s now four and only wants a puppy for Christmas this year.

Although off limits since she’s a single mom, Pete determines to help Keira find the perfect puppy for her son.

Keira wonders about Pete. He says he doesn’t date women with children, yet she can’t help but notice he behaves like a man who has more on his mind than finding a puppy.

Will love break down Pete’s walls and bring more than a puppy for Christmas?

Disclaimer: A Christmas Surprise was originally published in 2013 as The Christmas Promise.

NOTE: A Christmas Surprise is available for FREE on Amazon from Friday, Sept 22 through Tuesday, Sept 26. Click on the link below to get your copy now! Hurry! 


Kimberly Rose Johnson
Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

You can sign up for Kimberly's newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2xkn1qb



Friday, September 22, 2017

One Mouthful at a Time

One Mouthful at a Time

By Donna Schlachter

A shepherd and his sheep

"God
, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction."
Psalm 23:1-3 The Message

If you’re anything like me, life is rushing past you at supersonic speed, seeming to scatter in all directions like a herd of squirrels. And if you’re anything like me, there is no slowing down in the near future. Despite all our technology, we seem to push and stretch to do more with the hours we have, cramming more doing in, despising those moments when we can’t do because of a line up or a break down or a need to just be.

And then God reminds us, in poetry meant for our hearts, that He is the One who provides all we need. When we look at the shepherd of King David’s day, a lush meadow for him was a rocky hillside where tufts of grass grew in a clump here, a clump there. Seed, watered by the dew and the night fog from the Mediterranean, sprang up overnight and burned off in the hot afternoon sun. If the sheep didn’t find it before then, it was gone. And so the shepherd led them across the dry ground to a mouthful of food here, a mouthful there.

And only good shepherds knew where to lead their sheep.

How blessed we are to follow the Great Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep. Who tends the flock so that not one is lost. Who sleeps across the gate to the sheepfold so none wander away and the destroyer doesn’t get in.

Today, if you are like me, you need a quiet moment to stop, breathe, think, then act.
Take that moment now.
Stop. Breathe. Think. Repeat.
And plan to come back tomorrow.
God’s got a place reserved for you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for leading me beside still waters when the waves threaten to overwhelm me. Thank You for filling me when I feel empty. Thank You for being all that I need in every circumstance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express Romance Collection" released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna recently taught the popular Don't Let Your Subplots Sink Your Story, an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers, and will teach another course in May 2018 on The Middle MuddleDonna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
  
Echoes of the Heart: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Solve by Christmas, by Amber Schamel

Solve by Christmas, by Amber Schamel

Peg here. I am so excited to focus the Whispers in Purple spotlight on author Amber Schamel, and her new release,  Solve by Christmas. Intriguing title, isn’t it? Amber also shares the ‘story behind the story’ with us … at my request.



About the book:
Solve by Christmas, by Amber Schamel
When sabotage threatens the Rudin Sugar Factory, Detective Jasper Hollock believes this will be his first real case. But dear Mr. Rudin—the only father Jasper has ever known—holds a different assignment for his private investigator.

“I’ve struck a deal with God, Jasper, and you’re my angel.”

Mr. Rudin charges Jasper to build a “case” of reasons for his employer to continue his life. If he fails, Mr. Rudin will end it in suicide on Christmas night.

As the incidents at the factory become life threatening, Jasper’s attempts at dissuading Mr. Rudin prove futile, and Jasper is left staring at the stark reality of his own soul. Time is ticking. Jasper must solve both cases by Christmas before Mr. Rudin, the company, and Jasper’s faith, are dragged to perdition. Will this be the Christmas Jasper truly discovers what makes life worth living?

 “Amber Schamel's engaging prose weaves together not one, but two edge-of-your-seat threads in this historical mystery. With the hero racing against time to solve the two cases readers will be kept guessing as they attempt to crack the case.”   ~ Review by Laura V. Hilton, author of Christmas Admirer (Whitaker House)


A peek behind the scenes:
Where did this idea come from? This is one of the most popular questions that authors get asked about a new release, but I think I’ve heard it more with Solve by Christmas than any other book so far.

It was one of those ideas that just popped into my head, then took on a life of its own and evolved over several weeks. I wanted to give my readers a new story before the year was out, but I didn’t have a specific plot in mind yet. I did know I wanted to write a Christmas story. So, I had that much. Then I decided I wanted something with a firm deadline.” If this doesn’t happen by this date, everyone dies” sort of thing. Then “By Christmas” popped into my head and flicked on a light. What if Christmas was the deadline?

I’ve always loved detectives and mystery stories, and they go perfectly with deadlines. So, then I thought, what if a detective must solve the case by Christmas or death wins?

Sometimes, as an author, there are ideas and thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. Almost like God dropping a card into your mental mailbox. The next point of Solve by Christmas was that way. What if a detective was assigned a case that he had to solve by Christmas, but it wasn’t a real case –at least not the type of case he wanted—but something completely different? From there, the story began to really take shape.

The next step, of course, is to come up with a character to be the detective. I wanted the story to have a Sherlock Holmes feel, so I started by studying his character a bit. But my story also has a less serious side since it isn’t a murder mystery and takes place at a sugar factory. I wondered…what would happen if you took Sherlock Holmes and meshed him with Barney Fife?

Now THAT would be hard to pull off. But I was determined to try. So, I made a list of Sherlock Holmes traits, and one of Barney Fife’s traits. I began to see that they actually have several similarities. They’re both a bit socially awkward. They both have a very similar flavor of pride. And they both have this air of authority…although Sherlock can back his up while Barney struggles in that area. Then I began to pick and choose between the traits that were left, this Barney trait, this Sherlock trait, and pretty soon I had Detective Jasper Hollock forming on the page. Whether you will get a Barney Fife and Sherlock feel when you read Solve by Christmas, I can’t say. But I do believe I was successful in creating a unique, quirky character that will bring this Christmas mystery to life.
There you have it. The scoop behind Solve by Christmas.

I would love to hear of two book or TV characters that you would like to see meshed! Leave me a comment for your chance to win an eBook copy of Solve by Christmas! Comment by Midnight, CDT, one week from today, with your contact information, to be eligible.

About Amber
Amber, reading
Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year Award in Historical Fiction. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites.  Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Where to find Amber:
http://amberschamel.com/
Twitter - @AmberSchamel https://twitter.com/AmberSchamel

Purchase Links for Solve by Christmas:


Friday, September 15, 2017

Rest in the shade ♦ Devotional ,4 Michelle De Bruin

Rest in the Shade
a devotional by Michelle De Bruin

"I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love." 
Song of Songs 2:3-4


Over the years, I have developed a chronic condition known as fascination of the life and ministry of the prophet, Elijah. Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me through his story in the books of first and second Kings.

The Bible gives a narrow window through which we glimpse the life of this Man of God. He lived in Israel. Although Elijah was such an influential voice during this era of Israel’s history, only a brief span of his life is exposed to us through the stories in the books of Kings. The king of Israel, Ahab, had led the nation so far away from the worship of God that now the time had come to begin reaping the consequences. We all know who God chose to deliver the bad news–Elijah. Lucky man.

Elijah became the enemy. The king placed high priority on getting rid of him. The word of God came to Elijah again. This time it was meant for Elijah’s comfort and not for the rebuke of a wayward king. “Leave here. Turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there” (I Kings 17:2-4).

First Kings goes on to tell us that Elijah did what the Lord told him. Elijah lived there for a long time–at least three years. In a nation that had forsaken God, Elijah continued to enjoy God’s presence. During an extended season of extreme drought, Elijah feasted on God’s unending provisions. In the face of a king’s wrath–a king with the entire military at his disposal–Elijah found a place to hide away, safe and protected under God’s watchful care.

Over the span of those three years, the king looked everywhere for Elijah, but never found him. Why? Because God covered him. Psalm 91 mentions the safety found in the shade. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).

Danger couldn’t find him. The king’s anger couldn’t touch him. Hunger couldn’t weaken him.

Song of Songs 2:4 refers to a banner of love. The Student Bible says a banner was a large military flag that held a fighting unit together in battle. In the noise and dust of a fight, soldiers needed a visible sign to keep them oriented (p. 600). God spread his banner over Elijah. This orienting symbol wasn’t made of cloth with a royal crest. Rather, it was love and it came complete with God’s presence. “Fear not, I have redeemed you,” God says to Israel through Isaiah, “I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. For I am the Lord your God. You are precious and honored in my sight and I love you” (Isaiah 43:1-4).


Elijah lived in the ravine–a crevice running deep between two rocks. It became the place where he enjoyed God’s care, his provision, and his love.


About Michelle:

Michelle is the Spiritual Services Facilitator for an organization that provides services for people with both mental and physical disabilities. In this role, she plans and leads retreats, teaches Bible studies, offers care during times of grief, and writes devotions. Michelle lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Iowa. She's recently completed the manuscript for a historical romance drawn from her local history and family heritage. The story explores the themes of discerning the call to ministry, growing through grief, and discovering true love. 

Links:




Thursday, September 14, 2017

How Great is Our God ♦ Carole Brown


How Great is Our God! 


By Carole Brown 
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7



It seems everywhere you turn today, the world is a mess. I try to keep up with current events, but sometimes I find myself pulling back away from it all. The enemy of us all would drown us in disbelief, doubt and worry if we would allow it. I find my spirit beginning to flounder in that sea of distress and must need revive it with the good things of God.

In my newest WWII Spies series, in book two, soon to be released, both Jerry and Josie Patterson are rebellious, self-centered people. Neither have given much thought to God, and both have gone gung-ho after their own pleasures and desires.

·       Jerry not only suffers a serious physical injury, but his spirit is troubled over actions taken as a spy in Germany. Guilt over the death of a sweet woman, guilt over all the deceit he needed to use, guilt over the temptations that knocked, and though he didn't give in to them, nevertheless, troubles his mind and soul. Who do you turn to when you have no God in your life?

· Josie, filled with elaborate plans on becoming an Olympic participant once the horror of war is over, ignores all the people in her life—except when it's convenient for her to use them. All that matters is attaining her goal and Jerry. Running roughshod over all others, forgiving and forbearing as they are, is her usual ploy in getting what she wants. So who do you turn to when all your dreams turn to ashes?

It's only after each one of them receive a severe injury that prevent them from doing what they want, only when they think they've lost the other, that they begin to listen to what God is teaching them.

Both rebels in their own way, Josie and Jerry Patterson must figure out how to keep the other's love...and keep the German enemy at bay.

She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? Has another woman captured his heart?

Jerry has vowed to let Josie live her own glamourous life...especially after what happened in Germany. But when his wife's life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie.

These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their ownselves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.
  
Isn't that so in our own lives? Many times we go headstrong toward our goals, without prayer or definite assurance from God that it's what he wants for us. It seems a good thing, beneficial, and desirable so it must be good for us, right?

God is so great, so faithful, so loving in pulling us back, in teaching us that He is our all in all. Our strength in times of deep distress and trial, our anchor when the storms of life are blowing us off course, our shield when others would hurt or wound our spirits...our peace through it all.

May we, like Josie and Jerry, learn that our God IS a great God. We need have no fear; he does not fail.

About Carole:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. 

She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

True freedom in Christ is found through surrender

ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future

Book 3, Surrendering Time Series

Trish’s Story

by Julie Arduini 



Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with crushed dreams, egg on her face, and the chance to make a new start with the very people and places she used to make fun of.

Trish Maxwell was a known fixture in the Adirondack mountain village of Speculator Falls. Although she grew up there and her parents were prominent members with their work and volunteer duties, Trish didn’t see herself living in the area as an adult. As soon as she had the chance to leave town, she did, believing it would be the culmination of her dreams to live in a big city and have a high-powered job.

What she didn’t count on was the business cutting back, and she was the first to be let go. With no other plan or funds to stay in New York City, Trish is forced to move back in with her parents. People were upset with her for the way she left, and she had to deal with them. Trish also needed to determine her future, and she truly wasn’t sure what she’s going to do. Even when paramedic Wayne Peterson came to her rescue, Trish still faced confusion with the options.


In all my writing, I use a surrender theme as a backdrop. True freedom in Christ is found through surrender, and there are enough surrender issues to write for a long time. In ENGAGED, Trish has to surrender her failed dreams for God’s best plan. Sounds easy, but I’ve been around people who have lost decades of opportunities because they were holding onto a goal that wasn’t meant for them. I also have dealt with plans that didn’t go the way I wanted, and I had to choose whether I wanted to be bitter or better. Trish had the same choices.

What was interesting to write and share with a book club at my church was that faith wasn’t automatic with Trish. Wayne turned his life around and embraced a personal faith with Christ because he realized he wanted to be a good steward as a single father. Trish went with the false thinking that because her parents were staples of the church and she’d been in the building for years, she only needed to throw up a quick prayer when she needed some answers. As Trish encountered more conflict, she needed to see that wasn’t enough.

Finding a personal faith in Christ apart from family is important to me because I’ve taught too many kids over the years that felt because they sat in the same pew week after week with grandparents and parents, that was their ticket to heaven. Or, because they went to a Christian concert, that was enough. Through fiction, I hope I can present a solid story that would make readers want to hunger for Christ and make Him their best friend, as I have. As my characters need to.



Have you ever faced a situation that didn’t go as you thought it would? Did you have another plan in place? Were you tempted to be bitter? How about faith matters? Have you met someone who felt they were good to go with their faith because their family was invested in Christ?



 Jule Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, and ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future. FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER is her 30 day devotional using the surrender themes and characters from the series. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and also is a blogger for Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.

Find Julie at:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Imitation ♦ Devo Post ♦ Heather Davis

Imitation*

A Devotional post from Heather Davis


Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Ephesians 5:1
[ESV]

Ephesians 5:1 takes me back to a simpler time when my children were small and all of their dreams, heartaches, and goals were simple, touched with the endless possibility of imagination and not yet crippled by reality. Back then, my husband and I were incredibly cool. We might have even been the most amazing people on the planet… at least in the eyes of our children.

I have so many memories of them imitating us — my son’s pudgy, two-year-old hand flopping to and fro on the table as he tried to mimic the rhythm his daddy was tapping out with his fingers; my middle daughter trying to “mother” her baby sister as I mothered her; my youngest carefully watching our judo class and attempting ukemi on another mat until she melted the heart of our 6′ 5″ sensei (who had no daughters) and he decided to make an exception for her on the minimum required age.

Yesterday, Ephesians 5:1 kept drifting through my mind, jumbled together with such memories as I shared above. However, each time I sat down to write about it, the words simply would not come.

After a final, frustrated attempt, I deleted all the clunky and disconnected sentences I had written and chalked it up to being distracted by the plethora of animals scattered about my home (we are pet sitting for some friends and are currently outnumbered by four-legged beasties, mostly predators save for one very squeaky and nervous prey).

Forgive my digression…

At any rate, I did pray for understanding since the verse would not leave my mind. Although my small group recently finished studying the book of Ephesians, apparently God had more to say to me through this epistle. So this morning, I sat down and began reading at Ephesians chapter 5 when I sensed the Holy Spirit’s gentle suggestion to start back in chapter 4.

Beginning in 4:17, I read through to 5:2, and… well… Go ahead and read it yourself. I’ll wait.

Did you see it?

As I prayerfully read this passage, I saw something I had missed in the way the book was segmented in our recent study. In verse 24, there is the admonition to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God…” 
Of course, this reminds me of a similar verse; Galatians 3:27 which states, “For as many of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…” and others like it.

As I read with these Scriptures in mind, I had a mental image of a small child dressing up in a parent’s clothes in joyful mimicry of the person they look up to the most. And it hit me — that is the way we ought to be with God.

Sure, most of chapter 4:17-32 is composed of a list of what is often called “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots,” and while these guidelines on the behavior expected of the redeemed are exceedingly important, if a person is truly in Christ, those actions are the symptom, not the cause.

For we who are in Christ are not a people called merely to follow a prescribed set of rules and regulations; we are a people set free from bondage to sin and death.  Although it is true that there are things we should do and things we should avoid, the driving force behind our behavior is the key. We do not live for the sake of the rules, but we live in imitation of our holy, pure, compassionate, and gracious God.

As His children, we dress ourselves rather clumsily in His garment of righteousness, our adoration of Him compelling us to strive to the uttermost of our childish ability to walk and talk as He does. Astonishingly, in His mercy He has even given us the gift of His Spirit to help us along the way.

Do you see it now? The list of “dos and do nots” in Ephesians 4 — and indeed anywhere they occur in the New Testament– is less a list of rules to follow so much as it is a gauge by which we measure our likeness to Him.

If you will, think of it as that impossibly high mark on the growth chart that represents our Father’s stature as we put on His tallest hat and stretch up on the tips of our toes in an attempt to reach it.

Forgiving others, putting aside falsehood and speaking truth, walking in purity, striving for holiness, laying aside bitterness and wrath — all these and more are things that our God already does. He is the goal we are running this race to reach; He is the reason we run at all.

Instead of trying first to modify our behavior, what if we simply kept our adoring eyes fixed on the Lord, giving our entire effort to emulate Him? Through His Word and prayer, He will indicate areas that we may need to adjust. When He does, like beloved children, we can respond in joyful obedience, fully convinced of our Father’s great love for us as we imitate Him in righteousness and holiness not out of guilt or shame or duty but because we want to be like Him more than anything else in the world.

Our mighty and holy Father, we thank You that You have called us Your children. Today, we ask only that our love for You would continue to increase, and that our desire to emulate You will be the driving force of our lives on earth, amen.

*This article first appeared on https://letusruntherace.net/2016/11/22/imitation/ ... reprinted here with permission. Thanks, Heather!

Heather Davis is a disciple of Christ, an adorer of God, sometimes wayward or distracted student of the Holy Spirit, dedicated wife, mother of three, homeschool mom until recently, amateur photographer, freelance writer, inquisitive nature lover, hiker, and dog owner occupying about 5' 1" of physical space. She loves to write about her adventures along the narrow path that leads to life on her blog, "Running the Race."