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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Interview with Patricia Clark Blake about The Dream of Shiloh and #giveaway

Today we welcome Patricia Clark Blake to my blog. Patricia is giving away one copy of her new book The Dream of Shiloh to one person who comments. Please leave contact information. 

Glad to have you stop by, Patricia. Tell us about the book:

Seven weeks wed, friends in the making, Laurel Campbell and Patrick MacLayne have survived a perilous trek across three hundred miles of wilderness paths in Arkansas to reach his homestead in Greene County. The dream of Shiloh--the sense of home, acceptance and belonging they both seek--appears so distant, the MacLaynes fear it’s beyond reach. They know they can do the tangible parts: build a cabin, grow crops, and earn a livelihood. Yet, can they forge a marriage on friendship, a mutual faith, and vows spoken when they had known each other only four days?  What barriers lay in their path? 

They are strangers. Laurel is grateful but at the same time annoyed that she is “an obligation” to her new husband. He removed her curse of being the “Spinster of Hawthorn,” but can she accept the terms of the marriage? Mac has declared he will never love another woman. Just as in the case of his bride, events from his past loom over the hopes and plans he has made for his future. Perhaps, their dream of Shiloh is only that…a dream.

Have you always like to write?

 When I was a teen, a friend and I wrote romantic short stories that we shared only with each other.  They were about our “mad love affairs” with our favorite musicians, of course.  Then life set in and I taught school for forty years.  I have taken up writing again as my second career.  I should have started much earlier as it’s a passion that truly fills my days.

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

So many writers have spoken to me as I have always been an avid reader.  I adore Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.  Francine Rivers is at the top of my list.  I like the stories of Janette Okes.  I love writers who can build a saga and lose me in the lives of those characters for hours and hours.  Marie de Jourlet who wrote the Windhaven saga in the 1970’s could do that.  I also love John Jakes.

How did you decide upon the title of The Dream of Shiloh?

 Shiloh is the name of an actual church here in the county where I live.  The history in my novel has been researched, and the places I write about are real.  The story line and the characters are fiction.  Today, the Shiloh United Methodist Church is on the site of the original Shiloh church I wrote about in the book.

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

Most of the names just came to me as the story grew.  Some of them are names from my genealogy, names of good friends whom the characters reminded me of, and names I copied from gravestones across the northern part of Arkansas as I researched the books.  There are also several names of actual people who were local professional people, public officials, and tradesmen which were taken from the census records of the period.  I used the census records extensively because they help me maintain a sense of authenticity by populating my settlements and towns with people of the ethnic background that actually lived in those areas at that time.  Only Laurel Grace’s name has a symbolic meaning.  Grace is also represented by the light beams on the cover of the book.

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

The two challenges I faced in writing The Dream of Shiloh were the limited amount of historical documentation of daily life in the Crowley’s Ridge region during the period.  I am grateful for a local historian named Herschel Eaton for four articles he published in The Craighead County Historical Quarterly about life in Greensboro.  That and the census records allowed my imagination and my personal knowledge of the area to create a daily life of the homesteader to go along with my story line.

     Secondly, as The Dream of Shiloh: An Arkansas Love Story is a sequel to In Search of Shiloh, A Journey Home Through Arkansas, I learned how difficult it is to rewrite the opening chapter for a second book in a saga.  I rewrote the opening chapter many times before I had a beginning for a book that could stand alone and as the second book in a series.

Share your bio:

Patricia Clark Blake is a new author whose Shiloh Saga novels are capturing audiences with their stories of relationships and the life and death struggles of early Arkansans who settled her native state. While paying attention to historical detail, her fictional account of frontier life is populated with people of strong faith and dedication to building a good future in their chosen state.

Pat’s interest in Arkansas is understandable as she spent her career teaching English, Spanish, oral communications, leadership, and serving as a counselor in Arkansas public schools.  Her educational credentials were earned at Arkansas State University. She also taught psychology at Black River Technical College and supervised counseling interns at ASU before retiring.

Early publications for Blake has been in juried psychological journals, but the novels of the Shiloh Saga are her first attempt at fiction.  Her first book, In Search of Shiloh: A Journey Home Through Arkansas was published in July of 2017.  This book, The Dream of Shiloh: An Arkansas Love Story is the second volume of the saga.  The third book, which will be entitled Beyond Shiloh is planned for late summer 2018.  Two additional books will complete the series.
Faith in God is a theme woven throughout the Shiloh novels and likewise is an important part of Pat’s life.  She teaches Sunday school and regularly volunteers in her church.  Two other fascinations are genealogy and Arkansas history, both of which have served her well in the Shiloh undertaking.  Readers may be interested to know that Pat actually lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas, near the historic Greensboro community, which was once a town and the place depicted in the Shiloh novels.

Pat proudly tells all she is blessed with a wonderful daughter and son-in-law who made her Nanna to a beautiful granddaughter and a fine grandson.  

Social media and buying links

Please follow me on Facebook at Patricia Clark Blake, my author’s page.
My web page is
Books are available at Barnes and
                           and on

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book spotlight: Get Me Through by Cedric J. Selms

Hello! This is one of my tour stops during my one month book tour for Get Me Through by Cedric Nelms. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs March 5-30, 2018. Follow the tour here.  Book your own tour here WNL.

ISBN-10: 1979321361
ISBN-13: 978-1979321365
Genre: Non Fiction

About The Author

Cedric Nelms was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from St. Bernard High in Playa Del Rey, CA. He attended Morehouse College, where he majored in Biology, with a minor in Psychology.

Cedric has been in the ministry for 18 years and has been working in different areas of ministry, from youth ministry, men’s ministry, teaching, community development, social justice, and civic engagement. He was also the radio host of the Chosen Generation Ministry Radio Show, an internet program/podcast that deals with the intersection of culture, life, and faith. He is the lead pastor of Chosen Generation Fellowship Church, in Long Beach. In addition to that, he is the newly appointed Los Angeles City Director for World Impact, where he is actively working on being a bridge builder between Los Angeles and the Faith Based community.

Cedric has been married to Karen, for 18 years and they have been together for 20 years. They have 5 beautiful children, Erika, Jonathan, and a set of triplets, Isaiah, Khalid, and Courtney. He loves to spend time with his family, reading, watching sports, traveling, going out to eat, writing, and just having a good time!

About The Book

Get Me Through....The Makeover of My Life is a book for all seasons of life. It will lead you through getting out of the places that you are stuck, picking up the pieces after disruption, and releasing yourself to dream again my the future. Get Me Through is path through life's most questionable moments.

The title of the book is purposely open-ended and ambiguous because most people are trying to get through. From Kindergarten to College, people are trying to get through school. Whether you are a high paid executive, entrepreneur, or occupying a cubicle, the daily grind of work and handling life issues is a reality. Still others are trying to get through the seasons of a relationship; the harsh winter or the warm summertime feel that relationships bring. 

On the other hand, the death of a loved one or the death of one’s self-esteem may seem like, to some, as trying to wade through a cloud of never-ending darkness. Ultimately, getting through is a part of the human experience. At some point, trying to get through is a part of everyone’s process, the only difference is each person’s process is tailor made. Even so, no matter what you are struggling to figure out, you are just trying to get through it with your character and sanity intact.

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Purchase Link

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Guest post by Christina Miller and #Giveaway!!!!

I’ve gotten into the habit of living in my characters’ homes.

I set my two Love Inspired Historical books in one of my favorite cities: Natchez, Mississippi. Sitting on the Mississippi River bluff in the deep, deep South, the Natchez area was prime cotton country in antebellum days. Cotton kings grew their crop in the rich Delta soil and transported it on the river, making Natchez the wealthiest city in the United States (per capita). It was also staunchly pro-Union, which meant most of the grand cotton estates survived the War for Southern Independence.

A lot of them still stand today, and some of them are inns.

Two of those inns were my temporary home while I researched and wrote my books. Dunleith was Graham Talbot’s home in Counterfeit Courtship, and Monmouth was Clarissa’s villa in my new release, An Inconvenient Marriage.

At Monmouth, I discovered the Sanctuary, the little Greco-Roman style structure a previous owner built as a memorial to answered prayer. Thankful for his miraculous recovery from cancer, the owner built the Sanctuary as a place of private prayer and worship. This story inspired me to choose “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as the theme of this book. And one of the characters may or may not have had a similar experience that led to the building of his own Sanctuary!

In what ways has God been faithful to you? For every comment you make, telling your story of His faithfulness, I’ll reveal one instance of His faithfulness to me through the years.

Great is His Faithfulness!

To enter to win a copy of Christy's book, answer her question above and leave contact information.

About the book

Widowed reverend Samuel Montgomery is excited to start over with his daughter in Natchez, Mississippi—until he learns he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t marry. His solution: a marriage in name only to heiress Clarissa Adams, who needs a husband to win her inheritance. Though the beautiful music teacher will make a good wife, Samuel doubts he can ever truly capture her heart.
Marriage satisfies only the first provision of Clarissa’s grandfather’s will, which pits her against her cousin. And fulfilling the remaining stipulations won’t be easy between caring for Samuel’s rebellious daughter and managing an orphanage. But Samuel seems determined to stand by her side...and maybe even prove their marriage could be more than just convenient.

About the author: 

Christina Miller has always lived in the past. Her passion for history began with her grandmother’s stories of 1920s rural southern Indiana. When Christina began to write fiction, she believed God was calling her to write what she knew: history.

Bethany College of Missions graduate, pastor’s wife, and worship leader, she lives on the family’s farm with her husband of twenty-nine years and Sugar, their talking dog.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Amish Christmas Sleigh

 Paperback, ebook, mass market 

September 29, 2015

by Kelly Long (Author),‎ Amy Lillard (Author),‎ Molly Jebber (Author)

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496700131

Through the snowy night, silver bells ring cheerfully, heralding a season of secret gifts, unexpected chances, and love's sweetest journeys . . . 
For solitary toy-maker Sebastian Christner, hiring Kate Zook as his new housekeeper is simply the right thing to do. Now she can support her special-needs brother. But one taste of her independent spirit is showing him undreamed-of holiday joy—and making him long to give her a home for always . . .  

My thoughts: A SLEIGHT RIDE ON ICE MOUNTAIN is a cute well-written story. Ms. Long does get a lot more graphic than I am used to or comfortable with in Christian romance, but there is a good faith message and I loved the illusion to Santa even though she doesn't exactly come out and say it.   I don't think I've ever seen a story about an Amish toy-maker before, yet it is a viable Amish career as I've seen them in Amish communities.  
Bernice Yoder has far too much to do to entertain holiday dreams. Even if she can help Jess Schmucker outwit his three mischievous young daughters, it's impossible to imagine the handsome widower can see her as anything but a scolding schoolteacher. He never guesses how a magical Christmas Eve will open his eyes to love or how Der Herr will awaken their faith and hope. 

My thoughts:  A MAMM FOR CHRISTMAS is, I think, the first Amish book I've read by Amy Lillard although I have read and enjoyed some of her historical novellas. This was a very sweet read, slow, but engaging. I couldn't help but fall in love with Bernice and poor Jess was so confused and lost. His little girls were a delight. A good read. 
As much as Charity Lantz's children need a father, the young widow isn’t sure her new neighbor Luke Fisher can ever be the right choice. They’re having more disagreements than snowflakes in December. Besides, he's never given a sign he wants to be more than friends. Can Gott show them a way past their misunderstandings to a forever love?

My thoughts: AN UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS BLESSING was a sweet story. I think this is the first one I read with a divorced hero.  It rather surprised me, knowing the Amish views about marriage. But she made it realistic.  I felt sorry for the little boy suffering an injury early on in the book. The characters weren't really well developed, but it was an interesting story.  

A friend, not any of the authors nor the publisher, gave me a copy of her book. I was not required to leave a review. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Out of the Ashes

(The Heart of Alaska Book #2) 

ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook

by Tracie Peterson (Author),‎ Kimberley Woodhouse (Author)

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; 383360 ed. edition 
  • (January 2, 2018)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764219245

Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most?

After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the war. When Jean-Michel receives an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel, it seems an opportunity for a change he needs. 

Katherine Demarchis is a young widow who does not grieve the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Now she just wants to retreat to a quiet life, content to be alone. First, though, she's agreed to accompany her grandmother on a final trip, but never expects to see a man from her past. 

Katherine and Jean-Michel once shared a deep love that was torn apart by forces beyond their control. Reunited now, have the years changed them too deeply to rediscover what they had? And when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will faith be enough to heal what's been broken for so long?

My thoughts:  Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse knows how to tell a good story, and OUT OF THE ASHES is a good story. I know when I pick up a book by this dynamic duo that it will be engaging and hold my interest until the end. 

I fell in love with Jean-Michel is the prologue and felt so bad for what he was experiencing. I imagine the man (if he were real) would truly suffer from PTSD. It was that bad. And while he may not remember at the time of the events, when he does it gets pretty frightening when people might not want what he knows made public knowledge. 

Katherine -- I felt bad for her too. I have not married an abusive man so I cannot imagine the terror she must've felt not knowing what would set him off. I hated that he isolated her from her family and friends, but I have known men who've done that and it really drives a wedge between them for years to come. Maybe permanently.  

I wanted these two to find happiness, and I really cheered for them.  I also loved the vivid descriptions of Alaska penned on the pages of this book. 


I received a copy of this book free. All opinions are my own.