Monday, December 28, 2015

When Holidays are Hard by Cheryl Wyatt


Good morning everyone. I hope all of you had a wonderful time with your loved ones at Christmas. This year was a little easier on our family than the past two years, because we'd just lost my grandmother one year, then the other the next year right before Christmas. Moods were definitely dampened, and yet we were all keenly more aware of the gift of having one another as opposed to things.

This year it felt easier to get into the Christmas spirit and we found ourselves laughing more than crying as we told stories of my grandmothers from Christmases past. How about you? Have you faced a loss or are you enduring a hardship that makes the holidays hard on you?

I hope you will let us know so we can lift you up. Prayer is a gift that I'm enormously grateful to both have and receive. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your struggle in the comment section, please feel free to request prayer at cheryl@cherylwyatt.com.

Jesus is the best gift of all, and I love that he left us examples of how and what to pray. Not just The Lord's Prayer, but also prayers like his prayer in John Chapter 17. That prayer was meant for not only his immediate disciples, but also for his future disciples...which is us...me and you if you believe.

Having a hard time with Christianity? I pray a special touch from God this season that will last forever. God isn't finished with your story. He wrote himself into it and I pray you open your heart to all he is and all he has for you, including hope that will never fade or die. His love for you is not dependent on what you do or don't do and his peace is life-changing and his hope everlasting.

I pray for you this year the gift of knowing Him. Of knowing Jesus as Lord, Savior, Friend, Spouse, Confidant, Provider, Healer, Wisdom-giver, Lavish Mercy-maker, Loving Father, Comforter, Hope-giver, Peacemaker, Powerful King, Joy-infuser, Victory-maker, Hurt-taker, Burden-carrier, Chin-lifter, Heart-healer, Lie-dissolver, Encourager and the million other things he is and does.

May you go into the new year knowing him more intimately and more accurately than ever. He loves you. My gift is to tell you that and to pray with all my heart that you know it, share it, show it.

Love you all,
Cheryl Wyatt

Monday, December 21, 2015

Revisiting Old Favorites

My childhood favorites bookcase
Hi Everyone, Danica Favorite here, and I'm supposed to be giving some book recommendations today. Can I be honest with you all? I've really been struggling with what to post. You see, I've been on deadline for a book (and turned in on time, YAY!!) and had a really big work project, so I've had almost no reading time. In truth, I've been feeling really guilty about it because how does a self proclaimed book nerd justify not reading?

At first, I thought I'd grab a book real quick, read it fast, then tell you about it, but as has been happening a lot in my life lately, stuff intervened. On top of everything else in my life, we recently adopted two puppies, and while I'm so happy to have them, it's been a ton of work! Trust me when I say they are all puppy! Whew!

But then, in my book nerd shame, I realized something. I HAVE been reading! I may not be reading books for me, but I haven't given up reading with my kids! My eleven year old daughter has struggled with reading so I started reading with her, and it's really helped her not only improve, but really love to read. And so, in our car, we listen to books on tape. We just finished E.D. Baker's Tales of a Frog Princess series. In addition, when I tuck her in at night, we read a few chapters of whatever book she's reading. A week or so ago, she was frustrated at having nothing to read, so she asked me what to do. I brought her to the bookcase containing my childhood favorites, and we pulled out Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary.

I'll admit, I was really hoping to convince her to give Anne of Green Gables a try, but she wasn't into it. She likes the diary-type books, so Dear Mr. Henshaw it was. And even though I really would like to revisit my beloved Anne again, I'm glad we went with this one. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed that story!

So here is my book recommendation for you: revisit an old childhood favorite. I'm amazed at how many wonderful memories it brings up, and it also reminds me of all the things that made me fall in love with books in the first place! The other thing that happens for me when I read books from my childhood is that it reminds me what it's like to look at the world through a child's eyes. Sometimes we're so caught up in being grown ups that we forget what matters in the world of our children.

My second recommendation is that whatever children are in your life, ask them what they're reading, and read those books with them. The last book my daughter read was, in my opinion, terrible, and I won't mention it here, but it gave me a lot of insight into what she enjoys and what her internal world is like. I also didn't like some of the themes in that story and felt they were presented inappropriately. But since I read it with her, we could talk about them, and I could explain why those things were wrong. I could have made her read my beloved Anne, but knowing the books she likes, I don't think she's ready to embrace Anne the way I do. And then, there are the books we enjoy together. I really did love the E.D. Baker series (and shhh... I bought her the start of another one for Christmas), and I can't wait to read more with my daughter.

Do you read with the children in your life? Which old favorites from your childhood would you like to revisit?

How can I pray for you? by Camy/Camille

Photo credit: lalalime.blogspot.com
I was reminded on Saturday how important prayer is. I was sharing with my pastor and his wife about my writing hopes and it occurred to me to ask them to pray for me.

I don’t really believe in the “prosperity gospel” that’s being bandied about these days, but I do believe that if we’re seeking God’s guidance in our work (in my case, in my writing), then God will bless us because we’re doing what He wants us to do. In a weird way, that stamp of divine approval eases my stress about my life.

So, in paying it forward, how can I pray for you?

Prayer requests can sometimes be private things, so to keep your privacy, I’ve made a form you can fill out that will keep your requests just between you and me. Also please be sure to fill out the form again to update me if you sent me a prayer request in the past. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

MEDIEVAL MEETS CONTEMPORARY

This last month... Er, these last months... Okay, this year has been quite the rollercoaster. Blessedly, I've had more ups than downs, family and writing wise. Though my niche in the writing world is medieval romance that began in 1994 with my Bantam Books release, Warrior Bride, I do have a nice little corner with contemporary romance. Thus, I've been slowly re-releasing my inspirational RandomHouse titles. So this month, medieval meets contemporary with the December 16th publication of BARON OF EMBERLY, the second book in The Feud series, and the December 30th publication of NOWHERE CAROLINA, the second book in the Southern Discomfort series. Can you say frazzled? But all the hard work is done, and I can breathe easier and fully enjoy the blessings of this wondrous season. Thank you readers of books and blogs for joining me on this amazing journey through words. Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas and New Year.


A WARRIOR DANGEROUSLY IN CONTROL 
England, 1334 ~ In the second book of The Feud series, Baron Magnus Verdun is a warrior whose handsome face gives little indication of the darkness he struggles to contain. While pursuing the murderous brigands who plague his lands, he becomes the unwitting savior of the woman the king has decreed he wed—the reckless Lady Thomasin, whose very presence threatens his carefully ordered life. And more so when she proves outspoken beyond what is required of a dutiful wife. Can he tame this woman whose willful ways ought to offend, but instead captivate? More, dare he allow her near and risk exposing the secret that could push her away? 

A LADY PERILOUSLY IMPROPER 
Despite efforts to make a proper lady of her, the illegitimate Thomasin de Arell knows she is no match for the Baron of Emberly. Though she expects her new husband will think her beneath him, she is unprepared when he insists on separate chambers. When he also demands she control her behavior, the spurned Thomasin rebels—and unknowingly becomes the pawn of forces determined to further the feud. But upon finding herself in Magnus’s arms, she discovers he is not as indifferent as he would have her believe. And when she glimpses his torment, she is determined to shine light on his darkness. Will he let her in? Or will their enemies use the distrust between husband and wife for their own ends? 

In this sequel to the bestselling medieval romance, Baron Of Godsmere, join Baron Verdun and his lady as they discover that true love seeks first the soul, and is as easily seen in the dark as in the light.

To read an excerpt, visit: Amazon ~ Baron Of Emberly (also available from iBooks, Kobo, and coming soon to B&N)


Maggie Pickwick is a lifetime away from her days as head cheerleader and the mistakes she made in high school. Twelve years later, this single mom has traded pompoms for an auctioneer’s gavel, popularity for peace and quiet, and strives to be a good example for her daughter, Devyn. She’s keeping it together just fine, too—until an old flame moves back to her little North Carolina town. 

Renowned artist Reece Thorpe wants nothing to do with Maggie—not after what she did in high school—but he might also be Devyn’s father. Driven by her own pride and fear for her daughter’s happiness, Maggie finds herself on a slippery slope of white lies as she attempts to convince Reece that she’s changed. But the truth has a way of making itself known, and now Maggie’s past and present mistakes could ruin her chance at love.

To read an excerpt, visit: Amazon ~ Nowhere Carolina  (pre-order also available from iBooks and Kobo)


What is a Singing Christmas Tree?

By Patricia Bradley

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my church's Singing Christmas Tree, and several people commented, asking what that was. Since I've always heard a picture is worth a thousand words...




This past weekend fifty singers climbed the steel structure you see to the left and sang some of the most beautiful songs. It was the culmination of many months of work. 


The choir begins working on the songs in August. The weekend after Thanksgiving, volunteers come together to put the approximately fifty-foot-high steel structure together. Then the greenery and bows go on, and last of all, the lights are checked and coordinated. 


Every year different songs are chosen. Sometimes they are  traditional hymns like O Holy Night and Come All Ye Faithful, other times, like this year the lively African Noel started us off. But the purpose is always to honor and glorify the Reason for the Season



And always the last two songs talk about the Cross. For without the Cross and Ressurection, His birth would have had little meaning. 

So as we rush to Christmas Day, let's keep in mind the Reason for the Season...actually the Reason for All the Seasons. 


Have you ever been a part of or seen a Singing Christmas Tree?

And now for the winners of the Rafflecopter of December 2-4th:
Dana McCall Michael - $20 gift card
Edward Arrington -  Matthew's Choice (digital)
Debbie Mitchell - The Christmas Campaign
Rebeccca Sullivan Dewey - Shadows of the Past
Annie JC - A Heartwarming Christmas

I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

From the shelves of MaryLu Tyndall - A Book Recommendation.

Hi everyone!

Looking for a soothing holiday treat?  You can't go wrong with author Rita Gerlach!  I'm not sure what it is about her writing but it always leaves me with a soothing, warm feeling, as if I've been transported away from all my troubles and plunked down in a historical town when life was simpler, less stressful, and well, more romantic!  Recently I had the privilege of reading her new release, After the Rain.  If you're a fan of Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this book.

It's 1908, a year in the Edwardian Age, the year J.M. Barrie’s play 'What Every Woman Knows', premiered in Atlantic City and the first Model T rolled off the assembly line in Detroit. It is a year when the world faced one of its worst disasters in history, when the New Year would heal the wounds of loss.

Louisa Borden lives a privileged life in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a new and thriving community on the outskirts of Washington, DC for the well-to-do. Against the wishes of her domineering grandmother, she retreats from the prospects of a loveless marriage and instead searches for what she hopes is her calling in life.

When her horse is spooked along Rock Creek, she is thrown from the saddle—an embarrassing situation for any affluent young lady. Soaking wet, bruised and humiliated, she is carried up the muddy bank to safety by Jackson O’Neil, a stranger to the city, who changes the course of everything, including the lives of all those around her.

 Buy from Amazon

MaryLu's Review
Ms. Gerlach is my go-to author if I want to get completely swept away into another world in another time. There's something unique about her writing style that makes me feel as if I'm living back in Edwardian America with all the pomp and manners and proper social etiquette of the time. After the Rain does not disappoint. The characters are real and delightful, the families fun and homey, the plot engaging and romantic, and the spiritual lessons deep and abiding. Want to get transported back to a simpler time and escape from the craziness of our world? Pick up After the Rain. You'll be glad you did! I was given a copy of this book by the author in return for my honest review.

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Tis the season, but you're not feeling it

My husband, playing Santa,
 to the delight of a 99-years-young lady.
What she must have seen over the years,
both happy and sad. 
Everyone’s talking about baking, Christmas parties, good foods, beloved traditions, gifts they’ve tucked away,and leaving town to see friends and family. The feeling can be contagious. Almost.

Most of us have endured Christmases we’d rather forget. Because troubles don’t keep Christmas from coming. It comes anyway, and if we look at the sparkling joy around us and don’t feel it, we feel like downers who might ruin the most perfect Christmas party.

The new town we’ve just moved to doesn’t have those special memories and people we love. When we’re unemployed, the bare space under the Christmas tree taunts us. After a divorce or breakup, the Christmas parties and gatherings are filled with people who still have their “someone.”

No amount of gifts can fill the gap at the dinner table after the death of a loved one, nor the empty space next to us in the bed after losing a spouse. When our hours are filled, not with fun at the mall and baking, but sitting beside a hospital bed, Christmas can seem a million miles away. Painful changes come our way, and sometimes it’s reflected in Christmas.

But if I recall the original story, the first Christmas was steeped in trouble, its preceding months filled with scandal and rumor. I often wonder if Mary liked to have things just so, or if she was a go-with-the-flow kind of girl.

“Sure, I’ll give birth in a cave. Without my mom nearby, in a strange town, without any of my family here. And my ‘midwife’ is my husband, and the baby’s not his.” Talk about a reality show!

When she and Joseph were engaged, they probably had plenty of plans.

Don’t we all?

But we never plan for sickness, separation, bereavement, economic hardship. We don’t plan for the bottom to drop out of our worlds, especially at Christmas time. Christmas may feel, at best, an annoying series of activities we're not feeling and we can't wait for the whole thing to be done with.

What can we do, then, to find something to celebrate, or at the very least, a nugget to keep us going?

In the hard times, peeling away the wrapping paper and gifts, the parties that come and go, the songs that fade, we get to the heart of the celebration: hope.

The world can be a dark place, and without the hope of Christmas, we don’t have the comfort of knowing we’re not alone. We don’t have the assurance of God’s provision for our needs. But our hope came wrapped in swaddling clothes and tucked in a manger. That is a reason to celebrate, and get to know Jesus, the child who grew up to reunite us with God, the source of all peace. Without Him, all the celebrations are never enough. With Him, we can always find something--Someone--to hold onto in spite of the troubles.

One thing to do in the meantime is put our troubles aside, if but for a moment, and reach out to someone else. Find one new thing, something meaningful, to celebrate at Christmas. This season will pass and Christmas will change for us from now on. But it’s going to be okay. We have a promise. Hold onto hope! Fear not!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas traditions by Camy/Camille

I was thinking today about Christmas traditions. I had always thought of “Christmas traditions” as things like antique tree ornaments, or certain family games, or special Christmas dinner plates—stuff that’s been passed down for generations.

I am fourth generation Japanese American, so my family has been in the US since the late 1800s. They adopted American Christmas practices but didn’t have any particular items or things they did every year besides Christmas dinner and a Christmas tree. My mom started a tradition of buying an ornament for me and my brother every year, but that stopped once I moved out of the house and didn’t have my own Christmas tree (and Mom was free to buy the decorations she wanted for their own tree).

But I realized that “Christmas traditions” aren’t necessarily things that we own, or things that you’d usually think of as a “tradition.” It’s become “tradition” for my family to visit a certain diner to eat their awesome sliders. It’s also a tradition to have a family dinner at Pappadeaux’s restaurant so I can have my year’s dose of crawfish étouffée.

Another tradition has become my husband’s gifts to my relatives—every year, he makes homemade bacon (he’s curing it in the fridge as we speak and he’ll smoke them next week). He also usually makes a piece of homemade pastrami for my dad, who loves pastrami. For the past two years he’s made brisket and burnt ends for my uncle.

We never have the same foods every year, but it’s become a tradition for us to have Christmas lunch with one side of the family and Christmas dinner with the other side. We’ve also started a White Elephant gift exchange, which rarely gets cutthroat but sometimes has some amusing gifts.

So “traditions” for us aren’t really what you’d normally think of as “traditions,” but they’ve become part of Christmas for me. It wouldn’t be the same without any of those things.

What are traditions you do for Christmas, both “traditional” and non-traditional? (Fair warning: If I like your idea, I might steal it! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

TAMARA LEIGH'S KEEPER SHELF: Fictionalized Non-Fiction

So many awesome reads, so little time. Among my favorite reads are what I call fictionalized non-fiction--specifically, history presented in a fun, interesting way. As you may or may not know, the middle ages is my favorite setting. And the 12th century... Sigh. So, no surprise that I adore Sharon Kay Penman's amazingly well-researched, beautifully-written fictionalized accounts of King Henry II and his sons. For a peek at what inspires my own writing, check out: When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, Devil's Brood, Lionheart, and A King's Ransom.


Now if only Ms. Penman would continue the series with the life of that nasty-nasty King John.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Delight Yourself in the Lord...

By Patricia Bradley


When I sign my books, I write  Psalm 37: 4. This is a verse with a  condition and a promise

If you (the condition): "Delight yourself in the Lord and (the Promise) He will give you the desires of your heart."

Exactly how do we go about delighting ourselves in Him? By working harder? Or Doing more things? 

I don't think so. I believe delighting ourselves in Him means we recognize who He is. He is our Creator, the Giver of our lives, the Giver of our desires. 

When we delight ourselves in Him we want what He desires for us. 

For years, I claimed this verse  as God's promise that I would be published.  

So you can imagine that I didn't understand when year after year passed and I was not published. After all, I was delighting myself in Him...wasn't I?

One morning in my quiet time, after yet another agent turned me down I prayed, "Lord if writing is not what you have for me..." I took a breath, not sure I wanted to finish my prayer because writing meant so much to me... "then change my desires. Put your desires in my heart."

I prayed that prayer, meaning it. 

As the days passed and became months, my desire to write did not lessen. Then one day as I was reading Psalm 37, I read verse four, then five and six , then seven: "Wait patiently for God to act..."

Now, I'd read verse seven many times before, but that day it hit me. Since God didn't change my desire, then I was doing what He wanted me to do, but it would be in His timing, not mine. 

That's the day I stopped striving to get published and started enjoying the journey. Writing was my job, getting published wasn't. That was God's job, and He did such a better job of it than I ever could have.

So this Christmas season, delight yourself in Him and ask Him to put His desires in you!

Don't forget the Rafflecopter from last week goes on for 8 more days! Enter here!




Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 3 - A Heartwarming Christmas and More Release Party

by Patricia Bradley

Can you believe I have three books releasing in such a short time?



The third book is A Heartwarming Christmas, and it's a digital anthology. 

This holiday season, warm your heart with 12 connected sweet holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 12 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. 

There are four connected books in A Heartwarming Christmas. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually. A Heartwarming Christmas will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1200 pages. Foreword by small town lover and New York Times bestseller Kristan Higgins. All for 

99 cents. 


My story is The Gingerbread Pony. It is currently a digital book on Amazon and can be ordered separately. It will soon be offered as a print book!

With an opportunity to start over at a top speech clinic in Texas, Amy Logan can finally leave Christmas Town and her failed dreams behind. But can she turn her back on Mark Bradford--or his daughter, who hasn't spoken since her mother died? 

As I've thought about each of my heroines in my book: Livy Reyolds in Gone Without A Trace, Nicole Montgomery in The Christmas Campaign, and Amy Logan in The Gingerbread Pony, I realized something.

Not one of those heroines can cook! Sooooo, with Christmas coming on, would you like to help them out? At the same time, you can enter to win one of the prizes I'm giving away to celebrate my book releases! Just go here to the rafflecopter and enter and be sure to leave a simple recipe for extra entries!

Thanks for coming to my release party! And I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 2 - Gone Without a Trace and More Release Party

by
Patricia Bradley

Good morning! It's Day 2 of my Release Party! And today I'm talking about Gone Without a Trace, the 3rd book in the Logan Point series. (I would have put another ! but I think I used my quota already today) 



I thought you might enjoy a conversation my hero from Gone Without a Trace, Alex Jennings and I had while I was working on the book:


“You busy?”
I looked from my computer to the doorway. Alex Jennings leaned against it, a frown on his face. “A little. Do you have a problem?”
“No. I just want to hang out.”
I hate it when characters won’t tell me what’s wrong, when I have to drag it out of them. I closed the top on my Macbook. “Spit it out.”
“Spit what out?” Nevertheless, he stepped into the room and moved a research book from the Queen Anne chair beside my desk before he sat down. His 6’2” frame looked ridiculous in it.
“Hold on a sec,” I said, and exchanged places with him. “Now, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” He crossed his arms and stared out the window.
I waited.
After two minutes of staring, he turned to me. “What am I doing in Logan Point, Mississippi? I’m a Texan, all the way back to the Alamo, and Texans belong in Texas.”
“You don’t like Logan Point?”
“I didn’t say that.” He smiled. “Actually, it’s a great little town. And I love Kate’s B&B. Did you know that woman can do some cooking?”
“Hmm. I think I knew that. So, what’s the problem?”
Alex pressed his lips together. “It’s that detective you paired me with. Livy Reynolds. She’s driving me crazy.”
He didn’t know how that warmed my heart. I managed not to smile. “Exactly how does she do that?”
“She’s going to organize me to death. Have you seen her lists? That woman makes a list for everything. And that’s not all. She.Is.A.Control.Freak.”
“And you’re not?”
“Hmph.”
I doodled with my pencil. “Do you like anything about her?”
A gleam lit his eyes. “Have you seen her with Abby? That little girl has Livy hogtied.” He tilted his head. “And she has courage. She’s pretty, too.”
“So it’s not all bad?”
His eyes widened.  “Uh, uh. You’re not going to—” He jumped up and palmed his hands up. “No. Don’t you dare try to  get us together. Not happening. Not in a million years. She’s too bossy. And she hates flying.”

“If you say so.” I took my chair back and shooed him out of my office. I’d just figured out another way to torture the both of them.


Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter drawing on yesterday's post- here!

The past is repeating itself--and time is running out


It's been more than two years since homicide detective Livy Reynolds's cousin disappeared from Logan Point. Unlike most people in her hometown, Livy has never believed that Robyn left voluntarily. When Dallas private investigator Alex Jennings contacts her concerning a senator's missing granddaughter who was last seen in Logan Point, Livy notices eerie similarities between the two disappearances. With self-doubt plaguing her and an almost instant dislike of the self-assured PI, she's finding this investigation an uphill battle. But with the prospect of finding her cousin on the horizon, she'll have to find a way to work with Alex--before it's too late.