Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

February 21, 2017

The Story behind Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery

I’m pleased to welcome Jennifer Slattery to the blog this week. She has a new release, Restoring Love, and is excited to share with us how the character of Bianca came to be. First, a here’s a sneak peek at what the book is about.

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

Wow, love the premise, Jennifer. Can you share the story behind this story?

Some characters develop slowly. Maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of their career or whom they spend most of their time with. Sometimes, as is the case with Bianca, real women and their struggles merge to create an individual that so completely captures my imagination, I have no choice but to share their story.

I caught a glimpse of Bianca years ago, when I spent time working in a church daycare. She managed one of the preschool classrooms and was also a single mom of three—one older elementary boy who seemed to always be angry and two little ones who seemed to always be sick. As I watched, I soon realized the incredible struggle this poor woman was facing. She loved her kids fiercely. That was obvious, and in an effort to provide for them, she arrived early and stayed late … earning minimum wage.

I’m not sure if she received any kind of assistance, but I do know she lived in poverty.

I have no doubt she went home every night exhausted and frazzled, only to find her day was far from over. Parenting is crazy hard. Single parenting is even harder. Single parenting while living in poverty?

I can’t imagine.

Though I haven’t seen Tina* in over a decade, I’ve thought of her often—when my family and I sit to dinner and begin Bible devotions, or when my husband and I walk hand-in-hand while discussing a parenting issue, or when we pray for our daughter and her future, drawing strength and assurance from one another and Christ. And I’ve often wondered how hard it would be, how insecure I would be as a parent, if I didn’t have my husband to bounce ideas off of or gain perspective from.

The more I wondered, the more my writer’s brain was triggered until Bianca took form. She, like Tina, is doing all she can to provide for her kids and help them find a better life. But with a husband in prison, mounting bills, and all the hours she spends working for minimum wage, she feels as if she’s always trudging up hill with leaded weights attached to her ankles.

And yet, she’s not alone. I don’t believe any of us ever are. God reaches out to us, through a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, or perhaps the kindness and generosity of a stranger. If only we could look above our mess and all the chaos, I’m certain we’d see His hand.

This was the beautiful truth I wanted to capture in Restoring Love. The story is about three unlikely characters, each fighting to overcome a lifetime of regrets. But more than that, Restoring Love is about the God who loves us with an unyielding love and is, at this moment, fighting on our behalf. Ultimately, this story is about the God who gives us the power to rise above.

Let’s talk about this! When has God reached out to you through someone else? Or, when has God asked you tor each out to somebody? Share your stories and examples in the comments below, because we can all encourage one another!

*Name changed for privacy sake

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, ( she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for, and edits for Firefy, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at and connect with her on Facebook at

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Thanks for sharing with us. What an incredible story. 

February 14, 2017

The Story behind The Amish Wanderer by Laura Hilton

I’m excited to welcome Laura Hilton to the blog today. We’ve gotten to know each other over the years, and we’ll be in a Barbour collection, Second Chance Brides, in August. She’s been a guest before, but she’s back with a new book, The Amish Wanderer. Here’s a little bit about the story.

Bethany Weiss has been fascinated by Silas Beiler since he spent a couple of years in Jamesport, Missouri, before he and his family moved to another Amish community. They hadn’t kept in touch, but she hasn’t forgotten the friendly young man who brought her lemonade and took her home once from a Singing years ago. When she finds a man sleeping in her family’s barn, like Jesus sleeping in the hay, she is stunned to recognize Silas. He’s left the Amish and is backpacking across the country. She talks him into staying, at least until after Christmas.

Silas’ family has never been happy living in one area for long, and their vagabond ways are wearing on him. He’s lived in Amish communities all over the nation, moving whenever his daed became disgruntled with the leaders, and he’s looking for some sense of stability. His intentions are to make it back to Pennsylvania and stay with his Englisch onkle and his family—and pursue an education. Will Bethany be the one to bring Silas in from the cold? Or will he continue on his way to his extended family and become Englisch?

Laura is giving away a copy of the book, so once you’ve read what inspired it, finish scrolling down to find the directions to enter.

So, Laura, what brought you to write this book?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

Wow, Laura, what an amazing story your family has. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye and currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas. 

visit my blogs:  & 

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton



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Thanks again for joining us, Laura. It’s always great to have you.

February 7, 2017

The Story behind Romancing the Widow by Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer is our guest this week. She’s stopping by to share the story behind her book Romancing the Widow. Here’s a teaser:

The light went out of Martha’s soul when her husband fell to a bullet in St. Louis. Now, back in her hometown of Cañon City, she’s convinced she’ll never know happiness again. Until she crosses paths with a darkly mysterious Colorado Ranger.

Haskell Jacobs has a mission. And the beautiful, flame-haired widow sure isn’t it. But Martha is somehow mixed up in the crime that brought Haskell to the rough-and-tumble town…and soon, she’s entangled in the lawman’s heart. But the danger that lurks around them is all too real. Can they find strength and love in each other before it’s too late?

Davalynn, share with us a little bit about how the story came to be.

Authors are always on the lookout for memorable character names. Baby-name books are a common resource, as well as census records.

So are families and obituaries.

I combined these last two sources for the hero’s name in my *award-winning novel, Romancing the Widow.

Haskell Tillman Jacobs is a Colorado Ranger hunting a notorious horse thief in 1888.

He’s also a combination of my maternal grandfather and the brother of a deceased friend.

Romancing the Widow is the third in what I refer to as my Cañon City series. I based all three historical novels in Cañon City, Colorado, and included many actual historical details in the stories.

The Widow is set at the height of the famous Bone Wars during which two universities vied for possession of the many dinosaur fossils recovered in Cañon City’s Garden Park area.

For the first book in the series, The Cowboy Takes a Wife, I also mined family names and found the perfect match for a prickly minor character. However, the name belonged to my mother-in-law who is not far enough removed, historically speaking, and bears no resemblance to the less-than-affectionate character.

For the sake of peace in the real world, I relinquished the name and chose another beginning with the same letter.

Some people are pleased when their names appear in a novel, others not so much. It depends upon the character bearing their, uh, likeness.

I’ve found it much safer to search through records at least two generations removed when it comes to borrowing family-member names. Especially when writing not-so-nice characters!

*Romancing the Widow won the 2015 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction.

Bio: When the handsome, dark-eyed cowboy sauntered into my life, the gate to adventure swung wide. And what a ride! Yes, I married him. As the wife of a rodeo clown and bullfighter, I got a front-seat view on a fast-paced life and great opportunities to write for national rodeo markets and win awards in the process. Today I’m living my dream as a novelist and living for real on Colorado’s Front Range with our Queensland heeler, Blue, and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. I hope you’ll join me in the inspirational Western romance world for stories about rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves.

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Thanks for visiting with us, Davalynn! It’s been great to have you.

January 25, 2017

The Story behind Garden Grown Romance by Valerie Comer

Please welcome Valerie Comer to the blog this week. She’s sharing with us a little bit about her story Garden Grown Romance in the collection Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. Here’s a little more about the series:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley is the gateway to a shared world where you will find:

Spring’s Blessing (Seasons of Faith series) by Mary Jane Hathaway
A librarian’s desire for a simple garden is complicated when a large white rabbit, a motherless child, and a mysterious neighbor encroach on her carefully laid plans.

Loaves and Wishes (A Baxter Family Bakery Romance series) 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 series) 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 series) by Valerie Comer
A real estate consultant charged with repurposing two abandoned greenhouses bumps heads — and hearts — with a garden center owner.

The Scent of Romance (Legacy of the Heart series) by Danica Favorite

A high-powered lawyer must convince a woman determined to protect her family’s legacy to sell the family farm, but finds his heart softening.

A Romance Rekindled (A Homegrown Love Story series) by Annalisa Daughety
After more than a decade apart, a formerly engaged couple is thrown together again with the future of the Arcadia Valley Farmers Market at stake.

Valerie, could you please share what spurred you and the other authors to write this series?

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… okay, maybe that’s the wrong intro! This story does start well over a year ago, though, when an author friend and I began a ‘what if’ discussion. You know that question, right? It’s the foundation of every novel ever written. ‘What if’ there was a character like this? ‘What if’ this happened to them? ‘What if…?’

Our question ran like this: ‘What if’ several authors — six, for instance — got together to write Christian contemporary romance in a shared world? ‘What if’ they shared common themes and characters? ‘What if’ they each wrote a novella AND a three-book series, and bundled those novellas together, and overlapped their characters, and marketed together? What would happen then?

We liked it! We ran with it. We invited four other authors who also are into real food in their personal lives, and spent a long time brainstorming ideas, choosing a setting, and figuring out the logistics of how the project would work.

The result? Arcadia Valley Romance! (

We’ve just kicked off with Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley.  It looks like a same-old box set on the outside (except for the paperback!) but on the inside, it is the gateway to Arcadia Valley, where faith, family, a foodie culture, and romance — definitely romance! — grow hand-in-hand.

The Arcadia Valley Romance authors  are on schedule to release one novel every single month through July, 2018, until each author has completed a three-book series. While all are set in Arcadia Valley (a fictional town near Twin Falls, Idaho) with foodie themes, each author chose her own focus within that. You’ll find stories set around a bakery, a community garden, a farm-to-table restaurant, a farmers market, and more. The sense of community is palpable!

My own contribution is the Garden Grown Romance series set in Arcadia Valley, starting with the premise of an old pair of greenhouses donated to a local church through a living trust. How will they make use of the opportunity? In the novella ‘Sow in Love’ (part of Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley), a real estate consultant charged with repurposing two abandoned greenhouses bumps heads — and hearts — with a garden center owner. The three novels that follow all carry through with linked characters making these dreams come true.

Won’t you join us in Arcadia Valley? We invite you through the gateway and into our shared realm. Come on in, pour yourself a cup of tea, and curl up by the fireplace. Be welcome here.

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for joining us.

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She is known for writing engaging characters, strong communities, and deep faith laced with humor into her green clean romances. Visit her at

Valerie is giving away an ebook copy of her story to anyone anywhere in the world! How great is that. Follow the directions below to enter.

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January 17, 2017

The Story behind The Mark of the King

It is my pleasure to welcome Jocelyn Green to the blog this week, with her new release The Mark of the King. As way of introduction, here’s a little bit about the book:

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Wow, what a unique time period and premise. What led you to write the book?
There are many excellent books set in the British colonies, but the French colony of Louisiana seems to be much lesser known. When I learned about the years of forced immigration, whereby Paris cleaned out its prisons to populate a floundering wilderness, it was just too rife with story potential to ignore. It’s a story of incredible hardship and courage, fear and hope, judgment and redemption. It also offered an opportunity to unlock a slice of American history most of us know little about, which appeals to me a great deal.

What was it like trying to research Louisiana during that era?
Hard! J My previous series was set during the Civil War, and there is a ton of material out there which helped with my research. But The Mark of the King was set more than a century earlier than the Civil War, and the people who lived in Louisiana at that time did not speak English. It was primarily French or native American languages. So when it came to diving into primary sources, I had to rely on those that had already been translated into English. There are a number of those, thankfully. But I also went down to New Orleans to an archives center that contains a lot of French sources. I knew enough to know which chapters I wanted to take home with me, so I made copies and brought them back to my French sister-in-law, who translated for me. That was a huge help!

You mention the king’s mark on the heroine’s shoulder. Could you explain what that is? Was something like that really used then?
The mark of the king was the fleur-de-lys symbol of the French monarchy that was branded on certain criminals during the time the novel takes place, to permanently mark them with judgment. In the novel, this mark plays a big role. But there is a spiritual layer to the phrase, as well. As believers, we serve a higher King than any authority here on earth. Our lives are marked by His grace, no matter how scarred we may have been by judgment from others—whether that judgment was deserved or not. God’s grace covers all of it. Grace covers all of us.

Which is harder when writing historical fiction – the research or the actual writing of the book?
It depends on the era. For my Civil War books, the research was easy, the writing comparatively harder. For The Mark of the King, it was the opposite. The research posed some challenges, so the actual writing was easier by comparison.

What else do you have in the works?
My next fiction release is a novella collection from Barbour releasing in March! The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection was written by five of us, including Joanne Bischof, Heather Day Gilbert, Amanda Dykes, Maureen Lang and myself.

Yay! Always love having something to look forward to.

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including Wedded to War, a Christy Award finalist in 2013, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Jocelyn lives with her husband and two children in Iowa. Visit her at

Jocelyn is giving away a copy of her book. Follow the easy steps below to enter.
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Thanks for being with us, Jocelyn!

January 10, 2017

The Story behind Second Chance Love by Pamela Meyers

Happy new year, everyone! Hope it’s off to a great start. I’m pleased to welcome Pamela Meyers to the blog this week. We have known each other for a long time, so it’s great to have her come and share what inspired the book that’s set to release in two weeks.

Here’s a little bit about Second Chance Love.

Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Neither one of them would have imagined two years ago that the deep attraction they sensed during a day-long outing would resurface when Sydney’s boss assigns her to Jace’s legal case.

Sydney has been through a world of hurt since losing her dad when she was sixteen, then being dumped the morning of her wedding. She’s sworn off romance and instead devotes her time toward a partnership in her father’s law office.

Jace has found faith in God and wants out of his sponsor contract with a risqué restaurant chain that requires him to pose with scantily-clad women. He’s about to bail on the contract and pay steep penalties something he can ill afford, given that his deceased father left the family with unpaid taxes.

Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they’re meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second chance at love?

What inspired you to write the story, Pam?

I’ve loved everything cowboy since I was a child, and dreamed of living where I could have a horse. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t a dream my parents shared, and as I grew into adulthood, I moved on to other interests. I used to think that all rodeos happened in the west, but about a dozen years ago learned I was mistaken. There are a lot of rodeos going on in my home state of Wisconsin and all around the Midwest during the warmer months.

The Pioneer City Rodeo, where Second Chance Love is set, is a real event that happens every Labor Day weekend. A friend and I attend the rodeo every year. Like in my story, there are rodeos on three consecutive evenings, and we attend all three. Located in the tiny village of Palestine, a southern Illinois town nestled along the Wabash River, the rodeo offers a wonderful getaway to cap off the summer. We meet a lot of the locals sitting around us in the stands and on Main Street during the street fair. Although some of the retail establishments in my story are from my imagination, many are real, including the Back Porch Smokehouse and the Wabash Coffee House, located a short distance upriver from Palestine.

When I decided to write a story set at the Pioneer City Rodeo, it was a natural to make my hero, Jace McGowan, a bull rider, since that’s one of my favorite events. My heroine, Sydney Knight, is a born and bred Chicagoan and can no more picture herself living on Jace’s Texas ranch than he can see himself hanging up his bull rope and living in a Chicago apartment building.  Little do they know how much they really do have in common, but will it be enough to bring them together? I hope you’ll read my story to find out.

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love and her historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Her novella. What Lies Ahead, is part of a novella collection, The Bucket List Dare, which is now available at Amazon in both print and Kindle formats. Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, releases in January 2017. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.




Twitter:  pamelameyers

Pam is giving away a copy of her book (available after January 24). To enter, follow the instructions below.

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Thans for joining us, Pam! Sounds like a great read!


December 27, 2016

The Story behind Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby

For this year’s final post, I’m pleased to welcome my friend and fellow ACFW WISE board member (for 4 more days) Becky Melby. She’s sharing what inspired her to write her latest release, Do You Know What I Know?

Here’s a little bit about the book:

When a phone call from the obstetrician’s office goes to the wrong person . . .
Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her?

Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program?

Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas?

Can a ponytailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion?

What an interesting premise. What led you to write the book, Becky?

Back in the day when a woman went to her doctor to find out if she was pregnant, my husband Bill and I received some wonderful news. It was all good until the clinic sent the bill—to Bill’s aunt and uncle who had a daughter who shared my name. And this Becky Melby was only fifteen years old!

Thankfully, the mix-up only resulted in a lot of laughter and a story that keeps being repeated in our family. Fast forward to this past year when I was pondering ideas for a Christmas novella. My husband recalled this comical event and said, “Anything you can do with that?”

Definitely! We started playing with “What ifs.” What if the results of a pregnancy test went to the wrong person? What if the woman who was pregnant asked someone else to give her husband the news? When he doesn’t mention it, she might assume he wasn’t happy about it—or, with her hormones in flux, she might think something far worse.

What if the man who receives the news thinks the girl he’s only dated twice is pregnant? Should he give up the idea of a future with her? Or is God asking him to stand by her? What if God is asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program?

The final result of all these “What ifs” is a novella called Do You Know What I Know? I loved the idea of taking a line from a familiar Christmas carol and giving it a double meaning. It’s a light read, but deals with some serious issues like adoption and infertility. My prayer is that it will remind readers to focus on the real meaning of Christmas . . . even after Christmas!

Burlington, Wisconsin author Becky Melby writes Contemporary Christian Fiction and Romance. Do You Know What I Know? is her sixteenth book. Married for 44 years, mother of four, grandmother to fifteen, Becky thrives on writing, reading, camping, rides on the back of a silver Gold Wing, and time with family.

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Becky is giving away a copy of the book – autographed copy to U.S. readers, Kindle version to international readers. Scroll down and follow the simple instructions to enter.

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Thanks for joining us, Becky!

December 16, 2016

The Story behind Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix

Please join me in welcoming Michèle Phoenix to the blog today as she shares the story behind Of Stillness and Storm. Here’s a little bit about the amazing-sounding book.

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Wow, Michèle. What inspired you to write a book like this?

As an English teacher, I was constantly telling my students to “write what they know.” That’s exactly what I did in Of Stillness and Storm. My parents were missionaries to France for forty years, and I lived surrounded by devoted Christians whose hearts were in the right place, but whose priorities were sometimes obscured by their zeal to reach the unbelieving. Lauren and Sam—with their laudable strengths and deplorable flaws—are composites of the family friends who populated my childhood.

To be honest, I’d wanted to write a story set on the mission field for some time, but lacked that illusive but crucial spark that becomes the impetus to sit down and start typing. I had bits and pieces floating around my mind—hints of personalities and shades of conflict—but it wasn’t until 2012, when I traveled to Kathmandu for the first time, that the novel began to crystallize. I was struck by the beauty and brokenness of Nepal, and I saw in its desolate landscape and difficult living conditions a metaphor for the toll an honorable but reckless ministry can take on good people.

A story centered on a missionary couple’s personal journey from their first encounter to their moment of reckoning in the monsoons of Kathmandu quickly emerged from the geographical symbol.

I’ve never been someone who carefully crafts characters before the writing begins, so much of the initial process is just waiting around for them to reveal themselves to me. When Lauren first spirited her way into my mind, she carried with her the weight of a past I couldn’t wait to explore. The evolution of her marriage to Sam was a story I strove to treat with unflinching honesty. Describing the degradation of her bonds with a son she loved so fiercely was an aching exercise in resisting the urge to settle for happy endings. And Aidan’s reappearance in her life? A complete surprise, even to me. He emerged with those four simple words—is it really you—as I sat in the dark with my laptop one night, just as he did for Lauren in the story. And all of a sudden he became a pivotal influence in her journey and a galvanizing presence in her grappling with purpose and identity.

Of the books I’ve had published so far (there’s one more coming in September 2017!), this is the one that was the hardest to write. Though the first drafts of other novels took me just three or four weeks to pour out, this one took me months. And here I’d thought familiarity would simplify the process! There were times when I wanted to scratch it all and find another story to tell, but there was an intensity to Lauren’s “occupation” of my creative spaces that I couldn’t quell. So I powered through.

Once I found the courage to share what I’d written, early feedback wasn’t all encouraging—though it was exactly right. When my college writing professor, who had volunteered to read an early draft, sent a rather bluntly-worded email to me, I realized my best intentions and efforts were not paying off. “I’m past chapter eight,” she wrote. “What will keep me reading? Is it coming soon?”

Oh, the temptation to throw in the towel—or throw out the Macbook! I set the manuscript aside for several weeks, perhaps hoping that leaving it unattended would cause a sort of literary fermentation to happen that would miraculously elevate the novel from boring to readable. When the period of mourning (and rebelling and responsibility-deflecting) was over, I set to work deconstructing and reconstructing what I already had, shifting some scenes and deleting others, and generally distilling the book to its most basic, focused form.

Of Stillness and Storm was born.

Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing. Learn more at Twitter: @frenchphoenix

Enter below to be the lucky winner of a copy of Michèle’s book.

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Thanks so much for being with us, Michèle!

December 13, 2016

The Story behind Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe

Please welcome author Jodie Wolfe to the blog this week. I’m so happy to have her here as we’ve gotten to know each other on Facebook. Here’s a little bit about her new release, Love in the Seams.

Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She’s given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work as the recent sole owner of the local dress shop. As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive. His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

Welcome, Jodie!

Thank you for the chance to be on your lovely blog today, Liz.

Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles Series. Both books take place in the fictional town of Calder Springs, Texas. I loosely based the town from Blanco, Texas where my husband has family.

The series is about twin sisters who made a pact to never marry. I wanted to see what it would take for each of them to find a happily-ever-after of their own. I’ve always had a fascination with twins, especially identical ones. And no, there aren’t any twins in my family that I’m aware of. 🙂 I did have the pleasure of working with twin sisters who were my beta readers to make sure I got the interaction between the twins correctly though.

In my new saga, the hero, Johannes Mueller is a new schoolteacher in Calder Springs. I loosely based some of his job interaction with my experience when I student taught. Readers have told me how they have fallen in love with his precocious six-year-old daughter, LillyAnn. She has a tendency to say things that aren’t expected. I had a son who also had the ability to keep me on my toes because you never knew what would come out of his mouth when he spoke to people, particularly strangers.

Mae Stafford is an accomplished seamstress. While I taught myself to sew and have made quite a number of things through the years, I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Mae has given up believing that God will give her what she desires most but LillyAnn has other ideas in store for the two adults in her life. To purchase their story click here:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of ACFW. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at

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Jodie is giving away an ebook copy of the book to winners in the U.S. Enter below.

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Thanks again for joining us, Jodie!

December 6, 2016

The Story behind 30 Days Hath Revenge by C. Kevin Thompson

Please join me in welcoming C. Kevin Thompson to the blog this week. He’s sharing a little bit about his new release, 30 Days Hath Revenge. Here’s a little bit about this thriller.

30-days-hath-revenge_2nd-edition-front-cover-002Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction–a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy family life.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in his London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of an international scheme so twisted and sadistic, it will take everything Blake possesses–all of it–to save the United States from a diabolical terrorist attack.
Sounds like a great read. What sparked you to write it?

Thanks, Liz, for this chance to tell the story behind 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller – Book 1. Your readers will be the first official group to hear this story.

It all began with a conversation.

My wife Cindy and I are both in the field of public education. We were having a discussion one evening about some of the laws affecting education and how they are getting manipulated into something far different from the original intent.

For example, the laws concerning homeless children were originally designed to benefit a student who was suddenly homeless due to some catastrophic event, like the family’s house burning down or being irreparably damaged due to some natural disaster, like a tornado or flood. Or maybe the husband and/or wife lost his or her job and the family’s been evicted because they cannot pay the rent or mortgage. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Act was designed to help in these situations, so that children could still get their education without being penalized in any way for something out of their control (i.e., not be held accountable of lost textbooks, not be held accountable for unexcused absences due to the event, be provided special bus transportation, if needed, etc.).

However, as in many cases, students get savvier as they get older and learn how to find loopholes in laws.

High school students under the age of 18 who google “How can I become emancipated from my parents?” are finding out they too can fall under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act, and it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Get into an argument with their parents and manipulate their parents to offer up the golden ultimatum: “If you live under my roof, you live by my rules. Otherwise, you can move out.”
  2. Once those magic words are given, the student moves out of the parent’s house and moves in with a friend’s family.
  3. Once this occurs, the student in considered “homeless,” and is afforded all the privileges McKinney-Vento has to offer.

At this point, students cannot be held accountable for attendance.  They cannot be held accountable if they lose or damage school-assigned property (i.e., textbooks, iPads, etc.). They can go to school when they wish. Stay home when they wish. There is no one who can hold the students accountable legally because the law protects them.

We also noted how many of these same “privileges” are afforded to English Language Learners, formerly known as ESOL. If students are considered ELL students, because of their language barrier, they too cannot be held accountable for many things until they reach a certain level of language proficiency and are dismissed from the program. This usually takes years.

In the midst of our conversation about how these laws get abused, my writer’s mind ran with it. “So, what if some terrorist organization used these laws against us? To their advantage, like high school students use the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act? And what if they coupled this with the issue of illegal immigration? Used unwitting illegal immigrants in a diabolical plan against our country? There would be nothing legally anyone could do about it.”

And that, my friends, is how 30 Days Hath Revenge was born.

c-kevin-thompson-author-photo-2-002KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, an assistant principal in a middle school, a husband, father, grandfather, and drummer. A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Facebook Author Page – Stop by and “Like” his page

Twitter Author Page – Come follow Kevin

Goodreads Author Page – Add Kevin as a friend

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Kevin’s Website – Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the home page and sign up for Kevin’s newsletter to catch the latest news!

Seriously Write – Kevin is a regular contributor for this site every fourth Friday of the month

Thanks so much, Kevin. You never know what will inspire a writer’s mind!

He’s giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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All the best with the book, Kevin!