Monday, June 30, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Annslee Urban

Is there a story behind your book Smoky Mountain Investigation?

I live in North Carolina and love the Smoky Mountains, so I couldn’t imagine a better place to stage this story. My story centers around Asheville, a small but bustling mountain town.

What started you on your writing journey?

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 them that forgiveness and grace are the Lord’s promises for those who love HIM.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

Inspirational romance and romantic suspense. I also enjoy a good biography.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

My grandchildren. They are so bright and witty and fun to be around!

What is your favorite season of the year? 

Spring. I love watching the scenery spring to full bloom. And being an Arizona girl at heart, I love the return of warm sunny days.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. It is situated in a high desert valley surrounded by mountains. The sky is the richest blue and the sunsets are incredible. I was fortunate to grow up with a large family in close proximity; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and siblings. Every holiday we had large family gatherings, serving everything from my grandmother’s Italian cuisine to traditional holiday food. Memorable times I’ll never forget.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

I love to travel and we’ve been to some awesome places, but I think my favorite spot is Italy. The food is awesome. The people are the warm and friendly. There’s so much to see, so much culture and history and it’s a part of my roots. I’ve been there twice and would love to get back there again.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?

I always bake bread for the holidays. This is a great recipe and also can be used for cinnamon rolls. Great holiday tradition for my family!
2 cups warm water
4 tsp yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup oil
5 cups flour
2 tsp salt

Preparation:
In large bowl put 2 cup almost hot water in a bowl, add 4 teaspoons yeast, next add 1 tablespoon of sugar, stir and let it sit 5 minutes.

Add 5 cups of flour, oil and salt. Pour in yeast and mix with dough hook on low until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and all ingredients are incorporated into a ball.

Let rise in greased bowl until doubled, about 25 minutes.
Roll out and shape. Let rise another 20 minutes.
Cook at 350° for 20 minutes or until done.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

Trust, forgiveness, God’s grace are themes in all my stories.

Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?

My office. I have a cluttered desk, a comfortable chair and my laptop. If I’m missing, my family knows where to find me.
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.

Back Cover

"I'M WATCHING YOU…"
A mysterious caller taunts journalist Kylie Harper with details about a decade-old death, leading her to a new trail of murder. Who is this deranged person…and what does he want from her? Ex-Delta Force captain and Kylie's former love Nick Bentley fled their Smoky Mountain hometown after the murder of their classmate. When family duty calls him back, Nick comes face-to-face with Kylie…and the past he's tried to forget. Now Nick must put everything on the line to save Kylie before she becomes the next victim of a madman.



To buy Annslee's book:
Amazon Kindle
Christianbook.com
Bookwire
Barnes & Noble

About Annslee:
Multi-published author, Mary Annslee Urban grew up watching old-time romance movies, which she attributes to her passion for sweet romance, true love and happy endings. A daydreamer at heart, Mary began her writing journey when the youngest of her five children started school. For several years she worked as a freelance writer for newspapers in her community and has written for magazines and online publications.
Smoky Mountain Investigation, Mary’s first book with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, will be released July 1, 2014.
Raised in the foothills of Arizona, she survived temperature shock when she and her husband moved to Western Pennsylvania before settling in North Carolina. Aside from writing, Mary works as a Registered Nurse part-time in the Behavioral Health field. She is a member of ACFW, and has served as co-president and vice-president for Carolina Christian Writers. She has two published novels with White Rose Publishing and another book, In Love's Defense, won 2nd place in the Write Integrity Press Books of Hope Contest in 2012. Mary writes under Mary Annslee Urban and Annslee Urban.

When she isn’t writing, Mary enjoys cooking, traveling to faraway places, spending time with grandbabies and all things chocolate! You can visit Mary on Facebook or at maryurban.blogspot.com.

To connect with Annslee:

Mary Annslee Urban is giving away a copy of Smoky Mountain Investigation.  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 may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)


Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Friday, June 20, 2014

Colors of Deceit by Valerie Goree

An antique jewelry box! What a wonderful gift. However, if Maricella had known what the box contained, she might have allowed the thief to steal it. But she thwarts his attempt, and the box is damaged as he flees.

When Maricella has the box repaired, she has no idea that this action will threaten her family, or that her investigation into the original owner of the box will bring her face to face with a suspected murderer.


As the danger escalates, will her newfound faith be strong enough to sustain her while she endeavors to keep her infant grandson safe?






Book excerpt


CHAPTER ONE
The front door stood ajar. Not a good sign.
I eased it open. “Teresa, it’s Maricella. I’ve brought a baby gift from my neighbors. Are you all right?” My daughter-in-law wasn’t expecting a visit from me. Why would she leave the door open?
Crossing the living room in quick steps, I peered down the long, narrow hall. Teresa, eight months pregnant, lay with her back to me looking like a mound of rumpled clothes.
“Teresa!” I dropped my purse and the gift bag as I hurried to her and knelt.
A groan escaped from under the veil of black hair that had fallen over her face. She clutched her belly.
I pushed the hair aside and touched her cheek. “Are you in labor? Is the baby on his way?”
Her eyelids fluttered. She pointed to the master bedroom at the end of the hall. “Maricella, there’s a man . . .”
Floorboards squeaked. Light flickered in the bedroom doorway at the same time Teresa’s words registered. There was someone in the house. Creepy-crawly fingers of fear tickled my scalp.
On my feet again, I hesitated. Should I stay with Teresa or call for help?
A figure emerged from the bedroom, filling the hall with menace. He carried something tucked under one arm.
“What are you doing?” Anger edged Teresa’s words as she raised her head. “No, don’t take that.”
In the gloom I couldn’t tell what he held.
With the grace of an athlete, he bounded over Teresa, but she grabbed his boot. Dropping the object, he rammed into the hall table and hopped twice to regain his balance. Momentum already established, he careened into me, sending me staggering backward until I collided with the wall and slithered to the floor.
In the distance I heard the kitchen door bang shut and footsteps clip across the back porch.
Crawling to Teresa, I asked, “Are you hurt?”
“He hit me.” She rubbed her jaw. “The baby. I fell and––”
“You need professional help.” I scrambled up, located the phone in the kitchen and dialed 9-1-1. Once I knew the ambulance and law enforcement officers were on their way, I returned to Teresa.
“I . . . I want to get up but my back hurts, and I’m having contractions. I think they’re Braxton Hicks again, but––”
“Let’s not take any chances. I know it’s uncomfortable on the floor, but you better stay there until the paramedics check you out. I don’t want to deliver my grandson here in the middle of the hall.”
A brief grin momentarily brightened her drawn face.
I slipped into the bedroom and yanked a pillow off the bed. After placing it under Teresa’s head, I sat next to her. “There, that should help a little.”
Gracias, Chella. Why––”

The front door opened. Ambulance already? We’d heard no sirens.

About Valerie:

American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree resides with her husband in the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio.


After serving as missionaries in Zimbabwe and raising two children, Glenn and Valerie returned to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired, Valerie spends her time writing and spoiling her grandchildren.


To purchase Valerie's book:


Valerie Goree is giving away a copy of Colors of Deceit.  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 may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)


Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Valerie Goree

Is there a story behind your book Colors of Deceit?
Certainly. Although Colors of Deceit is a stand-alone sequel to Deceive Me Once, it is the continuing story of Maricella, my Latina heroine - wife, mother, and now grandmother. She doesn’t want to be an interfering mother-in-law, but she has to intervene when Teresa her daughter-in-law is attacked.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read suspense, mysteries, and police procedurals. I loved The Christine Sterling Mysteries, a cozy mystery series by Catherine Leggitt.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
I fell in love with Frankie. At first, he was only going to be a very minor character, but after I met him, I had to increase his involvement in the plot. Both my grandfathers passed away before I was born. I’ve adopted Frankie as my fill-in grandfather.

What is your strangest habit?
Since I have OCD tendencies, I have many strange habits. Now, I don’t do the hand washing, but I do make lists, and have to do things in a certain order. I also count items such as steps in a staircase, or cars behind me on our country road, or birds sitting on a telephone wire. So far, thank the Lord, these habits have not interfered with my daily life.

What is your favorite season of the year? 
I love autumn. Here in Texas, any time the temperature drops and the humidity is minimal, is a good day!

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
Going camping with my family, Mom, Dad, and older brother. I grew up in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe in central Africa, so when we went camping, we were out in the bush. However, we never encountered any really dangerous animals, other than pythons, baboons, and an occasional hippo.

 Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Definitely! Ironing and dusting.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
So far, all my novels have a spiritual thread of forgiveness. To me this is such an important aspect of our lives. We need to ask for forgiveness, but we also need to forgive each other – and ourselves.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.  
Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with winds as eagles…” The imagery this scripture brings to mind is so soothing to me. If we wait on the Lord – something I have to work on every day – then our strength will be renewed and we’ll fly like eagles! Oh how I want to soar across the heavens.

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

My next book, Weep in the Night, is due out in October. The romantic suspense features a woman in the Witness Protection Program whose identity is compromised. If WITSEC can’t keep her safe, who can?

Back Cover

An antique jewelry box! What a wonderful gift. However, if Maricella had known what the box contained, she might have allowed the thief to steal it. But she thwarts his attempt, and the box is damaged as he flees.

When Maricella has the box repaired, she has no idea that this action will threaten her family, or that her investigation into the original owner of the box will bring her face to face with a suspected murderer.

As the danger escalates, will her newfound faith be strong enough to sustain her while she endeavors to keep her infant grandson safe?





To buy Valerie's book:

About Valerie:
American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree resides with her husband in the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio.

After serving as missionaries in Zimbabwe and raising two children, Glenn and Valerie returned to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired, Valerie spends her time writing and spoiling her grandchildren.


To connect with Valerie:

Valerie Goree is giving away a copy of Colors of Deceit.  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 may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)


Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Arkansas Author Laura Hilton


Hi Laura, Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft. We are so glad to have you here. 

Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?
     I have five children, two are homeschool graduates and one is doing extremely well in college. Three are still homeschooled. We live in rural Arkansas, surrounded by cattle ranches and small farms. We have to drive a half an hour to the nearest Walmart—and my husband works an hour away.

Is there a story behind Awakened Love?
Not really. I needed a third book idea for the proposal I was writing and this came to me. Some kids really struggle with being adopted even when they know it all their life. I remember my mom’s friend sharing that her adopted children screamed “You’re not my real mom, you can’t tell me what to do.” And I wondered what it would be like to grow up adopted and Amish and not know…

What is the last thing you wrote?  
I’m writing The Postcard which is coming out next year. 

Who is the most annoying character you ever created?  
Patsy, an Amish girl who is a bully. She showed up in this book and in A White Christmas in Webster County.

Does music help you write? 
Not usually. I am usually sidetracked by the music and start singing with it. Exception is when I absolutely must write and the one child I have who seems to find my writing time “evil” is around then I try to drown him out.

How do you find the time to write?  
With five children I have to make time. I squeeze it in anytime I can. If I wait until I find time, I’ll never have time.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? My next book is A White Christmas in Webster County and it releases in September 2014.  The blurb is:

Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they form a fledging friendship. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy’s past discovers her…

Thank you so much, Laura for joining us today.

Laura Hilton is giving away a copy of Awakened Love. 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 may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)


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



Monday, June 16, 2014

Featuring Awakened Love by Laura Hilton

Add caption
Blurb:

Katie Detweiler grew up Amish, never knowing she was adopted as an infant. Now an adult, her new job as cook at an Amish bed and breakfast doesn’t bring about the euphoria she hoped for. Just as she’s getting her menu perfected, the Englisch family and severely ill sister she never knew existed enter her life and strain her Amish relationships. Plus, Katie suddenly has two different men vying for her attention—one Amish, one Englisch—and she wonders if one of them could be the man of her dreams. But when her Englisch sister’s health worsens, Katie must find a way to balance her heart, her job, and her faith while risking her own life for the sister she never knew.


He’s hiding from a cold-blooded killer; her Amish identity has been stripped away. Both must find a way to balance their hearts, their jobs, and their faith while risking their lives for another.


Excerpt:
Chapter 1

“Today I met the man I’m going to marry.” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper.
Katie Detweiler climbed out of Daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back as her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up to her side. Katie braced herself to spend time with bubbly Patsy.
Her heart ached with a stab of envy.
Would she ever marry?
Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse, and pulled around the circle drive.
“The new bu in town,” Patsy squealed as if Katie had actually asked who. “He is sooooo cute! And I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”
Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie didn’t even know Patsy was part of a couple. Wait, she wasn’t. Just yesterday she moaned over the lack of interesting men in her life.
Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Ach, stand up with you? Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”
Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed and breakfast, ain’t so?”
“When did you meet him? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the handles and started toward the haus.
“He’s visiting Micah Graber, a cousin or something. He’s here, right over… Ach, I see Mandy. I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”
Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.
A Valentine’s Day wedding? Was Patsy serious? Most brides married between November to January, not February, when fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have something to say about Patsy marrying a man she only knew for, what, half an hour?
Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.
But he was here? This mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for someone she didn’t know. She didn’t see anyone new. Or, maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy, getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they did call a break several weeks into the relationship.
Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And recognized her as a permanent part of his future.
She turned toward the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She walked over and put them on the table, at one end with the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home.
“Hi, Katie.” Micah’s mamm came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”
Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what was so special about this mystery man. It probably was nothing other than he hadn’t already courted Patsy, since she had gone with almost every other Amish bu in the district.
Ach, that was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. They’d probably see each other sometime. He usually made a point to say hi to her.
Katie took a step toward her cooler to get the rest of her food when the outside door burst open. She gazed into knock-‘em dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open. He shoved his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up.
“Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”
Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, they’re out on the porch. You walked right past them.”
His eyes met Katie’s again and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded loud enough she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.
Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. A pretty girl and they have to go check her out.”
Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d come in because he thought she was pretty? But he didn’t stay long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate back to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. That must be Patsy’s… whatever she’d call him. Her intended, since she said she was marrying him on Valentine’s Day. So why did it matter what he thought?
It didn’t.
Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.

Katie studied the dessert selection again. Other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort. 

Author Bio:

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. And the Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love. Surrendered Love releases April 2013, and the third book will release September 2013. A nonAmish book The Appalachian Ballad Quilt will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

You can find her on the web:

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Laura Hilton is giving away a copy of Awakened Love. 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 may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

Or have your local library order it in for you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ohio Author Carol Ann Erhardt

Hello Carol Ann! Tell us the story behind your book IN GOD’S TIME.

When I wrote the first book in the series, there was no idea it would become a series. Beta readers wanted to know what happened next to Becca, a secondary character in TRAPPED. So the idea came to make a three-book series about the characters in Havens Creek. 

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? 

Chase Douglas, the hero. As soon as the story began to emerge, I realized he was the main character, not Becca. He is a troubled soul who is bitter over the trials he’s suffered and has lost faith in God’s goodness. As a confirmed bachelor, he is thrust into becoming guardian for his four-year-old twin nieces and he worries he isn’t capable. He’s a loner, wanting to depend on no one but himself. Boy, does he have a lot to learn when everything spirals out of his control.

What started you on your writing journey?

My birth! Seriously, I believe most writers are born with the desire to tell stories. My favorite pastime as a child was reading. I loved to escape into another world. My grade school English teacher encouraged me to write and I learned my stories could entertain others. I was hooked.
  
What distracts you from writing the easiest? 

Books. I still love to read! And then there are my three cats who demand attention by crawling onto my lap and bumping my arm.
  
Books would be my answer too. Let's have some fun. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Going tubing with my daughter in Tennessee when we didn’t have a clue how cold the water would be or why everyone was wearing shoes. We went barefoot thinking we were the smart ones…until we had to climb out of the river and walk on rocks to get to the sidewalk—a very HOT sidewalk a half-mile from where we got in!

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud? 

My grandchildren! I love, love, love spending time with them.

What is your favorite season of the year?

I love spring. After a long, cold winter, there is something very special in watching and nurturing my flower gardens. My husband loved to work in the yard and he planted so many beautiful perennials. I never used to enjoy working outside, but since he has been called to heaven, I enjoy nurturing the plants and hoping he gets glimpses from heaven that make him smile.
 
What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

I grew up in a very small community called Dutch Hollow. Five miles from town, we were surrounded by trees, and everyone knew what color socks the other put on each morning. A very close-knit community where people helped each other and the best times were pot luck picnics, quilting bees, and games of hopscotch and baseball. I miss that kind of closeness with neighbors.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

Using a discarded coca-cola metal sign from a friend’s grandfather’s store as a sled. Boy, did we have a great time when it snowed one winter. I’ve never laughed so hard as I did back then. The two of us would lug that sign to the top of the hill in the schoolyard and spin and slide down over and over again.

Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?

I enjoy sitting on the screened-in deck in the warm weather. I also enjoy sitting in the back yard on the swing my husband built. Reading there is comforting.

Would you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?
Psalm 31:7 “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.” (Tyndale, New Living Translation)
After losing my beloved husband, I mourned deeply. My greatest comfort came from reading Scripture and believing in God’s promises. He humbled me greatly during this time of grief and taught me to trust in Him alone. This verse is one I turn to frequently for it reinforces everything He taught me.
  
When is your next book due out and what can you tell us about it?


The next book will be the third in the Havens Creek series. It will be a Christmas 2014 release. The main characters are Allison Denning and Braden Ryland. Braden and his twin brother, Mark, made brief appearances in IN GOD’S TIME. The book is already in progress and it is fun to write about Christmas and cold weather on my sunny deck in the spring.

We'll look forward to hearing from you again! Thanks for sharing.

Connect with Carol Ann Erhardt at:


Carol Ann Erhardt is giving away a copy of In God's TIme. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email 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. 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

In God's Time by Carol Ann Erhardt

Chase Douglas, a Montana rancher who lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan, no longer believes in a caring God. When he receives a phone call that his sister has died leaving him guardian of his four-year-old twin nieces, he leaves his comfort zone and travels to Havens Creek, Tennessee. There he meets Becca Middleton, a beautiful, kind-hearted woman who has been caring for the girls.

His plan to take the twins home is stalled when he learns his sister was murdered and her daughters are witnesses. Becca agrees to help him with the care of the girls and Chase begins to open his heart to her. Then he learns Becca's husband is the soldier who died after giving Chase a letter to deliver to his wife and child. The letter, long-forgotten, is buried in a duffel bag along with the devastating nightmares of war.

Chase agonizes over fulfilling a promise made years ago which will inflict pain on a woman who has made peace with her past, a woman he is falling in love with. As mutual attraction flares, he struggles in his relationship with God, with fear for the twins' safety, and with a decision that might end any chance of happiness.

Excerpt

Chapter One
The acrid smoke clung to Becca Middleton’s clothing, the scent permeating her soul. She looked at her brother, at the deep lines of sorrow grooving his face, the soot marring his cheeks. “Are you sure they were inside?”
“Any chance they wouldn’t have been home tonight?”
“No,” she whispered.
“There’s still a chance they’ll be found alive. We can’t give up hope.”
Her gaze lingered on the ambulance transporting her best friend to the hospital. God, please don’t let them die. Not like this.
The roar of a motorcycle sounded above the rushing water and the voices calling back and forth as the firefighters continued to battle the blaze. Mark Ryland skidded the bike to a stop and hopped off. “Anything I can do?” As usual, he wore no helmet. He always rode like he was going to a fire. Ironic he had been tonight.
“The best thing we can do is stay out of the way until things are under control,” Jake said.
“What about Marla and the twins?”
Jake shook his head. “The twins haven’t been found yet. An ambulance took Marla to the hospital.”
“Bummer,” Mark said. “I’ll call Braden. I’m sure he’ll want to go to the hospital.”
Becca’s heart fell as the flames ate away at the one floor structure. Tears stung her eyes and her breathing hitched.
Jake pulled her into his arms and she rested her forehead against her brother’s chest.
“Hey, Jake!”
Becca turned to see who was calling.
One of the firemen pointed toward the wooded area behind the house. Two tiny figures stood motionless with their arms wrapped around each other.
“The twins!” she shouted. She ran through the damp grass and scooped them into her embrace. “I’m so glad to see you. Don’t cry. You’re safe now.”
 “Mommy!” Kayleigh struggled and broke free. She ran toward the fire, but Jake swooped her into his arms.
Kristen screamed. “Mommy! I want my mommy!” Becca picked her up.
“Shh. Your mommy is going to be all right.” Please, Lord, take care of Marla.
Jake said, “We need to have the girls checked out just in case.” He led her to the ambulance and left her while he headed back to the scene.
A female paramedic examined the twins and after a few minutes said, “They’re fine. No injuries. Just scared.”
Relief steadied Becca’s heart rate. Everyone was safe. Marla and the girls could move in with her temporarily. Thank you, Jesus. “That’s great. Would you watch them while I get my brother?”
“Sure.” She began to wipe their faces with a damp cloth.
Becca called Jake away from the huddle of police and firefighters. “They’re fine,” she said. “They shouldn’t stay here. I’ll take them home with me. Can you help me get them to the car?”
“Best news I’ve had tonight,” he said as he followed her to the ambulance. “Now we just need to hear Marla’s okay.”
“She will be. I just know it.”
Jake picked up Kristen.
“Let’s get you out of here,” Becca said.
Kayleigh’s arms circled Becca’s neck. “I want Mommy,” she whispered. “Where’s Mommy?”
“She went to the hospital so the doctors can fix her up. You’re coming home with me for a sleepover. Okay?”
“Can we see Mommy in the morning, Aunt Becca?” Kristen asked.
“Maybe.”
Jake leaned close and spoke in Becca’s ear. “We need to contact her family. Do you have a way to reach them?”
“I’ve got her brother’s number in my phone.”
“I’ll call him,” Jake said. “You’re going to have your hands full.”
They wove their way over the hoses and between the fire engines to where Becca left her car. Once the girls were settled, she fumbled through her purse until her hand closed around the phone.
A voice called out, “Jake!”
He turned. “Yeah?” He touched Becca’s shoulder. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
Becca found Chase Douglas’ name in her contacts. Her heart ached for the pain this call would inflict.

~*~

Chase Douglas urged Big John to turn. The horse snorted and nodded his head, as if agreeing the time had come to end the day.
“Taco! Time to go home.”
The black and white border collie’s ears pricked.
Chase lifted the reins while the dog made a wide pass behind the cattle. Best herder dog in Montana, he thought. One of Pop’s better suggestions. Without Taco, moving the herd would have required several men, something he hadn’t wanted today. He needed time alone to adjust his attitude. He was tired of snapping at Pop, and sick of being needled about getting hitched. Six years ago he might have asked Jeannie Boyd to marry him. Now, bachelorhood suited his lifestyle. Took a special breed of woman to be a rancher’s wife.
The dog made a running leap to the saddle and balanced perfectly.
Life was good. As good as could be for a one-legged man.
Ten minutes later Chase’s gaze landed on the glowing mountain ridges towering behind the pine and cottonwood trees shading the main part of the ranch. Two hired hands repairing the fence line waved as Chase passed.
When the house came into view, he slowed. They crossed one of the widest creeks, stopping long enough for Big John to dip his head for a drink. Chase tipped the canteen to his lips. Lukewarm water slid down his throat and his chin. He wiped the latter with his shirt sleeve before capping the container and urging the horse forward. Chase was glad to be home. “Hey, Austin,” he called as his best stable hand approached. “How’s it going?”
“Good, boss. How’d the herding go?” The skinny man with bright copper hair took hold of Big John’s bridle.
“Taco performed his usual magic.” Chase dismounted. “The herd’s moved into the new pasture. Take good care of Big John.” He patted the gelding’s neck. “He’s earned a good rubdown and grub.”
“You got it, boss.”
The closer Chase came to the kitchen entrance, the more his stomach growled and his spirits lifted. Mouthwatering scents of fresh-baked biscuits wafted through the window.
Irene, their cook and housekeeper, swiveled from the stove as the squeaky screen door announced his presence. Her gray hair was pulled tightly back from her face into a braided knot. “Don’t steal any of those biscuits,” she warned, shaking a long-handled spoon in the air.
Chase chuckled. “You know me better than that.”
“That’s the problem. I know you too well,” she said. “Now go get washed up for supper.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Chase snatched a biscuit and dodged through the doorway, hearing her laughter follow. He stuffed the flaky goodness into his mouth. Nobody baked biscuits like Irene. No sir.
He headed for the study to find Pop. Once a great horseman and rancher, his dad had settled into handling the finances and hiring staff now that Chase was home. That and nagging Chase to get married and give him grandkids—the main reason he’d been in a foul mood of late.
Pop sat behind a scarred mahogany desk, silver wire-rimmed glasses perched low on his nose.
 “Hey, Pop. How’d the interviews go?”
Pop, white haired, and with the trademark deep wrinkles of a man who’d spent years in the Montana weather, peered at him with brown eyes, a bit darker than Chase’s. “Not bad. Got a few potentials for you to look over.”
“Hiring is your department. You’re better at judging people than I am.”
“I don’t judge anybody.”
Chase bit back a growl. Judging people went against his dad’s Christian belief. No sense getting into a discussion about how far Chase had fallen from the fold. “Bad word choice. You’re better at screening people. How’s that?”
Pop’s head nodded. “Better.”
Chase’s cell phone rang. He stared at the unfamiliar number, but familiar area code. The same as his sister Marla’s.
“Hello?”
A gruff voice asked, “May I speak with Chase Douglas?”
“You got him.” He eased into the leather chair adjacent to the desk.
“My name is Jake Taylor. I’m the police chief in Havens Creek.”
Chase stood so fast, he had to grab the desk to steady himself. “What’s wrong? What happened?” A phone call  from the police chief couldn’t be good news.
Pop’s face showed alarm.
“Your sister is in the hospital. She was rescued from her house after it caught fire. I’m not sure about her injuries, but the twins are all right. My sister, Becca, is keeping them at her house.”
His mouth dried, his lips feeling like the barren ground under a relentless sun. He gripped the phone tighter. “What hospital?”
“What’s wrong?” Pop asked, standing and leaning toward Chase.
Chase ignored him. He knew who Becca was. The twins would be in good hands until…fear hit him. What if his sister didn’t make it? He grabbed a pen and wrote down the name and number Jake gave him. “We’ll be there as soon as we can make arrangements.” He ended the call. “There was a fire at Marla’s house. She’s in the hospital, but the twins are okay.”
“Dear God,” Pop said. His body wilted into the chair.
Chase squeezed his father’s bony shoulder. “Wait here while I talk to Todd and ask him to take over for a few days.”
Pop rose and swayed unsteadily.
“Sit down. Please. I’ll be right back.”
“I’m good,” his father responded.
Tough old bird never let on when he was feeling bad. Chase hurried to the ranch manager’s cabin and knocked.
Todd came to the door. He was long and lean, wearing snakeskin boots and ragged jeans held up by a leather belt with a flashy buckle won in his rodeo days. The man was all cowboy and the best manager they’d ever had.
“Need you to take over for a little while. There’s been some trouble in Tennessee.”
Todd was well aware of Marla’s situation and how she’d moved away to hide from her abusive ex-husband.
“No problem. You take care of your family. I’ll handle things here until you get back.”
Chase thanked him and returned to the house.
Pop was still sitting at the desk.
“Todd was okay with taking over,” Chase said. “I’ll make arrangements for a flight while you ask Irene to hold supper for us.”
Like a walking dead man, Pop rose and shambled toward the kitchen.
Is this how you take care of your sheep, God? Chase could do with a little less of His so-called blessings. He didn’t believe a loving God would let innocent people be hurt—be killed.
He scrolled through his contacts and made a call.
“Dusty here.”
“It’s Chase. I need a favor.”
His friend laughed. “First time you ever asked anybody for a favor that I know of.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Chase said.
“You sound like a man who’s gone two minutes on a mean bull. What’cha need?”
“I need you to fly Pop and me to Tennessee. Marla’s in the hospital.”
Chase heard a thump through the line as if something had fallen. Dusty and Marla had once been a couple until she met Derek. Things might have worked out differently if she’d stuck with the better man.
“What happened?”
“Her house caught fire and she was inside. Pop and I need to get there right away.”
“I’ll cancel a couple things and file a flight plan. Should be able leave later tonight. How are the twins?”
 “Fine. They’re staying with a babysitter.”
“If there’s anything else I can do—”
“Just get us there safely.”
After dinner, Irene said, “Give my best to Marla and the girls.”
Chase hugged her. “I will and I’ll call you when we get news.”
She nodded and averted her eyes.
 “Want me to walk you home?” Chase asked. Irene lived in a guest house beside them and had for the past ten years she’d been working for them.
She sniffed and pulled a tissue from her pocket. “No.” She blew her nose. “Maybe she’ll come home now.”
 “Maybe. Course that means you’ll have to cook for more people and have those little gals begging for cookies all day long.”
A tiny smile dimpled her cheeks. “I’d enjoy every minute.”
After she left, Chase sat on the porch. Years ago this would have been a time to pray. Back when he believed in answered prayers. Back when he believed in a loving God. Back when he was a whole man. Stars speckled the sky. A quarter moon nestled among them. One by one, the cabin windows darkened.
His phone rang. Expecting Dusty, he answered without looking at the screen.
“All set?”
“Mr. Douglas?”
“Yes. This is Chase Douglas.” He stood and put one hand on the pillar at the top of the steps.
“This is Dr. Spencer at General Hospital in Havens Creek.”
An angry bronco kicked his stomach.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you the news on the phone.”
A short pause followed in which Chase could form no coherent thoughts.

“Your sister passed away a few minutes ago.”

About The Author


Carol Ann Erhardt began her writing career in 2006 writing for the secular market. She found she didn’t like conforming to the guidelines for including things in her novels she felt uncomfortable writing. After publishing two romantic suspense novels, she switched gears and wrote her first inspirational romantic suspense.
She retired from her full-time day job at the beginning of 2010. Her vision was that she’d get up every day and head down to her office where she’d spend at least 8 hours writing. That was the dream.
The reality:  She became a full-time caregiver for her husband as he became very ill during the early months of 2010. The following years were spent in focusing on making a new “life” for the two soulmates. Their love for each other was grounded in faith and trusting in God. Sadly, Jesus called him home in 2013. Now Carol is working on finding a new “normal” and embracing writing once again.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

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