Interviewing Multi-Published Author Lisa Lickel

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today, I’m interviewing Lisa Lickel. Lisa helped me a great deal with plot points and quilting info while I was writing Alice’s Notions. What was your favorite part of Alice’s Notions?

As a historian, I’m the nerdy one who adores and gets lost in research. I loved learning more about some of the things going on in the background of the government during the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. Some of the facts we discovered about the setting, such as the DuPont factory, and how you worked so much pop culture into the events were thrilling. I suppose my favorite part of the story should be the quilts, but I really loved Alice and Rick’s adventures, getting themselves into and out of trouble.

You were a vast resource of information about quilting. Tell us a little about how you got started quilting and what you love about it.

Like you, I had a grandmother who was an inspiration to me. I would visit the farm while I was growing up, fascinated with the differences between city life and working farm life. She was a quilter, and showed me her methods. I have the first and last quilts she made. Piece in the summer and quilt in the winter was her wisdom. I love quilting because once I get the pieces planned and cut, I can sit and make squares while watching a movie or listening to the radio.

You are a multi-published author. Tell us a little about your newest book.

My newest book will be the upcoming release, Centrifugal Force, a sequel to Meander Scar, a romance about an older woman and younger man which won a Grace Award back in 2011. It took a long time for me to develop Centrifugal Force around an obituary I happened to see and cut out. I knew the man in the obituary was just like the main character in my story, but I wasn’t ready to write the story until about three years ago when my writer’s group helped me brainstorm. I spent a year on the manuscript with the help of the group and my crit partner. The story is about the main character from Meaner Scar, Ann Michel’s sister, Rachel. In Centrifugal Force, we learn how Rachel, the goody two-shoes, ended up raising a child as a single mom. When her daughter Maeve finally has her life together, superstar international academic Gervas Friedemann, Maeve’s father, shows up seeking a priceless artifact Rachel once took in revenge. It’s also the story of Gervas’s secret quest to find a cure for his oldest daughter’s genetic condition, which forces him to accept responsibility for a past he cannot change, but a future he’s desperate to save. Caveat: I wrote this book before Brexit. Centrifugal Force should release in September.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a sandwich story from my Love Is novella, Everything About You. This short romance, Post Production, is the story of how Danny and Shelly decide to follow through on their whirlwind love on the movie set. Danny’s business is going up in flames while Shelly wonders if she can give up her Hollywood life for the country. We know how it ends from Everything About You, but the fun is following on the journey while these two love-struck kids face reality without the camera and the option of splicing and editing.

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. I appreciated all your help with Alice’s Notions.

It was fun working on the story with you!

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books, collects dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is a member of Women Fiction Writers Association, the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Chicago Writer’s Association, and vice president/instructor for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. She is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at Readers can find a current list of available books on her website, Goodreads, and her Amazon Author page.


Bio pic included

Cover to Meander Scar included

Amazon link to Meander Scar:

Christmas in April with Author Rose Verde Giveaway

Rose Verde is an avid reader and has always enjoyed making up stories since junior high school. She is a nurse/midwife in her other life, married to her own real life hero and blessed with two lovely kids. When she is not writing, she is singing or reading. Rose is giving away an audio copy of her novel, A Christmas Wish. For details, check the end of this post.


Christmas Wish

by Rose Verde

Everyone has a wish at one point or the other—sometimes big, at other times small. Though, we have that wish and are expectant, we often don’t get them. But when we do, it makes all the difference.

Christmas Wish popped into my head when a call came for a Christmas story with a fairytale spin. I started with the “what-if” question which took me round and round for a while. I wanted a story in which my protagonist will have her wish come true, but why would that wish matter? It had to be something she really cared for.

And then an idea struck. What if she has never had any fantastic Christmas and wants one? How about it becoming something for which time was ticking? And “Christmas Wish” was born.

My protagonist was abandoned as a baby. Haven spent all her life in the orphanage, Christmas was just a little different from every other day. Yet, her little Christmas book—the one that was left with her when she was abandoned—promised something different. Plus she has outgrown the orphanage and now lives there at the mercy of the sisters who run the place. Just one wish and she would be OK.

It is often a wonder what the imagination is capable of with just a what-if question. At first, it may not seem like its heading anywhere—random ideas, right? But out of those scribbles, meaningless and meaningful ones are birthed the best stories.

It’s interesting and I always love the happily ever after, after my dear, dear protagonist has gone through the wringer.

Christmas Wish

Debbie Regan has just one wish…spend Christmas in a snow globe world. All the life she knows is a bare Christmas tree and meager meals at the orphanage. And then her wish comes true, and nothing will stand in her way.

Preston Campbell isn’t looking forward to Christmas. It’s a reminder of what he’s lost—his mom. He plans to sell her Christmas gift shop and move away from Reindeer’s mountain. Yet, he has to deal with the orders he hadn’t been aware of. Forced to find help until the shop sells, he hires vivacious Debbie.

Both of them never expect the sparks that fly, or the promise the future holds.

Book Giveaway:

To enter the book giveaway contest for an audio copy of Christmas Wish, leave a comment answering this question: “If asked why you love “Happily ever-afters”, what would you say?”

The contest will end next Thursday, April 13th. We will announce the winner on this blog post.

Guest Author Tanya Eavenson – Love is in the Air

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

tanya-eavensonTanya Eavenson is our guest author today. Tanya is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

Love is in the Air!

by Tanya Eavenson

Can you feel it? Whether it’s a romantic kind of love or the parental kind, love is in the air! Even in my fictional world from my new release To Gain a Valentine.

Last week, I released my second novella in the Gaining Love series entitled To Gain a Valentine. I had so much fun writing this story because I could relate to the hero, Patrick Reynolds, who works wonders with sick children as a pediatrician, yet when it comes to pets, he’s clueless.

That is so me! Several years ago we moved from the pastorium to the home we bought seven minutes away. Carrying all our possessions, including our cat, Woody, (he was named after Woody from Toy Story) I placed him in the garage. Little did I realize, I left the back door open.

Can you imagine my horror when I was the one who allowed my daughter’s cat, her best friend, to escape and wander around lost in a neighborhood during a rain storm? Yes, a storm! It was raining cats and dogs, pun intended. I could hardly see three feet in front of my face. I felt just awful! The way my eight-year-old cried, those tears, the words “he’s going to die out there!” just about killed me on the spot.

So me, who uses an umbrella at the first sign of rain or mist in the air, I charge out into the pelting rain in hopes of finding a cat and mending broken hearts—hers and mine. “Soaked through” wouldn’t even begin to describe my clothes, which clung to me seconds after stepping outside. Already exhausted from the move, I dragged myself through the process of combing the neighborhood.

But there, at last, was Woody, waiting under a stranger’s patio, sheltered from the storm. I still remember whispering a prayer of thanksgiving as I trespassed on this person’s yard with all intent to steal my own cat. But as I neared, he ran. And I chased.

Two blocks, yard after yard, calling his name. “Woody!”

Then, I lost him. What was I going to do now? How was I going to tell my daughter that not once but twice in one day I had lost her most beloved cat?

Heading back toward the house, I hung my sopping head and said another prayer that Woody would return, and soon.

Sloshing up the front steps, I heard my husband’s voice from the garage. It was better to tell him first, so I went to him. There, sitting in a folding chair next to our dresser, sat my daughter with a wide smile on her face, holding Woody against her chest.

Happy tears filled my eyes, but in the next breath I realized seeing him in her arms, dry, I’d been running down the streets of our new neighborhood like a crazy person, chasing after another person’s cat! Needless to say, in life, you have to learn how to laugh at yourself. This was indeed one of those moments that will forever be etched in my daughters mind and heart, as well as my own. She saw, in action, how much I loved her.

Yes, I see a lot of myself in Patrick from To Gain a Valentine, his attempts to care for animals when he has no idea what in the world he’s doing. Granted, I had one cat in my care, and he had one dog, three fish, two— Well, you’ll have to read the story, but it was also his desire to forget what was safe and love others with action and abandonment. And like my ending, Patrick’s actions will forever last in Amabelle’s heart and mind. For them, it was the day when love took flight.

togainavalentine_1400x2100To Gain a Valentine

Pediatrician Patrick Reynolds works wonders with sick children, yet when it comes to pets, he’s clueless. But caring for his sister’s menagerie while she’s on vacation is the perfect answer to working through a broken engagement. Hoping to escape the memories, he returns to his hometown, the last place he’d expect to find love.

Life as a single mom is never easy, but pet shop owner Amabelle Durand has found contentment. When an old friend returns to care for his sister’s pets, he enlists her assistance to keep the animals alive. But when Amabelle’s young daughter falls ill, she finds herself attracted to more than the handsome pediatrician’s medical skills.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, will Patrick and Amabelle miss out on the love they’ve always desired? Or will their love take flight under the stars on this very special night?

You can buy To Gain a Valentine at this link.

Guest Author Gail Kittleson – Equilibrium (Book Giveaway)

gailGail Kittleson is our guest author today. She is giving away a paperback copy of her new book, With Each New Dawn. Go to the end of this post for details.

Gail taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she writes memoir and women’s fiction, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats. She makes her home in northern Iowa, where she and her husband enjoy their grandchildren and gardening. In winter, the Arizona mountains provide fresh novel fodder. You can find her online at these sites:


by Gail Kittleson

Recently, some dizzy spells have challenged me. A piece fell as I removed an old card table from the closet, so I peered under the leg to see if I needed to glue it back in there, and voila! A completely uncontrollable sensation enveloped me, and I caught myself just in time.

A new online writer friend commiserated—she’d dealt with vertigo for decades before finding healing. Her “take” on this malady inspired me. She said, “I’ve also had to have my spine fused, and think I’d choose to re-experience that rather than the vertigo.”

Wow—misery loves company, for sure. It helps to have someone understand how this wooziness feels. That reminds me of how the heroine of my World War II novel must’ve felt as a stranger behind enemy lines. She’s a secret agent in constant danger of Gestapo detection. Then, her network gets betrayed to the enemy and she’s cast out to make it on her own and still hopefully contribute to the war effort.

The parallel probably falls apart at some point, but for our purposes, maybe my heroine Kate’s sense of disorientation compares with dizziness. She’d relied on her network for stability—suddenly it was gone. I felt this way again today—once again, I leaned the wrong way and whop! The floor became my friend.

Hopefully this’ll soon pass. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a question: Which sense, if temporarily removed, would be hardest for you to handle?

Contest: Leave a comment on this post answering the question above for a chance to win a paperback copy of With Each New Dawn. Drawing will be held next Thursday. The winner will be announced on this post and will be notified by email. US Only.

with-each-new-dawnWith Each New Dawn

Kate Isaac grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie to London. But another loss and a meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive(SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who with his dying breath, reveals his familial connection to Kate.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo and Kate subject their mutual attraction to the whims of war.  But can mere human will and moral courage change the tide and forge a future for them?

Guest Author Elizabeth Maddrey – Group Projects Really Can Be Fun

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

elizabethmaddreyheadshotToday’s guest author is Elizabeth Maddrey. Elizabeth began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook.

You can also find her on the web here:

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who loves romance and a good happily ever after.

Group Projects Really Can Be Fun

by Elizabeth Maddrey

WorkingIf you’re like me, the words “group project” put a little stab of fear right in your belly and brings back all sorts of childhood school memories that reside on the other side of pleasant. One of the things I’ve always loved about writing is that it’s an individual pursuit. Maybe even solitary. As an introvert, I don’t mind solitary. And yet, there’s an incredible community amongst writers as well, and I’m grateful that I can count many friends from within that community.

Still, when I was chatting with one of those friends and she broached the idea of an 18-month group project, I had to stop and catch my breath. Could I do it? Or was it doomed to be a repeat of school, where one or two people do all the work and everyone else gets the credit? Despite a qualm or two, I signed on. And I’m so very glad I did.

The project is a multi-author series set in the fictional town of Arcadia Valley, Idaho. Each author will release a novella and three-book series set in this town. Our characters overlap and interact with one another from book to book, so the police officer you see mentioned in one may end up being a main character in another author’s book, and so forth. As you might expect, keeping details consistent has been a huge task, but so far between files in a drop box and careful beta reading, I think we’re doing a good job.

Working with the other authors in this group project has been an absolute delight, and it’s put to rest some of those group project qualms left over from school. Sure, we’ve had a few times when we had to all step back and take a deep breath before resuming a discussion—we’re humans, after all. But in the end, we made the decisions that needed to be made in a way that, I believe, has left everyone content. The series that has resulted is, I hope, going to delight readers. And really, that’s the best thing a writer can hope for.

Arcadia Valley Romance kicked off on January 10th with the release of Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. My contribution to this novella box set is Loaves & Wishes and I’d love to share a little excerpt to close out my guest post today.

Ruth cleared her throat as she sat. Maybe it was better to blurt it out and be done. “Naomi passed away three weeks ago.”

Corban stared at her, his mouth open in a tiny O. Slowly, his lips came together and the furrows in his forehead deepened. He set the glass down with a thunk on the antique table by his elbow, completely missing the lace doohickey that would protect the wood. “I’m sorry. What?”

Ruth’s fingers itched to move the glass but she willed herself to stay still, perched on the edge of the settee. “She had cancer. And apparently never told anyone. I’ve been her best friend since kindergarten, we talk every week, and she only told me she was sick when it was clear that treatment wasn’t a viable option. Her obituary was in the local paper.”

“I told the guys watching the farm to read and recycle them. Nothing ever happens around here that’s worth saving a newspaper. I’m not even sure why I still subscribe, except that Ernie’s been a family friend for so long. She’d been acting odd. I knew I should have pushed.”

“You two were close?” Ruth watched his face. He looked shocked, certainly, but not as destroyed as a man in love should be.

“Not like you mean.” He offered a slight smile. “Though there were plenty of old ladies at church who were hopeful. No, Naomi was like a little sister to me. When she bought this place so my parents could move south, it seemed natural to keep an eye on her at first. And then…” He shrugged. “Then we were friends.”

“Naomi could make anyone into a friend.” Ruth’s heart cracked open a little wider. How was she supposed to go through life without her? “I’m sorry you had to find out from me.”

Corban nodded and stood. “I’ll be on my way. I… my number’s in her book. If you ever need anything, just give a shout.”

“Thanks.” He probably hadn’t heard her, given that he’d been striding into the hall before she’d managed to get the word out. The kitchen door slammed.

Ruth sagged against the back of the stuffy little couch and took several long swallows of her lemonade. She was going to make a success of her friend’s business. She had to. For Naomi, and for herself. And handsome, abrupt neighbors weren’t going to get in her way.

elizabeth-maddrey-novella_webRomance Grows in Arcadia Valley includes:

Spring’s Blessing (Seasons of Faith) by Mary Jane Hathaway
Life gets complicated for Charlotte MacGregor when a motherless child and a handsome widower encroach on her carefully laid plans. Will she keep her heart above the fray, or take a leap of faith?

Loaves and Wishes (A Baxter Family Bakery Romance) by Elizabeth Maddrey
Inheriting her friend’s Bed and Breakfast in Idaho is a second chance to succeed, but falling for the farmer next door wasn’t in the plan.

Sheltered Hearts (Romance from the Heart) by Lee Tobin McClain
A curvy jilted bride gets stranded in a snowstorm with a handsome restaurant cook who’s not what he seems to be.

Sow in Love (A Garden Grown Romance) by Valerie Comer
A real estate consultant’s ideas for fulfilling a living trust are shot down by the elderly greenhouse owner’s grandson, but some of the arrows piercing her heart come directly from Cupid’s bow.

The Scent of Romance (Legacy of the Heart) by Danica Favorite
A high-powered lawyer must convince a woman determined to protect her family’s legacy to sell the family farm to his father’s development company, but finds his heart leading him away from everything he’s spent his life trying to accomplish.

A Romance Rekindled (A Homegrown Love Story) by Annalisa Daughety
When a formerly engaged couple find themselves thrown together after more than a decade apart, neither of them are thrilled about it. Can they let go of the past and consider a future together? Or are there some wounds that cannot be healed?

Kerplunk and Jennifer Allen

by Carole Brown

I thought you might enjoy Jennifer’s article today. She’s a pre-author, but moving fast toward publication. A writer friend from Ohio, Jennifer has an active life and enjoys mingling with other authors when she can.

Here’s her bio:

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

 JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. With a B.A. in both English and history and a Masters of Library Science, she worked for ten years as a children’s librarian in public libraries. She is a member of ACFW and a 2016 Genesis semi-finalist in the YA category with the novel The Truth & Other Strangers. She hopes that novel will be the first book in a series, set in West Virginia. She is life-long Buckeye with deep roots in the Mountain State. Please visit her blog with writing tips for beginning writers at and Facebook

Now, on to her post:

Patrick F. McManus wrote humorous stories and essays for Outdoor Life and Field & Stream. One of my favorites is “People Who Hunt” from Kerplunk!, a collection of his stories.
Hunters and people who hunt are two different species. People who hunt love the sport, but they have other interests with no connection to hunting. A hunter’s whole life revolves around hunting. As Mr. McManus writes:

A friend of mine is a bank president, for example, but if you ask him to identify himself, he’ll say he’s a hunter. He thinks of himself primarily as a hunter. His job as a bank president is merely a means of supporting his hunting. His business associates are merely part of the support group for his hunting. He refuses to hire another hunter for the bank, because, he says, the two of them would spend all their time talking hunting, and never get any work done.

When I read this, I marveled at how anyone could be so single-minded. I myself had so many different interests. I like old movies, especially film noir. I love being outdoors, hiking and exploring. I love kids, so I am active in the children’s ministries at my church and lead reading groups at my kids’ school. I enjoy baking and collecting shells and fossils, and I used to ride horses. If I wasn’t well-rounded, I thought I was at least oval-shaped.

Then, driving down a lonely, country road one day, I had a startling revelation. (That can happen when you drive down lonely, country roads.) I wasn’t a person who writes. I was a writer. Everything I did, I looked on as potential sources of writing inspiration.
When I watch old movies, I judge the plot and performances, seeing what I can learn from them. When I am outdoors, I look at the scenery as possible settings for stories. The kids I work with teach me about behavior and guide me when building characters. Even my hobbies can be used in my writing. On that road, I realized I wasn’t even oval-shaped, just a straight line that led to writing.1122464

Except for my faith and family relationships, I now identify myself as a writer. Even if I never publish a book, I will still be a writer. It seems to be the way God shaped me.

If you want good writing and a good laugh, visit the Patrick F. McManus page on GoodReads.

Patrick_F_McManusne could be so single-minded.


Thanks for joining us today, Jennifer!

Dan Brown…and Chipper

by Carole Browndan-brown

I’m tickled pink to feature this man (and my love!) here today on this blog. He’s an inspiring, creative author, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this short interview and a peek at all the Chipper books he has published. (More coming…) 

chipper-learns-a-lesson-copy-copyWhat messages in your Chipper books do you want children to learn about? Do you like a definite spiritual theme or do you keep it less obvious as you write? 

I want children to learn caring, helping, sharing, and to do the right thing. The spiritual theme is not an overt, in-your-face subject, but in learning right attributes, they are learning characteristics that will encourage them in the things of God. In the back of the books are short scriptures that they can learn or parents and children can discuss. And the discussion questions can help them to think about the themes in the books. Parents can gently guide their children by interacting with their children as they talk about these. 


What’s next for you? Do you have another book being written now?

I have several short stories about Chipper ready to go, but holding off on these till at least two more of the Adventures of Chipper are ready for publishing. Life interferes (you’ve heard that before I’m sure) but I’m compiling and working on the creatures and plots for the next two books. Hopefully, God wills, these will be ready for my editor soon.


What or who makes a successful person/author, in your opinion?

As far as an author goes: my personal opinion is a someone who understands the power of the written word and being so intrigued and fascinated  by their own characters that they are there with them in heart and mind. 


Why do you think this book resonates with readers?

Because the character Chipper helps young people and children to learn, and sometimes–most times, I think–they do not even realize that. It shows them that they are someone and that they can be a better person. They can get caught up in these fun and entertaining books and learn from them without even consciously knowing that.


What is YOUR favorite part about these books or why do you love this series? Why should children read them?

  • Chipper’s outpouring love and concern, and being willing to give his all for the other characters in the books.
  • Why? For the children? Because Chipper and the other characters are interesting and exciting, enlightening and helpful. And funny!
  • For the parents? They are giving their children the opportunity to learn characteristics that will hopefully improve their children’s actions and attitudes. And it gives them opportunities to spend quiet, devotional times with them.


Tell us a little bit of how you were called, or began writing. Happenstance? A clear call? A chosen career?

I felt a need to instruct children and young people (and yes, there are some young people who’ve read and enjoyed the books!) in things that matter.


Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?

  • Mainly from God’s creation
  • A mystery! Seriously, through a great imagination. 🙂
  • Perhaps in some ways–I think most authors do. How could we not? 


Thanks, Dan, for joining us today and sharing a few things with us.

Readers, be sure to check out this link!


Guest Author Tanya Eavenson – Family Memories

tanya-eavensonTanya Eavenson is our guest blogger today. Tanya is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

Family Memories

by Tanya Eavenson

Red christams roomFor years growing up our tradition was to gather with family on Christmas Eve. Aunts, uncles, and cousins I hadn’t seen since the year before would flock together for this one day. Even now, I can picture the older men sitting at their squared card tables playing dominoes and smoking cigars. No matter where you were in the house, the sound of shuffling and clinking tiles could be heard.

This is a memory I will never forget, and was a precious time growing up. But when my first daughter came into the world around Christmas time, I told my husband I wanted to start my own family tradition, one that would help our children understand what Christ did coming as a babe. My husband knew how important this was for me since I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. So the next year we began our own family tradition.

Every year on Christmas day, whether we go home for the holidays or not, we make a birthday cake for Jesus. The kids get up in the morning and help me make the cake, from stirring the ingredients to layering the icing on thick, and yes, they like a lot of icing. Then after dinner we bring out the cake, light the candles, and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Now, you might be wondering who blows out the candles. We all do because Jesus came for all.

I pray when my children get older, they will have their own traditions, but they will always remember praising and worshiping Christ on Christmas day. Even with something as simple as a cake.

togainamommy_1600x2400To Gain a Mommy

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

Excerpt from To Gain a Mommy

Chapter One

Carl McGuire smiled and shook his head as his eight-year-old son, Brody, held the sheer curtain and stared out the window at some poor, unsuspecting woman across the street.

Brody pointed, excitement dancing in his wide eyes. “Did you see the dog? He was standing by the palm tree a minute ago.”

“No,” Mary huffed, moving her younger brother to the side, swiping the tan fabric from him. “What does she look like?” She followed his stare out the window.

“She’s golden brown. And how do you know the dog is a girl? You can’t tell from here.”

“I’m not talking about the dog. The lady. What does she look like?”

“Who cares about her? Look at the dog.”

Carl leaned back in his desk chair, setting his phone down. The woman had no idea what she was about to encounter being their neighbor, but if she did indeed own a dog, she’d find out soon enough. Perhaps he could go over and warn her before it was too late. “Why don’t you give our new neighbor some privacy?”

Mary perked up and turned from the window. “I have a better idea. Why don’t we go over and say hi? It’s the neighborly thing to do. Love your neighbor as yourself, you always say.”

How conveniently she recalled scripture when it suited. Only last week she totally ignored his comment to ‘obey your parents.’ Even if there was only one parent, it still applied.

“Yeah, dad!” Brody pushed past his sister to stand near the door, so if Carl agreed, he’d be the first out. “I’m sure she’ll let us play with her dog while she moves her stuff from the truck.”

Carl had actually thought about going over to introduce himself and his children when the moving truck had first pulled into the driveway earlier that day, but several phone calls later, the fire department’s fundraiser was finally underway. As captain, he had an obligation not only to the townspeople and their safety but also to raise money for needed improvements to the fire fighters’ “home away from home.”

He glanced at the list of numbers he still needed to call. “Maybe tomorrow. We can take some cookies or something.”

“But Dad, it’s a golden retriever.”

As if the breed of the dog would change his mind. “Sorry, buddy. I still have too much to do.”

Mary released the curtain. “She has blond hair, but that’s all I could tell.” She rounded the couch and plopped down in the recliner. “You know, if you’d just get him a dog, it might cure his dog fascination.”

“Thank you, Mary. I’ll keep that in mind.” Even though his daughter stayed silent, he sensed she wanted to say more but held her tongue, something she’d been doing more often lately.

Being a single parent wasn’t easy, but he’d always known where he stood with Mary and what was on her mind. Now he wasn’t so sure and it bothered him. She’d be a teenager in less than six weeks and was growing up much too fast. Every day he’d been noticing little things that reminded him of Faith, memories of what he used to have before she was taken in a hit-and-run. Some days like today were painfully real.

“…are you listening? We’re hungry.”

Carl blinked twice, pushing his thoughts away as he glanced at the time on his phone. “What do you want to eat?” He stood and slid his cell into his pocket.

Mary linked her arm through his. “Can I go to Tiffany’s house Tuesday for a sleepover?”

Brody ran past them into the kitchen and opened the freezer. “I thought we’re going to Grandma’s?”

“You are. I’m on shift.” He patted his daughter’s hand as it slid from his arm. “Maybe next week.”

“Why I can’t go? I’m a teenager now. I can take care of myself. Besides, it would be easier for Grandma if I wasn’t there. One less mouth to feed.”

“You know how I feel about staying together while I’m on shift. I don’t have to worry about your safety. And besides, Grandma fixes us food regardless or sends it home with us. Speaking of”—he opened the refrigerator—“are you in the mood for leftovers?”

Brody yanked out a pizza. “How about pizza?”

“Not pizza again.” Mary sank to a barstool. Her lips protruded slightly into a pout.

“Okay.” Brody stuffed the pizza back in the freezer and held out two more options. “We have pizza rolls or pizza pockets. I like either one.”

Carl chuckled, swiping his wallet and keys from the counter. “Grab your shoes. We’ll get something to eat.” He went into his room and put on his running shoes, but as he was walking out, the picture of Faith on his dresser caught his eye. The ache in his chest dimmed over the years, but never quite vanished. She gazed back at him, her smile brilliant. Breathtaking. And a mirror image of—

He shook his head to focus on the present and his two hungry children. Walking back into the living room, he yelled, “We ready?” The front door was open. They must be waiting for him by the truck.

In an instant, an ear piercing scream cut through the air, straight down the center of his heart.


Guest Author Joi Copeland – The Beauty of Christmas (Book Giveaway)

I would like to welcome guest author Joi Copeland today. Joi is giving away a copy of her novel Christmas Rayne. To enter the drawing leave a comment answering this question: Why is Christmas so special to you?

Joi is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She lives in Denver, Colorado, but within the year, hopes to be living in Galway, Ireland.

Joi’s love of writing began at a young age. She wrote short stories for several years, and in 2009, she began writing her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow.

The Beauty of Christmas

by Joi Copeland

Stack of books and other presents in basket. Christmas decoratioI love Christmas. Everything about it. I love Jack Frost nipping at my nose. Snow gliding down from heaven, blanketing the earth in peaceful silence. The smell of Christmas trees brings in me a euphoria I can’t even explain. Christmas lights twinkling in the night gives me hope that Jesus will shine brightest in the darkness of life. For some reason, peppermint comes to mind when I think of Christmas. The smell and taste sends my senses soaring to new heights. And the ability to give gifts to loved ones near and far makes my heart sing.

Don’t get me started on the Christmas songs. Songs of the birth of my Savior, shouting it from the mountains, singing about how many kings would leave their kingdom and pour out their hearts for the likes of me. O Holy Night tops the list of my favorite Christmas songs, followed by Do You Hear What I Hear. Can’t help it. Singing about Jesus brings me joy!

But what about the times in my life when I haven’t felt it? It just didn’t feel like Christmas. Songs didn’t draw me closer to the feeling, neither did the peppermint drinks or lights from the tree. Gift giving became more of a stressful chore than anything. My heart did not sore. It plummeted. Why?

Because I was searching for the feeling and not the meaning. I wanted to FEEL like it was Christmas. My feelings can be deceitful. They normally are. I forgot to search for the meaning of Christmas that year. I was left distraught, frustrated, angry, even, that I didn’t get the joyful feelings of Christmas.

I didn’t search for the meaning. Jesus. If I would have searched for Him, I would have found Him. Jesus can be found when we seek and search for Him. I searched for the feeling of Christmas and was left empty. How I wished I would have searched for Jesus instead! Then, everything else was sure to follow!

As we get closer to celebrating the birth of Christ and you are running around, getting those last few gifts, baking a few more goodies, gathering at parties a few more times, remember to search for Jesus. He’ll make all of those things you have to do worth it. Because, after all, He truly is the reason for the season. Let’s not forget that as Christmas draws near. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.

Merry Christmas! Or as the Irish say, Happy Christmas!

christmas-rayne-cover-new-v2Christmas Rayne

Rayne Adams loves Christmas time. While shopping for a Christmas tree, she runs into a love from the past. With a possible new love forming on the horizon, will the past continue to haunt her or will she be able to let it go and move on? Or is there room in her heart for her former love?

Justin Thomas made the biggest mistake of his life three years ago. Now, finding himself face to face with the one he hurt the most, can he regain her trust and her love? Or will he lose her to another? Find out in Christmas Rayne!

Joi’s books include:

  • Hope for Tomorrow, book 1
  • Hope for the Journey, book 2
  • Hope from the Past, book 3,
  • Letters of Love
  • Christmas Snowe and Peppermint Cocoa, a novella
  • Sheriff Bride Rob’s Story, a novella

Joi Copeland is giving away a copy of her novel Christmas Rayne. This is for USA only. The winner will be chosen at random next Thursday, and the winner will be emailed with instructions. To enter the drawing leave a comment answering this question: Why is Christmas so special to you?

Guest Author Michelle Levigne – Don’t Forget Your Friends (Book Giveaway)

michelle-levigne-hr-3Michelle Levigne is our guest author today. Michelle is giving away a copy of her novel Undying. Go to the end of this post to find out how to enter this drawing.

Michelle has been a story addict for as long as she can remember, starting with The Cat in the Hat and Weekly Reader Book Club. She discovered Narnia and Star Trek in elementary school, and was a familiar face in the school library, especially when she became addicted to Greek mythology. She fell into fandom in college, and published many short stories and poems in various universes, all while sending out original stories to magazines and publishing houses, eventually receiving rejections that weren’t the standard photocopied photocopy of a form letter.

She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA in communication, focused on film and writing from Regent University. In 1990, her writing career finally broke into the public market when she won 1st place in the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, which included publication in that year’s winners anthology. Her first published novel Heir of Faxinor came out in 2000. Since then, Michelle has published 70+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in SF and fantasy, YA, women’s fiction, and romance. She makes her living as a freelance editor and proofreader.

Don’t Forget Your Friends

by Michelle Levigne

I have this huge problem.

The word writer in print letter cases

I wrote Commonwealth SF books for years before I got published. I had a huge backlist. That was good, because when a publisher said, “What else have you got?” I could send something right away.

However … I hopped between eras of Commonwealth history as inspiration struck. Madame publisher says sales will pick up if I start at the beginning and write straight through history. She feels people hesitate to buy books because they want to read in chronological order, and new books keep changing the order.

Problem: Book ideas come while writing, when characters talk about historical events, ancestors, etc. Example: the Sunsinger series (remember this later), 10 YA books about a boy growing up on a small starship. The captain talks about Commonwealth history, how their star-faring civilization rose from the ashes of a previous civilization. This launched stories further back on Commonwealth history.

Problem: Every new book increases the chances that I’ll contradict history, or names, or terminology established in a book I wrote 10 years ago, but which happens 500 years in the future. Does George Lucas feels this way with Star Wars …?

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

Solution: read ALL my published books and take massive, detailed notes. Revisit places, draw maps, family trees, and chronologies. Refresh my memories from when I wrote those books. I need to revisit old friends and remember their adventures. While it would be fun … who has the time? While I’m reading, I’m not writing!

Case in point: Today’s giveaway book, UNDYING, was written in 2011. I have maybe 5 more Age 1 books to write before I get to Age 2, when UNDYING starts. What if I run out of ideas and adventures for Marnya, my heroine, before I get to the 4th book? The title’s set in stone! It has a number.

Problem: Marnya is essentially immortal — hence the title. She has already appeared in Age 3 books. I have to be careful in the new books not to contradict what she has already done later in her life.

There is no pill big enough for this headache — and it’s all my fault.

Moral: Even if you don’t plan on a book becoming  a series, take notes on the people, relationships, places and history AS YOU WRITE THE BOOK. You never know when you’ll write a sequel, or characters will visit from one book to another, or you end up writing a series after all. Plan ahead! It’ll save you a major headache.

Giveaway question: Go to my webite,, and find the YA series and the specific book where Sister Marnya, heroine of UNDYING, makes a guest appearance.


You can find Undying on Amazon.