Tuesday, June 18, 2019

We {{Heart}} New York and its Amish by Jo Ann Brown

I’ve been friends with Tracey J. Lyons for more than a decade, but today is the first time that we’ve both had a book coming out at the same day from the same publisher. My book The Amish Widower’s Twins is set in Washington County in northeastern New York.

Her book A Love for Lizzie is set almost eight hours west in Chautauqua County in the southwestern corner of New York. These settlements are two among the more than twenty that have been established in the state since the early 1950’s.
Tracey’s book is her first for Love Inspired and her first Amish romance. My book is the fourth and final book in the Amish Spinsters Club series. But we both agree that we are delighted with our book covers.
Both of us are writing about Old Order Amish communities, but there are some definite differences. Tracey’s settlement of Miller’s Crossing was established in the 1970’s and is a daughter settlement of one in Geagua County, Ohio (in the northeast portion of the state). My brand new settlement in Harmony Creek Hollow was settled primarily by families from Lancaster County, but also from other states (including Delaware and Indiana). While the older settlement has its Ordnung, the unwritten rules by which the community lives, one of the challenges for my characters has been creating a new Ordnung for their settlement as they decided on color of their buggies and shape of the women’s kapps (head coverings) and other details that are vital to their community.
While southwestern New York has slow rolling hills that lead toward the Great Lakes,
Washington County shares a border with Vermont and enjoys amazing views of the Green Mountains.
Both are traditional farming areas with a scattering of small towns which is a primary reason the Amish were drawn there. And probably why we were drawn to write in these areas, too!
We were amazed, because we never mentioned it to each other, that we both have main characters with the surname of Miller. My hero is Gabriel Miller, and her heroine is Lizzie Miller. Actually it’s not surprising, because Miller is one of the most common names among the Old Order Amish. But the similarities don’t end there. Both Gabriel and Lizzie have a single sibling, which is unusual for Amish families, which tend to run to a lot more kids!
Now both Tracey and I are each working on another Amish romance while we enjoy the release today of the print books. The ebooks will be available July 1. The audio book for The Amish Widower’s Twins is also available today.
So join two friends today while we enjoy a unique celebration!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Let's Talk About Animals!

I was pondering what I wanted to talk about today--what element of writing or faith or
life in general that would be fun to share. And then I looked out my office window and saw
cows coming up to get a drink from their trough, and I had it!
Animals! Let’s talk about animals!
I love animals--my husband would quickly tell you--maybe a leetle too much! I’ve featured at
least one animal in each of my books so far. And I'm not a bit sorry, either--I think animals add a
fun sparkle to stories.

In my first book, A FAMILY FOR THE FARMER, I introduced Glory the world's bossiest
She even made the cover--no surprise--because she totally stole the show (and eventually the
wedding ring!) I loved writing about Glory--partly because I based her on our beloved “Goosey”
who patrols our barnyard to this very day.
Additional characters in that book pulled from our personal barn family included Beulah the milk cow
Beulah in the shade

and an assortment of Oberhasli 
dairy goats
Our youngest son loves goats!

In A BABY FOR THE MINISTER, another goat--an escape artist called Rufus--butted his way
into the heroine’s heart. While I don’t actually have a goat named Rufus, he is a combination of
numerous billy goats we have owned over the years.

      Goats are such gems--their unique personalities make them perfect for adding a dash of humor to any situation! (Whether you want it or not!)

Then in HOMETOWN HOPE (releasing tomorrow--woo hoo!) I added a puppy into the mix!
This is my daughter’s beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi “Nugget.”

The puppy in my story was actually a mixed breed shelter rescue, but his mischievous personality? That was one hundred percent Nugget!

And this week I’m wrapping up my final edits for my fourth Love Inspired, A RANCHER TO
TRUST, coming out in January 2020. The four-legged star of that story? Lucy Ball--Beulah’s very
curious calf. Check out this attitude:
                       See why I couldn't resist putting her in a book? Isn’t she adorable?

So tell me--what animal has its paws (or claws or hooves) on your heart? Extra points if you
share a picture in the comments!

Laurel Blount lives on a small farm in middle Georgia with her husband, their four children, and an assortment of very spoiled animals.
She divides her time between farm chores, homeschooling, and writing. She's busy, but at least she's never bored! Laurel writes inspirational contemporary romance, and Hometown Hope is her third title for Harlequin’s Love Inspired. Whenever she's not working, you can find her with a cup of tea at her elbow, a cat in her lap, and a good book in her hand. Stay in touch by signing up for Laurel's monthly newsletter here !

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Trinity Sunday

The Blessed Trinity with Crown, oil on panel,
Max Fürst, 1917. [PD-US]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."
John 16:12-15


If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Love is in the Air by Marie Bast

As a romance writer, I’m always on the look-out for a good story, subject matter, theme, or setting to inspire me. Everywhere we go, my eyes and ears are always peeled for something to arouse my interest for my next novel. And summer is a great time to go on a vacation or a hike, take a walk through the park, go to the many festivals that are all around like our Rhubarb Festival or Hog Fest, maybe attend an outside art and craft show or visit a historical site to glean ideas.

Last weekend, we enjoyed a concert in the park. Besides a terrific 
band, we saw young couples sharing a blanket on the ground or 
sitting side-by-side in lawn chairs holding hands. Many had 
playful interactions with the band.


Sometimes just the lying on the warm sand in the Bahamas, Mexico, or Myrtle Beach can inspire the creative juices. One year, we visited the dunes in Michigan. Went on a canoe ride on lake Michigan and enjoyed the sunsets.

My husband and I love to go on cruises. The picture at the right is 
replica of a nineteenth century paddle-boat dinner cruise on
the Mississippi River.        

The picture at the right is the Brilliance of the Sea Gulf Cruise we took to Cozumel, Mexico, in 2016. A cruise lends itself to romance in exotic, romantic, and historical places the ships visit. We’ve gone on several Bahama cruises to enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm water.

The below pictures are of my grandson and his girlfriend who was crowned South Carolina's 2016 Rodeo Queen. Now who doesn’t love a good rodeo or fair in the summer. They also like to enjoy a relaxing horseback ride.

So what is your favorite place or thing to do in the summer? And if you’re a writer, do you have a special place or event that gets you inspired for that next story?

Marie Bast is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of romance     
that whispers words of hope and healing through complex 
characters and twisting plots. She enjoys writing Amish, 
contemporary and historical stories. Marie's latest release, The Amish Baker, is a Publisher Weekly best seller. Her next novel, 
The Amish Marriage Bargain releases January 2020. Married for 
twenty-seven years, Marie and her husband have two grown sons 
and one daughter. When she’s not writing, she’s walking, golfing, 
gardening or spending time with her family.

The Amish Baker purchase links:

AMAZON         BarnesandNoble            BooksAMillion               Christianbook

Visit Marie's website or follower her on social media:
mariebastauthor.com        Facebook        Twitter        Pinterest        blogspot

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Clearing out.... and a drawing with five winners! Roxanne Rustand

Wow. Springtime always seems like the perfect time to really deep clean...and this year, I'm trying to go much farther.  Yesterday my long-suffering husband helped me lug five --FIVE--overloaded laundry baskets of novels (because yep--writers are avid readers too!), research books and books on writing to a local used bookstore.  Those baskets were heavy! 

And then there were the laundry baskets of miscellaneous items for Goodwill last week...and two weeks before that, a load of paper that filled the back of my CRV, destined for the community-wide shredding event at one of the local banks. We had tax records stowed away that went back to the early nineties!  Good grief. But even with this small start after years of living in one house, I suddenly feel a little lighter.  Happier.

I keep thinking that--though we have no plans to move from our acreage in the country--you never know what life will bring.  Just in the last year, we've lost three good friends.  Unexpected losses.

And I keep thinking that it's only fair to work harder at getting my life in order, lest our kids have to deal with all of our stuff.  I really need to buy and read that Marie Kondo book, to see if it will help!

Just in case you'd like something more for your shelves, my newest book is out now!  :)  And...in case you'd like something more, I'll happily mail one of my paperback novels to each of FIVE winners in a drawing (USA residents only.)  The winners can look on Amazon to find a title they would like. If I don't have the one you choose, we can try to find another one you'd like.

Do you have trouble dealing an accumulation of "stuff" as well? Any ideas for me on how to handle it all?   :)

All the best,

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sometimes the Suspense is Real

By Meghan Carver

For the past couple of years, I have had the honor of working with a missionary from our connection of churches to write his story of surviving an attack by a Mexican gang.

As you know, I write inspirational suspense, and I often scare myself or become worried over my characters as I plot how to make their story more difficult. {Read to the end to see my new Amish Love Inspired Suspense releasing next month!}

This missionary story, though, just now released, is no suspense novel. This is real. This book will give you goosebumps as you read of God's protection over this family who sacrificed to bring the gospel to Mexico.

In Angels’ Charge is the incredible true survival story of a missionary attacked by a Mexican gang and God’s amazing protection over him as his family journeyed into another culture, suffered spiritual attack, and came within breaths of seeing Heaven.

Here’s a sneak peek from the prologue:

Somewhere in Mexico, October 23, 2009, before sunrise

Blood pulsed out of the large wound in my head. I had a white dress shirt on that morning, and it was so completely saturated with my red blood that you could not tell it had been a white shirt. My pants were covered with blood. The car seat between my legs was pooling with my blood. The steering wheel, the dash, the window, and the console of my Toyota Sequoia were all completely covered with blood. Blood had exploded from my forehead, and even John was sprinkled with droplets of my blood.

The first thing I remember after returning to consciousness was John’s voice tinged with panic, “Oh God, please don’t let Marc die!” In a haze of semi-consciousness, I asked, “What happened?” Even as I write this, John’s next words echo in my memory transporting me back to that terrifying moment: “Marc, you’ve been hit in the head with a rock, and I don’t think you’re going to make it.” There was a trembling tone of fear and resignation in the way he spoke those words to me that morning that I can never dislodge from my memory.

In that moment, in the midst of those dire and surreal circumstances, John grasped the steering wheel from the passenger seat, and I remained incapacitated in the driver’s seat. I had been instantly blinded by the attack, so he was telling me when to brake and when to accelerate –all the time hoping and praying I wouldn’t lose consciousness or worse as he attempted to find someplace where we could get help.

For indeed, in that moment, I was dying.

It was a true blessing to work with Marc, to have the honor of asking him probing questions about his experiences and his faith. I pray you will be blessed by this story!

In Angels’ Charge is available now for kindle. You can find it on Amazon HERE.


My next Amish Love Inspired Suspense releases next month!

After Amish widow Katie Schwartz’s search for her reclusive brother results in a shooting and her finding a cryptic message, she must rely on federal agent Adam Troyer to shield her. But, undercover as a Plain man, can Adam save her brother’s life and protect Katie? Trusting the handsome Englisch agent is already dangerous…but falling for him could risk everything Katie holds dear.

You can pre-order Amish Covert Operation HERE.

Meghan Carver is a homeschooling mother of six, writer of faith-filled romantic suspense, unabashed bibliophile, and law school graduate. She has four books published with Love Inspired Suspense (Under Duress, Deadly Disclosure, Amish Country Amnesia, and Amish Covert Operation). You can connect with her on her author Facebook page or sign up for her author newsletter and find links to buy her books at meghancarver.com.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Oh No! Winter Killed Our Plants!

by Jill Kemerer

Winter was harsh. We're talking harsh as in negative thirties and forties for days back in February or March. Sorry, both months run together for me! They were both brutal.

And now June is here, but a few of our pretty plants are not.

Yes, winter killed some of our bushes.

Two knockout rose bushes didn't make it. One hydrangea died. And the tree my husband has always thought hideous is officially dead, too. (He's happy about it. I finally conceded it was time to chop it down.)

A few of our other outdoor plants had odd reactions to the cold temps. One bush died at the top but is thriving on the bottom. A boxwood has one side full of yellowish brown leaves, while the other side is as green as can be. It's weird!

Unfortunately, we've had a lot of rain all spring. In fact, you might say we've had rain every day this spring. And it's still coming! I just don't know how our bushes and flowers will handle it. So far, the grass couldn't be happier. It's growing roughly six inches a night.

Okay, I exaggerated, but still--grass needs mowing every other day.

It's strange to see empty farm fields that would normally have corn plants waving like Ys in rows. I love to walk, and I usually think, Oh, look, the corn is three inches tall. A week later, Wow, it has to be six inches. It's really moving.


Yes, I think about corn as I walk.

Clearly, I need to run over to the ice cream parlor and remind myself summer IS here and the corn WILL get planted and no matter how weird the weather is, our grass and bushes are hardy. If they survived that wacky winter, they'll surely survive anything summer throws at them.

Did the weather affect your lawn, trees, bushes or local crops?

Have a wonderful day!

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of inspirational romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. She loves coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. Please visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and sign up for her newsletter.


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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Scripture


The Descent of the Holy Spirit,
15th century illuminated manuscript.
Musée Condé, Chantilly. [PD-US]

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."
John 20:19-23

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D-Day 75th Anniversary

We're in the business of celebrating heroes, and among the many heroes this nation has spawned, the veterans of the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy Beach hold a special place all their own.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I grew up with this date emblazoned in my mind. For as long as I can remember, June 6th was a day to celebrate the selfless courage of the men who braved all.

So, since we're in the business of creating heroes, I thought it would be appropriate today to celebrate the 75th anniversary.

CBS ran a story that included an interview with a 99 year-old veteran who was one of the first men on the beach.

This video includes touching footage of many of the Royal Marine veterans.

When we're talking craft, we often talk about needing tp create characters who are flawed and dynamic. I think these interviews are interesting because none of the men pretend to be perfect. They admit their fear, praying to God, and wondering if they'd make it. Many of them said they couldn't face the memories for many years after they returned.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~JAMES NEIL HOLLINGWORTH

So, in honor of all those who courageously fought their fears because defeating Hitler was so much more important, let us say THANK YOU. Your very lives define the word hero.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Seasons of Life by Leann Harris

I kinda wondered what I would blog about today, but I wanted to share with our readers what a wonderful group of authors this group is. Friends are like gold--rare and precious. The last time I was to blog, there weren't any words inside me. My husband of 48 years had died suddenly of a heart attack. He was in the room with me at his computer. I'd just finished the first draft of my most recent novella. This group has came around me and posted the blog. Others offer to talk if I needed someone to listen. When I met the man in college, he was getting a PHD in physics. I took a second year of biology to avoid the physics. We approached life in different directions but the love we shared covered a lot of short comings. Now, I have do this walk alone and discovered how my husband took care of things. When I contacted the city to have the water bill switched to my name, the woman wanted an email, and other info they didn't have, but since the bill was always paid, they didn't worry.
Kiss your loved ones for me.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Authors Unplugged

Terri Reed here, have you thought about writing for Love Inspired Suspense? Or just curious about the process?
The Faith, Hope and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America presents an hour long workshop with three Love Inspired Suspense authors tomorrow, Tuesday June 4, 7-8pm EST---4-5pm PST (my time zone)
Here's the link to sign up. It's not too late!
Scroll down to June. It's free for FHL members and $10 for non-members

Join three best-selling authors for insider tips on writing for Love Inspired Suspense. They’ll break the imprint down to the three areas writers have the most frequent questions, the basics, pacing and tension, and the romance. Bring your questions for this unplugged session. Guests welcomed.




Questions or for information on how to participate, 

contact the FHL President-Elect by using this email:   pres-elect@faithhopelove-rwa.org

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Scripture

The Ascension of the Lord
The Ascension, Rembrandt, 1636, Munich. [PD-US]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things. 
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high."

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Luke 24:46-53

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Trying to keep the wheels on the wagon....

Well, people of cyberland, it’s the end of May and you know what that means! Yep! It’s also the end of the school year. Since I teach third grade, this is a crazy time when we try to keep a lid on the rising energy levels and general hysteria of a bunch of young kiddos who can smell summer vacation in the air. It’s not easy, let me tell you. I am always struck by the similarities between writing a novel and wrangling a bunch of third graders. Here are the top three.

1. Plot threads are like kids, they tend to run in all different directions. When you’re coming down to that last few chapters, there are numerous things to resolve. The romantic arc? Check. The inspirational arc? Check! The various suspense threads? Double check! Don’t leave anything hanging or you’re likely to have some unhappy reader mail!

2. The work doesn’t stop when the bell rings. Every teacher and writer knows that success involves putting in many outside hours in both planning and execution. After those precious words are written,  edits and revisions are done, and the book has been birthed....the work of promotion begins. People aren’t going to find your amazing book unless you let them know all about it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, website etc.

3.  Both teaching and writing are a combination of art and science, if you will. Teachers have all kinds of formal training in the science of how to best instruct their students. The really great teachers have that intuitive ability in the art of motivating, encouraging, interesting and inspiring their subjects. Writing is like that, too. It’s important to know the nuts and bolts of how to put words together on a page, but the artistry comes in when elevating those words to encouragement, motivate and inspire readers.

So what do you think? Am I on the mark or is the tip of my crayon a bit dull these days?

Dana’s newest book is the first in a new series. Mitch Whitehorse is living his worst nightmare when his serial killer brother escapes from prison. He will have to partner with his brother’s ex wife to put the monster behind bars one last time.


Monday, May 27, 2019

When We Were Young by Belle Calhoune

Recently I've been suffering from nostalgia. I find myself yearning to go back in time and relive

certain portions of my childhood. It always seems to me that those times were far less complicated,

and as a child, I was able to view everything through rose-colored glasses.

I grew up in a small suburban town about ten miles outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I had a really

great childhood. One of five kids, my parents were devoted to anything and everything that

enriched the lives of their children. The grand three-story home we lived in was located directly

across from a  public library. It's no small wonder I became an author since I was always across the

street with my nose in a book. Our house was always a bustling place--lots of laughter and chatter

and debates.

Since my mother was a doctor and my father was a biologist, there was also a lot of scientific

discussions.  Those were never my favorite but I learned a lot.

Summers were spent at our summer house in Cape Cod where we would swim, sit in the sun

(suntan lotion wasn't a big thing back in the 70s), catch crabs and boil the occasional lobster.

We had a favorite place to drive to for ice cream once the sun went down. Four Seas Ice Cream.

I remember my father always ordered the Pistachio while my mother loved the sherbert.

One of my funniest memories is when a lobster escaped the pot and my mother screamed

the kitchen down until my father rescued her. Sadly the lobster was eaten and his escape was short-


I think a lot of this is tied up in missing my mother who passed away in 2000. Sometimes

we think we're past the grief, but then unexpectedly it rises up again and plunges you into yet

another stage of mourning someone you love.

I miss the sound of my mother's voice and the tinkling of her laughter. I miss being mothered

by her.

I miss her tiny wrists and her wisdom. I miss her being only a phone call away.

I miss my father calling her  Anne. I imagine I'll never stop missing these things.

My dad is going to be selling the house I grew up in. It's really too large for him and he's

held onto it for far too long. Although I know this in my head, my heart is already mourning

the loss of my childhood home.  So many beautiful memories were made within those walls.

The winds of change. The permanence of grief.

It all makes sense to me as I ponder the way I've been feeling lately. Memories transport us back in

time to a place where the ones we've lost are still present. They are comforting and tie us to

our past.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Holy Trinity, by Szymon Czechowicz,
1756–1758. [PD-US]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

"I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,
'I am going away and I will come back to you.'
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe."
John 14:23-29

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.