Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - Emily Reynolds

This week Friday Fiction Friends spotlights Emily Reynolds' debut novel, PICTURE PERFECT. 

Seven years ago, I met Emily through an ACFW critique group. Together with Sally Bayless, we dubbed ourselves "The Three Musketeers" and determined to encourage each other to publication. Life happened and each of us has journeyed different roads to our dreams. Yet we are all three published!

Back then, Emily's WIP (work in progress) went by other names but her main characters were Lily and Micah. I fell in love with them from the start. Lily is spunky, determined, yet caring and full of compassion. She's pursuing her dream of opening a photography studio and has finally found the perfect location. Micah has a past he's not proud of - would love for no one to know about, in fact. A personal tragedy brought him to Christ and now he wants to open a martial arts dojo to teach jujitsu to teens at risk.

Micah just found the perfect location for his dojo. Uh-huh, you guessed it!

That's not what has sparks flying between Lily and Micah, though. Micah gets drafted to help Lily learn swing dancing for her cousin's wedding. Their time on the dance floor heats up their romance but their pasts are about to collide. Again.

Micah is such a wonderful hero. He wants to improve the lives of teens. He's strong yet not a brute. He can dance! He's considerate. And flawed. When he gets frustrated, he stops talking to Lily, which only makes matters worse. So true to life. Lily, for her part, doesn't always open up and share her thoughts and concerns. Which makes matters worse. More real life, right there. Lily sees the good in Micah but she can't quite let go of the past and trust him.

Added to the mix is Lily's best friend, Erica, and her boss, Ian, who owns/runs the local coffee hot spot. Then there's Jeff, the youth pastor. And Myrtle Boralis, a wealthy elderly lady in church who has rubbed a few people the wrong way. We all know someone like her - she means well but is abrasive anyway.

PICTURE PERFECT is a delightful read, full of real life and plenty of romance. Get your copy today, for Kindle or in print.

Emily Reynolds writes contemporary, faith-filled romance novels filled with laughs and small-town charm. She loves exploring the mystery of falling in love, God's redemptive grace, and laugh-out-loud humor. Visit her website to learn more: 

For more incredible contemporary romance novels, check out BLING! Romance, a division of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - Laura Hilton

Today kicks off a new feature for my blog - Friday Fiction Friends. I'll be spotlighting my fellow Christian authors in the coming weeks and months. I hope you enjoy & maybe find a new author to enjoy!

A warm, Naultag welcome to Laura Hilton.  Laura lives in rural Arkansas with her pastor-husband and their five children (and a hyper dog named Skye). She knows all about small town life, I'm sure. This month, Laura is celebrating the release of THE AMISH WANDERER.

Bethany Weiss has been fascinated by Silas Beiler since he spent a couple of years in Jamesport, Missouri, before he and his family moved to another Amish community. They hadn’t kept in touch, but she hasn’t forgotten the friendly young man who brought her lemonade and took her home once from a Singing years ago. When she finds a man sleeping in her family’s barn, like Jesus sleeping in the hay, she is stunned to recognize Silas. He’s left the Amish and is backpacking across the country. She talks him into staying, at least until after Christmas.

Silas’ family has never been happy living in one area for long, and their vagabond ways are wearing on him. He’s lived in Amish communities all over the nation, moving whenever his daed became disgruntled with the leaders, and he’s looking for some sense of stability. His intentions are to make it back to Pennsylvania and stay with his Englisch onkle and his family—and pursue an education. Will Bethany be the one to bring Silas in from the cold? Or will he continue on his way to his extended family and become Englisch? 

How did Amish Wanderer get started?

Romans 8:38-39. I had no idea what Amish Wanderer would be about. I knew a blurb. I knew the characters names. I knew they used to be “sweethearts” before he moved away. That is all I knew. God usually gives me the verses in the middle or end of a book and this time, He dumped it out on my lap. Romans 8:38-39. I looked it up. Read it. And I looked at it and said “What am I supposed to do with that?” So I was driving somewhere and my daughters were listening to a cd. I don’t remember what song we were listening to. But when we got home, I knew the opening line of the story. The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

How do you see yourself in your character’s story, if at all? 

When I started writing Amish fiction, everyone said, you need to write your family’s story. And I said no. I would never write my family’s story. It is awful. Beyond awful. No. But while Amish Wanderer is not my family’s story, it is the closest I will ever come. Ever. It ripped my heart out writing this story. I imagined myself in my Grandmother’s eyes as she went through a similar nightmare. I know—or think I know—the horror she must’ve felt, living in fear of the person who was hurting her. That she eventually came to Christ is a miracle.

Will we know what happens to your character after the end of the book? 

Yes, if you know how to read between the lines. I don’t actually come out and say where they end up and do in this book, but it is very broadly hinted. And if you read my next book coming in the fall of 2017 (stand alone) there is a mention of Bethany and where she ended up. My books are all stand alone. But there might be some overlapping of characters, Just like in real life.

Both of your lead characters have “baggage” that keeps them from wanting to pursue a new relationship. Do you think sometimes we let our past get in the way of what God has planned for our futures?

Most definitely. The Amish book releasing in the fall of next year has a line the preacher in the book says – I don’t remember the exact words that I used - but something about what if the future God has for you is wrapped up in your worst nightmares, your biggest fears? Sometimes, you have to face the past in order to move past it to a brighter future. 

Where do you like to write?

Oh, I have dreams of writing at Starbucks like so many authors do. Alas, I live in rural Arkansas, there is no Starbucks within a 150 miles or more, and I am a stay at home mom with five children and I homeschool – two of them. Three are homeschool graduates. I write in the living room. With my children beside me so I can help with their school work – or explain it. 

How do you handle distractions?

Since it seems like I am trying to write at the busiest spot in “Grand Central Station” some days, I am envious of authors who say “I only got 5,000 words written today.” Only!? I’m happy if I get 500 words written a day. Over the moon ecstatic if I reach 1,000! 

If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?

Ha ha. They would see my three daughters sitting on the couch, watching a DVD of an old movie. We don’t have TV. They would see my to-do-list and the ARC of my upcoming book on my right, and a manuscript that I need to endorse for another writer on my left. And some sore throat spray because my youngest daughter says she has a sore throat. The medicine tastes yucky. She wants me to throw it away and buy the good tasting throat drops.

When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?

If it is hard to write and depressing me, like Amish Wanderer was, I have to physically remove myself from it, read a happy book. Something that takes me away from it until I can focus on it.

Both of your lead characters have “baggage” that keeps them from wanting to pursue a new relationship. Do you think sometimes we let our past get in the way of what God has planned for our futures?

Most definitely. The Amish book releasing in the fall of next year has a line the preacher in the book says – I don’t remember the exact words that I used - but something about what if the future God has for you is wrapped up in your worst nightmares, your biggest fears? Sometimes, you have to face the past in order to move past it to a brighter future.

Do you think there’s any reason in particular some people have one reaction versus the other when something bad happens in their life?

I am not going to attempt to play psychologist, but Bethany reacted by pulling away from God and having a stand-off until He does what she wants. Silas reacted by turning to the scriptures and trying to trust God knows what He’s doing even though he doesn’t like it. That God has a reason for putting him through the refiner’s fire.

Has there been a time in your own life where you could really sense God was putting you in a situation for a reason?

Oh, so many. As most of my readers know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago. I went into it shaking, like most people do. I had a three year old, I didn’t have time for cancer. But someone sent me an i-pod shuffle loaded with praise and worship songs for me to listen to during chemo. I read, a lot, and God was drawing me deeper into His word. I prayed a lot. I’m not going to say that it was a walk in the park. And I am still suffering side effects from it. BUT I learned to listen to God. I grew as a Christian. I grew as a writer. And I believe God put me through it so I would become the writer that I wouldn’t have been if He hadn’t refined me.

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, Lighthouse Academy and Laura V. Hilton, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Visit Laura on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Pinterest page, too!
Grab your copy of THE AMISH WANDERER on Amazon, CBD, or Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spaghetti Night

Tonight is Spaghetti Night. My son likes this to happen on Wednesdays, because he's grown up with us saying Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day. He's never even seen the commercial! This week, Spaghetti Night is happening on Thursday.

Sometimes, schedules change. The spaghetti is still good, though, as is the garlic toast and mozzarella sticks. It's all good.

Our dog, Sasha, also loves Spaghetti Night. We have meat sauce and she really loves that sauce. She gets to clean up whatever sauce is left on our plates plus we put some on top of her food. When it's a week that a fresh batch of sauce has been simmering on the stove all day, we spread some over her food and set the dish aside to cool off a bit.
Sasha puts up with a lot while she waits
Sasha is impatient. She does not want to wait for the sauce to cool off. She paces. She gives me puppy-dog eyes. And I say to her, "Be patient. You don't want to burn your mouth."

Before long - a lifetime in Sasha's mind, I'm sure - the food is a suitable temperature for her to chow down. She gobbles it up happily.

Tonight, as I repeat this ritual and speak the words of patience, it dawns on me. This could very well be the Lord speaking to me. I want it all and I want it now. But God says, "Patience, in good time." He knows when it is the right moment for me to receive the thing I've been waiting for. When all is right and I can revel in, gobble up, the happiness. It's hard being the one to wait, not fully understand why it's necessary. But how wonderful that my Father in Heaven knows what's best for me and he sticks to that. I won't get burned if I just wait for His timing.

I'm going to practice waiting. How about you?