Monday, December 30, 2013

My favorite reads of 2013, with *7* giveaways, ends Jan 3

Short stories/novellas category top picks for 2013

Snowed In by Carrie Pagels and Upon a Christmas Tree Schooner by Carla Gade in volume 1
The beautiful story of Angelina and Matthew, who must trust God when their lives don't make sense. God brings a better outcome than either of them could fathom.
This well-researched Civil War story gripped my heart, and is penned by a very talented writer. A real treasure
Fields of the Fatherless--The unforgettable story of a young lady who witnesses the beginning of the American Revolution in her own front yard.

Soldier's Heart--a Civil War veteran returns with PTSD in this well-depicted short historical.

Full Length Fiction picks for 2013

Meticulous research and a masterful command of the Civil War period, plus a moving story. A+ read

Gorgeous, literary, haunting, and deeply moving story of loss and redemption, of hatred and reconciliation, of the nature of evil and of sacred love. And set in Upstate New York!

Another stellar read, set in the War of 1812 near Baltimore. Intrigue, romance, and fine writing make this a must read.
A sweet debut and moving story of patience, trust and overcoming love.

Another very good story set in the colonial frontier.
Great author with a stellar cast of characters make this one of the best reads of the year.
Another talented debut author brings a speculative fiction story of angels, high stakes warfare, and a very contemporary lady stumbling into their world. Unexpectedly good romance and writing.
Spiritual warfare, pearls of wisdom, and a well paced story made this one of my favorites this year. 

As thanks to my faithful readers and followers, I am offering a few giveaways. One winner each.

Leave a comment (with your email addy) naming your favorite read of 2013, and I will enter you to win one of the following: 
gently used print copy of Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears
a gently used print copy of Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna White
Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach, gently used copy
Everlasting Light by Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar, ecopy
Return to Shirley Plantation by Carrie Fancett Pagels, ecopy
e-copy of Gatehaven by Molly Noble Bull
PLUS, Warrior of the Ages, a signed print copy provided by author Stephanie Karfelt
(thank you, Stephanie!)

If you have already read a specific title and do not wish to be entered for that one, let me know. :)

Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Blessings in the Lord,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snowed In by Carrie Fancett Pagels Review and giveaway

A new short story has captured the essence of family, friends, hope, and romance in the Christmas season. Snowed In by Carrie Pagels drops the reader into a picturesque cabin in the Upper Penisula woods during a snow storm. All of the ambiance of woodsmoke curling from a stone chimney, of cookies baking in the oven, of hot cocoa and sleigh rides, and of hauling in a fresh-cut Christmas tree fill the senses while you read of Elsie and Henry's sweet romance.

Elsie and her three younger sisters are recovering from their mother's death while their father works long hours in a logging camp. Super-responsible herself working two jobs, Elsie panics when her sisters show up at the diner with the news that their father has made a sudden departure, leaving her in charge. Before she can figure out what to do next, her handsome war hero fiance shows up and offers to take them all up to his grandmother's cabin and give them a real country Christmas.

This story has so much to like, you will fall in love with it as I did. And best of all, it is one of several short stories set in this wonderful Guideposts collection, A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Many talented authors collaborated with unique stand alone tales to make up this two volume collection. Keep the holiday spirit alive well into the New Year with this sweet set. Order yours at the following link:

 And for visiting my blog this week I am offering a giveaway of another wonderful story by Carrie Pagels. An e-copy of Return to Shirley Plantation, volume 1 of a Civil War collection called Cry of Freedom, will be given to one of my commenters.

Answer this question: what do you want most of all for Christmas this year? Leave your email addy to be entered. Winner selected at 8 PM Christmas Eve. Good luck!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Interview with Joy Ross Davis--a repost by K. D. McCrite

Today, I post about Countenance, by Joy Ross Davis. See original post here.This is her debut novel, published earlier this year by Ecanus Publishing. Joy refers to her book as “paranormal”, but these days, that genre conjures up images of vampires, werewolves and zombies, all of them so overdone that the majority the reading public is exhausted by it. I think the content of this book can more aptly be described as “supernatural”.

The author and I shared some conversation recently, and I now share with you a few tidbits on how this story came to be:

§ Where did the idea for Countenance originate?
The idea came from a voice I heard while standing on my porch one night. It said, “Countenance.” From there, the story ideas took hold and by the next morning, I knew all of the characters.

§ Why this story?
 Countenance came at a time when I needed relief from the grief of losing my mother. It kept me sane and occupied, and the story blends all the elements of my family and experiences.

§ How long did it take you to write it?
 I wrote it in eight months then spent another four months with an editor to revise and polish it.

§ Do you believe in angels and demons (bright spirits and dark spirits) and were you taught to believe as a child?
 I do most certainly believe in angels and demons, but I was not taught that as a child. I was discouraged in those beliefs, but when I was six, I had an experience that cemented my belief in angels.

§ Do you believe you’ve ever had encounters with either side?
Oh, most certainly. I believe that when I was a child, an angel saved me from a deadly lightning strike. Lightning struck at my feet just as an angel appeared and told me to run. I ran and suffered only minor blisters from the strike. When I looked back, the angel was gone, but the ground where I had been standing was completely charred.

§ I know you told me some people refuse to read Countenance because of its supernatural theme. What do you say to those who think your story is “of the devil”?
This sort of makes me laugh. I know that some people choose what to read based on their beliefs, and of course, that is their right. But I would say to everyone that Countenance is a work of fiction. It is not intended for any purpose other than to entertain…and possibly uplift. I really don’t believe that a work of fiction can test anyone’s faith.

§ What’s next?

Next on the agenda is finishing the sequel, which takes place in Ireland.
My original idea was that Countenance would be three books: one in Tennessee, one in Ireland, and the last in Tennessee. But, that vision has changed a bit. I still see it as three books, but there will be more blending of the characters and places. The major characters from the first book will remain in all three books with a deeper look into the family history and a few extra ghosts and angels sprinkled throughout!

Getting it Together for Historical Fiction (by JudyAnn Lorenz)(original post here)

Joy Ross Davis brings more angelic storytelling to her readers and the Angel Pack! Set in Ireland, 1938, Emalyn’s Treasure tells us of a young woman with a heightened spiritual experience which contributes to the ‘treasure’ that she has kept close by, yet hidden from all, since she was a 6 year old child. Her encounter with lightning and a protective angel lies at the foundation for the treasure story.

Emalyn has led a privileged life during a tumultuous period in Irish history that we seldom hear about. Civic improvements for water and electricity were becoming accepted and expected, although resisted by some people. Assessment costs and resistance to change sparked civil disorder. I especially enjoy a story where I can learn — a factoid here; a skill there! Our Author’s research is extremely active for this book; the descriptions of politics, available appliances, clothing, decor, architecture, and hospitably take you right into 1938!

Our Emalyn is still a young spirit, becoming more mature and generous by the day. How blessed the man and woman who find their matching ‘swan’ to become a life’s companion as Emalyn and husband Owen have done. Joy Ross Davis brings her gentle story-telling to Emalyn’s Treasure as we would expect, with some twists and turns that keep it from being at all saccharin sweet! Indeed, tragedy marks high points in the story and leads to the finale.

Emalyn’s Treasure has no ghosts. Angels are present to take on earthly appearances, protecting and guiding the characters through their activities. Lives are transformed subtly. Supportive characters Fiona and Percy become more mature. I perceive the potential for follow-up stories, but as a skilled author, Joy Ross Davis brings this story to a sensible end without a cliff hanger ending that seems to just drop off that cliff.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade guest post by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Macy Day Parade has become a tradition on Thanksgiving Day. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving were watching the parade and waiting for Santa to appear. Every child in my school knew that the real Santa was the one who appeared in the parade. But did you know that when the Macy Day Parade first started in 1924, it took place on Christmas Day? Store workers dressed as clowns, cowboys, and other characters and walked the entire six miles hike from Herald Square to Harlem. Professional bands and the Central Park Zoo along with their animals joined them in the parade. Santa rode into Herald Square at the end as he has every year since.

The parade was meant to bring attention to the Macy’s Store in downtown New York City, and it worked. The first year, 250,000 people showed up. After that, it was an annual event in the city that continued to grow even during the Depression. The first radio broadcast of the parade was made in 1932, and the first TV broadcast was made as early as 1938.

Balloons have been a part of the parade, almost since the beginning. In 1927, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company from Akron premiered their first parade balloon, Felix the Cat, but he wasn’t filled with helium until the next year. In the early years, people didn’t bother to deflate the balloons. They would release them into the air with an address attached. Rarely were the balloons returned. Mickey Mouse made his debut in the 1934 parade, and Bullwinkle first appeared in 1961. Today over a dozen large balloons are in the parade.

Floats were in the first parade and also had a large part over the years. Floats were still drawn by horses until 1939. Snoopy holds the record for the most floats. More than thirty parade floats are now featured in the parade.

The Macy’s Day Parade, although very popular in New York City, gained popularity throughout the nation
after the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, was released in 1946. In Miracle on 34th street, the real Santa Claus steps in to replace a drunk Santa and decides to be Macy’s Store Santa to help fight commercialism.
But the Macy’s Day Parade didn’t always have smooth sailing. In 1942 through 1944, the parade was cancelled because rubber and helium were needed for the war effort. After the assassination of President Kennedy, the parade went on as scheduled to boost the morale of the nation. In 1971, heavy rains forced the parade to ground all balloons.

Today, over 8,000 people participate in the Macy’s Day Parade and over 3.5 million are expected to attend. It has become, not just a New York City Thanksgiving tradition, but a tradition for all of the United States of America.

A Christmas Promise:
A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773
During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.
When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.  Available at these online stores:

TAMERA LYNN KRAFT has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.
Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
You can contact Tamera online at these sites.

Word Sharpeners Blog:
Revival Fire For Kids Blog:
Adventures in American History:

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Veggie Tales Inspired a Biblica Novella--Amber Schamel #Christmas guest post with #bookgiveaway

It was a summer evening, I was in the kitchen making dinner while my little siblings (for some odd reason) were watching The Toy That Saved Christmas, a Veggie-Tales movie. My publisher had asked me to write a Christmas story and I was deep in thought wondering what I should write when I suddenly tuned in to what was playing on the screen.

Grandpa George was reading a scripture to Bob, Larry and Buzz-saw Louie. "And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him in baby clothes and laid him in a manger."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute, the passage didn't say baby clothes. In the King James it says swaddling clothes. That got me to thinking, what exactly are swaddling clothes? Are they just baby clothes? Or is there another meaning to them?

I looked up the passage in Luke chapter two and noted that it was mentioned not only once, but twice that Mary wrapped her first-born son in swaddling clothes. So I began my research.

I found out that swaddling clothes did not necessarily mean that Mary and Joseph were poor or destitute. Swaddling clothes were used by people of all classes to wrap a newborn in hopes that it would help their limbs grow straight, as well as calm the babe. But if swaddling clothes were so common during that era, why was it specifically mentioned as a sign to the shepherds of who the Messiah would be? So I searched some more.

Another source said that in the eastern countries they would use a cloth to put between the yoke of an ox, and the ox's shoulders. When Mary and Joseph were in the barn, they had nothing else to use, so they used this ox's cloth that was translated as swaddling cloth to wrap the Messiah that would carry the yoke of our sin and bondage.

Many hours and websites later, I emerged armed with a ton of information, four different theories, and a story forming inside my head. So, I guess you could say that my new book The Swaddling Clothes was inspired by a Veggie Tales movie.

The things that inspire people, or give them an idea is very interesting to me.
What are some odd things that have given you an idea or inspiration?
Answer Amber's question and be entered to win a copy of her Christmas novella! Be sure to leave your email addy and tell us if you follow her blog, this blog, or shared this post to get extra entries. Winner will be chosen via on Friday, Nov 29 8 EST

Amber Schamel is a multi-published author of Christian Historical Fiction. Her passion for history and culture has led her to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. Amber is actively involved in her church and enjoys volunteer work and music ministry. Raised in a family of twelve children and homeschooled throughout her education, she currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado where she also serves as bookkeeper and marketing director for their family businesses. Find Amber on her blog, or on all the main social media sites.
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The Swaddling Clothes
Through the ages, many stories have been told about Mary, Joseph and the birth of the Messiah. Stories of shepherds and sheep, kings, angels, and stables. But there is one story that has never been told. One story that has remained hidden in the fabric of time. The story of The Swaddling Clothes.
Mentioned not once, but several times in the Scriptural text, what is the significance of these special cloths? And how did they make their way into a stable in Bethlehem? From the author that brought you the Days of Messiah series comes a whole new adventure critics are calling "intriguing...thought provoking... a fresh twist on an age old story."
"I get tired of Bible stories sometimes, but The Swaddling Clothes brings the story to life."
"Heartwarming...truly inspired. A story you will want to read again and again. Rich details and a suspenseful plot will keep you reading while giving you a glimpse of God's wonderful power and His amazing love."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas in New York! Four stories, five #bookgiveaways DAY 4 CENTRAL PARK RENDEZVOUS

Central Park Rendezvous--an intertwining collection of four historical romances, all tying into the Wolfe family and Bow Bridge in Central Park, by authors Ronie Kendig, Dineen Miller, Kim Vogel Sawyer, and MaryLu Tyndall

Hurrah for New York setting in CBA romance, and kudos to these talented authors for putting Central Park on the map for a reader's rendezvous with romance.
Dream a Little Dream by Ronie Kendig

Sean Wolfe has come back from Afghanistan a broken man. His past concerning his father Patrick's suicide haunts him as much as the TBI that leaves him with permanent mental scars. He has no one in the world but his devoted aunt, until a chance meeting brings closure to his past, comfort to his present, and hope to his future.

Jamie Russo is the niece of Alan, former love of a woman named Gail, who is closing his antique shop after decades of business in Manhattan. Jamie grieves her uncle's decision both for the sake of his lost dream of finding Gail, and for the other loose ends it leaves. One of those loose ends, a packet of letters from the Wolfe family who were old friends of her uncle, becomes her mission. She has laid aside her dream of dancing, but finds purpose in caring for others. She seeks out the Wolfes, and finds Sean.

The letters draw Sean closer to healing from his haunted past, to solving a mystery about his aunt, and to finding a love he thought he would never experience. Written with grit as well as insight, this story interweaves with the other three stories, going back in time to the Civil War following a keepsake coin through four generations of romance, until the satisfying end.

A Love Meant to Be by Dineen Miller

This story features Gail and Alan during the era of the Vietnam War. Alan is Patrick Wolfe's best friend, and like a son to Patrick's father--perhaps moreso even than Patrick. The elder Wolfe gives Alan the family keepsake of a Civil War coin to pass along to the one he loves. When Alan proposes to Gail after a whirlwind romance in the city, including clandestine kisses on Bow Bridge, she promises to wait for him until he returns from the war. But will her former fiance lure her away with his money and prestige, or will her heart remain faithful?

To Sing Another Day by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Helen Wolfe is a brave young lady tasked with raising her younger brothers and sisters after her parents' untimely death. Though gifted to sing like a songbird, she must leave that dream behind to put food in their mouths. Her former intended, a rising singer, scorns her practicality, drawn to the big city lights and theater fame. He wants nothing to do with her life of drudgery and responsibility.
Helen comes to a painful decision to part with a family heirloom coin in exchange for food. At the pawn shop she meets Bernie O'Day, a kind and large-hearted man who gives her more than the coin is worth. He also employs her brother to help out. Their lives intertwine as a spark of love forms. . .they spend a Christmas together where Bernie plays Santa Claus to the younger Wolfes, and his heroism shines in contrast to Helen's former intended, who only esteems all that glitters. The attack on Pearl Harbor spurs Bernie to  join the war effort, and the love story hangs in limbo from there.

Beauty from Ashes by MaryLu Tyndall

William Wolfe is a wounded officer engaged to Annie Shaw, a southern belle living on a plantation in Virginia. Little does he know that Annie's letters throughout the war were actually penned by her sister Permelia. When he returns to collect his bride, he has assurances from the genteel letters that she won't mind his dramatic facial scar. In person, Annie proves superficial and unfaithful. Will William's broken heart lead him away from true happiness with the real authoress of his love letters? Will the coin he gave Annie speak to Permelia that True Love Never Fails?

The picturesque Bow Bridge in Manhattan's Central Park draws these couples through time to finding true love, often amid the downy snowfalls of a New York Christmas or New Years.

This was my first time reading Dineen Miller and Ronie Kendig, and I was pleasantly surprised. I have enjoyed Kim Sawyer's work and consider myself a big fan of MaryLu Tyndall, so I knew I couldn't go wrong with this four-in-one. And the fact that one of the stories was set in the Civil War had me invested.

Loved the concept of romances revolving around a family keepsake coin and rendezvous at Bow Bridge in Central Park. I grew up taking trips into NYC where my grandfather was a superintendent of a building on Central Park West. Ronie's and Dineen's novellas had the most tangible sense of the city out of the four stories, and I enjoyed revisiting it through their depictions.

I adored the WWII story, and wished I could have closure on the chivalrous Irish soldier coming back from war for his sweetheart. This story of a sister struggling with her faith and to provide for her siblings moved me deeply--Sawyer's handling of deep emotions felt genuine and sincere. Each character reflected redemptive aspects of honor and sacrifice, selflessness and faith. And her humble, kind hero is among the most admirable I've ever read.

The modern romance by Ronie Kendig involving a hero with Traumatic Brain Injury returned from war captured my heart. Her writing was fresh and heartfelt, and the conflict of the heroine and hero to pursue their true dreams made for a lovely story full of hope and heart.

Dineen Miller's Vietnam era romance had gritty and bittersweet moments. I admired the depth with which the author writes, exploring themes such as PTSD, Post partum depression, and even betrayal. It was interesting how one author would add to the other's work and intertwine story threads.

MaryLu Tyndall writes about sisters in a love triangle. Unique storyline with a wounded hero who thinks he's in love with one woman, only to discover that his true North is the other. This story was a page-turner, written as only MaryLu Tyndall can write.

Nothing is as charming as a New York Christmas. I'm so delighted to share these romantic stories of faith and connection with you this week. Today I am offering a gently read copy of this collection to one lucky commenter.

Answer this question: Is there a special hand-me-down gift in your family? Extra entries can be earned by sharing on fb, twitter, google+ and pinterest, and by following this blog. Winners drawn Friday, Nov 22 at 8 PM eastern.  Good luck!