Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas, but...

You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl!

Yep, I was born and raised in the great state of Texas and proud of it. Lived there (except for seven short months in 1976) from birth until 2011. Then, after living in Houston for 13 years, my husband and I decided we’d had enough of the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes—not to mention a couple of hurricane scares. So we packed up and moved to Tulsa, where friends living there said we’d enjoy the “milder” climate.

Fast-forward five more years, and we were ready to leave Oklahoma’s “mild” ice storms, tornado threats, and 110-degree summers behind! By then, one of our daughters was living in North Carolina, and the other daughter thought her husband might also be transferred there (it didn’t happen). Still, with the possibility of living near all the grandchildren, we relocated once more.

For the record, North Carolina is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. And yes, the climate really is mild, with four seasons but comparatively few weather extremes, at least in the six years we’ve been here. We have good friends, a church we love, and at least one half of the grandkid generation to enjoy. (When they’re in town, anyway. Another long story—this daughter and her family are dedicated to mission work, and they just left on another lengthy overseas assignment.)

But Texas . . . ah, Texas. Nowhere else can you find those amazing fields awash in bluebonnets every spring. Nowhere else can you find authentic Tex-Mex or real Texas-style barbecued brisket. Besides the longtime friends and extended family we left behind in the Lone Star State, those are the things we miss most.

Texas is definitely a state of contrasts—the lush farmland of the Rio Grande Valley (where I grew up), the piney woods of East Texas, the high desert beauty of Big Bend Country, the flatlands of the Panhandle that seem to go on forever, and—one of my favorite areas—the rugged, rocky Texas Hill Country.

I don’t get back to Texas much anymore, bur I revisit every chance I can through my books, and the latest is Her Hill Country Cowboy, my September release from Love Inspired. With longstanding family ties in the Texas Hill Country, plus fond memories of horseback riding on my brother’s ranch, how could I resist setting my story there? About an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio, the fictional town of Juniper Bluff is home to Serenity Hills Guest Ranch, a small operation run by (of course) a handsome cowboy.

Naturally, there’s a pretty girl in the story, exactly the right woman to heal this cowboy’s wounded spirit and fill the empty place in the lives of his motherless children. And while she’s falling in love with the cowboy, it isn’t long before this quiet little Texas town starts feeling like home, and all the people there like old friends.

Here I am several years ago in Texas taking my grandson for a horseback ride.

Is there a place where you’ve lived or traveled to that remains dear to your heart, no matter how far away life takes you? What makes it special? Do you return often . . . or wish you could?

Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind.

Sign up to receive Myra’s quarterly e-news updates here!

Monday, August 21, 2017

New for August from Our Love Inspired Suspense Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with new must buys from our Love Inspired Suspense authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.

Deadly Disclosure
by Meghan Carver 

Getting shot at on her way to work is only the first shock of law student Hannah McClarnon's day. The second is when FBI agent Derek Chambers—her first love—reveals the truth about Hannah's family. Though Hannah was raised by a wealthy Indianapolis couple, her birth father was with the Chicago mafia. And now, convinced she has information against them, they're hunting her down. Derek's first big assignment is to protect Hannah, and it's becoming more personal every minute. He's never revealed why he left long ago, and he still believes Hannah deserves someone better. But with the enemy in relentless pursuit, he'll risk his life to be the man she needs—and loves—again.

Plain Retribution
by Dana R. Lynn

Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she's nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles's sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he's falling for.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Scripture

The Woman of Canaan, by Michael Angelo Immenraet,
17th century. [PD-US}

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
"Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! 
My daughter is tormented by a demon." 
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. 
Jesus' disciples came and asked him,
"Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply,
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me." 
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs." 
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters." 
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith! 
Let it be done for you as you wish." 
And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour. 
Matthew 15:21-28

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Overcoming The Black Moments Of Life…And A Giveaway!

Hi, Mary Alford here and I’m happy to be joining you today.

If you are a romance writer, you’ll understand what I mean by the black moment. Every story has them. This is the scene where the conflict between the hero and heroine comes to a head and can either make or break their relationship. Their future happiness depends on how they react to the black moment. Will they overcome the obstacles in their path, or will their love be destined to fail?  

As a romantic suspense author, I’ve written many black moments throughout my career. Some are harder than others, but once you make it through them, then you get to the happily ever after point of the book. My favorite.     

In June, Deadly Memories, my second Scorpion Team was released. In Deadly Memories, the heroine of the story has been held prisoner for seven years. Severely beaten, Ella can’t remember anything about her past. When she meets CIA agent Kyle Jennings, she wants to trust him, but so many things stand in the way of her trust and their future together. Ella wants to believe she is the good person that her heart tells her she is, but could she be a cold blooded sleeper agent capable of taking innocent lives instead?
In my October release, Framed For Murder, CIA Liz Ramirez is being framed for the murder of her partner and blamed for smuggling arms into the US. Liz has no other choice but to go rogue, hoping to uncover the evidence her deceased partner claimed to have left in a remote cabin in Alaska, before her own people or the gun runners who are intent on reclaiming the missing weapons find her. Can Liz overcome the roadblocks she and Aaron face each step along the way and will he believe her if they reach the cabin and the evidence isn’t there? Will she and Aaron die up there in the isolated Alaskan tundra, or will Liz spend the rest of her life in prisoner for a crime she didn’t commit?
While most of us don’t face these types of black moments in our own lives, we all have things that can cripple us if we let them. Whether it be a disease, a loss of a loved one, financial problems, we all have struggles. Uncertainty is all around us. It’s what we do when confronted with these moments and where we turn for help that truly can make a difference in overcoming the black moment, or crumbling beneath its weight.
In 2012, I lost both my mother and father-in-law. Mom passed away at Easter, and my father-in-law at Christmas. That was a year filled with black moments and it was very hard to overcome the grief. If it hadn’t been for God’s help, and knowing that I will see them both again one day, well, I’m pretty sure I would have crumbled beneath the weight.  
So what about you? Have you had your black moment yet? If so, how did you overcome circumstances to move beyond it?
I will be giving away a Kindle copy of my October release, Framed For Murder to one random commenter.
You can read about my books at www.maryalford.net and connect with me on Facebook at:
And stay tuned next year for the final two books on the Scorpion Team series.
 All the best…
Mary Alford

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where Do You Read? by Angel Moore

Reading Christian romance is one of my favorite ways to relax. I escape into a place someone created for my enjoyment. The journey through a previously unknown world unfolds on the stage in the theater of my mind.

I love to curl up in the corner of the couch with a diet soda or cold water and get lost in a good story.

My favorite time of day to read is late afternoon when I’m home alone without distractions. My absolute favorite place to read is in a hammock or beach chair on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Another place I love to read is on a cruise ship balcony.

Yep. I love that.

Let’s be honest, though. Most of life isn’t spent on vacation. Reading is my vacation for the normal days. More often than not, the closest water is a hot bath at home after everyone else in the family is asleep.

On those normal days, I find myself following a heartbroken character as she seeks God and peace. Knowing she'll find a handsome husband by the end of the book makes it all the more interesting.

I’ll read in the car. I’ll read in a waiting room. I’ll read with my mom when I visit her. She’s a fast reader, turning three pages for every one that I read. That means she passes her books to me quicker.

When I find myself at home alone overnight, I love to lay across the bed and read until I can’t stay awake another minute. Why do authors write those lines that make you turn the page? Don’t they know I have to work tomorrow?

This is not my bedroom, but it is my quilt. I love the peaceful colors. The green reminds me of the Caribbean, and it’s the only way I could sneak some pink into the master bedroom.

Where do you love to read? Share in the comments here. If you’d like to share a pic of the setting, drop by www.facebook.com/AngelMooreBooks and post it in the comments on my post about this blog.

I love writing stories of faith and hope, and I am grateful to you for reading them.

May God bless you.

Find my books, the latest news, and links to connect on social media at www.angelmoorebooks.com.
Look for Husband by Arrangement in March of 2018.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Living, Loving and Learning to Let Go—Plus a Giveaway

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a hard time letting go.

Letting go of the past. Letting go of those I’ve loved, whether due to relocation or death. Letting go of dreams.

Dreams, which have already fulfilled their purpose in me—realized in God’s timing and in His way—although I may lack the perspective to view it objectively at the time.

It’s not hard for me to let go of the “bad”. My challenge often comes in letting go of that which has been good, fruitful, and purpose-driven in my life. I tend to cling to the past “good”. Unable and unwilling to move forward because of a fear that the new will not prove as wonderful and satisfying or safe as the old.

As I write this post today, my last child just left the house for college. Summer, for me, is over. I'm facing a new season, the season of an empty nest. Exciting and sad all at the same time. Bittersweet in the truest sense of the word. Many of you know where I'm coming from.

Likewise, this book was written during a season of change for me. A time of transition—after the death of my father for whom I’d spent the majority of the last two years caring for. My youngest child getting ready to graduate. A change in ministry focus. In other words, a lot of change in almost every aspect of my life.

I hate change. But as Kristina discovers in The Bachelor's Unexpected Family releasing next week, it is impossible to remain in the past. To refuse to move forward is to stagnate and die—mentally, spiritually and emotionally. When we refuse to fully crossover the threshold of God’s open door, we are in effect saying we don’t trust Him to have our best interests at heart. And what I’ve learned in this season of great change in my life is that God always keeps His children close to His heart. Just like you and I keep our children—no matter where they roam—close to our hearts.

Life can only be lived in the present. This means letting go of the past—with both its joys and hurts. I must choose to look with hope to the future, a future kept safe in the nail-scarred hands of our Savior.

And grateful for the gift, decide each day to live an abundant life in faith.

What have you found difficult to let go of? How do you handle seasons of change?
Comment for a chance to win a copy of The Bachelor's Unexpected Family.

For more behind the scene inspiration from The Bachelor's Unexpected Family, visit Pinterest.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Two Free Books Delivered Right to Your Mailbox

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Join contemporary and historical Christian characters as they experience the challenges of life, the promise of hope and the wonder of romance.

Read a FREE excerpt. Decide which series you like best. Choose Regular or Larger Print. Love Inspired will send your two free books plus two mystery gifts (approximate retail value of $10) directly to your door. Once you're a member, all you have to do is sit back and read.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Jesus walks on water, by Ivan Aivazovsky (1888)

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds. 
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. 
When it was evening he was there alone. 
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. 
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea. 
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. 
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. 
At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 
Peter said to him in reply,
"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." 
He said, "Come." 
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 
After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
"Truly, you are the Son of God."

Matthew 14:22-33

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When Story and Real Life Collide

Hi all! Dana R. Lynn here. I am so excited to be here today! I have a new book out, and was thrilled to see it on the shelf for the first time yesterday.

 See it? Plain Retribution, right there on the top row. I love that cover! The girl on the front looks so sad, I literally got a lump in my throat the first time I saw it. As you can see by the picture below, I signed the copies in the store. I was so afraid that someone would come over and yell at me. But no one did.

I loved writing this book. It was so much fun because I was able to use much of what I do in real life while writing it. Let me explain. My heroine, Rebecca, is a lovely young woman. Strong. Courageous. She's also completely deaf and communicates totally through American Sign Language, or ASL. She was very dear to my heart. I have worked with the deaf and hard of hearing since 1993, both as a teacher and as an educational interpreter. It was really important to me that I portrayed Rebecca honestly. In order to get in her head, I talked with several friends involved with the Deaf community here in Erie PA. Most of them said that when they think, they visualize images and signs. Most of the technology mentioned in the book are things that I have discussed either with my colleagues or my students.

My hero, Miles, is a mixture of my oldest son and my youngest brother. He's made some mistakes, but is doing his best to redeem himself. He is determined to not compromise on his faith or his duty. When I was writing the story, I really felt like I was borrowing some of the characteristics of my brother, who passed away at age nineteen. Maybe that's one of the reasons I loved Miles so much. He was adorable. At the same time, he's got a goofy side, like my son, who constantly makes me laugh. Miles just might be my favorite hero yet.

Ironically, I was hesitant when the idea for this book first entered my mind. In some ways, I felt it was too personal. In the end, though, I am glad that wrote it. It touched my heart and made me sigh. I hope it blesses my readers, as well.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mining Life for Story Ideas — Plus a Book Giveaway

Where do you get your story ideas from is a question authors are often asked. My short answer is "from life." Take my August Love Inspired release Reuniting His Family, for example.

Background: I grew up in a village in Upstate New York that has a maximum security correctional facility. My mother and my father (at the end of his work career) were employed there. Mom was administrative assistant to the director of the school program and Dad lead a maintenance crew. Both of them said, more than once, that most of the inmates they had contact with in their jobs said they were innocent of the crime that had gotten them there.

Fast forward a few — okay, a lot — of years. I was gearing up to write a new proposal for Love Inspired and got thinking about the claims of innocence my parents had heard. What if an inmate was falsely convicted of the crime he was incarcerated for and released when that came to light five years later? What if he had found Jesus in prison? What would his reentry into society be like? What prejudice might he encounter? What if he had motherless kids? My story idea was born.

Rhys Maddox wants nothing more than custody of his two sons. Released from prison after a wrongful charge, the widowed dad will do anything to bring his boys home where they belong. But that doesn't include falling for their former social worker. Now leading an outreach program for families in transition, Renee Delacroix can't escape the tall, dark and intriguing single dad or his adorable little boys. But Rhys is determined to go it alone. Until one incident that may cost him what he wants the most. Now it's up to Renee to save him if she can make him see she's just what he needs to complete their forever family.

Harlequin | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Now for that giveaway. Again, some background, small-world category. I no longer live in my hometown. But a church friend where we do live does prison ministry. Another worked for the  NYS Department of  Corrections in Albany and visited various facilities throughout the state. A third worked as a nurse at a maximum security facility a little south of where we currently live. So, here's your question to enter to win a copy of Reuniting His Family (print or ebook; winner's choice): Does anyone here do prison ministry or have a connection to a facility? Or not?

I'll come back Thursday morning and post the randomly chosen winner in the comments.

Monday, August 7, 2017

New for August from Our Love Inspired Contemporary Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with new must buys from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.

http://amzn.to/2voSvKYTexas Daddy
by Jolene Navarro 

Being a devoted dad is former bull rider Adrian De La Cruz's top priority. So when Mia suffers a rodeo injury and winds up recovering alongside Adrian's first crush, Nikki Bergmann, he becomes even more protective of his daughter—and his heart. Nikki is back in Clear Water solely to recover, and he knows she has no intention of staying. But as the bond between Mia and Nikki grows, Adrian can't help falling for her once again. Until Nikki's long-buried secret comes to light, and Adrian must decide if he can forgive the past, or face a future without the woman he's never been able to forget.

Reuniting His Family
by Jean C. Gordon

Rhys Maddox wants nothing more than custody of his two sons. Released from prison after a wrongful charge, the widowed dad will do anything to bring his boys home where they belong. But that doesn't include falling for their former social worker. Now leading an outreach program for families in transition, Renee Delacroix can't escape the tall, dark and intriguing single dad ... or his adorable little boys. But Rhys is determined to go it alone. Until one incident that may cost him what he wants the most. Now it's up to Renee to save him ... if she can make him see she's just what he needs to complete their forever family.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Transfiguration

Transfiguration, Raphael, 1518-1520. [PD-US]

The Transfiguration

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them; 
his face shone like the sun 
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
"Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here, 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, 
then from the cloud came a voice that said, 
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him."
Matthew 17:1-5

Open our hearts to hear your voice, O Lord.
Help us embrace Your truth
And glorify Your Holy Name
In all we say and do.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Winner of last week's Lenora Worth book giveaway

Hi. Just hopping on to alert Stephanie L, the winner of a copy of my upcoming September LIS release, Tracker. Stephanie, please contact me through lenoraworth.com with your information and how you'd like to receive the book, print or e-mail. Thank you for stopping by the blog!