image: header
image: gownflare

Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2013 New Releases in Christian Fiction

Well, here I am, back from a crazy summer where I barely had time to remember to eat, let alone post to this blog. To kick off September, I'll start with the latest releases in Christian fiction. We'll see where life takes us from here.

September 2013 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Plantation Christmas Weddings
by Lorraine Beatty, Sylvia Barnes, Cynthia Leavelle, and Virginia Vaughan — Will a reserved widow, a successful novelist, a divorced couple, and a jilted wedding planner find their hearts rekindled with love just in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Little Bit of Charm
by Mary Ellis — Rachel King wants nothing more than to work with horses, but when her handsome boss sweeps her off her feet, she starts to doubt everything in life, including her faith. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House)

Awakened Love
by Laura V. Hilton — When her Englisch sister’s health worsens, Katie must find a way to balance her heart, her job, and her faith while risking her own life for the sister she never knew. (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Love Still Stands (The New Hope Amish)
by Kelly Irvin — A group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question…and romance seems a long-lost dream. Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan–and a love–for her life. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House)

Serenity to Accept
by Elizabeth Maddrey — Is there an exception to every rule? Karin Reid has never had much use for God. There’s been too much pain in her life. Until she meets Jason Garcia. After his own mistakes of the past, Jason is committed to dating only Christians. He decides to bend his rule for Karin, as long as she comes to church with him. As their friendship grows, both will have to decide if they’ll accept the path God has for them, even if it means losing each other. (Contemporary Romance from HopeSprings Books)

The Doctor’s Family Reunion
by Mindy Obenhaus — Family means everything to Dr. Trent Lockridge. Growing up without a father, he always yearned for a family of his own. One long-ago summer in Ouray, Colorado, he thought he might build a future with beautiful Blakely Daniels. But when he abruptly fled town, he broke her heart and left behind more than memories. Years later, Trent is shocked-and overjoyed-to learn he’s a father. He’d like to earn back Blakely’s love and trust- but it won’t be easy. And the clock is ticking. He’s got only a few weeks to prove that, this time, he’s here to stay…forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)

Made to Last
by Melissa Tagg — Homebuilding TV show host Miranda Woodruff is out to save her career while juggling a fake husband, former fiance and nosy reporter…all under the roof of the one house she can’t bring herself to finish building. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Arkansas Weddings (Romancing America)
by Shannon Taylor Vannatter — Pastor Grayson Sterling still loves his wife two years after the accident that claimed her life. Then florist Adrea Welch begins to plant new love in his grieving heart. Laken Kroft left home years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her past–and Hayden Winters? Shell doesn’t have a good reputation. But no matter what everyone in Rose Bud, Arkansas thinks of her, she’s back in town with a job to do. Ryler also has reasons for being in Rose Bud, and they don’t include Shell. But love can soften the hardest heart and overcome the darkest past. These hearts may not know it, but they’re about to change. (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents)

For Every Season
by Cindy Woodsmall — Working hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together. (Contemporary Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah [Random House])

The Nurse’s Secret Suitor
by Cheryl Wyatt — Trauma nurse Kate Dalton can handle any challenge-except love. The combat veteran dreams of settling down, but heartbreak is one risk she won’t take. Then a chance encounter opens her heart to a masked stranger…who might not be a stranger after all! Caleb Landis, the army medic behind the disguise, has always admired Kate, even though she only saw him as her best friend’s brother. What will it take for Kate to discard her fears and discover the man she’s always hoped to unmask? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)


Mistletoe Memories
by Jennifer AlLee, Carla Olson Gade, Lisa Karon Richardson and Gina Welborn — One of America’s earliest summer resorts began atop the majestically wooded Schooley’s Mountain where the mecca of chalybeate springs (or “magic water”) drew visitors from near and far. Eventually the magic water disappeared, but the memories remained. Folks who live there tell the stories they heard from their grandparents who heard them from their grandparents. The four stories in MISTLETOE MEMORIES cover the almost 200 years after the house was built and center around a house that became a refuge that became an orphanage that became a home. (Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Women’s Fiction:

Tickled Pink: Class Reunion Series, Book 3
by Debby Mayne — Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger-as if she has to be reminded. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Abingdon Press)

The Prayer Box
by Lisa Wingate — A young woman, an old woman, the story of a lifetime. A young woman hired to clean out an old house on Hatteras Island discovers a life-changing story in eighty-one prayer boxes kept by the former owner. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery:

A Plain Disappearance: An Appleseed Creek Mystery
by Amanda Flower — It’s Christmastime in Amish Country, and Chloe Humphrey has begun settling into her life in Appleseed Creek excited to see where her new relationship with Timothy Troyer will lead. Unfortunately it leads to murder when the couple discovers the body of Amish teenager Katie Lambright while on their first date. Near the scene there is evidence that Timothy’s friend and auto mechanic Billy Thorpe is involved with the crime. The police reveal Billy is not really who he said he was and has been living the last decade in Knox County under a stolen alias. Now, Chloe and Timothy must find Billy, bring him to justice, or prove his innocence. (Cozy Mystery from B&H Publishing)

General Contemporary:

The Inheritance
by Jo-Anne Berthelsen — Michael Trevelyan is determined to claim his inheritance at all costs. Bitterness consumes him and he refuses to forgive those who have betrayed him. Yet, when he meets Alexandra Hope, things begin to change. She challenges his views but also listens while he shares his pain. Can Michael move on from the past and learn to forgive? Can Alexandra hold onto her faith in God as she deals with their deepening relationship? (General Contemporary from Even Before Publishing [Wombat])

by April McGowan — She survived her past but how can she face it? Jasmine is a survivor. She’s lived through the abuse of her father, running away at age fourteen, living on the streets, and now she counsels at risk young women giving them a second chance at life. But when her mother dies, can she go home again and face the past she’s forced herself to forget for the last twenty years? Or will the past she’s now forgotten take over her present once again? (General Contemporary from Whitefire Publishing)

General Historical:

A Home For My Heart
by Anne Mateer — Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she’ll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true. But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? When it’s revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever? (General Historical from Bethany House [Baker])

All God’s Children
by Anna Schmidt — Quaker Beth Bridgewater came to Munich to live with her aunt and uncle and care for their daughter. But after eight years Beth longs for her home in Wisconsin. Josef Buch, son of a Gestapo agent, moves in with the family while he completes his medical studies. When Josef helps Beth rescue a young Jewish family, she realizes that he does not share his father’s politics. Soon they are both drawn into the work of the White Rose-a German resistance movement intent on overthrowing Hitler. As their feelings for each other deepen, Josef and Beth risk everything for peace-and for love. (General Historical from Barbour Publishing)

Historical Romance:

A Pioneer Christmas Collection
by Margaret Brownley, Kathleen Fuller, Marcia Gruver, Cynthia Hickey, Vickie McDonough, Shannon McNear, Lauraine Snelling, Michelle Ule and Anna Carrie Urquhart — Journey along with American settlers who learn that despite where the trail takes them or how primitive their lodgings may be Christmas is all about the heart. Determined to honor Christ’s birth, these pioneers find a way to make Christmas happen in places like a cave, a tipi, and a dugout. Modern readers will enjoy a peek into life before commercialism took over the sacred day, distracting us from the true blessings of faith, hope, and love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Log Cabin Christmas
by Margaret Brownley, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jane Kirkpatrick, Kelly Eileen Hake, Liz Johnson, Liz Tolsma, Michelle Ule, Debra Ullrick, Erica Vetsch — Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Courier of Caswell Hall
by Melanie Dobson — An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution. (Historical Romance from Summerside Press [Guideposts])

Golden State Brides
by Keli Gwyn and Erica Vetsch — Sunny California is the place for two historical romances. Elenora Watkins, willful widow and single mother, is determined to best merchant Miles Rutledge in business-and love. Harvey Girl Meghan Thorson discovers the truth about horseman Caleb McBride-whom the townsfolk have branded a coward-and true love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Invention of Sarah Cummings
by Olivia Newport– Sarah Cummings has one goal in life–to break into Chicago’s high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner and to start eating at society tables, Sarah alters cast-off gowns from the wealthy Banning women to create lustrous, flattering dresses of her own. On a whim at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to Simon Tewell, the director of St. Andrew’s Orphanage, Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Beyond These Hills (Smoky Mountain Dreams)
by Sandra Robbins — It’s 1935, and Laurel Jackson fears the life she’s always known is about to become a memory. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and nearly all the families in Cades Cove have decided to sell. Laurel is determined to save the land her family has lived on for a hundred years. Andrew Brady, the son of a wealthy Virginia congressman, arrives in the Cove to convince the remaining landowners to sell. Sparks fly when he meets Laurel, the outspoken young woman who is determined to thwart his every effort. Will they ever be able to put aside their differences and accept what their hearts already know? (Historical Romance from Harvest House)

Romantic Suspense:

Stranded (Alaskan Courage)
by Dani Pettrey — When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances. Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Fatal Transaction
by W. Richard Lawrence — Sara, a computer programmer, is forced by the evil Ulrich Levy to develop a scheme to steal millions of dollars from credit card companies. But when she decides to take the money for herself, she begins down a road of distrust, deceit, murder, treachery, faith, love and the ultimate sacrifice. (Suspense Thriller from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Carol Cox and Trouble in Store Giveaway


CAROL COX is the author of 30 novels and novellas. A third-generation Arizonan, Carol has a lifelong fascination with the Old West and hopes to make it live again in the hearts of her readers. She makes her home with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play--often within view of the family's front porch.

by Carol Cox
Published by Bethany House


Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he's worked for. He's determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands. The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry up with any of them. He's drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.

But someone doesn't want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps--and the man obviously didn't die from natural causes--things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb's business--and romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?

Readers, buy your copy of Trouble in Store today!


Researching a story is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. You just never know where it will take you! When it came to writing Trouble in Store, there were a number of topics I needed to learn about, from 19th-century mercantiles to Native American cliff dwellings to patent medicines.

The Ross-Nelson Mercantile (the store Caleb and Melanie squabble over in the book) has a number of quirky customers, including Idalou Fetterman. Mrs. Fetterman is a great believer in the curative powers of patent medicines and spends a lot of time browsing the shelves in search of the ideal remedy for whatever happens to be ailing her that day.

Back in 1885, these "miracle" medicines weren't produced by pharmaceutical companies, but by self-proclaimed experts who often billed themselves as doctors, although it's doubtful that many (or any!) of them actually had medical degrees. The labels bore colorful names . . . and boasted equally colorful claims.

Dr. Sherman's Prickly Ash Bitters billed itself as the cure for biliousness, vertigo, or a torpid liver, and contained "only the purest drugs, among which may be enumerated: prickly ash, mandrake, buchu, button snake, senna." I don’t know about you, but I have yet to reach for a dose of buchu or button snake when I’m feeling under the weather.

A little research turned up the information that the government declared the good doctor's remedy misbranded. That may have had something to do with the fact that the cure-all (which contained 20% alcohol) was recommended in wineglassful doses three times a day, but was declared to be "not an intoxicating beverage."

Then there's Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy, the Great Blood Purifier and System Regulator, one of the best known quack medicines of the 19th century. The company was one of the first firms to advertise nationally, and targeted this nostrum at medical problems specific to women. Dr. Kilmer's nostrum also contained a substantial amount of alcohol and couldn't do much more for his female patients than make them a bit tipsy for a time.

And let's not forget Seelye's Wasa-Tusa. The name alone is enough to catch your attention, even before learning it was guaranteed to bring about good results with: muscle soreness, bruises, headache, toothache, earache, colic, and cramps. If something ached, it was Wasa-Tusa time!

Hostetter's Celebrated Bitters became a national best-seller in the 1850s. During the Civil War, it was marketed to soldiers as "a positive protective against the fatal maladies of the Southern swamps, and the poisonous tendency of the impure rivers and bayous." By now, you probably won't be shocked to learn the original formula was made up of about 47% alcohol--an amount so high that it was served by the the glass in Alaskan saloons. I'm sure those Alaskans were reassured to know they wouldn't fall prey to any maladies contracted in an impure bayou!

In addition to the widespread prevalence of alcohol, most patent medicines included vegetable extracts. Since there was no regulation on the ingredients, their curative properties were often doubtful . . . and could be deadly. Many were also laced with morphine, opium, or cocaine while being advertised for use with children and infants--which sometimes ended in tragic results.

Even so, these hucksters found a ready market for their goods. By the middle of the 19th century, the manufacture of patent medicines had become a major industry in America.

Doctors and medical societies spoke out in increasing numbers, and even more strident opposition came from the temperance movement, which protested the use of alcohol in medicines. It's no surprise that the manufacturers fought against regulation of any kind, and their resistance was aided by the press, since many newspapers had become dependent on money received from advertising these remedies.

We can all be grateful for the Pure Food and Drug Act, enacted in 1906, which required manufacturers to list ingredients on their labels and restricted misleading advertising. That's a very good thing for us . . . and Mrs. Fetterman should be grateful she's a fictional character!

Question for Readers: Many people today are shying away from traditional medicine and looking for alternative, more natural cures. Some of those seem to make inflated claims similar to the patent medicines of yore . . . but others have proven effective.

What non-traditional remedies have you heard of or used? And were they beneficial or not?

* * * * *

Thank you, Carol, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Stephanie Landsem and The Well Giveaway


STEPHANIE LANDSEM writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

by Stephanie Landsem
Published by Howard Books


Could he be the one we’ve been waiting for?

For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.

Mara and Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come to late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.

Readers, buy your copy of The Well today!


With the release of my debut novel, The Well, just days away, it seems like everywhere I go friends and acquaintances are wishing me well. Whether in the grocery store, at the school play, or on the way out of church, I get congratulations and often this question:

Did you always want to be a writer?

I have a little trouble answering it. I’ve always loved history and I’ve always loved to read, but I didn’t put the two together and realize that I wanted to write until a conversation with my oldest daughter not too many years ago.

My youngest child had just started first grade, leaving me with six hours of quiet each school day. With the exception of laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cleaning, volunteering, and cooking, I had nothing to do all day.

“So what are you going to do with yourself,” my 12-year old asked me as we drove to play practice one evening.

“I’m not sure.” And I wasn’t. I’d seen women turn to obsessive housecleaning or hours of exercise as their children grew. Please, no.

“What would you do if you could do anything at all?” she asked.

I thought a bit. She had said ‘anything’. “Time travel?”

“Mom.” She rolled her eyes.

But there was something else, now that she’d asked. “If I could do anything, I think I’d write historical fiction.” Silly, really. I’d never taken a writing class in my life.

“Why don’t you do it, then?”

I laughed. “I have no idea how to write. I don’t even know if I’d be any good.”

My eldest gave me the raised eyebrows. Probably the same look I gave her more than once. “Mom. Just figure it out.”

And she was right. I did need to figure it out, at least figure out if it were a possibility. I started an online creative writing class and found I wasn’t terrible. I checked out hundreds of books from the library and read dozens of writing and publishing blogs. Within a year, I was starting on what would become The Well, my debut novel.

Fast forward 5 years: my house is a mess and I exercise only as much as necessary.

Instead, I’m looking forward to the release of The Well, just turned in my second Biblical novel, The Thief, and am starting on the third book in The Living Water Series, tentatively titled The Tomb.

So the answer is yes. I always wanted to be a writer, I just needed a push from a 12-year-old to figure it out.

Reader Question: So what would you do, if you could do anything at all?

* * * * *

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Marian Merritt and Southern Fried Christmas Giveaway


MARIAN MERRITT writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. Her fascination with the written word began while sitting on her grandparent’s front porch swing reading books. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. Marian has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2003. Her first fiction title, Southern Fried Christmas, released in 2012. She writes from her Northwest Colorado home. Connect with her at:

by Marian Merritt
Published by Pelican Book Group


Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

Readers, buy your copy of Southern-Fried Christmas today!


Can't Means Won't

Several years ago, when my young son attempted a difficult task, he'd stop, and then turn to me and say, "I can't do this." In an effort to teach him perseverance, I'd respond with, "Can't means won't."

I never missed the opportunity to help him learn the value of never giving up. The phrase became an automatic reply whenever he used the words, "I can't." It didn't take long for his exclamations to change to, "I won't do this."

As wives, mothers, workers, writers and friends we struggle with breaking moments of "I can't." Some of us may throw our hands in the air and say, "I can't." Some of us may beat on the table and say, "I won't." Regardless, of the words we use or the proverbial straw that brings us to that place, we've all been there at one time or another.

Recently, a difficult encounter with a special person in my life brought me to that place. I remember thinking with raw consuming emotion, "I thought I'd moved passed this. I won't do this."

After my prayer time the next day, conviction lay heavy on my heart. My won't was really my unwillingness to turn the situation over to God. What I'd really said was, "I won't allow God."

I can still persevere, but my efforts need to be through Christ. The Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." My ability to accomplish all I need as a wife, mother, writer, or friend all stem from the strength I gain through my faith in Christ. Not on my bull-headed, plow-through, never-give-up-no-matter-what attitude.

Great freedom is found in that revelation.

That day the scene I wrote flowed like warmed honey. The words came from a broken place that made the characters live and dance from the pages. He'd used the situation to help me better understand the characters I had created.

God used my reliance on Him and the situation to make me a better writer at that moment. He never misses those opportunities to strengthen our character to reflect His.

Reader Question: Are there "I won't" moments stealing your joy? What's your response when you feel you can't do what's expected of you?

* * * * *

Thank you, Marian, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free digital copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to anyone worldwide.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Promises Promises eBook Sale - $.99 all of June!

Last month, it was Bound by Grace for $.99. The month before, it was Copper and Candles (1st book in my Michigan Brides series). This month it's my debut novel, Promises Promises, book 1 in my Liberty's Promise series! This story features the book that became the family heirloom that brings all 3 couples together in my latest Brandywine Brides series.

Buy Promises Promises on the Kindle here!

If you have a moment and can help me spread the word, here’s a Tweet to use:

Promises Promises by @AmberStockton is $.99 all of June! Read the book that launched Amber's fiction career.  Please retweet.

Check out the Truly Yours Facebook page for all kinds of announcements and discounts, and to view the other 24 titles on sale this month!

And to sign up to receive monthly emails with the latest promotions from Truly Yours, check out this site.

Promises Promises is also available on all other eBook formats too:
If you've already read the book, or if you're purchasing it now to read, I would love for you to write a review. Feedback is critical to an author, no matter what kind. So, tell me what you liked, what you didn't like, what you'd like to see in future books, etc. Leave a comment on this post with a link to your review (Amazon, Barnes and Noble,, Goodreads, or any other online review source), or leave your review here. Every little bit helps.

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carla Laureano and Five Days in Skye Giveaway

I am thrilled and honored to have my friend and fellow author visiting here at A Fictional Life this week. Not only does she share my beloved state of Colorado, but she's a mom down in the trenches with me, juggling little ones at home in the midst of a writing career. Enjoy this little peek in Carla's life.


CARLA LAUREANO has held many job titles—professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor—but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom’s work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.

by Carla Laureano
Published by David C Cook


Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

Readers, buy your copy of Five Days in Skye today!


Four Steps for Creating Memorably Flawed Characters

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than characters who are too good to be true. You know the type: they always know just what to say, never make a mistake, succeed in every endeavor. As a reader who is keenly aware of her own flaws, I can’t relate to those types of people. Frankly, I find them a little boring.

Interesting characters, on the other hand, are fully fashioned human beings, complete with deep-seated needs, fears, and flaws. As a writer, I’d like to say that coming up with a convincing flaw is the hard part. Unfortunately, I’ve got plenty of my own from which to draw. But how do I write deeply flawed characters still make them likeable? Or better yet… memorable?

There are the four questions I typically ask myself when I’m developing a character’s “fatal flaw:”
  1. Is the flaw relatable?

    Not many of us would accept a serial-killer-as-hero whose flaw is, you know, killing people. (Unless you’re a fan of Dexter or Bret Easton Ellis, in which case, that might not bother you.) Aside from the moral issues, it’s not a fault to which readers can relate.

    But a mom (let’s call her Jen) who is habitually impatient with her kids? That strikes close to home. We immediately relate to the emotions the character experiences—what mom hasn’t watched the clock tick towards the school bell while the kids still haven’t put on their shoes or combed their hair? Suddenly, that point of commonality draws us in. We are Jen, and we’re curious to see what’s going to happen next.

  2. Is the flaw understandable?

    Not understandable in the sense of comprehensible, but is there a good reason for it? A character who treats others badly makes for an unlikeable hero or heroine, unless we understand the reason behind the behavior.

    Maybe Jen’s own mother demanded she always be on time and punished her if she wasn’t. Better yet, what if Jen was supposed to come home straight after school, but didn’t—and her father had a heart attack? If she had’ve been there, she could have saved him. Now the root of Jen’s flaw is not impatience, but fear and guilt. Not only do we sympathize with Jen, there’s great potential conflict to explore within the story.

  3. Does the flaw put the story goal into jeopardy?

    Jen’s problems are interesting, but unless they somehow affect her ability to get what she wants most (what I would call the story goal or the stakes), they’re irrelevant. How they affect the story goal might depend on genre, but they will always relate to that big obstacle that must be overcome before the end of the book.

    • a. Romance: Jen is a single mom, and her love interest is perpetually late. Perhaps he had a similar upbringing, but chooses to deal with it the opposite way as Jen. Not only could this be a source of contention between them, but perhaps the hero sees her impatience with her children as a sign that she’s not mate material.
    • b. Women’s fiction: Jen’s impatience with her kids drives a wedge between her and her daughter, who rebels, bringing back terrible memories of the consequences of her own rebellion.
    • c. Suspense: Building on the situation above, Jen’s daughter purposely misses the bus—and disappears somewhere between school and home.
    • d. Romantic suspense: Combine a and c. The love interest is the town’s police chief, whose own strict upbringing makes him unconsciously blame Jen for her daughter’s disappearance. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. This is a story I’d like to read!

  4. Is the flaw surmountable?

    As much as we’d like to believe that every issue can be resolved in three hundred or so pages, that isn’t always the case. I need to choose flaws that have the potential to be overcome in a satisfying way, whether it’s through therapy, God’s grace, or the power of love. I try not to wrap everything up in a neat little package—real life just doesn’t work that way—but I want some sort of change to occur. Regardless of how the issue is resolved, Jen must be appreciably different in thought or action by the end of the book.
If I can answer yes to all four questions, then I know I have a good flaw that will make for a memorable character. Like people, characters may have many flaws, but generally only one major one that will relate to the central conflict of the story.

Reader Question:  Who are your favorite characters? How do their flaws make them endearing and memorable?

* * * * *

Thank you, Carla, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win in Carla's themed gift basket giveaway. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

To celebrate the release of Carla's book on June 10th, she is giving away a fabulous Scotland-themed gift basket including a paperback copy of Five Days in Skye, a beautiful coffee table photography book filled with images of Scotland, CDs of music that inspired the story, as well as plenty of imported British goodies for your own afternoon tea break! Enter below for your chance to win! A winner will be chosen at random and announced on her blog [] on release day.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award - Frank Perretti

Frank Peretti to be recognized as Lifetime Achievement Recipient at ACFW’s Carol Finalists Press Conference at ICRS

Palm Bay, FL -- The 2013 ACFW Carol Award finalists for the best in Christian Fiction will be announced during a press conference by The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) at 10:30 Monday morning, June 24 in Media Room 106 at ICRS in St. Louis, MO at the America’s Center Convention Complex.

The Carol Awards—named for Christian Fiction pioneering editor Carol Johnson—honor multiple categories of fiction traditionally published in the previous calendar year. Judges include readers, multi-published authors, retailers, and librarians.

The ACFW press conference at ICRS will also spotlight a key figure in the world of Christian fiction. This year’s recipient of ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award is prolific author and innovator Frank Peretti. The official announcement will be made during the press conference and will include a short tribute to Peretti’s influence and impact with his groundbreaking novels.

“The very essence of what Christian Fiction could encompass forever changed with the release of (Peretti’s) This Present Darkness,” says ACFW Executive Board member Allen Arnold. “That wasn't Frank’s goal. He quietly wrote the story that God stirred his heart with. But that novel ripped wide the veil between the seen and unseen.” Arnold adds, “That novel brought men and teens in droves to the Christian Fiction aisle (no small feat). It showed how Christian Fiction can be muscular and unabashedly speculative with angels and demons fighting around us and impacted by our prayers. More than 25 years later, Frank continues to quietly write novels from his home in the wilderness...novels that quicken the pace and stir the souls of any who dare dive in.”

Members of the press and ICRS attendees are invited to attend the press conference and hear more about why Frank Peretti was chosen for ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award and to be the first to hear the list of finalists of the 2013 Carol Awards.

Peretti and winners of the Carol Awards will be honored at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis at the award gala on Sunday night, September 15 at the Hyatt Regency. Keynote speaker for the 2013 conference is Robin Jones Gunn. Authors, aspiring authors, industry guests, and representatives from every major CBA publishing house and literary agency will gather for this premier Christian fiction conference.

This press release will be permanently hosted on the official ECPA press archive at
(originally posted at

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kimberley Woodhouse and Denali Dreams Giveaway


KIMBERLEY WOODHOUSE is a multi-published author of fiction and non-fiction with Moody, Focus on the Family, B&H Publishing Group, Barbour Publishing, and Bethany House Publishers. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at over 1,000 venues across the country. She lives, writes, and homeschools in beautiful Colorado with her husband of more than two decades and their two awesome teens.

Connect with Kim - and and

by Kimberley Woodhouse and Ronie Kendig
Published by Barbour


Vast and rugged, Denali National Park brings adventure and love into the lives of four courageous women. Will cancer survivor Karon reach Mt. McKinley’s summit? Will heiress Jolie survive against the terrain and an assassin? Will flightseeing tour guide Deline save her stalling business? Will love conquer all for ranger Deanna?

Readers, buy your copy of Denali Dreams today!


Behind the Scenes: Writing with a Co-Author
Kimberley Woodhouse

We get a ton of questions whenever we travel on tours, or just simply through our website. Some are about our Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or one of the other television experiences, a lot are about our daughter Kayla’s rare condition, and a lot are about the writing process.

Over the past year, I’ve received more and more questions about writing with a co-author. My daughter and I wrote No Safe Haven and Race Against Time together, Ronie Kendig and I collaborated on a collection entitled Denali Dreams, and Tracie Peterson and I wrote All Things Hidden releasing from Bethany House January 2014. I wouldn’t say that I’m now an expert on the subject, but I can definitely share my two cents with readers. I know as a reader, I often wondered what went on behind the scenes as well, so I totally understand the curiosity!

Each experience has been totally different, but they’ve all been fun. All the readers who write in want to know how it’s done. In summary? I don’t have a set formula, each collaboration has been unique. But I will say this: the authors need to pray for one another, they need to trust one another, they need to be good communicators, and they need to agree to a plan. :)

Writing with my daughter, Kayla (who became the youngest published full-length novelist from a royalty paying publisher with the release of No Safe Haven), was incredible. I wrote the adult characters’ POVs and she wrote the teens’. We wrote it in twenty-eight days total and had you been a fly on the wall, you would’ve seen lots of scribbling on white boards, jump-drives flying across the room as we shared scenes back and forth, and lots of laughter and M&Ms (Kayla’s favorite).

Writing with my dear friend, and not to mention best-selling author, Ronie Kendig was also incredible. In Denali Dreams (a collection of four novellas set in Alaska about the Talkeetna Rangers), Ronie and I plotted out our stories over the phone, developed our characters, and decided how the stories would tie in to each other. She wrote two of the novellas, and I wrote two. We wrote them in about a week. (Yes, we’re both pretty fast.) And we talked on the phone a lot. Another amazing experience—not just because I love the stories, but because I love Ronie so dearly. If you haven’t read any of her other books, you need to GO BUY THEM NOW. Seriously. She’s awesome.

And last but definitely not least, writing with Tracie Peterson. Wow. What could I possibly say? She’s best-selling and award-winning. Her 100th book will be releasing in 2014. She is one of my closest friends, but I would never have dreamed that I’d be given the opportunity to write with her. With All Things Hidden (1935 Matanuska Colony in Alaska), we did tons and tons of research together. We plotted. And plotted. And plotted some more. The string of emails with all our multi-colored notes back and forth was over forty pages! Then, we wrote a seriously long synopsis together (about thirty pages, again going back and forth), then our drafts of the manuscript went back and forth. It was another incredible experience and I learned so much from it.

Happy Reading!


Reader Question: For our giveaway this week, I'd like to ask you-the readers-a question. What is your favorite co-author/collaboration? Leave the title of the book/series and the authors’ names for a chance to win a copy of No Safe Haven, Race Against Time, or Denali Dreams. (One copy of each book will be given away.)

* * * * *

Thank you, Kim, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win ONE OF THREE free autographed copies of these three books: Denali Dreams, No Safe Haven, Race Against Time. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Martha Rogers and Love Stays True Giveaway


MARTHA ROGERS is a free-lance writer and was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and attending football, baseball, and basketball games when one of the grandchildren is playing or performing. She is a member of several writing groups. A former Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written two series as well as several other novels and novellas. The first book in her new series, Love Stays True, will release in May, 2013..

LOVE STAYS TRUE (The Homeward Journey
by Martha Rogers
Published by Realms


In April, 1865, the day following the surrender at Appomattox, Manfred McDaniel Whiteman and his brother Edward are released from in an exchange of prisoners. They are given a few provisions before they begin a long journey by foot to their home in Bayou Sara, Louisiana.

At home, Sallie Dyer is waiting word of her beloved Manfred. Though just a young girl when Manfred left, Sallie has grown into a caring you woman who is determined to wait for her love—despite her father’s worries that she is wasting her life on someone who may never come home.

On their journey, Manfred and his brother encounter storms, thieves, and destruction, and are even thrown in jail in one town. Sallie carries a heavy burden of guilt and fears Manfred will reject her when he learns what she has done. Will these two young lovers be able to reunite despite all obstacles?

Readers, buy your copy of Love Stays True (The Homeward Journey) today!


Research Your Family History

Whether you’re a reader or writer of historical fiction, researching family history can be one of the most rewarding aspects of history. Research is fun and leads me into areas where I’ve never been before.

The first novel in my new series, Love Stays True, releases this month, and it has the most extensive research ever in one of my novels. It all began with a few simple letters and some writings in a journal. The letters were to my great-grandmother from her father and from her suitor who later became my great-grandfather.

Those letters led me on a hunt to learn more about my ancestors. What I learned intrigued me to the point that I had to write Sallie and Manfred’s story. So I took what facts I had and wove them with fiction to relate the events leading up to their marriage in 1865.

Writing historical novels makes me what to “get it right.” So many times I’ve picked up a novel set in some past time period and gasp when I come across something that doesn’t sound right for that time, and it jerks me right out of the story. I have to laugh at some of the old westerns my husband loves to watch. Most of them never really give you a time period, but sometimes the fashions and references to events give the viewer an idea. Then things happen that make me wonder who was doing the research when episode was written.

Research will take you on a journey that may or may not snag your interest and lead you on side roads and down rabbit trails simply because you come across something interesting and want to follow up on it.

Whether fiction or non-fiction, research is the part of an author’s life because we have to get it right. If we don’t, be sure some alert reader is sure to spot the error and let us know about it. Those of us who research for information for our historical novels have learned to verify everything. It sure saves a lot of trouble and rewriting in the long run.

Genealogy is fun, but it can become an obsession and very time consuming. One little clue leads to another discovery and then that leads you on another trail. It’s like a treasure hunt and the tidbits found are like diamonds shining in the sun, and that can lead to addiction.

Whether you write or not, your family history is precious and invaluable to those who come after you. If you haven’t done any research yet, maybe it’s time for you to start with your own story and leave a legacy for your grandchildren and children to enjoy in years to come.

Reader Question: What is the most interesting thing you have learned either in your family or history in general?

* * * * *

Thank you, Martha, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of Love Stays True (The Homeward Journey). If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Delia Lathan and Lexi's Heart Giveaway


DELIA LATHAM was born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, and now is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She’s a Dr. Pepperaholic and loves hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website (, her blog (, or her Facebook author page (

Delia writes inspirational romance and women's fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

LEXI'S HEART (Heart's Haven Holidays, book 1)
by Delia Latham
Published by White Rose Publishing (a division of the Pelican Book Group)


Her heart. His faith. Love Reborn.

Forty-three-year-old Lexi Carlisle’s abusive marriage ended three years ago. Deeply scarred by the experience, and helplessly watching her beloved mother succumb to Alzheimer’s, Lexi is devastated. After selling her fancy home, she rents a cottage in Heart’s Haven, a special place unlike any other. Slowly learning to live again, she despairs of ever delivering the message of love that burns within her heart for her ever-worsening mother. But Mitch Gaynor, a handsome Christian author, reminds Lexi that with God all things are possible, planting within her battered and distrustful heart the seed of hope for a miracle. But can she open her fortressed heart to God? And is Mitch a part of His plans for her future?

Readers, buy your copy of Lexi's Heart (Heart's Haven Holidays, book 1) today!


What I Do and Who I Am

“What do you do?”

For some reason, that question has become one of the first things we ask a new acquaintance. I wonder why that is? Surely we don’t identify people by their occupations. Or do we?

I think we do, more often than not. And that’s sad. But sadder still is the fact that we identify one another by our success at that occupation.

“I’m a writer.” That’s my answer when people ask what I do. And they offer a polite smile and a nod. Because writers abound, don’t they? Everybody’s writing something—a memoir, a journal, an autobiography, the “next BIG novel.” But…then the real question is posed: “Are you published?” Ahhh…now they’re getting to their real interest. Am I successful at what I do? Because somehow, folks are of the mistaken notion that a writer isn’t really a writer until his or her name is on the cover of a book.

I know this, because when I say, “Yes, I’m a multi-published author,” their entire demeanor is transformed. Their eyes light up and their smile suddenly becomes sincere, because my name on the cover of a book means I’m a success, and wow—they just met a published author!

My, how we skew our priorities these days!

Writing is what I do. Would you like to know who I am?

I’m a small-town girl, raised in a little farming community called, of all things, Weedpatch. I’m a Christian, and proud to be a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I’m a wife of almost forty years who fell in love with my (future) husband when I was eleven years old. I’m a mother of four wonderful individuals who make me so, so proud. And I’m a grandmother to four of the most amazing little human beings in the entire world.

I also happen to enjoy writing stories about romance that also glorify my Father, the King.

Do I bring in truckloads of money writing? Nope. Does that make me a failure in life? Again, nope.

I do what I do because God gave me the talent and an affinity for writing. Hopefully my words will brighten someone’s day, uplift a downtrodden soul, encourage the discouraged, or make someone believe in love. That’s my ministry…my way of using the talents given to me.

I am who I am because God saw fit to bless me with parents who loved me, and saw that I had a roof over my head and food to eat. There was barely enough money for real necessities, and none for luxuries, but I didn’t know we were poor. Funny how one never misses something they’ve never had, isn’t it?

I am who I am because my parents raised me according to godly principles; I had a pastor who taught straight from the scriptures and wasn’t afraid to call sin sin. I had the privilege of being taken under the wings of not one but two deeply devoted Christian women who became lifetime mentors and helped develop me as a person. I thank God for them every day.

I am who I am because God gave me a wonderful husband who cares about his family and believes in the sanctity of marriage. He then blessed me with children to love and teach and befriend and enjoy, and then magnified that blessing by giving me babies to love and spoil as I grow older and move into the next chapter of my life.

I am the lady next door, who waters your plants when you’re sick or on vacation. I smile when I pass by you in the department store. I stand behind you in the grocery line, and I’ll even let you go ahead of me if you’re only holding a couple of items and my basket is overflowing with stuff.

Yes, I’m a writer. That’s what I do, and I love doing it.

But I’m also a real person who—just like you, I hope—tries to do what’s right (or write…*g*), and actually manage to most of the time. Who has bad days when all I want to do is cry, and good ones when my feet barely touch the ground. The words of a wonderful song by Collin Raye says it perfectly. Here they are, from me to you:

I laugh, I love, I hope, I try
I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry
And I know you do the same things, too
So we're really not that different, me and you

Reader Question: Let's really get to know one another. I sincerely hope you love what you do, but I'm more interested in the heart of your. So....who are YOU?

* * * * *

Thank you, Delia, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of Jewels for the Kingdom (Heart's Haven, book 1) in the format of your choice. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to anyone worldwide.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Bound by Grace eBook SALE - $.99 all of May!

Last month, it was Copper and Candles for $.99. This month it's Bound by Grace, book 1 in my newest Brandywine Brides series! You love reading books? Well, books bring the leading couples together, and the family in this series connects to the family in my debut series, Liberty's Promise...with an heirloom book playing a significant role.
If you have a moment and can help me spread the word, here’s a Tweet to use:
Amber Stockton's Bound by Grace, just $.99 all of May! You love reading books? Books bring these couples together. 
Be sure to also check out the other 29 books on sale for $.99 this month at the Truly Yours Digital Facebook page:
Bound by Grace is also available on all other eBook formats too:

Friday, May 03, 2013

Susan Page Davis and What a Picture's Worth


SUSAN PAGE DAVIS is the author of more than forty novels, including the Prairie Dreams, Ladies’ Shooting Club, and Frasier Island series, and selected books in the Patchwork Mysteries, Miracles of Marble Cove, Texas Trails, and Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop series. She is a native of Maine, now living in western Kentucky. To learn more about Susan and her books, visit:

by Susan Page Davis
Published by Annie's Books


One of the most successful vendors in Shannon’s craft market is Fredo Benson, an eccentric and moody painter. All goes well until Shannon goes to his loft one evening to turn out lights and discovers detailed sketches of her home—sketches of the gardens, the mansion she inherited from her grandmother, and most concerning, items from inside the mansion.

That night her craft store is broken into, but nothing appears to be stolen. The following morning, Fredo doesn’t show up for an art class he was to teach. Shannon takes her 19-year-old son and goes to Fredo’s apartment, where they find the artist dead. Do his sketches hold clues about his reasons for stalking her? And how is his death connected to the store break-in? Who was Fredo really working for?

What a Picture’s Worth is published by Annie’s Books. To learn more about the Creative Woman series, go to:

Today, Susan is giving away a copy of What a Picture’s Worth. Leave a comment here to enter the drawing.


A lot of my writing time is spent getting the details right. I get the story down, but then I have to make sure everything in it is as accurate as I can make it. That’s because I know how I feel when I come across something in a book that I know isn’t right.

Having lived more than fifty years in Maine, I came to Kentucky three years ago as a complete stranger, a newcomer to all things Kentucky. I notice things that are different. In our part of the state, there are many oak trees, of several different varieties—many more oaks than in Maine. But there are also fewer evergreens. The cedars look different, the pines look different, and I don’t see many of my old friends, spruce, fir, hackmatack, beech, and white birch. But I see other trees that I never saw in Maine—sycamore, persimmon, and redbud, to name a few.

We saw the snake yesterday. My husband and I like to walk for exercise, and when we walk in a certain direction, we walk as far as a small bridge and look over the railing. About half the times we go there, we see the snake. It’s huge. It suns itself on a log, but slithers into the water when we arrive and swims into the murky shade beneath a fallen tree. I think it’s a diamondback water snake.

Snakes in Maine didn’t scare me. There are no poisonous snakes in Maine, my parents taught me when I was small. I didn’t mind seeing them or even picking them up. But here in Kentucky there are at least four kinds of poisonous snakes in my area, and the water snake is one. I’m a lot more cautious than I used to be. I don’t go running through the long grass in shorts and sneakers anymore. I wear long pants if I’m going into the field or the woods, and I walk slowly. If I write a Kentucky story (I haven’t yet), it may very well have a snake in it, because snakes are one of the things that makes Kentucky different for me.

Birds are another. This place has an abundance of birds, and I love them! I see them on walks and outside my windows as I work. I hear them, day and night. We have most of my old friends of the bird world here, and lots that I never knew in Maine. Mockingbirds, for instance. Another of our walking routes takes us past some trees where there are nearly always mockingbirds. They sing to us. We whistle to them, and they whistle back.

But if I read a book that puts a mockingbird in Maine (which I recently did), I know it’s not right. Another story I read had pelicans on the beach in Maine. Nope. Almost never. I see something like that, and I know the author isn’t “best friends” with Maine. They might visit the Pine Tree State and love it dearly, but they’re grounded somewhere else, and they didn’t get the details right. I still enjoyed both of those books, but it would have been much nicer if the birds had been right. And it wouldn’t have taken two minutes to check online.

I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in some of my books. But I want to get it right. That’s why I have books on my shelf about very narrow subjects, like Wild Plants of the Four Corners, and Pacific Coast Tree Finder.

Right now I’m working on a mystery set in Pennsylvania. I’ve been to Pennsylvania several times, but I’ve never lived there. It would be easy to think the trees and birds and snakes here in Kentucky (or those in Maine) would also be in Pennsylvania. But I want to make sure, so I’ll be checking.

This week I am giving away a copy of What a Picture’s Worth. It’s set in Oregon, where they have Steller’s jays, not common blue jays. Comment and leave your contact information to be entered in the drawing.

Reader Question: In the last “new place” you visited, what jumped out at you as “different”?

* * * * *

Thank you, Susan, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. Your choice. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to contiguous US residents for a print copy and international or Alaska/Hawaii residents for an eBook copy.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May 2013 New Releases in Christian Fiction

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

Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus — An American woman is sent to England to marry wealth, but finds herself torn between the poor man she loves and the viscount who offers the wealth and stability that can save her family. (Historical Romance from B & H Publishing).

When a Secret Kills by Lynette Eason — Investigative reporter, Jillian Carter, comes home after ten years in hiding to join forces with Detective Colton Brady to put a killer behind bars. (Thriller/Suspense from Revell (Baker).

Always, Abby by Linda S. Glaz — A war orphan, a planned wedding, and a pretty face, all destined to unravel the best laid plans. (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Widow of Gettysburg (Heroines Behind the Lines) by Jocelyn Green — A Union widow must rebuild her life after war rips through her home, while her heart wages its own battle against a draw she feels toward the enemy. (Historical from River North (Moody).

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck — Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale. Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life. The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan).

The Marriage Barter by Christine Johnson — A widow must marry within three days to keep her daughter. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Talon: Combat Tracking Team by Ronie Kendig — A veteran and a military intelligence operative team up to find a missing soldier. This time, survival depends on the courage of a traumatized combat tracking dog. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Hill Country Cattleman by Laurie Kingery — An aristocratic young lady flees England ahead of scandal, only to find love in the arms of a rugged Texas cowboy. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Captured by Moonlight by Christine Lindsay — Two women, one Indian, one English, each one captured and imprisoned by their past-Eshana by her traditional Hindu uncle for her faith in Christ, the other, Lieutenant Laine Harkness by her former fiancé, yet new life can come on the trade winds after the storm has passed. (Historical Romance Novella from Whitefire Publishing ).

A Heartbeat Away by S. Dionne Moore — When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam. Her mother’s mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Beth learns Joe’s secret and together they put the quilt’s message to its greatest test-but can betrayal be forgiven? (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press).

Gone South: A Novel by Meg Moseley — The sweet tea has gone bitter in Noble, Alabama, where newcomer Tish McComb soon learns that her family’s roots there aren’t seen as respectable-especially once she befriends a local prodigal daughter and things go from bad to worse. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Waterbrook Multnomah).

The Face of the Earth by Deborah Raney When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. (General Contemporary from Howard (Simon and Schuster).

No Way Out by Susan Sleeman — When Alyssa Wells discovers her police husband was murdered and the killer threatens her life, Alyssa turns to former US Marshall Cole Justice to keep her alive. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Love’s Stormy Gale by Lynette Sowell — Two years ago, Olivia Shea was trying on her wedding gown, dreaming of marriage and motherhood. But her fisherman fiancé was lost at sea and Olivia fled, unable to stay in the New England fishing village. Now she’s back in Fairport, determined to face her fears by working on a whale boat tour. But the charter’s captain is the sole survivor of her fiancé’s ill-fated voyage-a man of danger and memories. Jonathan Barrotta’s scars from the night he nearly died run as deep as the vast Atlantic. To prove himself and to honor his friend’s memory, he vows to fulfill his dream of piloting his own boat… (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Sweet Dreams by Carla Stewart — Charm school in Texas wasn’t what cousins Dusty Fairchild and Paisley Finch dreamed of, but when they fall in love with the same handsome young man, things get sticky, and only after a tragic accident do they learn where their true hearts, and dreams, lie. (Historical from Faith Words (Hachette).

Catch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt — Is life about accomplishing plans . . . or wishes coming true . . . or something more? Dr. Kendall Haynes’s plans to have it all-a career, a husband, a family-are eluding her. Now that she’s thirty-six, she needs to stop wishing upon a star and face reality: Some dreams just never come true. Air Force pilot Griffin Walker prefers flying solo in the air and on the ground-until a dangerous choice ejects him from the cockpit. His life becomes even more complicated after the sudden death of his parents makes him the guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother. When their lives collide during a near tragedy, Kendall and Griffin must decide if they can embrace the unexpected changes God has waiting for them. (Contemporary Romance from Howard (Simon and Schuster).

Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade — Soft-spoken Meg is more interested in art than in business, but when her father dies she inherits his oil company, his fortune, and his Thoroughbred horse ranch. She asks the ranch’s caretaker, Bo, to shut the place down. But will Bo prove the only part of her father’s empire worth keeping? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House).

Wedding on the Rocks by Rose Ross Zediker — When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange-the boy she left behind-whose life’s work is digging up the past? (General Contemporary from Heartsong Presents).