Thursday, March 26, 2015

Treats, Rewards, and Celebration!

Do you get "movie cravings?" I do. Someone will reference one of my favorite movies, and I won't get it out of my head until I watch it. Lately, that movie/series is BBC's North & South based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel.

I bought the DVD as a reward (Got it brand new at a super bargain on Ebay! Yay!), not exactly sure what the occasion would be. I've been saving it, thinking I'd watch it when I finished revisions on my second novel manuscript. Then I found out the first pages and synopsis of my second manuscript won first place in the inspirational category of the NTRWA Great Expectations Contest! Fun! Now I have a "real" reason to celebrate. :D

North & South is one film I'm very much looking forward to watching again. I've seen it twice, but it's been a few years. I'm also wanting to watch the Scarlet Pimpernel again--the one starring Anthony Andrews, of course. Someday I'll get around to reading that novel.

Another fun surprise:

Do you know what this is?
I found this gem at a Branson, MO flea market last week. I'd been searching for one for weeks, not wanting to pay full price ($25-30). You know by now I'm a bargain-hunter. :)

This beautiful piece winked at me from one of 25 or so crowded cubicles. The hearts. The subtle, tulip-like thistle. The round shape. I got SO excited! Y'all, I'd been PRAYING I'd find one of these for under $10 bucks. I know, maybe that's a silly prayer, but I can tell you God was listening!

I flipped the mold over, and the price sticker said $20. Bummer. No, wait! Red ink slashed the old price and a new one was written out to the side. $10. Well, all right. I was shooting for under ten, but I guessed a flat ten would work. Right before I left that booth, a big yellow sign flapped at me from one of the shelves, "All items in this booth 40% off."

Y'all, I liked to have slung a fit right there in that flea market cubicle. I got that shortbread mold for 6 measly bucks!!! Do you ever feel like God is just pampering you? (On an almost-totally-unrelated note, I had also been craving kettle corn for a couple weeks, and, on the way home from Branson, we stopped to see some old friends, who happened to give us several bags of HOMEMADE [with sea salt and coconut oil] kettle corn. Talk about spoiled slap rotten!)

I've only ever made shortbread in a flat, rectangle pan, then cut into "fingers" or strips, but I'm eager to try this pan. The design will be so beautiful! For your enjoyment, here is a recipe for the best shortbread I've ever tasted. I modified the recipe from

Easy Scottish Shortbread Cookies

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of salted butter (125g or 4 1/2 oz.)
A bit more than 1 cup (110g) flour
1/3 cup (55g) cornstarch
5 tbsp (60g) soft brown sugar (plus a tablespoon to finalize)
1/2 teaspoon of salt


Contrary to many shortbread cookies recipes, we will use a cake pan to shape these sticks.

1. Whisk the sugar, salt and butter at room temperature until it gets a smooth and creamy texture, add the cornstarch and beat until absorbed.

2. Add the flour and knead by hand until you get a ball of dough. Don’t overdo it, because the best shortbread cookies offer a raw crumbly texture. By over-kneading, you can make the grain way too thin and tight.

3. Place a sheet of waxed paper in the bottom of a rectangular cake pan. Pack the dough into lined pan well with a glass and prick the dough with a fork, then cut sticks.

4. Bake for about 20 min at 300°f (150°c), the dough should be very lightly browned on the edges.

5. Remove the pan, sprinkle with extra brown sugar, let stand a few minutes. Cut cookies along the lines you made before baking. Us quick, fluttery motions to cut--these cookies are VERY light and crumbly, and shape can be destroyed with a heavy hand. Let cool and enjoy. These easy shortbread cookies will retain several days in a tin--if they last that long!

Tell me:

Have any of you used shortbread molds? Will I have to adjust the baking time for cooking in a stoneware mold vs. a metal pan?

What is your favorite homemade treat of the moment?

Is there an old movie you love and could watch over and over?

If you were shopping at a flea market today, what would you be hunting?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Encouragement for the Waiting: Who Are You Waiting On?

Confession: lately, I've been anxious.

Maybe it's the rainy weather. Maybe it's because I'm getting over one of those colds that last for-ev-ver. Maybe it's because I passed the quarter-century mark recently--there's a little creature in my mind staring at me, holding a sign that says, "If you want to do anything with your life, better get started," while his twin holds one that says, "Are you sure this is the road you want to take?"

Mostly this anxiety comes because some of the greatest writing opportunities I've had so far are before me, the outcome of which is completely up to my handling of them. Some of them are time-sensitive (no pressure or anything). Seems I'm waiting on no one but myself. Which is a strange type of waiting.

I'm one of those people who have a hard time finding the notch between neutral and full throttle. Anybody else out there like that? Overachiever. Type-A. Worrier. Workaholic.

Ever feel like a gerbil on a wheel?

True: the wheel is good for exercise and possibly fun for the gerbil. (Who knows?)

Truer: running faster will not get the gerbil anywhere.

Truest: the gerbil's master will decide when and how and if the gerbil will go anywhere.

Am I sensing a moral here?

Let me see if I can put it another way... Lets use Noah.

Sometimes I wonder if Noah also suffered from being an overachieving, type-A, worry plagued workaholic. He must've learned some serious time management skills, taking on such a long-term project. Then to have all those animals to care for with his family's lives at risk, and the utter ponderosity of knowing you are among the last eight humans living on earth. What would become of them? What if Noah messed up? Like really messed up? Would his family survive?

Inside the ark, while the rain roared, Noah could worry about these terrifying possibilities all he wanted, in between checking on the lions every five minutes to be sure they hadn't gobbled up the wildebeests. But none of these things would help him get off the ark faster. Nothing he did, didn't do, or couldn't do, would take God by surprise.

Now, if Noah was outside the ark, hanging on a peg, THEN maybe he should start to worry. But he wasn't. He was safe inside. Why? Because earlier in the story, he had placed his life and his future in God's capable hands.

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers said:

"I’ve heard people say, 'Pray for us that we’ll hold out faithful to the end.' I think I know what they mean, but I always smile. I picture Noah’s ark, and I can see Noah and his wife and family. Rather than being on the inside, they’re holding on to some slimy pegs on the outside of the ark. And Noah says to Mrs. Noah, 'Honey, pray for me that I’ll hold out faithful to the end.' But God said to Noah, 'Come into the ark,' and the same God that shut the water out, shut Noah in. Now Noah may have fallen down inside that ark, but he never fell out of it. It’s not that we hold on to Him, but that He holds on to us."

What a beautiful picture the ark makes when we think of it this way. In truth, the ark is meant to be a symbol of Christ. If we're in Christ--if we have turned from our sin, forsaken who we were without Him, and turned to Him, embracing His Word--we shouldn't fear the future of our souls, nor the future of our family or friendships or career or church or whatever worries us. 

When we think about it, the outcome isn't depending completely on us. It's up to God. Even if we mess up or have messed up, He's there to put us back on the right path.

This post isn't about shirking responsibility. It's about resting in the knowledge that no matter what you're waiting on, where you're waiting, how long you're asked to wait, or if you are good enough to bring about the desired outcome, God is going to take care of your future. There's such a blessed tranquility available in Him.

Oh, one of those writing opportunities I mentioned earlier? the time-sensitive one I was so worried about completing on time? I got an email yesterday that said, on that particular project, I can take as long as I need. I call that a "GTN." A total God-to-Natalie moment.

In the end, I'm not waiting on myself, another person, or any particular event or happening. In the big picture I'm waiting on God. Sometimes we don’t know why we’re waiting, which is why it’s vital to know Who we’re waiting on.

God is not late. He has not lost touch. He’s not limited. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Phillipians 4:19

Who are you waiting on?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Susan Page Davis Interview + The Outlaw Takes A Bride Giveaway!

Author bio.

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than fifty published novels and novellas. Her historical novels have won numerous awards, including the Carol Award, the Will Rogers Medallion for Western Fiction, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest. She has also been a finalist in the More than Magic Contest and Willa Literary Awards. Susan lives in western Kentucky with her husband and two youngest children. She’s the mother of six and grandmother of nine. Visit her website at:

Hi, Susan! For starters, give us a couple sentences describing what you write.

I write Christian fiction, mostly historical romance and contemporary mystery.

How would you label the overall mood of your stories: dark, gritty, poignant, sensitive, heart-warming, light, witty, humorous, adventurous?

Poignant and uplifting, sometimes humorous, and often adventurous.

What is the name of your latest book?

The Outlaw Takes a Bride

A sneak peek into what you're working on right now?

I am doing some revisions on a cozy mystery, but I just wrapped up a romantic novella set in the old West. It’s called The Cowboy Poet and will release in 2016. As soon as the revisions are done, I’ll go back to a project I put aside for a little while: a seafaring adventure that I’m writing with my son.

If you were in your heroine’s shoes when she meets the hero of your story, would you react differently than she? How so?

I am not sure I would cut Johnny as much slack as Sally does.

What do you do for a fun break if you find yourself overwhelmed with writing pressures?

Logic puzzles work for me, as does getting outside for some activity.

Do you blog? If so, leave us the address.

I blog once a month (on the 23rd) on the blog. You can also sign up for my occasional newsletter at:

Bonus fun questions:

Which is your favorite hot drink to sip while reading? Tea, coffee, hot cocoa, apple cider, wassail or other?  
Black tea. Tetley’s British Blend is a good one.

Book blurb.

In The Outlaw Takes a Bride, Johnny Paynter flees Denver to escape being hanged for a murder he didn’t commit. At his brother Mark’s ranch in Texas, where he thought he could take refuge, he finds his brother dead. Johnny strongly resembles his brother, and the people in town think he is Mark. Reluctantly at first, Johnny assumes Mark’s identity. But what will he do when he learns Mark has been corresponding with a widow in St. Louis? Sally Golding is en route to be a mail-order bride to Mark. Johnny must decide whether or not to go through with the wedding, posing as his brother. But Sally has secrets she's hiding, too. How will a marriage survive with so much deception?

Susan is graciously giving away a copy of The Outlaw Takes a Bride! Giveaway is e-copy or paperback--reader's choice! Enter using the Rafflecopter below:
*Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let's talk it up:
What do you love best about novels set in Texas? 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lena Nelson Dooley Character Interview: Lorinda Vine

I'm so excited that Lena Nelson Dooley has come today and let me interview her heroine, Lorinda Vine, from her manuscript A Heart's Gift!
Has anything significant happened in your life in the past two weeks?
My husband’s ex-fiancee arrived at our ranch two days ago. She was just a bag of bones, but carrying a child. She was also riding my first husband’s horse, which disappeared before he was found dead.

Your most embarrassing moment?
I was embarrassed when I had to come live at the Flying V ranch several months after my husband was killed. I was heavy with child, and an arsonist had burned the log cabin Mike had built after we married. I didn’t want to have to depend on someone else.

What is your first reaction when you meet a fetching lady/handsome gentleman? Blush? Stutter? Run? Flirt? Engage them in intelligent or witty conversation? Start an argument to see how they handle anger? Offer a helping hand? Ask a friend what they know about them?
I haven’t met that many. My first husband rescued me from the hard life I had living with my father. My mother had died during childbirth, and my baby brother died at the same time. My father wasn’t very nice to me after that. So I haven’t been really interested in any man, except my husband.

What happened the last time you spoke to a large group of people?
I don’t actually speak to large groups of people. But most of the people in town attended my wedding to my second husband. But they don’t know about the circumstances of our life together … and I don’t want them to ever find out.

Do you have any grandparent figures in your life? How have they influenced you?
I don’t remember any of my grandparents.

Siblings? How many? Do you get along?
I was raised as an only child. My only brother died the same day he was born. I was just five years old.

Any current romantic interests?
I’m in a convenient marriage with the man who rescued me from the mountain where my home went up in smoke.

Where were you born? What other significant happenings surrounded this event?
Missouri, but now I live in Colorado.

What is your worst fear?
It used to be that I wouldn’t be able to financially take care of my son, but since Franklin Vine and I married, I’m afraid someone will find out the circumstances of our marriage. It would reflect badly on both Franklin and myself if they knew.

When’s the last time you had a really good meal? Courtesy of whom?
Our housekeeper is a wonderful cook. She’s been teaching me how to cook most of the things, too. I don’t know what I would do without her. And she’s the only “grandmother” my son will ever know.

Lena also has a recipe for you:

Lena’s Cornbread

Combine and stir together:     
            2/3 Cup corn meal
            1 1/3 Cup flour
            1/3 Cup sugar
            1 teaspoon salt
            4 teaspoons baking powder

In mixing bowl, mix together well:
            1 Cup milk
            2 Eggs
            1/3 Cup oil

Stir dry ingredients into liquids.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes if making muffins. Can also pour into square cake pan and bake.
Lena Nelson Dooley

Lena is giving away a copy of her newest release, 8 Weddings and a Miracle! Enter using the raffle copter at the end of the post!
Sometimes Love Needs a Little Divine Intervention
Nine contemporary couples face challenges on their way to the marriage altar, and readers will delight in how God intervenes to get them to the point of "I do." Be it a meeting in the wrong place at the right time, an accident that opens hardened hearts, or weather that seems to blow things off course, romance has a way of persevering.
Penned by an exclusive selection of Christian fiction authors, this collection of romances will become an instant favorite.
Move a Mountain by Lena Nelson Dooley
Wall of Stone by Nancy J. Farrier
Blown Away by Love by Pamela Griffin
Stormy Weather by Tracie Peterson
Wrong Church, Wrong Wedding by Loree Lough
Flowers by Felicity by Janet Lee Barton
Petals of Promise by Diann Hunt
Rose in Bloom by Sandra Petit
Flowers for a Friend by Gail Sattler
Take the journey along with nine couples as they dodge disasters on the road to love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're just joining in and are following the comments, there is an option to comment for an entry in the Rafflecopter. The questions are, "What is your favorite part of weddings? Or what do you love most about marriage of convenience stories?"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Christian Fiction March 2015 New Releases #ACFW

March 2015 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

8 Weddings and a Miracle Romance Collection by Janet Lee Barton, Lena Nelson Dooley, Nancy J. Farrier, Pamela Griffin, Diann Hunt, Loree Lough, Tracie J. Peterson, Sandra Petit and Gail Sattler -- Weather the storms of life alongside nine modern couples who hope to make it to the altar-someday. Be it a meeting in the wrong place at the right time, an accident that opens hardened hearts, or weather that seems to blow things off course, sometimes love needs a little divine intervention. (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing )

Dandelions for Dinner: A Farm Fresh Romance by Valerie Comer -- When man-hater Allison Hart gains custody of her nephew, she decides to build a house and farm school at Green Acres. Too bad contractor Brent Callahan builds a rapport with the boy. Can Brent tear down the walls around her heart or will their secrets push them apart forever? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Valentine for Kayla by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Florist owner, Kayla Russell hates Valentine's Day, but this year something is different. The beautiful florist-and hopeless romantic-has nearly given up on love, when the man of her dreams walks into her buy flowers for another woman! (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Cowboy's Forever Family by Deb Kastner -- Rough rodeo cowboy Slade McKenna is determined to protect his late best friend's wife and baby, even if Laney Beckett is too stubborn to admit she needs his help. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Splash of Substance by Elizabeth Maddrey -- She's a caterer who doesn't vote. He works for a Senator. Is it a recipe for love or disaster? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

In Defense of Love by Pat Simmons -- While playing saxophone at an anniversary party, criminal attorney Shari Carmen grabs the attention of U.S. Marshal Garrett Nash. Only, she's learned never to mix business with pleasure. As God draws them closer together, the Almighty makes a request of Garrett, one to which it will prove difficult to say "Yes, Lord." (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg -- The only thing Ava Kingsley and Seth Walker have in common is a knack for wordsmithing, which landed them a popular "He Says/She Says" column back in college. At their ten-year class reunion, they pick up squabbling right where they left off and strike up an unlikely friendship. When Ava rents the apartment above the restaurant he's been remodeling in Maple Valley, Iowa, she finds herself warming up to Maple Valley as well as Seth. Which would be exciting...except he only sees her as a friend. After all the words they've swapped through the years, will they ever be able to say the three little words that matter most? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Historical Fiction:

Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green -- Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from River North [Moody Publishers])

The Tomb: A Novel of Martha by Stephanie Landsem -- Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus's resurrection from the dead, leading Martha-a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past-to hope and a new life. (Historical Fiction from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Historical Romance:

Romancing the Schoolteacher by Mary Davis -- A young teacher with a secret meets a miner with a secret. Will their deceptions destroy the love they have always longed for? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Susan Page Davis -- Which would be worse for Johnny-being arrested for murder or marrying Sally Golding? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Hill Country Courtship by Laurie Kingery -- Maude Harkey has given up on being married, but when an orphaned baby needs her as a mother and a job is offered that will provide a home for her and her daughter, should she take it, even if her employer has no use for romance in his life? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Romantic Suspense:

Beast of Stratton by Renee Blare -- Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton's engineering firm as a secretary. Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide from the man's daughter than help her. But something's not right. Someone's trying to destroy Stratton Industrial from the inside. A decorated war veteran, Miles has defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again. Even with the enemy at his side. (Romantic Suspense from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Shadowed (Heart of a Warrior) by Kariss Lynch -- Nick Carmichael is a Navy SEAL, committed to God and country when he meets Kaylan Richards. Idealistic and sheltered, Kaylan has just graduated college and is ready to save the world. Nick faces the demons of his past on a mission to catch Janus, and Kaylan comes to terms with loving a man who leaves. Will light shine in the darkness or will Kaylan and Nick's love forever be stalked by shadows? (Romantic Suspense from Realms [Charisma Media])


Persephone's Fugitive (Book #2 Cayman Islands Trilogy) by Dianna T. Benson -- Cayman Island paramedic Sara Dyer is taken hostage by an escaped murderer and forced to mend his injuries-or die trying. (Thriller/Suspense from Ellechor Publishing House, LLC)

Young Adult:

The Induction by Melinda Louise Bohannon -- Maggie comes to the frightening realization that, by marrying Peter, she has become a member of The Inner Society. She is then forced to prove her allegiance in order to get off their hit list. Meanwhile she is also being tested by The Resistance, dissidents of The I.S. who wonder if she will jeopardize their cause with her reckless rebellion. As The I.S. begins secretly giving vaccines to their own people, The Resistance becomes privy to an impending biological attack that The I.S. is about to wage against the country. (Young Adult Fiction from Ellechor Publishing House, LLC)