Thursday, March 22, 2018

High Cotton

High Cotton

by Debby Mayne 
Southern Fiction
Gilead Publishing 

Bucklin Family Reunion series: Book 1

Some families are filled with so much love they can't help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family's next reunion. On the one hand, she'll get to see everyone in her mama's family---folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there'll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law's deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay's teen self, but the woman she's become doesn't know what to make of this.

Shay's contentment is challenged, and she's determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she's looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life? 

One thing is certain: Life with the Bucklin family is never boring.  

My thoughts: HIGH COTTON is southern women's fiction, a whole different culture than say women's fiction set in the north.  It's about a family, four different women, Shay, Puddin', Sally, and Missy, and the upcoming family reunion and why they don't all want to go (oh, the drama) and why they feel obligated to go, and all their deeply held secrets that they don't want everyone to know as well as those they want to use to impress everyone. 

This is written in first person, with each character having their own chapter. It is sort of chick-litty but without the sarcasm.  It is very definitely women's fiction (the back cover says romance, but romance is not the focus).

The mainest main character is Shay. She has the most  points of view and she is also the one the blurb on the back cover of the book is about.  She has her own drama, plus family drama, and then she accidentally becomes privy to her sister-in-law Puddin's big dark secret, adding even more drama.  

I was a bit confused at first with all the first person main characters (who is Missy and how is she related to Shay again?) so it took awhile for me to get each character straight in my head and to remember what individual drama each character is dealing with. I think I would've enjoyed it more if she would have picked one character and stuck with her, and maybe used the other three as secondary characters, but for whatever reason that is not the way it was written. It does give us inside thoughts on the four different women and the big five questions: why, what, where, when and how... 

Ms. Mayne is a stellar writer and if you like southern fiction, women's fiction, chicklit (minus sarcasm) and family drama you will love HIGH COTTON. This is the first book in her new series, Bucklin Family Reunion (and the series title says it all). 

I absolutely adore the cover. 

I was given a copy free and all opinions are my own. 

 Meet the Author

Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction and is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas-plus more than 1,000 short stories, articles, and devotions for busy women. Debby is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce. 

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. She was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so Debby enjoys featuring characters with Southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. High Cotton is the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Interview with Linda Hoover

Today we welcome Linda Hoover to my blog. Linda has a new book coming soon. Linda, thanks for stopping by. Tell us about the book:

Lighter Than Air gives us a picture of typical human nature. Elena has done the best she can with God’s help and feels that she has everything under control. When her father gives her the news that they’re going to lose everything, she immediately prays, then believes God has given her the answer to their problem. Once again, she believes she’s in control. Of course, things don’t go as planned and she finally has to admit that surrendering all of it to God and following his lead is the only way to find peace, no matter what happens.

Elena’s neighbor, Justin, has his own plan for the future, but what Elena is trying to accomplish is undermining the opportunity to reach his goal. An attraction between the two of them complicates things and, by the end of the summer, Justin realizes he needs to exchange his hopes and dreams for whatever God has for him.

Have you always like to write?

I’ve always had stories in my head. As a child I’d make up plays and get my sister and neighborhood kids involved. Sometimes we’d be sitting around trying to decide what to do and I’d come up with a scenario and assign parts. Of course the older kids didn’t always do what I told them. 😊

I wrote fan fiction in junior high and high school, but a lot of my stories stayed in my head. It wasn’t until I had children that a friend suggested I write for publication. I took a course through the Institute for Children’s Literature. I loved it but didn’t get serious until many years later. Now I can’t imagine not writing. Of course, using a keyboard, rather than pen and paper or a typewriter, makes the experience much more enjoyable.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I’ve enjoyed many authors, but to tell you the truth, the thing that finally made me get serious is reading books with endings I hated. I’d spend time rewriting the story the way I thought it should go and finally came to the conclusion that I should just write the kind of book I’d want to read.

How did you decide upon the title, Light Than Air?

I was sitting in an airport during a layover on my way home from an American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference. I’d been working on a series and was encouraged to write a single title. I’ve always liked hot air balloons and ideas started coming to me. A balloon is lighter than air and it seemed like the perfect title.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names of character in Lighter Than Air based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I choose character names I like. I have several baby name books. I go to Google when I’m looking for names that fit different ethnicities and to find last names other than Smith and Jones, which are all that want to come to mind.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The story is set near Brighton, England in 1900, so I spent time getting information about the area and time period. What was available to do? What clothes did they wear? What did estates of the nobility look like? I also had to find out how long ocean crossings would take, steaming from Ireland to England, train rides and of course, balloon travel. I love research, so I never mind the time it takes.

Share your bio:

I got my start in newspaper with the South Charleston Spectator. I had several columns published, as well as a middle grade ten-week serial. I published a young adult novel, Mountain Prophecy, in October, 2016. Lighter Than Air is coming soon.  I’m employed by the Clark County Public Library, where among other things; my duties include choosing titles for the young adult and Christian fiction sections. I have a BA in psychology and sociology from Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana and I’ve completed a course with the Institute for Children’s Literature. I’m a member of RWA and ACFW.

Social media and buying links:

If you are interested in Mountain Prophecy, it is available on Amazon in paperback and digital.

Lighter Than Air Blurb

When Elena Bishop lost her mother at age twelve, her father lost his purpose for living. Now they’ll lose their home unless he can pay his gambling debts by the end of the summer. After praying about it, Elena believes God has given her the idea to have a family camp on the grounds of their estate.

Justin Ramsay, Elena’s neighbor, wants to go to America on a secret mission given to him by his grandmother on her death bed. His older brother believes Justin should join the military, but offers him a deal. If Justin can keep Elena and the neighborhood safe until he returns with his American bride, he’ll pay for the trip. If not, Justin will join a regiment in India. Elena might be impulsive and accident-prone, but Justin believes she’s nothing he can’t handle.

Elena and Justin disagree over the camp, even as an attraction beyond friendship ignites between them. Within the first two weeks a little boy falls into the cold-water spring, and problems escalate to threatening letters and vandalism. As more money is needed, Elena goes to Brighton to see a man who gives gas balloon rides. What she finds lands both her and Justin in a situation beyond their control. With the deadline for the debt looming, will their insistence on doing things their way give them both a happy ending, or destroy everything they’ve hoped for?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

His Risk and 5 book #giveaway

His Risk

by Shelley Shepard Gray  
Amish Fiction
Avon Inspire

The Amish of Hart County Book 4             

Calvin Fisher left the Amish community at fourteen and never looked back. Only his brother's illness can bring him back to Hart County. Now, as Calvin works to make amends, he meets Alice, a local nursery school teacher, and falls hard for her. But he has a secret that could threaten the happiness he's finally found.

Alice shouldn't like---or want---Calvin. He's English, has a questionable past, and an even more questionable job. Still, she can't help being intrigued. Though Calvin assures Alice that he's worthy of her, she's torn between surrendering to her growing feelings and steering clear of him. 

When a sudden surge of criminal activity alarms the community and even targets Alice, Calvin fears that his double life has put everyone he loves at risk. As for Alice, she can't help but wonder if the brave and honorable man she's lost her heart to is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine.
An undercover English DEA agent will do anything to protect the Amish girl he loves. 

My thoughts:  HIS RISK is Ms. Gray's most recent book. Fans of Amish romance will love this book. There is enough of a suspense to appeal to Amish romantic suspense readers, but it isn't overly scary or anything. It is more peaceful, written in Ms. Gray's quiet way. 

Alice is a naive Amish girl, overly protected by her parents, yet she works in a daycare. Horse Cave is a quiet, peaceful town. Yet Calvin is anything but quiet and peaceful. He is undercover as a crime lord, and is set for promotion in the crime industry... 

YET somehow, the criminals distrust his brother's diagnosis of cancer and so they start spying on Calvin when he goes home to be with his brother for the surgery, dragging trouble to the innocent community. 

Fans of Ms. Gray or Amish fiction will want to read this book to find out what happens next. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.

Learn more and purchase a copy

 Meet the Author
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Find us on Pinterest
 Blog Tour Schedule

Enter to win a copy of His Risk. Five winners will be chosen! Click the link below to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 28 on the Litfuse blog!

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Borrowed Dream – The Core Story by Amanda Cabot and #giveaway

Today we welcome Amanda Cabot to my blog.  Amanda is very graciously giving away one copy of her book (USA only - and dependent upon at least ten people entering). Please leave contact information.

A Borrowed Dream – The Core Story

Did you know that many authors have a core story?  If you’re not familiar with the term, a core story isthe theme that underlies a book.  When I first heard about core stories, I wasn’t sure I had one, but as I thought about what I’d written, I realized that many of my books dealt with healing.  Sometimes it was physical; other times it was emotional; sometimes it was both.  What my stories have in common is my belief in the healing power of love.

But, wait – as they say in those annoying infomercials – there’s more.  When I was analyzing my books, I discovered that, in addition to writing about healing, I also like unraveling secrets, especially when those secrets are responsible for the wounds that need to be healed.  Now that I’ve told you that, you won’t be surprised when I say that A Borrowed Dream is a story of secrets revealed and wounds healed. 

Catherine Whitfield, the heroine, has deep emotional wounds caused by the town’s doctor’s treatment of her mother.  Even though the era of what was called Heroic Medicine had ended, this doctor still practiced the what you and I would call barbaric practices of bleeding and purging.  Watching her mother’s health decline each time the leeches were applied left Catherine with an understandable fear of doctors.

The town’s newest rancher, Austin Goddard, has no reason to fear doctors.  His fears are centered around his daughter Hannah and the man who’s threatened her life, forcing Austin to flee his home.  Little did he suspect that the sudden move would cause his daughter to retreat into a shell.  Austin has tried his best, but nothing he’s done has helped Hannah.  Can Catherine, the town’s schoolteacher, break through Hannah’s shell and heal her? 

More than anything, Austin fears that someone will discover his secret, once again placing Hannah in danger.  What’s his secret?  He’s a renowned surgeon.  Yes, I paired a woman who wants nothing to do with doctors with a man whose life mission is helping others heal.  You can imagine the fun I had with that!

So there you have it – a woman who fears doctors, a surgeon in hiding, and a child who needs healing.  To further complicate matters, a stranger with her own set of secrets and her own need for healing comes to town. 

Many secrets, many opportunities for healing – that’s the core story of A Borrowed Dream.


There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

Author Bio

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy,A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. 

Social Media Links

Buying Links

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Sea Before Us

 (Sunrise at Normandy #1) 

Paperback, hardcover, ebook 

February 6, 2018

by Sarah Sundin

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Revell 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727970

Nothing but love could heal the wounds of war

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France--including those of her own family's summer home--in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin's practiced pen with this powerful new series.

My thoughts:  THE SEA BEFORE US is the first book in Ms. Sundin's newest series and it is a winner. Both Wyatt and Dorothy won my hearts, my sympathy, and my complete attention. Wyatt is a good, honorable man, a true hero. Wounded to be sure, but beyond sweet. I absolutely adored him.  Dorothy is struggling to win the love she most needs, settling for crumbs of attention, and willing to risk herself for a tiny drop of attention, bless her heart.  I wanted to give her a good talking to, tell her what she was doing to herself. I wanted her to see the truth.  Her father. Ah, there's another good man. A secondary character, but so much character. He was awesome. 

There are so many other things I could say, characters to comment on. From Wyatt's friends and Dorothy's friends, to a scottish terrier with personality.  And of course, Ms. Sundin did a stellar job with the scenery description, making me feel like I was there.  Oh, and a mention of the Coast Guard!  I love those heroes making an appearance in a book about a Naval officer.   

There was an unexpected plot twist, some war action, blackmail, and of course, romance.  All in all, this was a book to be savored, and one of Sundin's best and I've read every single one of her books to date.  

If you love WWII history, then you will want to read THE SEA BEFORE US. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. A truly good read. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Spring Break Activities for Families By various authors

Breaks from school are a great time to do things together as a family. Here are some activity ideas for your family to do during spring break:

Family Game Tournament

During spring break, my sister-in-law and I planned a game competition for adults and kids. We created two teams and set up stations with different games in the living room. We had Boggle, Wii Just Dance, basketball, foosball and several other fun activities. We organized teams so each member competed against others in their age group. Winners at each station throughout the tournament received one point for their team. We kept track of points to determine the winning teams, but we also kept individual scores and gave prizes to those winners. Kids and adults had a blast.
—Evie Lynne Palmer

Painting Rocks

Painting rocks is a fun activity for school-age kids. Look for smooth, flat rocks in riverbeds or streams, or buy them at a craft store. Have children wash the rocks, and when they're dry, paint pictures or a few words on the stones, and then give them to others as gifts.
—Lee Ann Mancini

Get a Discussion Going

Don't let spring break pass by without reading stories with your kids and discussing what you've read. Here are a few books to get you started:
  • Opening Moves from "The Blackgaard Chronicles" series. After reading this book, discuss how people deal with unfair situations.
  • Inferno in Tokyo from "The Imagination Station" series. With this book, you can delve into the difference that compassion makes.
  • "Attack!" from the book Bible KidVentures: Stories of Danger and Courage. Use this story to spark conversation about how worship can be a heavenly weapon.
You can find discussions for over 1,000 other books at
—Sheila Seifert

Name the Day

In my family, we established three specific days for spring break:
Others Day. On this day, everyone tried to help others in the family. Then as a family, we baked cookies for a friend, made cards for people in a care facility and volunteered at a local nonprofit.
Cleaning Day. One day was devoted to spring-cleaning. I made a list of tasks, and we tried to see how many tasks we could check off before the end of the day. Then my kids knew that no other large cleaning chores would be given for the rest of the week.
Outdoors Day. We spent the day exploring a local recreational area and having a picnic lunch. We also played outdoor games together.
—Anna Boyle

Historical Tea Party

I discovered a fun way to bring history to life for my kids. I told each of them to research one famous person from history because they were going to pretend to be that person. Then we put on a tea party, where we dressed up like our characters and told stories from their lives. We were not allowed to tell each other our names, but we pretended we were acquaintances who knew only a little about each other.
I chose Susanna Wesley, and my kids chose to be Mary Cassatt (the famous painter), Betsy Ross, Sojourner Truth and Clara Barton. When it was over, we revealed our identities. Some had been guessed already — and some were a real surprise!
—Hannah Maple

Discover your Parenting Strengths and Areas of Growth

As a parent, you desire to develop God-fearing kids, but that can be very challenging. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are as a parent can help you identify the skills you need to raise healthy, mature and responsible children. Take this free assessment to discover your unique strengths and learn about the areas where you could use the most growth to become a better parent.
Family Game Tournament," "Painting Rocks," "Get a Discussion Going," "Name the Day" and "Historical Tea Party" first appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
"Family Game Tournament" © 2018 by Evie Lynne Palmer. "Painting Rocks" © 2018 by Lee Ann Mancini. "Get a Discussion Going" © 2018 by Focus on the Family. "Name the Day" © 2018 by Anna Boyle. "Historical Tea Party" © 2018 by Hannah Maple. Used by permission.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Without Small Beginnings, There Would Be No Big Ends by Clarice G. James and #Giveaway!!!

Today I welcome Clarice G. James to my blog.  Clarice is the author of three books so far and they all sound interesting. Two of the three have been released, the other is coming soon.  

Clarice is giving away a copy of either Double Header or Party of One to winner in the continental US. Please leave contact information. 

 Thanks for stopping by, Clarice!  

Greectings! Thanks for opening your door to me, Laura. I’m pleased for the opportunity to share with all your followers.

Without Small Beginnings, There Would Be No Big Ends

Like most writers, whether pre-published, newly published, or multi-published, we often wish we were further along our career path —no matter how far down that path we are. “After all, growth is natural,” we say.

Let’s admit it. We don’t really want growth to be natural; we wanted it to be rapid and explosive.

We begin a story and can’t wait to type “The End.” When the end arrives, we agonize over our book proposal and one-sheet. (Whether anyone actually reads them, we don’t know.)

We can’t be happy until we find an agent. When we do, we can’t be happy until we find a publisher. Then, “Hooray! We have a publisher!” We sign a two-book contract then spend weeks, sometimes months, editing our manuscript according to our publisher’s preferences, all the while scrambling for a new storyline for the second book.

When our debut novel arrives, we enter contests, hoping to write “award-winning” and “best selling” in front of our names. Then we’re off to book signings, conferences, and speaking events to sell, sell, sell! And I haven’t even touched on social media. [Sigh.]

While I’m not saying any of this is bad, I am wondering if the “one day at a time” axiom has morphed into “I can’t wait until tomorrow?” In our mad race to cross an imaginary finish line, do we appreciate the strides we’ve made to date? Have we forgotten to enjoy the present? Do we have any guarantees the future will be better?

In Zechariah 4:10, we are encouraged: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line [pen?] in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (NLT)

Without small beginnings, there would be no big ends. Small beginnings are more personal; they usually involve working closely with others. During these formative years, we hone our craft and develop good habits. We also have more time to read, learning much from those who’ve gone on before us.   

I remember when angst grabbed hold of me as soon as I decided I wanted to write for publication. I fretted over query letters, elevator statements, and pitches to agents and editors—as if I were in charge of the outcome.  

I thought back on the small beginnings I had so enjoyed: 1) Creating and presenting humorous “roasts” for my friends and family. 2) Writing and editing a monthly church newsletter. 3) Creating website copy for my employers. In all these cases, the feedback was immediate and more intimate, and the experiences encouraged me to keep writing.

What are your small beginnings? Are you rejoicing with the Lord over them?

Do you finally have the time to write after raising your children? Has an article you wrote been accepted for publication? Does someone other than your mother love your writing? Have you employed the plot twist that came to you in the middle of a sleepless night? Have you created an outline for your non-fiction book? Have you figured out how to apply the three-act structure to the first draft of your novel? (If so, please let me know how!)

God’s word says, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I [Jesus] say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42 NASB). So, whenever I find myself absorbed in self and steeped in my projects alone, I break the pattern by focusing on someone else. Encouraging other writers excites me, humbles me, and brings me joy.

Getting rid of negative internal dialogue helps, too:  I wish I was as prolific as he is … If only I had a different agent … What if my publishing house closes? … I wish I had her sales … If only I had his platform …What if I get a bad review?

Listen up, Clarice! Whining is selfish, comparison is ungrateful, and fear is doubt.  

Eventually, I learned to listen more closely for God when I wrote, mainly because I had no idea what to write. When my novel Double Header debuted in 2015, a reader told me, “I feel like you wrote that story just to help me and my family.” When Party of One came out last year, others wrote basically the same thing. Just this past week, someone said, “I love your blogs. They’re so funny and uplifting.” I knew God was using me. Whether my books minister to one or thousands is in his hands. He is the ultimate marketing genius.

Zechariah 4:6 declares, “Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit.” God has a personal and perfect plan for each of us. If you’re using your writing gift to the best of your ability for God’s glory, he’ll get you where you’re supposed to be on time. You can’t rush the Holy Spirit.

Let’s all enjoy the moment we have right now. It’s all good ’cause it’s all God.

Brief Bio: Clarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, or involved in a home decorating project. She and her husband, David, live in New Hampshire. Together, they have five married children and ten grandchildren. Clarice has been a follower of Jesus since 1980.

Manhattan Grace (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. May, 2018): A young confident actress is mentored in her faith by a middle-aged Messianic Jew, while she helps him pursue an unlikely romantic relationship with a famous opera soprano. Through a series of misunderstandings, the two find themselves embroiled in a jewel heist and a Moldovan family feud.

Party of One (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. June, 2017): Risking her privacy, a lonely widow founds Party of One, a communal table for single diners, where she meets an eclectic mix of colorful characters who cause her to confront her fears, question her beliefs, doubt her self-assurance, and take another chance on love.

Double Header (Mountainview Books, LLC. December, 2015): A rising Boston sports columnist fears losing the unblemished memories of her father when she learns she has a brother no one knew existed. In her search to identify this walking insult to his memory, she learns that God’s playbook is less about her well-ordered plans and more about his.