ACFW New Releases: September 2016

Great reads from my fave ACFW authors!

September 2016 New Releases

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

Biblical:

Daughter of the Nile by Jill Eileen Smith — Explore the exotic world of ancient Egypt and ponder the dilemma Siti faces when she leaves her homeland, her family, and the worship of her many gods, to live in Jerusalem where only Yahweh is worshiped. Can Siti leave her favorite goddess Bastet behind? Will she ever make sense of this land, it’s strange worship of one God, and a husband who is as wise and ever-changing as the wind? (Biblical from Revell [Baker])

Contemporary Romance:

When Love Arrives by Johnnie Alexander — Dani Prescott plans revenge when Brett Somers blames her mother for the plane crash that killed his parents. But the crash killed her mother as well, so Dani can’t believe the story Brett’s trying to sell to the media. She vows to find a way to discredit his story, but when she catches his eye instead, she offers up a fake name and agrees to a date—only to spy on him. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something, but he’s got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

Feta and Freeways by Susan M. Baganz — Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia Bartel. Tia loved Niko for the longest time, but it’s not until she steps in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust? As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Sarah’s Orphans by Vannetta Chapman — Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. After Sarah’s bipolar father dies, her long-abused mother packs a bag and leaves Sarah behind with five needy siblings. Though exhausted with new responsibility, Sarah is finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy…and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans. Paul Byler moved to Cody’s Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul’s ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can’t seem to ignore. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

Dance Over Me by Candee Fick — Danielle Lefontaine, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage. But when a jealous cast member threatens to drop the curtain on her dreams, Danielle fears her one brilliant moment in the spotlight is about to become a dim memory. Alex Sheridan is living his dream. Playing the trumpet. Helping run his family s dinner theater. But there’s a hole in his soul that can only be filled with the love of that “someone special” — the better half of him. When “Dani” dances into his life, Alex thinks he’s found his perfect partner. But will the bright lights of a bigger stage steal her away before they find their perfect song? (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Cozy Mystery:

Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer — When the retirement center’s chef is found dead, two retired sisters-in-law decide to solve the case, but their zany attempts to track down the killer leads them on a downward spiral into drugs, extortion, and worst of all. . . broken hearts. (Cozy Mystery from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Historical Romance:

Mountain Christmas Brides by Mildred Colvin, Mary Davis, Susan Page Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Debby Lee, Tamela Hancock Murray, Carrie Turansky, and Gina Welborn — From a Wyoming ranch in 1880, to a logging camp in Washington Territory in the late 1800s, to Denver, Colorado, in 1913, meet nine couples who find that Christmas is the perfect time for climbing to the heights of romance. Watch as their faith and courage propel them through challenges that come with mountain winters to cozy fireside celebrations that lead to lasting proclamations of love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mattie’s Pledge by Jan Drexler — Since Mattie Schrock last saw her childhood sweetheart Jacob Yoder, they’ve both grown into different people with different dreams. Jacob yearns to settle down, but Mattie can’t help but dream of what may lie over the western horizon. When a handsome Englisher tempts her to leave the Amish behind to search for adventure in the Wild West, will her pledge to Jacob be the anchor that holds her secure? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo — In 1928, Marjorie Corrigan thinks she sees her first love–believed killed in the Great War–alive and well in a train station. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White — All her life, Lady Ella Myerston has been sheltered from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends. Unwilling to wait around for peril to strike again, she sets out on an adventurous journey to the Cotswolds. Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

Breach of Trust by Jodie Bailey — A former soldier teams up with the partner she thought was dead in order to expose a cybercriminal bent on terrorizing the US military. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble — To supplement income from her family’s failing blueberry farm, Kate Mason rents out the small cottage on the property, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is–because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But between Drake’s family crises, news of an escaped murderer, and a local stalker’s threats, there’s no time for romance. Kate wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Game On by Lillian Duncan — Congressman Lucas McMann believes he’s the victim of a bizarre stalking game, but to stop them he needs proof–and help from an old friend. Private Investigator Nikki wants to refuse, but her new found faith tells her she should help him–even if he was the first man to break her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Widow by Denise Weimer — In book two of The Restoration Trilogy, Jennifer Rushmore has overseen the restoration of brooding bachelor Michael’s ancestors’ doctor’s house long enough to work through their initial differences. Now the apothecary shop discloses a heart-breaking tale circa 1870 Georgia, shaking loose Jennifer’s own carefully suppressed past. She fears that when Michael sees beyond her facade, her tentative steps toward trust and love may disintegrate into rubble. On her journey to forgiveness, Jennifer draws on her new faith and friendships, even as the mysterious accidents clouding her first preservation job escalate into imminent danger. (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative:

Killswitch by Victoria Buck — The world’s first transhuman finds his true calling, and it’s not what his creators intended. (Speculative from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
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Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Little Things

This summer seems to be filled with anger from an ugly political season and violence. Many people I know are also facing tough times, with health issues and tragic deaths in their families. For me, I’m just upset about computer problems. That may seem minor, but my entire job is on the computer and this time of year, having everything work is critical.

Ok, compared to what others are going through, I have no problems. However, all that to say is when you feel surrounded by sadness or anger, how do you battle through? How do you keep from being pulled into the pit of negativity? Life events may take us to negative places, but how do you not stay there?

For me, I find solace in little things. Admittedly, sometimes I have to look hard for the little things that are positive, but they’re there. The other night, in the midst of my computer frustration, a friend texted me. The conversation evolved from what I’m not doing to how to reach future goals. She lifted my spirits in unexpected ways.

Then the next day was just coffee and breakfast with a friend. Thinking that I really didn’t have time to be away from my desk, I felt rushed and hurried when I arrived to meet her. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see my friend. But I was concerned about the timing of our visit. As always, God showed up then. That breakfast had good conversation, serious thoughts that moved to laughter, and a sweet morning of sharing. I’m so glad I took the time. It was the boost I needed to power through the rest of my work day.

None of this will solve the grief my friends are experiencing with tragic deaths of relatives, or help others with serious health issues. But friends, family, and little moments can help all of us get through one day to the next. Knowing friends are there for prayers and support are God’s way of saying “I still have this.”

So despite the turmoil surrounding us, we cling to our faith. God’s still got this. He has us! He’ll make a way for us to walk through these trying times.

I’m determined to cling to His promises and to look for the little things.

Your Summer Reading List is HERE!

There’s something for everyone with these wonderful new releases from ACFW authors.

July 2016 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston — Devastated by a broken courtship, Rachel Fisher takes a position at a special Amish school for children with learning disabilities to keep her mind off of her pain. A new student joins the class, and when Rachel has problems getting him to pay attention, she reaches out to his older brother and guardian, Mike. She learns they are grieving their mother’s death and begins sending food to them in a special basket she found in her parents’ attic, a basket Rachel’s father gave to her mother long ago. Rachel and Mike grow close, but he doubts whether he can be a good husband while caring for his brother and dat. As they face the hardest days of their lives, Rachel’s old fears of another man leaving her come to the surface. Can they pull together and create hope for the future? (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan)

A Living Hope by E. C. Jackson — It was a match made in heaven. Or so everyone thought. Sadie Mae Cummings is all set to marry her childhood sweetheart, Kyle, when she is assigned to tutor Lincoln, the new college football running back. Through her alternate relationships with both boys, she learns some burned bridges can never be restored. Now Sadie fights for a chance to restore broken dreams. Will love endure? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Contemporary (Women’s Fiction):

The Things We Knew by Catherine West — After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it. But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him, only it seems Nick is hiding things from her. As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. (Women’s Fiction from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Historical Romance:

The Courageous Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander, Michelle Griep, Eileen Key, Debby Lee, Rose Allen McCauley, Donita Kathleen Paul, Jennifer Uhlarik, Jenness Walker, Renee Q. Yancy — Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

No Way Up by Mary Connealy — When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately. Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don’t live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike. Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath’s desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino — It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton’s ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados, with no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island. Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy is rescued and aboard a British Naval Gunship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold–and to an overjoyed Patience–it’s not the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter — Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl. With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he’s irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance. What Colin doesn’t know is that Georgina’s desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina’s plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson — Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life. Arriving penniless in the South, Prosperity is dismayed to find David married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, she gains the friendship–and the affection–of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Lawman in Disguise by Laurie Kingery — A Texas Ranger goes undercover to bring about the capture of a dangerous outlaw gang, but doesn’t count on falling in love during the process. Can he achieve his goal and begin a new life with the woman he has come to love, or will he pay the ultimate price for his daring? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Resurrection of Hope by Tamera Lynn Kraft — She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong? (Historical Romance from Desert Breeze Publishing)

A Changed Agent by Tracey J. Lyons — When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn’t the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner’s niece and nephew, who’ve been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts. Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He’s never wanted family–his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life–and to Elsie. As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William’s secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Sarah’s Surrender by Vickie McDonough — When Sarah Worley rejects Luke McNeil’s proposal to pursue property in the Oklahoma Territory land lottery in 1901, the ranch hand pulls up stakes and goes after her. But he’s the last person she wants to see. The land lottery gives Sarah the chance to realize her dream of independence and a home of her own. But with it comes challenges she never considered. When her dream becomes a nightmare, she must decide whether to stay on her land or give up and return to the life she left. Luke hopes that by winning a claim, he can give Sarah the home she’s always wanted. How can he prove his love and show the stubborn woman that he’s the right man for her? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Incriminating Evidence by Rachel Dylan — When rookie prosecutor Jessica Hughes crosses the son of a major crime boss, she’s determined to bring him to justice–if his family doesn’t kill her first. And with newly minted FBI special agent Zach Taylor protecting her, she believes she can succeed. Zach will do anything to stay ahead of the crime syndicate and guard Jessica while she builds her case. The more time he spends with her, the more personal the assignment becomes. It’s bad timing for falling in love, but as the threats against her life escalate, Zach realizes Jessica is everything to him–and he will do everything he can to make sure she has a future. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Through Raging Waters by Renee Blare — Floods from spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin. Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. She’s never been a hero…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved. (Romantic Suspense from Inspired (Prism Book Group)

Fractured Memory by Jordyn Redwood — United States marshal Eli Cayne saved Julia Galloway’s life once…and he’s prepared to do it again. But his task would be easier if she could remember him–or the murderer who almost put her in an early grave and seems to be hunting her once more. To protect Julia from the latest threat against her life, Eli has to consider the possibility that he put an innocent man in jail. Julia has no memories of the serial killer called the Hangman, though, and no reason to trust Eli. But with the killer getting closer, she must work with Eli to confront her past—and the feelings growing between them. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

In a Killer’s Sights by Sandra Robbins — When Gwen Harwell witnesses someone dumping a body into a Tennessee river, she knows she’s the killer’s new target. Far from home on a work assignment, she isn’t sure where to turn–especially when her ex-husband appears. Five years ago, Dean Harwell’s burdens from his police work tore their marriage apart. But now he says he’s changed. He’s working as a rancher; he’s put his problems behind him. And he’s committed to keeping her safe until the killer is caught. With their troubled past, trusting him with her life is hard enough. Can she trust him with the truth about the child he doesn’t know they have? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Suspense:

Deep Shadows by Vanetta Chapman — Life in Abney, Texas is predictable and safe–until the night a massive solar flare wipes out all modern technology. (Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)

Speculative (High Fantasy):

Eirwen’s Dream: Inside Snow White’s Sleeping Mind by Kristen Reed — After eating her stepmother’s poison apple, Princess Eirwen has a fantastical dream in which she must defeat an evil Siren. (Speculative/High Fantasy, Independently Published)

Love Books? Look at these!

Note from Becky: Here are new releases coming out in the month of June from my friends and fellow Christian authors. Enjoy!

June 2016 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Sweet Dreams by Cecelia Dowdy — A single mom trying to distance herself and her two year old daughter from their dysfunctional family is torn when she falls for a grieving baker dealing with his own family struggles. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

In Love and War by Miralee Ferrell, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Debby Mayne, and Trish Perry — In this collection, four couples have to decide whether to fight or find love. A gift shop clerk at a fancy resort fights to redeem her reputation with her high-school crush turned new boss. To save her fledgling business, a landscape artist competes in a design competition against two handsome men–her ex- fiancé and her one-time best friend. An ad agent disapproves of the new playboy working at her Washington, D.C. agency, until they’re forced to work together on a campaign and she finds herself falling for him. A man starts a new restaurant in the town where his childhood sweetheart owns a diner, and the sparks that fly aren’t just competitive ones.

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon — After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

A Love to Treasure by Kimberly Rose Johnson — While on vacation an amateur sleuth follows left by her deceased grandmother, and ends up working with a local police officer to solve several mysterious burglaries. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt — Caron Hollister goes on vacation to Colorado and ends up working as a home stager for her ex-boyfriend, a realtor participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. But she can’t let herself fall for him when she’s already won an all-expenses paid destination wedding for her and her current boyfriend—who hasn’t proposed to her yet. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

General Fiction:

Sapphire Secrets by Dawn V. Cahill — Twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary open a dance studio in honor of their late mother, whom they lost when they were six. Problem is, Livy remembers nothing of the day her mother died. The more she questions her family about that awful day, the more she suspects she’s been lied to all her life. While she’s seeking answers to what really happened, she keeps crossing paths with handsome engineer Scott Lorenzo, who compels her to question the New Age philosophy she was raised on. What if there is a personal God out there who cares about her? Before Livy can discover answers, a brutal accident interrupts her search. Can she find the strength to keep on with her quest, even if it means losing the two people dearest to her–her twin, and the man she loves? (General, Independently Published)

Close to Home by Deborah Raney — Bree Cordel Whitman is a Whitman by marriage, but sometimes she forgets she wasn’t born into Grant and Audrey’s family. Her late husband, Timothy Whitman, gave his life for his country on a windblown hill in Afghanistan. Bree has let the love of Tim’s family keep her ties to him strong–in the same way she keeps Tim’s memory alive for them. But it’s been almost five years, and she can’t hang onto the past forever. Fighting the guilt she feels for wanting to love again, she can’t help her dreams about a tall, dark, and handsome man–a man who is not her Tim. How can she accept the flirtations from Drew Brooks without throwing the Whitman family back into grieving? And how can Drew compete with the ghost of a hero and the hero’s very alive family who seem to hold some spell over the woman who shares their name . . . a woman he might just love? (General from Abingdon Press)

Historical Literary:

Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart — An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope through the eyes of four people. Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine. Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences. Luda is sixteen when German soldiers attack her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits. Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. (Historical Literary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

A Nanny for Keeps by Janet Lee Barton — With no teaching positions open, Georgia Marshall agrees to become the temporary nanny for the two little girls next door. She soon becomes enamored of the precocious children and their distant widowed father, but the nobleman is out of her reach. Tyler Walker swore he’d never again give his heart away. He refuses to allow this arrangement with the pretty teacher to become permanent…no matter how much he wants Georgia by his side–forever. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Amanda Cabot, Mary Connealy, Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule — Meet 12 adventurous Victorian era women–a beekeeper who is afraid of bees, a music teacher whose dog has dug up a treasure, a baker who enters a faux courtship, and six more–along with the men they encounter while making summertime memories. Will these loves sown during summer be strengthened by faith and able to endure a lifetime? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron — Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling. When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels — After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family’s farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne’s brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding–a reality made worse when Johan spots the “priest” who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne’s former fiancé arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again-but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall — Ruth Deloach’s world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said. To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not. (Young Adult, Independently Published)

Smacked!

A couple of weeks ago, I was smacked in the face. Not literally. Despite my recent stings and falls, this was figurative smack in the face.

Have you ever been droning along with life and something just wakes you up and causes you to rethink nearly everything? Or at least inspires you to move forward? That’s what happened with me.

I heard two words that are so simple yet have impacted me deeply. They are: Take Action.

Pretty basic words, but when you think about them, they can inspire your entire life. These two words are my new mantra. Take Action.

Regardless of your dreams, goals, calling, diet plans, whatever, the only way to achieve any of them is to Take Action. Otherwise, you’re dreaming and planning, but not DOING. If you don’t take action, you’re not doing anything to accomplish your goals.

I have several things I want to accomplish including writing and finishing my novel, writing devotional pieces, and managing my health better. You know the old stand-bys of eat better, exercise, lose weight. I also want to grow deeper in my faith and have a stronger prayer life.

None of these can be accomplished unless I take action. Otherwise, I’m only complaining that I need to lose weight or bemoaning that I don’t have time to write or pray or whatever.

The solution is simple: Take Action.

Those two words resonate in my life all the way to my core.

What about you? Do you have something you in which you need to take action? Do you have a mantra that smacked you in the face and encouraged you? Please share.

In other words: Take Action.

What I’ve Learned from “The Voice”

For the past couple of seasons, I’ve been a fan of “The Voice” on TV. And this season, it struck me what I’ve learned from watching the show.
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First, I believe we all like to watch these type of talent shows because it’s always a thrill to watch people go for their dreams. I appreciate “The Voice” in particular because it’s a positive show. The coaches can teach someone, share their knowledge and help that person improve without tearing them down and being so negative. You can learn from being positive and from being encouraging. There’s enough negativity and tearing down of people in this world that I really appreciate watching singers grow in their craft from working hard and receiving positive encouragement.

But something struck me recently that applies in my own life. One of the singers was afraid to call themselves an artist, to call themselves a professional. Immediately, Pharrell Williams said “You are an artist and you need to own that. Don’t think of yourself as anything less.” (I’m paraphrasing). You know what? Pharrell is absolutely right. These singers obviously have talent and they need to own that talent.

In hanging around with other writers, I see that we’re guilty of the same thing. I see so many, especially early-on in their writing journey, afraid to call themselves “writers”. I was guilty of that as well. But yes, I am a writer. Whether I’ve been published or not, whether I’m struggling, and whether or not I feel like I’ll ever be able to complete my novel – I’m still a writer.

Owning up to be an artist of any sort doesn’t mean you walk around strutting your stuff like you’re better than anyone else. It means you acknowledge your talent, and like the singers on “The Voice,” you work hard to improve, to learn and to grow in your craft.

God will take you where He wants you to go on this journey, but you have to work hard and never stop learning.

By owning up and saying “I’m a writer” (maybe again and again), it’s a way to encourage myself to keep going and keep striving to sit down in front of that computer to write the words.

Everyone is an artist of some sort. Whether you’re in the creative arts or not, you need to own what you’re talent is.

Next time you’re struggling tell yourself “I’m an artist.” Maybe it will inspire you to keep going during those tough days.

What tips do you have? Would a mantra like this work for you?

When you get Stung…

Last month, I posted about falling in the grocery store. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if I should just quit shopping. Or if I need to go to a different store.

Last week, while I wasn’t at the same store, I was at the same chain of that particular store. It was a quick stop as I only needed a few items.

I’m inside the store, towards the back, and feel something on my neck. Usually, it’s my hair flying around everywhere. But as I felt my neck to move my hair away, I realized something was moving on my neck and it wasn’t my hair. I swatted at my neck, trying not to freak out in the middle of the grocery store. As I swiped at my neck, a bee fell and while it disappeared quickly behind some shelves, I felt the pain at my neck. Crap, that bee stung me! OUCH.
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Once again, I’m in a grocery store, faced with indecision – do I grab my last few items and check out or drop everything and run home?

It’s amazing how a little sting (okay, not so little) can throw you off you groove and have your mind reeling a thousand different directions.

I continued with my shopping (again, only a handful of items), and had the presence of mind to run to the pharmacy area and pick up a bee sting remedy. I went through the self-checkout line and left as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to talk with anybody, didn’t want to attract attention, so I proceeded with business as usual.

Thankfully, my husband was home, having taken a half day off work. He got the stinger out, doctored me up and told me to take a break. Yep, adrenaline was spiking and I knew I would crash eventually. Adrenalin is a weird thing!

So, is there a point to this blog? Some deep, hidden meaning? Or am I just a klutz going splat one time, and unlucky this time by getting stung?

Should I just give up grocery shopping?

Weird things are going to happen in life. But what do you do? You do the only thing you can: Keep going, keep fighting, get up the next day and be determined. I’m determined to go back to that grocery store, just to prove I can.

What do you think? Are you determined when life gets funky?

Weird things may happen – but I’ll keep going.

However, maybe it’s time to start shopping somewhere else.

When your day goes SPLAT!

Splat 1Have you ever had a day like this? Where everything has gone wrong?

Or is there a time when you’ve just crumbled, like this bread?
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Just the other day, I felt just like these loaves of Snickerdoodle bread, literally falling in a grocery store and going SPLAT! Yep, I tripped with a bowl of fruit in one hand and a birthday card in another, and did the most magnificent belly flop ever! Not tripping and landing on my backside… No, that would’ve graceful in comparison. Instead I was completely laid out on my stomach, the fruit bowl and card flew ahead of me, while I flopped on the concrete floor of that grocery store.

Talk about going splat! And in front of all the people in this very crowded store.

Before you even say something against the store, or lawsuit, or even get angry because I fell in a public place, I must say the two employees of the store were immediately by my side. And a young man in his 20s who was at the nearest check-out line immediately reached for me, extending his hand and helping me to my feet. I think he knew instinctively that I wanted to get up as soon as possible.

Of course, once on my feet, I realized how hard I had banged my knee. But nothing was broken, I was standing. I’m sure I was a bright shade of red, so I chose not to have them write up an incident report. Amazingly, the fruit bowl stayed in tact so it was thrust into my hands, again by the caring young man, and I was on my way.

It was only after I got into my car that the tears came. OUCH! And of course, I was a little in shock. One second you’re walking out of the store, on your way to your church life group meeting, and the next you’re splayed at on the floor, having done what I’m sure was a spectacular belly flop. I’m surprised my breast implants didn’t break!

Once in the car, I wasn’t sure what do next. My hubby was home sick, and I was scheduled to facilitate our life group meeting that night. But I was happy to be in my car, away from all of the prying eyes of everyone in the store.

What about you? Have you had a day when everything goes wrong? When you’re whole day takes a wildly different turn?

How many of us lash out in anger? How many lash out with tears? How many of us want to crawl in a hole and hide?

Part of me wanted to stay on the ground (I immediately sat up from my belly-flopped, splayed out position), just to have a moment to collect myself. But there were too many people around. I can still hear the gasps of those who witnessed my great tumble.

But the other part of me wanted to run…rather limp…away as fast as I could. Being angry never really crossed my mind. Suing the grocery store seemed ridiculous – nothing was broken, no permanent damage. So, I drove on to my life group meeting and my friends.

I turned to them, tears in my eyes, trembling, and feeling somewhat ridiculous. And they showered me with hugs, ice packs and Tylenol. And onward we went with our meeting. I have no idea what I said, or how well the meeting was facilitated, but I think I just wanted to keep pushing forward. To move on as quickly as I could from the spectacle of falling down.

Could I have done that had I chosen to stay on the floor? Or crawled inside a proverbial hole? As tempting as that was, I think it’s always best to move forward from the days where we go splat.

I want to be the type of person who can put the past behind me. If I had crawled into my shell or driven straight home, I would’ve missed that time with friends – embarrassed as I was to have them see my tears – just from a silly fall.

There’s always something to learn from those tougher days – in the times when we stumble and even fall on our faces. The beauty is, we don’t have to stay in that place. We can find a way to limp out of there, and find healing with friends and loved ones, even during your most embarrassing day.

Music

Yotreble-clef-535777_640u’ve heard of the saying – I can’t remember where I put my keys, but I remember every word from a song from the 80s. Music resonates for most of us.

A lot of my writer friends write to movie soundtracks or specific period music to get them in the right frame of mind for their story.

Can you imagine movies without music? When the shark attacks in “Jaws” or when Norman Bates stabs Marion Crane in the infamous shower scene in “Psycho” – how different those scenes would be without music!

Where would a good love story be without the soaring violins and sweeping sounds to make us all feel like we’re on cloud 9?

When I’m having a bad day, I turn on worship and praise music. It’s amazing how quickly my mood lifts and how my day can turn around.

Music can take us to another place, or it can ground us in joy right where we are. It can express the anger of a hurtful break-up, make us laugh, or even fall in love.

Music can take us back to a certain place and time. When a song becomes special or memorable. The first time I slow danced with my future husband in high school was to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. My hubby and I got married on a boat, so naturally, our first dance on our wedding day was to “Sailing.”

Songs can be the soundtrack of our lives. Fill us with emotions, memories and more. It can soothe us like a lullaby. It can even bring us to tears – hopefully cleansing tears. It can make us get up and dance, or praise the savior.

What’s the sound track of your life? Do you have favorite songs you put on when you need a lift? If you’re a writer, do you write to music?

woman-977020_640Music can be comforting. As a two-time cancer survivor, I have to have an annual MRI. Thankfully, they let me bring in my own CD and every time it’s been Top of my Lungs by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Now every time I hear a song from that album, I have comfort and peace.

When I think of my father, I think of Nat King Cole and “Unforgettable.” That’s his song. My Mom’s song is probably “Wind Beneath my Wings.”

What about you? Do you have songs that remind you of certain people in your life?