Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Stepping Into the Light – Why I Choose To Write About Castles by Candee Fick

Stepping Into the Light – Why I Choose To Write About Castles
There’s just something about a castle to fire the imagination and make every girl dream of being a princess. And with several semi-recent royal weddings in England, there has also been a rise in novels featuring royalty from fictional countries. So why would I choose to write about castles too?
Over the years, I’ve collected a folder of story ideas that percolate on the back burner of my brain until one rises to the top to be written next. Most of them have contemporary settings, but there were four historical ideas that would not be ignored. Except I’d started my career writing contemporary romance and I wasn’t sure my readers would follow if I made the switch.
Where would these off-brand ideas fit? Would I need a pen name for them or would they forever go unwritten? Then one day, as I was walking for exercise and praying for inspiration for that day’s writing time, I had a spark of an idea.
What if I told the story of a contemporary character who loved to read? And what if the stories she read influenced her decisions? And what if I included a scene or two of each historical book she “read” alongside the contemporary story? That would allow those neglected stories to have a small voice but within a contemporary context.
But what if in addition to a single scene, I also released the rest of the story? I could then collect them into a companion volume. Aha. I was onto something even if the entire project was out-of-the-box enough that I would need to independently publish it instead of pitch it to an agent or traditional publisher.
As I began to brainstorm the contemporary plot line, I had the opportunity to be a mentor and teacher at The Great Write…where we stayed at a castle. A castle filled with history where guides led tours and spouted all sorts of obscure facts.
What if my book-loving heroine was actually a historian who spent her time living in the past? Living someone else’s story until one day she set aside her books and began to live her own story? Almost immediately, I realized that each of my four historical story ideas contained either a literal castle or a fancy manor house where the residents felt like or were treated like royalty.
Castles tied the entire series together. But as I began to brainstorm further, I discovered that all of my main characters either struggled with their identity or weren’t living to their full potential. That each of them needed to understand and embrace the reality of being a child of the true King in order to truly live a happily-ever-after.
And that is a lesson we all need regardless of whether it comes packaged in a medieval Scottish forest, a Regency ballroom, or a castle in Colorado. That’s why I dedicated the opening book of the Within the Castle Gates series to all those who believe in fairy tales but don’t feel like royalty.
Readers can expect four historical short novels this year followed by the cumulative contemporary. However, I’m having so much fun writing these that I could potentially see additional books in the series alternating with releases from one or two contemporary series. (Start the series with Stepping into the Light.)

I guess it all comes down to what my readers have to say.
What about you? Do you read only contemporary or only historical or both? Have you ever dreamed of staying in a castle? Have you embraced your identity as a child of the King or still struggle with insecurity?



Sometimes the most heroic live in plain sight.

Tragedy stalks Gunn Castle, most recently when the heir to the Gunn chiefdom died, leaving the land vulnerable to attack. But security has come in the promise of a marriage alliance with the Clan Sinclair, the Gunns' powerful northern neighbors.

The search is on to gather the eligible maidens…except mysterious accidents befall all who join the laird’s widow at the castle. Meanwhile, messengers have been spotted along the southern border, and Clan Sinclair may be walking into a trap.

With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in the hands of a disfigured Gunn recluse and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair.

If you like clean medieval romance, the Scottish Highlands, and cheering for the underdog, then you'll love the first installment of this new series from Candee Fick.


Candee Fick is a multipublished, award-winning author. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.


Print (Amazon)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Praying Circles Around Your Marriage

Praying Circles around Your Marriage

Dream big, pray hard, and think long--together. 

Marriage is your most sacred relationship on this earth, and prayer is the single most powerful way to transform it. It's time to learn the relational truths in the legend of Honi the Circle Maker--a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and not leave it until God answered his impossible prayer. The commitment made in the sacred circle of marriage requires the same kind of boldness and resolve as the Circle Maker. Honi's prayer saved a generation, and your prayers can transform your relationship.

Praying Circles around Your Marriage draws from the life-changing principles Mark Batterson outlines in his New York Times bestseller The Circle Maker. Joined by Pastor Joel and Nina Schmidgall who serve with Mark at National Community Church, the authors draw from personal stories, Scripture, and practical insight. You'll discover seven key prayer circles for your marriage: Vision Circle, Romance Circle, War Circle, Dance Circle, Support Circle, Storm Circle, and Legacy Circle. Through these circles you will:

Discover your shared vision and find a new combined purpose together
Turn the tables on conflict and access the gift of being known
Be a student of your spouse and ensure a connected and intimate relationship
Build a foundation for your marriage that will help you weather the trials that are sure to come
Learn to draw a larger circle around your marriage so that your unified purpose can be a blessing to others
The truth is this: what your marriage will become is determined by how you pray. Bold prayers honor God. God honors bold prayers. Praying Circles around Your Marriage will empower you and your spouse to identify your greatest dreams for the most important relationship in your life, and pray the kind of audacious prayers in which God finds delight.

After all, your life together has a legacy to leave for future generations. It's time to start circling.

My thoughts:  I was excited to be invited to help launch this new book by Joel and Nina Schmidgall (with Mark Batterson) PRAYING CIRCLES AROUND YOUR MARRIAGE. I have read several of Mark Batterson's books and like his writing style and voice and I generally come away blessed and maybe more mature as a Christian as a result. 
With Mark Batterson is the key word here.  I didn't see Batterson's voice in this book at all. I recognize that both Joel and Nina Schmidgall are marriage counselors and they know their stuff. There is a lot of thought, detail, traditions (and the reason behind it which I never knew) which is fascinating, a lot of scripture references and verses to read and ponder as well as prayer prompts and action prompts.
As a woman married to the same man for over thirty years I felt that the authors overthought things but since they are writing to a different intended audience than me, maybe not. There is a lot of fascinating information, a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of stuff that I would need to slow down and read and reread, maybe prayerfully, if I were going into this with the purpose of saving my marriage or revitalizing my marriage or something other than reading for review. 
This is not a nonfiction book you read for pleasure, one that feels like you are chatting with an old friend. You are not. This is a book by professionals and the professional voice comes out full-fledged. They are  not old friends, you are not sharing coffee with them and having a nice conversation. They are teaching, sharing their knowledge, educating .... 
So with that in mind, prepare to work through this book slowly. Not a chapter at a time but maybe a segment at a time. Take notes. Pray through it. Talk to your spouse.  Take time to follow suggestions and ask questions. Learn. Listen. Then launch what you learned. 
While this book is not what I expected it is something that many couples need. I sincerely hope it will help fill a void in the marriage-help books and help you to prayerfully work together to merge, align, and cement your marriages into God's plan, not two people working against each other and somehow hoping to survive. 
If you need to do something to revitalize your marriage, work out problems, draw together as partners, then read PRAYING CIRCLES AROUND YOUR MARRIAGE. Great for counselors, pastors (I could see my pastor husband using this as a marriage counseling tool), young married Sunday School teachers, and small groups as well as individual use by husband and wife 
I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.  

Preorder your copy now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors, Lifeway or your favorite bookseller. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Who I Am with You

to enter giveaway, click on link after author's bio.

About the book:
For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith. 
Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.
Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 
When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again. 
Who I Am With You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

My thoughts:  Somehow I missed that this was a cross generations story.  I probably would've passed on it as I'm not a fan.  Despite my initial misgivings though, I was drawn into the story and couldn't put it down.  

However, Jessica is in mourning. Her husband and six year old daughter died in a car accident after a big fight when her husband announced that he was leaving her. She was pregnant with her second child and life skidded to a halt. She stayed home, lived in her pajamas, and didn't brush her hair. What was the point of even trying?  Ridley, on the other hand, is hiding. His face is plastered on the news, he's made a fool of himself, and he is hanging his head in shame, hiding at his parents' vacation home. Or so it seems. But situations are not always as they appear. 

Andrew and Helen are newlyweds when the stock market crashes, he losses his job and home and is forced to move in with his in-laws. On a farm, no less. Full of shame and regret he struggles to keep going. But he learns a valuable lesson.  Will he be able to share the lesson years later with a granddaughter he's never known or met? Andrew - oh, I had to love him. He faced insurmountable odds and triumphed

Fans of Robin Lee Hatcher, women's fiction, romance, historical fiction and cross generation fiction will love this book.  Something for everyone - almost. 

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

About the author:

Bestselling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher, author of more than 75 books, is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an eleven-time finalist and two-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award. In addition to many other awards, she is the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin makes her home with her husband on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillion puppy named Boo and a persnickety tuxedo cat named Pinky.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Mystery of Loch Ness

The Mystery of Loch Ness 

(Impossible Dreamers #2)

Paperback – 

October 1, 1997

by Rebecca Janney (Author)

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576730195

The Impossible Dreamers travel to the Nauticus museum to see the Loch Ness Monster exhibit, and in the middle of the virtual reality ride, find themselves transported back to Loch Ness, Scotland, in 1934.

My thoughts:  The premise of this series is to try to guess-solve unsolved mysteries. What might have happened -- what might be the case. 

The students are homeschooled and there is a very strong faith message. I got this book to review back in 1997 and I was fascinated by it and saved the books for my children.  My middle daughter has just finished reading the book and in her words, "Wow, this is great! It really draws me in and I'm trying to figure out what the Loch Ness monster really is."

I know this is an older book, but it IS still available so if you know a child who loves unsolved mysteries, grab a copy today.  Great discussions to be had. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Be the Miracle

Be the Miracle


  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. 
  • (March 31, 2018)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1948888011

Whether we title these unexplainable happenings miracles, God-sightings, or some other name, people love to hear of such occurrences. Why? They increase our faith by providing evidence of the miraculous in our everyday lives and heighten awareness of God's desire to minister personally to us and through us. 

Unique connecting verses, defining thought, key words, and personal challenges will help the readers go beyond the "good for her" feeling and bring each story's teaching to life in their own daily walk. Many will find comfort knowing they are not alone in hearing God's voice or direction. Others also will deepen their walk with God, gain the courage to listen for God's voice, be a noticer of others' needs, and practice hearing and answering God's call to deliver a specific answer to a specific person.

Sometimes walking in faith seems risky because it means obeying even if the directions don't seem to make sense. When Abraham brought Isaac in faith up the mountain for a sacrifice, he risked all believing that God's character would not fail him. God did keep His promise and provided a lamb, and Abraham passed the test of trust and faithfulness.

What do we risk daily for the Lord? These life-vignettes encourage readers that risking embarrassment is a small price for the incredible joy of seeing God work over and over again. How can YOU put hands and feet to your faith and BE The Miracle for someone else?

My thoughts: BE THE MIRACLE is a book chock-full of miracles.  I love that Ms. Liesner had so many happen for her.  I have seen a miracle or two, but mostly I am walking by faith 

That aside, she is encouraging us to BE THE MIRACLE to others. If God asks us to provide that old car we were going to sell for free to a young couple who needs a vehicle, do it, and see how God blesses. 

If He asks you to donate a certain percentage of your income for a certain length of time -- do it and trust God to provide the lack. 

She tells us to Pray. Listen. And obey.  Simple.   

In addition to Ms. Liesner's lovely stories of miracles, she includes a worksheet for each, with pray, prepare, take action, and journal with plenty of lines to write on. This would make it great for small group studies, especially groups who want to show God's love by giving in some manner.  Also good for personal use. 

For more conservative readers. some of the scripture references are The Message which some object to. 

I was given a copy free by a friend (not the author) and all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

You're My Little Sweet Pea

You're My Little Sweet Pea


You’re My Little Sweet Pea is a heartwarming board book about the deep bond between a parent, grandparent, or any loved one and their little one. The sweet rhymes and adorable illustrations by Kit Chase help show all the wonderful moments shared with a child, reminding children how special they are and how much they are loved.

Little Sweet Pea, I love you. 

From button nose to baby coo.

Squishy cheeks and sparkly eyes, 

Pure delight and perfect size.

Tender feet and tiny toes, 

Where they’ll take you, no one knows. 

 If you love books from authors like Nancy Tillman (On the Night You Were Born) and Sam McBratney (Guess How Much I Love You), then You’re My Little Sweet Pea is the perfect book for you.

A wonderful gift for a new baby, baptism, birthday, or any occasion to show your child or grandchild they will always be your little sweet pea.

My thoughts:  YOU'RE MY LITTLE SWEET PEA is a precious board book for your favorite baby or toddler.  This book encourages snuggle time, interaction as you point to ears, nose, and toes, and, of course, hugs and kisses. 
A great book for naptime, bedtime, or anytime.  Colorful well-done animal pictures (adult and young) also encourage eyes to follow along and, with older children, may engage conversation. 
All in all, a very cute board book. Also recommended for daycares and nurseries. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Encouragement for today from Today in the Word

Through all the ups and downs, the crashing of the waves, God is a firm foundation.

You will never regret trusting God.

memes used by permission

Today in the Word is a daily devotional grown out of the ministries of . Every day we seek to help you experience the wisdom of God's Word. @TodayintheWord

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tough Love by BJ Bassett

Tough Love

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:4-11 MSG

I was always good with children, so I thought parenting would be a piece of cake when we adopted our oldest. I also believed nurture was more powerful over genetics.

From the beginning our daughter cried every night for an hour before she went to sleep. It didn’t matter what we did. We tried everything from rocking her to leaving her alone, she still cried for an hour.

Later during her childhood, she pushed the family rules. The rules consisted of: the first time bad behavior occurred the child received a warning. The second time the same behavior occurred an age appropriate privilege was taken away. The third time it happened a swat on the bottom with the dreaded wooden spoon was administered. The other children were seldom spanked. But not our oldest, she was spanked often.

Our oldest became more rebellious during her teen years. And I wasn’t sure either of us would survive. Today she is in her fifties and a wonderful, loving daughter.

Parenting can be wonderful. It can also be horrendous. Some situations call for tough love.There are times in our lives when God has had to use tough love with us, to build our character.

Father, You are the only perfect parent. I desire to be Your obedient daughter. Help me during times of Yourtough love when You are building my character, I pray. Amen.

Announcing My New Book Release

Sweet Charity

Dr. Nancy St. John has a well-kept, twenty-year-old secret.

When Nancy was a high school senior, her socialite mother and henpecked father banished her from her home in Santa Monica, California, because of her pregnancy. Nancy left her friends, her school, and her boyfriend, Skip, to live with her spinster aunt in Chicago until she gave birth to a girl. Angry and hurt, Nancy broke all ties with her past.          

            Heartbroken, Nancy concentrates on her work and avoids intimate relationships. She hides her feelings. Hope, the daughter Nancy gave up for adoption twenty years earlier, finds her. A bond blossoms between them but is challenged by Hope’s leukemia. Hope needs a bone marrow transplant, but she has a rare blood type. Nancy is not a match. She is determined to find Skip, Hope’s biological father, who never knew about Nancy’s pregnancy or why she disappeared so mysteriously.

Author B. J. Bassett encourages others as an author, teacher and speaker.Her books include Lily, Gillian’s Heart, and coauthor of My Time with God(a children’s devotional) which sold 55,000 copies while in print.
She teaches writing workshops at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. As a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries, she tells her story of rejection and acceptance, not only in life, but as a writer as well. She also offers book talks.

B J Bassett

Twitter: B J Bassett@bassett106