ACFW New Releases: August 2017

August 2017 New Releases

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

Action/Adventure:

Imperfect Lies by Elizabeth Noyes — When another woman emerges from the past to claim Mallory Cameron’s happily ever after, she cuts her losses and sets out to find a headline-worthy story to launch her journalism career. She embarks on a whirlwind journey that takes her across the United States, to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, on to sunny Mexico, and deep into the dangerous parts of Africa where terror reigns. James Evers turned his back on a life of power and privilege to carve a place in the world for himself. Now that he’s finally discovered his niche as a small-town sheriff and found the woman he wants in his future, a past indiscretion struts in on high heels and sends his newfound love fleeing headlong into peril. His mission: neutralize old enemies, defuse new threats, resolve past mistakes, settle family disputes, and—most importantly—find and rescue his woman from terrorists before the unthinkable happens. (Action/Adventure from Write Integrity Press)

Contemporary Romance:

The Bachelor’s Unexpected Family by Lisa Carter — Young widow Kristina Montgomery moves to Kiptohanock, Virginia, hoping it will give her and her teenage son, Gray, a fresh start. She longs for the peace and quiet only a small town can provide. But her plans are thwarted by her new neighbor, Canyon Collier, a former Coast Guard pilot and a crop duster. Gray is instantly drawn to the pilot and his teenage niece, Jade—and Kristina’s not far behind. She and Canyon are soon bonding over parenting their charges and their spark becomes undeniable. Could it be that the spirited pilot is just what Kristina needs to teach her heart to soar again? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy — Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia, has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller –It’s been ten years since Leah Fisher’s mother died in a buggy accident. But when Leah’s father shows interest in Naomi Yoder, Leah isn’t ready for a new mother. Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder’s happiness at the same time? (Contemporary from S & G Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli — An antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year- old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre, a woman torn between the love of two men – one a patriot, one a Redcoat. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Fresh Faith by Elise Phillips — Joy Abbott had been trying to start her life over for years — and failing. Then a letter summoned her to Texas and everything changed. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)

Historical:

Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson — In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to a quaint village in England’s magical Lake District. With a new camera and an eye for capturing the beauty others miss, she can’t wait to explore the heathery fells and mystical waters. Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, makes the sightseeing even more beguiling. When Adrian shows Jenny his late father’s abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder. As long-held secrets come to light, it’s left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Titus: The Aristocrat by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — Titus intends to become a famous lawyer in the Roman Empire. Instead, he is sent by Paul to arbitrate between arch enemies in wild Corinth, wilder Crete, and wildest Dalmatia. In each place he suffers. But, long before that, he suffers from guilt over the death of his mother when he was eleven years old. How does Titus survive it all? (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

Historical Romance:

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander — With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (Historical Romance from Zondervan)


The Second Chance Brides Collection by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman — Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage. Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Romantic Suspense:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason — When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan’s life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn — Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she’s nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles’s sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he’s falling for. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cold Blooded by Anne Patrick — Detective Gwen Jamison has the highest closure rate in her division, but a string of armed robberies is about to take over her life. Not only will her job be on the line, but the troubling case also wreaks havoc on her personal life. Lieutenant Ian McKean knew he would have his hands full when he took over leadership of the detectives unit. He wasn’t prepared for the headstrong Detective Jamison, though, who quickly becomes a thorn in his side. If they can stop butting heads long enough they might realize they are more alike than either imagined. (Romantic Suspense from Anne Patrick)

ACFW New Releases: July 2017

July 2017 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)

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)