Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When it Feels Like Home ~ Alice K. Arenz ~ Giveaway

Please welcome friend and author Alice K. Arenz as she takes us behind the scene and into the Story Behind the Story of her recent release The Wedding Barter, a book I thoroughly enjoyed ... and reviewed. (see link below**) - AND a free book. Details below.

When It Feels Like Home

 by Alice K. Arenz

No, this is not Tarryton - image courtesy pixabay.com
Have you ever read a book where the place described feels so much like home that you’d actually like to live there—or, at least, read more about the people who do? I know I’ve felt that way and hoped one day to create just such a place for my readers. I just never thought about feeling so comfortable with one of these fictional communities I’d want to return there for a book totally unrelated to the reason it was invented in the first place.

Confused? That’s ok because it happens to me all the time! But, seriously, this was how I felt when I signed on to write a new Christian romance for a collection my publisher was putting together. After getting over the initial reaction of switching gears from mystery/suspense to romance, all I could think about was location, location, location! I was already stepping out of my comfort zone, so I knew there had to be a solution that could cushion me as I dared cross over into an unfamiliar genre. Then, suddenly, it came to me! Tarryton, Missouri, the fictional location from the Bouncing Grandma Mystery series was perfect...and my publisher agreed!

Tarryton already had a population of characters just waiting to pop out of the past and into the future—nine years older than when they were/are in the Grandma books, but still filled with an abundance of personality. Even the town had the requisite businesses—it was a place burgeoning with life and possibilities, a perfect setting for The Wedding Barter!

Tarryton was already on my mind when I signed on to join the novella collection—I’d recently re-read The Case of the Bouncing Grandma and The Case of the Mystified M.D. in preparation of beginning a third book in the series. It was long overdue, I know, but the excitement of revisiting that town and characters like Glory Harper with her insatiable appetite for solving mysteries had become all-consuming.

No, The Wedding Barter wouldn’t be a mystery and would be set in the present, but it would be able to borrow upon a foundation already established. From Randi’s Dandies Bakery to Kelly’s Garden and Landscaping, to Marcello’s Restaurant, Tanner’s Truck Stop, and Centerview Park, the town was waiting to be used and populated with another cast of characters. I could close my eyes and picture it even more clearly than where I lived now or had grown up. It was filled with friends and acquaintances who wanted to share their stories with new readers, waiting to charm, disappoint, and amaze. They were home . . . and they were ready to welcome us into their world.





I hope that you, dear readers, will feel the same about Tarryton as I do! God Bless.
The Giveaway: Alice is offering a free eBook copy of The Wedding Barter to one of my readers. Entering is easy ... just leave a comment below with your name and email (e.g. you(at)123xyz(dot)com). Followers of this blog will get an extra entry. Just let me know in your comment. Contest runs through Tuesday, February 6. 2018, at Midnight CST.

Though Alice K. Arenz is known for her cozy mysteries and romantic mystery/suspense novels, the Carol Award winning author has branched out with her newest release, The Wedding Barter, a romance that is both serious and funny.

Arenz is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Awards: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist). These novels have been followed by An American Gothic, Portrait of Jenny, and short story, Home Cookin’.

Visit her at her website www.akawriter.com

**If you're interested in the review I wrote for The Wedding Barter, just follow this link.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Finding Joy in the Sunset ~ Patti Shene

Please welcome my good friend Patti Shene, and her beautiful article about sunsets and how they present something new every evening, revealing the magnificent and unmatchable artistry of the Great Creator.  Sit back and enjoy.

Every Sunset is New
by Patti Shene

  
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy Psalm 65:8 (NASB)

I don’t live in a scenic part of Colorado. No towering mountains or sparkling lakes take my breath away when I gaze out my front door. The southeastern region of my state has for many years suffered the effects of drought, creating a thirsty, barren expanse of old sameness.
If one is not surrounded by the majestic and breathtaking nuance of natural splendor, the soul stalks the corners of creation to find its hiding places. I find new beauty in every sunset.
Whether the day is heavy with toil and trouble, or light with laughter of friends and love of family, God delights when He reveals another page from his divine coloring book at its conclusion. The sky takes on a life of its own as the heavens dance with the changing hues of pinks, purples, yellows, and oranges. Clouds of white blush with tints that morph from deep reds to soft pinks. Store windows and church steeples reflect God’s glory as His people prepare for rest and reflection.
Sunset touches everything old on this earth and transforms it into something new. The highway becomes a ribbon of liquid gold. Leafless trees spring to life against the backdrop of a vibrant sky. Clouds lose their threatening gloom when tempered with a silver lining. The sun paces its path across the heavens until it sinks below the horizon, leaving behind a gentle peace that day is done.
Just like the majestic grandeur of sunset changes our perspective on our familiar and old surroundings, so the supreme majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ changes our lives. He refines the path we follow by shining His light and guiding us to fulfillment. He bathes the barren branches of our lives with the light of purpose and makes them flourish. He comforts us with the light of His presence when clouds of fear threaten to steal our joy and renews our hope.
Observe the sunsets in life. 







In the words of the Psalmist, “the sunset shouts for joy.” Joy that God reigns supreme. Joy that colors our world. Joy in the promise of something new tomorrow. 




To learn more about Patti, Visit her on her website t: http://www.pattishene.com/about 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Life is a Puzzle ♦ Lillian Duncan Devotional


Life Is A Puzzle


1 Peter 1: 3 (NIV)
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.

 Puzzles can be confusing but then again the same can be said about life. When we first dump out a puzzle all we see are hundreds or maybe thousands of pieces that make no sense. Often we can’t see the intended picture until the puzzle is close to being completed. When we’re in the middle of a puzzle it can seem like one big mess.
Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?

I’ve heard life described as a test, as a journey, as a learning experience. And, of course, we can’t forget that famous box of candy! In my recent novel, PUZZLE HOUSE the main character describes life as a puzzle. In fact, she believes that so much that she created Puzzle House, a place of healing and hope.

She refuses to call herself a healer. Instead she says she’s only there to help people with their puzzles. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a little help with this puzzle we call life?

The good news is that we do! The above verse assures us that through his divine power God will give us all we need for a godly life. Sounds great but as with most things in life it takes some effort on our part as well.

Life is filled with thousands or maybe millions of experiences. It’s almost impossible to understand where one little piece fits into the puzzle of our life at any given time. Things that we think are important turn out not to be and things we think are trivial turn out not to be so trivial after all.

It’s only after the puzzle is complete or at least that section is finished that we have our “aha” moment and can see the bigger picture.

As we experience life there will be times when we don’t always understand why certain things happen or don’t happen. It feels unfair. Why did this happen to me? Doesn’t God love me?

It’s in these times when our faith can begin to weaken if we allow it, but it can also be an opportunity to strengthen our faith. Which one depends on how you choose to react.
Notice I said choose to react. We don’t always have a choice about our circumstances, but we always have a choice about how we react. We can choose to react in a way that honors God or not.

 The choice is ours.

This devotion was adapted from Devotions from Puzzle House—a companion devotional to Puzzle House.
                  




About Lillian:  
Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shalom

My Word for 2018


Shalom

SHALOM = PEACE

SHALOM SHALOM = PERFECT PEACE 

I wasn't seeking a word this year, but a blog article by a friend in Israel caught my interest. In it she expounded on this Hebrew word in great detail. The more I read, the more I felt God was telling me something.

And as I listened, I realized what that something was. The message of peace. Who doesn't want peace in the world during these troubled times? But even if that doesn't seem possible, nor probable, until Jesus comes, His message was that I can have that Perfect Peace.

Read the blog article that inspired me, written by my friend Deborah Hemstreet ... Hebrew name ... Dvora Elisheva.


Shalom Shalom, my friends. Have a blessed year.

Friday, January 12, 2018

This World Is Not My Home ♦ Alexis Goring

Not My Home

A devotional by Alexis A. Goring


On the drive home earlier this week, my mind was inundated with the injustices, tragedy and pain in this world that we as humans experience.

As my mind delved deeper into despair, I spoke these words aloud: “Earth is NOT my home. If I can just remember that, I’ll be fine.”

And just like that, I realized that God had given me a message for this devotional with the key phrase, “Not My Home.”

People who believe in God and follow His Son Jesus Christ know that this planet Earth is NOT our home. We look forward to our true home in Heaven. It’s a perfect place free of sin and all of its side effects: death, disease, injustice, oppression, pain, etc.

There’s a Bible story in the book of Hebrews that resonates with me as I write this devotional. The story is about a man named Abraham who was called to go to a place where he would later receive as his inheritance (Hebrews 11:8, NIV). God told him to go to a foreign land and by faith Abraham went without hesitation and made his home in the Promised Land. Now the verse that speaks to my writer heart most profoundly is Hebrews 11:10 which says, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

As Christians that’s our eternal hope: We are looking forward to our Promised Land, “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” How beautiful is that? God is THE Architect and Builder of our Heavenly Home. His home is peaceful and perfect because He designed it and His establishments are sin-free.

I look forward to the day when God puts a permanent end to sin. I look forward to Jesus Christ returning to take His faithful followers home. Honestly, most days it’s the only hope that gets me through. This world is getting worse, as the Bible tells us it will before Christ returns. But “we have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord.”

(Wayne Hooper, "We Have This Hope" - church hymn)

We can rest assured that if we accept Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation and follow Him while we’re living on this Earth, then we WILL go home to Heaven with Him when He returns. We can trust that He WILL destroy the devil, the evil angels and all who follow the devil. We can know that after that final act happens, evil will no longer exist—peace and pure bliss like you’ve never known it before will reign forever.

The Bible says in Revelation 21:4 (NKJV), “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Now that is a hope to hold onto, a promise of a better time, a better place that is not of this world! Honestly, this reminds me of the song “Another Time, Another Place” by Sandi Patty and Wayne Watson. 



So be encouraged, dear hearts. God is Good. He keeps His promises and just like He promised, He will return to take us home to that perfect place. Until then, stay in tune with Him and let Him lead you. There are so many hurting people in this world. Ask Him how He can use you to help others. He wants us to occupy until He returns (Luke 19:13, KJV). Let His Light in you shine brightly in this dark world. Let His Light lead others to His heart and inspire Hope in their hurting hearts.

Earth is not our home. Heaven is our final destination. Let’s live like it.




Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bouquet of Brides ♦ Donna Schlachter ♦ Giveaway

Bouquet of Brides – Donna Schlachter

A rough-and-tumble cowgirl longs for true love, but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.



Lily Duncan—“Cactus Lil” to friend and foe alike—is as prickly as her name implies, and she likes it that way. Arizona in 1885 is a land as harsh as the moon, but Lil, born and raised near Cave Creek, feels at one with the sand, rocks, and giant saguaros. She loves living in the desert, and is happiest on her own on her small cattle ranch near Cave Creek, Arizona. Although she’s never been in love before, she pens romantic short stories for a magazine under her pen name of Daisy Duncan.

Peter Golding has never been west of the Mississippi, but a tender young woman named Daisy who writes of love and relationships intrigues him. Through reading her powerful descriptions of what love should be, Daisy’s stories have captured a part of his heart.

When Peter’s uncle sends him to find Miss Daisy Duncan and bring her back to New York City, Peter decides to take matters a step further and bring her back as his bride—surely then his uncle will be impressed with her. But when he arrives, he quickly realizes that Miss Lily Duncan is no shrinking violet waiting to be rescued. In fact, she has to rescue him several times.

Cactus Lil finds her heart torn between this stranger from the east and her desire for independence. If she surrenders to her feelings, will she be forced to do his bidding? When she finds a telegram from her editor telling Peter to bring her back or lose his job, she believes his attentions to be self-serving. Will Peter choose her or his job? And will she decide to surrender her heart or send him packing—again?

Purchase Link: http://amzn.to/2CFMF8R

Excerpt:
Double D Ranch
Near Cave Creek, Arizona Territory, 1885

Chapter 1

Sally Jo sank to the ground beneath the pain of her wrenched ankle. “Drat. I simply cannot walk one more step in these infernal boots.”

Thomas Peabody, broad of shoulders and narrow of waist, knelt beside her, cupping her aching foot in hands more accustomed to roping steers or shooting the eye out of a gnat at a hundred yards. “Miss Sally, allow me to assist you.”

Sally Jo stared into his eyes. Why hadn’t she ever noticed they matched perfectly the color of the summer sky? “Why, Mr. Peabody, you’re most gallant.”

He straightened, reached a hand toward her, and pulled her to her feet. When she tried to put weight on her aching foot, a jab of pain like a hot poker shot through her, and she collapsed into his arms.

Right where she wanted to be.

He pulled her near, and she closed her eyes, offering her mouth to him. Greedily, as though drawing his very life essence from her, he covered her lips with his own. When she thought she would suffocate, she opened her eyes, and saw mirrored what her racing heart telegraphed to her own mind: this was love.

Lily Duncan surveyed the words written on the page as she chewed the end of her fountain pen. Ink blotches on her fingers attested to her hard work this morning. A clicking sound like a metronome tickled at the periphery of her hearing while she considered whether she needed to change the word telegraphed to something more ooshy-gooshy romantic.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She tipped her head to listen. What was that sound?

Lily tossed her pen on the desk and glanced at the silver clock resting on the leather-topped surface. Time was running out. She had less than two hours to finish this story and get it on the last mail stage of the day. That snooty editor, Mr. Hogan, in New York, was waiting for it.

Not that she knew for certain he was snooty. Truth was, she didn’t know anything about him.

She’d only met him through correspondence, so he could be any age, any degree of pretentiousness, any color for that matter.

But that didn’t stop her creating an image in her mind: middle-aged, a monocle, oiled hair parted down the middle and slicked back, muttonchop sideburns, and a beard, of course. A house on Fifth Avenue, a society wife, private carriage, servants, and twelve children. At least.

She sighed. Thinking about all the reasons why she didn’t like the man responsible for buying her stories to publish in his fancy eastern magazine wasn’t going to get the story written.         Or mailed.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pushed back from the desk. What she’d written would have to do. She couldn’t work with such a racket. She stepped to the window and listened. Not coming from the front. Must be out back. She crossed the bedroom-turned-office to the window facing the rear of the house.

This view was much more utilitarian than the rolling desert and giant saguaros surrounding the house on the other three sides. A small barn for her three horses, a hen house, corral, and privy filled her line of vision.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

Yes, this is where the sound came from.

And she knew its exact origin.

Lily hefted the Colt .38 on her hip. She’d take care of that she-rattler right now. She strode to the back door and stepped into the late afternoon heat of the desert.

The musky smell of mesquite, heated by the sun, filled her nose as she paused on the doorstep. How she loved the desert. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Certainly not a place like New York City. No way. Give her cactus and rocks, cattle and dipping tanks, horses and leather any day. Unlike her heroines, she wouldn’t darken the doorway of a town bigger than Cave Creek. And she sure wouldn’t fall for the first man who looked at her twice.

Not that many men looked at her even once. She wasn’t ugly. At least, not ugly like a javelina, with its short bristly hide and snarling tusks. And not ugly like a turkey vulture, with its naked head and red eyes.

She preferred men’s dungarees to skirts. She wasn’t much practiced at cooking and cleaning. But she could outshoot, outride, and outsmart most men she knew.

Which was probably why most men didn’t take a second look at her.

Lily neared the woodpile. She’d been meaning to clean that mess up, sweep out the old tinder from the previous year. Even prop the wood up on a couple of timbers to discourage snakes and other varmints wanting to find a warm place to spend the night. But her best range cow had a difficult birth, and her horses needed shoeing, and the hole in the roof . . .

Too much work for one person. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. What had she been thinking when she started writing?

An escape, that’s what. Something to while away the long evenings.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pulled on a pair of leather gloves and tipped her head to one side. If she didn’t get that low-down, no-good rattler out soon, there’d be a passel of little ones slithering around.

She glanced toward the horizon. The sun dropped like a lead sinker as though intent on ensuring she missed her deadline to get that story mailed today.

And she sure didn’t need Mr. Persnickety Hogan upset that her latest installment of Love in the Wild Wild West wasn’t on time.


About Donna:
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 author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

 Find Donna at:

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Other Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

About the Giveaway:
Donna is offering a free print copy of Bouquet of Brides (US only) to one reader of this blog post. To enter, leave a comment below, including your name and contact information (e.g. you(at)123XYZ(dot)com)
Giveaway ends Thursday, January 18, at Midnight, CST. Winner will be drawn Friday, the 19th, and notified via email.

Don't forget to join the fun!
  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A journey to writing through teenagers ♦ Carol Kinsey ♦

            Teenagers can be life changers. Never underestimate the power of sixteen year olds.

Guest blog post by author Carol Kinsey

 
I was leading a high school girl’s Bible study. Every week, eight girls gathered together to learn more about their relationship with Jesus. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and learning. One afternoon, a couple of the girls started discussing an exciting new novel they’d read. As I listened, I grew weary. This “exciting new novel” went against everything I’d been teaching them from the Word of God. In their quest for entertainment, these young ladies were filling their minds with smut, worldly thinking, and trash talk.

We looked at Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (NASB). 

 I asked them, “How does this ‘exciting new novel’ hold up to Philippians 4:8?”

They were smart enough to know the answer. “It doesn’t. But what else can we read?”

I explained that there was a whole world of Christian literature out there, but I could see I’d hit a brick wall. This book was cool. It was fascinating. Everyone was reading it…

It really started there. I remember it clearly. I’d always had stories in my head. I loved writing. I’d studied journalism in college and had a far greater love for words than numbers. So, I sat down at my archaic laptop and wrote a novel for those girls.

My husband encouraged me through the all-nighters I pulled in order to crank out that first book. I printed it out—typos and all, and put it in a three ring binder.

It was a Christ centered, teen, suspense novel, that held to Philippians 4:8. I’m not sure who was more surprised that they loved it. Them or me. They devoured it. After that, they wanted more. So I wrote more. And for the next two years with that group of girls, I realized I loved writing novels. I loved creating stories that showed God at work in the lives of people—stories that showed struggles, faith, purity, the power of prayer, godly relationships, and pointed to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

From there, my writing continued. When my husband took a job as a youth pastor, a few of the teens found out that I wrote, and once again, I was given the opportunity to point people to Christ through writing. But these teens wanted more. They wanted to be able to share my books with their friends. They wanted my books out there in the world. They encouraged me to take my books one step further and get published.

Every one of my novels has been touched in some way by one of the teens in the youth group. Whether it’s through cover design, proofreading, social media, or encouragement, God has used those teens in my life just as I pray He is using me in theirs.

Each step of the journey has been exciting. It’s still continuing. Through my writing curriculum and homeschool conferences, I’ve been able to encourage other young writers to use their pen to the glory of God with Philippians 4:8 as their filter.

I’m excited about the release of my newest novel, Witness Protection, which was released in September. It’s an action suspense with a powerful Christ centered message. There’s nothing in it that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with one of my high school youth group teens reading.

I love writing and I’m thankful that God has given me the opportunity to use writing to honor Him.
                       
- Carol Kinsey


Witness Protection (Released September 2017)

There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed. 

Ty Westgate is a man living under witness protection. Brooke Dunbar is a young nurse, struggling to find hope and healing from her past. After four years in hiding, Ty puts his faith in Christ and realizes his moral duty to tell his unsaved parents about Jesus. While this step of faith holds eternal significance for Ty’s parents, it also puts Ty’s life in jeopardy. Together, in this fast paced novel, Ty and Brooke work to unravel the truth behind Ty’s adversaries. Will Ty’s decision to share his faith cost him his life? Will Brooke learn to trust the One Who can heal her past? The price of freedom may be too high.

Buy links:




About Carol: 
Carol Kinsey lives with her husband and their two daughters on a farm in rural Ohio. She and her husband have been involved in youth ministry for over twenty years and currently serve at a small country church, which inspired her first novel, Under the Shadow of a Steeple. Her novel, Witness Protection, was released in September 2017. She has also published Greater Love, Until Proven Innocent, and a writing curriculum, Creative Writing Through Literature. Carol has a passion for writing exciting Christ-centered fiction that uplifts, encourages, and gives glory to God.




Monday, January 8, 2018

Can Money Buy Love? ♦ Toni Shiloh ♦ Giveaway

Whispers in Purple is pleased to present author Toni Shiloh, on the First post of the year for Everything Old is New Again. who is sharing one of her back-list titles, Buying Love. She's also offering a free copy to one of this blogs readers. See below for details

Buying Love:
Will money ruin everything?

Nina Warrenton is ready for the next step in her life plan—marriage, but there is one problem. No one has proposed! Taking matters into her hand, she places an ad in the newspaper hoping to entice a willing stranger. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money.

Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant. When he sees Nina’s monetary offer for a husband, he goes for it. He’s determined to save the legacy his dad left him, but can he let it go to prove his love for her?

Can Nina and Dwight find true love, once money has entered the equation?

Buy links –

About Toni:
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.
She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the Virginia Chapter.
You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com

Where to find Toni:

About the Giveaway:
Toni is offering a free eBook copy of Buying Love to one of this blog's readers. To enter, just leave a comment in the section below, along with your name and contact info (e.g. you (at) 123XYZ (dot) com) Giveaway will run for one week from today, ending Monday, January 15, 2017, at Midnight O'Clock, Central Standard Time. 
We're looking forward to hearing from you!