Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Heart Made New - Kelly Irvin


Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish,  A Heart Made New, which is slated to release in October 2012, and Love’s Journey Home, which will debut in January 2013. She recently signed with Harvest House Publishing for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. For more than eighteen years, she has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-four years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

A Heart Made New
In the second novel of Kelly Irvin’s Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will be delighted to return to a town and a family they’ve already come to love. 

Annie Shirack is trying to fight her feelings for David Plank, a young Amish man who’s struggling with an aggressive case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. David loves Annie too much to let her into his life, only, he fears, to leave her. 

When a homeless young woman named Charisma and her two-year-old daughter, Gracie, show up in Bliss Creek, Annie welcomes them into the Shirack household and tries to help them establish a new life. But all the good deeds in the world can’t change the ache in Annie’s heart…or help her forget the man she loves.

Excerpt:

Chapter One
   Annie Shirack wanted to count her blessings, but she didn’t have time. Customers had been lined up three deep at the bakery counter when she returned from a quick sack lunch with her friend Miriam. Annie pushed the cash register drawer shut with a quick snap of her wrists. Inhaling the sweet scent of baking cinnamon rolls, she turned to face the last customer of the early afternoon rush.
   “At this rate, you’ll have to give me the day-old price. Four dozen snickerdoodles and that carrot cake.” Mrs. Johnson pointed, then glanced at the gold watch on her skinny wrist. She wrinkled her long nose and tilted her shiny, hair-sprayed head. “That should be it for today.”
   Ignoring the pique in her customer’s voice, Annie grabbed a sheet of wax paper and began depositing the cookies in a white paper bag. She threw a quick glance at Miriam, who grinned, shrugged, and bit into a brownie—a treat after the cold sandwiches they’d just shared on the bench at the park across the street. Annie grinned back, enjoying the look of bliss on her friend’s face. One of the joys of being a baker. Besides, Miriam was right. Nothing to do but grin and bear difficult customers.
   “I’d better get back to the tack shop.” Miriam brushed crumbs from her oval face. “Daed will need my help.”
   “Wait a minute or two and I’ll get that recipe I told you about for the double fudge cookies.” Miriam had a special soft spot for chocolate. Annie loved that about her friend. “Your date won’t mind if you’re a few minutes longer.”
   “I’ll take him one of your brownies.” Smoothing wisps of brown hair that had escaped her prayer kapp, Miriam settled onto a bench along the wall. “That’ll soften him up.”
   The bell hanging over the double glass-plated doors tinkled as one of them swung open and closed with a bang. A young man Annie had never seen before slipped into the store. He looked around, saw Annie, ducked his head, and began to peer into the display case that contained a dozen kinds of pie.
   Curiosity got the better of Annie. He didn’t look like the typical tourist visiting Bliss Creek for a glimpse of prayer kapps and buggies. She sneaked another glance. His jeans sagged on narrow hips. He had both hands stuck in the pockets of a denim jacket that had to be plenty warm for this late spring day in Kansas.
   Definitely not from around here. Not that it mattered. Her boss, Sadie Plank, owner of Plank’s Pastry and Pie Shop, delighted in the brisk business. Many of the local Englisch ladies did their grocery shopping on Fridays in preparation for their husbands being home all weekend. That usually included a stop at the bakery.
   If only every day could be like this. Otherwise…No, she wouldn’t go down that road. Things would get better. Business would improve. David would get better. To think otherwise would be a lack of faith. Annie had plenty of faith. She’d just like to have some control over her life too.
   Stop it. “That will be forty-seven dollars, Mrs. Johnson.”
   Mrs. Johnson scribbled a check with a fancy silver pen and handed it to Annie. “I’ll be in Monday to pick up the cake I ordered for my parents’ anniversary,” she called over her shoulder as she walked to the door in heels that clicked on the wooden floor. “Remember, chocolate buttercream frosting on white cake.”
   How could Annie forget? Mrs. Johnson had given her instructions five times. She glanced again toward the young man. He sidled closer to the display case, seeming intent on the selection of cookies. The schtinkich of cigarette smoke he brought with him threatened to drown out the scent of cinnamon wafting in the air.
    “Are you ready to order, sir?”
   He didn’t answer. He didn’t even look up. All right, not ready yet. After a quick tug to straighten her kapp, Annie washed her hands. Wiping them on her clean apron, she went to the kerosene-powered refrigerator and pulled out the butter and a carton of eggs. Time to make gingersnaps. She’d let the ingredients come to room temperature while she looked for that recipe for Miriam.
   “Annie, did you get Mrs. Rankin’s order for the birthday cake?” Sadie trudged from the backroom, carrying a twenty-five pound bag of flour over her shoulder. “It should be next on the list.”
   “Let me do that.” Annie rushed to help her. “The doctor said no heavy lifting for you.”
   “You’re so skinny; the bag weighs more than you do.” Sadie dropped it to the floor with a grunt and straightened, one hand on her back and a grimace on her wrinkle-lined face. “Mrs. Rankin wants it by five o’clock. David will be here by then—he can deliver it.”
   David had a treatment today. He tried to act like it was nothing so his mother wouldn't worry so much, but Annie knew differently. She saw how hard he tried to hide his discomfort. “He doesn't have to do that. Josiah and I can deliver it on the way home. The cake is ready—”
   “Ma’am.” The man’s hoarse voice had a soft Southern twang to it.
   Annie turned to face him and smiled. “How can I help you today?” The young man didn't smile back. He didn’t even make eye contact. He shoved his black hair from his eyes with a hand that had grease under its fingernails. He had the bluest eyes Annie had ever seen. She tried again. “I have cinnamon rolls in the oven. They’ll be ready in about two seconds—”
   “I’m really sorry about this.”
   His voice cracked. He stopped, the corners of his mouth twitching. A pulse pounded in his temple.
   Annie tried to catch his gaze. “Sorry about what?”
   “My kid’s gotta eat.” He drew his hand out from the pocket of his denim jacket. A silver gun appeared.
   Sadie’s gasp told Annie she’d seen it too. Out of the corner of her eye, Annie saw Miriam stand. Annie wanted to scream for her friend to run, but she knew better. Stay there. Stay there. Annie backed toward Sadie without taking her gaze from the gun. She’d seen plenty of hunting rifles, but this was a handgun. A gun made for shooting people. She clasped both hands in front of her to quiet their trembling.
   “You can have whatever you want.” Annie crowded Sadie, who grabbed her arm and held on tight. The woman’s touch steadied her. She swallowed her fear and lifted her chin. “You don’t need a gun. We’ll share what we have with you.”
   The man waved the gun toward Miriam. “Get over there with them.”
   Panting as if she had run a race, Miriam scurried toward Annie and Sadie. They grabbed hands, holding on tight. Whatever happened, they were together. “It’s all right,” Annie whispered. No it’s not. God, please.
   “Put the money in a paper bag.” The man pointed the gun at the cash register. “Then lay it on the counter.”
   Annie moved toward it. Sadie and Miriam didn’t let go. They stayed together. One step, two steps, three steps.
   The sounds of ragged breathing and the dragging of their shoes on the wooden floor filled the bakery. No one spoke. Annie forced herself to let go of the two women so she could open the drawer. Miriam nodded in encouragement. “It’s all right.”
   It was strange to have her own words of encouragement repeated back to her. They sounded just as silly coming from Miriam’s mouth. Annie’s hands shook so hard she dropped the bag and had to retrieve it from the floor. Sadie grabbed her arm and helped her straighten.
   “Hurry up!”
   The note of hysteria in the man’s voice frightened her more than gun. Tugging free of Sadie’s grip, Annie stuffed the bills into the bag. The smell of singed bread wafted through the air. The rolls were burning. She almost laughed. Burned cinnamon rolls—surely the least of her problems right now.
   Biting the inside of her lip until she tasted salty blood, Annie tried to hand the bag to the man.
   He waved the gun at her. She fought the urge to shriek and plunge to the floor.
   “The coins too.” His gaze met hers finally. He looked as scared as she felt. The realization startled her. “Everything. I need everything you’ve got.”
   He had the gun, but he was scared. More than scared. He looked terrified. The thought steadied Annie, and her shaking stilled.
   “You can have it all.” She slapped the rolls of coins they used to make change into the bag and turned to him. “What about food? You said you needed to feed your child. Let me give you some bread. Some cookies too. Do you have a son or a daughter?”
   The man snatched the bag from the counter. He started to back away and then seemed to waver. “I…a girl…she’s three. She’d really like a cookie. I’d like to be able to give her a cookie. She ain’t eaten nothing but bread and cheese today.”
   “Does she like peanut butter? I have peanut butter cookies. And I’m sure she’d like this banana bread. I just made it this morning.” Surprised that her voice hardly shook at all, Annie picked up another bag and started packing it with the cookies, a loaf of whole wheat bread, and a loaf of banana bread. She breathed. God, help me. God, help him. He needs your help. Show him a better way. Open a door for him. God, take care of his little girl. “What’s her name?”
   He shook his head. “Forget the food. There’s no time.”
   “We have some raisins, bananas, and apples,” Sadie spoke up for the first time. Her voice sounded high and tight, but she looked determined. “Take them too. Fruit is good for her. For you too.”
   “I have to go. Count to fifty before you call anyone.” He started backing toward the door. “Count to fifty. If you don’t, I might have to come back.”
  His half-sob took the sting from the threat. Annie breathed in and out. In and out. “We won’t call anyone.”
   “Sure you will.” The gun dipped and came back up. “The second I’m out the door, you’ll call the cops.”
   Suddenly light-headed, Annie gripped the edge of the counter to steady herself. Purple spots danced at the periphery of her vision. Miriam’s hand touched her shoulder, rubbing in a comforting circular pattern. Annie swallowed bile that made her throat burn.
   “No, we won’t. We don’t have a telephone.” He snorted and backed toward the door. “Right.”
   The vision of a little girl with dark hair and eyes the color of heaven pierced Annie’s heart. He had a little girl who needed to eat. “Take the food.” She rushed around the counter, the bag in her hand. “Please.”
   “What are you?” His mouth open, face puzzled, he accepted her offering. “Nuns or something?”
   Annie’s heart was banging hard against her rib cage. Surely he could hear it. “No. We’re…we’re Amish.”
   “I’m sorry I had to scare you like this. Thank—”
   The door opened. The bell dinged.
   The man whirled, and a deafening blast filled the air all around Annie. She clapped her hands over her ears and sank to the floor. Someone screamed as more shots filled the air. The bam-bam made Annie jump each time as if it were a new, unexpected sound. Shattered glass rained down on her. Shards pricked the skin on the back of her fingers and pinged against her kapp. God, ach, God. God.
   Time slowed until the seconds lingered like syrup poured from a bottle held high over the plate. Unable to draw a breath, she gasped, the sound hollow and muffled by her fingers over her ears. An acrid smell that reminded her of her brothers’ hunting rifles filled the air. She didn’t dare look up.
   Miriam? Sadie? Were they hurt? Look, just look.
   Annie managed to raise her head a fraction of an inch. They were huddled behind a chair by the storage room door. Miriam had both arms around Sadie, covering her with her own body. Were they hit? Annie couldn’t tell. She fought to make frozen muscles move. She dragged her hands from her ears and slapped them on the floor. The rough wood felt solid and dependable under her fingers.
   Move. She wanted to crawl toward her friends, but her leaden legs and arms refused to cooperate. God, help me.
   Footsteps pounded. The sound cracked the ice that immobilized Annie’s entire body. She looked back. The man shoved Gwendolyn Haag to the ground and fled through the shattered glass door.
   Bliss Creek’s mayor scooted on her hands and knees until she reached the bench along the wall. She cowered there, her face contorted with terror. “I just came for my brother’s birthday cake,” she whimpered. “I can come back later.”


Kelly Irvin is giving away a copy of A Heart Made NewTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Read wherever you wander.
The Wandering Writer,

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Warm Welcome to Kelly Irvin


Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish,  A Heart Made New, which is slated to release in October 2012, and Love’s Journey Home, which will debut in January 2013. She recently signed with Harvest House Publishing for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. For more than eighteen years, she has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-four years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Kelly, it's so nice to have you visit today! What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer. Throughout my life I’ve written poems and short stories. I have a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for 10 years before getting into public relations. I kept thinking I would get back to my first love, fiction, but my career and then having children got in the way. Then I turned 45 and realized if I didn’t do it soon, it would be too late. With the support of a loving husband and two great kids, I gave it my best shot. It took seven years of learning the craft, going to workshops and conferences, and a whole slew of rejections, but I finally made my first sale, a romantic suspense novel called A Deadly Wilderness, in 2010. After my second novel, No Child of Mine, sold, my agent challenged me to try writing an Amish romance. I love a challenge, so I wrote 50 pages and a synopsis. Mary Sue Seymour, sold it to Harvest House before I finished writing the complete manuscript. After that I was hooked. While writing the first series, the Bliss Creek Amish, I signed contracts for a three-book spin-off series called New Hope Amish, which I’m currently writing.

You sound very determined and dedicated. Is there anything that easily distracts you from writing?

My kids, who are 21 and 22, still live at home. They have the usual crazy lives young adults have and I frequently get sidetracked by their stuff. When they were younger it was volleyball and basketball practices and games and chauffering. Now it mostly consists of worrying (usually needlessly!)

When you have time, what kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

I love mysteries and romantic suspense. One of my favorite authors is Earlene Fowler, who writes the Benni Harper quilt mysteries. Her character development is so beautiful and as she’s aged, she’s shown more and more of her faith, even though she publishes with a mainstream publisher. I’ve followed her characters for years now and Benni and Gabe are among my favorite fictional couples because their relationship isn’t perfect and they’re such different people, but they love each other so much, they would die for each other and almost have on more than one occasion. And the mysteries are good too!

Speaking of characters, which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?

In A Heart Made New, Annie and Josiah are brother and sister, but they’re like night and day. Annie is sweet and caring and she wants so badly to do the right thing. She breaks the rules to help people even if it means there are consequences for her. Josiah is unruly and stubborn and still trying to find his way to his faith. I’m so much more like Josiah, but would love to be like Annie so as I wrote it I enjoyed how they grew through their struggles. Sometimes when you’re writing a story, you’re working through your own baggage and don’t even realize it until later. I think broken characters are so much more interesting than the ones who have it all together. Annie brings a homeless woman and her baby into her house and helps her get back on her feet. I wonder if I would do such a daring thing. She also loves a man who has a life threatening disease, but she learns to have faith that God will see her through.

Just for fun, if you were a style of music, what style would you be?

I’d be a joyful noise, since I can’t carry a note myself. I only sing in church because I know God loves the sound, even if it’s painful to everyone else. I love to listen to country, blues, and classic rock.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know if these will seem quirky to anyone else, but to my poor parents in Kansas in the mid 1970s, it seemed terribly quirky. They couldn’t fathom my behavior. I became a vegetarian (It lasted for seven years. My sister and her husband raises cattle for beef, so you see the problem . . . ) and I backpacked from Costa Rica through Central America and Mexico by bus with a friend. No wonder my parents had gray hair by the time I returned.

Certainly you were adventurous! What is your strangest habit? 

I’m addicted to ChapStick and Peppermint Altoids. My husband actually bought me a supply of each as stocking stuffers at Christmas last year. I get quite concerned if I can’t apply ChapStick several times a day and well, who wants bad breath, anyway?

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

The comic strip, Baby Blues. I’m sure the illustrator peeked in my window during the years that my children, born 17 months apart, were toddlers and in elementary school.

As a busy writer, are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

I’m not sure if it’s dread or laziness, but it’s a tie for these three things: taking out the trash; cleaning the litter box used by our three cats; and shaving my legs. Is there anyone in the world who likes doing these things? I think not.

Ha! Ha! I thought I was the only one who wore long pants because I don't have time to shave. Where is your favorite place to travel or vacation?

My husband and I love to get a condo on the beach in Port Aransas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

It seems that forgiveness and persevering through difficult times (especially the death of a loved one) are reoccurring themes in my writing. Like many folks, I took quite a detour off the path in my spiritual journey for the decade of my twenties. It took me a long time to realize I only had to ask to be forgiven for my escapades and God would not only forgive, he would throw them away and forget about them. I struggle to forgive some of the things that happened to me when I was younger, which is one of the reasons I enjoy writing about the Amish. It’s so fundamental to their way of life. I want to emulate that aspect of their faith. Staying angry and bitter only hurts me. Letting go helps me.

When I was eight months pregnant with my son, one of my younger brothers died in a boating accident. Because I was so pregnant, I wasn’t able to fly home for his funeral. It’s been 21 years and I still regret not having spent more time with him or stayed more in touch with him. There’s a song that plays on the Christian radio station here that reminds us to “love like you’re living on borrowed time.”  In A Heart Made New, I explore the question of whether being afraid to die shows a lack of faith. David, the man Annie loves, won’t court her because he doesn’t think it’s fair to her. He might die. He has to learn to take whatever time he has on faith. We all do.

The death of a loved one is life changing for sure. Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 
Micah 7:18-19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
These are the verses that give me the most comfort in knowing that God’s grace covers me up. He has forgiven me and he will show me mercy.  When I ask to be forgiven, he takes those sins and throws them into the sea, he treads on them with his feet. I love that image!
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

A Heart Made New debuts October 1. Here’s the blurb:
In the second novel of Kelly Irvin’s Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will be delighted to return to a town and a family they’ve already come to love.

Annie Shirack is trying to fight her feelings for David Plank, a young Amish man who’s struggling with an aggressive case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. David loves Annie too much to let her into his life, only, he fears, to leave her.

When a homeless young woman named Charisma and her two-year-old daughter, Gracie, show up in Bliss Creek, Annie welcomes them into the Shirack household and tries to help them establish a new life. But all the good deeds in the world can’t change the ache in Annie’s heart…or help her forget the man she loves.

A Heart Made New will be available at:

Kelly Irvin is giving away a copy of A Heart Made NewThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Remember to read wherever you wander, 
The Wandering Writer,


Friday, September 28, 2012

Please Welcome Christian Author Anne Mateer


Anne Mateer is a novelist with a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. 

Welcome to the Bookshelf, Anne. Is there a story behind your novel, At Every Turn?

While my first novel, Wings of a Dream, had ties to my family history, the story behind my current book, At Every Turn, is so random! I ran across an article about the Harvest Classic auto race, which took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September of 1916 and it completely enthralled me! I wondered if I could craft a historical novel that incorporated the event. After putting my imagination to work, I did!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Reading! I’m a reader first, and while I love crafting my own stories, I can get caught up in other authors’ books (authors old and new) and get distracted from my own writing!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I’m pretty eclectic. For instance, my husband and I always buy Alexander McCall Smith the week his books come out. In hardcover. One of my latest favorite reads was Lynn Austin’s Wonderland Creek. Other Christian fiction authors I love--Cathy Gohlke, Jody Hedlund, Laura Franz, Carla Stewart, Marybeth Whalen, Laurie Alice Eakes and so many more! But I love the classics, too. I can read and re-read Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, George Eliot and PG Wodehouse, the Bronte sisters, and more. My kids’ English teachers used to tell my kids when she assigned a piece of literature—”I’m sure your mom has this on her shelf.”

If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and wh?

Definitely Renior. The subjects in his paintings seem to live and breathe, just like good characters in a book.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

Dry humor/sarcasm/British humor.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

Most of my really good childhood memories involve reading! I love remembering summer trips to the library, bringing home stacks of new books. I also have fond memories of our family vacation stop at the Grand Canyon, where I only glanced at the big hole in the ground, completely unimpressed because I was in the middle of reading Wuthering Heights for the first time!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Yes! Cooking and cleaning! I’ll find any way I can to get out of them altogether, but if not, I put them off as long as possible!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

I like to explore themes about totally trusting God with how your plans and dreams intersect with circumstances and relationships. That is probably because it has been a central theme in my own life.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.

For the past few years I’ve been camped on Proverbs 16:9--The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. I’m a planner, but the Lord has been teaching me that even when I plan, I need to recognize that whether my plans work or fall apart, it is the Lord who is directing my path.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book will release in the fall of 2013. (No official title yet.) It is about a young woman trying to save an orphan home from shutting its doors in 1910.

Thank you for letting us get to know you Anne. It's been a pleasure having you here at The Barn Door Book Loft.


Purchase the book at:

Or have your local library order it in for you!

Anne is giving away a copy of At Every TurnThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.  




Thursday, September 27, 2012

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

Back Cover blurb: 

Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she's spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to train and compete.

But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?

Except:

  Purchase the book at:
Or have your local library order it in for you!


Bio: Anne Mateer is a novelist with a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. 

Anne is giving away a copy of At Every TurnThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. 



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Announcing Three New Winners!!



The Winners Of:
 
When the Lights Go Out (by Max Elliot Anderson) is Maxie
 
Swallowed by Life (by Ada Brownell) is Jennifer
 
Hummingbird - ebook  (by David Stearman) is Teela

Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me (CarolAnn.Erhardt {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you the book.

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome, Mary Annslee Urban!

Love your title and the heroine's name. Those two things alone make me anxious to read it. Is there a story behind [book title].
Tapestry of Trust – In the story the heroine, Isabelle Crafton admires an old world tapestry of a knight returning from battle running to his lady in waiting. As the story goes, circumstances and lies pull Isabelle and Charlie apart, leaving her broken, her prince never returning, until…

 
What started you on your writing journey?               The story behind Tapestry of Trust – After my older children started into their high school years I became aware of the type of television, books and entertainment that was directed at teens today. My love of reading and writing inspired me to pass on a legacy of values through stories inspired by God. I wanted my stories to both entertain and remind that forgiveness and grace are the Lord’s promises for those who love HIM.

 

What distracts you from writing the easiest?                                                       Other obligations: work, family, friends.



What kind of books do you enjoy reading?                                                Inspirational Romance.  


Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote it? Why?                                                                                       I love Isabelle, her insecurities, her pain, her passion for life, her ability to forgive and find love again. 


If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Contemporary Christian.

 
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?                                       I love to travel and have dragged my family around the globe, willingly and skeptically at times. I’m a bit of an off the beaten track kind of gal, and sometimes my efforts aren’t appreciated until we arrive. For example, while on a recent trip to Europe, I planned for our family to stay on a sheep farm in Flaam, Norway. After a six hour (lots of wrong turns) journey, we arrived around 2am at the farm. The owners directed us up a steep incline, where we had to creep along so our rental car wouldn’t bottom out. Even in the dim light I could see my husband’s, “what have you gotten us into look.” My children were not so discreet: “What kind of farm is on the side of a mountain? I hope there’s a shower. How long are we staying…”

I’d never seen a picture of this cabin, only read about the experience on someone’s travel blog. So, with gritted teeth and a lot of prayer, we arrived at our rustic accommodations. One bathroom, 3 bedrooms: one being a loft that you got to by ladder, a small kitchen, dining and sitting room. Everyone was tired, cranky and still a bit leery. As the morning sun filtered into the small cabin, my husband crawled out of bed to take a look around. “Mary, come here. I want to show you something.” I followed my husband out on the front porch, hoping I wasn’t going to see that we were perched on side of cliff or that our car had slid back down the embankment. What I saw was a cascading waterfall, majestic mountains, glacier waters… A favorite vacation adventure as it turned out!


 
What is your favorite season of the year?
Spring

 
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?                                    My grandparents coming to visit, from Illinois to Tucson, Arizona where I grew up. My mother would make a tea ring, and we always got to stay up late to pick them up at the train station. My grandparents showered us with wet kisses and scrumptious gifts when they arrived. Italian specialites: cheeses, salamis, hard candies, homemake anise cookies. Delicious!

 
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Probably ironing. I do it in stages. Fold some laundry, iron a shirt. Walk in the laundry room


What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I love to cook and most meals I don’t follow an exact recipe, but here is a brownie recipe I have used for years. Highly requested by family and friends.

WALNUT FUDGE BROWNIES

1 cup flour ¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter – softened ¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar 4 eggs

12 Tablespoons cocoa 1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup walnuts or nuts of your choice

Grease 16”x8”pan. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in large mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Blend in vanilla and nuts. Pour in prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.



Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?                              Trust, forgiveness, God’s grace are themes in all my stories.


Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
The Lord gave me this verse on September 11, 2001. My husband is an airline pilot.The airline industry had struggled for years, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Now I had equal concerns, safety in the cockpit and my husband losing his job. Before my despair could consume me, I sat down to read God’s word.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”—spoke to me loud and clear, and a gentle peace settled in my soul. God has overcome the world.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
She Came to See The Snow: A Colorado Christmas Romance is my next book and it is due out this fall. I don’t have a release date yet.



To stay in contact with Mary, go here:
http://maryurban.blogspot.com 


To purchase Tapestry of Trust:
Pelican Book Group
Amazon

 Mary is giving away a copy (winner's choice: print or e-copy) of Tapestry of Trust. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.








Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown




 




 

 

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban

Back Cover Blurb:  Surrendered Hearts—Interwoven Grace Isabelle had always envisioned Charlie Hamilton as the hero depicted in the romantic tapestry hanging in the Hamilton home. Then Charlie abandoned her to make decisions no one should make alone. Now, six years later, Charlie’s back, and despite Isabelle’s best efforts, she can’t ignore the longing his presence reignites. Charlie wants a second chance, but can Isabelle trust the man he’s become? Can she surrender her threadbare heart long enough for God to weave Isabelle's own happily-ever-after tapestry?



Excerpt:


Tapestry of Trust
By: Mary Annslee Urban

Chapter One

Isabelle Crafton’s breath stilled at the sight of the man standing on the other side of the doorway. No. It couldn’t be.

Charlie Hamilton. His name clattered in her head as his gaze held hers. The traitor she’d spent the last six years trying to forget.

Unable to move, unable to wrench her gaze away, she bit her lip to keep from gaping. No longer the gangly soccer star who’d scored the winning goals in high school, broad shoulders now filled his tailored suit, his face square and chiseled, and those eyes… Would she ever forget those eyes? Dark and warm. Once as soothing as sipping hot chocolate on a blistery winter’s day.

“Isabelle, I can’t believe it’s you.”

She blinked and looked away, her heart pounding. Get a grip. After all, his visit presented one redeeming quality. He was holding her cat.
She lifted the feline from Charlie’s arms. “There you are Humphrey, you had me so worried. Bad kitty!” She scolded him the way she’d love to scold Charlie, but held back. Her roommate Kate, was in the apartment and well within earshot. “Charlie, thank you.” She forced her voice to remain calm.

“You look great.” He smiled, brushing cat hair from his jacket.

Likewise. She scrunched Humphrey closer. “You found my cat. I’ve been so worried. I’m not sure if you remember Humphrey, but he’s deaf.”

Charlie nodded. “He was hanging out in the drainage ditch near the parking lot. The woman in the office told me who lost a cat. She offered to return him, but I had to see if it was really you. And here you are.” He opened his arms and stepped closer.

Unexpected emotion clogged Isabelle’s throat. Swallowing hard, she grabbed the knob and pushed the front door halfway shut, blocking his entrance into the apartment. How dare he act like nothing had happened between them? “I must say, you’re the last person I expected to see.” The last person she wanted to see.

For a moment, their eyes clashed. The corners of his lips curved up. “Yes, a nice surprise. It’s been a long time, Isabelle. Too long.” His gaze drifted from her face to the furry bundle in her arms. “I should have recognized Humphrey.”

Surprise? Yes. Too long? A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough. And why would he recognize her cat? He hadn’t been around since Humphrey was a kitten.

Isabelle eased the door within a couple inches of closing. “See you around, Charlie.” Except for a discreet glance through lowered lashes, she kept her gaze averted, cuddling the cat closer to her face.

“Isabelle, wait.” Charlie pushed against the door. “Tell me how you’ve been. What are you doing here in Austin?”

Isabelle froze and peered at him through the space he’d created. She wanted to tell him she’d graduated from college and was doing fine without him. Raking her fingers through Humphrey’s knotted fur, she tried to transform bitter thoughts into a civil response. A beat passed, then another. “Not much to tell. Just working,” she blurted finally after what seemed like eons.”

“She teaches second grade at McGee Elementary,” Kate bellowed from behind her. “We came here last year after graduating from East Texas.”

Thanks, Kate. Isabelle sucked in air to hold back a sigh.

A dimple flashed in Charlie’s cheek. “Isabelle, congratulations.”

Her heart gave a little leap despite her efforts to control it.

“The man is trying to make conversation.” Kate breezed up beside her and squeezed her arm. “I’m sorry. I just don’t have time to chat right…”

Isabelle’s words faded in defeat, as Kate swung the door wide open.

“It would be nice to catch up, Isabelle.” Charlie shifted even closer. He sunk his hands into his trouser pockets.

She caught a scent of his cologne, tickling her nose. Something, clean and fresh like…Stop it. Isabelle blinked. What was she doing? She tightened her arms around Humphrey and backed away, doubling the distance between them.

How could she ever forget?

Eighteen… and pregnant. She ground her teeth. Life before Jesus. Shaking her head, she pushed out a weary breath. “Who knows when Humphrey ate last? I better feed him.”

As if on cue, Humphrey let loose a scraggly meow. “Isabelle, so good to see you.”

Charlie’s gaze narrowed, and she was struck by the unexpected intensity. Perhaps he had regrets. Well… so did she.

“Let’s talk soon.” She started to answer, to tell him to forget about her, but why bother. Her response would only fuel more conversation. “Again, thanks for finding Humphrey.”

“No problem. I look forward to catching up with you soon.”

She ignored the comment and stalked out the entry and into the kitchen. Maybe, Charlie would pick up on her hint and take a hike himself.

Isabelle set Humphrey on the floor, stretched on tiptoes, and yanked open the cabinet over the stove. She grabbed the plastic container of cat food and poured fish-shaped morsels into a bowl. With whiskers twitching, the cat licked his forepaws and stared up at her. She crouched and set the bowl in front of him. “I’m glad you’re safe.” She pulled a twig from his fur. Even at this distance, Isabelle could hear the conversation in the entry. She glanced at her watch and sighed when Kate burst into a hearty laugh. Didn’t Charlie have somewhere to be?

“I can’t believe you’re in graduate school with Mark.” Kate’s voice lifted. Isabelle rolled her eyes. Perfect. “Yeah, he’s in my study group this semester. Nice guy.”

“I think so, too.” Kate giggled. “This is such a busy semester for him, with our wedding and all. I can’t wait until he’s finished.”

“I’m right there with you. School can’t end soon enough for me either.” A pleasant chuckle trailed Charlie’s words.

“So, you graduate in May, also?”

“Yep.” Grad school. Lucky Charlie. No hiccups in his life. No change of course. Unlike hers, whose life made a U-turn when she got pregnant and spun further out of control when she’d lost the baby. Their baby. Isabelle shook her head. Why Charlie? Why couldn’t you have— She flinched. History, she reminded herself. One she wanted to forget.

The kitchen started to feel stuffy. She pushed to her feet and slid open the window above the sink. Fresh air blew against her face. Who cares when Charlie graduates anyway? Their life together ended years ago. She pinched dead leaves off the potted ivy meandering across the windowsill.

A moment passed, then another. She inched toward the doorway. She cocked her head and gnawed on an already too short fingernail, reassuring herself Charlie no longer meant anything to her.

“I’ve been working at my gir―, uh, friend’s father’s marketing company in San Marcos. After graduation, I’ll be a director there.”

Isabelle slapped her hands over her ears. She braced herself against the counter before her wobbly knees gave out. Of course, he had a girlfriend. After six years, people moved on.

Well, most people.

Even as the thought crossed her mind, she shook her head. The last thing she wanted was Charlie to be privy to how boring her life had become. Not that her boredom had anything to do with missing him. Straightening, she lifted her chin. She’d just been busy, that’s all.

Still, why, out of the hundreds of people in their apartment complex, did he have to be the one to find her cat? She picked up the cat food container and shoved it back into the cabinet. Humphrey crunched his meal on the floor next to her. Snagging a deep breath, she grabbed a dishcloth and ran circles across the already spotless counter. Then she jerked open the refrigerator door and yanked old take-out containers from the shelves. If she had to be stuck in the kitchen, she might as well get something done.

Charlie’s tone rose above the trilling grind of the garbage disposal. “Tell Isabelle good-bye for me. I’ll catch up with her soon. Oh…and make sure she lets Sadie in the office know to take the sign down now that Humphrey’s home safe.”

That did it. Isabelle thumped her hands on the counter and opened her mouth to shout a retort, but no words came—only tears. Charlie hadn’t changed. Still trying to take care of things. Why wouldn’t she tell Sadie? Who did he think put the sign up in the first place? She clenched her left fist, nails digging into her palm. Six years ago she’d asked for his advice, and he had nothing of value for her. In fact, he had nothing to say about the matter at all.

Squaring her shoulders, she wiped hot tears and resisted the rush of illogical nostalgia parading through her. No, she wouldn’t look back. Instead, she slammed her eyes shut and prayed—for God’s grace.




Mary Annslee Urban is an author of Inspirational Romance. Her goal is to write stories that stir the heart about love, honor and God's grace! Her debut book, Tapestry of Trust, White Rose Publishing, was released June 2012. Her second book with White Rose Publishing, She Came to See the Snow~A Colorado Christmas Romance, will be released Fall of 2012. A Registered Nurse by trade, Mary also has been a freelance writer for newspapers in her area and has had articles published in magazines as well as online publications. A North Carolina resident, Mary and her husband have five children and 3 grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, long walks and anything chocolate!


To stay in contact with Mary, go here:
http://maryurban.blogspot.com


To purchase Tapestry of Trust:
Pelican Book Group
Amazon




Mary is giving away a copy (winner's choice: print or e-copy) of Tapestry of Trust. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.









Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Victoria and The Ghost by Janet K. Brown


     Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. She began writing while her three daughters were kids but did not study the craft or submit her work until she retired in October, 2005. Writing became a second career.

     4RV Publishing released Janet’s debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, last month. Janet has written several inspirational romances and women’s fiction, but this is her first young adult. She studies her three grandchildren for help with teen expressions and actions.

     Janet contracts with Union Gospel Press for short stories for teens and adults. Her stories have shown up in such publications as Brio, Live, Standard, The Gem, and Cross and Quill. With a secondary passion for diet and fitness, Janet is shopping her first non-fiction book, a devotion book for compulsive overeaters.

     Janet belongs to such writing groups as ACFW, OWFI, CWFI, and RWA.

     She and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit with family, and work in their church.

     You can learn more about Janet on her website/blog; check her out on Facebook or connect with her on Twitter

Email:  Janet.hope (at) att (dot) net

Back Page Blurb:

    At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl, loses her mother’s love and copes with country isolation, no friends and no one who cares, until she meets a ghost.

      When her mother leaves the family to become a Dallas trophy wife, Victoria’s dad moves her and her sister to a North Texas farm to herd cattle and raise chickens. Refusing to believe this is more than a temporary set-back, Victoria tries to make new friends which isn’t an easy task. The first one stabs her in the back with gossip and a sharp tongue. Meanwhile, her new stepsister takes Victoria’s place in her mother’s heart. Rejection and anger stalk Victoria like a rattlesnake in the cemetery. Good thing she makes friends with a ghost and through him, a good-looking teenaged cowboy.
 
Excerpt:

Chapter One
 
    “This place is awful,” Victoria said, spewing all the venom that a fifteen-year-old could muster.     Her dad sighed. “I know you’re mad at me for moving you to the country, but — ”
    “You bet I’m mad. I hate you.” She pressed her lips together until they hurt.
   “Well, I love you.” Her dad’s eyes displayed his hurt. The expression of pain on Dad's face was familiar since the divorce, but Mom wasn't the culprit this time. Victoria's sharp tongue cut off the kindness he tried to express now.
   She bit back the apology threatening to slip, glanced around the kitchen, and grimaced. Yellow and white wallpaper curled above the counter. A hideous dining room suite offered eating space for three. Dad gave Mom’s fancy French Provincial to the Salvation Army. From a neighbor’s farm, cows mooed and a horse whinnied.
   His expression hardened. “Why can’t you make friends like your sister? You haven’t even tried.”
   My sister is a nerd. She doesn’t need friends. “I’m not as old as Marcy.”
   “There’s only a two-year difference.” Dad leaned against the stove looking like he wanted to tie her to a chair until she begged for help.
   “Whatever.” She turned and stomped toward the living room. Her steps beat to the tune in her head, sounding like “I Hate the Country Blues.”
   “Where are you going?” Dad stood in the kitchen watching her leave. His loud words bounced through the small farmhouse and struck Victoria’s conscience.
   She went back and opened the fridge, the one minus the icemaker function. After snatching the tiny cooler she used for school lunches, she took a cola and a water bottle. “Exploring, OKAY? I have my cell.”
   When Victoria started to leave, her sister, Marcy, walked out of her bedroom. “Don’t forget; it’s your turn to fix supper. I did it yesterday.” Marcy glared at her little sis for emphasis.
   Whenever Dad jumped on Victoria about doing more housework, she became annoyed.
   “Whatever.” Though short, with more meat on her body than her track coach liked, Victoria stood as tall and straight as her stature allowed and slammed the front door behind her, glad to be out of there. She leaped from the porch, traveled the quarter mile to the road, and started her hike.
   A sticker stabbed her heel, which reminded her flip-flops weren’t the best walking shoes. After pulling out the culprit, she edged nearer the black top. Close to half a city block away, the flat ground swelled into a tiny hill like a pimple on the landscape. She wanted to explore what lay behind it. The country’s three weeks of rain had kept her inside and bored.
   Her stringy hair fell to the front of her shoulders like two cobwebs knit together to decorate her T-shirt. She caught the wisps of hair behind her ears and strained to climb over rocks and roots toward the stone Lutheran church atop the ridge. Near the entrance to the building, a plaque proclaimed, “Founded in 1886.”
   Sweat dripped into Victoria’s eyes as she read the words. Noonday sun scorched the top of her scalp, so she stepped under the shade of a towering oak. The tree’s roots disappeared underground near the church’s foundation.
   Why did Dad move her from the city? Did he just want to annoy her? If so, he succeeded. She aimed her phone, clicked, and hit send, so Emily, back in Dallas, could picture the landscape. Flat. Rocky. Yuck. She wouldn’t want Dallas friends to see her heated cheeks, sweaty hair, and dusty feet right now.
   Fields of grain the golden color of the dress Mom bought Victoria during their end-of-summer shopping trip last year sprawled before her.
   No more fun with Mom now.
   When Victoria approached the church’s double doors, the lock held. She turned and leaned against it to take a swig of her bottled water. A smell of polish emanated from the splintered wood indicating someone’s recent labor.
   A loud chirping startled her. A cricket perched on a rock not five feet away, making enough noise to wake the dead at the cemetery down the road from the church. When he jumped in her direction, she slid down the southern slope, past the tall cane stalks, and arrived on her blue-jeaned bottom at a black-topped road.
   She brushed herself off, surveyed the area for spectators, retrieved her flip-flops, and shuffled down the road. After she walked farther, heaving from the exertion, she paralleled the fence to an archway proclaiming Clara Cemetery.
   Interesting. What a forlorn place this was. How about that, a church and cemetery this far from civilization? She opened the creaky, iron gate and ventured forward.
   Impressive memorials surrounded her. A heavy cedar fragrance drifted on the prairie winds from the graveyard’s clumps of tall trees. Red, pink, and yellow colors from flowers and decorations dotted graves. Off to one side, a cement bench offered a place to sit and talk with dead family. Might as well talk to them; no live people in sight.






Purchase book in paperback from 4RV Publishing.

Janet K. Brown is giving away a copy of VICTORIA AND THE GHOST.


The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address.
You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


 

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