Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Interview with JoAnn Durgin and #giveaway

Today we welcome JoAnn Durgin to my blog. JoAnn is very graciously giving away a copy of her book Thee Will I Honor to one person who comments. Please include contact information. 

Good to have you stop by, JoAnn. Tell us about your book – a brief blurb:

After serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan, wounded First Lieutenant Matthew Henry Martin returns to Meadowvale, his beloved hometown nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He’s unemployed and facing an uncertain future, but surely God has a plan?

Lesley Ann Randall is a woman on a deeply personal mission. A small Virginia town is the last place her older sister, First Lieutenant Faith Randall, was spotted. When Lesley speeds into Meadowvale, she immediately captures the attention of the sheriff, the pastor, and a handsome war veteran with secrets of his own.

When Lesley and Matt join forces, will they discover something greater than they could have ever imagined?

What inspired you to write this book?

Thee Will I Honor is the second book in my three-book Treasured Vow Series. The books are about three (of four) siblings, and this installment focuses on Matthew Martin, the only son in a family with three sisters (the oldest is already married). As the children of well-known Christian marriage experts, the Martin offspring can sometimes be clueless about romance.

Thee Will I Honor released on Memorial Day, an appropriate and fitting day for a story about a returning war hero. I have all the respect in the world for the members of our military. In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, I talk about visiting Pearl Harbor this past December and poignant memories from that visit. I also wished to examine and bring to the readers’ attention the physical, emotional, and mental conflicts faced by a majority of our returning servicemen and women. They need our prayers whether they’re serving overseas or stateside. The heroine’s sister is also military which figures greatly into the book’s events and highlights some very real and current world security issues.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write contemporary Christian romance with strong elements of faith, family, humor and (of course!) love and romance in all my books. I can’t write “flowery” to save my life, and focus more on deep characters, dialogue, and creative and unexpected plot twists. I like to believe I present sentimental and heartwarming characters I hope readers will want to get to know better. Nothing pleases me more than when a reader believes my characters are real and considers them as friends. In Thee Will I Honor, there’s a mystery running throughout the entire book (with a bit of suspense near the end). My books are very character-driven but with plenty of action to keep readers engaged and entertained so they’ll keep turning the pages!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I love sitting down in front of the blank computer screen and seeing where the Lord and my imagination will lead. My greatest challenge is not with writing but editing. Why? Well, I tend to edit as I move along in my manuscripts these days, and to be honest, working that way slows me down to the brink of frustration. The perfectionist in me can drive me absolutely crazy! I long to go back to the days when I could simply pound out the story and then go back and edit. Thankfully, I finally reach the point where I’m satisfied and know I’ve done the best job I can. Then move on to the next project!

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action?

Readers are sometimes surprised to hear that wedding scenes are my least favorite to write. I don’t generally find them that interesting. They’re full of details, but readers seem to enjoy them to tie the pretty bow at the end of the book (especially in a standalone novel). What I’ve done in recent books is gloss over the actual wedding but give them enough basic details after-the fact. Then I tie up every loose end I can think of and give them that satisfying happy ending. So far, no complaints!

I especially enjoy writing tense scenes, whether it’s emotional or action-packed. I also write more of the lead-up to the kiss instead of focusing on the kiss itself. Those moments between a hero and his heroine before their lips meet can be very sweet and (in my humble opinion) even more romantic.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

My least favorite aspect of the entire process are reviews, but let’s not dwell on that subject. I will say I’m a somewhat rare author who truly enjoys marketing and advertising. My Facebook author page has grown by more than 20K people in the past year by posting memes (illustrations and photos) with Scripture. You read that right, twenty thousand! It’s become a ministry all its own that ministers to people around the world. Most of those people will probably never read one of my books, but if I can touch a heart for Christ, that’s my ultimate goal! Only the Lord knew all those years ago in my college advertising courses how He’d one day use that training for His glory!

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Always keep writing. Try to write every day—no matter for how long, no matter whether or not you ever publish those words. The only way to learn anything, and the only way to improve, is by doing. Early on, it’s helpful to find likeminded individuals in a critique group or through conferences. Be accountable to someone for your work, pray for one another, encourage one another. Once you’ve sent off a submission to an agent or a publisher, don’t sit back and wait for something to happen. It can be a long process, so always keep moving forward and writing that next novel.

Do you have a favorite writing conference to attend? What is it?

I’ve attended a few writing conferences, and they were encouraging, uplifting, and energizing. I don’t currently plan on going to any conferences this year, however. It’s not that I feel like I’ve learned everything because I’ll never reach that point. Authors are always learning, evolving, and growing. Finances, family commitments, and the courses offered all figure into the decision-making process. The first ever SoCal (Southern California) Christian Writers Conference was in 2017, and that was the last writing conference I attended. We lived in California early in our marriage, and our first daughter was born there. I hadn’t returned in 25 years, so that was a real draw to attend last year (plus a good writing friend invited me).

I do attend monthly local meetings for Christian authors, and those could be considered mini-conferences. Being together with other writers is always energizing whether for a few hours or a few days. At this stage of my personal writing journey, I’m more interested in meeting with readers as our family travels to different locations in the country. I’ve been honored and privileged to meet a number of readers in recent years, and the thrill never gets old!


JoAnn Durgin is the USA Today bestselling author of 30 novels including several series, seven Christmas books, and ten books (and counting) in her beloved, long-running Lewis Legacy Series. When she’s not writing, she’s always plotting or thinking about her characters. She was voted one of 35 “Essential Christian Romance Authors” for 2018 by the readers of Family Fiction Magazine. A formal estate administration paralegal, JoAnn and her husband, Jim, live in her native southern Indiana where they enjoy family time with their three children and first grandchild, Amelia Grace.

Links for social media:

The three main places to connect with JoAnn are as follows:

Amazon link to buy Thee Will I Honor (can also be borrowed free with Amazon Kindle Unlimited):

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Guestpost from Gail Kittleson and #giveaway!

Today we are welcoming Gail Kittleson to my blog. Gail is very graciously giving away a copy of In Times Like These to one person who comments. Please include contact information. 

What is your proclivity when it comes to fiction? Do you incline toward characterization, or have a predisposition for following a set plotline? Right now, I’m finding that my leaning toward writing from a character’s whispers can create an obstacle to getting started.

            A certain World War II nurse’s actual story has me in its grips. But it’s not a fictional character whispering the details in my ear, it’s her real, live daughter who lives about six hours away. I’ve never met this woman in person, but I think we discovered each other through Pinterest. I’ve pinned a lot of WWII nurse posters and photos, and so has she.. voila!

            Her mother’s saga, nothing short of jaw-dropping, along with all of her medals, blows me away. This Iowa woman’s contribution to the war goes above and beyond, imho. So why do I put off writing even the first scene?

            Well, my proclivity is making for an acclivity—an upward slope. Or possibly a barricade, maybe even a declivity. Can you tell I’ve been studying clivus,the Latin word for a slope or hill?

You’d think having a character presented on a platter would jumpstart the whole writing process—after all, a great deal of the research has already been done. Maybe that’s part of my hesitation—I like doing research. Going a bit deeper, perhaps I like being in control.

Ya think? At any rate, this writing life seems to offer continual challenges, and this one simply happens to be new. Am I able to approach this story from a different angle...explore this real woman who sacrificed so much during the war, and allow her opinions and proclivities to invade my senses? Am I will to let her take over for a while.  The other option, allowing fear (of not doing her story justice, or of stepping on someone’s toes, or of disappointing someone out there) to reign hardly seems acceptable.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has faced this situation, and how you proceeded out of the declivity in which I find myself these days.

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than You."
                                                                       Dr. Seuss

BIO: An Iowa farm girl, Gail’s a late-blooming novelist after instructing ESL and writing. Her four published novels celebrate women’s contributions to World War II, and her memoir celebrates the power of women’s friendships. 

When Gail’s not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or editing, she facilitates writing workshops and retreats in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the incredibly gorgeous Mogollon Rim Ponderosa forest. Favorites:  grandchildren, exploring WWII sites with her husband, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dead Drift

Dead Drift 

(Chesapeake Valor #4) 

Paperback, ebook, hardcover, audio book 

July 3, 2018

by Dani Pettrey

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764212970

The Final Countdown to Stop an Imminent Attack Has Begun.

Burning debris littering the ground . . . smoke pluming in the acrid air . . . this is just the beginning if he fails.

Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to become part of an elite team set on capturing a deadly terrorist. When Luke returns to face those he left behind, their help becomes his only hope of stopping his target's latest threat of an attack that would shake America to its core.

Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he's back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. 

Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist's next mark?

My thoughts:  DEAD DRIFT is the fourth and final book in Ms. Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor series, mostly set in Maryland. These characters do get around.  Fans will want to read the books in order, Cold Shot, Still Life, Blind Spot and DEAD DRIFT since it is all the same team and there is at least one investigation in common for all four books. 

DEAD DRIFT's primary storyline was about chemical warfare that was planned to be launched on USA soil. I won't lie and say this was easy reading. A lot of the chemical talk went right over this readers head, and I was somewhat confused by a lot of it. I also tended to skim when they began talking shop. I am a business major, not a chemist.  

It was an exciting race against time as they discovered when it was all planned to go down, and one wasn't sure who they could trust, who they couldn't and who wasn't what they seemed. 

With the primary suspense, you knew who did it and why, and even how. You even knew when. But you didn't know where and it was a pretty heavy question.  If was even factored in there but since this is the last book in the series it had to have a happy ever after, so that worry was not as heavy as it could've been. 

The secondary suspense that tied the four books together (in addition to the same team) you don't know who or why or when or where or anything except how and it was a huge issue. 

Ms. Pettrey is an award-winning author of romantic suspense for good reason. I fell in love with her writing with her first book set in Alaska and have read everything she's written since. 

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Big Trucks: Getting the Job Done Together

Big Trucks: A Touch-and-Feel Book: Getting the Job Done Together (Touch-and-feel Trucks) 

Board book 

July 3, 2018

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Series: Touch-and-feel Trucks
  • Board book: 12 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Multilingual edition
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400310586

Join the big trucks on the construction site!
Little ones will love to explore these tactile pages—from rubbery tires to gritty dirt—and learn from the trucks how much fun it can be to work together. With touch-and-feel elements to increase sensory development and simple rhymes to boost vocabulary, Big Trucks will help your child discover something new with every read!

My thoughts:  BIG TRUCKS: GETTING THE JOB DONE TOGETHER is a cute read for toddlers and preschoolers that will encourage discovery. Each page has a shiny or different feeling area for your favorite small child to discover. An engaging storyline about working together and sharing the work load will help to teach your child to help and the engaging rhyme will keep them interested. 

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Warrior's Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive

The Warrior's Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive 

Paperback, ebook, audio book

September 15, 2014

by Kathy Barnett (Author), Carrie Daws

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Emerald House Group, Incorporated
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620202876

The call came down from Command, and your warrior husband is out the door, leaving you behind to handle whatever he has left undone. 

Whether it's the day-to-day monotony, the inevitable appliance that breaks, or the months without his presence beside you, being a military spouse brings challenges few appreciate.
Yet God sees you and longs for you to boldly step into His plan. 

He purposely chose you for this moment--for your man. He wants to give you abundantly more than what you have right now and desires you to thrive as your warrior's bride.

Join authors and military brides Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws. 

In their combined thirty-five years of military experience, they boldly discuss some of the most common issues in military families:

  • The Calling of the Warrior
  • The Healthcare System
  • Extended Family
  • Parenting
  • The Fear of Divorce
  • The Fear of Death
  • Pornography
  • Infidelity
  • Living with a Wounded Soul

Warrior's Bride is a must read! While Carrie and Kathy have not sugar-coated the many challenges of military life, they have generously shared the hope they have found and the road map for thriving! ~Kathleen Dees, wife of Major General (Army Retired) Robert F. Dees 
I found your life stories and growth in your understanding and commitment to God's purpose in marriage to be inspiring and insightful! Your testimonies will encourage many military spouses! ~Paula Van Antwerp, wife of Lieutenant General (Army Retired) R.L. Van Antwerp

Readers' Favorite Award Finalist:
By choosing to tell their own stories with complete candor and by relating each chapter to specific, time-tested verses of scripture, Barnett and Daws establish a solid 'you can trust me' foundation which allows the text to read like a privileged conversation rather than a run-of-the-mill self-help treatise. ... The Warrior's Bride is filled with the particular warmth and caring that only a manuscript written as a gift can engender. From first word to last, it is clear that the authors earnestly wish to bring hope and comfort to their readers. ~Rich Follett 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Cowboy Bodyguard

About the Book

Title: Cowboy Bodyguard

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Western, Mystery

Release Date: July 3, 2018

In this Gold Country Cowboys novel, Jack Thorn gets a surprise call from the woman he married in secret years ago. Shannon Livingston needs his protection for herself and the baby she’s hiding from a biker gang targeting the mother. Now Jack must help Shannon, even if shielding her means pretending to be a true husband to the only woman he’s ever loved.

My thoughts:  Ms. Mentink promised us a bumpy ride in COWBOY BODYGUARD and that is what is delivered. Imagine working as an Emergency Room nurse when a biker is brought in... and he isn't one of the many good bikers... No. He's part of the 1%, part of a very dangerous gang that'd rather kill you than look at you.  Not only that, but injured biker's girlfriend is accused of pushing him down the stairs, causing this accident -- and the biker's want to retaliate by kidnapping her newborn baby and killing her.  She is only a teenager and  a bit panicked and doesn't know where to hide from all these scary tattooed bully bikers.  Of course, Shannon is intimidated by them too, though she tries not to show it, and goes running to her estranged husband Jack for protection--who better than a cowboy, right?  But even miles away she is still in danger and those bikers are on her tail...  and I am so glad I am not a heroine in one of these romantic suspense books.  (shudder).  I would never survive the first attack and of course there are more than one, two, three... there's usually a dozen or more. Plus the black moment when all is lost.... 

Again, with this suspense we know who, we know why. But we don't know when, where or how, so there are plenty of reasons to keep reading. 

Don't miss COWBOY BODYGUARD. Fans will want to read Cowboy Christmas Guardian and Treacherous Trails first to get stories from other secondary characters in this book. 

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

Click here to purchase your copy!

Guest Post from Dana Mentink

I’ve spent a bit of time in emergency rooms lately. Not to complain, mind you. The asthma related treatments worked like a charm and we were blessed by good care, so I am not ungrateful. There’s a bonus, too. The emergency room is a great place for people watching! Hour upon hour I spent surveying patients, relatives, nurses and doctors. I came away pondering what it must be like to work in the strange bustle that is an emergency room. That’s where character Shannon Livingston was born.

The E.R doc and nurses must be brilliant problem solvers with nerves of steel because they never know what will roll through their doors. Since they are not responsible for follow up care, they have only a short term relationship with their patients. But what would happen, my fictional mind wanted to know, if one emergency room treatment ensnared Shannon in a “run for your life” scenario? And what if her incredible life saving skills weren’t nearly enough to save her own life, or the baby she’s suddenly become responsible for? Ah me! The perfect scenario for a suspense novel, no? I hope you enjoy Cowboy Bodyguard. I can promise it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

About the Author

Dana’s Bio: Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

Blog Stops

Power of Words, July 15
Genesis 5020, July 16
Remebrancy, July 17
Carpe Diem, July 19
Pause for Tales, July 20
Book by Book, July 21
Bigreadersite, July 24

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away a Mentink Bundle that includes a horse tote book bag, a three book collection, and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Minding the Light

Minding the Light 

(Nantucket Legacy) 

Paperback, ebook, hardcover, audiobook

July 3, 2018

by Suzanne Woods Fisher 

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Revell 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800721633

"How could I have expected so much? How could I have given her so little in return?"'

Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship's hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything. "Is nothing on this island as it appears to be?" he whispers in despair.

Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn't defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and "mind the Light," finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be--honorable, wise, faithful--she finds herself falling in love with him.

But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? Tristram Macy is Ren's business partner, cousin, and best friend--and Daphne's fiancé. Love always comes at a cost, but when is the price too high?
Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes readers back to the Quaker community on Nantucket Island for this riveting love story, full of unexpected moments.

My thoughts: MINDING THE LIGHT is the second book in Ms. Fisher's Nantucket  Legacy series.  I did not request it because I wasn't a huge fan of the first book in this series (Phoebe's Light), but this book as more of Ms. Fisher's quirky writing style and I liked the characters ever so much more.  In fact, I didn't even want to put this book down. 

The Captain is so lost and clueless on land, he is so adorable.  And Daphne is thrust into the midst of a nightmare, but she and the maid are about the only ones keeping a head on their shoulders.  

I was a bit surprised by the Captain's diagnosis of his wife's mysterious collapse and even more surprised by the doctor's excuse of it. If I wrote historical in this time period (which I don't) I would definitely research it further... and maybe I will anyway because it intrigued me.  I learned something knew I didn't know. 

MINDING THE LIGHT was not nearly as stuffy as book one, it was like Ms. Fisher found her niche and the characters came to life in this book. I greatly enjoyed it. 

I received a copy free and all opinions are my own. 

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Carol-award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes untold stories about inspiring people. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World to the historical novel Anna’s Crossing.

Guest Post from Suzanne

8 Curious Facts you Probably Didn’t Know about Nantucket Island

This beautiful island, thirty miles off Cape Cod, is steeped in history. Here are just a few interesting reasons to add a visit to Nantucket to your bucket list.
1) During the first half of the nineteenth century, Nantucket was considered to be the wealthiest port in the world…all because of whale oil.
2) Petticoat Row is a 19th century nickname for a portion of Centre Street between Main Street and Broad Street. Many shops on Nantucket were run by women while the men were off to sea in whaling ships for years at a time. Quakerism, with its emphasis on equality, provided working women with community respect, value and esteem. The next time you’re visiting Nantucket, be sure to stop by the Petticoat Row Bakery for a morning glory muffin.
3) The use of laudanum (opium) was described by a visiting French as prevalent among the women of Nantucket. Loyal Nantucketers vehemently denied his claim. However, in the 1980s, construction workers digging to Nantucket’s sewer lines found heaps of opium bottles buried in the ground.
For centuries, laudanum was considered to be not only harmless but beneficial. Its very name in Latin is landare, which means to praise. Other names for it: Mother’s Helper (to sedate children), Sea Calm (for seasickness). It was used for all kinds of ailments, from sleeplessness to menstrual cramps to treatment of chronic pain, and available without prescription up until the twentieth century, when it was found to be highly addictive.
4) Nantucket Cent Schools were a carryover from England and the cost was exactly what the name implied. In New England they were kept by refined, thrifty women who often taught their own or their neighbors’ children until they were old enough to enter schools of a higher grade. I came across a story of a boy whose mother stuck a penny in his mouth each day so that he would remember to pay the teacher.
5) Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville in 1851, was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew. You can find out more about this ill-fated voyage if you visit Nantucket’s awesome whaling museum.
6) Speaking of…the whaling museum on Nantucket Island is called the Peter Foulger Whaling Museum. Peter Foulger was one of the early settlers to the island, and could be considered a Renaissance Man: inventor, surveyor, teacher, missionary to the Wampanoag Indians. And his grandson was none other than Benjamin Franklin.
7) Nantucketers were, for the most part, related to each other in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The prosperous island was settled by a small group of families, with less than a dozen surnames: Coffin, Macy, Starbuck, Bunker, Hussey, Gardner, Mayhew, Swain, Barnard, Coleman, Worth, Mitchell. Those names are still common on the island.
8) There’s a good reason those surnames sound familiar to you—many of those early settlers had descendants who started business empires. Recognize these? Macy (retailer) and Folger (coffee).

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, July 3
Livin Lit, July 3
Mary Hake, July 7
Simple Harvest Reads, July 8 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Book by Book, July 9
Splashes of Joy, July 10
Vicky Sluiter, July 11
Among the Reads, July 12
Bigreadersite, July 15
Pause for Tales, July 16


To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to five winners!!

Be sure to leave a comment on one of the blog stops for 9 extra entries into the giveaway. Click link below to enter.