Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diann Hunt - A Legacy in Grace, Humor, and Faith

I have been AWOL from this blog for about two months or so. Blame it on a packed schedule of editing my current WIP, preparing for the ACFW 2014 Genesis Writing Contest that I oversee, and life in general.

One very precious and important lady has drawn me out of hiding. Today, a number of ACFW members are paying tribute to fellow author, Diann Hunt, who recently passed away.

Diann was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer about five years ago. For a short while, she went into remission, and then it returned. I lost my best friend to the same cancer about ten years ago. Mary Ann died eleven months, almost to the day, after her diagnosis. I thought with Diann it would probably be about the same

But it wasn't.

God's timing is always what prevails, and He kept her alive for several more years. How long? I can't remember exactly, but during that roller coaster time of good and bad spells, she wrote several more books, including contributions to the Smitten novella anthologies, published by Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. The other authors in that series are Di's nearest and dearest friends, Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter.

She also ministered to many, often writing emails to them from her sickbed, encouraging them in their own struggles with cancer and
other ills. Diann was not only an author and dear friend of many, but a wife, mother, and grandmother. Many are grieving, but none as much as her daughter Amber, son Aaron, and husband Jim. Please keep them all in your prayers. Christmas was Di's favorite time, and their loss will be strongly felt this Christmas.

The number of books Di wrote are too numerous to mention here but Ane Mulligan managed to list quite a few on her blog .

The covers shown here are a couple of Di's books I've not read, but ordered after she died. For Better or Worse is being made into a Hallmark movie and will be on the Hallmark channel in July! Love Letters in the Sand is set during World War II, and then later in the 50s. 

Check them and other Diann Hunt books out for yourself and maybe pick up a few to read . You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Brandilyn Collins' New Release! Dark Justice!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dark Justice
B&H Books (October 1, 2013)
Brandilyn Collins

I have been a fan of Brandilyn Collins' suspense stories ever since I read Eyes of Elisha years ago. After that book Collins quickly became an "auto-buy" for me--and I've never been disappointed. Check out her newest release then run--don't walk--to your favorite book store and pick one up for yourself.


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.


If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Dark Justice, HERE.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ACFW Conference 2013 -- Frank Peretti, James Scott Bell, and Robin Jones Gunn...Oh My!

The past week or so has been a huge blur to me. Before heading out to the ACFW Conference on September 12th, my good friend and writing buddy, Ane Mulligan flew into O'Hare on Tuesday and spent two nights with me.

We first went out for some Chicago style pizza at Lou Malnati's, and then on Wednesday I took her to Lake Geneva, WI, about an hour away, so she could see my hometown and setting for my book in person.
View of the Lobby from overhead ramp

We hit Indy on Thursday and got registered for the conference and settled in our room. A good part of that day was spent hanging out in the hotel lobby giving hugs, and having great conversations about writing.

Thursday night, we headed for P.F. Changs with several other authors for dinner. Dummy me, never brought out my camera
Robin Jones Gunn

The next day Robin Jones Gunn gave the first of her two keynote addresses. I have never heard Robin speak before, but I hope it won't be the last time I do. So encouraging, so insiteful, so uplifting. So transparent.

Me Dressed as my Character with Ane Mulligan
That night, people could dress as their character from their book. What a hoot to see all the different outfits from all times in history and even the future from the speculative gang. I dressed as Meg Alden, my heroine from my 1933 historical romance,  Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Just two weeks earlier, I'd found the coolest hat from that time period in a consignment shop in downstate IL. That hat was the hit of the evening.

Saturday I spent the whole day in James Scott Bell's Quantum workshop on setting the plot for your story. An awesome instructor. I had to leave a couple times for editor or agent appointments, and I really hated to step out.

Saturday night my Penwrights critique group went to an Irish Pub that has been featured on the Food Network and had a great time.

Sunday was more editor and agent appointments, and I ended up playing hooky from the workshops I'd signed up for. I am getting the recordings and will listen to those. So much great teaching I can't wait to hear them all.

Another highlight for most everyone was meeting author Frank Peretti in person. Frank was the recipient of this year's ACFW Life Achievement Award. He spent the entire weekend hanging out and having his picture taken with just about everyone, including me!
Frank Peretti & Me at the Gala

Sunday night was the Awards Gala and my role as Genesis Head Coordinator gave me the huge blessing of being able to announce our nine category winners and give them their award plaques! What a joy to meet most of them in person and see their smiling faces when I announced their names.

Monday, I returned home exhausted, but praising God for yet another glorious ACFW conference.

Hopefully, in the near future I can report some news here, but for now it's all in God's hands. I can't think of a better place to be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Cozy Mystery Series Holds Promise of Good Reads to Come!

Not only does Julianna Deering's new release Rules of Murder take place in the thirties, but the story is written in the style of English mysteries from that period. Not to mention that the cover absolutely invites you to settle in with a spot of tea and get lost in the story.

As an avid mystery reader from the time I first learned to read chapter books and feasted on Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries, I've loved a good mystery. When I grew older I started reading mysteries that were penned in the thirties and forties from Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rhinehart. Thus, I picked up this book with great anticipation.

I found the beginning to be a bit slower paced than I generally like and the opening chapter had so many characters that I became confused more than once and found myself going back to double-check who someone was. For that reason I'd give the book 4 stars if I used the star system here.

But once the dead body (don't all cozy mysteries require a dead body??) was discovered the pace picked up, the cast became less confusing. The main character named Drew Farthing partners up with an American named Madeline and together they try to get to the bottom of the mystery - who is the murderer?

I recommend this read for anyone who likes a good mystery of the cozy variety.

The book was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes. The opinions are completely my ow

 JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Becalmed and Cooking Up Love -- Two Great Reads from Two Great Author Friends!

I am so excited to share news two of my favorite author friends have had their books come out this month. And I've had the privilege of reading both.

Becalmed by Normandie Fischer

 I already gave a strong pitch for this book on my Facebook Page this morning. I cannot say enough about this story. I took it to bed with me every night to read before lights out. I've not had time to read much during the day this summer, but knowing I had the book with its delicious characters waiting for me at bedtime, kept me looking forward to turning in.

If you love sailing, you will enjoy this book. But you don't need to know anything about the sport. Just enjoy the ride as you sail out to sea with Tadie (it rhymes wih Sadie) the heroine. But Tadie's sail hits some rough seas when she encounters Will, the hero. He's a widower with the cutest little redheaded daughter named Jilly. She's a bit precocious, but not obnoxiously so.

It's easy to see Tadie and Will are made for each other, but they're both too blinded by life to notice. How in the world will they ever get together?

I'm not going to tell you, but I will say reading this book is like enjoying a lazy hazy trip to the Carolinas and settling back with a glass of sweet tea and one of Tadie's cookies.

I was sure sorry when I read the last page. Not because of a dissatisfying ending, but because I had to say good-bye to the characters I'd come to love so much.

Watch out for Normandie Fischer. She's a new fiction author we haven't seen the last of. I'm already chomping at the bit for her next book. You can get it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, both on line, and at many of your favorite bookstores.

Cooking Up Love by Cynthia Hickey

 I first read Cynthia's new book when she submitted it to our critique group. I read the first three chapters, and then couldn't wait for her to send more. It's a fun romance that also teaches the reader about the Harvey Girls. I'd heard of Fred Harvey restaurants that used to be scattered around the U.S. before all the fast food restaurants took over. People knew that when you ate at a Fred Harvey you would get good food at a great price.

What I didn't know was that for many years Fred Harvey fed multitudes of train passengers as they rode the rails, crisscrossing the U.S. The trains would stop to refuel and while they were doing that, the passengers would file into a clean comfortable restaurant to dine on food they'd already selected from a menu earlier during the train ride. Everything had to be done precisely and quickly as the train had a schedule to keep.

Harvey Girls were held to strict rules which included no fraternizing with fellow employees of the opposite sex.  Tabitha McClelland knows this, but wouldn't you know that on her train ride to begin training as a Harvey Girl she meets handsome Fred Harvey chef, Adam Foster. Well, she doesn't have any intention of getting involved with a man, so no loss. She wants to travel and live an exciting life.

Adam is falling hard for Tabby and isn't going to take no for an answer. Other girls are angling for Adam's attention when the head waitress, Miss O'Connor (whom I picured looking a bit like O'Brian, the maid on Downton Abby) while all Adam wants is Tabby.

Adam has a plan to settle down in California. Can he convince Tabby that his plan won't be perfect unless she joins him as his wife?

I've loved all of Cynthia's historicals, but she's hit a winner with this series. A short fun, romantic read. Great to take along to the beach or pool...or just lazing in a hammock on a summer's afternoon. You can find Cooking Up Love on Amazon, iTunes,, as well as other sites.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Morning Walk Blessing

Since I attended my church's Saturday evening service last night, I stayed home this morning and savored a long special time with God. Since the day was heating up fast, as soon as I finished my Quiet Time I hustled out to walk before I could talk myself out of it because it was too hot.

My condo complex is adjacent to a small strip mall with a rather eclectic mix of businesses. There's an Italian restaurant, a dentist, a nail salon, a magic shop, a tanning spa, and a bakery, followed by a veterinarian's office and a hair salon. And bringing up the rear is a dry cleaners.

I always love going by the dry cleaners because the owner is often there, sitting  in the early morning light, reading his Bible. The first time I noticed him, I stuck my head in the door and let him know I'm also a Christ-follower and we rejoiced in the way Christians often do when first meeting like that. Since then, whenever I see him there I wave.

Today I walked by, knowing he wouldn't be there because, after all, it's Sunday. He wasn't, but this Bible was--open and ready to enrich, bless, and teach. I couldn't help it. I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture!

As the camera clicked, a black SUV pulled up and the dry cleaner man climbed out.

Caught red-handed.

He  must think I'm casing his shop or something. I laughed and told him I loved how he left his Bible open and ready for him to dive in, and I wanted a picture of it. He laughed with me (whew!) and said he just worked out and had stopped by to read the Bible and then clean up for church.

I didn't look at the picture I took until a little while ago and I still smile. I wish I could flip through the pages, see his notes or what has been underlined. But I probably wouldn't understand much anyway. It's likely written in Korean. And that warms my heart even more. Many language groups all following the same Jesus and He hears all our prayers no matter what language.

It was an awesome way to begin my Sunday.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Let's Remember Old Glory on this Special Day!

On this Fourth of July Morning during my walk I passed a house that had about three or four dozen small American flags lining both sides of its circular driveway, and another large flag waved over their backyard swimming pool. I wanted to stop and tell the owners, "Thank you."

Too many times anymore I see the American flag disrespected. People wear it like clothing, and in one recent case a website suggested using it as a tablecloth for your Fourth of July celebration. Even worse, some have stomped on it or burned it.

Our forefathers fought for this country and many gave their lives to give us the land they called the land of the free and the home of the brave.

How many people today can't even say the Pledge of Allegiance or know the words of the Star Spangled Banner? Read the words of the Pledge of Allegiance think about them for a moment.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

On this day I think of my ancestor John Bancroft who fought in the Revolutionary War. I remember the day my cousin Mary and I found his grave site in a small cemetery in Springfield OH and we both were struck with how he fought for the country we've both been blessed to be raised in and enjoy the benefits of what he fought for. And what our military fights for today.

I'm not against picnics, parades and firework shows on the Fourth of July at all, but let's not forget the true reason for this day and pray that God would continue bless this country as he has in the past.

Happy July Fourth everyone!!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Website Address Is Now Under Construction!

If you are reading this on my blog site you already know this because you got here using the address.  That is now the direct access to my blog.

The domain address is currently undergoing an extreme makeover.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Slow Moon Rising -- Another Great Read from Eva Marie Everson

I have been reading Eva Marie Everson's Cedar Key series of novels since she began writing them, and have loved each one. A good author friend of mine told me about Cedar Key, Florida many years ago and made it sound so delightful I was ready to jump on the next plane and plant myself there to do nothing but write. But, so far I've not yet made the trip. At least by reading this series, I've been able to vicariously enjoy the setting through Eva Marie's wonderful characters.

I jumped at the chance to review her latest -- Slow Moon Rising. But when it arrived I was in the middle of a number of writing projects and other things and had to put the book on my to-be-read pile. When I realized a few days ago that the blog tour was this week, I made myself take time to start reading and I'm better than halfway through it. I only wish I could just sit for a whole day and do nothing but read. It's that good!

The only complaint I have is that the first couple chapters were a little too slow-paced for my taste. But having read many of Everson's books, I had faith that the pacing would pick up, and it did. If you find this small nit-picky point to be the case with you, hang in there because the best is yet to be!

The back-cover blurb gives a tantalizing description of what's inside.

The beautiful Claybourne home on Cedar Key has long been a place of rest, healing, and release. Each member of the family has turned there in times of confusion, loss, and hurt, only to feel their spirits renewed and their hearts restored.

But Cedar Key might also be the birthplace of a lie that is poisoning the family from within.

Join the five Claybourne women--Anise, Kimberly, Jayme-Leigh, Heather, and Ami--as they search the past and confront the truth. Their unique paths will lead them through heartbreak, misunderstandings, and pain. But their journeys will also bring reconciliation with each other and the precious renewal of love in their own lives.

In her lyrical, evocative fashion, Eva Marie Everson weaves a tapestry of complicated relationships that, when complete, reveals the most beautiful work of art there is--family.

You can purchase the book at Amazon or any other online store, as well as your favorite bookstore.


I was born and reared just outside of Savannah, Georgia. Yeah, I have a southern accent. It gets a little more southern every time I cross the Florida/Georgia state line.

If I had all the time in the world, I'd probably lie on the sofa all day and watch old movies. I usually have to get sick for something even close to that happening.

I can quote entirely too many lines from Pretty Woman (You do? You think I've got potential?). In fact, I quote lines from movies and songs so often that most people are unaware of what I'm doing. I may or may not have offended some folks. If I have...I'm sorry.

I'm an ex-nurse and a seminary graduate. I hated nursing but love God with a passion and can hardly get through a conversation without talking about our relationship! I think the Old Testament is totally FUN to read (I mean, HOW much stuff can one clan of people get in to?) and the New Testament draws me closer to Heaven. Yeah!

I'm married even though my hubby had to have his wedding band cut off due to an infected spider bite. The nurse said either that or the finger would fall off. I was going for the second option, but was alone in that. :) Now he wears it on his right hand. I can live with that. We have kids and grandkids and two absolutely adorable dogs, Hope and Poodar.

I'm rarely still and I sleep very little.

Life is good.

Note: I received a complementary copy of Slow Moon Rising from the publisher for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon - A Great Read for Summer!

I have always enjoyed Irene Hannon’s suspense novels. When I learned she had written a
contemporary romance, I was intrigued by the plot, and knew it would be a good story because I was familiar with Irene’s writing. I wasn’t disappointed!

That Certain Summer is about two sisters who couldn’t be more opposite in personality, outlook on life, and the directions they took as adults. Karen Butler had married and never left their small Missouri hometown, while her sister, Val Montgomery, had moved to Chicago to seek a career in theatre. 

The story opens with newly divorced Karen struggling to raise her teenage daughter mostly on her own since her ex seems to float in and out of their lives. Never married, Val teaches drama in a Chicago area high school and seems to have everything going right for her (in her sister’s eyes at least).

The one thing they have in common is their aging mother who has just suffered a stroke and is in the midst of rehab. Cranky before the stroke, Mom is now more crotchety than ever  and testing the patience of Karen. As much as she and her sister don’t always get along, Karen cannot wait for Val to take over some of the weight of caring for their invalid mother. Val’s summer break from her teaching duties can’t come any too soon.

What Karen doesn’t know is that Val is bringing home more baggage than then kind you put in a suitcase. She has a secret from her past that she hopes to resolve by coming back to where it all happened.

What is unexpected for both women, are the two good-looking guys that enter their lives that summer or the women's admissions that their mother isn’t the only one who needs healing.

I really enjoyed this story and how Hannon deepens her characters as the story develops and the sisters start peeling back onion-like layers to get to the nub of what has caused misunderstandings between them over the years. I hope to see more multi-layered romances from Irene Hannon. She is certainly an author I’ll be looking for in this genre!

I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher for purpose of review. The opinions expressed here are my own and no one else’s.

About the Author:

Since then, she has written more than 40 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist for that prestigious honor. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, a HOLT Medallion, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as one of the top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Scent of Lilacs and a Lesson in Incorporating the Senses Into Your Writing

Back in April 2010, I wrote a blog post about lilacs and how when each spring their fragrance takes me back to a warm day, likely in May. Miss Thomas, my fourth grade teacher, had raised the windows wide open in our nearly half-century-old classroom to let in some air. Air that was unusually heavy with humidity for so early in Wisconsin. Those kind of days usually didn't kick in until the hot days of July and August.

Lilacs I picked yesterday on my walk.
The lilacs were in full bloom and many of us kids would pick huge purple bouquets of the fragrant blooms and bring them to our beloved teacher. Fast running out of glass vases, she usually resorted to filling whatever she could find--old coffee cans or empty jars--to hold the flowers.

In the near-tropical air that long-ago day, their heavy fragrance seemed even more pronounced, and I sat at my desk, inhaling the scent and reveling in the heady feeling that came over me. Yesterday while out for my walk, I stopped and picked some lilacs, and right now I'm inhaling the scent and for one brief moment I'm transported back to Central School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

It's interesting how a sense of smell can transport one back to another time in our lives--sometimes pleasant and sometimes not-so-pleasant.

Maybe it's time to revisit that article I wrote back in 2010 about incorporating the senses into our writing, particularly the sense of smell. The book I refer to in the piece is Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that just released last month, and the scent of lilacs is mentioned in its pages!

April 30, 2010

Yesterday seemed more like March than April in Chicagoland. The southern winds kicked up a lot of debris and flower petals fell from the crab apple trees like a pink and white blizzard.

But one thing I noticed most of all was the scent of lilacs.

I pass a lilac bush on my walk each day, and I always stop to smell the flowers because in a few day's time, that wonderful scent will be gone until next year.

That got me to thinking how in my stories I need to make sure I incorporate as many of the five senses as possible. My current project takes place during spring in my hometown, and I became excited as I realized the novel concludes during May. I'll be able to bring my very precious memory of springtime in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to the story.

No matter what the season your stories take place, be sure to bring in as many of the five senses as possible. The smell of a burning fireplace as your character walks outside on a cold winter's night. In summer, the scent of suntan oil on a hot beach. When I think of fall, the aroma of pumpkin pie baking in the oven conjures of memories of Thanksgivings past. Adding the senses to your story deepens your story and draws the reader closer. If you haven't done so already, be sure to work in smell, touch, hearing, tasting and sight before you turn in that final draft.

Meanwhile, I'd better run outside for one more sniff before the lilacs disappear till next year!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Almost Never Knew my Mom

This Mother’s Day I’ve been thinking about my mom. She passed away in December 1982, at the age of 70 after a long illness. She died earlier than many, but I’m grateful that Mom never had to live in a nursing home.

Today I listened to a message my pastor Colin Smith preached a couple weeks ago on Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. My mom’s life was nothing like Hagar’s, but the message caused me to think about my mother’s suffering as she went through my birth. She almost died. Even though I’ve known that for a long while, this morning the thought jarred me as I realized I could have been raised without her in my life at all.

My mom was in nursing school when she came down with Juvenile Arthritis. Almost out of her teens, it was very unusual for one so old to get the disease. After being told by doctors that she’d never walk again, she proved the them wrong and did walk again, but she also had a permanent curvature to her spine. The curve wasn’t overly pronounced, but it was there. Because of that, she was told that if she ever became pregnant she’d have to have her babies by C-section rather than natural birth. And back then C-sections were not often done.

After my parents married, it was six years before she became pregnant with me. I sat here this morning, wondering if like Hannah in the Old Testament, my mom prayed daily for a child and God delayed the answer. I’ve heard bits and pieces over the years but never about the years of barrenness. Maybe that part was too private.

How much Mom must have rejoiced when she found at long last she was pregnant. I wonder if that joy was tempered by the warning given to her over 12 years earlier that she should deliver her babies by C section.

The sad thing is that by the time she reached her ninth month of pregnancy none of the doctors who had advised her against natural birth were around, and the only doctor available to do the delivery waved off the warning. He told her she would be fine.

Of course, I remember none of it and that’s probably a blessing, because after about two or three days of labor, I entered the birth canal and it wasn’t long before the doctor realized those other doctors were right. To deliver me the natural way would be very dangerous for my mother.

The doctor found my dad in the waiting room (those were the days when husbands paced the floor and were not in the delivery room). He told my dad I was too far into the birth canal and he could save me, but he couldn’t promise that my mom would live through the birth.

Of course, as you have figured out, my mom again proved a doctor wrong and lived through the birth. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard the entire story, and when I did,  I immediately realized why I’m an only child. And also why my mom loved me so fiercely.

Another profound thought popped into my mind today—if it weren’t for the grace of God I wouldn’t have known my mom at all.

The picture is one that is printed at the back my book, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I was about two years old at the time—not that long after the ordeal Mom went through having me. How deep must have been the joy she felt being alive and able to hold me and enjoy a beautiful summer day at the beach.

I’m very grateful that God chose this Mother’s Day to bring these thoughts to mind.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who read this!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Trailer Is Live!

My talented good friend Ed has worked long and hard on building a book trailer for my new Lake Geneva book and last night it was released to me to share.

As I worked on the story I realized that Meg and Jack, my main characters, resembled my own parents in the pictures taken of them while they were courting back in the thirties. Some of those pictures are featured in the trailer, but their love story is nothing like the one in the book! LOL

Monday, March 18, 2013

Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart - A Good Weekend Read!

I was immediately intrigued by Scent of Lilacs the moment I saw that it is set in the sixties.

The cover alone drew me back to the days of rolled up jeans (any one notice they're making a comeback of sorts?) and white socks and tennies. My wardrobe staple back in the day. And I love those few short days in spring when the scent of lilacs permeates the air everywhere you go.

Thirteen-year-old Jocie Brooke's Mom left Jocie and her dad seven years earlier, taking Jocie's then 13-year-old sister with her. Jocie has not seen her mom and sister since then. The story opens on a hot June day in Hollyhill, Kentucky where Jocie lives with her dad and aunt. Along the way through the first chapters, the reader is introduced to a smiling dog that adopts Jocie and several other interesting characters.

Jocie's old enough now to sense there are more family secrets than just explaining why her mother took off with her older sister. Secrets that when discovered rock her world.

Those old enough will enjoy the nostalgic touches of life back in the sixties, and those who like a story with substance won't be disappointed either. Although I found the pacing at the beginning a bit slower than I prefer, it's a well-written book with great characterizations.

About the author:

Ann H. Gabhart started writing when she was ten and has been writing ever since. Her first published writings were personal experience pieces, youth stories, and poems in church periodicals such as HomeLife. Her first novel, a historical romance about the settling of Kentucky, was published by Warner Books in 1978. Since then, she's published numerous books for both adults and young adults. Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky not far from where she was born. She and her husband, Darrell, a bass singer in the Patriot Quartet, have three children and nine grandchildren. Her website is

I was provided a complimentary reviewer copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Love Finds You in Lake Geneva is Here!!!!

Monday was one of those kind of days when everything I'd planned to do kept getting side-railed by other unexpected interruptions like a plumbing issue in my condo building, troubleshooting issues on the ACFW Genesis writing contest that I oversee, and other such demanding things.

I'd finally grabbed a few minutes to work on what I'd planned to do when the UPS man knocked at my door. Not expecting anything, I opened the door to find three boxes sitting at my feet. In a flash I author copies of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva had arrived!!!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Friday, March 01, 2013

New Releases from ACFW Authors for March!

 Lots of good reading for March from ACFW authors, including moi!!! Check out Love Will Find a Way! The cover is in the right side bar. It should be out in just a few weeks.

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

Catching Her Heart by Carolyne Aarsen -- When they fell in love that summer, Jess Schroder never knew the secret Naomi Deacon carried away with her. Eight years later, she's back in Hartley Creek - a nurse's aide devoted to healing others. As she gets to know the good, caring man Jess has become, Naomi realizes they both deserve a second chance. Is Jess ready to let Naomi past his defenses? (Romance from Love Inspired).

Moonlight Masquerade, A Regency by Ruth Axtell -- Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need-or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess's butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is with her, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Rekindled Romance by Lorraine Beatty -- Back home again to regain her health, Shelby Russell finds herself babysitting for Matt Durrant's adorable kids, but the trouble is, Matt's the man she jilted for her career years ago. (Romance from Love Inspired).

The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson -- When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place. Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man with powerful friends who will stop at nothing to protect his son. Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever? (Suspense/Police Procedural from Ellechor Publishing House).

Strand of Deception by Robin Caroll -- Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system. (Romantic Suspense from B&H Publishing).

Swept Away by Mary Connealy -- Ruthy MacNeil is rescued from a flood by Luke Stone...who is on his way to fight the man who killed his unfortunately, there are more chances to die in Ruthy's immediate future. (Historical Romance from Bethany House).

Scorned Justice by Margaret Daley -- Texas Ranger Brody Calhoun realizes the attack on his high school sweetheart's brother is more than it seems. Judge Rebecca Morgan is in the midst of a trial involving the Russian Mafia and suddenly her life is in danger. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

When Truth Whispers by Dora Hiers -- After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer's block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver. Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal's heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is? (Contemporary Romance Novella from White Prose Publishing (Pelican).

Journey's Embrace by Dora Hiers -- After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can't refuse his best friend's plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he's all about control while she takes risks. She doesn't need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican).

Angel Falls by Connie Mann -- A fiercely protective Brazilian orphanage director and a burned-out Army Ranger are forced together in a deadly race to save one helpless baby. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

Love Will Find a Way by Pamela S. Meyers -- When April Love opens her new eatery and catering business in an old Victorian in the village of Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, trouble is afoot. During renovations, she discovers evidence that the home had once been the hideout of a famous gangster. When several break-ins and an attempted arson fire threaten the grand opening, April and handsome fiancé Marc Thorne wonder if the gangsters are still around? (Cozy Mystery from OakTara Publishers).

The Survivor by DiAnn Mills -- Kariss helps a woman involved with a 23 year old cold case and steps into a viper's pit of danger. (Romantic Suspense from Zondervan).

When Memories Fade (Victory Gospel Series 2) by Tyora Moody -- Angel Roberts has embraced her new faith, but past memories remain fresh. After her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke, Angel sets out to investigate a mystery that has lingered since she was five years old. What happened to her mother? She teams up with investigative reporter, Wes Cade, a man obsessed with his Alzheimer stricken grandfather's remaining memories. As Angel lets her guard down with Wes, his determination to get the story could push her to the edge. Is his interest in her or the story? (Romantic Suspense from Urban Christian)

Love for the Right Reasons by Donna L. Rich -- Beverly Lahmeyer falls in love with her new boss, but devastating news brings their relationship to a halt. (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Mountain Homecoming by Sandra Robbins -- In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, the Martin family realizes their way of life is changing as the lumber companies begin to invade their remote valley deep in the Smoky Mountains. (Romance from Harvest House).

The Tempted Soul by Adina Senft -- A childless Amish woman is tempted by medical technology to betray her beliefs. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Faith Words (Hachette).

Antique Dreams by Amber Stockton -- Fulfilling a deathbed promise, Aaron Stone encourages Lillian Bradenton to bring life back to a boarded-up bookstore, but before he can make good on his promise, he is called away to settle a family emergency, leaving Lillian to wonder if she's lost him forever. (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Forsaken Dreams by Mary Lu Tyndall -- Forsaken Dreams launches readers on a romantic adventure as Colonel Blake Wallace leaves the war-torn South behind to build a utopian society in Brazil. But will unexpected dangers on the ship and the secret of one captivating lady keep him from beginning anew? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White -- Love has no place in a world of spies. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Next Big Thing - Blog Hop!

Over the past weeks many authors have been participating in a blog hop to help get the word out about our new upcoming books. Today it is my turn. Below are answers to questions about the "next big thing," which for me is the coming release on April 1, 2013, of Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to write about my hometown. 

What is the title of your book?

Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Where did the idea come from for the book?  

My publisher, Summerside Press, was looking for stories set in resorts and I was raised in Lake Geneva--a perfect fit I would say!

What genre does your book fall under?  

Historical Romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  

When I first developed my characters I decided that my heroine, Meg Alden, looked like an actress from the 30s whom I think is Gloria Stewart, but I can’t find the source now. 

In my mind's eye, Jack Wallace, the hero, bore a resemblance to Jack Kennedy during his college days. 

As I wrote the story, I realized more and more that I was picturing Meg and Jack more as how my parents looked at that age, which isn’t too far from the original “famous people” models I used. 

Here’s a shot of my parents when they were young and in love.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Will she give her heart to the man who stole her job?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by Terry Burns at Hartline Literary, and the book is published by Summerside Press, due to release April 1, 2013. You can preorder it on line right now at and other online bookstores.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Counting the three months of research, about nine months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  

Any books in the “Love Finds You” line or historical romances set in small towns during the 30s and 40s.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  

I’ve always dreamed of wanting to write a story set in my beautiful hometown and when my editor encouraged me to come up with a proposal, I decided on focusing on the Riviera Building which was built in 1933. The “Riv” has become an icon of Lake Geneva and is historically protected. The second floor ballroom hosted many big bands during that era and it has proven itself to be a worthy “co-star” in my story. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Today Lake Geneva is still a beautiful  town, but it is vastly different than the town of the 30s or even the 50s and 60s. My story gives a glimpse of the town as it was when Main Street was lined with retail establishments that included at least two drugstores, a bakery, two hardware stores, a meat market, and many other businesses. People went to town to shop and socialize. Nowadays people do their regular shopping at the edge of town where Walmart and Target are located. I took great care through my research to include actual stores and restaurants that were there during 1933 depict the small town life that existed back then. It’s a nostalgic look at Americana during the Great Depression that carried forward for several decades. 

But, one thing hasn’t changed since a very-long-ago glacier first carved out Geneva Lake—the lake itself. It’s still spring-fed,  crystal-clear,  beautiful body of water there for all to enjoy.

My book is already listed on Amazon and other on-line bookseller sites. If you click on my book cover, you will be taken to Amazon to pre-order, but feel free to purchase at other sites if you wish!

Blogger's Note: Late yesterday I learned that the sequel to my debut novel Thyme for Love,  will be released in about three weeks! This blog was already written for today. Be sure to look for Love Will Find a Way, a contemporary mystery romance that concludes Marc and April's journey to love with a few mysterious twists and turns along the way!

Next week two of my author friends will be posting about their new books at their blogs. Be sure to hop on over there and check them out.

Friday, February 01, 2013

ACFW New Releases for February!

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

Angelguard by Ian Acheson -- In a war that transcends time ... A new offensive is launched ... Hidden dark forces are advancing ... Heaven's warriors respond ... One man finds himself at the center of the conflict ... Can he stop the unthinkable occurring? (Supernatural Thriller from Monarch - Lion Hudson).

Heart of a Rancher by Renee Andrews -- After having his heart broken in the past by a city girl, John Cutter isn't quick to fall for the new city girl in town, but when he does, he falls hard...and then he learns her secret. (Romance from Love Inspired).

A Home for Lydia by Vannetta Chapman -- A Home for Lydia centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

The Reluctant Earl by C.J. Chase -- Alone in a gentleman's bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing - governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister's care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambelle's coat could be valuable-if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in. As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he's plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance's independence is intriguing-and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Detection Mission by Margaret Daley -- K-9 officer, Lee Calloway, finds a woman running for her life, scared, injured, and no idea who she is. Lee vows to protect her until her memory returns, but someone is desperate to make sure that doesn't happen. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley -- The search for her sisters will become a spiritual journey for the entire family. (Historical Romance from Realms - Charisma Media).

Love Comes to Paradise by Mary Ellis -- Nora King follows her heart to a turbulent new land, only to discover one cannot escape the past...or true love if God wills it to be. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

A New Home for Lily by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger -- Lily Lapp is moving with her family to Pennsylvania to join a new Amish community. In this small town where changes--and newcomers--are greeted with suspicion, Lily must adjust to a new school, new friends, and Aaron Yoder, an annoying boy who teases her relentlessly. Still, there are exciting new developments, including an attic full of adventure and a new baby brother. But why, Lily wonders, can't God bring her just one sister? (Middle-Grade/Chapter book from Revell).

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach -- Will his love be enough to find her again within the wilds of the Maryland frontier? Book 3 in the Daughters of the Potomac series. (Historical Romance from Abingdon).

Groom by Arrangement by Rhonda Gibson -- The wrong groom could be the perfect match. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Torn Loyalties by Vicki Hinze -- Madison McKay doesn't trust anyone. When Madison is framed for a security breach at a top secret military facility, she's forced to put her life in ex-military special investigator Grant Deaver's hands. But after she discovers that he's been deceiving her, everything will be torn apart unless Grant can convince her to trust him with her life...and her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Love's Journey Home by Kelly Irvin -- Love's Journey Home is the story of how the families of Bliss Creek's Amish community learn to be still and listen for the Lord's direction and then act on faith that His plan will lead them to a long awaited new life. (Romance from Harvest House).

Shattered by Dani Pettrey -- Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKenna family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper McKenna is trying to convince him her brother is innocent of murder. The two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House).
The Magistrate's Folly by Lisa Karon Richardson -- The magistrate didn't know if his greatest folly was condemning her, or trying to rescue her. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey -- A young woman tries to put the past behind her and find her place in a new town and a changing world. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith -- Can love heal the rift between two souls? (Historical/Biblical from Revell).

Hide and Seek by H.L. Wegley -- He expected security breaches, but the conspiracy she uncovers sends them running for their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Harbourlight Books).

Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle -- When a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power, how far might they be willing to go with the planet's ultimate "conflict mineral" up for grabs? Especially in a Congolese rainforest where governmental accountability is only too cheaply for sale. (Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale).

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate -- Big city career lady Mallory must decide fast whether to move to an isolated Texas Ranch with a man she recently started dating, well, two males actually, Daniel's son Nick is part of the package deal. (General Contemporary from Bethany House).

Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo -- If you like your historical romance Southern with a dash of steam punk, don't miss the first novel in the Lives of Will Tucker series: A revenge-bound Pinkerton agent with a pocketful of inventions cannot seem to stop "Fatal Flora" Brimm from reaching the altar with prospective groom number five, but the arrest warrant Agent Lucas McMinn carries in his pocket for Flora and her fiancé just might. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dilemma of Charlene Farrow - Olivia Newport's Wonderful Series of 19th Century Chicago Continues

I loved Olivia Newport's The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, which begins around the time of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition, so much, that I grabbed the chance to review the next book in Newport's Avenue of Dreams Series, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.

Charlotte Farrow was a prominent member of the "supporting cast" in the Lucy Banning book, and I couldn't wait to see what faced this young maid who struggled to keep her job and also provide for her young son, which, except for Lucy, none of the Bannings knew existed .

With Lucy on her honeymoon and unavailable to help, Charlotte is left to fight for her child when the woman who has been caring for him unexpectedly returns the baby to her. The contrast between the classes is vividly shown through the strong determination of this single mother and the backdrop of the upper-class world of the wealthy. Adding "color" is the  Columbian Exposition, which was the city of Chicago's announcement to the world that this major city was fully back and restored after the devastation of the Great Chicago fire that left the city in ruins twenty years earlier.

I loved the characters in the story, the wonderful details that make the setting come to life, and the message of hope found in the pages of this book. I cannot wait for the third and final book in this series!

Revell Publishing provided me with a complementary copy of this novel for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 2013 New Releases from ACFW Authors

What better way to wile away a winter evening than with a hot drink and a good book. Here are some new releases from ACFW Authors. Check them out!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer -- Who knew making dinner could change your life? (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Tyndale House).

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley -- If Molly's purple attire doesn't blind you, her dazzling smile will. She doesn't just sing to cattle, she puts on a whole show with dancing and all. If only she wasn't so stubborn about her brother's care. Or so suspicious of a certain handsome doctor... (Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson).

Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot -- In the second of the Westward Winds series, a young widow discovers danger and love in 1886 Cheyenne. (Historical Romance from Revell).

A Daughter's Redemption by Georgiana Daniels -- Inheriting her estranged father's property isn't the reason Robyn Warner wanted to come back to Pine Hollow. She thought she'd make amends with her father-but his sudden death made that impossible. And when she learns the identity of the handyman fixing the run-down cabins, Robyn is ready to flee Pine Hollow again. (Romance from Love Inspired).

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley -- Gifted artist Alison Schuyler and British officer Ian Devlin fall in love on the eve of war. But Alison's spurned Nazi suitor has his own plans for her future. Will Alison and Ian hold onto their love despite the forces against them, or is it their fate to be separated forever? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

Choices of the Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes -- In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you'll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Vanished by Irene Hannon -- A tenacious reporter... A dubious PI... A secret that will shatter lives.... (Romantic Suspense from Revell).

Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman -- In light of her father's death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father's farm, the only home she's ever known, was bought with stolen gold.. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

A Horseman's Hope by Myra Johnson -- Four years after his girlfriend, Shana, became pregnant, Ryan still can't believe he's a father . . . and can't imagine being anything else. His daughter is the light of his life. Now if only Shana could embrace motherhood and the three become a real family. . . . (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Denali Dreams by Ronie Kendig and Kimberley Woodhouse -- 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? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Lily's Plight by Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford-- Amid threats of impending Indian attacks, two people find themselves facing an entirely different challenge...forbidden love. (General Historical from Barbour Publishing).

A Mother's Promise by Anna Schmidt -- The third and final book in the Women of Pinecraft series. Set in the Amish/Mennonite community of Pinecraft on the Gulf Coast of Florida readers have fallen in love with these strong women who meet life's challenges with faith and courage. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing).

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor -- 1850 - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother's quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery. As they begin their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press).

Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt -- A former Air Force combat doctor and single dad returns from deployment to raise his daughter and enters a childcare barter with a neighbor that lends to unexpected blessings. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired).