Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 2015 New Releases #ACFW

October 2015 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Her Christmas Hero by Lorraine Beatty -- Gemma Butler has a grand vision to transform Dover, Mississippi's fledgling Christmas celebrations and bring visitors to the town. It's also the single mom's last chance to provide for her son and revive her event planning business. But Gemma's not the only one with something to prove. Linc Montgomery has the weight of the family business on his shoulders. And he'll go down swinging before he'll let anyone disrupt the traditions he holds dear. Yet when a storm threatens to destroy the holiday, he'll join forces with the beautiful planner and discover she just might be the love he's been searching for. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Anna's Healing by Vannetta Chapman -- Anna Schwartz's life is changed forever when she suffers a spinal cord injury and suddenly finds herself learning to live as a paraplegic. Three people--Chloe Roberts, Jacob Graber, and Ruth Schwartz--join forces to help Anna through her darkest days. Chloe is an Englischer who writes for the local paper. Jacob has recently arrived in town and stays on as a hired hand at her uncle's. And Ruth is her grandmother, a woman of deep faith and a compassionate spirit.Then one morning Anna wakes and finds herself healed. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And what is she to do now? Her life is again turned upside down as the world's attention is drawn to this young Amish girl who has experienced the unexplainable. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

An Amish Christmas Gift by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, and Ruth Reid -- Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston: Naomi has started to think that she isn't meant to find love, but she might receive more than she ever hoped for this Christmas. A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin: Frannie Mast returns to Bee County for Christmas, but her heart stays back in Missouri with an Englisch farm boy. An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid: Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares? (Contemporary Romance Novella Collection from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Team Bride by Valerie Comer -- After meeting as part of a wedding party, can Corbin convince Sarah he’s ready to settle down and make her the head of her own Team Bride, or will their past keep getting in the way? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Intertwined by Jennifer Slattery -- Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson -- Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. Katie's parents are nagging her to get out of Dallas and come home to tiny Fairfield where her former boyfriend Carson is waiting for her, ready to rekindle their relationship. Oy vey! What's a girl to do? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won? (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Love in the Details by Becky Wade -- Eight years have passed since Holly last saw her high school sweetheart Josh. Now the wedding of Josh’s best friend has brought Josh back to Martinsburg, Texas. As they work behind-the-scenes to plan a beautiful November wedding for their friends, Holly and Josh are forced to confront painful reminders of what might have been. Holly broke up with Josh all those years ago to give him a better life, but it turns out that she was the future he’d always dreamed of. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Women's Fiction:

Another Way Home: A Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney -- Danae and Dallas Brooks have been trying unsuccessfully to start a family for years, and when Dallas refuses to discuss adoption, it effects their once-happy marriage. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull her entire family into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Abingdon Press)

An Endless Christmas: A Novella by Cynthia Ruchti -- On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas. (Contemporary Women's Fiction Novella from Worthy Inspired)

General Fiction:

A Reason to Stay: A Texas Gold Novel by Kellie Coates Gilbert -- s the host of her own television news show, Faith Marin works to expose the truth for her viewers. But in her personal life, she's anchored her world with firm boundaries in order to hide a family history she'd like to forget. Her pro bass fisherman husband Geary's life is an open book, and unfortunately his busybody family doesn't know the meaning of boundaries. Deception and crippling differences soon derail their tender relationship, leading Faith to believe her only option is to end the marriage. But while Faith considers whether divorce is the only answer to their issues, tragedy strikes and her heartrending decision is interrupted. With her life in the balance, Faith finds that the one she has been shutting out may be the very one she cannot bear to lose. (General Fiction from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance:

The Lady and the Mountain Promise by Misty M. Beller -- Guatemalan American Lilly Arendale has fought the anger of prejudice all her life. Now, orphaned and alone in the mining town of Butte in the Montana Territory, the effects of racism have left Lilly with a one-year old daughter and a fierce desire to avoid men at all costs. Marcus Sullivan is a born adventurer, and the new preacher in town. He’s his ways may be unconventional, but he’s determined to add some joy into the lives of these townspeople. Especially the beautiful young mother who won’t have anything to do with him. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Amanda Cabot, Mary Connealy, Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule -- Christmas is the time for love--and weddings--and twelve historical women are on their way to the altar, whether they know it or not. In nineteenth-century settings across the heartland of America, readers will experience heartfelt gifts, old-fashioned Christmas traditions, sweet romance, and inspiring faith from twelve acclaimed Christian authors. (Historical Romance Novella Collection from Barbour Publishing)

Fire and Ice by Mary Connealy -- Skilled rancher Bailey Wilde has been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he's dealing with a woman--a very tough, very intriguing woman at that. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey's homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land--and he's got to go through Bailey to do it. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other's respect--and maybe find love in the process? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea -- After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Now truly orphaned yet not alone, Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted. Dirk's quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth's searching hearts ever sing the same song? (Historical Romance from WhiteFire Publishing)

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky -- The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from the busy streets of London to her family’s magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France. Can their love and faith see them through the heartbreak of war? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Flee from Evil by Connie Almony -- A pastor with a past uses his underworld connections to try and save the child of the woman he wronged many years ago. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Deadlock by DiAnn Mills -- Special Agent Bethany Sanchez never dreamed her new partner in solving violent crime would be Special Agent Thatcher Graves, the same agent who'd sent her brother to jail. An attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together. Two murders have rocked the city of Houston, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Speculative Fiction:

A Time To Speak (Out Of Time Series Book 2) by Nadine Brandes -- What happens when you live longer than you wanted to? Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she's being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow. The Council uses Jude's Clock-matching invention to force "new-and-improved" Clocks on the public. Those who can't afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council's purposes. Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out? (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)

Embers by Ronie Kendig -- A prince flees for his life when his sister transfers her fire-wielding gift to him, leaving the kingdom vulnerable against its most powerful enemy. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1 Question Interview with Darlene Franklin

Let's give a glass of sweet iced tea and a great big welcome back to Darlene Franklin! 

Darlene, I only have one question for you this time, but it's a doozy!
"If you were the heroine in this book, would you have acted differently than she does when she meets the hero? How so?"


In An Apple for Christmas, Ruby tries to keep her relationship with Mac on a professional level, afraid that her work as a scientist and as a teacher will be discounted if they are romantically involved. Not me--I would have melted if someone like Mac Cortland seemed interested in me. They have so much in common, they would have been matched on in today’s society.

An Apple for Christmas is one of the eight stories in Christmas Traditions. Eight heartwarming novellas of Christmas's gone by where the true meaning of the season warms your heart and love flows as fast as apple cider. Grab your favorite drink, no matter the temperature outside, curl up in a cozy chair and lose yourself in holiday romance.

In Face of Mary, Polly has been in love with Joey since she was thirteen. She’s known him all her life. If I thought I had a beau, and he returned with a fiancĂ© on his arm, I would have been just as crushed as she is. I could tell myself it was a childish infatuation, but I would still have been crushed.

Face of Mary is one six romances in A Texas Christmas. Spend Christmas in the Old West with six unconventional women who take on Texas-sized challenges—and unexpected romance. Bridget falls for a man opposed to her teaching Indian orphans. Polly is trying to hold her family together when her childhood love returns to town. Rugged rancher Charlsey is inexplicably attracted to a tenderfoot accountant. Vivian shuns marriage until meeting a nomadic photographer. Lacey’s cooking draws a quiet blacksmith out of his shell. Tracker Bessie Mae helps a ranger hunt down a villain.

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at, and

Darlene is generously offering TWO books for giveaway!
  1. An e-book giveaway of Christmas Traditions, which includes An Apple for Christmas
  2. A copy of A Texas Christmas, e-book or paperback--reader's choice! For the paperback, U.S. entries only, please.
Comment with your email to enter. Please use "AT" and "DOT" instead of "@" and "." to protect yourself from spammers. Thank you!
Winner of the last giveaway from Lena Nelson Dooley's post is Terrill R. Congrats! I'll be getting in touch with you soon!

Comment fodder:

What's Christmastime like in the town where you live?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lena Nelson Dooley Interview & "A Texas Christmas" Feature

I'm honored Lena Nelson Dooley is here with us sharing about her new Christmas novella!!!
*Lena is offering a giveaway of this book! See red text at post's end for details.

Let's dive right in. Hi, Lena! What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
I often include spiritual themes about forgiveness/unforgiveness, trusting God or not trusting God for all things, even dealing with root of bitterness or a poor self-image. I want the readers to see how they can deal with similar problems with the Lord.

What other books of yours are coming out soon?
My next book is Love Is Patient. It’s a novella collection as well.

If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
I would love for James and me to spend one evening with George and Laura Bush. Our lives have several things in common but many more things that aren’t.

What historical person would you like to meet (besides Jesus) and why?
Queen Esther. She is my favorite Bible character. I wonder if I could have risked my life the way she did. There are so many nuances in the book of Esther in the Bible that I find fascinating.

How can you encourage authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
Rejections are a fact of life for most authors. I’d tell them to learn to recognize that a rejection of a manuscript isn’t rejection of them as a person. And there are a large number of reasons a publisher might reject a manuscript, even though the manuscript is publication ready. They might have a similar book coming out by another author or the book is very good but doesn’t fit what they need at the time.

Tell us about the featured book.
A Texas Christmas is a novella collection.

  Six Romances from the Historic Lone Star State
Herald the Season of Love

Here Cooks the Bride by Cathy Marie Hake - Lacey Mather's delicious cooking is warming many hearts and stomachs--especially those of a closed-mouth blacksmith. But she has no plans to stay in Texas.

A Christmas Chronicle by Pamela Griffin - Travis McCoy is a nomadic photographer with no time to put down roots, find a wife, and raise a family. But then he meets the unconventional Vivian Sager.

To Hear Angels Sing by Ramona Cecil - Bridget O'Keefe leaves Chicago to teach Indian orphans and quickly experiences the hostility the Comanche face from locals like Seth Krueger who blame then for the death of his parents.

The Face of Mary by Darlene Franklin - Mary "Polly" Jessup holds onto a promise of marriage made five years ago, but when Joey Carpenter returns from law school with a new outlook and a new girlfriend, her future hopes are dashed.

Charlsey’s Accountant by Lena Nelson Dooley - Charlsey Ames can rope, ride, and work the ranch with the men and never thought she's be attracted to accountant Harold Miller, III, a citified tenderfoot.

Plain Trouble by Kathleen Y’Barbo - An expert tracker, the plain Bessie Mae Ames is content unmarried, until Texas Ranger Josef Mueller rides into town, trailing a wanted man.

Can you give us the first page of the book?

September 1879
“Excuse me, sir.”

Jeff halted mid-motion, his shovel full of coal. Black dust swirled around his thick boots as he glanced at the young lady. Oh, and she was definitely a lady. Judging from her so-very-proper Boston accent, the Daddy-has-money traveling suit with all the fuss and bother, and her wide hazel eyes, this gal wasn’t just out of place; she was lost.

“Might I impose for a moment to inquire as to the location of your local diner?”

He dumped the coal into his wheelbarrow and stood to his full height. “Diner’s closed. Best hop back aboard the train and try Meadsville.”

The feather in her stylish hat swayed back and forth as she gave her head a small shake. “I fear I did not make myself known. I’m Lacey Mather, and I’ve come to help my great-aunt Millie at the diner.”

“Millie’s your great-aunt?” Jeff couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice. On her better days, Millie looked as if she’d been caught in a whirlwind. Most of the time, she looked like she sorted bobcats for a living. No man in his right mind would imagine Millie as kin to this dainty blond beauty.

“Yes.” Miss Mather folded her white-gloved hands at her …

Love it! How can readers find you on the Internet?

Award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 800,000 copies of her books sold. Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandsons. 

She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year.  

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the local chapter, ACFW - DFW. She's a member of Christian Authors' Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

LENA is generously giving away a PAPERBACK copy of A Texas Christmas!!! To enter, comment with your email address. Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 22 at 5p.m. CST. Winner will be announced in a post on September 24.

FOR INSTANT EXTRA ENTRIES: In the comment, you can request that your email be added to my e-newsletter or Lena's e-newsletter!

Comment fodder:

What's your favorite thing about books set during Christmas?
Fresh, cold snow? 
Remembering the Biblical Christmas account?  
Seeing what gifts the characters give one another?
Something else? Tell us in the comments below!!


Monday, September 7, 2015

The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer

Please welcome Davalynn Spencer as she shares about her new release, The Columbine Bride!

After the success of last winter’s e-novella collection from Barbour, The 12 Brides of Christmas, editors asked the authors if we could come up with sequels for another collection, The 12 Brides of Summer.
Is Billy Graham a believer? Do horses eat hay?

Absolutely we could come up with sequels. And I had just the character I wanted to feature from my winter novella: Uncle Buck.

I was pretty excited about giving Buck his own story, and pretty excited to write about summertime in Colorado. Blue skies, columbines, forest-draped mountains, lightning storms.

Lightning storms?

That’s right. I love a good thunder storm, and in the summer on Colorado’s Front Range, evening thunder storms are as common as hummingbirds at the feeder.
But as much as I thrill to the echoing boom rolling across the upper Arkansas River valley, I know not everyone appreciates the sudden crashing and light-flickering.

In my summer novella, The Columbine Bride, Lucy Powell is one of those who is not a fan. In fact, she’s terrified of what lightning can do—or did—and has the capacity to do again. But I don’t want to get too far into that because I don’t want to spoil the story for you!

The picture below is a perfect example of what an approaching summer storm can look like. I took this shot a couple of years ago from our back yard about ten minutes before the deluge hit us.

Fast moving, fierce, drenching. And then it was gone. Hit and run. Over and done.

Sometimes life is like that, isn’t it. Usually we don’t get the chance to see the storm coming. It just hits, does it’s damage, and leaves. However, the one thing we can count on is the fact that Jesus is with us in life’s storms. Every. Single. Time.

I admit that writing about storms is a lot easier than living through them. But that’s part of my job and challenge as an author. I want my stories to encourage people to know that in their “real” worlds, they too can survive the storms.

Survival is all about knowing what to do—both physically and spiritually. Jesus gave us a heads up when he said, “In the world, ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Notice that He didn’t say you might have tribulation, but that you shall.

But then He gave us the good news: we can have peace because He has overcome the world and all its trouble.

I’m glad I got to know the Lord before the storms hit because lately there have been some doozies. Confidence in His presence and knowing that I can trust Him have given me the peace I need.

Regarding lightning, the National Weather Service says Colorado is one of the top six states for lightning-related deaths. Here’s a great list of safety tips for lightning storms, regardless of which state you live in or are visiting:

And for a safe summer read with a “shocking” lightning element, try The Columbine Bride.


www.davalynnspencer.comDavalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and worked several years as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter, winning awards in both arenas. Her fiction has finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion and the 2014 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, Selah, and Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn online at and

You can find this book for purchase online at the following websites:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Encouragement For the Waiting: What to Do While You Wait ~ Praise

We're nearing the end of our devotional series on waiting. This month, we see how waiting is a time for...

#4. Praise (I like this part): (n.) the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something.

· Praise involves Singing (Ps. 22:3; 68:42, 71:8, 14; 96:1-4)

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96:2

God loves to hear us praise Him and will bless our praise with His presence, protection, and provision.

When my sister and brother and I were little my dad was an evangelist. So we traveled a lot. And when you’re seven or eight years old, a five-minute trip will make your hair turn gray. I mean, it’s terrible.

To distract ourselves from premature aging while we rode up and down the highway, we would sing. Sometimes it would be silly songs like “It ain’t gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more.” Anybody else heard that before, or were we just the privileged ones? We also sang gospel songs and listened to cassette tapes of our favorite groups like the Rochesters and the Ruppes.

Singing praise is not only a good way to pass the time. Singing praise ministers to God. His word commands praise. He inhabits, literally dwells among, the praises of His people (Psa 22:3).

Praise also moves God on our behalf. In II Chronicles 20 there is an account of an army going out to war with singers leading the way. Really? Singers? No big, intimidating warriors with huge muscles and gleaming swords and maybe an eye patch for emphasis? Okay, I get it. Maybe their singing was bad enough to destroy the enemy by bursting their eardrums? Nope.

As these brave singers praised, God moved and fought the battle for them. When they got to the battle, all that was left was the dead bodies of their enemies. When we praise, God moves on our behalf. He will fight for us. He doesn’t always change the circumstances, but He’ll always change us. Which brings me to my next point.

Sometimes praise is a sacrifice. 

Sacrifice (Psalm 54:6, 107:22, 116:17; Heb. 13:15).

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 
Heb 13:15 

Praise isn’t always easy, and we do not always feel like it. Sometimes worship will be a sacrifice that costs us something. Sometimes we have to praise until we feel like praising. But that is one of the beautiful things about praising our God. When we praise, it may take some time, but the feelings will come.

About four years ago, an opportunity had opened up for me that looked like a dream come true--the beginning of a serious romantic relationship. Not wanting to rush into anything, I prayed and fasted, asked my parents to pray, and I asked God that if there was any reason He didn’t want this, and I shouldn’t go forward that He would show me. Within 24 hours of that prayer some new information came out about the situation that left me overwhelmed. I prayed for a month afterward about my answer, willing to do whatever God wanted me to do, but I wanted to know His will for sure. My parents basically said, we’ll support you in whatever you decide, so at that point it was between me and God.

He never gave me peace to move forward, and I knew staying in my current situation was better than stepping out on my own without God’s blessing. But for about three months I bordered on bitterness. I wondered why in the world God would dangle my heart’s desire for a relationship in front of me, then snatch it away so quickly. (By now, y’all know I’m a romantic at heart.)

FOR LAUGHS: When I was nine years old, I had dreamed of getting married when I was 16, because at the time you could do that if your parents signed your license for you. That was before I developed a brain.

Anyway, I was pretty tore up that God was asking me to bypass a chance at a relationship like that one when at first it had appeared to be all I had wanted for so long. About that time I discovered the song Broken Hallelujah by Mandisa.

When All that I can sing is a broken hallelujah,
When my only offering is shattered praise,
Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ashes,
And I will worship You and give You thanks.
Even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah.

God used that song in my life during what was such a hard time for me. God showed me how to seek His will and listen to His answer, but even if nothing else, He taught me it IS possible to praise while your hurting, and that praise does change us. It protects us from bitterness and helps us surrender to God’s plan for us.

One thing I believe He was trying to show me at that time is that I, as a young twenty-something whose friends were already married and starting families, I had put that goal of marriage above anything else in life. (Yes, today must be single-girl confessions day.) I thought I’d be miserable and alone forever if I didn’t marry by 22. (Thankfully Jesus has since shown me I can be single and still be beautifully fulfilled in Him while I wait.) Praise not only blesses God's heart but it can help us receive with a cheerful spirit the lessons God has planned for our life.

Another song that comes to mind is Sheri Easter’s Praise His Name. It’s perfect for those times when you don’t really feel like singing, but you need to feel God's presence.

AAAAANNNDD here’s one of my favorite quotes:   

What about you? Do you find your heart encouraged when you praise God? What are some of your favorite songs or Bible verses about praising God?

I compiled all the entry names from the blog post and the Facebook thread for last week's giveaway of Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake. Then I put them into And the WINNER iiiiiiis....Lauren Borho. Congrats! :) I'll be getting in touch with you soon!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pam Hillman Gives the Scoop on STEALING JAKE

Quick note from Natalie: 
I was out of town last weekend and the last scheduled post completely escaped me. I'll postpone the next installment of the Encouragement for the Waiting series until next weekend.

To make it up to you, I have CBA bestselling author Pam Hillman here to tell us insider info about her August release, Stealing Jake! I'm also giving away my autographed paperback copy of Stealing Jake. I'll have to get another copy for myself, but this is a book that must be shared! And who better to share it with than you guys!

Hi, Pam! So glad to have you here! 
--So tell us in three sentences, what is this book about?

Can a former pickpocket fall in love with a small town sheriff, especially when he’s doing everything he can to get rid of the riffraff spilling out of Chicago onto his streets? And what will the sheriff do when he finds out about her past?

Tell us about the main characters. Who are they, what makes them unique?

Livy O’Brien has a soft spot for street kids, since she used to be one herself. Changed by a kindly woman and the love of Jesus, she longs to help other street kids find hope and a future.

On the other hand, sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell, is determined to send the street kids roaming the alleys of Chestnut back to Chicago where they belong. It isn’t until he meets and falls in love with Livy that his eyes are opened to the true realities these kids face every day. Then he risks everything—including his life—to save them.

Gibbons’ family has a reputation to uphold as some of the most vile crooks in all of Chicago. But Chestnut is the perfect place for Gibbons show his family once and for all that he’s capable of being just as ruthless as the rest of them. And since no one cares for the street kids anyway, why not use them to their fullest potential?

Luke, a street kid from Chicago, is trying his best just to survive. When a string of robberies occurs in town, everyone suspects him and his little band of ragtag street urchins... but all he wants is to fill his stomach, survive the winter, and find his kid brother.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I honestly can’t remember how I came up with the exact idea for the pickpocket theme, but it was the old adage of opposites attract. If she’s a thief (even if she’s reformed), he’d better be a lawman.

Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.

Jake blames himself for his father’s death and is determined to work night and day to care for his family, regardless of the cost to himself.

Livy is short for Olivia, which is a nod to Oliver Twist.

How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?

Livy’s ashamed of her past, and most of us have things in our past that we’re ashamed of. Livy knows God has forgiven her, but will the people in her new town accept her if they ever find out? From their actions and words toward the street kids, she’s afraid she knows the answer. Jake and the townspeople feel justified in their desire to get rid of the kids, but they don’t know the whole story. Sometimes it’s easy to assume the worst of others when we ourselves are well-fed, clothed, and sheltered.

What is the biblical background or basis for the book?

Forgiveness. Accepting God’s forgiveness, forgiving others, and possibly the hardest of all, forgiving oneself.

Why did you choose to focus on a female protagonist?

The premise called for a female pickpocket and a male sheriff. While they both have a sympathetic backstory, hers is much more emotionally gut-wrenching than his. The reader is going to cheer extra loud for her when she faces her fears and overcomes them. On the other hand, Jake faces his fears and overcomes them, too. But Livy has just a tiny bit of an edge on Jake when it comes to pulling readers’ heartstrings.

Describe your feelings when you opened the box and saw the first published copies of your very first book.

My heart smiled. I don’t know how else to explain it. I didn’t throw confetti or have a big party. But my heart smiled. Still does when I think about it.

What are your hopes for your future as an author?

I hope to keep telling stories that reach out and touch someone. If I entertain, encourage, and uplift one person today, I’ll call it a good day.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. 

You can connect with Pam through one of the following sites:

Twitter: or @PamHillman

Seekerville (group blog):

Up for grabs this week is an autographed copy of Stealing Jake. Comment with your email address to be entered! Open to U.S. residents only, please. Giveaway ends 9/3 at 12p.m. Central Daylight Time. Winner will be announced next weekend.

Comment fodder:
It's cooling off here in Mississippi. I'm so ready for fall! What's your favorite thing about fall? Hot apple cider? Scarves? Something else? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Stealing Jake, Reviewed + A Little Book Spine Poetry

Hey, folks! I just finished drinking a glass of sweet iced tea and re-reading (yes, I did) Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman. I couldn't wait to share my thoughts on this book and hopefully you'll enjoy hearing about it as much as I enjoyed reading it.

Stick around until the end of the post for a bit of fun with Book Spine Poetry. Thanks to Amada Chavez for suggesting I try Book Spine Poetry in my Improvement Questionnaire. If you haven't filled out the questionnaire, please do, as I look toward revamping The Sweet South blog for next year using your suggestions!

Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A sheriff and a former pick-pocket team up to rescue street kids and find unexpected love in Chestnut, Illinois. I like to break down my reviews into several elements...

The heroine: "Light-fingered" Livy is a wonderful heroine, feminine without being stiff, and gutsy without being overbearing. With her past, it is hard to see how things could ever work out between her and Jake, but that's what makes for great story conflict!

The hero: Jake is a down to earth, selfless hero that would make any lady's heart patter. He only has eyes for Livy, though, which makes him all the more swoon-worthy.

The romance: Sweet sorghum molasses! Jake does a handsome job of pursuing Livy against his better judgement. Shy, reticent girl that Livy is, Jake's attentions are of necessity determined, yet gentle and sweet. They melted this reader's heart more than once--okay, a lot.

The plot: This is a page-turner for sure. I was constantly guessing until the end, and the plight of the children really makes this story unique.

The setting: While reading this novel, I felt like I was living the scenes. The details immerse the reader into the snowy world of Illinois winter but never overwhelm or slow the pace too much. The effect feels effortless and is a mark of Pam's incredible talent.

The theme: Forgiving ourselves and overcoming secrets in our past is hard. Everyone can relate to making mistakes they'd rather no one else know. But through the blood of Jesus, we have forgiveness and He gives us victory over sin. The prejudices about street kids are also addressed along with our need to "be Jesus to the least of these." Matt. 25:40. This leads me to my final point...

The faith element: Pam Hillman writes her faith into her stories so gently and earnestly, the reader never feels preached to, but at the same time there's never a question this book was written to minister and encourage. Another mark of excellent fiction writing. I was happy to find a good read that speaks of Jesus' blood and His power to cleanse us from sin.

The audience: Because of the subplot with the courageous, desperate street kids, people of all ages will enjoy this story. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves good fiction.

As promised, here's a snippet of book spine poetry I put together from my shelves. Spine poetry is where you stack novels to where the titles form a sentence or idea. Disclaimer: I haven't read Mr. Knightly's Diary and don't know much about it, but I'm hoping it's an elegant followup to Emma.

Painless research projects: Mr. Knightly's diary.

Mr. Knightly's diary vanished. Emma? Deep trouble.

We had such good participation in Johnnie Alexander's giveaway of Where Treasure Hides, she has decided there should be TWO winners! has helped us out and the winners are BARBARA and AGBOSS (Alison). Congrats, Barbara & Alison! We'll be getting in touch with you soon!