Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The 25 Days of Christmas Devotional

What's so special about this season that it needs its own book of devotions? Many of us get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. One way to prevent that is to focus on the reason for the season. Taking a few minutes each day with this different kind of devotional book will help your family think of others. Each day focuses on one word and includes a story from Daniel and Holly's family, a Scripture reading with the devotional, the YouTube link to a Christmas Carol, and an activity that the entire family can be involved in.

Here's an excerpt, so you can "taste test" and see why this is such a great way for families to celebrate the season:



"I have a surprise for you kids," Mom said as soon as Daniel and Holly walked in the door after school.

"What?" They both wanted to know.

"Follow me," Mom requested as she walked toward the family room.

Two-year-old Evie followed along behind, clapping her hands and giggling.

"She must know what the secret is," Daniel commented to Holly.

Holly laughed when Evie shouted, "Sec-et! Sec-et!"

Mom smiled as well. "That's her new word for the day."

Then Mom held up a box that had a bunch of what looked like little doors. Twenty-five of them to be exact. They each had a number.

"What's that?" Daniel asked.

"It's an Advent calendar. Each day we'll open one. Behind each door is a treat for each of you and a word we can talk about to help us prepare for Christmas."

"Can we open one now?" Holly wanted to know.

"You may." Mom pointed to the first door.

"Advent," Holy read after she took out three small candies and handed one to Daniel and Evie.

"Advent is all about the days leading up to Christmas. We can talk about what Christmas really means and prepare our hearts to worship Christ."

"Why did Jesus have to come to earth as a baby? Why couldn't He come as a grown-up?" Daniel wondered as he picked up the baby Jesus from the Nativity set.

"Well, Jesus needed time to prepare, too. He needed to experience all the things we experience. He experienced what it was like to grow up, have a family and friends, and be tempted by sin just like the rest of us. No matter what problems we face in life, Jesus truly understands."

"But I thought Jesus was perfect and never sinned?" Holly questioned.

Mom nodded her head. "He was perfect. He didn't ever sin, but He still went through a lot of the same things we do. Because He lived a perfect and sinless life, that's what made Him a suitable sacrifice for our sins. Only a perfect Man could pay the price for us."

Daniel and Holly didn't say anything. For a few moments, the only sound heard was Evie slurping her candy and quietly repeating, "Sec-et."

Mom continued. "God had to prepare the world for Salvation to come in the form of His Son, Jesus. It wouldn't happen overnight. It would take Jesus' entire life time here on earth."

Daniel, always the one who wanted to learn more, said, "I think this will be interesting."

"I think this will be fun," Holly gave her opinion.

"I think it will help prepare us all and help us to understand Christmas just a little bit better."


Read Matthew 25:1-13
This man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25b-26

Advent is a time of preparation. The Christmas Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. Many families, especially those with young children, have Advent calendars. Each day the children get to open a door, receive a little gift, or remove an object in the countdown for and in anticipation of Christmas.

Children, for the most part, look forward to Christmas because of the gifts they will receive. That’s not a bad thing, but we as adults, should have a much deeper anticipation of Christmas. We take the time to buy and wrap gifts, prepare food, clean the house for guests, buy new outfits, attend parties, etc. But how much time do we put into meditating on the actual birth of Christ and worshipping Him?

Many years, at least in our household, we spend time putting up the tree and decorating it, only to ignore it. We more often than not, sit in the room with the TV. Unfortunately, that’s often the way we are with God as well. We accept Him as Savior. We attend church on Sundays. Other than that, we pretty much ignore Him, too.

This Christmas, in anticipation of the celebration of His birth, let’s focus on Him a little more throughout the month. Let’s prepare our hearts by reflecting on why He came to earth.
Christmas will be that much more special when we focus on the true Reason for the Season.


This activity will take some extra planning. Get together as a family; you can even invite your extended family members to take part in this one as well. Choose a family that is in need; try to find a specific need if possible. Gather together money to give to that family for the specific need that they have. If possible, try not to let them know where their Christmas gift is coming from. That makes it all the more exciting for both them and you.

Song - The Twelve Days of Christmas (How I Want to Sing)

Buy the book! 

"The 25 Days of Christmas Family Devotional: Making Christmas More Meaningful" 

can be purchased on Amazon

About the author:
Ruth O’Neil has been a freelance writer for 20-plus years. She sees everything as a writing opportunity in disguise, whether it is an interesting character, setting, or situation. You can find her book series “What a Difference a Year Makes” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or her website ( You can also visit her on her blog at When she’s not writing or homeschooling her kids, Ruth spends her time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping and hiking with her family. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - and Giveaway!

Today it is my pleasure to have Debbie Lynne Costello as a guest on my
blog. Debbie Lynne has written several books but today we will be treated to an interview with the hero of her newest release, SWORD OF THE MATCHMAKER. Debbie Lynne is offering a giveaway - leave a comment on this blog post, then follow along the blog tour to get more chances to win! (see below for dates and links) Don't forget to also enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post. Debbie Lynne is giving away a Kindle Fire (with SWORD OF THE MATCHMAKER), a $15 Amazon gift card, and much more!

Before we meet Thomas, here's a little blurb about the novel:
purchase on Amazon

Penelope Beatty made up her mind long ago she would live and die a Scottish warrior not a wife. But when nearly all her clan is killed and she is betrayed, she loathes doing the unthinkable, but must seek the help of an Englishman who owed her father’s his life.

Thomas Godfrey never married, but when a Scottish warrior lass shows up needing his aid, he finds her both annoying and irresistible. But the last thing he wants is to marry a woman who fights alongside him. If he was going to marry—which he isn’t—it would be to a soft, submissive woman. But when the Lady Brithwin meets the Scottish lass, she’s sure she’s found the perfect match for Thomas and nothing is going to stop her from seeing a summer wedding.

I confess, now that I've met Thomas through this interview, he seems like the perfect hero (albeit reluctant!). Read on and see for yourself.

1) Thomas, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get to be Master-At-Arms?

Greetings, Lady Tammy. I thank you for having me here today. This is a very fine way to kick off a blog tour. Your time period is much different than mine. Why if I was to correspond with you in the late 14th century it might take months for you to hear back from me and then if a tragedy befell the letter carrier, you may never hear back. This email and blogging is very interesting.

To answer your question, I am the oldest son of Hamon Godfrey. I was born in the Cumberland area in England and have lived here most of my life. During my page years and squire years I was sent to a keep south of Hawkwood where I tended that lord of the keep’s needs. But shortly after knighthood I was asked to come back to Hawkwood.

I became Master-at-arms at a fairly young age. The old lord saw that I had the respect from the other knights. They trusted me with their lives. So when the previous Master-at-Arms died in battle on the border lands, I filled his shoes to keep the men focused on our goal. The lord saw that the men would do as I told them and chose me to fill the Master-of-Arms position. Although, I have my suspicions that he may have had some influence from within. Many saw that I looked after Lady Brithwin, protecting her from her father whenever I could. And though I’m nearly twenty years older than her, she was like a daughter to me and I loved her as thus. Indeed, I suspect there were whispers in the lord’s ear that the job should go to me.

2) I imagine you are accustomed to being in charge. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? Does that change after they've known you awhile?

Being in charge is an easy thing to become accustomed to. Much like the centurion in the bible, I tell a man to do something and he does it. I cannot imagine anything else. I hope they see I am an honest, God fearing man. I try to be fair in my dealings with those under me but I will not brook foolishness or disobedience. And because of that the first impression may not be favorable. They may see me as a hard, uncaring person. But I would say that yes, once they get to know me they realize there is another side to me.

3) What is your impression of Penelope when you first meet? What is your opinion of Lady Brithwin's impression of Penelope?

(Thomas grinned.)

My first impression of Penelope? Perhaps a bit of amusement. How else could I feel? Here
was this beautiful woman standing before me in men’s garb, demanding I take her to see Hamon—which of course I did. She made me smile, even laugh, which only made her angry. I didn’t have to say much to get her hackles up. I truly found her amusing. But at the same time I dinna like the way it made me feel inside. I’d never had feelings like that for a woman. And I didn’t want them now. Now lady Brithwin looked past the male garb and saw a woman in need of a husband. She fell in love with Penelope the minute she met her. I could see it in my lady’s eyes and knew I was in trouble.

4) Why do you not want to marry?

I am 35 years old! I am too old to train a wife and I have no patience for a weepy woman. I am use to a woman like Brithwin who is strong. I dinna want to deal with the problems that come with a wife. Royce has his hands full. Though I love my lady, she is a stubborn woman. I am a man who has no time for a woman’s foolishness.

5) Is there something you'd really like to accomplish in your lifetime?

I achieved my goal of master-of-arms at a young age, so on a personal basis I am happy. However, I have dreams of building my own place and having a home to call my own. And before you say something about needing a woman to keep my home clean, let me assure you that I am quite capable of keeping my abode clean.

(note from me: I would never say anything about needing a woman to keep a home clean! I might, however, suggest it isn't much of a home if there's no one to share it with.)

6) And just for fun, what's your favorite meal and what's your favorite food to have for that meal?

I enjoy the evening meal, though it’s not as large a meal as the dinner meal. My day is usually at end and I am able to sit and fellowship with my lord, knowing the day is behind me. Lady Brithwin always sees that a fine meal is prepared for the evening meal as well as the mid-day meal. My favorite thing to eat at the meal? Wardonys in Syrup. Nothing can finish off a meal better than sweet pears in syrup.
Wardonys in Syrup, photo found on
Give it Forth blog
Thank you, Thomas, for taking sometime to meet with my blog followers and Debbie Lynne's readers.

I thank you again, Lady Tammy. I will look forward to answering the questions of your followers.

Be sure to stop by Miralee Ferelle’s blog on May 19th for more ways to enter.
To purchase a copy of SWORD OF THE MATCHMAKER, pop over to Amazon

Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Find Debbie Lynne on Facebook Twitter
For more chances to win a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift card, and more, check out the rest of the blog tour: 
May 19                                                  May 29, 30, 31                    
June 2                                                   June 3                
June 4                                                   June 5
June 7                                                   June 9                        
June 12                                                 June 13
June 14                                                 June 15
June 16                                                 June 17

June 19                                                 June 20

June 21                                                 June 22

June 25                                                 June 27
June 28                                                  June 30

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 14, 2017


Liberty Dryden!!

    Liberty will get her choice of one of my four books FREE. What a great Easter gift. No where near as fantastic as the gift our Lord gave when His son, Jesus Christ, died for us. We are saved from eternal damnation because of the incredible love of Jesus and our Father in Heaven.

Though Jesus' followers were most likely in abject depression when Jesus died on the cross, three days later they were able to rejoice. But even now, two thousand years later, it is difficult to fully grasp the amazing sacrifice and gift we were all given when Jesus died and later rose from the grave.

Happy Easter to all!

Monday, April 10, 2017

SWWR Easter Egg Hunt!

(Contest is over - see post on 4/14/17 for winner - and thanks for visting!)

Nine Sweet Wild West Reads authors are participating in an Easter Egg Hunt where you can win FREE books!! Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out the details of how to enter and where to hunt for Easter Eggs.

Easter is the holiest of Christian holidays. Jesus Christ's death and resurrection are what define Christianity, in fact. But secular celebrations have taken over this holiday. Some Christians don't "do" Easter because it has become secularized. They celebrate the Resurrection, of course, but no Easter Bunny, decorated eggs, or baskets of gifts for them.

Our family celebrates with many of the secular traditions but we teach our children how things like Easter eggs and gifts can be symbolic of the true holiday. Here's my take on it:

The Easter Bunny: a mythical creature who we wait for expectantly. Much like the Jews of the Old Testament waited for the prophesied Messiah. Yet when Jesus did arrive, most (at first) did not recognize him as the Messiah. He came disguised as an ordinary man, son of a carpenter, from humble origins. For those who did accept and believe in Jesus, the early Christians, it must have felt a lot like believing in something as silly as a giant rabbit who lays eggs and/or brings gifts. Early follows of Christ were ridiculed and persecuted by the leaders of the Jewish faith. Those who clung to faith in the Messiah are rewarded, though!

Which brings me to Easter Baskets: in our family, Easter tradition includes a small gift 
basket for the kids. Just a few little, pleasurable gifts and maybe some candy (or flowers for my daughter, who doesn't really like candy). Seems like another excuse for commercial enterprises to suck money from our wallets. Yet, there is a correlation between Easter gifts and Jesus. Christ, after all, is the greatest gift ever given! We don't even deserve it. All we have to do to receive this wonderful gift is believe that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins. He promised this Messiah and He always keeps His promises. 

Finally, Easter eggs and hunts: Eggs are symbolic of new life. They've been associated with pagan festivals since ancient times. Many will point out, in criticism of Christianity, that Christian holidays and traditions often reflect pagan rituals and celebrations. I don't find that to be such a bad thing - the early church wanted to reach out to the pagans and draw them into faith. What better way than to say, "Hey, you know how you celebrate Spring as the season of rebirth? Well, do you know who makes that rebirth possible each year?" Then follow it up with teaching about the ultimate rebirth: being born again when accepting Christ as our personal savior and turning away from a life of sin! So decorating eggs to help celebrate the season of rebirth and renewal can help us remember the wonderful gift of rebirth made possible by Jesus Christ.

Hunting for Easter eggs can also represent our life journeys once we have accepted Christ as our savior. Believing and having faith doesn't make life a rose garden with all beauty and no struggles. We still live in this world filled with millions and billions of others who don't believe. Each day, we need to focus and seek God's will for us. We search for that divine path the Lord wishes for us to follow and when we're successful, He rewards us! Like finding a prettily decorated boiled egg or perhaps (even better!), a plastic egg full of candy.

Jesus' life is a wonderful example of how we can live the life God intended for His children. Christ's death and resurrection are the proofs of God's love and show that He will always fulfill His promises.

While we celebrate the Resurrection, we also like to have some fun. Check out my author Facebook page (Tammy Doherty author and find the Easter Egg and you could win a copy of one of my books. To enter the drawing, find the Easter egg on my Facebook page then email me at (or message my author FB page) telling me what album the photo is in. You can get an extra entry in the drawing if you also leave a comment on this post, letting me know you found the Easter egg...but don't say where!

When you've found my Easter egg, pop over to these other Sweet Wild West Reads authors' sites for a chance to win more free books (click on the author's name or the link address and it will take you to that site). Just find the Easter egg (it looks like this one to the right of the author list), then fill out the contact form on that website stating where you found it (be sure to include your contact information, in case you win). Good luck and Happy Hunting!

Barb Goss 

Faith Blum 

Danni Roan 

Josephine Blake

Lynn Winchester 

Kay P. Dawson

Kathleen Ball 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - A Teaser

I don't have anyone to spotlight today. What I do have is a teaser...Starting Monday, April 10th, several Sweet Wild West Reads authors will be participating in an Easter Egg Hunt. Stop by here on Monday to see a list of authors and their website/blog addresses. Then pop over to each one, search for the Easter Egg, fill out the form (one for each site) to be entered in a drawing for a free book from that author. Easy-peasy!

See you on Monday!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - A Book Review

I didn't have anyone lined for today, so I thought a book review would fill the spot nicely.

A BEE IN HER BONNET by Jennifer Beckstrand ~ A Review

I don't usually read Amish fiction. Just not my cup of tea. But someone asked me to read this book and I was in the mood for a romance.I'm am ever so happy I decided to read it!!

This is the second book in the series but I didn't feel at all lost by not having read the first (I will go back and read that one, though). The Honeybee Sisters are three young women living with their aunt in a Wisconsin Amish community. The girls were orphaned at a young age and their aunt stepped in to raise them. The family is a little unconventional by Amish standards, especially Aendi Bitsy, who lived outside the Amish community for a long time. She's a big part of what made A BEE IN HER BONNET so enjoyable.

In this novel, Poppy Christner is determined to catch the vandal who has been terrorizing their farm. Their beehives have been tipped over, laundry torn from the line, and graffiti painted on the side of the barn. All of that happened in the first book. This one opens with Poppy confronting two people parked in a car on the road in front of the farm - and getting her hand stuck in the driver's side window as they start to drive away. Luke Bontrager comes along just in time to stop the car and force them to roll down the window, freeing Poppy. She doesn't appreciate his interference (she's convinced she was about to see the faces of the vandals). Luke thinks Poppy takes unnecessary risks.

All of Poppy's life, she's believed that she is not marriage material. Her grandfather told her she'd never get a husband if she stayed so stubborn. In school, she confronted bullies and was generally a tomboy. Now along comes Luke, echoing the same sentiment - who would want to marry such a contrary girl. For her part, Poppy concedes (privately, of course) that Luke is handsome but he's much too bossy.

The two are thrown together through various circumstances, each slowly realizing how special and wunderbar the other is. Luke obstinately sticks to his belief that some things are "men's work" and some work is for women. Poppy stubbornly sticks to her feeling that she can do anything any boy can do. Their clashes are humorous and tug at heartstrings as the reason behind each one's emotions is revealed. How will they ever overcome these obstacles to reach the love God surely has planned for them?

Throughout it all, Aendi Bitsy fills the pages with humor and love. She admonishes the girls for giving Luke some cookies as a thank you for saving Poppy in the car incident. "Boys are like stray cats. Feed them once, and they'll keep coming around." Her gruffness doesn't scare Luke, which is good because Bitsy actually has a warm and loving heart and wants only the best for her nieces.

When I finished reading A BEE IN HER BONNET the only thing I wanted to do next was read book 3! This is a fun romance with plenty of humor and loads of warmth. I definitely recommend it!!

All three of the Honeybee Sisters novels by Jennifer Beckstrand are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Fiction Friends - Lillian Duncan

Today I am happy to welcome Lillian Duncan as my Friday Fiction Friends guest. Lillian is celebrating the release of her novel BROKEN TRUST with an Amazon gift card giveaway! Details on how you can be entered to win are at the bottom of the post.

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at or She also has a devotional blog at
available on Amazon 

Her new release is BROKEN TRUST
Life is all about choices…and consequences. Chryssie Mason longs to soar like a butterfly, but a lifetime of bad choices has kept her in the caterpillar stage. After years of struggling, her dreams are finally within her grasp. Her only goal is to graduate from nursing school so she can have a better life—so she can morph into a butterfly. With her final exam only days away, she witnesses a murder. A butterfly would call the police, but she decides to take the easy way out…once again. Life has taught her to never trust anyone, especially herself. With her freedom and her very life at risk, it’s time to trust. And that choice changes everything.

Tell us a little about you.

My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. But I love being back home. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

That’s an interesting story. I was turning 40 and like lots of other 40 year olds, something was missing in my life. I was watching some show (probably Oprah) and her guest recommended writing your own obituary but not to include anything you’ve done up to that point. They said write in outlandish things that you couldn’t imagine.

One of the things I wrote was that I was an author. What? Up to that point, I’d never thought of writing a book in spite of how much I loved books. When I reread those words, something sparked.

And a writer was born.

What is your 'how I got published' story?

I only need two words to tell that—hard work…and perseverance. OK, technically that’s four words. It actually took me fifteen years to get a traditional contract. I can’t tell you how many times I quit writing but I always started back up which is why I always tell writers—DON’T QUIT!

How did you develop your love of story?

From my love of reading. From the moment I learned to read, I loved stories. From the time I learned to read, I rarely went anywhere without a book. To the grocery store, to my relatives’ houses, camping. And yes, I was one of those people that read under the covers and in a car.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

The answer to both is Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in from time to time. I guess writing is sort of like eating. You are what you read, and for me that means I’m a suspense/mystery writer.

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?

I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.

I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

Tell us about BROKEN TRUST.

BROKEN TRUST is my latest book, releasing March 17. There’s lots of action but it will also make you go…aww. It explores the issues of trust (of course) but also choices and how one choice can change your life—for better or for worse.

BROKEN TRUST is Chryssie’s story. Her complete name is Chrysalis which is another name for a cocoon. Chryssie wants to soar like a butterfly but she keeps making choices that keep her stuck in the caterpillar stage.

She’s days away from graduating from nursing school when she witnesses a murder. Once again she takes the easy way out and once again she has to face the consequences of her choice—this time with life and death consequences.

What’s the setting for BROKEN TRUST?

Broken Trust is set in Cleveland, mostly in the Ohio City area and the Flats.

What’s your day job? Tell us a little about it.

I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.

I loved my job and miss it. Mostly I miss the children, not the paper work. If it weren’t for serious health issues, I would still be working.

What sort of serious health issues?

In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and subsequently a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. A long name that basically means I can develop tumors at any time on my nerves but especially in the brain.

It’s been a long, long journey but God is good. There’re a lot of things I can’t do these days, but I can still write! And for that I’m very thankful.

What do you want readers to take away from BROKEN TRUST?

We all make bad choices and then have to face the consequences of them but God is a God of second chances and third and fourth and… We do not have to let our past dictate our future.

What is your writing process?

I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?

Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers.

How does faith play a part in your writing?

That’s changed a lot over the years. When I first started writing, I wrote mainstream (secular) mysteries and suspense. As I grew closer to God in my daily walk, my writing began to reflect that and so I started writing Christian mysteries and suspense. In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and have had to learn to rely on God in a whole different way and so my writing reflects that now as well by having a deeper spiritual message than before.

In fact, I have my first non-suspense novella scheduled to be released in October of this year. PUZZLE HOUSE is a complete departure from what I usually write. I would classify it as simply Christian Fiction, a story about a woman who is asked the question, ‘Do you want to be healed or to be a healer?” by a very important person.

What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?

I first “met” Chryssie in a short story I wrote but I wanted to learn more about her and her story so….BROKEN TRUST is the result.

Do you have personal experience with any of the events in Broken Trust, and if so, could you share about that?

Only in that I worked and lived in Cleveland for many years as a school speech pathologist.

Paper or e-reader? There are certainly pros and cons to each. Which is your favorite?

I prefer a “real” book with paper. Unfortunately, I don’t read them that way very often because of my eyesight. So, I use an e-reader almost exclusively these days.

Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?

Romans 8: 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with brain tumors. The treatments and the side effects wreaked havoc on my health! I was very sick but I kept repeating this verse over and over. It kept me trusting God and it kept me in peace and joy in spite of how bad I felt at the time.

How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?

My day job was as a school speech pathologist, better known as a speech therapist. So for more than 30 years I listened…and listened…and listened some more. I think it helped me in a lot of areas but certainly with writing dialogue of my characters.

If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?

DON’T GIVE UP! It took me 15 years to get a traditional contract, and now I have almost 20 books published! If I can do it, so can you. But not if you give up. KEEP WRITING!

What are you working on now?

I already mentioned my next release, PUZZLE HOUSE—the tagline is Life isn’t a box of candy, it’s a puzzle. At the moment, I’m working on a sequel for it called THE DAVID YEARS. I’m also in the middle of revising and editing another book, ENCOUNTERS, that explores several issues including how our encounters with others is like a spider web. They link us to each other in ways we don’t always understand. Plus I have a couple ideas for new suspense books swirling around in my brain as well. So many ideas—not enough time!

And now about that giveaway! To enter, just hop over to Lillian's blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at and leave a comment under one of the Broken Trust posts and you’re entered. Easy Peasy! (remember, only comments on Lillian's blog will enter you in the drawing - but we'd love you leave a comment here to let us know you visited!) And get your copy of BROKEN TRUST on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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?