Is Your Stuff Weighing You Down?

Have you ever reached a point where your stuff overwhelms you? Stuff meaning your material possessions, your social media or any other distractions that take you away from your family or work.
Coffee Bar
Recently, my husband and I did a remodel of our kitchen. We took down a wall to add a coffee bar. On the other side of that wall is our master bedroom closet. It’s always a little scary digging in to a closet to take some footage away, so we remodeled our closet as well to maximize the space. (I love being married to an architect, who is also into construction!)

It seemed this was an obvious time to go through my closet and do some major purging. Ugh! Just the thought of digging through all of my stuff was overwhelming. It would be so much easier to shove everything back in the closet and ignore it. But no, there was just too many clothes. This was ridiculous. Time to purge!

I was brutal. Even if I loved a particular item of clothing, if it didn’t fit me today, right now, then it went. I only kept what fit me now. No more saving that pair of pants for when I lost weight, or hanging on to that oversized shirt in case I gained weight again. It had to fit me today.
Nine Bags
I was brutal with my shoes as well. Even if they were cute, if they rubbed my heel or squashed my toes, they were gone. If I hadn’t worn them in years, they were gone. I literally had a pair of heels that I hadn’t worn in over 25 years!!! They were still in good shape but why was I keeping them? Out they finally went. In the end, I filled nine – count them, NINE large garbage bags with shoes and clothes.

And you know what? It felt GREAT! I felt lighter! I was cleansed! In the process, I found a couple of really cute shirts that I forgot I had that I never wore. So, while I got rid of a lot of clothes, I found some “new” and never worn items to add back in.
New Closet
This major closet cleansing has inspired me to keep going. Right now, I’m focusing on social media and my writing. I subscribe to way too many blogs that are supposed to help me with writing. All they’re doing is creating more noise in my head and taking up too much time.

I also like the latest, greatest program to help organize my writing, or do the best outline, or create characters this way. Well, those are also creating noise. I’m going to find one and stick with it! I don’t need the latest, greatest thing – I need the one that works for me. None of these programs is going to help me a better writer. The only way I can do that is to sit down and write, every day! No program will help me with doing the actual work.

Next will be my kitchen, as we’ve continued with the remodel by replacing all of our kitchen cabinets and moving some things around. Time to get brutal – I mean, how many spatulas does a girl really need? We’ll soon find out.

So, here’s hoping I can carry this “cleansing” attitude around for a while. I’ve been weighed down for a long time without even realizing it. By simplifying and purging, I’ve lightened my load and regained my focus.

How about you? How do you keep from being weighed down by stuff?

ACFW New Releases: June 2017

June 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)


Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

Cozy Mystery:

The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:


A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Speculative:

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)

Women’s Contemporary:

Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)

I’m Obsessed…

I’m obsessed. I have an addiction that I will never shake. This mighty force has swept through my life and I’ll never be the same again.

My obsession: my granddaughter. If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably seen a post, or a picture or two or three or a dozen, of this precious girl.

The object of my obsession


What has happened to me? At a recent large gathering, with lots of extended family and friends, my only thought was of my granddaughter. One part of me wanted to be her protector, as there were a lot of people around that she didn’t know, but who all wanted to see her. I knew that might overwhelm her at some point, so I wanted to be another familiar face she saw besides Mommy, Daddy and Grampa.

On the flip side, I wanted to show her off to every single person in the room, because she is the most beautiful, fun, happy grandkid ever! What a split personality I have!

This obsession is powerful. While holding her, I could barely carry on an adult conversation. When I wasn’t holding her, I was constantly watching for her to make sure she was okay. Yeah, like her Mom and Dad aren’t the awesome parents they are and couldn’t handle this. Sigh…. See – I’m a total mess!

I don’t even know myself when I’m around her. However, I will try to be more normal as I go along, but no promises. Meanwhile, I can only apologize to my granddaughter’s parents, my husband and anyone else for my odd behavior when I’m around her. I can’t help it, and I don’t want it to end.

Truth be told, I’m having the time of my life. This is one obsession I don’t want to get over!

A Mother’s Love

After the last couple of blog posts about different kinds of mothers, and who we choose to love as our mothers, I couldn’t help thinking about my own mother.

For some reason, it’s difficult to write about my mom. Maybe because the emotions run too deep. She is a huge influence on my life, and a source of strength for me. That was magnified a couple of years ago as she battled her own health issues. Her determination to get through it all was amazing to watch. That same quality of determination, courage and strength propelled her through her years as a military spouse, too. What a wonder she is!

I suppose I could go on and on describing my mom’s qualities, but truly, there’s only one word to describe my mom: LOVE.

She exudes love. She is sunshine, hope and light. You can’t exhibit these qualities without being filled with love. I’m blessed to have a mom who exemplifies love, who showed me love.

Hopefully, I’ve passed on those lessons to my own kids, and now to my granddaughter.

So, thank you, Mom.

Now, I would be remiss, for this Mother’s Day post, not to thank my mothers-in-law as well. For my Mother-in-law #1, thanks for your laughter and the joy you take in life. And MIL#2 (technically, the step-mother-in-law, but she’s a mother-in-law all the way), I thank you (frequently) for your love, support, advice and understanding in taking on a ready-made family. I’m so thankful for our conversations and the fun we have together.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my moms, biological, via marriage, or adopted by love. I’m thankful for everything you give to me to make me a better mom.

Now, it’s not too late! If you want to read stories of hope, love, and laughter about Mom’s, please pick up Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever! — And don’t forget to read the story on page 235! 🙂

A Different Kind of Adoption

My next few blog posts will focus on Mothers and Mother’s Day. As Mother’s Day ranks third in most money spent for the holiday (behind Black Friday and Valentine’s Day), it’s a big deal.

As I became a mother by marriage, I tend to focus on different kinds of Moms. And how surprising it is when you keep your heart open to the people in your lives.

A few years ago, my husband and I noticed an older lady who always sat by herself at church. My husband, being much more outgoing than I am, decided we should sit with her. We introduced ourselves and she mumbled her name.

It was apparent that she was very shy, and probably preferred to be left alone. Yet week after week, we were drawn to her and continued to sit with her. Eventually, she began talking to us more and more. But it took lots of time, lots of patience, and my husband, with his whacky sense of humor, had her warming up to us.

It turned out that “Dee” was widowed, and lived alone, and sadly, was not in touch with her only child. She’s a tiny woman, not even five-feet tall, but quick-witted, spry and a go-getter. She’s very shy and introverted, but regular with her church-going. However, week after week, friendship began to blossom.

Fast forward as hubby and I have faced a serious health issue with my mother, and on the flipside, the birth of our first grandchild. Dee walked beside us through all of it. She’s prayed and supported us, provided wisdom and sage advice.

So, what started out as us sitting next to a lonely widow, has turned out to her adopting us into her world. One time at church, when we were out of town, someone asked her where her son and daughter-in-law were. I think that tickled all of us as we didn’t realize we presented a picture of family to those around us.

Now, every week, we show her updated pictures of our granddaughter, whom she has adopted as her great-granddaughter. She even shows off pictures to others at church!

We took a chance sitting next to her, when at the time, it was clear she was shy and probably preferred to sit alone. Yet we felt compelled to keep sitting with her.

And instead of us adopting her, she ended up adopting us. We have a new mom whom we love and laugh with, and now can’t imagine her not being in our life.

Mothers come in different persons, if you open your heart.

What about you? Do you have another mother in your life?

Being Inspired

As a writer, I’ve trained myself to try to be observant to the world around me. I love to people watch, and sometimes I can’t help but eavesdrop on conversations at the local coffee shop. You never know what is going to inspire you, no matter how small it may seem. A snatch of a phrase here or an action or motion there. But in observing the world, you sometimes overlook what’s right in your own home.

I’ve been honored to have three stories published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the one out now for Mother’s Day -“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!” Many writers are inspired by their own parents, and I definitely admire my mother for her strength and courage, and fun sense of humor.
Chicken Soup Covers

But in the case of two out of my three stories for Chicken Soup, the inspiration has come from my daughter, Bonnie.

Bonnie became my daughter via marriage to her father. She started as my step-daughter, but our relationship grew to the point where she asked to be legally adopted ; This story was recounted in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Mothers and Daughter. From there, I watched her finish high school to going to college, to shopping with her for her wedding dress to most recently, walking with her through her own pregnancy and birth of her beautiful daughter. This is the story in “Best Mom Ever!”

Bonnie lost her mother due to a car accident, so me coming into her life and trying to be a mother wasn’t always an easy thing to do. How do you walk the line between respecting the memory of her mother to wanting to develop my own motherly relationship with her?

It’s been a journey, filled with highs and lows, but we’ve walked this path together, communicating openly and honestly. And the fact that she opened her heart to love another mother astounds me and I couldn’t be more blessed with her and our precious relationship.

There’s something about choosing each other that has made our bond even deeper.
Bonnie’s faith in me in a parental role (when I had no children of my own previously) and now as a grandparent fills me with such joy. You never know how your heart can grow with love.
Granddaughter
She continues to inspire me as I watch her grow into her own role as a mother, and I’m so honored to walk beside her during this time.

So, while I look around the world for inspiration, I need not forget to look among my own family. This beautiful light that is my daughter is proving to be the greatest inspiration of all.

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

I haven’t blogged in a while. Mainly because I don’t take the time. But I think there’s another reason. In looking at anything social media related right now, everything seems kind of ugly. We’re a divided world right now, where there’s no room to respectfully agree to disagree. Maybe that’s the key word: respect. And that’s what’s been missing. Respect for other people, and respect for their beliefs, even if they contradict your own.

I used to love hearing all sides of a debate. You learn so much that way! It may not have changed my own opinion or beliefs, but hopefully I had a better understanding of the other side of the issue. Then we could respectfully agree to disagree and move on. There wasn’t hatred or animosity toward another. There wasn’t this sense of “If you don’t agree with me, then you’re not a good person and I’m cutting you out of my life.”

It was interesting being friends and neighbors with those whose opinions didn’t completely line up with mine. And by being friendly, you could still learn and appreciate the others beliefs and opinions.

Nowadays, I almost don’t want to blog or share my thoughts. And the sad thing is, the few times I’ve truly opened up on my blog about a personal issue or something I was going through, was the time I received the most support and encouragement. I believe people want to be real with each other. They also want to know they aren’t alone, with whatever they’re going through.

But if you open up about your struggles, or your beliefs, will you also get skewered in the process? Is that worth a blog post? How do we be real with each other, without feeling like we have to hurt each other with hateful rhetoric?

When that happens, you tend to surround yourself with people only just like you and suddenly you’re in your own bubble, just to protect yourself. And it’s okay to surround yourself with people who hold your same beliefs. Right now, my life group from church is fantastic. I want to keep hanging with these folks, because we’re trying to do life together, to be there for each other and to share good and not-so-good times together. It’s what life is about.

However, if I never reach beyond these friends, to at least engage in conversation with others who have a different lifestyle or beliefs than me, then how can I ever learn about them, or show that while we may believe differently, we’re all human beings, sharing this earth, and those differences can make life interesting and fun.

We don’t have to be divisive. And we don’t have to be silenced, as I want to be sometimes with not posting on my blog. This blog is called “Talking Among Friends.” And it’s meant to be a place for conversation, even if you don’t agree with me. Can’t we hold diverse opinions and still be friends? If not friends, can we at least respectfully agree to disagree and continue to treat each other with kindness?

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts.

ACFW New Releases: January 2017

January 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety — Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there’s the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery — Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common–a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering — Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander — A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. Women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate’s ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse — Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where “first comes money, second comes marriage.” What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber — In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch — Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin’ eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Dead Run by Jodie Bailey — Kristin James’s morning run turns deadly when she’s attacked by a stranger who’s after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won’t let her brush the attack under the rug. He’ll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can’t tell her that he’s under orders to investigate her link to her brother’s misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn’t want to believe that her brother wasn’t on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard — Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner’s involved in a wildlife trafficking ring–until someone tries to kill her. Gemma’s determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she’s starting to wonder if her parents’ and uncle’s deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he’ll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can’t shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won’t survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post — A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey — Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan — Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she’s come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it’s a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she’s not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can’t prove the pastor’s innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)

ACFW New Releases: November 2016

See below for some great books from my friends at ACFW. Enjoy!

November 2016 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:

Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope by Texie Susan Gregory — In a deadly race to save her son, a young slave woman dares defy the most powerful man in the world. (Biblical from Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Crazy Woman Christmas by Renee Blare — A quiet cowboy whisks Bianca to his ranch to ride out the Christmas blizzard where she discovers life is cold but also beautiful in the “Cowboy” state. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Other Than a Halo by Valerie Comer — Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant. Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved. What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby — What if a phone call from the obstetrician’s office went to the wrong person? Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her? Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program? Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas? Can a ponytailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart by Candice Sue Patterson — Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he’s indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers to aid in his lengthy recovery if he’ll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay — After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Emily Price returns home to Italy with her new husband and learns that life at its richest is only found when she accepts its chaotic beauty. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Women’s Fiction:

Forgiveness by Marianne Evans — Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper repeat the mistake of trusting a man whose done battle with the bottle. Can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness? (Women’s Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical:

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson — As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert — Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan — On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

Historical Romance:

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Gina Welborn, and Becca Whitham — Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley — In the wild and untamed West, time is set by the local jeweler…but Two-Time Texas has two: two feuding jewelers and two wildly conflicting time zones. Meg Lockwood’s marriage was supposed to unite the families and finally bring peace until she’s left at the altar by her no-good fiancé. Hired to defend the groom against a breach of promise lawsuit, Grant Garrison quickly realizes that the only thing worse than small-town trouble is falling for the jilted bride. But there’s something about Meg’s sweet smile and determined grit that draws him in…even as the whole crazy town seems set on keeping them apart. (Historical Romance from Sourcebooks)

Mail Order Mommy by Christine Johnson — Nursing a broken heart, Amanda Porter had answered a frontier mail-order bride ad placed by Garrett Decker’s children—only to find the groom-to-be didn’t want a wife. But his adorable children are determined she’ll be their mother by Christmas… His wife’s betrayal and tragic death demolished Garrett’s life. Now he can’t even look at another woman, let alone marry Amanda, who resembles his first love. But with his daughter convinced Amanda is the perfect mother, will Garrett realize she’s also his perfect match? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Hope’s Design by Dawn Kinzer — An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Brides of Wyoming by S. Dionne Moore — Roam the Wyoming range alongside three couples who meet under danger from bands of outlaws. Renee escapes a gang of outlaws and lands in the arms of a sheepherder. Olivia’s sleuthing upturns secrets key to solving the murder of a reluctant rancher’s father. Maira is trying to keep her ranch running alone when a drifting cowboy offers a hand. Can love develop where suspicion and greed roam the range? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich — When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe — A little girl on a quest for a new mama has the local seamstress in her sights. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell — On the run from a hit man, Patricia Campbell is unaware of the FBI’s search for her to learn what information she might hold, so she continues to hide out. Then she meets a persistent computer technician, a charming philanthropist, and a handsome, wealthy businessman who wants to marry her. But her fears resurface, and she wonders if she can trust any of them. Can she survive long enough to find peace…and perfect love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Counter Point by Marji Laine — Her dad’s gone, her diner’s closing, and her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose … except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Speculative:

The Flaming Sword by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — When evil joins forces in the Tethered World, Sadie Larcen must risk all to protect the Flaming Sword and her family…even if it takes her life. (Speculative Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)

The Daily Decision

You know those times when you’re reading a blog post or a meme and something just jumps out at you and smacks you in the face. It’s happened to me a couple of times. (Hmmm… I need to put all of those sayings together so I can remember what smacked me in the face).decisions-by

Anyway, I had words smack me again today. I was reading a blog about being a writer and the challenges that can be faced with choosing a writing career. (Check out the post on Seekerville by Debby Giusti).

Debby said that you have to make a decision to write. Talk about words leaping off the page: you have to choose. You have to make the decision. Such a simple thing, but somehow it smacked me. I have a really made the decision to pursue writing? If so, then it’s a choice DAILY to sit down and write.

I think that’s true with most things in life. You have to choose.

If I really want to pursue a career in writing, I have to make the decision every day to put words on a page.

If I want to blog regularly (ahem!), then I have to choose to think of topics and again, put the words on the page.

If I want to get healthy and lose weight, then I have to choose to exercise or go to the gym. I have to make the decision to eat healthier.

Don’t get me wrong, I know things can happen that can totally derail your daily choices. I’ve had cancer twice, so I get that. I’ve been derailed! But when events happen that change your path, then you still make a choice of how you’re going to handle interruptions to your regular schedule. What will be your next decision?

To accomplish most things in life, you have to make the decision to do it. And do it. It’s a daily decision and a daily choice.