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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?

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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?

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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?

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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!