I got my first horse when I was six, and grew up riding bareback throughout our small Minnesota town year around. It was like giving a child car keys! I’m now living my childhood dream–a place in the country, three horses, two goofy border collies, and six fluffy barn cats–a much smaller menagerie than when our kids were still at home.  Visit my blog below, sign up for an e-newsletter, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn. Please keep in touch!

Howdy…and a happy springtime to you!

SARGE  2We’ve been traveling a lot this spring…and with being gone so much, I’ve been a little slow at posting myself.  I love having the blog visitors here too, but here’s an update from me!

Back in March, I posted about my elation over finding a golden retriever at the humane shelter (pictured here with one of the volunteers.)  Sage, 65# of pure muscle, exuberance, and unrestrained (uncontrollable!) joy had been turned in by his overwhelmed family.

When he came home with me, he hauled me around when on the leash–it was like being towed by a fourwheeler.  He jumped endlessly, mouthed, licked and gnawed every hand and arm he could reach, and also proved destructive.  While we were eating breakfast once morning, he chewed off the sleeve of my husband’s suit coat.  He also chewed the sleeve of a rain jacket, ate through several leashes, had a Very Bad Accident in the middle of our bed…well, you get the picture.

But…he is also the sweetest dog, laying at my feet when I’m at my computer, following me around the house, soaking up all of the hugs and attention he can get.

We are now about six weeks into our Sage experience.  And in fact, my husband and I have been traveling for the last two weeks, so our daughter Emily and her husband have been dealing with him (and our sweet border collie) alone.  And things are getting better!

Long walks on our country roads go better now, as Sage is used to his Haltie-collar (a restraint which involves a loose strap around his nose.)  He is jumping far, far less, and is no longer assuming humans are his chew toys.  Thanks to Emily’s husband, he and Elmo have been burning off extra energy at the dog park every day, when has really helped moderate Sage’s energy level at home (thank you, Matt!)  So after we get home from Jamaica tonight, I’m going to continue taking the boys to the dog park daily.  :) 20140413_081104

I know Sage is going to be different dog by the time he’s two (he’s ten months old now) and he is already becoming a better citizen.  He’s still a silly pup, though–he loves to sit on things (like the dining room table, so he can look outside through the bay window)  and here he is out on our deck this morning,  Emily sent me the photo, and it made me laugh.  We have been keeping the patio door open to the deck so the dogs go out and survey the back yard, but apparently Sage didn’t want to get his tootsie wet.  :)

So..how about you?  Have you ever taken in a pet from a shelter, and how did that go?

Happy trails,

Roxanne

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Lucy the Lab…..and author Valerie Hansen

by guest blogger Valerie Hansen
val_and_dogs_12-13-12_010My last K-9 cop story for Love Inspired Suspense featured a black lab (and I’ve just been contracted to do another K-9 book for 2015!). At the time I was writing EXPLOSIVE SECRETS, I  had an antique chocolate lab named Charlie Brown, but writing that book made me crave a black one, too. That’s how I got – and named - Lucy.
She was already over two years old by then. Unfortunately she’d been kenneled all her life, had no name, no training and very little loving experience with people. She was terrified of everything. Good old Charlie demonstrated trust and she was soon allowing me to touch her. Acceptance of others came slowly and she’s still timid around strangers, which is pretty much everyone in the world! The great blessing in all this is that there’s not a mean bone in her body so she never growls or snaps, and when she gets upset the first thing she does is run to me for protection.  So, she’s a good watch dog with a complex! I can live with that, particularly now that we’ve lost Charlie to cancer. Poor old guy did his best for over 16 years and never complained. Lucy and I both miss him. I’ll show you both dogs together and then just Lucy. Like me, she’s put on a little weight. We’re both looking forward to spring and summer when we can go outside to play more.
One more funny thing. On Sunday mornings, when I put on makeup, she never gets excited. Other times, when she sees me apply just lipstick, she runs in circles and jumps around, knowing there’s a very good chance I’ll let her ride to town with me. Makes me laugh every time. 
FAMILY IN HIDING SINGLEI’ll have a Direct to Consumer offer of a reissue of “Shadow of Turning” coming in April, then the first of 4 new books for 2014 arrives in May. FAMILY IN HIDING is part of the Witness Protection series. Here’s the cover. Now that I think about it, those kids would have adjusted to relocation better if I’d given them a family dog to take along!
FAMILY IN HIDING,
Love Inspired Suspense
Valerie Hansen
May 2014
ISBN 978-0-373-44594-3
(blurb) “Till death do us part. When her estranged husband Dylan’s inadvertent dealings with a crime ring brings danger to her doorstep, Grace McIntyre has no choice but to follow him into the witness protection program. To safeguard her children they must all go into hiding as one big happy family. Grace doesn’t know what’s worse – having to pretend she’s in love with the man who betrayed her trust or keeping ahead of the killers. In hiding, Dylan is all that stands between their safety and certain death. Now more than ever, he wants to be the man that Grace once loved. Keeping his family alive is his only hope – to be a hero and a husband.”
Also, in May or June, there will be a digital-only prequel offered online to lead into the Big Sky continuity series.
It should be announced on the Love Inspired part of Harlequin. I think it’s free!
In July, I have HER MONTANA COWBOY, book #1 in the Big Sky series for Love Inspired
August is A TRACE OF MEMORY, another of my Defenders books set in rural Arkansas and featuring the CASA program volunteers who protect children and speak for them in court.
And, in November, one more Defenders book. Whew! I’m still working on that one and will finish it on time. Yes, I will!!!!
Moving into 2015, there will be another K-9 cops series, as I mentioned above, and I’m delighted to be a part of it, too. They want me to write about a beagle this time. There is zero chance I’ll get another dog for every book I write. Well, almost zero.
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Author Nike Chillemi….and her road to her first sale!

NikePixby guest author Nike Chillemi

Many moons ago, I posted on the Harlequin/Steeple Hill author board where I heard things like: head hopping was a no-no and I had to ask what head hopping was. After a year of trying to put together a manuscript, I sent it off to Emily Rodmell. She sent back a rejection letter indicating that I had writing ability but didn’t have a clue how to write fiction. Of course, she said it much more professionally and nicer than that. At that time Harlequin offered a free online writing course. I took advantage of every single lesson and I still use a modified version of their detailed Character Information Sheet. I read Gayle Roper’s Caught in the Act, Caught in the Middle, Caught in a Bind, Caught Red Handed series and realized how appealing a whodunit with humor could be. I ordered the entire Dropped Stitches series directly from Janet Tronstand for my childhood BFF who was then, and is still, battling ovarian cancer. Janet signed each one of them with an encouraging word. I have a great many Love Inspired Suspense novels on my shelves and one I particularly enjoyed, Roxanne, was your Hard Evidence, a prime example of how chilling it can be when a cold case heats up.

Early on, I knew I was going to forge my own path. I think it might’ve been Michael Hyatt who said, read the top writers in your genre. Well, somebody said it, and it sounded like real wisdom to me. So, I started reading. That’s when I came across the ‘Boo’ series by Rene Gutteridge, which is a laugh riot, as well as suspenseful. I read every one of them and was convinced humor would be part of my writing style.

MuleThe next step I’m presently taking in my writing adventure is to self-publish a contemporary murder mystery with romance, some laugh-out-loud humor, and high jinx. Both of those things, self-publishing and releasing a contemporary story, are new for me. HARMFUL INTENT introduces New York City private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels and Taylor County, Texas Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes. While in Abilene, trying to clear herself in the murder of her cheating husband, Ronnie learns to ride a mule, takes a yoga class, hires on as a waitress, and gets shot at. She’s taken with Dawson Hughes, but…ahem…how shall we put this? She’s not the most socially adept gal at the rodeo.

I don’t have a cover yet for HARMFUL INTENT. Ellen Sallas (Ellen C. Maze) is presently working on that. I can be reached at my blog: Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/nike.chillemi

Twitter  https://twitter.com/NikeChillemi

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Horse Therapy, by author Connie Almony

Horse Therapy, by guest blogger Connie Almony

My sister is one of those crazy horse people. You know, kind of like Liz Taylor in National Velvet. She’s not a champion rider or anything like that, but she loves the animals and thinks they hold the key to healing many ills. In fact, she was the one who first told me about the various forms of therapies now being done using horses.

Tyler on a horse2I was first introduced to this idea as a form of therapy for my son who has autism. Therapeutic riding (or hippotherapy) was recommended in order to help him with issues such as balance, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, bilateral control and cognition. Therapists incorporate the rhythmic motion of the horse to help stimulate more adequate sensory processing of the world around him.  It also has the added benefit of providing an opportunity for a relationship with an animal (sometimes less threatening than humans) and gave him self-confidence as he attained various riding goals. There was nothing like the sight of my son on a horse—regal! He looked like a king on his steed.

Since this time, my sister told me of other ways horses are used for healing. She’s even been trained in something called “equine-assisted psychotherapy.” I know—a mouthful! In this therapy, the horse is used, not to ride (necessarily), but as a diagnostic tool. Psychotherapists can actually assess relationships within a family, or group, by how the horse responds to them. Amazing!

So, it’s no wonder that when I considered incorporating therapies to help a veteran amputee for my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, horses came to mind. And I’m so glad they did, because not only can horses be used to help an amputee improve his gait with new, prosthetic limbs (as is necessary for the main character), the relationship with a horse can improve his psyche.

Many veterans come home from war scarred with the effects of PTSD. They have seen the loss of human life on a scale the average person has not. Because of this, many will withdraw socially and engage in thoughts of suicide. A bond with a horse can be the bridge the veteran is not yet willing to take with another human being.

Therapists choose horses whose temperament will be a good fit for the veteran’s needs. They will spend time together in grooming, saddling and riding, giving the veteran a sense of relationship, responsibility and leisure activity. The rocking movement can even stimulate chemical reactions in the brain which provide a sense of well-being, much like rocking a baby.

My sister could tell you oh-so-much more about this topic, but I’ll spare you the details today. However, if you are interested to learn more about hippotherapy for veterans, click on the following links:

An article about the use of horses with veterans
Project Healing Horse—Youtube video.

**********

headshot1Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.

You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

HERE IS AN AMAZON LINK FOR CONNIE’S NEW BOOK!  At the Edge of a Dark Forest: A Fairwilde Reflection Novella (Fairwilde Reflections)

Dark Forest--Final CoverAt the Edge of a Dark Forest
C
onnie Almony
Released February 2014

Cole Harrison, a war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

 

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Canine Critters …by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Guest blogger Stephanie Grace Whitson

A Captain for Laura Rose Dogs are better than any critter I know at modeling unconditional love, and we humans can never have enough of that. The animal star of my most recent book, A Captain for Laura Rose, is Logjam, a “fearsome-looking” mutt rescued off a logjam floating in the Missouri River.

Logjam decides that he is part-owner and therefore self-appointed security for a steamboat named the Laura Rose. He worms his way into my imaginary friend’s hearts with just as much finesse as did Samson, my Doberman Pinscher, who thought he was a lap dog (never mind that he weighed nearly 100 pounds).

This moment in A Captain for Laura Rose was inspired by the one time I let Samson up onto the bed and woke face-to-face with a sleeping Doberman who had decided to steal my pillow. The brat. Logjam came to the edge of the bed and rested his chin there, looking up at her mournfully. When she leaned down to pat his head, he swiped at the back of her hand. Just once, but it was enough to startle her and to make her laugh.

“You did good, you know.” She scratched behind one of the dog’s ears. He strained against her hand, then put Samson027one white paw on the edge of her bed. “Are you trying to beg your way up here, now?” With a soft whine, he removed the paw and rested his chin back on the comforter. He moved only his eyes. Back and forth, from      comforter to her face and back again. “I’m going to regret this,” Laura said, as she patted the space beside her. Who would have thought a big dog could move that fast?

Elijah arrived, cup and saucer in hand. He spoke to the dog first. “Well, look at you.”

“A reward for saving me,” Laura said.

“You do realize you’ve a permanent fixture unless you lock him out?”

“I imagine so,” Laura tucked her feet beneath Logjam’s warm body. “But I  don’t mind.”

“You’ll mind when you wake up in the morning and his head is on your pillow,” Elijah chuckled as he reached down to pat the dog …

After Samson came a German Shepherd named Tanner. Born and raised in the country, Tanner took the new fence around our yard as a personal insult. On more than one occasion when we left him in the back yard while we ran errands, we came home to a joyful dog who had spent the entire time we were away loosening one of the fence boards, loosening one just enough to get free so he could wait on the front porch to welcome us home.

Micah028I haven’t owned a dog for a while, and every time one of my fictional furry friends does something adorable, I find myself dog-dreaming. I have owned and loved Sundance and Micah (both shelties), Samson, and Tanner. And now dogless, late at night, I find myself dog-dreaming via the internet.

Have you shared your life and heart with a dog? What did the pup do that made you laugh?

Here’s an Amazon link for Stephanie’s book! A Captain for Laura Rose

And here’s the scoop on A Captain for Laura Rose

Laura Rose White’s late father taught her everything he knew about piloting a Missouri River steamboat. He even named their boat after her. Despite that, it seems that Laura will forever be a “cub pilot” to her brother Joe, because in 1867, a female riverboat captain is unheard of. The only way for her to overcome the nearly          insurmountable odds is with the help of her brother’s disreputable friend Finn MacKnight, a skilled pilot with a terrible reputation. Laura loathes having to accept MacKnight as her co-pilot, especially when she learns she must also provide passage for his two sisters. Straight-laced Fiona has a fear of water, and unpredictable Adele           seems much too comfortable with the idea of life in the rough and tumble environment of the untamed river and the men who ply it. Though they are thrown together by necessity, this historic journey may lead Laura and the MacKnights to far more than they ever expected.

Publisher’s Weekly says: “Whitson weaves a fine thread of faith into each relationship and plot development,

Stephanie Grace Whitson

giving readers a view of maturity through trials …  a vivid portrait of life on the Missouri River … lively dialogue keeps the story’s pace clipping along … strong secondary characters … contribute to subplots that add depth.

Romantic Times says: “ … all the makings of a great romance:  love, intrigue, mystery, and unforgettable characters.” 4 Stars

If you’d like to check it out:  http://tinyurl.com/pjuphny

And to learn more about my books, www.stephaniewhitson.com

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Dogs, kids and a life in Texas by Caryl McAdoo

Guest blogger Caryl McAdoo

Thank you, Roxanne, for inviting me to All Creatures Great and Small. I love the name of your blog and have always–since I can remember–loved animals! I once told my husband Ron that at any gift-giving occasion, he’d always get a gold star if my present was breathing! How easy am I? So this is just a special treat for me!

From horses to dwarf goats and hamsters to hedgehogs, if it’s a warm blooded pet, I probably have had at least one. But choosing which to share with y’all today posed no problem; must be Franklin Doganor ‘ROO’sevelt, my role model for the loveable Blue Dog in my new historical Christian romance VOW UNBROKEN. Now the question is, can I tell Roo’s story in 500 words or less?

Roo keeping warm on front porchGod led husband Ron and me to move from Dallas County where we’d lived fifty-eight years northeast to Red River County in March 2008. This dog showed up the second or third day. He followed the boys walking home from getting off the school bus. We’re rearing four grandsons, and they all begged to keep him.

Though in Texas March is generally mild and warm, the weather went crazy and snowed. The boys tented a chair, made the dog a warm bed under it on the porch, fed and watered him. We named him Franklin Doganor ‘Roo’sevelt (to go with my toy Pomeranian Sir ‘WINSTON’ Churchdog), and all fell in love with Roo. He was such a great dog, even

Roowogoathelped herd my dwarf Nigerian goats after they free grazed back to the barn.

After about a week, a neighbor rode up on his 4-wheeler and introduced himself. “Nice to meet y’all, but that’s my dog.”

“Okay.” My husband nodded. The boys’ smiles turned upside down as O’Pa continued. “We thought he was a stray.”

So the man tried to load him up. “Come on, Rocky.” He patted the seat, but Roo wouldn’t get aboard. The man tried to convince us his dog loved riding the 4-wheeler, but finally resorted to lifting Roo onto the ATV and took him home. In no time, the dog came right back. The neighbor came three or four times to retrieve him over the next few days. We’d hear Roo barking and howling. Once he came back dragging a chewed off rope dangling from a new collar.

Franklin Doganore RooseveltThe man finally gave him to us. We offered to pay, but he said no. Roo chose us of his own accord, and was truly a wonderful, smart animal, so that’s who I fashioned my hero’s Blue Dog after. As a matter of fact, that’s our Roo on the front cover of VOW UNBROKEN! How much fun is that?!? I LOVE it.

It so happened that the graphic artist Kirk DouPonce at DogEared Design was commissioned for VOW UNBROKEN’s cover. He found me on Facebook and messaged to ask about my story and characters. I sent him a long email and toward its end, told him about Blue Dog and his big role in the story. I attached Roo’s photo to show him what Blue looked like. The first time I saw the cover, I squealed, thrilled to see our Roo there. Almost as excited as when my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, called to tell me Howard Books had made an offer on  VOW UNBROKEN back in October 2012. But neither of those events compare to holding the actual book in my hands! I have to carry it with me now everywhere I go like a newborn baby,  except from its conception to its release March 4th was twenty-two months!

VowUnbroken2ndCOVER I’m so blessed and honored that God gave me this story to minister His love to His children. It’s set in 1832 Texas—Red River County, our new home so rich with history. Matter of fact, Susannah Baylor, my heroine, lives on the very same 916 acres we McAdoos do today.

 Here is an Amazon link for Caryl’s new book:   Vow Unbroken: A Novel

{website}      http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com
{facebook}     http://www.facebook.com/CarylMcAdoo.author
{blog}             http://www.CarylMcAdoo.blogspot.com

Thank you again, and bless you!

Hey readers, you may have noticed we like unique names for our pets. What unique names have you named a pet?  Bless all y’all, too, and thanks for your comments!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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My Best Friend …by author Mary L. Ball

Me_&_Lou-_Head_(Small)Lou is my best friend, well next to my husband.  I have to admit he sees things and hears conversations my husband doesn’t.

Lou is a Seventy-five-pound boxer. I don’t need to worry about him finding me at my worst, nor does he care if I walk around the house complaining. He just looks at me with love in his eyes.

Lou’s the kind of dog that makes you feel like a queen. His human “mommy” can do no wrong.

 

Lou

He can be scary looking to others. All the elementary kids on the bus call him Vampire Dog, but he’s a baby. There’s nothing he enjoys better than climbing on your lap for a nap. Yes, all seventy-five pounds of him.

The house is never boring with Lou around and he’s too smart for his own good.

One day, he mastered the art of ringing the doorbell. It didn’t take Lou long to learn that when the music plays, someone opens the door. At first, I’d go to the front door, and no one was there, except Lou. He’d  look back at me on his way inside as if to say, “thanks Mom.”

20131112_083059_(Small)Finally, one day we caught him in the act of standing on his hind legs and pressing the chime. One afternoon Hubby and I came home. We walked into the house to an odd smell. Upon investigating hubby found that the doorbell was stuck. He had to undo the electric wire to the ringer. That day was rainy, so we figured Lou was tired of being outside. His constant pounding of the bell made the button stick, burning the motor out.

Lou is adventurous. He discovered that if he stands (again) on his hind legs, and the wooden door is open. He came hit the handle on the storm door with his paw and open it, and then run outside. If only, I could teach him to grab the handle from the outside and let himself back in! He runs to investigate every sound, and then when he’s satisfied the noise isn’t threatening he wants back in, usually five minutes later.

When I’m on the couch and Lou is cuddled beside me, I think back to the day we brought him home. Up until Lou, I must admit I didn’t know much about dog breeds and the dogs I have had were pocket pouches. Hubby and I were out enjoying a warm February 14. We stopped at a flea market, and there he was; the cutest little brindle colored puppy I have ever seen. I glanced at Hubby with my, Oh it’s cute. I’ve got to have this, expression. Hubby said, “You know this is a boxer.” I shook my head. In my mind, a Boxer would grow to be about thirty pounds.  On the way, home my husband explained that my cute little puppy was going to be a seventy-pound dog.

Seventy-five pounds later, I still wouldn’t take anything for my Valentine.

Here is a link for Mary’s new book!   Stone of Destiny

STONE OF DESTINYStoneofDestiny_bigger
Mary L. Ball

Taylor has given up on everything but her work. After becoming the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, she believes life is complete–until her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of the family home, in addition to searching for a missing heirloom.

Her first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange. Unexpected feelings surface that she doesn’t understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced.

Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes. Is this a fairytale, or simply her soul reaching out for a different world–a life she can only find  through faith and a divine trust in God?

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And They Called it Puppy Love…by author Valerie Comer

Guest blogger Valerie Comer

 BrodyThere’s nothing like life with a pup. When Brody was little—a hundred pounds or so ago—I was certain the two or three brain cells he certainly must have never even bumped into each other in the cavern inside his skull. Talk about a dog letting his nose—or whimsy!—lead him.

He was supposed to be much smaller. His black Lab momma weighed about forty pounds, and her people thought it was a Border collie that found his way to their farm. We thought that would make for a nice midsize intelligent pup. I will now pause for the laughter to subside.

During Brody’s first few months, I began working on a series of books that morphed into the Farm Fresh Romance series (of which the second title, Wild Mint Tea, has just released). A bumbling Border collie puppy named Domino became instrumental to bringing my first couple, a veterinarian and an environmentalist farmer, together in Raspberries and Vinegar. The working title up until signing the contract, in fact, was Domino’s Game. Many of Domino’s adventures came from watching Brody’s antics.

Domino makes several appearances in Wild Mint Tea as well. But like Brody, he grew up a bit over the year or so between the books, and his intelligence began to show. The heroine of Wild Mint Tea is a fastidious chef who isn’t keen on animals, especially in the house, and the hero owns a reforestation company and travels nearly all the time, so neither has pets.

Moxie-Coonie

I can’t imagine a pet-free home, myself. In our nearly 34 years of marriage, a dog or a cat has nearly always been at our feet or in our laps. At the moment we have Brody, who is six and over a hundred pounds now. Yes, he still climbs into my husband’s lap on occasion!

We also have a pair of calico cats to snuggle and keep the grandgirls entertained. Moxie and Coonie are four years old and get along better than most sisters I know. My life would be far less complete without all these furbabies in our home. I’d have less to trip over and wouldn’t have to vacuum as often, but what kind of trade-off is that?

My Farm Fresh Romance books http://valeriecomer.com/series/farm-fresh-romance/ are a unique farm lit series following the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.

RV-200x300

 

Raspberries and Vinegar http://valeriecomer.com/books/raspberries-vinegar-farm-fresh-romance-farm-lit/ released in August, 2013, and is the story of a feisty environmentalist and local-foods advocate who falls for the junk-food-loving reluctant farmer next door (and with his bumbling puppy).

 

 

 

Wild Mint Tea 200x300

In the second book, Wild Mint Tea http://valeriecomer.com/books/wild-mint-tea-farm-fresh-romance-farm-lit/ (March 1, 2014) we find chef Claire Halford hosting weddings at Green Acres Farm, but the first bride comes with a globe-trotting brother. Noel Kenzie’s reforestation company provides him the means to enjoy life. This is no time for him to settle down…or Claire to spread her wings.

If you’d like a 40-second long grin, watch this trailer created by my cover designer!    http://youtu.be/9Gus85lL5kc

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Author Veronica Heley and Midge the Cat

Guest blogger  Veronica Heley

Head shop scan0001Our daughter longed for a ginger tom. Could the local Cat Rescue Centre oblige? Yes, they thought they might.

A shade of anxiety entered the voice at the other end of the phone line. ‘Do we have any other pets?’

‘No, we don’t.’

‘The cat’s name is Midge. His present owners don’t want to part with him, but they live in a flat, which is not suitable.’

Midge? What a delightful name. We imagined a sweet little pussy, darting a paw at passing butterflies. ‘We have a cat flap, and a garden.’

‘He, er, escaped from the flat and killed a pigeon. A valuable racing pigeon. The owner of the pigeon wants the cat destroyed, so we need to rehouse him today.’

Midge arrived in the arms of his owner, who was in tears.

Midge was no delicate flower, but a strong, well-grown cat with definite ideas about who was the head of the household . . . him. He worked the room, sniffing at everything, including shoes and chairs. He inspected the view from the windows. He tested the cat flap in the kitchen which, fortunately, we had taken the precaution of locking before he came.

He ignored his past owners, who departed, still in tears. He looked his new family over. He slanted his head at me. Food?  I obliged.

He indicated that he wished to explore the garden. I unlocked the cat flap. He disappeared, as did every bird in sight.

He reappeared in due course, laid a dead mouse on the doormat, making sure the head was towards the door, and the tail laid out straight behind.

More food. He inspected the bedrooms, selected my daughter’s bed and went to sleep.

Unfortunately, Midge lived life in the fast lane and tried to stop a car with his head, which ended in tragedy. But I introduced him into Ellie Quicke’s life in Murder by Suicide, and he’s been a member of her household ever since.

He appeared as a logo on the cover of several books in this series . . . the latest of which is MURDER WITH MERCY .  . .

Here is an Amazon link for Veronica’s new book!     Murder with Mercy (An Ellie Quicke Mystery)

Bookcover Scan0003Murder With Mercy
Veronica Heley
ISBN 9780 7278 8281 3
Release date May 2013

. . . in which Ellie is asked to investigate whether some deaths in the community are exactly what they seem, while her pregnant, difficult daughter Diana is struggling to cope with work while her husband is in a wheelchair. What’s more, sabotage at the big house nearby is being blamed on young Mikey, who is certainly up to something. Can Ellie track down whoever it is who is killing for mercy, keep Mikey out of the clutches of Social Services, and steer her difficult daughter Diana into calmer waters?

Publisher’s Weekly.  ‘ . . . this rewarding cosy.’
Kirkus Reviews. ‘Heley’s 13th finds Ellie beleaguered but resolute as ever . . .’
 Booklist (Online) ‘This is a pleasant read that’s part British cozy and part women’s fiction.’

Veronica Heley
www.veronicaheley.com
http://blog.veronicaheley.com/

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Grizzle the Boston Terrier…and author Leann Harris

Guest blogger  Leann Harris

grizzle_web_smWhile my children were growing up, we had a Boston Terrier named Grizzle, which we bought to be a buddy for my son.  The little guy, turned out to be a blessing for everyone in the family.  He was a bud to my son. The moment my husband walked into the back door when he came home, that dog was there and would jump almost 6ft to get my husband’s attention and wouldn’t stop until acknowledged.  My husband had no choice but to leave the problems of the day and give his attention to the dog.

For me, my guy was my champion when I was striving to get published.  The closer I got, the harder each DSC75_Emailrejection became.  The last rejection I got before publication, I sat at my desk and cried.  That dog sat at my feet and gave me all his attention and love.  He didn’t leave my side. The next day I went out and bought him lots of new toys and chews.

Animals can be the best therapists. In my new book, A Ranch to Call Home, when my heroine is injured when a suicide bomber walks into the café she was at in Baghdad, she comes home to face the problems of her past. Captain Brenda Kaye pours her heart out to several of the horses on her family’s ranch. The hero, Caleb Jensen, a rodeo pick-up rider is at the ranch, taking time to reevaluate is life since once of the cowboys he pulled from a bucking bronco was seriously injured.

When Caleb’s horse shows his approval and likes the heroine, it catches Caleb’s attention.  The horses—Razor (his) and Midnight (hers), are the bridge between the hero and heroine, providing comfort and an excuse for Brenda and Caleb to be together as they care for the horses. Also, both horses serve as “therapists” for the couple, allowing them to safely talk out their feelings.  But then again, animals are always good therapy.

Here’s an Amazon link to Leann’s latest book! A Ranch to Call Home (Love Inspired LP\Rodeo Heroes)

RanchHomeA Ranch Called Home
Love Inspired
Leann Harris

A cowboys promise…The thrill of the rodeo is gone for cowboy Caleb Jensen. Nowadays, he helps out at a Texas ranch and keeps bad memories locked away. Then the owner’s granddaughter unexpectantly returns home–with a request he can’t accept. Former Army captain Brenda Kaye is organizing a charity rodeo, and she needs Caleb to get back in the saddle. She is determined to save her family’s ranch, even is it means working with the smart-aleck cowboy–and uncovering the mysteries that lie in their pasts. Brenda is used to the dangers of war, but if she trusts Caleb, could the next casualty be her heart?

 

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I am so thrilled!! Come meet the new member in our family!

P1080421As anyone knows, who follows this blog or follows me on Facebook  (www.facebook.com/Roxanne.Rustand  or ww.facebook.com/Roxanne.Rustand.Author )  I love animals of all kinds.  Truly, truly love them.

Last fall, we lost our beloved border collie mix, Harold….a big floofy puffball of a dog.  Such a sweetie…but old age hit hard, and eventually he refused to eat…and then refused to drink, and he was telling us it was time.

Elmo the Wonderdog, a border collie my husband and  I adopted at the Cedar Valley Humane Shelter some years before, has been our only dog since then, but I have longed for a golden retriever for many years and have so hoped to eventually find one at a shelter.   I grew up with goldens, and  when our kids were young we had a golden…they are just the most wonderful, loving dogs.

Well, today is a red letter day!!  Thanks to a friend, I  heard about a golden at the Cedar Valley Animal Shelter nearby, and hurried over.  And fell totally in lovel

Our paperwork is done, and after he is neutered tomorrow we will be bringing him home.  I am soooo excited!  We are completely dedicated to adopting pets from shelters rather than buying from petshops or breeders, and I am so thrilled that my dream of finding a golden has finally come true!

The only thing is…he is such a beautiful boy, but his name is Sarge and it just doesn’t fit him.  If you have any thoughts for some good names for this sweetie, we would love to hear about them! He posed so nicely for his photos with the staff member at the shelter, didn’t he?  :)

SARGE  2In fact, if someone comes up with a name we choose, I’ll send the winner two of my books, autographed (if paperbacks are chosen)  or I will send them my two new e-book–titles,  and a $20.00 gift card to either Barnes & Noble  or Amazon!

Have you ever adopted a pet from a shelter?  I would love to hear about it!

 

Blessings,
Roxanne

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A Christened Tree…by author Davalynn Spencer

By guest blogger Davalynn Spencer

My first two books each had lovable dogs that figured into the storyline, but not my upcoming book, The Cowboy belgian-draft-horse-trotting-23501877Takes a Wife. However, Nell, a beautiful, “yellow” draft horse plays a key role when her expectant condition brings about the meeting of Annie Whitaker and Caleb Hutton in 1860s Cañon City.

The mare’s foal, Dolly, shows up in the third book of the historical series, Romancing the Widow. But in between in book two, Branding the Wrangler’s Heart, an abandoned pup—Maverick—finds the soft spot in the hero. Dogs have a knack for doing that sort of thing—finding our soft spot and inching into our hearts one wet kiss at a time. Even when they do things we’d rather they didn’t.

I remember the Christmas we bought a “living tree” during our church’s landscaping campaign. We could get a live tree at discount from the local nursery if we promised to donate it to the church project after the holidays.

Cake, right?

Until we showed up for the little spruce and discovered it was attached to a 200-pound ball of burlap-wrapped dirt.   The nurseryman loaded it in our horse trailer with a forklift and my husband and I dragged it out of the trailer but couldn’t get it in the house. It reminded me of those inflatable clown punching bags that popped up if you hit them due to their weighted bottom. This little tree had a very weighty bottom.

Jack RussellWe shoved it over to the garage to wait for our neighbor’s high school-aged son to get home and help us. That’s when Rocco, our Jack Russell terrier, noticed the new dirt on his turf, and well, you know how territorial a terrier can be.

We didn’t know Rocco had christened the tree into the family until the neighbor boy hefted it into our woodstove-warmed front room. But neither did we have the heart to ask the kid to haul it out again, so I spent an entire can of pine-scented aerosol spray dousing Rocco’s anointing.

That was possibly the most memorable—and aromatic—Christmas of all.***

Here is an Amazon link for Davalynn’s new book!  The Cowboy Takes a Wife (Heartsong Presents)

The Cowboy Takes a WifeCOVER 1
Davalynn Spencer
Heartsong Presents
Feb. 4, 2014

When Annie Whitaker and her merchant father set out for Cañon City and the Pikes-Peak-or-Bust gold rush, Annie finds much greater wealth in the heart of a runaway preacher.

ANNIE WHITAKER HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PLAIN JANE. But in the bustling gold-rush town of Cañon City, Colorado, she turns heads, especially that of cowboy Caleb Hutton. Annie’s seen Caleb many times in her father’s mercantile, and she’s surprised and pleased when he takes a special interest in her.  Caleb’s faith was shattered when his fiancée jilted him for a wealthier man. But as he gets to know Annie, his view of women—and God—soon takes a turn for the better. Can Annie’s steadfast faith help the former preacher find his way back to his calling and a second chance at love?

DCS 2014_2

 Connect with Davalynn online at 
www.davalynnspencer.com
www.facebook/AuthorDavalynnSpencer
http://www.pinterest.com/davalynnspencer/
and on Twitter @davalynnspencer.

 

 

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A Puppy Named General Lee …by author Diane Dean White

Guest blogger Diane Dean White

3GLOur children were four, six, and eight, and we had built a home among the pecan trees in the South. Our yard was a good size, and my husband made a play fort for them in the back. A relative who lived in the same area had a large farm, and their dog was expecting pups. When the pups were old enough, we took the kids to the farm and picked out a little brown-haired puppy.

The children named the puppy “General Lee.” I’d like to tell you it was because of the great War General himself, but the truth is “The Dukes of Hazard” had come on the television screen and the boys loved that show!

The General slept in the utility room off the garage in his own little bed, made out of discarded clothing. A long rope went all around the yard for the General, so he could play outside. This was especially fun for the kids when their new little pet gave them kisses while playfully knocking them over. He was one of their pals, a playmate, and guard for their fort.

The General was growing; and one day they untied him to go for a walk and within moments he was completely out of sight. We called and called his name, took bike rides around the area, and finally the kids and I got into the car and headed towards town.

As we drove up and down the main street, a small figure next to the curbside drew our attention; before I could turn the car around to shield them from the sight, they saw their small still puppy. The children started to cry; their beloved General was gone. Then our oldest son spoke up. “Wait a minute…he is really whole again because he is in heaven, and when we go there, everything is all right.”

I told the kids we would tell their dad, and he would take their puppy and give the General a proper burial. They agreed, as they felt it would be too hard for them to attend this service.

I can still recall the vision on that afternoon, of our three heartbroken children sitting around the kitchen table talking. They told me they had come to a conclusion and decided it hurt too much to have this happen again, they never wanted another dog.  I wanted to cry, too!

A few nights later after the children had been tucked into bed and prayers were said, I waited for my husband to come home. When he came through the door, he was holding another little puppy. I had told him about their talk and what the children had said, but he felt eventually they would learn to love a new puppy, and he had made another trip to the Farm.

The next morning I didn’t say anything—it seemed like a shell had been broken as we watched our three children run over and pet the new puppy. He was adorable, licking them and endearing them with his little yelps. I was glad my husband realized what needed to be done.

“What should we name him?” our youngest son said.

“Not General again,” responded our daughter.

“No, he’ll never be a General,” agreed our older son.

GreenHatDianeJPThe name “Slinger” was chosen. From where, I don’t know. It was their decision and they had fun with their new puppy.  Some of the pain had been replaced with love for the General’s sibling.

Years and other pets have come and gone, but there is something about that first one that they loved and lost which will remain in my heart for a long time. When we see our children hurt, it doesn’t leave us. That’s the way it is supposed to be for parents and the reason our love is so strong.

“Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of this country as Wall Street and Railroads.”
– Harry S. Truman

Here’s an Amazon link for Diane’s book!   On a Summer Night

summernightcoverlargeOn a Summer Night
by Diane Dean WhiteON A SUMMER NIGHT, Kate and Vanessa hadn’t planned on the summer night that changed their lives. Could they have imagined the darkness that descended and how gripping fear could be? The beauty and sweeping moss, gentle palm trees and Florida breezes was wrapped with the memory of the awful evening. They played at being cheerful and returned home to yet another sorrow. Times steals away from the 60′s, and the memory of what happened was hidden in the recesses of Kate’s mind. She and her husband, returned to the winter home where by-gone memories were stored. Can she trust God to help her find forgiveness? Will her husband understand? She knew he needed to hear her story.

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The Oddballs Out of the West… by author Patricia Knoll / Patricia Forsythe

Why We Love Those Oddballs Out West by guest blogger  Patricia Knoll/Patricia Forsythe

larger cowboysThere is something unique about the American West.  It’s partly because of the setting – wide open spaces, huge mountain ranges, deserts at the base of a mountain and dense forests on top.  It’s partly because of the weather, mostly dry, but be prepared to be pummeled by a sudden cloudburst resulting in a flash flood that can carry you many miles from where you intended to be.  It’s partly because of the dry, relentless sunshine and heat that can take a ferocious toll on you if you’re outside too long.

But the main thing that’s unique about the American West is the people.  Some of the blame for our eccentric westerners can be laid squarely at the feet of wealthy eastern families of the late 1800’s who sent their embarrassing sons west as Remittance Men – ones who were paid substantial funds to stay as far away from their refined kinfolk as possible and still be on the same planet.

Along with them came miners looking for gold, silver, or any other metal or stone that would make them a buck, cattlemen looking to buy up cheap land on which to graze their herds, farmers who thought they could turn desert lands into an oasis, merchants with goods to sell, and scoundrels looking for easy money.  They all tumbled together in places like Colorado and Arizona and developed an unusual ! Tetonsculture of acceptance of all comers.

In every small town and big city there are those who go about their daily lives pretty much like people in any other part of the world.  Here in the west, though, we also have people who are set apart by their sheer nuttiness.  Since I grew up in a small mining town in Arizona, I had the opportunity to study these folks up close.  I won’t even go into the number of men who walked around town with a Colt 45 strapped to their hip.  Along with boots and cowboy hats, that was practically their daily uniform.  As far as I know, very few of them ever shot themselves in the foot.  You could tell the ones who had, though.  They had an occasional limp.

Although there are probably many eccentric people in big cities in the west, they tend to stand out in small towns and mostly, we’re proud of them.  We still accept all comers.  If you want to fill your house with the stuffed heads of elk and bison, come on out west.  There’s room for you.  If you want to buy a dual cab truck with an extra long TUCSON CACTUSbed and paint it jungle camouflage, more power to you – though I have to wonder how effective the camouflage will be against a backdrop of dry desert and saguaro cactus.  If you want to spend your days walking around town pushing an old-fashioned baby carriage filled with your pampered pooches, we’d love to have you.  Just remember all those wide open spaces.  We’ve got space for you.

Patricia Knoll lives in Arizona and writes under that name and as Patricia Forsythe.  With either name, she writes romantic comedies, mostly set in the west, including her Lucky Break, Arizona series that features a small town of eccentric people who have a hard time minding their own business.  Here To Stay and Love In The Afternoon are two Lucky Break books with more on the way.  They are available online at Amazon.  You can find Patricia at www.patriciaknoll.com.

Here is an Amazon link for Here to Stay: Here To Stay (Welcome to Lucky Break, Arizona!)

Here is an Amazon link for Love in the Afternoon: Love In The Afternoon (Welcome to Lucky Break, Arizona!)

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A forever home for Bruno by author Carol Post

 Guest blogger Carol Post

Leave a comment (click on Comments at the bottom of the post)  for a chance to win an autographed copy of Motive for Murder!

Puppies I am amazed and heartbroken over how many pets are just discarded.

Shortly before my husband and I were to leave for the holidays, a tenant moved out of one of our rental properties and abandoned five dogs—a black lab named Jackson, a lab/cur mix named Bruno and a dachshund mix with two puppies. The dachshund disappeared; the neighbors suspect the tenant took her. People advised me to call Animal Control for the other four. But in our county, as in most others, animals brought to Animal Control have a few hours to a few days, usually on the lower end of that range. I’m way too tender-hearted to carry good dogs to their death. So I enlisted the help of a friend and we googled rescue groups and sent dozens of emails asking for help.

Bruno posing after kissesOver the next few days, neighbors gave the dogs food we provided, and rescues responded asking for information and pictures. I went out armed with my digital camera, unsure how the two larger dogs would respond to a stranger. I needn’t have worried. They rushed toward me, tails wagging. Once sure they were friendly, I handed my neighbor the camera and sat down to pet them. Bruno immediately pushed me backwards and attempted to plant a sloppy kiss on my face. I went home with some great photos.

The puppies were easy to place. (Who can resist those sweet faces?) The larger dogs weren’t. It was the week before Christmas, and with many rescue foster families traveling for the holidays, there was no room. (Sorta reminds me of another Christmas story.)

Soon we were down to three days until we were to leave, and Bruno and Jackson were still homeless. My boss had lost an older lab and decided to take Jackson. Bruno and Jackson grew up together and were inseparable, so I asked if we could keep them together one more day while we tried to place Bruno. I would have taken him myself, but I live in a condo where I’m allowed two pets. I have a dog and three cats, all rescues. (Three plus one equals two, right?)

Bruno with Jackson in the backgroundMy boss told his family about Bruno, and his wife said to make sure he gets a home. When he told her that was out of his control, she said, “Then lie to me!” She promised to distribute Bruno’s pictures around the school where she teaches. By lunchtime, a family had agreed to take him. By the end of the afternoon, both Bruno and Jackson were on their way to their new homes with their first scheduled play date lined up.

Bruno now has a home on ten acres with a loving family, other dogs and cows. He’s living the good life.

Unfortunately there are hundreds more like him who aren’t  that lucky. Calling Animal Control is quick and easy. Contacting rescues involves time and effort. But nothing beats the feeling of knowing some sweet dog or cat has found a forever home and you had a hand in it. In Motive for Murder, Jessica Parker finds herself caring for her deceased sister’s dog. Although she has no interest in owning  a pet, little Buttons winds his way into her heart.

Have you ever taken in a pet you didn’t really want, only to have it win you over?

 HERE IS AN AMAZON LINK FOR CAROL’S NEW BOOK:  Motive for Murder (Love Inspired Suspense)

MOTIVE FOR MURDERcover-mm
LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE
Carol Post

Jessica Parker left Harmony Grove with bad memories and a vow to never return – until she is called back eight years later to deal with her sister’s suicide. When all the evidence points instead to murder, she is determined to find the killer and bring him to justice. Her handsome new neighbor is eager to help, but she’s sure he’s hiding something.

Undercover FBI agent Shane Dalton is in Harmony Grove investigating the crash of a plane full of cocaine and gets more than he bargained for when he runs into Jessica. She’s a little rough around the edges, and he isn’t sure whether she’s involved or is just going to get in his way. But soon it becomes obvious that someone wants Jessica gone from Harmony Grove.

As the threats intensify, Shane finds himself in a race against time to solve both cases. Because the closer they get to the truth, the closer the killer gets to making them his next victims.
4½-Star RT Review - “…Gripping from the start, the second book in the Harmony Grove series keeps readers on the edge of their seats with the various twists and turns.”
CarolJPostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles which made it into some religious and children’s publications. Several years ago (more than she’s willing to admit), she penned her first novel. In 2010, she decided to get serious about writing fiction for publication and joined Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter. In 2012, she got “the call.”
Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband of thirty-three years, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano and holds the position of church treasurer. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of three fat and sassy cats and one highly spoiled dog.
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From Scared to Loved…guest blogger Angela D. Meyer

Guest blogger  Angela D. Meyer

Don’t forget to page down–for info on a great promotion going on just through today, February 14!!

IMG_4155 One year old Lucy was a scaredy cat when we brought her home from the humane society. She was used to fending for herself on the streets and hissed at any perceived danger. This was usually at our dog, Ranger. He is mixed breed of German Shepard, Golden Retriever and Newfoundland. No wonder our little cat was frightened. She was also a recent mother and prowled our house mewing for her kittens. She avoided us unless she needed food.

To help our pets learn to get along, at first we kept her in the bathroom with her litter box when we weren’t around and at night. Little by little, she gained her complete freedom, but that didn’t mean she trusted Ranger. She still gave him a wide berth. At least she tolerated him.

IMG_6102It’s been almost four years now and there have been some changes. On occasion Ranger and Lucy attempt to play with each other. But much like a boy and girl playing at being interested in each other, one day she wants to play and he wants to be left alone. Then they reverse roles. But when they get the same idea at the same time, we all get quiet and watch. It doesn’t usually last very long and we don’t want to miss it.

Lucy has transferred her motherly attentions to the family. In the mornings she is restless until everyone in the house is up. If Ranger hasn’t been fed yet, she will meander around his bowls until we get the idea that he needs his food as well. Then she finds a spot and takes her morning nap.Lucy loves attention now. As soon as someone sits down, IMG_5259in all likelihood she will jump up in your lap. I still remember the first time she jumped up into mine. I told everyone. She also likes to be held looking over a shoulder like a little baby. And at night you can find her curled up on my daughter’s bed. Unless a guest is sleeping on the couch and then guess where she hangs out.

Lucy has overcome her fears. Slowly, she grew to understand she was no longer abandoned, but loved. She trusts us. She may not like going outside or to the vet, but she tolerates it when we hold her. And with us right beside her, DOG does not necessarily mean danger.She also has a new perspective on life. No longer does she have to forage for herself. We provide everything she needs. And actually, she has gotten quite demanding of what she wants.

I think we need the same kinds of things to overcome our fears. Understanding that we are loved by God and a new perspective – that God is in control. We don’t have to do it ourselves. What have you learned from a pet?

 

Here’s an AMAZON LINK TO CLICK, FOR  ANGELA’S LATEST BOOK!   Where Hope Starts

Where Hope Starts Cover resized

Where Hope Starts
Cross River Media

Angela D. Meyer

In a city full of dreams… Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both. She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets and an angry brother bent on revenge.

Still in New York, Barry fights his own demons. He knows he messed up, but is powerless to stop his rage and addictions. A fistfight on the streets of the city lands him in jail and forces him to face the possibility of a future behind bars.

Karen knows holding onto her bitterness won’t repair her marriage. But how do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers the family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

 Would you like your own copy of Where Hope Starts? There’s a promotion going on over at Angela’s Facebook page just through February 14. Stop by for a chance at some great giveaways!  www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaDMeyer

In addition to Amazon, you can find the book at the publisher’s site:  http://crossrivermedia.com/
publicity pic for biorelease date: September 2013

Contact addresses:
Website: www.angeladmeyer.com
www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaDMeyer

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Winter jammies….

SusieIt’s been so, so cold and snowy here in Iowa–what a winter!  After a number of school closings and late starts, the schools around here had a regular day today–despite windchills at -30 F  this morning.  I felt so badly for all the school kids in town who have to walk to school!  I can’t believe there wasn’t a two-hour delay for them.  :(

Out here in the country, the wind has brought drifts and made doing horse chores a rather miserable affair.  We bring the horses in at night if  the temps are in the teens or lower, and put on blankets when it hits zero, but I’ll bet the horses are longing for spring as much as I am!

Here at the top right is Susie–who looks like a chubby, woolly bear with plenty of personal insulation, :)  but even she starts to shiver when the windchills are this low.  The other two mares are thinner skinned and have finer coats, so their blankets go on sooner each winter.

photo-23  Blondie and ButtonsSo how has your winter been?  Are you a lucky southerner, wearing shorts and enjoying the sun?  Or are you one of the lucky ones who takes vacations on some tropical island around this time of year?

I can definitely see an up side to living a bit south, even though I love having four seasons.

And I will remind myself of that–over and over–when I bundle up to do chores tonight!

Happy trails,

Roxanne

 

 

 

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Faithfulness, and a border collie named Lady

Headshot for books Guest blogger Teresa Pollard

If there is a special place in heaven for amazing animals, I’m quite sure our border collie Lady is there.  To me, she “personified” the definition of faithfulness.  For ten years, we lived way back in the woods up on top of a mountain, so when Kristina and Kevin, my older two children, tell people they had to walk a mile to and from school every day, they are telling the absolute truth.  My youngest daughter, Kara, however, never had to make that walk.  She was very tiny, and we nicknamed her “Virgin Toes” because Lady carried her most everywhere she went.  Every morning, Lady would appear at the back door at 7:15 a.m. to walk with the children down to the bus stop with Kara on her back.  At 3:30 in the afternoon, she would be waiting at the bus stop ready for “pony duty” to make the trek back up the mountain.

But the kids weren’t the only ones Lady helped.  One day, my husband Wade was up at the top of the mountain working on the spring when he heard the rattle of a rattlesnake behind him.  Fortunately, Lady had followed him up and heard it too.  She leaped into the air and caught that snake in her teeth mid-air just as it was lunging toward Wade   He’s absolutely certain, Lady saved his life that day.   I never doubted it either.  I never had to worry about my children’s safety even though we lived in such a remote place.  I always knew if there was a problem, Lady was there.

Fortunately for Lady’s back, we moved off the mountain when Kara was about seven.  We had intended to give Lady to our closest neighbor since we knew she’d have to be on a leash in the city where we were going, but Lady would have none of it.  She jumped up into the furniture truck and wouldn’t budge from it.  We were her family and she wasn’t about to let us go without her.  She stayed with us until she died at about sixteen.  She didn’t even seem to mind the leash; maybe because by that time she was too old to run much anyway.  She was happy as long as she could be right there to say goodbye and hello to the kids when that yellow bus arrived.  When I’m gone, I hope Jesus will say of me that I was faithful like Lady was faithful.

Here’s an Amazon link (for both print and Kindle) for Teresa’s new book: Tokens of Promise

Tokens of Promise    TokensMock6x9[1]
HopeSprings Books
Teresa Pollard

“Beware, Prince of Hebron, her witching ways are strong.”  Ben Qara’s evil words still rang in his ears.  Judah is sure he was bewitched by the beautiful Tamar.  She is all he can think about.  But no, it must not be.  He will not break his vow to Yah.  He already has a wife, and he will have only one.  Tamar must marry Er.

Rescued from disgrace by the handsome Judah, Tamar is already in love with the kind stranger.  She eagerly followed Emi’s advice on how to win him.  It almost worked.  He’d promised.  If only his servant hadn’t come at that moment, she’d be his wife now instead of going home with him to be his daughter-in-law.   Why had her father agreed to this?  Surely he could see her destiny was with Judah?

“What are you talking about, woman?” Er demanded.  “Tamar is no harlot.  She’s the daughter of a Man of God, and Father bought her from him for me.”

“After he found her naked in the street and bought her back from her rightful husband,” Ruah said spitefully.  Her family was gone from the town, but your father stayed in her home with her through the night.  How many times do you suppose he could have come in to her before my father arrived with the dawn?  You don’t believe me?  Ask the messenger who took the supplies back to Chezib.  It seems the whole town is talking about it.”

Er’s anger seethed, and he vowed revenge.  His father must die.  But not before he would see what he would do to the beautiful “bride” he had intended to foist off on him.

Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years.  Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  Her website is TeresaPollardWrites.com

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Rudy and the Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue

guest blogger Mary Hamilton

Rudy  smaller 9:6:09Rudy came to us from Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue in Houston almost five years ago. We guessed him to be about eight years old, but the only thing we really knew was that he was found as a stray. I’d never known a dog that didn’t become ecstatic at the word “walk,” but on a good day, Rudy would make it to the end of our driveway and stop. After six months, one obedience class and two trainers, I finally managed to walk him around the block. Both the trainers said he exhibited behaviors consistent with past abuse. I did my best to reassure him those days were over.

We looked for a Golden specifically because our previous dog had lacked an affectionate nature, preferring to be where she could see us but never in the middle of our activities. She’d get up and walk away whenever my kids wanted to pet her. So, I promised my kids our next dog would thrive on attention.

A Golden Retriever seemed like a perfect fit. But it never occurred to me that the kids were nearly grown. Two were Rudyinsunout of the nest, the youngest was busy with high school activities. I’m the only one left to provide the attention. We jokingly say Rudy suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, not because he can’t pay attention but he can’t get enough. He’d bump my elbow with his nose, sending my pen skipping across the page, or my drink splashing across the table. If I made the mistake of sitting on the floor, all 80 lbs. of him would collapse onto my lap. Just as I was getting used to the empty nest feeling—even kind of enjoying it—suddenly I had a toddler again. It wasn’t enough for Rudy to be with me; he wanted to be touching me. Whether he leaned against my leg, laid across my feet, warmed my lap, or rested his paw on my knee, he needed to be close enough to touch me. More than once, I ate a meal one-handed because he insisted I hold his paw with my other hand.

This sweet, beautiful dog shadowed my every move and it irritated me to no end. But maybe God was teaching me something. Too often, I’m content to sit on the sidelines and watch. What if I insisted on being part of the action, like Rudy? What if I continually stayed close enough to touch Him? What if every time life threw me a stick, I eagerly carried it to Him?  I could push this dog away in annoyance, or I could learn from him, watching for a chance to sit at the Lord’s feet, to relax in His lap, to put my hand in His. Hmm. Maybe this old dog could teach me some new tricks, if I pay him some attention.

Hear No Evil,
Book 1 in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series  HearNoEvilModifiedFront5-5x8-5
Mary Hamilton

Brady McCaul’s mother drops him off for a week of summer camp and tells him he can’t come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. While Brady tries to figure out what he did wrong, he becomes fast friends with Steven, a blind but capable cabin mate and Steven’s spunky friend, Claire. But Brady also has to deal with the camp bully. Between his dad’s abandonment six years ago and now Mom’s rejection, Brady’s wounds are so deep only God can heal them…and he’s not convinced that even God cares about him.

Read the first chapter here: http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com/hear-no-evil-sample-chapter/

Here’s an Amazon link for Mary’s book!  Hear No Evil (Rustic Knoll Bible Camp)
Barnes & Noble link: http://tinyurl.com/kw2xmtr

About the author: Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Mary HamiltonRustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Hear No Evil was a 2012 semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest, and has won awards in the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and the Cat 5 contest.
Besides writing, Mary loves the outdoors and nature, as well as opening her home to youth Bible studies, pancake suppers and breakfast with her special recipe waffles. She and her husband live near Houston, TX, within range of their three grown children.

Connect with Mary:
Website/blog: http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mhamiltonbooks
Twitter:@mhamilton122

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Melinda Curtis…and her new writing partner, with paws

Guest blogger Melinda Curtis

You’d think that as a writer when all your children leave for college, you’d revel in the abundance of spare time on your hands.  No more after-school activities.  No more team dinners to host.  No more sleepovers where no one sleeps.  It could be all writing, all the time.  I was free, except for my husband, of course.

BonnyHalloweenI wrote a lot in 2013 – 5 books and a novella.  I didn’t do much else.  And then my son’s dog won my heart over.  Bonny is a mini Australian Shepherd.  She learned commands quicker than any dog I’d seen before, which also meant she easily outsmarted everyone who didn’t pay attention to her (yep, she’s young).  She cuddled with cats.  She created a route in whatever house she was in – checking up on every person inside.

Bonny reminded me of the Australian Shepherd mix I had growing up on a sheep ranch.  Tippy was the extra pair of hands my mom didn’t have with three kids on 50 acres.He herded kids as easily as he did sheep.

I was about to write a book and decided I had to feature an Australian Shepherd –

Tippyenter Abby, a licensed therapy dog, who burst onto the page with the smarts and enthusiasm of the breed.

I finished the book and moved on to writing the next one.  But I was restless and tired.

When my daughter came home for a visit before starting the fall quarter, she pointed out that I might be writing too much and might be using writing to fill the gaps left by my kids leaving.  And then we saw a picture on Facebook of a puppy in need of a home.  Writers under deadline have been known to do crazy things.  I brought home a 3-pound, 8-week old puppy.

TallyRevisionNow Tally is 6 months old.  She naps beneath my desk during the day and reminds me I’ve got to get up frequently to enjoy the out of doors.  We work with a dog trainer since I’ve known small dogs to get nervous and yappy (who wants to come to Grandma’s house if she has a cranky little dog?).  “Trainer Tom” finds Tally very amusing.  He used to train dogs for the military.  To him, at seven pounds, she’s practically a cat, but they’ve grown to love each other.  I didn’t plan on becoming a pet parent again at this point in my life, but like most pet owners, I can barely remember what life was like without her.

Dogs were bred to serve, but today most are family.  I’d love to hear how a pet came into your life for the most unexpected reasons and made a special place in your heart.

Here is an Amazon link for Melinda’s new book!
Summer Kisses (A Harmony Valley Novel)

Summer KissesSummerKissesFront
A Harmony Valley Novel
by Melinda Curtis

Rebecca MacKenzie’s career as a caregiver for the elderly suited her perfectly. Ease their suffering, hop back in the motor home and move on. Caring without commitment. It was ideal for someone trying to outrun her memories…and mistakes. Someone determined to stay detached. Flynn Harris, her new patient’s grandson, is weakening her resolve in every way. His scrutiny, his suspicion—and worst of all, his kisses—are more than distracting. They’re dangerous. Because she’s teetering on the edge of caring. And revealing her secrets. And…staying.

EXCERPT

The truth pressed at Becca’s throat.
She swallowed it back.
Took a breath.
Risked looking toward Flynn.
Beneath his black ball cap, his reddish-brown hair glinted in the afternoon sunlight, almost as blinding as the rippling river. His jaw was a hard line. She couldn’t look him in the eye.
The truth pressed on her once more.
Becca swallowed it again.
She and the truth had an odd track record. Like the time her father walked out after learning Becca’s mother had Stage Four cancer. Or the first time Terry asked her to marry him. He’d walked out when she said she was scared and needed time to think.
“You have two choices if you want the job.” Flynn’s voice was as unflappable as his jaw line. “You can tell me what you’re hiding, or I can do a background check.”
Tell him the truth? Which version? No one ever really wanted to hear the unvarnished truth. They wanted a massaged answer tailored to their expectations. Telling Flynn about the lawsuit placed her odds of landing the job near zero.
But it was a definite zero if she walked away without saying anything.
“I want this job.” She swallowed and rephrased. “I need this job.” To repair her reputation before it fell from somewhere near barely employable to no-way-in-Hades employable.

About the author:  Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.  Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood’s Golden Age except a lot hotter.”  Melinda is married to her college sweetheart, and has three kids in college.  She follows the NFL because one young quarterback is from her hometown, and follows Duke basketball because Mr. Curtis has a man crush on Coach K.  Her latest release, Summer Kisses, comes out February 1st and is part of the Harmony Valley series and set in a small town winery.  You can learn more about her books at www.MelindaCurtis.net. www.MelindaCurtis.net

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Once upon a time there was a dog….

Guest blogger Shirley Raye Redmond

The slice-of-life essay is usually defined as a, “short piece intended to
realistically depict an interesting moment in everyday life.” Writers who
pursue this form of essay writing tap into their personal experiences and
memories for suitable subject matter. When writing fiction, I do the same.
My historical novel, Amanda’s Beau, is embroidered with real-life
circumstances or incidents.

For instance, my son raises chickens as a hobby, so it is no coincidence
that Amanda’s family raises chickens. The hero Gil Gladney takes his
pupils out to explore the old Anasazi ruins on the outskirts of the
village of Aztec. Years ago, I took my own youngsters out to explore the
same ruins. Even Bonita, the rag-tag Irish setter, rescued by Amanda’s nephew Rex, is based on a real dog that once belonged to my father.

As a boy in the 1920s, he owned a dog named Fly and loved her with all his 
young heart. Unfortunately, the dog succumbed to blood lust, attacking chickens and other animals on the family farm. When Fly ran off with my dad’s infant cousin, snatching the baby from a blanket on the ground during a family picnic, my dad was expected to go into the woods with a gun to shoot the dog and rescue the child. Later, when I married, my husband bought me an Irish setter puppy for my birthday. I loved her to pieces, but I could never look at Scarlet without thinking of the excruciating pain my dad must have endured when forced to put down his pet all those years ago. When I began writing this story, I vowed it would have a happier ending.

Sometimes I will use a real comment to enhance the dialogue in the story. Like a bit of lace on the collar of a blouse or a special ornamental button, a remark made by one of my friends, acquaintances, or family members adds an extra little touch to the story line.  A dog-loving neighbor once said to me, “I’ve always liked dogs. They have a peculiar sense of humor all their own. And most of them are more pleasant to be around than lots of people I know.” Again, it is not a coincidence that my hero repeats this opinion when he first meets Rex’s beloved pet for the first time.

Often, after reading a particularly interesting nonfiction book, I feel the need to add something I learned to my fictional story. While writing Amanda’s Beau, I happened to be reading, Rabid, A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.  Grim reading, to be sure, and I don’t recommend curling up with this book before bedtime. Rabies is the most fatal virus known to science. The anecdotes recorded in this book made the drama in Old Yeller appear quite tame. However, I could not resist adding my own bit of drama (and trauma!) to my story by having my heroine encounter a rabid skunk.

It’s my hope that these bits of literary embroidery will enhance my tale and perhaps, make parts of the story memorable in a positive way for the  reader.


Here is an Amazon link for Shirley’s new book:    Amanda’s Beau


Amanda’s Beau
Astraea Press
Shirley Raye Redmond
Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Astraea Press

The year is 1905. It is autumn in the village of Aztec in New Mexico territory. Amanda Dale is burdened with the responsibility of caring for her widowed sister and Ella’s two children—one a premature infant. When
schoolteacher Gil Gladney and his pupils discover the relics of an ancient culture among the ruins outside the village, Gil contacts an old college friend. The possibility of an archeological excavation excites the community of cash-strapped farmers, eager to earn extra money working on the site.
But Amanda becomes smitten by the handsome schoolteacher and distracted by her growing fear that Bonita, the Irish setter so beloved by her nephew Rex, has succumbed to bloodlust and is preying upon the chickens from
which the family earns their living. One mishap after another convinces both Gil and Amanda that life is short and the possibility of happiness is fleeting. In the end, Amanda learns to trust God to provide the happily-ever-after ending she’s been praying for.

www.shirleyrayeredmond.com

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The Real Puddles ….by Amanda Cabot

Guest blogger   Amanda Cabot

It’s not unusual for an author to have readers tell her that they love her characters.  In fact, that’s one of the things every author hopes will happen.  It’s less usual, though, to get that kind of fan mail when the character has four feet, but that’s exactly what happened with Puddles, the dog I introduced in Summer of Promise.  He captured readers’ hearts as much as he captured mine.

When I’m asked whether I base my characters on real people, the answer is always a resounding ‘no.’  Oh, I might take a characteristic from a person I’ve met – a firm chin, deep blue eyes or even a stubborn heart – but that’s all.  The rest of the character comes from my imagination.  It was different with Puddles.  All the time I was writing about him, I kept picturing Bradford.  I even had pictures of him close at hand, so I could make sure I described him properly.

So, who’s Bradford?  The story started one summer when my sister decided that our brother Andy deserved a puppy for his birthday.  Caitlin was wise enough to know that our parents wouldn’t agree, so she operated under the ‘it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission’ motto and headed off to the local animal shelter, coming back with an absolutely adorable puppy she’d named Bradford.  As a side note, Caitlin was crafty enough to do this on an evening when our parents were attending a dinner meeting and wouldn’t be back until after the shelter was closed.  The wise girl was taking no chances that she’d have to return the puppy that day.

You can probably imagine Andy’s delight when he saw his birthday gift.  It was the classic boy-meets-dog moment.  Those of you who are parents, try to picture yourself coming home and being greeted with a sign on the door saying, “Be careful.  Bradford is sleeping.”  Of course, being a puppy in a new environment, Bradford wasn’t sleeping.  He was whimpering, seeking attention.  And he got it.  Our mother spent the better part of the night sitting with him, petting him and saying, “My, what big paws you have for such a little dog.”  (If you look closely at the picture, you can see those oversized feet.  Bradford was mostly Belgian shepherd and soon grew into those paws.)

By the time morning arrived, it wasn’t only Andy who’d fallen in love with the puppy.  So too had Mother and Dad.  Though he had been intended as Andy’s birthday gift, Bradford turned out to be a gift for the whole family, so much so that when I was married a couple years later, the now fully grown Bradford was included in one of the family portraits.  And when I wanted to create a canine character in Summer of Promise, there was no question what he’d be like.  With his sweet but occasionally mischievous spirit, Bradford was the perfect role model for Puddles.  Thanks, Caitlin!

 And here is an Amazon link for Amanda’s new book!   With Autumn’s Return: A Novel (Westward Winds)

WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN
AMANDA CABOT
January, 2014
Revell Publishing

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She’s certain she’ll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner.

However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he’s promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction–and disdain from the community–is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they’ll have to decide how far they’re willing to go to find justice–and true love.

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Taffy to the rescue! Guest blogger Carole Browne

by guest blogger  Carole Brown

Does God Care About Us and Animals? Of course, he does! Why else would he mention in the New Testament about seeing even a lowly sparrow dying? Why else did he create an emotion (called love!) in our hearts for the animals in our lives? Why else would he create certain animals to react with loyalty and love in their little hearts toward humans?

And, so, that’s why I believe God cared about Shyenne, our horse, when her companion sister (Red) died. She mourned–yes, she did, standing over Red’s  grave, hours at a time. Until the day . . .

God sent Taffy.

She’s a mixed breed, but she looks a little like a Jack Russell and acts like one even more. We were all gone that day busy with things like humans often are. But when my husband and oldest son returned home, they saw the strangest sight: Big, beautiful Shyenne with a small tan and white dog sitting close by. What do you think they talked about?

Whatever it was, whatever Taffy said or showed to Shyenne, it did the trick. Could have been, Taffy said, “You’ve got a (new) friend.” or “I’ll be a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

From that day on, Shyenne was over her mourning.

And sweet, wiry little Taffy was in our lives to stay. My husband called her Squirt. I insisted her name was Taffy. With persistence, the name I chose stuck.  How has this little creature affected our world? Let me list the ways:

She’s loyal and loving. Her humans are her responsibility to make sure their love for her is always present

She keeps all the other animals on our mini farm in line (or at least she tries!)

She’s company for us when either one or the other is alone.

She’s a great companion to our 21 month-old grandson. Teaching him to love and respect books is one great desire I have. When he enters the house and runs for a book, says “sit” and pats his leg for Taffy to join us, then hugs her neck and says “see” while pointing at the pictures–that’s a real delight for me. Not saying how Taffy feels about all that. LOL!

She’s obedient. When called she comes running with all the speed she can muster.

I’m thinking, God was considering more than just Shyenne when he sent Taffy into our lives. Could be he knew we needed a little more loving from another created being.

I like to think so.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

 

Connect with Carole here:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

And here is Carole’s new book:

How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far? 

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date was October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Here is an Amazon link for Carole’s new book!   The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (Christian Suspense) (Women’s Fiction)

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A dog I’ll never forget….guest blogger June Foster

guest blogger June Foster

After my husband Joe and I moved into our new house in El Paso, Texas, we got a dog. And what a dog he was. We named him Samson because we needed a strong guard dog. Frequently, however, we called him Sam or Sammy, and sometimes “Hey Mutt.”

Sam turned out to be a dog with an amazing personality, almost human. Really. At least he seemed like our son, since our children were grown and gone.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was when my husband Joe decided to give Sam a present. Joe took a bag of treats and poked holes in the plastic around them—so the delicious aroma of doggie hors d’ oeuvres wafted through. He wrapped the gift with brightly colored paper and tied a bow around it.

After he put it under the tree, he called Sam over and pointed out the package saying, “Sam, this is your present. Now don’t touch.”

Our well trained and obedient dog never bothered the parcel—even when we weren’t in the room. Each time Joe would say, “Sam, where’s your present?” he’d run to the package and sniff it. He didn’t even push it around with his nose.

Finally on Christmas morning, Joe went through the usual routine of asking Sam to identify his present. Then he loudly proclaimed, “Sam, you can have it.”

Sam grabbed the package and within a couple of minutes unwrapped it and enjoyed a doggie treat. The memory of our precious dog lives on in our hearts. Even after ten years, we miss him.

And here is an Amazon  link for June’s new book!  Click here:  Ryan’s Father

Ryan’s Father
June Foster
Whitefire Publishing

A Young Man at War with Himself 

The rippling influence of Ryan Reid’s less than moral mother and absent father left a mark on his soul. Yet everything changed when the young teacher gave his life to the Lord…almost everything.  An earthquake hurls the beautiful Sandy Arrington into his life, tossing his world upside down. But when God calls him to build an annex for needy teens at his church, he finds himself battling an attraction toward his male partner in the project. His own struggles and Sandy’s growing feelings for him force Ryan to face the issue he’s long buried.   Can he dig his way out from under his secret to find Sandy’s love?

 

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Summer at Briar Lake…Roxanne Rustand

Just thought I’d let you all know that my second e-book, Summer at Briar Lake, is available for Kindle and other e-readers.  I spend a lot of time featuring other authors here, and just realized that I hadn’t yet posted here about my own new book.  Oops!

Here’s  the cover–what do you think?   I had such a ball writing this one–as you know, I love animals of all kind, so in addition to being a romance with  definite thread of light suspense, I got to add in all sorts of quirky animals.  :)

Here’s an Amazon link to click,  if you’d like to buy it…it’s just $2.99!   Summer at Briar Lake

Summer at Briar Lake
Roxanne Rustand
January, 2014

In Summer at Briar Lake, a disillusioned lawyer searching for a quiet life in a small resort town ends up sharing a house with a woman who has a dark past, a troubled daughter and a menagerie of epic proportions.

The situation is challenging enough, but add a miniature goat with a penchant for roses and adventure, and an unknown enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve his own goals, and life becomes even more…interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

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Brenda B Taylor and Toby, the Big Cur Dog

Guest blogger  Brenda B Taylor 

The Wades of Crawford County, Leann and Ralph, live on a farm five miles from the small town of Cuba, Missouri during the post-Civil War era. The farm’s livestock play an important role in family’s livelihood, but the most interesting animal, the one I really enjoyed writing into the stories, is the big cur dog named Toby. Jesse, Ralph and Leann’s six-year-old son in Through The Storm, claimed Toby as his special friend. Toby came out of the woods one day to take up residence under the Wades’ back steps. Jesse immediately fell in love with the big cur and the two became inseparable. Toby followed Jesse to school, but the teacher chased the dog away, much to Jesse’s chagrin.

Toby stayed close to Jesse when the little boy was sick and could not lift his head from the bed pillow. Leann relented and let Toby sleep in Jesse’s room, but only if Jim, the older brother, washed the dog so he wouldn’t smell and had clean hair. Jesse had a bad habit of nuzzling Toby’s fur and getting dog hair in his mouth.  Toby saved Leann and Jesse when they were lost in the cornfield during a heavy thunderstorm. He led Ralph to each one. Leann learned to love and appreciate the large dog, but she still scolded Jesse when he got dog hair in his mouth. Nuzzling Toby remained outside the limit of Leann’s tolerance.

Below is a excerpt from the third book in the Wades of Crawford County series, Through The Storm, when Toby helped save Leann and Jesse during the thunderstorm.

     Leann and Jim made their way to the cornfield in the now-pouring rain. The thunder grew closer, louder. She tried calling Jesse but was afraid her voice couldn’t be heard over the storm.
     A bolt of lightning flashed close by, right in front of her. With an earsplitting blast, a tree on the hill exploded in a burst of light. Leann screamed.
     Jim started running to find Jesse. Leann tried running to keep up with Jim. She tripped on her long skirt, now sagging under the weight of the water, and fell into the mud, losing sight of Jim and Toby in the tall corn. She wanted to scream for Jim, but he needed to find Jesse, so she sat in the mud, crying. She could do nothing but pray the Lord would help Jim get to Jesse and bring him to safety.
     Leann lost all perception of time. It seemed she sat in the mud crying and praying for an eternity. Lightning flashed around her. Thunder rolled. Her imagination saw Jesse lying among the corn stalks after being struck by lightning. Crying harder, she buried her face in her hands. Where were Jim and Jesse? Where were her sons?
      Suddenly, Toby licked her hands.
     ”Where did you come from? You need to be finding Jesse,” she scolded the dog between sobs.
      Large hands reached out of nowhere, pulling her to her feet. Astonished, she looked up into her husband’s dark and troubled eyes under the wide-brimmed leather hat dripping with water.

The Wades of Crawford County series is a poignant tale of a love strong enough to survive the hard times in post-

Civil War Missouri, and woven with the cords of family values and faith.

“Truly captivating in the development of the entire cast of characters, each person is given a detail unseen in literature today. These are not just silly heroes and heroines prancing about on a page. These are real people, fighting real challenges, loving real loves. If you’re looking for a truly well told story, this is your book.” ~ Jessie

AMAZON LINK to buy the book: Through The Storm (The Wades of Crawford County Series)

Contact the author: http://bit.ly/KVDPYf

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

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Hip Hop—Donita K. Paul’s most unusual muse!

by guest blogger  Donita K Paul

It is a known fact in my family, that if you sit me down on a park bench, I’ll soon have a gathering of children or dogs or both. My grown kids call me a dog magnet. When I taught the three year old Sunday school, my son intimated it was my peer group. And I got into mountains of trouble with a sensitive mom of a rambunctious and perfectly normal first grade boy by saying training kids and dogs were similar. She had just been admiring my dog’s repertoire of astonishing tricks.  She didn’t think behavioral modification should be used on human offspring.

I’ve had pets all my life, so when I moved into my daughter’s basement and didn’t have a dog because there was no back door and no cat because her husband was allergic and no bird because she was allergic, I began to show signs of pet deprivation.  This is the nicest place I’ve ever lived, spacey, airy, and modern. And petless.

Two turtles and a dog came to live upstairs, but they didn’t fill my needs.

Finally, a type of pet I’d never had caught my attention. Two years ago, I became the custodian of a house rabbit. His name is Hippity Hoppity Hare. (I’ve made up a song about him that has four verses and we plan to make a website picture book.) He shortens his name to Hip Hop when he’s rapping. And he’s most often called Bunzy or Bunzoid.

Hip is a Netherland dwarf lop-eared rabbit but his ears didn’t lop. They shamefully stand straight up. His breeder has won all sorts of prizes and if her husband had noticed my little fella it wouldn’t have been little bunny foo foo bopping field mice, but the money minded husband of the rabbit ranch who would have done the bopping. So essentially, I rescued Bunzy from being removed from the genetic pool. Instead of $150 or more, he was only $25.00 –a bargain bun.

He is the color of cinnamon toast. He sits in his cage on a table by the chair I spend most of my time in. And he keeps me company.  I never imagined a rabbit could be this much fun. He’s kind of limited on tricks. He comes for treats and to give kisses–sweet little kisses with much less slobber than a canine. He allows me to stroke his soft fur to lower my blood pressure.  And he even does a type of purring that will never win him honors in a purr-off with the poorest of alley cats but warms my heart.

I spend a great deal of time watching him, and I might even claim him as a writing muse, since he never offers a discouraging word and patiently stays by me as I write into the night.

 

 

 

 

Here’s an Amazon link so you can buy Donita’s wonderful new book!  One Realm Beyond (Realm Walkers)

ONE REALM BEYOND
Donita K Paul
Harper Collins Publishing

My latest fantasy comes out this month on the 28th. It is a new world, with new characters, lots of adventure, amazing revelations, and satisfying relationships.  Benzoid has sat beside me as a young girl had her first dragon ride, a young man learned the value of friendship, and a not so young dragon was pressed back into active service for the good of her country.

One Realm Beyond is available at Christian book stores, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Cbd.com. Come by the website www.donitakpaul.com to celebrate with us.

To  connect with Donita, you can go to.

https://www.facebook.com/don.k.p

http://www.pinterest.com/donitakpaul/
http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

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Ada Brownell…and a poodle named Macho

Guest blogger Ada Brownell

Our two youngest children always wanted a dog, but with asthma in the house we couldn’t have a pet. But their health improved and Jeanette started rising early in the morning before school to look at newspaper advertising about dogs.

“Great dane, free to good home,” she read to me one morning as I prepared breakfast. A few days later, it was “St. Bernard. Good with children. Free.”

Jaron wanted a dog, too, but three years older than Jeanette, he wanted to be sure we could afford a computer he and Dad were thinking about.

Being the eighth child in our large family, I’d never had a pet myself. My husband brought in a couple of outdoor dogs for our oldest son, but I never became attached to them.

Trudy, a lady in our church raised poodles and my husband heard that they don’t shed like other dogs and heard they don’t bother people with asthma. One day Trudy called. A poodle had been returned because he had grown larger than a toy poodle ordinarily grows and would be offered at a bargain price. So the kids and Pop went the Trudy’s house and came home with the apricot-colored poodle named Appy.

Jaron, a high school student, went to the library and checked out a book on poodles and the dog immediately went into training. He learned all sorts of tricks. In about three days, Jaron said he was changing the dog’s name to Macho. He was bigger than expected, but also Macho thought he was a big dog.

Yet, Macho always assumed people loved him. I’d be watching TV next to my husband and he’d jump up on my lap, then squeeze himself between us.

I finally got up the nerve to pet him.

“He feels funny,” I said, from a background of being chased by dogs baring their teeth as a kid. “You could put two dogs in his hide.”

Didn’t take me long to figure out that how the Lord made him, so he could dry his hair by flipping his tummy skin almost over his back and shaking it in place again.

When the kids went to college, he was ours. He slept on our bed and woke me up in the mornings staring me in the face so I’d let him go out. His was quite spoiled, going to the doggie beauty shop more often than I went to the hairdresser. Try to put him out with snow on the ground, and he’d give me a look that meant, “Are you out of your mind? I’m not going out there.”

He had a vocabulary of about a dozen words and the word “walk” could send him into a frenzy. We spelling it, and he learned that. So we spelled it backward. He picked up on  actions, too. When I put on my sports shoes, he’d run and try to put his leash on himself.

But his intelligence was retarded in one area–cats. We visited my sister, who had a cat and when we arrived, the cat sat on top of a plastic table beside a lawn chair not moving a whisker. Macho could smell the cat, but searched and searched below the table and never found the cat.

We had adventures with Macho, and when he was gone, I missed him. He added much to our lives and our family will never forget him.

Rocky the goat charged out of nowhere into my new historical romance, The Lady Fugitive, which I hope will be published soon. I admit I had to do some research on goats. Jenny, disguised as a man, purchased a farm and the animals came with it.  But it wasn’t Jenny but Stu, a homeless orphan, who loves the animal most.

 

 

And here is a link for another one of my  books!   Imagine the Future You (Dynamite Decisions for Youth)

IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU 

By Ada Nicholson Brownell

 Will you be the person you dream of being—or someone from your nightmares?

You don’t need a fortune teller to reveal your future. You are the person who determines who you will be, what your life will be like, and how your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. This book will show how to make the right connections, how to grow your talents, and how to begin believing in yourself and things greater than yourself—for a wonderful Future You!

Ada Brownell’s author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06

 

 

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Dorothy Love: Carolina Gold, and Golden Retrievers!

by guest blogger  Dorothy Love

Outside of a book, a dog is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.   Groucho Marks

I love this quote because it combines two of my life’s passions—books and canines. I’ve been a  book lover, and a dog lover all my life. My first book was a Little Golden Book called  Three Little Kittens,  and my first dog was a beagle puppy  Daddy brought home inside his jacket pocket when I was nine.  We named her Pansy because the markings on her face resembled the flower.  Like most hunting breeds, Pansy marched to her own drummer, running across the road that ran past our house to the empty fields beyond in pursuit of rabbits or squirrels, or, I suspect, often just for the pleasure of running flat out with the wind in her ears.

One morning Pansy darted across the road just as a car pulling a trailer crested the hill.  I called her back, but she ignored me. Until the car drew closer and she decided to chase it. She died in my mother’s arms.

After Pansy, there were two dachshunds who lived with us during my high school years but I didn’t have another dog that was truly mine until I was married. My husband and I adopted a Sheltie we named Brandy. For thirteen years she was our vocal and protective companion. She loved  long walks and hot dogs, and hated the hot air balloons that hovered above our North Dallas neighborhood on weekends. When Brandy died in her sleep I vowed that I wanted no more dogs. It hurt too much when they left us.

Six months later a friend who had recently adopted a golden retriever told us what great companions they were and the next thing I knew, a beautiful little golden fur ball with bright button eyes entered our lives and our hearts.  We called her Molly and she is the reason we have had nothing but goldens since.

A golden retriever spoils one for any other kind of dog. Beautiful, sweet -tempered, smart, eager to please and easy to train, they are simply the very definition of “canine companion.”

When Molly was four, we moved to Iowa for my husband’s job and we bought a new SUV, just to transport Molly to our new home. Six years later we moved to California  and Molly went with us.  When she died at age 12, again I vowed no more dogs.

But then we got Major. He was my millennium puppy, born in 2000 and he instantly became the canine love of my life. When he died of cancer this past May, I was glad we still had Jake, the golden we adopted when Major was seven.  Jake is now an “only dog” and like our other goldens, he’s gorgeous, and loving. Since Major left us Jake rarely leaves my side. I think he knows my heart is still broken.

The day we took Major to the vet for the last time as I sat sobbing, and saying goodbye, Dr Crowley said something that stuck with me: “If it didn’t hurt to lose them, it wouldn’t be worth  having them in the first place.”
All of my dogs have left their little pawprints all over my heart ( Not to mention  all over my furniture and my floors!)  But I wouldn’t trade them, or my golden memories of them— for anything.

 

 

CAROLINA GOLD
by Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson Publishers

The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte’s struggle has just begun.
Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.  Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together  mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

AMAZON LINK TO BUY DOROTHY’S NEW BOOK!  Click here: Carolina Gold

Dorothy is sponsoring a great give-away opportunity!
Just head over to:     www. Facebook.com/dorothyLovebooks   where she is giving away Carolina themed foods, books, Starbucks cards and a $100 Visa card.

She will also have an  author chat party on FB on Jan 14.  If you have any questions about these events, about her book, or about her beautiful dogs, you can ask here, and Dorothy will be here to answer!

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Faith like Jessie? by Cara Putman

by guest blogger Cara Putnam

We’ve had a Heinz 57, pound puppy in our family for the last six years. With an adorable face and mounds of fur, she’s been a good addition to our family but she has just one problem.

She likes to run.

If we lived on a farm far from a highway, that wouldn’t be a problem. She could run free without any problem. But we don’t.

And she does.

In her eyes, the freedom of running far exceeds the risks of what could happen. So the kids and I have chased her around our neighborhood periodically. She’ll let us get close and then look at us with fire in her eyes and dart away. So far this tendency hasn’t led to disaster. Instead, we’ve always found her, always kept her in sight, or a neighbor has called to let us know she’s running free.

When I look at her, I wonder why she feels the need to run. We provide food, shelter, love and affection (well the kids provide the last!).

As I chase her, I often wonder if that’s how God feels about me. There are times I know exactly what He wants me to do, but I grit me teeth and plant my feet. I may not run, but I don’t move like He asks. Does He groan and wonder what it will take to get me to appreciate what I have? I’m so grateful He has exceeding more patience than I do. I am so grateful that He never gives up on me. And this year I want to live with an ear that is quick to hear and a heart that is quick to obey.

And maybe one day, Jessie will acquire the same.

About the author: Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. An award-winning author of seventeen books with more on the way, she is active in women’s ministry at her church and is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/caraputman
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cara_putman
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/caraputman
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/CaraPutman

SHADOWED BY GRACE
by Cara Putnam

Here’s a link to buy the book on Amazon:
Shadowed by Grace: A Story of Monuments Men

Christianbook.com: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?event=AFF&p=1141766&item_no=681783

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadowed-by-grace-cara-putman/1115951174?ean=9781433681783

About the book:
Rachel Justice is desperate to save her dying mother. She doesn’t want to leave her, but she accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy and photograph war images. No one knows her photography is a cover and that Rachel is really seeking to find the father she never knew, hopeful to get some help with her failing mother. Dedicated to her mission, Rachel is focused on completing it. Soon, though, she finds her priorities and plans changing when she is assigned to Lt. Scott Lindstrom, on mission as a Monument Man. Their meeting will have far-reaching consequences. Will this derail her plans? Will she ever find her father? Is her faith enough to carry her through?

You  can read the first chapter here: http://caraputman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Shadowed-by-Grace-chapter-excerpt.pdf

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Would you love to receive free books from a variety of authors?

Do you enjoy reading?  Would you be interested in a chance to receive FREE books  in exchange for being willing to post an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites?

 

Here’s your chance at a wide variety of books–contemporary, historical, but all are of the sweeter variety (no erotica.)  You can find out more about the authors at www.sweetromancereads.com

Here’s an easy link for finding out more about this opportunity!     http://svy.mk/1bnM8Vy

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Happy Holidays!

Turning from my usual theme of country life and pets, i thought I’d share one of the recipes I often make for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinners.

Given our frigid temps and snow right now, it would be a nice, warm addition to our next supper.

I’ve been making this since around 1976…when my husband’s cousin’s wife gave me the recipe after we were there for dinner.  It’s so easy…and so good!

 

CORN SPOON BREAD

2 beaten eggs
1  Jiffy Cornbread mix–dry, not mixed
8 oz can creamed corn
8 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
½ cup real butter
1 cup dairy sour cream

Topping:
1 cup shredded cheddar

Mix all but cheese, pour in casserole dish or 11×7 inch  greased pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake another 10-15 min until knife comes clean.

If you don’t have  oven space, during the prep for a big meal, you can “bake” this  in the microwave–rotate it every five minutes, using a lower heat setting if you have it…then  once the turkey or ham comes out of the oven, you can put the cheese on the spoon bread, and finish it in the oven for maybe 10 minutes so the cheese gets browned on the edges.

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December in the country…mud, fog and a lot of cowboys!

Howdy!

Can it really be December already? It sure doesn’t seem like it, with Thanksgiving falling so late this year and our balmy weather.

Most years we have snow by now here in Eastern Iowa, but our first light snow is long gone, and we’re seeing foggy mornings and a lot of mud.

So I slog around doing my horse chores morning and night, and hope that when i take each step in Susie’s corral, my boots come along with me.  :)  This is a photo I took just this morning, while doing chores. I would have included some of the mares, but they all look like big mud balls!

But…that’s not all that is happening at our place…I’m excited about the new release of my first independently published book!

It’s now up on Amazon for Kindles for just $2.99, and will soon be available for Nook and all the rest, as well as  in print!

CLICK HERE TO BUY:  Comeback Cowboy (Shadows of the Rockies)

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I loved writing this book–it’s truly a book from my heart, country gal that I am. :)

For my research, I got to ride with a rodeo contractor and spend a lot of time interviewing bullriders, clowns, and others who are behind the scenes in rodeo.

But this definitely isn’t just about rodeo…it’s about  people who have made mistakes in the past and who must deal with the repercussions, and it has suspense and romance woven throughout.

It was originally published as Rodeo! but has been fully updated, and revised in keeping with the style of books I write now–sweet (not hot and sexy) romance, and inspirational fiction. Actually, my books were never hot anyway, but I so love concentrating on all of the emotion, tension and conflict of finding that one person who was meant to be–while being able to firmly “shut the bedroom door.”  :)

So if you enjoy a warm, emotional read, I hope you will give it a try!   This is the first book in my Shadows of the Rockies series.  The second book in the series, A Montana Legacy, will be out by  January, and the third will be out in early spring, 2014.

An unrelated title,  Summer at Briar Lake, should be out in a few weeks.

Oh–and by the way, my quarterly newsletter suffered a major crash last year, but it is finally up and running again, and I’ll be sending out the first, newly redesigned newsletter in a couple weeks.  If you aren’t a subscriber, you can click on the red button at the top right corner of this website.  It’s free, of course, and will always include a favorite family recipe, some photos, and information on a drawing!  This time, it’s for a big, beautiful new Laurel Burch “Moroccan Mares” tote bag containing some prizes!

I hope you had  a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Roxanne

 

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Cats and Rats and Squirrels, Oh My!

by guest blogger Shannon Taylor Vannater

Note: Shannon will be drawing names on November 21st, from those who leave a comment, and the winner will receive a free copy of her new book!

I live in very rural Arkansas with woods on three sides of us. Over the years, we’ve had indoor weenie dogs and now an outdoor chocolate lab, two cats, and a horse. Once upon a time, my son had a tiny nursery. He quickly outgrew it, so we moved him into a bigger bedroom and I got the tiny nursery as my office. 10’ by 10’ all mine. 100 square feet closed off from the rest of the house with a working door.

I painted my office my favorite thistle shade—a retired Crayola color—a mix of pink and lavender. I put up seashell wallpaper border, made curtains and cushion covers for my white wicker furniture using pastel seashell fabric, and displayed all the seashells I’ve collected over the years. It was perfect.

Until I decided that since it was my office, my two outdoor charcoal gray cats should be able to come in. It was my 100 square feet and I could share it if I wanted to. Right? Hubby even agreed and installed a cat door. Since they’d always been outdoor cats, they were used to going outside to do their business. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did for a while. They understood that the vast outdoors was their bathroom. They spent their days with me while I wrote, then prowled or slept at night.

Smokey—my scaredy cat female—was no problem. She huddled thankfully under the wicker couch and I never saw her go out. But everything smelled okay, so I knew she did. Charcoal, my curious, neutered tom, prowled all night, came inside in the morning, ate and slept the day away.

Everything went smoothly. Until one morning after everyone left and I heard something in my office. I opened the door and something flew by my head about eye level. I searched the shelves and saw a flying squirrel. I didn’t even know we had those in Arkansas. Charcoal was in stalk mode and the poor squirrel flew all over my office. I learned they not only live in Arkansas, but they’re very fast.

I stuffed Charcoal out the cat door and locked it, found thick gloves, and pursued the squirrel. They’re really fast. That squirrel perched on all eight shelves and every time I’d reach for him, he’d fly in my face and land on another shelf, my desk, the wicker, or the curtains.

After about forty-five minutes or so, I wore him down. He started running instead of flying and I learned that flying squirrels run even faster than they fly. He finally ran in the end of a 3 ring binder notebook. I clamped a gloved hand on each end, but I couldn’t open to the door with no hands.

So, I quickly stood the notebook on the floor closing off one hole, then shook the poor squirrel up. He came running up right into my hand and I had him. He bit my thick glove and squealed all the way out the back door—where the cat wasn’t—and to the woods behind our house.

Charcoal treated me to three more flying squirrel capers and I learned there are at least four where I live, they are all very fast, but you can catch them with thick gloves once you tire them out. I guess my great gray hunter got bored with squirrels, so he brought me a rat instead. I didn’t know we had rats that big in Arkansas. I propped the cat door open, screamed and hopped around on the wicker furniture, and poked at the beast with a yard stick until it scurried out the door.

That was it. The cat door got sealed off. Charcoal and Smokey got their gray butts kicked out. Even though poor Smokey was innocent, she now huddles under the house and Charcoal lives in the shed.

So now, he leaves his dead offerings on my porch—mostly rats, mice, and moles. There used to be the occasional rabbit, but no more squirrels. He’s eight now, so maybe he’s not quite that fast anymore. When I find his prize, I praise him and say, “You’re the tomcat.”

And during the day, when nobody’s home, I make sure Charcoal doesn’t have any guests and let them inside. Smokey huddles under the wicker couch and Charcoal sprawls on my bookshelf. Shhh!!!

Here is an Amazon link, so you can buy Shannon’s new book!  Rodeo Queen (Heartsong Presents)

RODEO QUEEN
Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Heartsong Presents

CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN

Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.

Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?

About the author:
Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award. Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/. Connect with her on Facebook: facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor

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How Pets Saved Our marriage…by author Jane Perrine

Guest blogger  Jane Myers Perrine

 My husband always said I was gaga about my animals.  That’s true.  If asked—or even if not—I can go one for hours with stories about the dozens we’ve had.  However,  I feel certain there’s a word limit to this blog and I’ve learned people get bored when I babble on and counter with stories about their grandchildren.   For that reason, I’ll stick to one topic, “How Our Pets Saved Our Marriage.”

George was far more romantic than I.   For birthdays and Christmas, he came up with the most wonderful and creative ideas for presents while my gifts usually ran along the here’s-a-pretty-shirt-and-tie-and-some-chocolate-covered-pretzels line.    For our anniversary many years ago, George gave me a pair of peach-faced love birds.  Beautiful creatures.   Because I was a Spanish major, I named then Don Quixote and Dulcinea, for the famous lovers of Spanish literature.   For a few months, they shared a cage, cooing and loving and seemingly very happy.  One evening nearly six months later, we came home from work to find that Don Quixote’s right cheek had been torn open and he kept his distance—on the other end of the perch—from Dulcinea.   The next day, I bought another cage and separated them.  I also changed their names.  Don Quixote became Scar Face because the Al Pacino movie had come out a few months earlier.  Dulcinea became Bone Crusher, named for a boxer named Bone Crusher Smith.

The man at the pet store where George had purchased the birds said the attack could have been because the birds were both male.  Evidently, sexing birds is very hard.   I didn’t care.  We weren’t going to raise little lovebirds and they seemed very happy to cooing to each other from different cages.  Harmony was restored.

I also had a blue parakeet named Paco.  George wanted to teach him to say, “Paco wants a taco.”  Sadly, the only thing he learned to do was to whistle for the dogs, a sound that confused the dogs greatly.   Paco’s cage was on a stand by the bedroom window.  One day, we had the carpets cleaned and the scent was strong enough I feared it would harm Paco.  So, I opened the bedroom window but forgot to pull the screen down.  After ten minutes, I heard a crash from the bedroom.  I ran in  to find the cage had been blown on the floor, popped open, and Paco was gone.   After I looked around the bedroom but couldn’t find him, I ran outside.  First, I looked all around the yard and the neighbors’ yards.  No Paco.  Then I leaped on my bike (back then, I was able to leap), and took off around the neighborhood looking for him, calling, “Paco, Paco” and even using the dog whistle.  Thirty minutes later, I still couldn’t find him so I headed home.  One more search of the yard and another around the house still didn’t turn up my bird.   The next evening, George was in bed and watching television when he called me.  “Jane, there’s something moving in the closet.”    And, yes, there Paco was, nestled in the sheets.

So, you may ask, how did this save your marriage?

A few weeks after these events, George and I had a huge fight.  I have no memory of what this was about but I was furious.  I stomped out of the house, shouting, “I’m leaving”.  George  came to the garage door and said, “You’d better take your birds with you or I’ll let them loose.”   Now, George would never have done that.  He loved our pets, too, but it was a terrific threat.   I went inside, picked up the three cages, and attempted to force them into my compact car.  Paco’s cage was small and fit easily in the front seat.  I could get Scarface’s large cage into the back seat on a slant, but no way did Bone Crusher’s cage fit.   After five minutes of moving the cages around, I admitted defeat.  I was going to have to stay with George.

We were married twenty-seven more years.  I’m really glad those cages didn’t fit.

Here’s an Amazon link for you to buy Jane’s charming book! The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek: A Novel

The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek
Jane Myers Perrine
release date: November 5, 2013

The path of planning a wedding is never smooth.  However, Adam and Gussie find that task even rockier when the Widows step up to help.  Filled with confidence because they played an important part in getting Adam to propose and helping Gussie set a date, choosing flowers and invitations does not scare them.  Then Adam’s sister Hannah shows up, and  amid all the planning and activities, they must take up the task of matchmaking again.  REVIEW   From Kirkus Reviews    The third installment of the Butternut Creek series . . . allows a continued glimpse into the quirky, eccentric citizens of this small Texas town. Perrine offers a pleasant, meandering glimpse at love and courtship in Butternut Creek . . .that combines humor and emotionalism.. . well-crafted and engaging . . . with funny, authentic characters.

 About the author:
Award-winning writer Jane Myers Perrine has worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and been an active volunteer but she always wanted to write.   Finally, she found time and has published books with  Avalon Books, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, and FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group.  Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.    Jane’s Butternut Creek series is about a young minister serving in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas and is filled with affection and humor.  The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first book in the series.   Published in April, 2012, it has been nominated for the RITA award, the most prestigious honor for writers of women’s fiction.  The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek was published November 20, 2012.  The third book, The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek will be available November 5, 2013.

Jane lives north of Austin where her life is controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats.   When not writing, she spends her time swimming or cheering for University of Louisville and Kansas State football and basketball.
Her website and blog are at  JaneMyersPerrine.com

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Fall colors in Wisconsin…and time with good friends

Every October, my friend Pat and I take a trip north to see our dear friend Lyn Cote.  We could encounter rain, sleet, snow or fog and never see the beautiful fall colors up there, and still enjoy every moment. It would still be a joy to have that long weekend with Lyn and her family.

But…a bonus is that we often do get to see peak color up there.  And, because Pat and I live seven hours south, the peak generally hits later.

In fact, it’s now three weeks later, and our colors are blazing here out in the country where I live.  My husband planted some new oaks and maples a couple of years ago, and they are the prettiest scarlet right now,  Do you have all four seasons where you live?

I thought I would share some photos here from my Wisconsin trip, but if you go to my Facebook profile at www.facebook.com/roxanne.rustand  you can see a much larger album of fall photos starting later today.  I’ll post again on Friday here and add some more, though.

I love fall and winter….the bright fall colors, the pristine beauty of snow.  What is your favorite season?

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Naming Horses..by author Anita Mae Draper

by guest blogger Anita Mae Draper

Note:  Anita is holding a drawing for one $10.00 Starbucks gift card to be given to a person who comments before midnight, Tues Oct 29th and leaves a method of contact, Winner will be announced through a comment on this post, so come back then 

The Sixties were a big era for Wild West TV shows, but our single channel station only brought one that I remember clearly—Bonanza. I especially liked the way the male characters interacted with their horses. To this day, I can’t imagine Little Joe without his unique laugh, or his paint, Cochise http://ponderosascenery.homestead.com/cochise.html   And although I’ve read the reports that say Lorne Greene wasn’t comfortable around horses and didn’t like riding, as a young girl enthralled with life on the Ponderosa, Mr. Ben Cartwright looked mighty fine up there on that big buckskin aptly named, Buck.

When I was eleven years old, my family moved to a rented farm on the outskirts of Thunder Bay, Ontario. We brought a small mini-bike with us – reportedly to drive across the fields. Since we didn’t have cattle, we thought our parents wanted us to have fun, but Mom must have balked at the thought of us bombing up and down the highway – quiet as it was – with none of us in our teens, never mind old enough to get a license, because a few weeks later, Dad left with the mini-bike and brought home a Shetland pony.

It happened to be the day before my twelfth birthday, and the pony answered to the familiar name of Flicka. I remember thinking that someone lacked imagination because they’d copied the name from the novel, My Friend, Flicka, but I wasn’t about to complain about the name when I finally had a horse. Although the ground looked a long way down when seated in the saddle, by the looks of the photograph, I was almost too big for Flicka.  Photo: c1968 Anita Mae Draper, 12 yrs old, on Flicka

It seemed only natural then, when I started writing stories as a fourteen-year-old, that I wrote westerns. What I lacked in grammar and writing craft, I made up for in characters with colorful names—both the two and four-legged kind. Cows named Bessie, Bossy and Belle. Horses named Midnight, Star, and Joe. Throw in a dog named Susie and a cat named Buttons, and I had a whole barn full of ornery critters to liven up my stories.

In the world of writing, each main character needs a friend. In a romance, you want the hero and heroine to spend most of their time together, but you also want someone they can go to for advice, or someone who’ll listen without comment until they figure it out for themselves. This is often where I’ve used horses in my westerns. Horses are intelligent. They know when you’re talking to them and even respond with a whinny, head bob, or nicker depending on the circumstances.

In my current revision project, my hero’s constant companion is the horse he was given as a boy. When he first saw the young colt with its bristly mane standing straight up and its tail tall and bent like a Rooster’s tail feathers, he called the colt, Rooster. But when I entered this story in writing contests, I was told it wasn’t a proper name for a horse. Or that a silly name detracted from the seriousness of the story. Or that, “Whoa, boy,” was sufficient for a horse that wasn’t a pet.

Really? To me, the thought of not giving a name to a horse is like calling your dog, Dog. Or your cat, Cat. What about calling your dairy cow, Milk?

Riding on a Christmas Wish
is published in A CUP OF CHRISTMAS CHEER
Volume 1, Guideposts Books
Oct 2013

The short story I wrote for A Cup of Christmas Cheer is set in 1911 York County, Ontario, Canada, and although it’s called, Riding on a Christmas Wish, it’s about a young girl who wants a bicycle for Christmas. This story is about a farm family similar to the kind you’d find in a Lucy Maud Montgomery story. In my story, the family owns two horses. The light horse is used by the mother, Eliza to run errands with the buggy and cutter. The heavier work horse is used in the wood lot by the father, Thomas, and also when the family of three go on an outing together. After much contemplation, I named Eliza’s light horse, Thunder, and Thomas’s heavy horse, Lightning. Why? Because I left myself the option of giving the reader the unexpected.
Link to buy: http://www.shopguideposts.org/a-cup-of-christmas-cheer.html

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Turning toward autumn…author Marta Perry

By guest blogger Marta Perry
Almost without my noticing, fall has arrived in our valley in central Pennsylvania. Each morning when I walk out to road to get the newspaper, I can see and feel the changes in the air. The rising sun, still not visible from here in the valley floor, turns the tops of the ridges to gold and orange and reflects from the moon above the trees. Some mornings the fog hangs in the creek valley, blanketing the fields and the orchard. There’s a definite sense in something as simple as the slant of the sunlight that the season is turning toward the long sleep of winter.

Our county fair has come and gone. Prize ribbons are hung up or put carefully away in a box with the ribbons from every other year, the 4H project cows have been sold to the mingled tears and pride of their young owners, and all of us who ate our way around the food stands are thinking it’s time to go on an after-fair diet!

Despite the faint melancholy that accompanies the end of another growing season, it’s time to move on. The pantry is stocked with the jars of tomatoes and sauce I put up, and the freezer is jammed to capacity with jelly as well as bags of corn, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and rhubarb. In the middle of winter, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as opening a jar of jam and being transported back to a warm July day and the taste of raspberries picked and eaten straight from the bushes.

One of the greatest pleasures of fall for me is that it’s apple season. The local orchards had a banner year, and I’ve been busy making apple cake, apple dumplings, apple bread pudding, and of course applesauce.

One of our favorite desserts is my mother’s recipe for apple walnut cake, and I’d love to share it with you.

Apple Walnut Cake
4 cups pared, chopped apples
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Combine the apples and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs in the oil and vanilla in a large bowl. In third bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir the flour mixture and the apple mixture alternately into the oil and vanilla. Add the walnuts and stir. Pour the batter into a 13 x 9- inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for one hour. Good served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

I’d be happy to send you a signed bookmark and my brochure of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. Just send your name and address to me at marta@martaperry.com

Marta

And now a note from Roxanne: here are two of Marta’s new releases!  She is a best-selling author, and you won’t want to miss these books!  I usually give you Amazon links for an easy click-through to buy, but Amazon is not cooperating for some reason and won’t allow a link.  I’ll try again later….but in the meantime, you can search for these books  on Amazon  or  eHarlequin.com.

Danger in Amish Country
Marta Perry
Love Inspired Suspense
October, 2013

Love and danger collide in three new Amish novellas—
Fall from Grace by Marta Perry
When one of her students witnesses a crime, Sara Esch gets too close to the truth, and widower Caleb King must risk it all for the woman who’s taught him to love again.
Dangerous Homecoming by Diane Burke
Katie Lapp needs her childhood friend Joshua Miller more than ever when someone threatens her late husband’s farm. Can Joshua protect her…even if it endangers his heart?
Return to Willow Trace by Kit Wilkinson
A series of accidents has startled their Plain community…and lead Lydia Stoltz to Joseph Yoder, the man who once broke her heart. At every turn, it seems their shared past hold the key to their future.

Search the Dark
by Marta Perry
HQN Books
October, 2013

Sometimes the past is best left buried….
Meredith King longs for escape. Life in Deer Run is stifling, the Amish town too small for a modern woman staying just to care for her ailing mother. When a friend enlists her help in clearing the name of an Amish boy whose decades old death is till shrouded in mystery, she welcomes the challenge. But when a ghost from her own past reappears, there is suddenly a lot more at stake.
Zach Randal was always a bad boy, and their romance never had a chance. As charming as ever, he returns to town on the heels of a deadly new threat. Is Zach as dangerous as Meredith was always led to believe? Or is the attraction they both feel the only thing that can save them from harm?

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A Furry Remedy, by author Jerusha Agen

by guest blogger Jerusha Agen

He was destined to be a therapy dog. When we decided to get another puppy, we had one goal—find a pup that would grow into a dog I could use for animal-assisted therapy work. God gave me a heart for the positive impact that dogs can have on people in need at hospitals and elsewhere. Surely nothing could be wrong with the desire to do such wonderful work, to share my love of a special dog with others as he gave them the healing benefits of doggieness.

The hunt for the perfect therapy dog seemed easy. We found a breed of dog that the books, owners, and breeders all said was naturally suited to therapy work. Then, we located a responsible, reputable breeder.

The magical day came when we brought our little bundle of fluff home. He was perfect. His adorable puppy charm had people fawning over him. The adoration was mutual, humans apparently being the pup’s favorite thing. He loved all strangers, but especially children, and knew how to sense what they needed. When an uncertain child would hesitate at the sight of him, our little puppy would sit on his own and restrain his obvious excitement as he held still (except for the little tail wagging a mile a minute) until the child became comfortable enough to approach him.

I had a gifted therapy dog for sure. Sweet visions swelled my heart as I looked forward to the great things my dog and I would do together. I saw ill children at hospitals bursting into smiles at the sight of my dog, or the elderly at nursing homes speaking for the first time in months because of my dog’s magical influence.

But, as our puppy neared six months, everything changed. He started to act timid around new objects and places. Then, the worst happened—he became afraid of people. Our puppy who had once adored people more than anything now pulled back and eventually cowered at the sight of any stranger, including children.

“No, he’s never been abused,” we assured concerned onlookers. “Yes, we socialized him. Yes, he came from a good breeder.” Whether because of genetics, pain from a growth issue, or hidden trauma, we no longer had a potential therapy dog, we had a fearful and reactive one.

This was not my plan. Our new puppy was supposed to love people and enable me to help them, not be terrified of everyone and everything. What could I do with a dog like that?

God had other plans. He has taught me that there are different kinds of therapy. Our puppy, now almost two years old, is having an unexpected effect on me. With a sensitive dog in the house, I have to learn to not be so easily stressed myself. For me, this is a tall order, but having my sensitive pooch in the room reminds me to take in a breath and let out a dog-sized sigh of relief. It’s for his sake, of course, so he won’t pick up on my stress and become more nervous himself. Yet, I think I’m the one who’s really getting the benefits.

He’s also teaching me about fear. I can worry and be anxious with the best of them, but when I see how my dog becomes so terrified of “ridiculous” things, it puts my fears in perspective. Can I really say any of my fears are more rational when I know the God who made and controls all things, who promises only good for me? Sometimes I wonder if I seem as silly to God as my puppy sometimes seems to me. I doubt I’m any more brave, logical, or intelligent in God’s eyes when I’m getting anxious and stressed.
It seems, after all, that my puppy was destined to be a therapy dog. Turns out, I was the one who needed the therapy.

 To buy Jerusha’s book, click here!
This Dance (Sisters Redeemed Series) (Volume 1)

This Dance
by Jerusha Agen

In my novel, THIS DANCE,
Nye Sanders is a woman who has everything together on the outside, but admits to herself that she relies heavily on her German Shepherd Dog, Jordan, to help her through her years of grief. He’s her faithful companion, and the one guy with whom she can let down her guard—the one she can lean on. He’s her therapy dog. Like me, Nye doesn’t know how much she needs it.

Have you ever had a pet who did not turn out to be what you expected? Or do you have one that is teaching you something? Please share!

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The Minds of Animals, by author Mary Ellis

guest blogger Mary Ellis

Have you ever noticed that animals sometimes know who likes them and who doesn’t? I have been amazed how often they can tell friend from foe, or who happens to be afraid of them. Too bad we as humans don’t possess the same sixth sense.

In my latest book, A Little Bit of Charm, my character has just moved to her cousin’s organic chicken farm. Although Rachel adores horses and takes a job working with Thoroughbred race horses, she has never met a chicken she liked—except fried on her dinner plate with a side of coleslaw. Her cousin, Sally, loves her job and has several pet hens following her around the barnyard, clucking merrily. One of those chickens takes an immediate and irrational dislike for Rachel. The bird torments my heroine any time she comes near. Never enter the free-range enclosure with bare shins becomes Rachel’s hard-learned lesson.

In real life, my aunt had a wild crow that followed her around the neighborhood when she was a child. From telephone pole to treetop, “Blackie” would keep tabs on my aunt while she rode her bike, picked blackberries, or waded in the creek. Often he sat on her shoulder if she walked slowly and fed him cracked corn. However, my aunt’s girlfriend disparaged all birds as “dirty, disease carriers.” This friend didn’t fare so well when caught in Blackie’s territory. The crow often chased her down the path and once tangled his talons in her hair.

In my personal experience, I once invited eight ladies for a summer luncheon and game of croquet on the lawn. My neighbor, who decided to join the party late, arrived with her hundred-and-fifty pound dog. As you might guess, one of the croquet players was deathly afraid of dogs. And of course, Wolfgang ran straight for this unfortunate woman, causing a major case of anxiety.

How did he know? A better question might be how is it we don’t know when fellow humans have evil intentions. Perhaps we have something to learn from chickens, crows, and man’s best friends.

~Mary Ellis, author of A Little Bit of Charm
“The third in the beautifully written New Beginnings series continues the King sisters’ road to happiness after tragedy. The characters are well thought-out and each one is looking for a fresh start.”
4-stars RT Book Reviews

To buy Mary’s new book on Amazon, click here! A Little Bit of Charm (The New Beginnings Series)

A Little Bit of Charm
Mary Ellis
ISBN 978-0-7369-3868-6

A Dream Come True…
A Loss Like No Other…
Is the Price of Happiness Worth the Cost?

 Rachel King, still recovering from the death of her parents, watches both of her older sisters find happiness in homes of their own with husbands who adore them. She yearns for her own new beginning.

Her cousin Sarah lives near a Thoroughbred stable in Kentucky, and the opportunity to work around beautiful horses has always been Rachel’s dream. She leaves Lancaster County to find a home with Sarah and her husband, Isaac, wondering about God’s plan for her life. When a job at Twelve Elms Stables opens up unexpectedly, it seems as though He has answered Rachel’s heartfelt prayers.

Then she meets Jake Brady, one of the owners of Twelve Elms, and her life becomes complicated. He’s attractive and charming, and his interest in her is flattering. But he’s also English as well as her boss. And is his trust in God as central to his life as it should be?

When Amish men she meets at church and singings start pursuing her, Rachel has important decisions to make. What does a young woman do when her heart puts her faith in jeopardy?

“The third in the beautifully written New Beginnings series continues the King sisters’ road to happiness after tragedy. The characters are well thought-out and each one is looking for a fresh start.”
4-stars RT Book Reviews

Mary Ellis is the bestselling author of many books, including A Widow’s Hope, An Amish Family Reunion, and Living in Harmony. She and her husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.

www.maryellis.net

http://www.maryeellis.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis

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